Upheaval in Zhaltssom

Epilogue
Where Are They Now?

The Party

Of all the heroes, Fiona was the least scarred by her experience in the war against the rakshasas. She had already been planning to open a school and library with the funds she had earned, and now, her dream was a reality – “Al-Kutbay, Nabataean”. Even among the libraries in the northern regions of the kingdom, this one was legendary, not only for the deeds of the librarian and her employees, but for its vast contents. Upon the completion of this library, Fiona did temporarily halt her adventuring, but only long enough to write a book chronicling the adventure. She does occasionally adventure otherwise, when the time allows.

Rephael’s sacred mission was temporarily delayed, but not by the fact that he died in the final battle against the demons. His delay was instead to further educate his successor, Itri Patil, and his new apprentice, Marjani Patil, about his gods and what they stand for. Aside from this education, his battle to absolve Dou-Bral continues. Redeeming a god is not easy work, but Rephael’s ability to redeem creatures widely considered wholly evil has given him the strength to carry on.

Drake retired from his adventuring career. He had seen much and discovered one of his dreams – becoming a royal chef. The path to this dream was a little difficult at first – the king’s cooks knew of his heroic deeds but not so much about his cooking ability, and it took Drake a while to persuade them that he was worthy of the position. They discovered that Drake was able to prepare almost anything, even foods normally considered toxic. It was this talent, and an intuition honed by his adventuring time, that allowed Drake to rise in position. He is just shy of leading these chefs after successfully preparing drone selachim meat as edible and non-toxic sushi, a task usually considered impossible by all but the best-trained chefs of the kingdom.

Bruin was the most affected by the war with the rakshasas. Having danced with death too many times, and actually dying near the end, he realized he was not the warrior he believed he had been. He has become something of a wanderer, leaving most of his possessions with Fiona and donating his remaining money to the orphanage he helped create. Only his scimitar remains with him. In time, perhaps he will return. No one knows.

Supporting Cast

Damian returned to his post as Nathkarin’s ruler. Having witnessed the depths that enemies will stoop to in order to eliminate him, he has become very cautious about public appearances and actually accepting gifts from anyone. Security is much higher in the town, particularly when Damian makes a public appearance.

Dorian was now the leader of the town of Bludzen. It was a position thrust upon him after Samuel Darrin’s death, with responsibilities he was not ready for. He spends a lot of his time educating Cecilia, his blood descendant, and Okara, who needed guidance, on how best to use their vampirism to benefit others.

Leticia became something of a solo adventurer, using her new-found worldly experience to single-handedly put a halt to many of the minor threats around the kingdom. Her specialty remained demon-hunting, which she was much better able to do after having adventured with the party. She does occasionally visit her clan, who are very proud of what she has become.

Mathias and Minh now serve under Fiona, working at the library she established. Mathias has also been seeking help from other shapechangers, trying to decide on his new course in life with most of his pack dead. Minh is a fair bit calmer and has been known to spend a lot of nights researching, trying to find information he can use to twist the rakshasa mindset towards better purposes. He wants to see his people become more respectable.

Dominic got his name cleared and was released from prison after helping the kingdom. He is the only former prisoner that anyone would let near an orphanage, and he entertains children by day while hunting criminals and assisting bartenders at night. It is still his dream to search for the ideal brew.

Quianna was given a new job as a tax collector for the kingdom. She is generally only called upon when high-profile people refuse to pay, as she invariably has to steal the tax money in order to do her job.

Rantrabi was now an adviser for the king on matters of weaponry. He spends his days designing prototype siege weapons, and occasionally ventures out to test them.

Isora now leads his tribe. Having the most worldly experience and assisting in battles against their enemies, this was the obvious choice.

Shun finally resumed her quest for vengeance. This has left her a wanderer much like Bruin.

Secondary Incidents

One of Drake’s habits as a royal chef is using his cooking as a means to send messages to those he knows. Some genuinely appreciate his style. Others, like Rephael, aren’t so understanding. Drake sends a fair number of pork buns and balls of cabbage towards Rephael, always trying to convince him to eat the meat rather than the vegetable. The occasional one makes it as close as the temples of Rephael’s gods, but these usually get used as teaching aids by the Shelyn clergy – in lessons about resisting temptation. Others do not make it at all, with both meat and vegetable getting eaten by someone else on the way. Ironically, this has made Drake’s cooking very popular among those in noble circles.

Meanwhile, in Hell, Gozuki and Mezuki returned, having been banished back. They relayed their tales to other demons between sessions of torturing the damned, and while a few found their repeated defeats to be shameful, many of the demons were thrilled by these stories. Knowing that beings like Rephael exist in the Prime Material has made most of the demons hesitant to accept any summoning rituals, but they all bide their time, waiting for an opening to storm this world that is new to them and wreak havoc.

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Adventure Session 11
The End of the War

Part 30: Requisition

While Fiona and Bruin rested in preparation for the final encounter, Rephael sought to make Itri his successor. This included a last will and testament that would have left the temple to Itri, as well as binding part of his spark to Itri’s gun.

Meanwhile, Drake sought to have Damian requisition for an army to face the rakshasas. Several days after the requisition attempt, Dorian sought Drake out to deliver the bad news. Apparently, unnatural disasters had struck the Orozhakian kingdom’s capital. All military and medical personnel on the kingdom’s payroll proper were needed to help people and maintain order during the crisis. However, others had answered the call who were not in that kind of position. In addition to Drake, Rephael, Bruin, and Fiona, those who answered the call for battle were Damian, Dorian, Itri, Minh, Dominic, Leticia, Marcus, Mathias, Rantrabi, Quianna, Okara, and Shun.

Damian explained that there would be two teams going into the palace, which he had been able to pinpoint exactly thanks to the surge of energy that accompanied the unnatural disasters. The heroes would captain the first team and Damian himself would captain the second.

