Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Episode XVII: The Legacy of the Silver Wolf / Night of Dissolution, Act II - Dark Servants

Juliar 12 – 14

The urban ranger Vatex splits off from the group for now to start hunting down the missing paladin from St. Gustav’s. Dziga the rogue accompanies him. This leaves Early the warblade-fighter and Emeris the draconic shadowcaster to begin their hunt for Khyron and his cohorts.

But first, Early and Emeris are weary of staying at the low-class Dragonsfire Inn and would like to find a place of their own. They find a nice single-story home in a secluded neighbourhood in Midtown which they rent from a wealthy merchant named YAVILL. Hours after they move in, they encounter Seanus, the halfling who worked with Linech Cran until the companions killed him, and who then worked with Darkwater before the Vai assassin attack that devastated the smuggling operation. Seanus moves in with them and essentially becomes the household chef.

Over dinner, Emeris and Early pore over the rest of the Book of Faceless Hate. They read of the philosophy of “deep chaos”, based on change and destruction and hate and death. They learn of the Lords of Chaos – aka the Ancients, the Galchutt, the Hylden, the Natharl’nacna, etc. – who are apparently imprisoned in caverns deep beneath the city of Elan, hence the city it is the locus of chaos cult activity. The Ancients created the “earthbound demons” called the rhodintor and the kython. To the cults, the greatest gift of the ancients is chaositech – strange ‘technology’ that uses the power of raw chaos for awesome effects, which is hidden in “vaults” in the caverns beneath the city. They learn also of the mysterious “Surgeon in the Shadows” who is Elan’s expert on such matters. It is said he possesses more chaositech than anyone else.

Additionally, they learn much about various chaos cults:

> The Deathmantle, worshipers of death and murder, allied with the Vai assassin and the undead-worshipping Forsaken.
> The Order of the Bloodied Knife, a cult obsessed with large-scale human sacrifice.
> The Crimson Coil, now largely defunct, a very destructive, secretive group more or less wiped out by the Knights of the Pale.
> The Brotherhood of Venom, politically active and fixated on revolution, death torture, and poison. Also known simply as “the Brotherhood” or “the Brotherhood of Elan.”
> The Ebon Hand, worshipers of mutation and deformity, who actually have a chapel in the Temple District. The place is the subject of many frightening rumors but the government has not shut them down for lack of evidence of wrongdoing.
> The Plagueborn, whose members seek to spread filth, decay, and disease. They commonly live in the sewers and other dirty places. They associate with ratmen, whom they consider their brothers.
> The Society of the Tolling Bell, whose goal is complete eschaton – the end of the world.
> Finally they learn of the Keepers of the Faith, not a cult so much as a clandestine organization that uses its secretive influence in matters of business, church, and state to facilitate chaos operations and obtain wealth. Dedicated servants of chaos are often recruited into the Keepers, and when that happens, they are somehow given the ability to take on a powerful new form. The Keepers are ruled by twelve overlords, who are said to be the most powerful followers of the Ancients. It is said the Keepers main goal is to uncover the forbidden lore of the Ancients, by finding a way into Jabel Shammar or the Caverns of the Galchutt.

Later that evening, the two of them head out to try and find out more about the cultists. Emeris learns from a former Knight of the Pale that Khyron allegedly abandoned the Crimson Coil and joined the Society of the Tolling Bell after the fall of the Pythoness House one year prior but otherwise there are no leads. Early tries to learn more about the “Brotherhood of Elan”, i.e. chaos cult Brotherhood of Venom, but can’t find much that is useful as the organization is quite secretive. He does however hear some interesting rumors about the war between the Empire and the Silmarians in the north. The barbarian horde is not advancing on the capital city, Tairon – they hold fast at Guardia. It is said that a large part of the barbarian army, tens of thousands of men, seems to have simply disappeared. Rumors also say that the legendary Drax the Destroyer, King of Silmaria and Unifier of the Barbarian Tribes, was slain in battle.

