Upheaval in Zhaltssom

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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Adventure Session 2
Dark Illusion

Part 3: Sobbing Wrecks

Our party rode into the very magic-oriented city of Nathkarin late at night. Once there, they found that rooms had already been reserved for them at the Mithral Dagger Inn by Damian. Discussions at the tavern area led them to an arvicol by the name of Bogdan, who introduced himself as the mayor of the city and revealed that Damian actually ran the whole province. Bogdan was talking with a group of vermis and usagi about a tower that had made itself a problem – “Dark Illusion” was its name. Apparently, mists surrounding the city have teleported people to the tower and those who were kidnapped never returned. Neither did almost anyone who actually went to the tower intentionally – except, apparently, for Damian, who fell out of his chair when the party brought up the tower to him after Bogdan had been contacted via crystal ball. Damian revealed that the tower is where his scry/teleport disaster had happened and where his amulet had been taken.

Part 4: That Trapped Feeling

Research revealed that the mists involved in the incident are the kind of mists meant for summoning people, but almost never for rescue missions. The party would venture into the mist early in the day and found itself rapidly going to Dark Illusion.

The first floor’s traps were a mix of physical and magical – spike pits lined people up for lightning bolts from the statues, and those who evaded had to risk being crushed by fallen pillars. Meanwhile, near the walls, walls of spears concealed flame jets that would cook impaled victims. The party luckily managed to avoid the majority of the traps here and evaded the ones that they did trip.

The party would ignore the basement for the time being, just based on the smog they saw when opening the door.

The second floor was almost purely magical traps. It started with lightning bolt traps, which were one of the few traps in the tower that actually hit any of the party members. Second were rooms of ice and fire, with even more traps hidden within. The party braved the ice room and took advantage of their natural fur to escape with relatively little injury, although Rephael did get speared once by an icicle trap.

Traps finally stopped being an issue on the third floor, but the party had a new problem – a wooden golem. The golem’s lumber parts turned out to be rotted and moldy, and when the golem was destroyed, it spread mold all around the room. Drake would be the only one to fall victim to the mold and developed hallucinations, rushing out of the tower to avoid a ceiling collapse that only he could see… but when the hallucinations wore off, he realized he was being fooled and rejoined the party.

The fourth floor was mostly a storeroom. Notes in Gnomish, moldy food, a few bottles of blood and decades-old wine, and a magical icebox full of items that had suffered a year-long case of freezer burn were the noteworthy finds. Also noteworthy was at the door to the next floor – Bruin would set off a springboard trap that slammed him into the ceiling. Luckily, Drake pulled him out before he could fall through stained glass panes and possibly onto a statue on the first floor.

Part 5: The Tower’s True Threat

On the fifth floor, Rephael and Drake noticed a wicked stench from above. They decided not to deal with this yet and opened the door to find a peraltan vampire, Phicarda, seated on a large throne. Behind his throne were two piles of ashes. As soon as he saw the party, he dominated Bruin and lured him closer to drain some of his blood, then sent him back over to the party. While the party did try to ascertain why Phicarda was stuck here and what he was up to, that initial act really doomed any chance of fully peaceful negotiations. After the party attempted to match up Phicarda’s story and couldn’t really get a full picture of what was going on, Bruin attacked him, forcing Phicarda to defend himself. Despite one solid strike on Fiona, Phicarda was tripped and quickly overwhelmed, at which point Rephael chose to behead him, turning the vampire into dust. The ashes behind the throne turned out to be victims he drained dry, including his former master. When the party remembered to search Phicarda’s ashes, they found a very rare amulet with gemstones that ultimately turned out to be Damian Xinara’s amulet – though Fiona noticed an odd necromancy aura about it, Rephael could not sense any evil.