Part 31: The Final Battles

The palace itself had been magically changed by the magic used to attack the kingdom. Zheng left it a straight shot, but the party ran into Gozuki and Mezuki one last time. These two claimed that all of their combats were, for lack of a more adult term, little more than a big party to them. This time, they brought guests – a horse demon named Orobas, a manta ray-like demon called Forneus, and an owl demon named Andras. These five were imbued with training from Zheng herself, and all were very dangerous individually. Working in concert, they would have annihilated our heroes and their entire team – and Mezuki did in fact kill Bruin and Rephael for a brief time.

On the other side, Damian’s team encountered the remaining rakshasas – Marjani Patil, Sethunya Sykora, and Kunto Patil. They also discovered that Samir and Oluchi Shulac had been revived. However, the three living rakshasas surrendered immediately after the two antipaladins were taken out. Damian’s team also put an end to one last room of resurrection crystals when they heard Itri calling for help. They responded in force to help the heroes’ team, also giving Dorian the chance to banish Gozuki and Mezuki outright.

After healing their wounds, the party went to face Zheng Horak. She attempted to give them a long speech, but Drake used the trick of making his hands appear behind her and using the ring of retribution one more time. This shocked her so much that she could put up little resistance to the party, despite an abundance of traps around her. Zheng revealed in her final moments that she knew she had no hope of redemption, so Rephael beheaded her.

This ended the unnatural disasters. The kingdom had been saved.

(Epilogues will follow separately.)

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Adventure Session 10
Explosive Vendetta

Part 27: Rebuilding

After the battle, the city of Nathkarin needed to rebuild. Bruin directly assisted with the rebuilding by lifting and such. Drake kept the citizens well-fed by preparing and cooking the remains of the blattar siegers. Fiona assisted with morale by telling stories and entertaining the populace.

Meanwhile, Rephael already stumbled into the next incident. A servant of Tecciz, going by the name of Hirudinea, approached him trying to gain political asylum. She had apparently been framed for many an incident by rogue members of her sect. Not much later, Itri insisted on meeting with Minh to discuss things related to the geas, but also some information about Grigor’s connection to the Maharaja came to light. What also came to light was that Mathias, the leader of the werewolves that the party had encountered in one of the mines, had lost most of his pack to one of Grigor’s traps, and he sought vengeance.

Rephael attempted to gain more information on Hirudinea and Mathias, to learn from his gods that Hirudinea was innocent. Mathias, however, was the evil one in all of this, and while Shelyn can put up with him working with Rephael, there was a warning that he’d need to have his vendetta reined in somewhat. Given free reign, Mathias’ vengeance would be brutal and limitless. Hirudinea would later give Rephael a feather that served as a good start for Mathias to track.

Part 28: Cowards Die Many Times

Rephael would later meet up with Itri again, near the end of the geas being lifted. Itri was talking to Damian at this time – Damian had just received a package from a man named Gerald, who ran the northwestern province of the Orozhakian kingdom. By all accounts, this delivery was normal and Damian had magically scanned it to determine it actually was from Gerald. However, when he opened it and read the card inside, he realized he’d still been fooled – just as Sergei had taken the stuffed animal that was inside.

One explosion later, Sergei established contact with every communication crystal in the kingdom, begging for someone to come help Damian. As it turns out, Damian had ripped the stuffed animal from Sergei’s grasp just before it exploded. Sergei survived and was barely hurt, but Damian lost the use of his arms until responders could repair the damage. Fiona and Rephael were the first on the scene and questioned both Damian’s staff and the first responders. Mathias also responded – and showed Rephael the card. It read, “Good luck with your investigation! Grigor Sykora”

After establishing that Grigor did indeed write that note, the party collectively decided to head to Warrickdale, the place where Gerald governed. Upon arriving, they met with Jasper, a canid who was filling in for Gerald after the latter’s disappearance. Jasper revealed that Gerald usually had a device he used to put a magic signature on his packages to make sure people knew it was from him, and that not only did it go missing the day before, but he warned Damian of this fact. Mathias focused on finding Gerald’s scent, which the party then followed to an abandoned fortress – more accurately, its basement.

Part 29: Grigor’s End

Grigor had begun work on laying traps in the entire fortress’ basement. This included a spiked pit trap (that was still unfinished when the party went through), werebulls working on a poisonous statue trap (which the party disposed of after killing them), another resurrection crystal like the one in Dark Illusion (that Fiona and Bruin destroyed, putting the victims at peace) and glass golems (that the party shattered with relative ease, although one ripped into Mathias). Amidst all of this, the party encountered a group of Grigor’s mercenaries who immediately surrendered to them, noting that someone they had captured went psychotic and killed one of their friends.

As it turns out, the murderous monster was in fact an accipitus vampire by the name of Okara Slickfeather, who had been working on a countermeasure for the anti-divine amulets that the party had seen when he was kidnapped. His tormentors kept shooting his limbs full of crossbow bolts and were about to stake him when he killed one in a desperate fit. He would get escorted out of the fortress by Hirudinea, whereas the tormentors were forced to leave by Mathias and Leticia.

After the resurrection crystal incident, Mathias dug through the bodies. What he discovered horrified him – the remains of his packmates were all here. Mathias immediately revealed to Rephael that he was in fact the last of his pack. This may have contributed to his decision to recklessly charge Grigor the moment he saw him – which ended up with him severed in half and Grigor fleeing. The party took tremendous effort to revive Mathias and put him back together, at which point he revealed that he had no reason of his own to live – and that there was something in the room nearby. There the party discovered the remains of Gerald.