Emeris and Early stop by a tavern to discuss their findings. There, Early is confronted by an old northern man named VEGARD who claims to be Early’s uncle. He claims to have known Early’s father, and even knows Early’s name given at birth – Sigurd Thorvaissen. Vegard challenges Early to a duel in the middle of the tavern, in order to see if Early is worthy of carrying on his father’s legacy. In a furious melee that sends the other patrons fleeing from the building and the manager cowering behind the bar, Early defeats his uncle. Vegard tells him that he carries the Blade of the Silver Wolf, “Cryssaegrym.” Early’s bloodline is honor-bound to carry on the sword’s legacy and fulfill its mission. Early’s father, Dodend Jakter I Monshin (which translates as “Death Hunts by Moonlight”), failed however, and Vegard took up the task. However, after being captured and imprisoned in a vampire’s “pantry” for three years, most of Vegard’s power was drained away. Although he escaped, he did not feel he could fulfill the sword’s purpose, so he spent the last few years seeking out Sigurd aka Early. He tells Early how to complete a ritual that will reveal the mission of the sword him.

Emeris is summoned to Saharasahla to receive a gift – a magical rod that empowers the shadowcaster’s mysteries. Saharasahla asks how goes the search for the Book of Inverted Shadows – Emeris admits it is not going well. The strange old shadowcaster seems to care nothing of the situation with the chaos cults and equally uninterested in what they found beneath the Pythoness House.

The next day, the friends get their remaining chaos items identified, and Emeris is particularly taken with the skull of chaos, which can be used to conjure up a blast of chaotic energy. Early and Emeris get some horses and head out to the forest to complete Cryssaegrym’s ritual. That night, while Early sets up camp, Emeris seeks out an appropriate glade for his friend’s task ahead. Upon finding it, he finds he is being stalked by a pack of worgs and hurries back to camp. Him and Early are forced to fend off the ravenous monstrous wolves, which they do but they suffer great injuries. The next they, they kill time fishing and Early meditates in preparation for the ritual. That night, under a full moon, Early feels the power of Cryssaegrym and has a vision of himself running alongside a massive silver wolf on a plain of silver grass. The silver wolf spirit reveals that that wielder of Cryssaegrym must defeat a being known as Kyuss, or “the Worm that Walks”, and promote the natural order of nature against the force of destruction and chaos. This ritual seems to unlock some of the Silver Wolf Blade’s powers, while taking a bit of Early’s own strength to do so, and the warblade learns that as he himself grows stronger, more rituals can unlock greatest powers.

Emeris and Early return to the city. Early visits the Bull and Bear Armory to check on a helmet being fitted with the rhodintor horns. It is ready, but upon handing it over, HIRUS SHON, the armory’s owner, asks Early a favour. He says Itumar, his adopted son, has been hanging around with some sketchy characters that are part of the Brotherhood of Elan. Hirus asks him to talk to the boy and convince him to stay out of trouble. Hirus obviously disapproves of revolutionary types, but Early knows now that this Brotherhood is actually a chaos cult. He finds Itumar at the Ghostly Minstrel adventurers’ tavern that evening.

At first the boy is indignant and denies knowing anything about the Brotherhood. Eventually he confesses that he has actually been getting involved with them even before Early asked him to investigate the group several days ago. But Early is unable to convince the boy that the Brotherhood is more dangerous than he could imagine. Emeris, silent until now, takes the Book of Faceless Hate from his pack and places it on the table. He shows Itumar the relevant passages about the Brotherhood of Venom, and the wannabe adventurer is immediately convinced. He reveals that two nights from now he was supposed to attend a secret meeting in Midtown where he would officially be inducted into the Brotherhood. He gives them a ring with a broken square symbol, an item he was to use to gain access to the meeting.

Emeris and Early think this is a startlingly good lead on hunting down Khyron. From Itumar they learn that most members of the Brotherhood don’t know each other’s real identities, so they convince the young man to help them infiltrate the meeting two nights hence.

Next: The companions versus the Brotherhood of Venom! And the group receives a proposition from the Inverted Pyramid!

Random Elanian Factoid: Elanian people know of chaos cults. Cultists are apprehended and executed by the Commissar frequently enough that it's just a regular fact of life. They don't know much about them though. The situation is similar with the Forsaken, however they are probably the most reviled of all. They are known for repulsive acts far too violent and depraved to be mentioned here. Worse still, the Forsaken reside in the Dark Reliquary with some of Elan's most awesome evils -- Lord Archanfel's demons.

