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.