When the party finally encountered Grigor, he revealed he had trapped the room with energy fields tied to one of the four gems on his blade. The energy fields and his magic were too weak to really stop the party, and Grigor was brought down quickly despite his Sykora clan resistance to holy energy. Grigor revealed some things in the ensuing interrogation: Zheng was holed up in the Ethess Mountains, and Grigor remained ungeased by Zheng as a favor for him saving her life. Given the choice to live or die, Grigor chose death, detonating himself in one final explosion.

Damian has sworn that the battle with Zheng has gone beyond personal, and he will do anything to resolve it. The party notes that the efforts by the rakshasas to resort to base terror are a sign that the kingdom is winning this battle.

The sun is setting on this war with the rakshasas. The final conflict will begin soon.

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Adventure Session 9
The Battle of Nathkarin

Part 24: The Secret Weapon

With the war arriving in Nathkarin, the entire town needed to prepare. Fiona spent this time checking fortifications, requesting certain enchantments on the siege weaponry, and insisting that priests bless as many arrows as possible. Bruin focused mainly on getting an enchanted weapon of his own, but could only find another rune of alignment because most of the magic weapons were already distributed. Rephael sought illusionists and evokers to bait any opposing armies into traps. Drake did a little scouting of his own and got the impression that the invading army wasn’t here to go through a protracted siege or even occupation. The armies were mainly composed of blattar infantry and sciurid siege crews.

Once he reported back and got his heroes’ feast, Drake reported his findings to Rantrabi and Dominic, who were stationed on the northeast end of the city. Rantrabi took another look, and realized that the catapults the siege crews were using were going to be loaded with live ammunition – sciurids carrying bombs and strapped to rockets. While Rantrabi revealed a secret weapon that was to be used in the siege against them, Drake had his own weapon – by magically bringing his hands to the midst of the siege engines, then using his ring of retribution, he was able to ruin a number of the weapons and throw the siege crews into disarray. The remaining engines that launched their payloads were dealt with by well-timed walls of force for the most part, although some sciurids got through and dropped bombs onto the fortifications.

The blattar infantry followed, revealing that they were capable of limited flight. This came, however, at the cost of having to wear lighter armor, meaning that anyone with any level of skill had little worry taking them out of combat. Thus, the battle began in earnest.

Part 25: Surprise Attack!

Not long after the battle got underway, the party got a communication from none other than Itri Patil, the rakshasa that Rephael was trying to convert. He requested immediate help at the south end of town. The scene the party saw was a disaster – many defenders were dead, Isora was hiding behind the walls, and Damian was trying to keep a group of four rakshasas away from the city gate by using a summoned creature and his magic. Itri was on the other side of the gate, with a heavy crossbow and two supporting allies, Roas and Marcus. The party realized very quickly that one of the rakshasas, a tiger, was his own siege weapon, firing clusters of exploding arrows at the city defenses and at Damian. Alongside him were a jackal, a rhino, and a boar.

The party quickly learned that the quartet worked as one. The rhino’s job was to keep everyone aware and focused, making it easier for them to evade the party’s blows. The boar’s focus was keeping everyone healed as much as possible. The tiger was initially believed to be the main punch of the team, using primarily exploding arrows. The jackal was meant to be the team’s defender, using heavy armor and a shield to absorb blows.

The party leveled the playing field primarily by using blessed weaponry as much as possible, with Fiona and Rantrabi firing from above thanks to a magic carpet. Eventually, after the tiger used an explosive arrow to leap away from Rephael and the boar healed him, the jackal revealed her true colors as an antipaladin and the summoned creature, Urien, broke loose of Damian’s control. Still, with enough blessed weaponry and Damian’s magical assistance, the party prevailed against the rakshasa force – and Rephael made it a point to kill the jackal for being an antipaladin.

Part 26: Breaking Point

With the attack halted and the rakshasa party defeated, the party questioned the rakshasas as to why they would attack. Minh Shulac, the tiger archer, revealed that he, Oluchi (the jackal antipaladin), Amadi (the rhino defensive specialist), and Rutendo (the boar healer) were all of the same family of rakshasa. The attack served two purposes: retrieving the scroll believed to be kept in Nathkarin, and getting revenge for the death of Samir Shulac, one of their brothers. With both plans failed, Minh went into some detail about how the actual priest among the rakshasa ranks, Marjani Patil, had a falling-out with Samir and Oluchi over religion – apparently, Marjani serves a god of madness and the god that Samir and Oluchi worshipped to get their antipaladin powers is one the god of madness helped seal away. In fact, the antipaladins’ god was the one that brought down the previous pantheon, single-handedly – and apparently a strong enough god to bestow power even when sealed away.

When Itri piped up about the possibility of a geas, inferred by Minh’s hesitancy in revealing the bit about the scroll, Minh went crazy. He revealed that he and many rakshasas had a hatred of Grigor, the only one of the Maharaja’s allies without the geas, and hinted that he’s been avoiding the party as long as possible. Ultimately, the party brought the three rakshasa attackers to jail, at which point Itri returned to his cell… leaving the orderlies baffled and infuriated at his recklessness. Itri had apparently charged past the orderlies when he realized the city was in grave danger.

Rephael also addressed Damian about Urien, but Damian immediately expressed contempt. Urien, it turns out, was an experiment – an infusion of demonic essence into a living being. The person responsible for the experiment had been executed five years ago, and Damian wanted to execute Urien himself, but he was ordered to imprison him for 50 years. As a result, Damian is actually glad Urien is dead.

The city gets a little time to rebuild. The party gets a little time to do what they need.

The battle has been won… but the war is not over.