But the Keepers of the Faith are different -- few people believe they exist. A Keeper has never been brought to justice publicly. Rather, they are said to exist only in the most unfathomable of conspiracy theories. People who believe in the Keepers of the Faith are frequently regarded as paranoid and deluded.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Episode XVI: Night of Dissolution, Act I - The Pythoness House IV / The Case of Tavan Zith

Juliar 9 - 12

Dziga the rogue, Early the warblade-fighter, Emeris the draconic shadowcaster, Vatex the elven urban ranger, and Saral the cleric of the Emperor, awake from a comforting sleep in their own beds. Emeris awakes to find he has become significantly more draconic than before. He is starting to barely look human. They spend the early part of the afternoon visiting a local jeweller and selling the reams of jewellery and other valuable items. They sell the rhodintor axe at Rastor’s and the rhodintor shield at the Bull & Bear Armory. Given the discovery of the Brotherhood of Elan membership ring at the Pythoness House, Early asks Itumar about the Brotherhood. The young man says he knows nothing of them, other than they oppose the Empire, support freedom, and are not afraid of causing trouble to achieve their goals. Early proposes Itumar investigate the group and find out more about them.

Emeris heads to Oldtown to visit Saharasahla’s Shuul contact to obtain anti-sleep drugs. Early tags along but splits off to follow up on a lead from the Temple of Vexander, to speak with an old dwarf from the Shadowhearth clan named Rinner. Rinner says he can sell Early a six-shooter dragon pistol he has, a family heirloom passed down from the Shadowhearth days that he no longer has use for. The price is prohibitive for now, but Rinner also offers to simply trade it if Early can find him one of the legendary keys to Shadowhearth.

On the way to the Shuul agent, Emeris is assailed by a half-orc named TORUS who is ablaze with flame! The flames do not hurt the half-orc, but they hurt others, and in the chaos Torus lights a house on fire and burns Emeris badly. A friendly stranger with a huge axe helped Emeris shake off the distraught half-orc, and Emeris finished him off. Further down the street, a middle-aged woman selling pastries begins to levitate uncontrollably until some quick-thinking commoners throw up a rope and tie her down until the effect wears off. Another man starts firing lightning bolts every few seconds out of his body, killing various bystanders before the city guard fills him with crossbow bolts to take him down. Vatex and Dziga arrive, meeting up with Early who investigate the situation while Emeris goes up to meet the Shuul agent.

Encountering a dwarf who has suddenly developed the power to summon monsters into the streets, the group finds that very very old and insane dark elf monk, babbling incoherently in an obscure drow dialect, seems to be triggering the latent sorcery powers within people as he wanders around the city. Vatex and Dziga pursue and slay the drow monk in the street to the excitement of the gathered crowd. Early dispatches a summoned shadow mastiff and knocks the dwarf out cold, but not before he summons a giant octopus, a formian worker, and an imp (the last of which flies off before the group can stop it). The surrounding commoners, excited about how the group put an end to the situation, offers to buy them drinks and have a party for them at the local tavern. The group declines the offer – they must return to the Pythoness House. On the way there, a cleric from St. Gustav’s approaches Vatex and tells them Fabitor is looking to hire someone who is good at locating people.

Returning to the obscure corner of Oldtown, they pass a few kids playing in the street before entering the house and the room with the fat man statue. A slot has opened up in the fat man’s belly for the spiral key, and when they place it inside, the statue slides forward and reveals a ladder going down a shaft into a chamber below. The room below seems empty but for another shaft covered by s strange, translucent, fleshy membrane and a 10-foot tall skeleton that seems impaled to the wall by a greatsword. When they cut through the membrane, they find another shaft into a frozen cavern but without any ladder.

As they descend the ladder, however, the skeleton animates and pulls free the greatsword, using it to attack them with vicious strength. Dziga takes several terrible wounds and tries to tumble out of the fight to drink a potion – however the giant skeleton uses the opportunity to strike a mortal blow to his back, ending the rogue’s life. Emeris’ magic is virtually useless against the skeleton, and Early and Vatex find their edged weapons will not take the thing down quickly enough. Saral enters the melee to try and heal her allies, but the skeleton kills her with a series of awful slashes. Vatex lunges to grab the fallen Dziga’s dagger Asura, and tosses it to Early. Early channels the power of the Vajra through the vicious blade, pulls himself up using the skeleton’s ribcage, and drives the tip of the dagger through its face. The head shatters and the giant skeleton collapses into a pile of bones. Victory was achieved, but at a terrible price. With everyone badly wounded, and two of their party slain, the group returns to the surface.

