Tuesday, May 31, 2011

EPISODE 52: Vermillion and the Death Busters; The Trial of Helmut Itlstein

Augustar 15-17

The Rosegate Company exits the Banewarrens without encountering drow or Pactlords or Sadar agents or anyone else.

The group decides that they should attack the Quaan, but since Helmut’s trial is tomorrow, they don’t want to get stuck in another demiplane and cause problems. After they sell loot they decide to hang out in town for a day or two, wary of potential assassins sent by the Republican leader...

Vatex visits the Fateweavers headquarters to ask about his visions of the elf woman in the mirror. He speaks with a man named ORLAS who is a “mirror seer”. He says the “mirror seeing” talen is extremely rare and difficult to control. But he explains that the vision seen by the seer is always something inextricably tied to his destiny -- whether it be an object, a place, a person, or whatever. Vatex says he sees an elf woman every week or two, and Orlas perhaps his comrade ORLANA (no relation) can teach him how to learn more from his visions. He says she will contact the elf soon as she will be interested in this ability.

Emeris doesn’t want to miss the trial, but doesn’t want to become ill from the quest enchantment that binds him by getting. So he decides to go to the Imperial University with Early to look for books about the Sword of Lies. Hopefully that suffices to qualify as continuing to quest for the spell, which it seems to. Early searches various texts and searches for info about “Kaluth-Mar.” Apparently it was a great city in a ancient human kingdom that existed more than 20,000 years ago. Its ruins should lie beyond the Holy Empire’s borders, in the jungle kingdoms of Narshe. That is now lizardfolk territory. Early borrows the book “Ancient Histories of the Border Kingdoms, Volume VI: Narshe,” which has a few chapters about Kaluth-Mar. Perhaps there are references to Kyuss.

The group reconvenes and heads to the White House to celebrate their victory over Navanna and the iron golem. Emeris gets the most expensive elven prostitute, and Early gets a tough biker chick prostitute. Dziga gambles on the Mrathrach game, and recalls adventures below in the cavern with the Mrathrach Machine. Emeris gambles as well, becoming quite a spectacle as he gambles away piles of gold coins, and walks away a few thousand coins richer. Vatex keeps a careful eye on anyone who might be an assassin.

Before the group departs the White House, they learn that someone outside it waiting for them. Dziga’s shadow companion, viewing the street from the adjacent alley, reports a couple of suspicious looking cloaked characters across the street. When the company leaves the White house, they attacked by the gun-wielding Vai assassin, Vermillion, and his elite team of chaositech wielding assassins -- the Death Busters!

Dziga sees Terquad and Varimer across the street, and fires his bow at the woman with short blond hair and a scar on her face. The arrow is true but she is quicker than he expected, and draws strange, small spikey balls from her belts. Varimer deploys her quickly, and it transforms into an man sized, angular, lithe constructs with bodies made gray-black metal, its joints flaring into jagged edges. The chaositech bot charges Dziga and smashes him with its metal fist which is surrounded with a disorienting aura. Vatex steps up against the chaositech bot, hacking and slashing, his magic blades shearing through metal but still the bot fights with mindless abandon.

On the rooftop of the costume shop across from the White House, the warforged psionic warrior R17 takes aim at Early and Emeris with his wicked looking chaositech gun. It fires a line of metal shards that tears through their flesh. The late night folks in the street, like hookers and drug dealers and scoundrels and, start running away from the carnage.

Emeris channels the power of shadow and dark energy swirls swirls around his hands, and Early rushes forward with a feral growl, rushing towards Terquad, who is trying to deploy his own chaositech bot. He is not fast enough. Early dashes across the street and Cryssaegrym cuts through the man from hip to hip. Varimer sees her comrade go down and tries to fall back as other allies appear down the street from behind a wagon -- Bartoli the half-ogre barbarian, wielding a nasty huge club covered in twisting spikes and small spinning blades, and Dorath Kir, the fighter and Vermillion’s second-in-command.

Bartoli charges Early who is smacked by the wicked club, the the warblade counter attacks with a Soaring Raptor Strike. Vatex’s blades finish the chaositech bot and he moves to join the warblade. Then Vermillion appears, from his invisible sniper position, firing a well-aimed shot from his sniper rifle at the elf as he runs past the fallen chaositech bot. The elf feels eyes on his back at the last second and turns a fatal shot through the neck into a serious chest wound. He coughs up blood but he’s still ready to fight and kill.