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Adventure Session 8
The Tribal March

Part 21: Prisoner Panic

Bruin spent some time after the events in Mazikiri looking for contractors and then resumed his bar-crawl, where he heard rumors that a rakshasa-led army was making advances from the north. Fiona focused on finding a good legal team for making the library official, but also spent time with Shun, where she learned that the equus was on a quest for vengeance against the selachim. Drake tinkered around with his new crystal and discovered that the glowing rodent that teleported him back to Bludzen had stayed around and wanted to follow him everywhere. After consulting with Damian about it, Drake decided to keep it, considering the possibility of having it bound to him instead.

Rephael spent the time educating Itri about Dou-Bral and also fasted for a couple of days. During the first day of this, he received a vision that implied Itri was in severe pain. As this expressly went against the instructions he gave to Itri’s captors, he paid them a visit… to find that they were in complete panic after Itri experienced a seizure. According to Itri, this was not in fact the fault of the staff where he was kept – it was the fault both of Dou-Bral and of Zheng Horak. Itri experienced massive pain at night thanks to a geas Zheng had put on him, and prayed for help from Dou-Bral, after which he barely remembers anything. Rephael left strict instructions for the staff – have a cleric on hand at all times to watch over Itri.

Rephael also learned from Itri that Zheng had put the geas on everyone working with her except Grigor. Itri realized that this is the kind of reason why the Horak family was so hated among the rakshasas – to the point that they are the only family outright barred from a secret enclave established in the last century to train rakshasas and redirect their innate lust for power.

It is somewhat apparent to Rephael that both of his gods approve of his actions. He also has a hint to seek out the servants of the moon god, relating to the divine-deflecting amulets that Gozuki and Mezuki had.

Part 22: Sticking Your Neck Out

Our adventurers would soon receive a letter that warned of trouble in the eastern part of the kingdom. Apparently, a sunborne human by the name of Anthony Rictal had made friends with a tribe of peraltans. However, said peraltans suddenly cut themselves off from the outside world and insisted on challenging anyone who tried to approach. This on its own would not have been an issue, but a rakshasa-led army was on the move in that area and the tribe risked being annihilated if they stayed. As a result, Anthony called upon the heroes to get them to move.

The peraltans turned out to be somewhat hostile to the party at first. However, they were awestruck when they realized some of the heroes were women. This was ultimately how the party got into the camp – although one of the tribe’s warriors, Isora, insisted on challenging Bruin to a duel. Said duel was called off quickly with Bruin as the victor. After this, one of the tribal guards, Dexn, led the party to the chieftain, Zurem. Zurem seemed a bit hesitant and confused at what he was being told, but Leticia pointed out that something was off. Rephael checked again with his divine sight and realized the problem – Zurem was undead, and two familiar demons were on the scene. The demons, Gozuki and Mezuki, made themselves known by batting Zurem away. Rephael attempted to convince them what was going on with Zheng, but the demons refused to listen to reason – they apparently fully enjoyed working with the Maharaja and received new training.

The ensuing battle was enough to bring the peraltan women out of hiding, at which point they used druidic magic to assist the heroes, revealing that the demons had a weakness to cold. Once the demons were defeated (and again disappeared due to magic tattoos), the women revealed that this was the Caligari tribe and unfortunately, Zurem’s views echoed the standard peraltan sentiment. The tribe has not, however, had to deal with demons before this incident. It was at this point that Isora warned the heroes of hydras attacking the town. The hydras had incapacitated the guards already, but proved little match for the heroes.

Part 23: It’s War!

The incident with the hydras was the final straw that made the Caligari tribe realize they were not safe if they stayed secluded. After taking an hour to gather the tribe’s belongings, they evacuated with the party and headed to the town of Masali, where Anthony was waiting for them. Anthony was amazed at what the party had done, and since it was getting late, he offered to have them stay in town.

The party was rudely awakened early in the morning, however, by another human. Apparently, he had just learned that an army was marching on Nathkarin and was going to strike in a matter of hours.

The war, it seems, has come to Orozhaki.

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Adventure Session 7
Mazikiri in Ruins!

Part 18. Time Off

The heroes had a week off from adventuring. Drake spent this time buying the mountain and hiring a priest to help him clear it out, having some issues with leftover undead. Rephael focused on communicating with his god and the clergy of his religion, educating them about the essence within his blade and also having to explain that Dorian’s bloodbath wasn’t something he actively allowed. Fiona spent this time researching about rakshasas and other supernatural creatures, then went to Damian to ask about opening a giant library.

Bruin would stumble into the next incident first, going bar-hopping in his spare time. In his fourth day of doing this, Quianna and Rantrabi walked up to greet him. It turned out that Rantrabi’s hometown was indeed destroyed and he is concerned not only because it’s his hometown, but because that was where gunpowder research was being conducted… which implies that whoever destroyed the town might have stolen the secrets to the making of gunpowder.

Back in Nathkarin, Fiona was talking with Damian about the library when Rephael emerged from a nearby transmuter’s shop. Damian let slip about the fact that someone was trying to investigate Mazikiri and (after Drake got rudely teleported nearby, something he did NOT appreciate) encouraged the party to go and make sure they remained safe during the investigation. After a little explanation on gunpowder and details that Shun’s geas had nearly been cracked, the group left and found the investigators – Rantrabi, Quianna, and Bruin. When leaving town, Leticia joined them.

On the way to Mazikiri, Rantrabi would explain how the whole Ethess sulfur mine incident began – it started as him trying to secure more resources for his research. He had sent Vaurirc and Shun, but Quianna had snuck off. The incident was a full-on disaster – Vaurirc and Shun decided they needed to seize the mine, then it collapsed, and a rakshasa was found in the mine. After the incident, only Vaurirc reported back – Shun had been captured and Quianna was nowhere to be found. Rantrabi remembers nothing between then and the point where he had lost to the party.