The group visits the Temple of Ashe and tells Mand Scheben of their misfortune. As a favour to Castle Shard, this cleric of the god of civilization prepares a resurrection ritual at greatly reduced cost. The next morning, the group is whole once again, with Saral and Dziga badly shaken from their brief visit to the afterlife.

After purchasing climber’s tools, the group once again returns to the subterranean chambers of the Pythoness House. Vatex notices a strange twitch or spasm in Dziga and becomes somewhat concerned, but Dziga assures him it is probably just a side effect of the resurrection. It is odd though that the rogue suddenly proposes leaving the house without any explanation. They climb down to an unnaturally cold, frozen cavern about 100 feet below the house without much trouble, but for Vatex who slips and falls painfully the full thirty feet down the second shaft. In the strange cave, they find two minotaurs in an icy prison that begins to melt upon their arrival. The monsters bear strange tattoos and reveal they are guarding something and awaiting the “Night of Dissolution”. Vatex kills the first one with his spinning swords, which prompts the second one’s focused rage which takes down the elf. Dziga activates an old scroll from Toridan Cran’s wizard henchman and takes the minotaur down with two bolts of energy.

They find a strange tome of chaos called “The Book of Faceless Hate” also trapped in the ice. Otherwise, there is nothing but a foreboding passage through freezing water that waits under two feet of solid ice. Suspecting hypothermia should they plunge into the icy water unprotected, the group returns to the surface and acquires potions to resist the extreme cold so they can explore the tunnel. Emeris also reads one section from the chaos book about the Night of Dissolution, and a “final ritual” which can bring it about early. Apparently the Night of Dissolution is the ultimate goal of the chaos cults,

The group returns to the Pythoness House again and braves the frozen tunnel. They break through another foot of ice at the other end and find a chamber with six chests containing the treasures of chaos. Dziga picks each lock carefully and three-quarters of an hour later, the group has its loot – three magic swords, a magic spear, a skull-tipped rod, a skull of chaos, a couple pouches full of strange dust, a scroll, and perhaps most interesting of all -- one of Neveran’s allkeys. A massive steel door seems to hide more, but they can find no way to open it. It bears the inscription: “The Greatest Threat to the Stalwart Kings of Order, Created by That Ancient Elven Champion, Vaios the Slayer.” What lies beyond that door?

Leaving with the goods easily proves to be impossible, however. It seems the forces of chaos were somehow alerted to their taking of the anti-law arsenal. Khyron, former leader of the Crimson Coil, now a member of something called the “Keepers of the Faith”, faces off with them outside the keep. His sizable entourage includes Andross, the man from the Rat Temple, a liontaur chaos cleric, a lizardwoman archer, and six double-sword wielding human warriors. Khyron says his membership with the Keepers has granted him great power, which he proves by transforming into a massive demonic creature. Andross transforms as well, into a terrible toad-like monster with tentacles for arms that look like eyeless snakes. They demand the weapons of chaos be turned over to them.

Early, Vatex, Emeris, Dziga, and Saral are not about to turn over that which they worked so hard to acquire, even when offered their lives in return. Against dire odds, they have the fight of their lives against Khyron and his forces. Emeris unleashes a devastating wave of shadowy energy which badly wounds most of the warriors and the rest are cut down. But for the liontaur cleric’s terrible bell which compels them with a strong magical sleep enchantment, it seems they might win. But Khyron is too strong, and his group too determined to take the weapons for themselves. Everyone in the group is knocked out or put into a magical slumber, and the chaos cultists take the three swords, the rod, and the spear. Fortunately, they do not bother to kill the downed companions nor do they take the skull, the dust, the scroll, or the allkey.

