The Age of Worms

Session Thirty-Seven
“Bring me the head of Illthain…”

Starday, 15 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

Having wrapped everything up with the Greyhawk Watch, the party gets their desperately-needed rest. In the morning, while Jane prepares her spells, Long Fist visits the temple of Heironeous and Riddle and Tyrrell go shopping for equipment and a scroll of greater teleportation. Tyrrell attempts to find out anything he can about Lordren, but comes up with nothing to show for it.

While at the Temple, Long Fist has the unholy club destroyed and, for a fee, communes with Heironeous. Most of his questions are personal in nature, but he does uncover some important information about Allustan and Illthain that will impact the party’s next steps.

In the meantime, Scar-Eater digs through his own knowledge about copper dragons, assuming that is what Illthain actually is. Jane also scrys Allustan and in the water, a circular room appears. The floor slopes downward to the center from all directions like a funnel. Around the walls are horizontal bands of geometric patterns very much like the patterns that lined the opening corridors of the Whispering Cairn, but here it is more pristine, newer. At the bottom of the funnel there is a sparkling globe of crackling lightning enclosing a motionless figure – Allustan. A metallic spike protruding from the ceiling touches the globe.

When the party convenes again, Long Fist relates what he learned in the commune. He says Allustan is still alive, but that he is not in Diamond Lake, and that Illthain is “very nearby” Diamond Lake. When he asked if the party’s next step in the path towards stopping the Age of Worms was Diamond Lake, he was told, “Very nearby.”

Jane proceeds to tell the others about her scrying and Riddle immediately wants to use the scrolls of greater teleport to take the party directly to the room she described. However, the others are worried that this may not be a good idea. Riddle decides to risk another divination to come to a decision. After what happened last time, Jane asks, “Are you sure?” but Riddle sees no other way to decide.

After casting the spell, Riddle says, “I’m trying to follow your guidance. Should I use this greater teleport scroll to go to Allustan, or should I use it to go to Diamond Lake?”

The Vaati respond, “By visiting your mentor, you leave the rear door unguarded. Begin near Diamond Lake and remove the current threat.”

Riddle uses the scroll to teleport the party to their old abandoned shack near Diamond Lake. They are pleased to find that the things they hid there remain undisturbed. Since Riddle will not recharge his spellpower until after midnight, it seems they have some time to kill. Jane does a circle dance on Illthain, and learns that the dragon is uninjured, and in the direction of the Whispering Cairn. Afterwards, Jane announces she must leave them for a bit, but if she has not returned in three hours they should send to her.

Jane shifts into Athena and flies to the area of the old Bronzewood Lodge, which was once her home. She notes a strangeness in the air as she travels – a distinct lack of birdlife, especially. Attributing this to Illthain’s presence in the region, she focuses on her task at hand.

Landing, she shifts into her Bast form and digs a shallow trench in the earth with her paws. Shifting back to the human girl, she sheds all of her equipment and clothing, lays down in the trench, and pulls the dirt in around her until she is almost buried. She whispers a spell she has never performed before. After ten minutes, the spell is complete, and she is one with nature.

Jane sinks into the earth and feels her veins become one with the roots around her, her flesh melds with the dirt, her bones become stone and her blood become life-giving water. Closing her eyes, but opening her awareness, Jane senses a natural world sinking beneath the corruptive weight of a future that must not come to pass, a future already becoming the present, darkening the sun, drowning the land, and birthing abominations. She senses, in the water flowing through the soil and now through her body, power: lingering power from her distant source. She also senses the nearby presence of six powerful creatures beholden to prophecy yet empowered to foil it, touched by the gods in the past, present, and future. Among them, there is a powerful, unnatural alien with ancient bonds to forgotten worlds and distant planes; and there is the Daughter of the Storm, she who, in the past, demanded power for herself, and must do so again or the sacrifice will have been meaningless; she is more than the land, the skies, and the sea; she is the natural world and the righteousness of its sentient protectors. She is her own legacy.

Gasping, the ritual complete, Jane opens her eyes to the usually gloomy afternoon. After a moment, she climbs from her trench, puts her clothes and equipment back on, shifts into her eagle form, and flies back to the others.