Part 19: A Ruined Town

Needless to say, Mazikiri was hardly a town anymore. Dead bodies were strewn everywhere, the stench was overpowering to Rephael and Drake because the bodies had been rotting for about a week, there were no indications of survivors, and buildings were reduced to mere patches of wall. Worse, some of the bodies radiated evil energy – something the group rightly assumed to indicate potential undead waiting to rise. The party consensus was to burn the bodies. While this DID do away with a possible undead threat, it wound up alerting everything in the one intact part of town – a palisade wall around a small stone building.

As soon as the party approached this, a darkness spell overcame the place. Rephael tried calling out to anyone within the area, but his initial answer came from a hawk-headed man named Itri Patil, Itri refused to talk with the party, recognizing them and calling them “double murderers” before storming off. Attempts to chase were interrupted when a ruler selachim approached the party and explained several things. First, Itri was not a mere rakshasa sympathizer, but an actual rakshasa. Second, Itri and Grigor were helping the operation here, which was essentially a salvage op. Third, he believed that just because he was part of the ruling caste, he deserved to rule. When he realized the party wasn’t going to cave to him or even try to understand his side, he signalled to Itri, who was waiting on the roof of the stone building with a double hackbut.

The first shot struck Rephael squarely in the chest, ending any hope for diplomacy.

The ensuing battle was a three-front war for the party – the selachim up front with sciurids and blattar coming to reinforce, acinonyxians from the flank, and Itri up top taking potshots with the double hackbut. Quianna came close to dying and Leticia also collapsed at one point during the skirmish, but eventually, Rephael managed an opening and hastily climbed up to Itri’s position. At that range, even a surprise use of a pepperbox pistol couldn’t save Itri from being defeated and falling off the building – taking Rephael down with him when the latter tried to grab him.

After several efforts that indicated he wanted to take his own life for failing, Itri realized there was no escaping capture. He was offered a deal – cooperate in deciphering the truth behind rakshasa shapeshifting and he would live. No guarantees of freedom, but he would live. Itri also offered up that the Kingdom of Orozhaki had employed a rakshasa before, but had to remove him after several scandals. With this, Itri was tied up and taken prisoner. Speaking of prisoners, the stone building was a small prison with two occupants – a vermis by the name of Jelani who apparently ran the town while Rantrabi was gone, and an accipitus oracle by the name of Roas Ironclash, who was strictly deaf. It was revealed that when the attacks began, Jelani grabbed the first person he could find and hid in fear. Jelani also revealed on the way back (over meals that included selachim sushi) that he has little doubt the research secrets were stolen – meaning they were in rakshasa hands.

Part 20: Geas Released?!

Returning to town, Damian was shocked to find that the party had captured a second rakshasa. When asked about finding someone to ensure his safety, he thought back and it eventually occurred to him that Teikoku Yamanai, who the party had only met once, was great at this kind of situation. He also addressed that Shun had recovered from the geas and that he was going to have communication crystals ready for the party momentarily. Also, the communication crystal last used by the rakshasas has a bit of a trap on it – anyone who tries to access it gets their magic cut off for a day or two.

The party went to see Shun, who explained that a geas tends to force happiness on its victims. She revealed her experiences with the rakshasas and their minions, revealing a racial prejudice towards the selachim and noting that she only identified well with the Shulac and Patil families. Unfortunately, the Shulac members she saw were acting oddly – only one had taught her anything about magic because the others were obsessed over some vendetta. When asked about the scrolls that were supposedly for summoning a demon lord, Shun revealed that Samir had found one just before the party had interfered in the mine. Quianna, listening in the whole time, revealed that she pilfered something from the acinonyxians and handed it to Fiona, who couldn’t make heads or tails of it. When Shun saw it, she recognized it immediately as one of the summoning scrolls and encouraged the party to find more, gauging that the rakshasas had not been foiled with the loss of one scroll. The possibility remains open to ask Itri about the scrolls, though.

Just then, a little rodent-like creature appeared and told the party that Damian instructed him to give them crystals. It turns out these were communication crystals, so that they could contact Damian whenever they needed to. The rodent-like creature also asked about someone unhappy with their summoning, which turned out to be Drake, and asked him to meet at the fountain when he was ready to go back.

The party has a few more days off while Shun recovers and more info is squeezed out of the two captive rakshasas. Things might be approaching a crisis very soon.

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Adventure Session 6
Sithembile's Lair

Part 15: Deep into the Snake Pit

The party awoke, fully rested and ready to take on Sithembile’s lair. Leticia was asked to go with them, but had to heal the town guard’s medic earlier that morning after it was revealed that he took a couple of fireball blasts while defending the town the previous evening. Dorian couldn’t do anything and was hesitant to “embrace” (read: convert to vampirism) the man, so Leticia’s expertise was called for.

On the way to the mountain, Leticia detected an oppressive evil around the mountain. Drake discovered it as well, namely by the fact that his horse did not want to go anywhere near the mountain no matter how much Drake coaxed it. Ultimately, he found he would have to go on foot. The party arrived, opening the secret door into the lair, to discover a lone sciurid, badly wounded and in need of medical help. His wounds turned out to be cursed and diseased, and the creature was astounded when Rephael managed to undo the worst of the damage. He revealed that another sciurid party had been seen going into the area but never returned, and the loner was trying to shadow them, only to run into cats that apparently had bandages wrapped around them. He then introduced himself as Miron and was last seen leaving to warn his tribe to evacuate the region.

Part 16: Old Friends

The larger threat around this mountain fortress was twofold: giant wolf ghouls and the mummified panthers that had caused the sciurid’s grave injury. The first time the wolves were encountered, Drake used the aurumvorax stew he had made the previous day to distract their attention and get them fighting, allowing the party to slip past. Further encounters with the wolves and all encounters with the panthers ended in fighting, as Leticia sensed something very wrong and evil about them and did not want to leave them alive. However, the party also encountered two enclaves of blattar, both trying to conduct rituals. One of them had an intended victim – whom Leticia recognized as Ganzorig Dragonchanter – that the party freed and then escorted out of the mountain.