They are roused by two children who have brought the city guard. Burning with the desire for revenge against the cultists who took from them, especially Khyron, they return to Dziga’s. They use the allkey to at last open the unopenable chest. Inside they find a flaming elven longsword called “Flame of Elmekia”, a wand of fireballs, and a shield of fire resistance. Vatex takes the sword and they sell the rest.

They then pay a visit to St. Gustav’s to speak with Fabitor, who again thanks the group for helping Phon. He tells them Vatex he would like to hire him (and the others) to find a missing half-elf paladin named KALERECENT. Divinations point vaguely to his involvement with the strange incident with the dark elf monk from a few days ago.

More urgent for the moment though is confronting Shilukar at Castle Shard. The group suspects treachery -- did the dark elf set them up to get the chaos weapons and tell the chaos cultists about it?

Next: The companions receive a proposition from the Inverted Pyramid! And the quest for revenge against Khyron begins...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Episode XV: Night of Dissolution, Act I -- The Pythoness House III (Juliar 9)

Vatex, Dziga, Emeris, and Early leave the gatehouse after resting and return to the fourth level of the Pythoness House. They explore the battlements outside and find a rooftop garden, from which they access a small ledge where they find a small iron key. Then they return to Radanna’s chamber and rise to the fifth level of the keep. Dziga finds an old stash of poisons on a bookshelf.

Ascending to the sixth level, the company finds a ritual room covered in symbols associated with the summoning of demons, conjuring dark power, and other evil acts. Hidden within one symbol they find a hidden switch that opens a small compartment, in which they find a ring bearing the symbol of a broken square. Vatex knows the symbol as that of the Brotherhood of Elan, an obscure anti-Empire group. Early recalls that Itumar was looking at the Brotherhood’s political pamphlet. The group speculates as to the possible connection between the denizens of the Pythoness House and the Brotherhood.

They take a bridge from the central tower to the western tower. As Dziga searches the door for booby traps, a monstrous thing crashes through it, attacking them in a fury. It is brutish, stupid thing with two heads, three arms, and pipes and tubing wound throughout its body…the Cobbled Man! It grapples with the rogue and hurls him from the bridge, where he crashes below on a flower pot in the rooftop garden thirty feet below. Early engages the brute in melee while Vatex fires his rifle and Emeris conjures his shadowy flames around it. The warblade-fighter keeps the Cobbled Man at bay for a few moments, until he too is heaved off the bridge. Vatex sinks another round into it as Dziga returns to the fight, tumbling past the flailing aberration. He spins and sinks the Asura dagger into its back. The dead Cobbled Man falls off the bridge, landing on the prone warblade below.

Early finds half of the spiral device Taunell had mentioned, stitched inside the Cobbled Man’s shirt. They proceed to explore the Cobbled Man’s abode in the western tower. From the roof, they see a goat-headed demon watching them from the central tower. Saharasahla contacts Emeris through the thoughtstone, and tells him that it is “earthbound demon” called a rhodintor, a servant of the Ancients – very powerful and devious. They fire upon it from the western tower, and it seems to mock their attacks until Vatex smashes it with a perfect shot from his spyglass rifle. The terrible chest wound spurts sizzling black blood.

The rhodintor flees to the third level, powering itself up with magic along the way. It sends a couple of hellhounds to harry to group but they are dispatched quickly. The group pursues, consuming potions of strength and dexterity and Dziga downing a potion of invisibility. They square off with it on the fourth floor, where draws its shield and axe and seems excited to fight as they surround it. Emeris reaches in to drain its strength with shadow magic, but the rhodintor shoves him aside with his shield. Early crouches low to evade a heavy swing, and the rhodintor carries the momentum to deal a grievous blow to Vatex. The rhodintor then drives its horns into the urban ranger’s guts, nearly killing him! Dziga appears and strikes at the demon’s flank, staggering the demon. Early uses the opening to channel his power through the Vajra, the wolf spirit inside him lending him strength for a devastating cut that cleanly decapitates the awful foe. They take its fine weapon and shield, and Early takes the head as a trophy.

The group returns to the central tower and explores the disgusting rhodintor nest, but find nothing. The only area unexplored is the northeast tower, but they can find no access. A suggestion from Early leads them to use the small iron key on a secret door in the ceiling of the room beneath the tower. There they find the brothel’s secret treasury – a chest with thousands of silver and gold coins and other loot, as well as the other half of the spiral key.