Sunday, 16 Sunsebb CY 595

The party rises and prepares to pursue their quarry. Jane uses the incense of meditation to prepare all of her spells to maximum effect.

Archie scouts ahead as they move toward the Whispering Cairn. They make their way up the slight rise in the grounds before the opening to the Cairn. In the clearing there are abundant signs of the dragon’s presence. Trees have been raked to shreads. Huge ruts scar the earth. The cairn’s entrance appears to have been dissolved by acid. It is a scene of pure animalistic rampage. Archie notes six wolf corpses across the grounds, picked clean. Jane gives everyone in the party more than two hours of acid resistance.

Archie leads the party to the entrance. As they pick their way through the devastation, the see a live wolf, covered in burn scars and gouges, watching them warily from off to the right. The party briefly discusses using wild empathy on the wolf, but to what end, they can’t determine. Jane recommends Archie simply put the injured animal out of its misery. His first shot goes wide, but the second seems as though it should kill the wolf. It bounces off however, and the party barely has time for curiosity at this effect when the wolf transforms into the huge and terrifying form of the dragon, Illthain.

Scar-Eater dashes forward to confront the wyrm directly, but she flies up, screaming “ Dragotha take you!” in her native tongue. She swoops down upon the rest of the party, eminating a frightful presence that shakes the whole group to its core. They manage to maintain control of themselves, but Tyrrell and Jane are not so lucky when it comes to the foul chemical gas she breathes upon all of them as well. Jane, who is immune to venom, is still slowed, along with the rogue.

But not for long, as Long Fist has handily prepared remove paralysis and immediately casts it upon his slowed allies. Jane quickly casts owl’s wisdom on herself, and also activates her strand of prayer beads, all in an effort to make her maximized spells more difficult for the dragon to resist. Riddle gives the party blessings of fervor that they can use to choose a benefit each round of the fight. Tyrrell shrugs off Illthain’s poisonous breath and fires a dragonsbane bolt at her, but misses.

With aid from Riddle’s blessings, Archie looses five dragonsbane arrows at the dragon, dealing a ridiculous amount of damage to her, and definitely attracting her attention. Scar-Eater slams her with a ray of enfeeblement just before she moves in on Archie and takes a big bite out of his face. It seems Webb’s request that Archie return with not-quite-so-innocent-and-acid-free a complexion will be fulfilled.

Long Fist moves in to absorb some of Illthain’s attention from Archie, and is bitten and tripped for his efforts. He tries to stab her with a smitey spear, but misses. Jane attempts to faerie fire Illthain, but fails, and follows up with a mighty flame strike. Even though Illthain saves for half the damage, she still takes a heck of a wallop of the fiery and divine variety – especially when Riddle follows up with a flame strike of his own. Tyrrell reloads and tries another bolt, but misses again.

Archie, denying Illthain any free shots as he fires from directly beside her, looses another five arrows at her. She howls with misery and frustration. A bite and two claws later, Archie drops to the ground. Riddle immediately closes his wounds, saving the archer from instant death. Meanwhile, Illthain turns her attention to the next closest target, the prone half-ogre with the spear. With her remaining attacks she renders Long Fist unconscious and bleeding.

Jane spends an orison to stabilize Archie and then summons a ten-foot stalagmite from the earth to skewer Illthain and end the dragon’s reign of terror.

The party hurries to bring Archie and Long Fist back to consciousness, and Riddle attempts to speak with Illthain’s corpse. Her powerful soul resists the first attempt, but not the second. “Who are you working with?” he asks.

The corpse hisses, “I serve Dragotha.”

“What did you hope to accomplish?” Riddle continues.

“Your destruction,” she replies (of course).

“Where else did you deposit your Kyuss eggs?” he asks.

“Across the region,” she says.

“What specific dangers await us in the Cairn behind you?” he asks, and she replies, “I have no idea,” but she does confirm, in the final response, that Allustan awaits within.

Jane tells the others that she can use the dragon’s corpse to create a map to places that Illthain deemed most valuable, but she needs some materials like inks and powdered metals. She removes one of Illthain’s wings to use as a surface for the map, and the party also cuts off her head for delivery to Ermaldon Webb. Riddle and Archie teleport to Greyhawk to deliver it immediately.