The party also encountered two old demon friends, Gozuki and Mezuki. They were directly working with the blattar ritualists, but fled the moment they saw the party (but not before Rephael scarred Mezuki). When the party ran into the duo again, they revealed that they had a new master, Zheng Horak, and their previous night’s fireball rampage was one last fling before they left their previous master. They also hinted that they would do one last task for their old master, Sithembile, and fought the party. Gozuki, matched up against Rephael, could do little to harm him thanks to being the smite evil target. Mezuki, matched up against Bruin and Drake, did much better, and would have killed Bruin had he not been raging at the time. Their defeat revealed that they had tattoos which allowed them to teleport away if they were about to perish.

The fighting also revealed that there were now amulets that could deflect holy power and redirect it against the attacker. They didn’t do much for Gozuki and Mezuki, as they had been using weaker versions, but these were still a noticeable problem.

Part 17: Catch of the Century

The group would finally encounter Sithembile, who addressed the party as an illusion. Sithembile deliberately set Gozuki and Mezuki up to accept a new master, because he knew his time was short the moment he met the party – recognizing them as Samir’s killers. Sithembile went into explaining his intent for infiltrating the kingdom and expressed surprise that Samir was killed so soon after his infiltration, and noting that Samir was cast out because he studied the arts of the antipaladin. Also, Sithembile has relayed to the rest of the rakshasas about the identities of the party causing them so much trouble.

Sithembile’s style of combat turned out to be going invisible and sneak attacking so well that even uncanny evasion abilities would not be enough to save them. After one such strike completely whiffed on Bruin and another nailed Rephael, that strategy was shut down quickly when Fiona thought quickly and threw glitterdust on him. After that, Sithembile was… honestly a pushover, though buffed up so much that it took smashing a dispelling ingot into his face to get the more troublesome buffs dispelled. Sithembile was a much more graceful loser than Samir ever was, spilling the beans on the Maharaja’s takeover plot – apparently the Orozhakian kingdom represents the biggest threat to the Maharaja’s plans for world domination, so she’s targeting that one first. Sithembile also revealed the secret of the anti-holy amulets – the Maharaja had a hand in those. When Sithembile insisted that he had his mind magically blanked to prevent anyone from gleaning the Maharaja’s location, the party decided to knock him out and drag him back to Bludzen.

The party also retrieved a parchment that apparently listed the identities of every one of the rakshasas involved in the takeover plot. The Maharaja was identified as Zheng Horak, Samir was crossed out, and there was a note on one Itri Patil that Mazikiri had been ‘taken out’. This information was brought back to Dorian, who had recovered from his burning experience by taking a bath in blood and was hesitant to reveal where the blood came from. He was honestly shocked that the party had brought back a live rakshasa and information on the leaders, but did implore the party not to go far until he had the information – either from saving Shun or breaking Sithembile – was discovered. Dorian also revealed that Damian was still working on getting transmutation experts, although this information would put that plan on hold. Finally, he hinted that there was only going to be one chance to get information out of Sithembile – once they’re done cracking his mind, the people of Bludzen want Sithembile executed.

The party gets some time to relax from their adventure. There is a good chance they will need it.

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Adventure Session 5
Miner Transgressions

Part 12: Getting the Warning Out

With the realization of demons working for the rakshasas, the party knew that they needed to make contact with someone they’d already seen as a demon hunter. Remembering their supplier from the earlier mine raid, Leticia, they arranged for Damian to get in touch with her, after describing the drakeling to the lich. They followed up by meeting with Dorian early that evening, catching him just as he woke up. Dorian seemed a bit concerned, however, because his breastplate was missing and he suspected that Cecilia, his new convert, took it. Dorian then explained that there’s a protocol he usually has for anyone he turns into a vampire and the whole rakshasa incident has kept him from following it at all. Dorian also revealed that the people of the city had been pressing him to perform a funeral for Samuel Darrin, and he and Cecilia differed on how to do it – Dorian wanted a more serious funeral and Cecilia was more about celebrating the deceased.

What the party really wanted from Dorian was to find out how recent Sithembile’s infiltration could have been. Cross-referencing a few recent journals, Dorian discovered that “Samuel” had reported having a cold less than a week ago, but the guards could not convince him to get a proper examination. Before much more could be said on the subject, Damian made contact with the party, revealing that he had already found Leticia. Unfortunately, Leticia had doubts about going with the party because she wasn’t in good standing with a temple of Barong in the northern part of the kingdom. To get her to go with them later, the party agreed to help settle this dispute. When Damian arrived in Bludzen to take the party to the temple, hints were dropped that Dorian was expected to become the stand-in mayor of Bludzen – and he doesn’t seem to like the idea, feeling it’s too restrictive.

Part 13: Quarantine

After a quick trip to Nathkarin, Damian teleported the group to an area near the temple of Barong, hinting that he had a bit of falling-out with the temple priests over the placement of a teleportation circle for easy travel. The temple itself turned out to be somewhat ostentatious, but rather than the stained-glass windows many temples are known to have, the rich factor came from precious metal patterns inlaid on the outside walls. Once the party got to the main hall of worship, they found the dynastini priest, Lynette, arguing with a cloaked figure named Marcus. Marcus recognized the party immediately, being one of the sciurids that the party ordered out of the Ethess sulfur mine. It turned out the argument was because Marcus was trying to convert his clan away from Ose worship, but Lynette took a hard stance on the whole affair and is very reluctant to allow for conversion. Also, Lynette revealed why Leticia had a falling-out in status with her – Leticia asked for items to hunt a demon, but never used them herself. She loaned them out to “mercenaries” (the party) instead. That moment of weakness makes Lynette hesitant on trusting her.