Emeris assumes that with the rhodintor dead, they might be able to leave the Pythoness House. They find the wall of force is indeed no longer there. Although eager to explore whatever is beneath the old keep and hopefully find the weapons of chaos and the allkey, they know they will be better off if they can sell their loot and stock up on more gear before proceeding. They retire to the Dragonsfire Inn until morning.

Next: The companions prepare to explore beneath the Pythoness House! Will they find reward or disaster?

Random Elanian Factoid: Rastor is a massive liontaur weaponsmith who runs a shop in the Undercity Market that specializes in masterwork and magic weapons. Having worked with magic weapons for years, he can look at any armament, heft it, swing it a few times, and tell its exact magic enhancement. He can even identify some other special qualities of weapons. He does this for his customer’s at no charge – if he cannot identify it, he refers folk to Myraeth’s Oddities.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Episode XIV: Night of Dissolution, Act I -- The Pythoness House II (Juliar 8-9)

And so the ghost of Taunell, the undead cleric of the Holy Emperor who haunts the Pythoness House’s gatehouse, attacks Dziga with his corrupting touch. It also attempts to possess him, declaring while he could not protect the keep from the “red-cowled priests,” he would protect it from all others. Dziga flees the gatehouse with Vatex to join the others. When Saral sees that Taunell is a fellow cleric of the Holy Order of Vigoor, she diplomatically convinces him that fighting them is pointless and they mean him no harm.

Taunell speaks of the other spirit in the house, which he calls the “chaos spirit,” who he claims guards whatever is below the house. He can see everything in the house except the under-levels. He gives them a few hints about the secrets of the house – there is a spiral key broken into two pieces – one is possessed by something called “the Cobbled Man” and the other is stored in the northeast tower. He speaks of another key that a woman dropped from the rooftop garden long ago. Finally, he says he is cursed to possess the gatehouse because of his sin of anger, and he can only be freed by the recitation of a certain prayer, but he cannot remember which one it is.

The group splits up. Vatex, Early, and Dziga explore an old dining room and another boudoir on the second floor. There they are attacked by tiny animated angel figurines made of crystal, but Vatex’s flurry of blades makes short work of them. Otherwise, they find little of interest other than some gems. Vatex meets his owl companion at the window and sends it flying around the keep. When it returns, Vatex can feel that it is disturbed by something it had sensed above them somewhere.

Emeris and Saral return to the courtyard and climb a narrow staircase to an old well, trying to find the key to which Taunell had referred. When Emeris disturbs the well’s waters with a rope, an ooze-like undead spirit emerges and tries to drag them down. It proves resistant to Emeris’ shadow magic, but Saral’s holy power destroys the thing. Emeris tries to lower Saral into the well to search, but his knot fails and she falls in. The well is clogged with old lumber and masonry and trash and has nothing of value. Saral is unable to get out of the 50-foot deep well and uses Emeris' potion of levitation. They find no key, but from this vantage point they can see another outer ledge which appears accessible from the fourth storey.

They ascend to the third floor, where a massive brawl breaks out when they are attacked en masse by rat swarms and dire rats, one of which appeared corrupted by some fiendish element. The battle was joined by ratlords, wielding dragon pistols and swords, riding two particularly huge dire rats as mounts. Dziga came close to death but eventually they won, with carnage spread all over the third floor. The two ratlords appeared to be worshippers of the Rat God, although the companions had earlier learned there was in fact no Rat God – there was only Abhoth, one of the so-called “Ancients”.

Further exploration takes them to the fourth level, where they search Maquent’s old chamber. They read her journal and learn more of the Pythoness House’s sordid history. It is confirmed that Radanna, one of the proprietors, worked with the Crimson Coil cult and hid weapons of chaos beneath the keep. It was intended that they be used to serve chaos on the “Night of Dissolution”. This is the second reference to this enigmatic event that they have come across. At one point, it is even said that the chaos cultists brought to the house an “earthbound demon”, a creation of the Ancients. This demon brought more fiendish creatures from the Dark Reliquary to serve the goals of cult. Only when the Knights of the Pale attacked the place was all this brought to an end.