Lt. Archie Forrest and the Whoreson stride into the offices of Foreign Minister Ermaldon Webb with a black dragon’s head the size of a small horse. After collecting his wit from a near fainting spell, Webb’s assistant Keithan Irvine ushers the young men into the Minister’s office. Severe and stoic as usual, Webb actually manages to let some begrudging admiration shine through as he sees that Forrest has indeed returned, as promised, “with scaly head in tow” and a bevy of new scars to “grizzle up that boyish countenance.”

Keeping his end of the bargain, Webb agrees to meet with the Lizardfolk on neutral ground, at a time and place of their choosing, to discuss the possibility of a permanent peace treaty. Archie offers to broker the meeting, and says he would like to bring Illthain’s head with him when he approaches the lizardfolk, but tells Webb it will have to wait while they are still pursuing the source of the contagion.

At that, Webb touches back on the concerns about this dangerous contagion threatening to spread through the region. “You continue to investigate, I assume. Though, without an official commission to do so. Consider yourself temporarily reassigned, Captain, to this situation surrounding this contagion. And let me know whether I should be calling the other Ministries in on this situation.”

“And tell me about your involvement in the mess over at the Arena. What the holy hells, Captain?”

Archie says, “Raknian was attempting to spread the contagion throughout Grey Hawk. We went undercover in order to expose his complicity. But with him out of the picture, I would say that with some repairs or better yet, razing and rebuilding a new better arena would be an unbelievable opportunity for someone.”

Upon their return, the party heads into the Whispering Cairn. They find that one of the previously blocked passages has been opened, probably by Allustan himself. Behind it is a portal. The party decides to check out the rest of the Cairn first before using the portal, but find that nothing has changed since they were last there a couple of months earlier.

Riddle is the first through the portal, and he is greeted by a cacophanous screaming sound, thunderously loud and high-pitched. He can tell it will make spellcasting difficult. Long Fist follows. The hall they stand in slopes sharply down towards an opening at the opposite end. Riddle is suddenly belted in the chest by something he cannot see. Riddle can feel a second swing come at him, but miss, and then Long Fist is hit twice. He swings out but misses. Riddle fires off a storm bolt and senses something in the hall taking damage. Scar-Eater and Jane step through, as Riddle and Long Fist continue getting pummeled, and Long Fist steps back to warn the two party members still in the Cairn. Eventually everyone gets back in the hallway and Riddle is able to give Archie true seeing, but while the party defeats the invisible stalker squad, they begin their adventure through the party considerably worse for wear, with resources dwindling.

Tyrrell sees what appeares to be a hall much larger than the spread of light from Scar-Eater’s dancing lights and a couple of large sculpture-type things that look like massive piles of artistically arranged longswords.

Pointy ends out, of course.

View
Session Thirty-Six-Point-Five
Converted by the administrator from the over-italicized and over-paragraphed

Starday, 15 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

Long Fist unchains Auric and stabilizes his injuries. “Where’s Khelleck?”

Auric replies, “He’s gone… he left, just vanished again after we returned to the ceonoby. Then, the next thing I knew, like twenty minutes later, these goons showed up and beat the sin out of me and hauled me up here.”

“Listen to me,” Long Fist says, “and listen hard: Lahaka Smallcask was killed by Raknian. We have proof.”

Auric unleashes a horrible cry of agony. “I knew it! The bastard! I’ll kill him!”

Long Fist restrains the enraged gladiator. “Auric, you are a hero to the people of Greyhawk, a beacon of hope in dark times. You can make a choice now: justice or vengeance. Raknian killed your lover and sought to use the Games to destroy the world with a reign of undead terror. He deserves to die. He may even deserve to die at your hands. You will feel satisfaction from this vengeance, yes; but it will be fleeting. It will die shortly after Raknian does. And all that will replace it is the emptiness in your soul. But if you choose the path of Justice, you can make an example of Raknian that will stand for decades to come. Stand against him before the magistrates! Speak the truth of his foul deeds! Make him answer to the law for the evil he has done! Make this dark day the beginning of a shining legacy of justice that will bring solace to a beleaguered city! Will you do this?”