When the party finally convinced her that the cause for the loan was worthy, Lynette revealed another problem – the iron mine that usually supplies the temple’s mystic item creations was getting its supplies diverted to the south. The party offered to go in exchange for Lynette reconciling with Leticia. Upon arrival at the mine, they found the skink foreman and pressed him into explaining why the shipments were diverted. Apparently, a large man with a rabbit head had tried to coerce him into diverting the shipments, and when the foreman refused, he tied the skink upside-down and assumed his form to implement the order himself. A day later, some werewolves showed up and ordered a quarantine of the mine, cutting off shipments entirely.

In the mine, the party negotiated with the werewolves and found out that they were in pursuit of a dangerous man named Grigor Sykora. As the party needed the mine open to appease Lynette, they reached an agreement where they would go in and clear the monsters that the werewolves were keeping back. The party would ultimately discover that the majority of the miners reached safety – mostly evident by dropped tools. They also discovered the nature of the monsters – a pair of aurumvoraxes (these gave Rephael no end of trouble, latching on and refusing to let go), a pack of leucrottas (that Drake scared into running with an audacious leaping impalement of one of them, which led to two of them getting torn to shreds by the werewolves), a pair of destrachans (inside a darkness field shed by a crystal, which Fiona took – the party also took the destrachan eggs)… and a warband of less-than-smart bugbears. Upon killing all of these, the party checked in with the werewolves and let them know that the mine was clear of threats, upon which the leader introduced himself as Mathias and tried to provide what little he knew about Grigor and the whole incident. Unfortunately, the note in the bugbear chieftain’s tent, aside from being written by Grigor, left little extra in the way of evidence. The werewolves stayed back to clean out the remains of the creatures.

Part 14: Sudden Assault!

The party checked in with the foreman and with Lynette, hinting that the mine was ready for business again. Before Lynette could discuss much else, however, Damian burst into the temple and alerted the party that something disastrous had happened in Bludzen. Upon arriving there, Cecilia ran into the party and revealed what had happened. A mountain had suddenly been created on the east side of town, wrecking the eastern quarter, and two demons rained fireballs on the city, causing significant damage to many buildings in the town. Dorian was struck by two of the fireballs as well, leaving him badly wounded. Going from the description Cecilia gave of the two demons, the party knew they were Gozuki and Mezuki, the exact two demons that Sithembile had hired. The party wants to strike at them and Sithembile quickly, but with Leticia going along.

Additionally, the party pressed Damian on two other things – magic to reveal the truth about someone to prevent another rakshasa infiltration, and any experts on transmutation. Damian revealed that the research was slow-going, and that transmutation experts were preoccupied with saving one of their number – who the party remembered as Gjurd Gomez, a wizard involved in the original rakshasa incident in the Ethess sulfur mine. Damian also hinted that he only just managed to convince the kingdom’s higher-ups that a war was going on – in other words, the party was going to get no help from political officials and things might even get hostile. Damian has made it clear that he needs the party more than ever.

The raid begins the next morning. The party will need to be at their best to overcome Sithembile and his minions.

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Adventure Session 4
Escalation and Subrogation

Part 9: A Cure for the Geas?

Our intrepid adventurers discovered that Damian did not know much at all about a geas or any type of compulsion magic, because it was an enchantment and Damian doesn’t study those. However, he knew someone who did – the guard captain of the city of Bludzen, who apparently asked to meet the group at night. When asked, Damian also revealed that the rulership of the kingdom works with people of any and all moral and ethical alignments, and only has a problem when they specifically stir up trouble. After a little further research that day, Damian teleported the group to Bludzen, where a guard approached them and wound up directing them right to a temple devoted to both Rashnu and Hati – the gods of death and winter respectively.

The Hati side of the temple did not sit at all well with Rephael, who noticed cages large enough to hold humanoids. Regardless, the party met the guard captain, Dorian Samara, and his new convert, Cecilia. After talking with the party, Dorian did a little research on curing geas spells, noting that they go completely against Rashnu’s edicts. He eventually found a possible answer – but he would need the heart or vital organs of a rakshasa to study how to break the curse. He sent the group off to get to his work proper, which was investigating disappearances of humans and one ceratos over the last few days.

Part 10: The Blast Caverns

Dorian, a shade darker due to a protective spell allowing him to walk outside during the daytime, surprised the group by meeting them at the inn the next day. Apparently the mayor, Samuel Darrin, wanted an audience with them. Samuel asked Dorian to step outside the room and explained that he had identified where three of the disappeared victims might have gone – the Blast Caverns, to the west of town. Dorian was a little surprised that Samuel had figured it out so soon, but let the group go there while he got some sleep (early in the morning. Vampires are like that).

Inside the Blast Caverns, the party discovered that many different monsters were being kept, possibly as an army. Dopplegangers, gibbering mouthers, zombies, earth and air elementals, and cockatrices were among the creatures present. Also present was a shrine to Dahaka, which zapped Fiona and Bruin before being destroyed. The party did discover what happened to the disappearance victims – they were all killed in this cavern. Near the end of the cavern, the party uncovered a bag of bones that held a complete human skeleton, minus the skull.

Part 11: Malign Paradigm Shift

The party brought the bones back to the guards of Bludzen, who really wanted to know where the skull was. The party didn’t know, so they checked in at the mayor’s office… to find his skink secretary wounded. Healing him got him to reveal that the mayor’s office had been invaded by demons after Samuel walked out. Picking the door open, they discovered the demons – they introduced themselves as “The Jailers from Hell” but eventually revealed their names were Mezuki and Gozuki. They had apparently been brought under contract by one Sithembile Dunnin to guard the office and make sure the quartet didn’t leave alive. They would wind up cheesing out of that contract after discovering Rephael’s power as a paladin, and used force walls to make sure they escaped.