Finally, on the sixth floor, the party discovered the source of the stench – a room completely full of corpses. Zombies would rise repeatedly to assail the party, only to be brought low. Eventually, Fiona realized that the crystal in the center of the room was the source of this constant zombie uprising, prompting the party to focus most of their efforts on it and ultimately destroy it. The act of destroying the crystal not only stopped the zombie attacks, but deactivated most of the magic powering Dark Illusion’s many traps. The crystal, as Fiona realized, turned out to be the kind that would require many literal sacrifices to construct and most of the gods would be pleased by its destruction. Meanwhile, Drake and Rephael found a journal in a side room, initially in Gnomish, then in a very large Common script. The Common script, which the party ascertained was Phicarda’s writing, detailed his discovery of the tower and initial conversion into a vampire, and suddenly revealed that he actually committed diablerie against his master by draining his blood and undead energy completely. The experience and further struggles upon realizing that he was trapped alone in a tower and needed to treat every visitor as a meal drove Phicarda almost completely insane.

The party revisited the basement after destroying the crystal and discovered that the magical traps, including the smog, had been deactivated by the crystal’s destruction. A few mechanical traps remained, but the party got around them just fine, and discovered that Damian’s gear was placed down here during his scry/teleport disaster.

Damian’s reaction to the party surviving the tower and retrieving the amulet was shock, awe, and a little bit of fear. When questioned about the amulet’s necromancy aura, he finally let slip the fact that he was a lich – in fact, a child of a lich who researched a spell to make his own spawn. Damian also revealed he destroyed that research when he found out, so it’s clear that Damian has SOME contempt for the type of blasphemy towards nature that he is.

The kind of treasure haul that the party received from the tower, plus the reward they were able to get out of Damian for retrieving the amulet, single-handedly put them in the tax bracket of the aristocracy and made them well-respected by the kingdom. There is some worry that there could be repercussions for destroying the crystal, though….

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Adventure Session 1
The Adventure Begins

Locations Mentioned:
Ikonroel
Thertalla Road
Nathkarin
Mazikira

Introduction

Ikonroel is a city on the border of the northern and central provinces of the Orozhakian kingdom. News recently travelled there that a mine collapsed to the north and had to be evacuated. News reached Teikoku Yamanai, who had considered putting out a call for adventurers… but adventurers found him already, near the city’s central fountain.

Part 1: Muggers!

When the adventurers met Teikoku, he was discussing the matter of the mine collapse and the discovered rakshasa with Damian Xinara. When the rakshasa was brought up, the party interrupted to ask about it. Teikoku revealed to them that the mine was raided twice – and that undead were used by the rakshasa, not the original raiders. Damian would also reveal during the conversation that his amulet was stolen – and when pressed, he hinted that the thieves were strong magic users because he couldn’t scry on them and was trapped when he tried to teleport. He also claimed that his amulet “meant his life to him”, as well as his ‘son’ Sergei.

The conversation was rudely interrupted by a mugging occurring across the street. Investigating, the party found Dominic, Pacallus, and some gang members roughing up civilians to try and get information. While the party sent Teikoku to get the guard, Damian tried to go around to free the civilians and the party dealt with the gang. The gang, including Pacallus, was ruthless and found to be evil… but Dominic wasn’t detected as such and certainly didn’t act with the same hostility towards the party. In fact, he was quite scared when push came to shove. The guard finally arrived when the situation was under control, with Pacallus unconscious and Dominic sobbing and bound. A brief interrogation revealed that Dominic was wanted for “crimes against the kingdom”, specifically the mine collapse. Jotted notes in the back of his spellbook indicated that the action causing the mine collapse was an accident: “In trying to save them, I may have doomed them all.”

Dominic and Pacallus were both taken into custody. The party was asked not to bother them during the interrogation and to meet Damian at the north gate of town. The party was headed to Nathkarin.

Part 2: Firearms Are a Thing?

On the Thertalla Road, one of the major roads leading from the north part of the Orozhakian kingdom to the center, the party encountered a small lookout tower. Upon investigating, they were ambushed by drakeling raiders. There was also clearly something in the tower, but the party couldn’t clearly see what it was other than that it was all metal. During the fight, two explosions rang out from the tower, and both Rephael and Bruin found that objects had struck them. The decision was made during the combat to start destroying the tower, which led to first a muskrat-like creature dropping down on Drake, then both an ursin (Vaurirc) and a solenops (Rantrabi) falling from the tower – the latter dropping a double-barreled musket to the ground.