As Auric considers his choice, Riddle and Jane overpower Raknian, strip him of his bastard sword and shield, and use Auric’s chains to bind him. Then, as Bast stands at the ready, teeth uncomfortably close to Raknian’s neck, Riddle sends to Ekaym Smallcask: “Proof found. Racknian in custody. Bring those you trust to the arena now. Raknian tried to infect city with undead. Should we contact Greyhawk guard?” A reply is received at once: “I come. There are none here I trust, save you. Contact the Watch. BRING HIM DOWN.”

After a soul-searching pause, Auric finally, and simply, nods to Long Fist. He removes the Champion’s Belt from his waist and tosses it aside onto the arena floor, which is quickly turning to mud with the sudden onset of rain. Head in his hands, he weeps.

Meanwhile, Archie, Tyrrell and Scar-Eater knock Captain Okoral unconscious, collect loot from below, and make their way up to the Arena floor.

Riddle sends to Gandling: “Come to Arena with those you trust. Loris Raknian tried and failed to destroy Greyhawk and infect the people with Undead. He is in custody unharmed.” The response received is: “This better be legit, kid, or you’re through here.”

Riddle then cries out to the fleeing mob of bouncers, “Stop! We have Raknian and Okoral has been defeated below. The Watch is on their way even now. If you run they will hunt you down; they cannot let a danger such as this go unanswered, nor can they let those involved disappear. The people of this city will want answers. If you are not here to provide them with your side of the story they will assume the worst and cast you as the villains. What will it be? Will you run now forever running looking over your shoulder or will you stand as men and speak your side? It is not the best choice but it is better than what was offered to Auric, the beloved Champion of these Games. Will his voice be the only one the authorities hear?”

Soaking wet, terrified, dejected and shamed, the fleeing mob comes to a halt and cowers near the front gate, waiting for the worst.

Riddle casts detect thoughts and waits patiently. As the spell finally takes effect his gaze settles on Raknian. Riddle kneels next to the prostrate, chained form. Devoid of weaponry and armor with only his serpent ring left him, Raknian appears almost broken.

“Loris. Look at me. You are not a stupid or foolish man. You know it is over. You have failed. Failed to silence us. Failed to bring the ulgurstasa to fruition. Failed to sacrifice the once Champion, Auric. We have triumphed at every stroke. We turned the Thieves Guild ploy back on themselves and made the city love us. We easily beat Pitch Blade in record time. We slew the fat worm lover below before he knew we were there. And now Okaral has been taken alive. There’s a viper in the grass, eh? He succeeded in killing Eligos at your orders, but to what point? It didn’t stop us. We found Lahaka…or what was once Lahaka. Your masters will not be happy with this failure.

“The Guard is on it’s way here. Smallcask is on his way here. They will arrive soon. You have only these last few minutes of freedom. Use them freely. Unburden yourself. Why have you thrown away your power and reputation, your love of the people of this city? What drove you? Why would you try to destroy the very city that embraced you so strongly?

“What did your Masters hope that you would accomplish? Right now you seem to me only another failed tool in the hands of someone who would discard you at the first hint of trouble. Just as Darius Finch was discarded by Imron Gauthfellow, just as Imron was discarded by Zyrxog, just as Zyrxog was discarded by you. Just as Khelleck discarded Auric to save himself. Now we follow the chain and you too have been tossed away.

“Was that why you murdered Lahaka? Was that all she was to you? A broken tool. Useless. What did they promise you? A seat at the table? Did you really think they would ever have entrusted such power to you? You? A child in their eyes, a child at the grown-ups table. Please.

“We both know you are not a stupid man. You are not a foolish man. You knew when you set foot on this path that it could only end badly for you. But you can still choose. You still have the freedom to decide to do for yourself. You can choose. You can still be the man you once were: the hero of the Games.”

“Tells us what you know and I promise I will make sure they cannot bring you back as a mindless undead thrall. Tell us what their weaknesses are and let us strike your blow of vengeance against your masters. Why else would they have let this happen to you? Did they warn you of our power? Or did they make us seem weak and ineffectual? Why would they lie to you? Except to have you fail for one of their greater purposes? Tell us where they are and nothing will bar us from their path. You are not a stupid man. You know you will not live. The authorities cannot let you live – not and appease the rabble. And for a failure of this magnitude, even if the authorities were merciful, your masters will not let you live, will they? They will have their pound of flesh for your failure even as they worked against you. Even as they discarded you. Broken and useless.