Vatex continues into combat with Bartoli, then takes a shot from the chaositech blaster on Dorath’s left arm. The blue beam of hissing energy burns his armor into his flesh around his ribs. Damn! The elf doesn’t relent, and despite injury nimbly ducks under two of Bartoli’s swings, and drives his blades into the ogre’s guts. He expects Early to finish the ogre at that moment but then Enchilios, the elven sorcerer, appears overhead, using magical flight to attempt to dominate from the skies. He casts a quick spell with a few words of power and a greasy slick appears beneath Early. The warblade slips with a crash as he attempts to evade Bartoli’s backswing. It appears that the ogre has the advantage and stands to crush his fallen enemy’s skull, but Early quick draws his two double pistols and fires unloads their four barrels of rounds cackling with electricity into the ogre’s chest, dropping the brute dead.

Vermillion takes his rifle in one hand and a modified six-shooter dragon pistol in his other hand, and fires the street with gunfire. Vatex and Early take several gunshot rounds. His bodyguard R17 fires those shrieking rays of metal shards beside him, filling Early’s body like porcupine quills.

Dziga slashes at Varimer with Asura. The disruptive field around the dagger dissolves her flesh and she tries to fall back, firing spinning blades from the device on her arm. Dziga dives through the swarm of blades, which he escapes unharmed. Emeris rushes down the street to cut her off, blasting shadow energy from his hands which smashes her against the wall. Dziga vanishes into shadow, reappears behind Varimer and cuts her down while fending off her slender chaositech ooze sword.

Emeris takes to the sky and uses the magic of shadow to imitate a arcane fireball, blasting the rooftop containing Vermillion and R17. Although the fireball seems made only of shadowstuff, it still burns still seems to light up the street in the night.

Enchilios casts magic webs at Vatex and Early, entangling them while Dorath Kir produces his own chaositech pokeball and rolls it towards the elf. It becomes another chaositech bot, but before it can get any advantage Vatex it free, fighting past it to attack Dorath Kir, who readies his gleaming longsword. Vatex stabs Dorath quickly then jumps 10 feet back. He realizes that Early is still trapped in the webbing, and R17 has jumped from the rooftop of the costume shop and is preparing to attack, powering up with an array of psionic powers. He turns against the chaositech bot to make sure it cannot flank Early, and sets his blades to work. He takes a hit from the disorienting chaos punch, but the bot loses its arm in the process as Heth’s blade severs its elbow. The rudeus splits the bot’s head but still it fights. Vatex looks over his shoulder and sees Dorath closing in on him.

Then Dziga’s shadow is there, grasping his head and draining his strength. Dorath swings his sword, which now seems much heavier. The shadow is cut, its negative energy bleeding into the Prime, and it falls back. The delay however gives Vatex time to cut down the chaositech bot.

Dziga can’t seems to dispel the webbing to free Early more quickly, so he uses his dispel wand and fires it at the flying Enchilios. Although the sorcerer’s shield and mage armor stay up, his flight is dispelled and he falls 60 feet to the ground. The impact breaks his ribs through his flesh and he gasps for life as blood fills his lungs. Emeris drives down towards him, hands extended with columns of shadow magic erupting from his fingers. Enchilios’ body simply explodes, with bloody chunks of meat splattering all along the street.

Early fights his way out of the webbing at last, just as R17 charges him, his acid dripping spear extended towards him. Early roars and lunges foward to meet him. R17’s spear bends aside against Early’s enhanted plate mail. Powered by psionics the warforged bodyguard recovers very quickly and attacks again, but Early’s katana slashes the haft of the spear, knocking it aside. Another step forward and Early’s Elder Mountain Hammer explodes the warforged’s head.

Emeris flies up and sees Vermillion go invisible and fire a shot as he jumps across to the next rooftop. Emeris takes the hit and then sees Varis, the mysterious gentleman stranger who accompanies the Death Busters, become visible on the custume shop roof. The exquisitely dressed fellow seems to have no weapons or armor at all and seems quite out of place. Varis uses an enchantment to influence Emeris’ mind. “This is all just a big mix-up. Stop fighting, come on down here with him, and we’ll talk.”

Crazy as it should sound, Emeris seems overcome with the amazing REASONABLENESS of that request. For some reason, Varis seems like a really nice guy and maybe this whole assassination thing is a big mix up. He lands on the rooftop, arms held out in a sign of peace.

Then the magic fades, but Varis is already quick to act. He quickly produces an exquisite pistol from his cloak and fires two quick shots at Emeris. Even as Emeris stumbles back from the two hits, Dziga teleports through the shadows of the nighttime street to appear behind the gentleman stranger. He drives his Asura into Varis’ back three times and he is dead before he even realizes what happened. But instead of collapsing dead, he dissolves into silver wisps of energy. Weird.. or somethig?