Across the hall they find Radanna’s chamber – which is still inhabited by Radanna. She has become a hate-filled skeleton warrior, accompanied by a heavily-armed entourage of other skeletons. She laughs disturbingly as the companions’ blades hack her apart, while Saral channels the Emperor’s power to discorporate most of the weaker undead foes.

With that afternoon of heavy fighting, the group is exhausted and low on resources. They decide to take the rest of the day off and sell off some of their loot. To their unpleasant surprise, they find a wall of force is blocking the main entrance, trapping them inside! Left with no choice but to rest in the Pythoness House, the group retreats to the gatehouse, where they replenish magic and sleep off some of their injuries. By the time they are ready to continue, it past midnight. For the last eight hours, they have heard the strange voice from earlier whispering eerie phrases, like “Chaos is the key,” “I must feed,” and “Come to me…”

It is time to move on.

Next time: The companions face more horrors left behind by the Crimson Coil!

Random Elanian Factoid: The Knights of the Pale is the organization that assaulted the chaos followers and demons at the Pythoness House a year ago. They are a sixteen-member group dedicated to the elimination of fiends and evil spellcasters in the city. They have an Imperial Charter and are allied with the celestials at the Pale Tower and the anti-undead Keepers of the Veil.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Episode XIII: Night of Dissolution, Act I -- The Pythoness House I (Juliar 8)

It rains heavily on this dark day, the day Emeris the shadowcaster, Vatex the urban ranger, Dziga the rogue, and Early the warblade-fighter enter the Pythoness House in search of the weapons of chaos and Neveran’s allkey. Additionally, they are joined by Emeris’ new acquaintance from the Imperial University, a geeky cleric of the Emperor dedicated to lore, named SARAL. She seems easily distracted and carries a huge crossbow.

Located in Oldtown, the House is actually an eight-storey square keep. Since the Knights of the Pale attacked the place two years ago, it has been abandoned. Or has it? The four of them enter through the main entrance to a large courtyard, with surrounding walls so high it almost seems like an interior chamber with no roof. They enter the keep itself and hear a voice both outside and inside their mind, saying “Come to me…” Inside, everything is covered in dust and grime and cobwebs.

They look around the main floor and are ambushed by ratlings throwing powder bombs and knives. A terrible ratbrute charges from hiding behind a curtain and nearly slays Early in its assault. Dziga nearly cripples the brute with sneak attacks and Emeris brings it down with disabling shadow energy. Vatex and Sarel dispatch the ratlings. After the fight, they explore and find a statue of an evil looking fat man which appears to hide something beneath it. Although no amount of strength they can will move it, they notice a curious indentation in its belly.

They search a trio of former boudoirs, one of which seeming strangely clean and well kept and is inhabited by three lusty prostitutes. Dziga questions them then the illusion dissolves, revealing the whores are wights. One manages to wrap its hands around Dziga’s throat, choking away his very life energy. Quick action by the others saved him, as the whore wight would not have let go lest it or Dziga had been destroyed. In another boudoir, an old candle holder suddenly flies at Early and cuts him above the eye.

On the western landing they find a disgusting former kitchen inhabited by hundreds of diseased rats which immediately swarm the group. One of Early’s Vajra maneuvers killed a few hundred in one stroke and made easier the task of scattering the rest. Across from the kitchen was a door to the western tower, the third level of which contained a large jar full of dark yellow liquid, a book called “The Philosophy of Fate”, and a candle with the word “Segginal” carved into it. They spoke with word “Segginal” before the fat man statue and the shadows around them stirred slightly in response. Emeris and Vatex took a look at the book and found it to be cursed, damaging their very minds merely by reading the first word on the first page. They left behind the jar as Dziga had a suspicion it contained old urine.

On the second level, Dziga and Vatex explore the gatehouse while Emeris and Early watche their back. There, a table covered in old weapons is somehow hurled at Dziga. Annoyed, he starts tossing the weapons out the window so he can explore without having the house’s spirits throw sharp things at him. A ghost of a cleric of the Emperor manifests before him suddenly. Dziga asks if it is Segginal, instead it calls itself Taunell, servant of the Emperor. With that proclamation, it attacks Dziga.

Next: The Pythoness House is haunted by spirits, infested by rats, and...what else?