“But perhaps you can die a hero? The choice is yours. Hero or discarded tool? You can still redeem yourself. The farther the fall the harder it is to take that first step. But you are not a stupid man and you are not a foolish man. You are a man. You are a man who has done hard things to achieve what you thought was greatness. You are a man who has forgotten his own true greatness. Take the harder step and be that great man one last time.”

Defeated, broken, alone, Raknian’s mighty fighting spirit seems to crumble under the weight of Riddle’s words.

“All I wanted was her love,” he says, in the faintest whisper, barely heard above the roar of the elements. “I lived for her love; I thrived on her love; I was young because of her love.

“Despite my great success, despite my fame, I’ve lived every day since my retirement in fear. Fear of death. I could not tolerate the inevitable decline of my mortal body. The once-indomitable gladiator of a thousand fights, I watched my hair turn gray, felt my bones begin to ache. There was an opponent I could not beat, I realized: Time. And as Time passed, I grew more jealous of the impudent, ambitious young gladiators that came to dominate my ring. This jealousy festered, consumed me from within.

“So I sought a means of restoring my vigor and youth. Yet one solution after another proved false, and my fear began to grow. I turned to questionable allies and sinister sources as less distasteful methods of preserving my youth failed. During these dark times, I was introduced to a man named Theldrick, a priest of Hextor, by my old friend Lordren. Both were deep in a cult called the Ebon Triad. Their insane theories and blasphemous beliefs did not appeal to me, but Theldrick’s promise of secrets to be learned and gifts to be granted in a coming Age tempted me for a time. For many months, I became the hidden financial support for Theldrick’s cult in Greyhawk.

“But promises weren’t being kept and my patience wore thin. I demanded action, repayment of my support. Theldrick put me in touch with a mysterious cleric the cult had gone to for advice before: a sinister tiefling called Bozal Zahol. The foul creature spoke of potent rituals and prayers that, if offered to his secret god, could halt the aging process. His god held the keys to decay, he said, and could exempt a human from old age.

“I was tempted, but something about this man was wrong. I feared to ally myself with him. Yet now that I was within his sights, I feared to tell him I no longer sought his help.

“Time passed. Theldrick and Lordren moved on, leaving me alone in the clutches of Zahol. Finally, my will drained, my life nothing but a promise of death and decay, I almost faltered…

“And then she came. Lahaka.

“I’ve had many consorts over the years. As a man of wealth and power, I never lacked for companionship. But never before had I found love. Lahaka was an intriguing, exotic jewel. She captivated me. She stole my heart. She revived my sense of self, of purpose. For a long time, we were happy. I dismissed Zahol, severed all my ties with the dark elements I had gone to in my desperation. I was whole again.

“Until the day she came to me and told me of her love for Auric. I was too old for her. I couldn’t keep up with her. My mind was slow, my body was faltering, my hopes to keep her at my side and in my heart were the foolish hopes of a fading has-been. It was more than I could bear to hear. I strangled the poor girl before she knew what was happening.

“Consumed with madness, rage, and morbid depression, I called upon Zahol and told him I would do anything in return for an escape from the horrors of old age. Zahol comforted me. He took Lahaka’s body and disposed of it so that the authorities would never find it. And then he told me the truth about Kyuss. He told me of the ritual of the Apostle and the sacrifice of a Champion. In one moment, I could have my revenge upon Auric and obtain the eternal youth I sought! How could I resist?

“I have no ‘masters,’ like you seem to think. There was only one master spurring me on: my own vanity and weakness. I was aided by a foul priest, but his body now rots below.

“You were nothing to me, merely kids I was asked to dispose of by my friend Lordren when he returned to Greyhawk last month. He said you were a threat to the Ebon Triad, and Zahol said that meant you were a threat to Kyuss, so I hired out your assassination. An easy enough task, for someone in my position. And it should have been an easy enough for the mastermind who found the Scrolls for Zahol. And what was the death of a few irrelevant teenagers compared to the blasphemy I was about to commit?