Dorian arrived on the scene immediately after the demons escaped and was very shocked to find that the party had just fought demons – which led to a city-wide lockdown. He did consider the idea of tracking the demons with their spilled blood, but the more pressing matter was the discovery of a human skull in the mayor’s desk. Combining this with the skeleton delivered to them, Dorian used a speak with dead spell and discovered the identity of the skeleton: Samuel Darrin.

When Damian heard this, he screamed an expletive so loud that his communication crystal cracked, and both he and his child Sergei were driven to tears.

It turns out that Samuel was a close friend of Damian’s, and the murder has made Damian swear a level of vengeance that the party had yet to see out of him before. Damian also hinted that the other leaders laughed at him before when he brought up the possibility that the kingdom was at war, and firmly believes that this will prove it beyond all doubt. After all, this “Sithembile” had killed and replaced a city leader, something Samir had never done.

Now the war is official. The party wants to track the demons first thinking they might lead them to Sithembile, but they know they will need more holy items to deal with them…

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Adventure Session 3
We're going to War!

Part 6: Research and Development

Before heading to Pakarix, Fiona decided to take some time to research the mushroom powder and vampire weaknesses. She discovered that the act of diablerie is one of those things that happens twice a century, which seems often by vampire standards. She also got a full indication of vampire weaknesses. The mushroom powder is one of those things that could help illusions or enchantments. After this, the party got called to Damian’s office about the amount of money they just brought out of his province from the spending spree, but Rephael and Fiona were able to talk him down easily.

Then the party went to Pakarix. There, they encountered Leticia Hajek trying to convince the miner’s guild leader to let her into the Ethess sulfur mine, only for the party to take over the role. When discussing the nature of the rakshasa, they suddenly got the attention of Roderick Stenberg, who had a vendetta against the rakshasa and offered to go with the group. Leticia chose to step aside and loan the use of her longspear and several items to the party.

Part 7: The Ethess Sulfur Mine

Roderick gave a no-flames order and led the party into the mine only to discover that several of the blattar had taken over the entrance. The ensuing fight dropped Roderick and would have dropped Bruin had he not gone ballistic. The party discovered the raw durability of the blattar and knew quickly that overkill was the only option. After dealing with the blattar and recovering, the party glanced around and saw a blood trail leading up to a dead dragon. What the party gathered was that the dragon had puncture wounds all over, and they got the impression that he was harvested.

Further into the mine, the party encountered a massed group of sciurids that had been brought into the mine. The wizard of the group tried to explain that he didn’t know why they were there, and wanted to pack up, but a thrown bomb started a melee that got their cleric killed. Fiona’s forceful words ultimately got the group to surrender, at which point the wizard revealed that they were bullied by Samir into doing their work, but Samir still did not want to reveal the truth. The party ordered the sciurids out, with Drake assisting.

Behind a secret wall, the party encountered Shun Lichtenberg, who revealed that she’d seen the rakshasas firsthand and was being geas-ed into helping them. She also mentioned a “Maharaja” leading the rakshasas. The group convinced her to let herself be tied up and brought back, even though she warned that the geas would “make her wish she was dead” if she wasn’t near them. Shortly thereafter, the group fought zombies that turned out to be the remains of some of the miners, further fueling Roderick’s rage.

Finally, the object of their rage – the party encountered Samir, who recognized Roderick as one of the rare few to disrupt his magic. Between a combined attack, a well-placed dispel from an ingot that Leticia had given the party, and the rakshasa’s failure at a good black tentacles spell, the party brought him to his knees without taking any damage from him whatsoever. Samir used a communication crystal to try to warn “Maharaja” about Rephael not actually being a ranger, but his final communication was cut short by Rephael’s blade and Fiona’s taunting words into the crystal. Roderick slammed his pickaxe into the now-dead rakshasa’s skull, completing his revenge and leaving him with great sorrow for his fellow miners. Meanwhile, Fiona and Rephael discovered that summons were being tried and a portal was being used (these things they disrupted as much as possible), but no scroll was to be found anywhere. Additionally, something about Samir’s weaponry made the party suddenly realize the rakshasa was chaotic – something that goes well against the rakshasa ethos.

Part 8: It’s War!

The good news about the rakshasa’s demise was that the mine was open for business again, the party made its way back to Nathkarin, and one major threat to the Kingdom of Orozhaki was gone. Unfortunately, a lot of bad news has come of this as well. To wit:

  1. Leticia and Damian are both completely scared about the rakshasa being chaotic and don’t fully know the implications.
  2. Rephael has felt the need to finally reveal his true colors as a paladin to the rest of the party.
  3. Damian is terrified about the prospect of a “Maharaja” leading the rakshasas, even though most of them shouldn’t be operating in the north.
  4. The rakshasas are using geas spells to prevent anyone from fighting them, so they are capable of strong and exceptionally dangerous magic.
  5. Shun’s condition has taken a nosedive as a result of the geas.
  6. With a scroll missing, Damian is concerned about the prospect of a demon lord being bound up in four scrolls scattered across the land. He REALLY hopes it’s not true, because this would mean he’s facing an enemy he can’t possibly beat.
  7. The fact that the rakshasas are working as a group means the Kingdom of Orozhaki is now at war with an enemy they do not understand.

Additionally, it was revealed that people were petitioning for Dominic’s release and Rantrabi was helping the kingdom develop gunpowder. Pacallus was in a maximum-security prison and both Quianna and Shun were wanted by Rantrabi because they used to work for him.

The party seems keenly interested in breaking Shun’s geas to learn more about the rakshasas. Thankfully, they also had the foresight to steal Samir’s communication crystal and hope to track this “Maharaja” with its help. These two leads may be the only hope they have of stopping this enemy before they strike again.

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