The latter trio surrendered when Drake trampled them with his horse. With the raiders dead, the trio were questioned and Rantrabi’s musket was taken from him. Apparently, Rantrabi was planning to conduct raids along this pass until his tax collector, Quianna, was brought back to him – and Vaurirc was meant to be his bodyguard. Damian recognized that Rantrabi was supposed to have died five years ago, but the party didn’t make much of it at the time. They instead gave a severe reprimand to Rantrabi and his crew, and it was decided that they needed to be taken into custody so that they wouldn’t cause much more trouble.

Now the party is riding north to Nathkarin, with Damian being delayed by the need to bring in new criminals.

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Prologue
Raid in the Ethess Mountains

The players:

Leticia Hajek
Ganzorig Dragonchanter
Gjurd Gomez
Quianna Rothbauer
Roderick Stenberg
Shun Lichtenberg

Others:

Dominic Bakalov
Vaurirc “Stareye”
Roas Ironclash
Samir Shulac

The Ethess Mountains are known to be quite a cold place, acting as a buffer between the northern clans and the rest of the Orozhakian kingdom. However, it is also known for its rare resources, so mining is common in the area. On this day, one of the mines was subject to a bandit raid, which was rudely interrupted by some heroes trying to make a name for themselves. In the scuffle, Dominic, one of the ‘heroes’, cast an errant spell that collapsed part of the mine and trapped several people inside one of the inner areas. While the raid continued, our party set themselves on rescuing the miners.

While the bandits were known to resort to some measure of brutality, their orders were to seize the mine, not murder innocents. As such, their entourage did not count on undead infesting the mine. The party encountered ghouls and ghasts fairly quickly, and Roderick suffered a few nicks and cuts in the ensuing fight, but Quianna was bitten and temporarily paralyzed by one of the creatures. The wound was quickly healed, but the disease was already in her bloodstream.

Our party had little time to worry about that, however, because they found other miners who were trying to lay low while the raid was going on. One of them grew quite wary of Shun, believing her to be involved in the raid, but the party was able to get him to calm down and stay out of danger for the time being. Gjurd noted that the torches the miners had planted not only had a continual flame spell on them, but also a protection from evil. He thought back briefly to an undead attack on a nearby mine about a month prior to this raid, but knows he didn’t put an order for these torches – someone else had.

Going further into the mine, the party heard the howling of dogs. Roderick noted that the mine did not use dogs in any way, so there was little surprise when Shun peeked around and discovered yeth hounds nearby. Before the party could deal with them, a humanoid walked in and threw a black tentacles spell at the creatures, showcasing his powers to the party. It was revealed that the man was after a scroll that was in the area – one that the party had not found yet. He gave them an order to stay out of his way – but after Leticia got nervous shakes about the man, the party attacked him, finding him much tougher than usual after he showed his true colors as a rakshasa. Gjurd was eventually able to lay a smokescreen, giving both parties a chance to get away…

…except that Shun pursued the rakshasa, Samir, through a magical portal. She wound up encountering an entire cult of rakshasas, and was overwhelmed when she tried to take all of them on at once. The rakshasas spared her, however, and considered her worthy to join their cause. When she refused, the leading rakshasa placed a geas on her, forcing her to serve them against her will. Her first task was to retrieve the scroll that Samir had failed to acquire – a scroll that was in a language so ancient, only the head rakshasa knew anything about it. Her second task is to work with Samir.

The rest of the party, after recovering from their experience with Samir, proceeded to free the remaining miners. By this point, the raid on the mine had ended, but the decision was still made to temporarily evacuate the mine due to the undead presence. News of this attack and the raid by a rakshasa has since reached the ears of Orozhaki’s foreign minister, Teikoku Yamanai.

With various other troubles in the kingdom as of late, Teikoku will need to dispatch adventurers to deal with this new threat…..

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