“So, I cannot help you in regards to my ‘masters,’ for there are none. All there is is the might of Kyuss. In my heart, up until a few moments ago when I saw the Apostle rise from the arena floor in its full glory, even I doubted the truth of Zahol’s preachings. Part of me didn’t want to… couldn’t believe. But when I saw that creature rise from the earth, I knew it was all true. Kyuss is coming. And his creations are mighty. And though you may have stood against one of his minions, what will you do when the sky opens and the earth shatters and millions of those creatures writhe upon the land? What can anyone do?

“There is nothing now but death and the Writhing Darkness to look forward to. I have failed, and the Wormgod and will leave me to die the pathetic, weak old man that I am.

“But you will die, too. Young, healthy, alive…you, too, will die when the Wormgod returns.

“Say your prayers now. Save your souls now. For when the Waiting Time comes, your gods will be powerless to stand against the destined darkness.

“All that you love will rot.

“All that you hold dear will crumble.

“Your power will be turned to the Wormgod’s use, for that is his greatest weapon. We are all sinners, we mortals. And sin is His domain.

“You will perish. All memory of you will die. You will be food for worms. You will feast upon flesh. You will consume each other in the prophecied orgy of undeath.

“As will we all.

“When the world is worms and ashes.

“In the Time to Come.”

Jane lets Raknian’s warnings linger a moment, but then asks quietly, “And Eligos Manzorian? How did he get in your way?”

“He was helping you. He was associated with the wizard, Allustan. He was on the list.”

Riddle: “And Lorden? Is he still in Greyhawk?”

“Lordren? I know not where he is. I have not seen him for over a week.”

Riddle presses, “You must have some way of contacting him. Where was he staying?”

“He came to me. I never sought him out. I know where he used to live years ago, but can’t imagine he’s there now.”

At that moment, Sergeant Gandling arrives with a platoon of Watch enforcers and locks down the arena, taking everyone into custody. After surveying the carnage on his own for a few minutes, nosing about the area, consulting with his Watch arcanist, and generally grumbling about the place, he approaches the collected gathering and blusters, “So, anyone want to tell me what the holy hells happened here?”

Riddle nods in greeting to the halfing. “Sergeant Gandling, thank you for coming so swiftly. As you can see, Raknian is unharmed, as we said. His second, Captain Okoral, is still alive, though somewhat the worse for wear. As I sent to you, Loris Raknian tried and failed to destroy the City of Greyhawk and infect the entire populace with undead. Where to begin?

“You know we were targeted along with the painters and critics, Endrik Archerus, Katarina Gertwright, and Belfor Vittanis. We followed the trail back as you asked us to and found Imron Gauthfellow responsible for their attempted murders. But he, in turn, was under the control of a hideous mind flayer named Zyrxog. We managed to defeat Zyrxog in his underground lair in the sewers, only to discover that Loris Raknian had paid him to have us killed. Long Fist, I believe you have the record book of his transactions.” Long Fist hands over the mind flayer’s logs to one of the Watch agents, who promptly begins poring through the material.

Riddle continues, “But we were assailed again when Raknian attacked and murdered one of the few people we knew in this city, the wizard Eligos Manzorian, who was slain by Captain Okoral under Raknian’s orders. I still do not know why. Perhaps just to deprive us of an ally…”

At that, Tyrrell steps forward, grabbing the defeated Okoral by the hair, and tosses the chief of security into the mud at Gandling’s feet. “Well, Sergeant, perhaps I can help on this point. The captain told me down below, you see, that he knows he’s guilty and should probably hang for his involvement in all this…but that he would confess to the authorities all he knows about the slaying of Eligos, and help in any way he can with our efforts, if only you would give an honorable funeral to the fine soldiers he led to the slaughter in the name of a madman.” With a wicked snarl, his face pressed directly into Okoral’s Tyrell finishes, “Isn’t that right, Captain?”

“Er, yes. Right. It was Godsday, the second. Loris asked me to get rid of a troublesome mage that had threatened to bring down the Games. Loris promised I would find the estate unguarded and the wards down. I did as he asked, and found things as he said. I slew the evil wizard to protect my master and protect the Games and protect the city…”

“Shut up,” snaps Gandling. “You killed Manzorian, eh? Anyone else you saw fit to ‘protect’ your master from, lately?”