Vatex faces off against Dorath, and is joined by the shadow companion of Dziga. Vatex had hunted many generic human fighters in Elan and Dorath was really no different. He slashes wound after wound into Dorath as the shadow continues draining his strength. Dorath has become so weakened he can barely stand in his heavy suit of armor. He can barely swing his sword... he can’t breathe, he tries to get his helmet off, but the elf is attacking again. He musters the last of his strength to swing his sword, but the elf blocks easily and the blade slides along the rudeus of Vazdah to the hilt. Vatex then turns the blade down and aside, and brings Heth’s sword across to cleave through the helm and into Dorath’s head. Blood sprays out from the visor.

Vermillion jumps from roof to roof, and using his assassin magic, he remains invisible and silent even as he moves with great haste. Emeris blasts many rooftops with freezing breath magic, hoping for a lucky kill. Unfortunately, the group loses the assassin and curses his cowardice. As they loot the assassin bodies, the city guard shows up and seems quite happy about the whole slaughter when the group of dead bodies is identified as Vai assassi

Although Vermillion escaped, the good news is that he probably won’t be coming after them again... at least not for awhile, and now they can probably sleep easily tonight. .

As long as Aliaster Vladaam doesn’t teleport into their house while they sleep or something crazy like that! … Well okay maybe they can’t really sleep easy, but they can still go back to their house because if Aliaster can get them, he can get them pretty much anywhere.

Back at the Rosegate House, they walk in on Seanus having intimate relations with some halfling floozy on the sofa in the living room. Turns out Seanus told her the mansion belonged to him! The girl is quite displeased when she finds out Seanus is just the butler.

That night everyone gets some items delivered from the Dreaming Apothecary. Emeris gets a new vest that makes his subtle dragon scales hard like steel, and Vatex gets some augment crystals to attach to his weapons. Dziga finally gets his custom rapier, called “Gozu Vrow”, an ancient term that has something to do with corrosion. The surface of its blade looks dark and pitted, and it looks strangely fragile, as though the first blow might break it. But it is actually forged of adamantine, and can be sheathed with acid at Dziga’s will.

The next day, the trial of Helmut Itlstein goes poorly for the leader of the Republicans. In one particularly grotesque courtroom spectacle, Emeris empties a sack containing the Death Busters’ severed heads onto the floor as he mocks Helmut’s failed attempt to have them assassinated. Although Helmut’s lawyer attempts to impeach the Rosegate Company, mainly due to Dziga having taken a plea bargain on child murder charges, it is to no avail. The judge finds Helmut guilty of treason for conspiring to commit terrorist acts against the Holy Vigoor Empire, including the attempted takeover of the Holy Palace and assassination of the Holy Order’s Archprelate on the “night of the Black Rain.”

And so Helmut is sentenced to be publicly tortured until he begs for the Holy Emperor’s mercy, at which point he will be beheaded, three days hence. Helmut gives an impassioned speech, saying that he was burdened with difficult choices because of the prophecies revealed by his god, the Watcher of the Skies. He justifies his actions saying that everything he did (including, presumably, killing children) he did for the good of his beloved city.

The group decides to go out for drinks to celebrate Helmut’s conviction, and decides to visit a known Republican hangout -- a small tavern called the Hunter’s Club. A few patrons, Republicans likely, seem to recognize the group and try to avoid their gaze. They spend a few hours in this establishment, observing the patrons react to the news of Helmut’s conviction.

There are many Republicans in there that night. They listen carefully to one particular group, consisting of an unnamed man, and two other men named Bottalogie and Ezar. They seem to know something about Republican internal politics. They refer to a man named RAKNIAN and how, whoever he is, he will be furious. They speak of how much Raknian hates Elan’s city council. And how he is more aggressive than the ever-careful, meticulous machinations of Helmut.

They also speak of another person, or maybe a group, called REBEL FOUR, and how they wonder what Rebel Four’s reaction to Helmut’s conviction will be. Who or what is Rebel Four? No one in the group, not even Vatex, has ever heard the term.

On the way home, they speak with many people and eavesdrop on others about their thoughts on the whole “Trial of the Year” thing. So say how they like the Republicans but they are disheartened that Helmut was convicted on terrorism charges, because he always spoke publicly about bringing change with non-violence. Others are very pro-Republican and furious, talking about how the whole trial was a big sham. Others, pro-Empire types, are glad to see a traitor executed for his crimes. It is surprising though, overall, to hear how Helmut was commonly thought to be a decent, respectable guy in the religious and secular community and many people did indeed believe that the trial was a big joke based on various rumors they’d heard, both true and false. Of course, many others just don’t give a damn one way or another. The justice system is corrupt, what else is new?

Next time: An attack on the Quaan to retrieve the second piece of the Staff of Shards? Or back to the Banewarrens?

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