“Well…”

“Mmmm hmmm?”

“I may have been asked to kill another wizard this very night. And I might have complied," Okoral said.

“_Might_ have?”

“Khelleck fell at my hands. Loris named him a threat, and my job was to dispose of threats.”

Riddle nods to Tyrell, who gleefully drags the captain back to his place in line by the ear. “After Manzorian’s assassination,” Riddle continues, “we decided to play a desperate gambit and bait Raknian in his own den. To enter the Champion’s Games, we crossed paths with Ekaym Smallcask, who took us on as our manager. Little did we suspect, however, that Smallcask himself already suspected Raknian of grave wrongdoing. Surely you remember when Auric was engaged to marry last year? His betrothed was Lahaka Smallcask, Ekaym’s sister. But before Lahaka had fallen in love with Auric, she had been Raknian’s lover. As Raknian just confessed to us, when she broke it off with him and told him that she would marry Auric instead, he succumbed to his baser nature and in a fit of rage and jealously, strangled her.

“Not knowing what to do next, Raknian reached out to the foul priest Bozal Zahol, a demon-touched worshiper of a fell god, to help him. Zahol told him that he would help and that he would deal with Lahaka’s corpse. He did, but not how Raknian expected: he re-animated her corpse and kept her chained to the wall of his evil temple down below.”

At that, Long Fist produces the destroyed zombie of Lahaka Smallcask and lay her on the Arena floor. With a cry to the heavens, Ekaym sinks to his knees beside the desecrated mass of flesh. “This is her, Sergeant. This is…this was my sister, may the gods forever damn the madman who ruined her!”

With a raptor’s cry, Athena swoops in to land beside Ekaym; then, in the blink of an eye, the hawk becomes a young woman and Jane is there. Quietly, she says to Gandling, “Sergeant, have you a medic on hand?” Gandling directs a middle-aged man amongst his platoon to step forward. The healer joins Jane at Lahaka’s side. “You will see here,” Jane says, “the clear sign of defensive wounds. And here, about the neck, the unmistakable evidence of death by strangulation at the hands of a man of Raknian’s size and strength. And here is the imprint of the ring Raknian wears to this day.” After consulting the corpse and examining Raknian’s ring, the medic concurs.

Riddle continues, “We discovered Bozal Zahol and his temple below the arena floor earlier this evening, along with many undead. We made an agreement with the Ashborn to fight together to destroy the undead threat; Auric here fought beside us until the undead’s aura of supernatural terror caused him and his companion, Khelleck, to flee in safety. By this time we had slain the evil priest with Auric’s aid, and were finally able to destroy the other undead. The remains of their unnatural forms lie below.

“There is also a poor wretch still alive in a cell below who has gone mad from the abuse the undead have heaped on him. There must have been others in the neighborhood taken recently to create all these undead monsters. You’ve heard of the Johansen brothers, who both went missing last month? And is not the entire district still talking about the butcher, Karl Starren, and his three young apprentices, who have not been seen in nearly as long?”

Gandling stares long and hard at Riddle before responding. “You should stick to what you know to be facts, boy, and leave the conjecture and guesswork to the lawyers. The Johansens retired to Fort Harbor. And what was the deal with the butcher?” he tosses over his shoulder.

A bearded veteran in Gandling’s troop spoke up first, “Insane, sir. Killed the boys, then killed himself. They just found the bodies wharfside. And there was a note left in the shop that we never told the press about.”

Riddle falters briefly, but holds on to his composure. “Well, regardless, that was not all we discovered beneath the arena. In the temple below, we found this great worm of undeath poised to burst forth when the stadium was packed with cheering crowds.”

Long Fist steps forward politely. “With respect, Riddle, if I may? Sergeant, sir, the monstrosity you see here is known as an ulgurstasa. This abomination was created by foul magics for one purpose, and one purpose only: to consume the living and vomit them forth as undead. You will note the exposed remnants of the creature’s gullet, filled with once-animated skeletons – men, giants, and even a dragon – poised to be unleashed upon the populace. Without our swift action, this creature could have lain waste to hundreds, if not thousands, of Greyhawk citizens, and transformed them into a growing army of undead minions that would have slaughtered countless thousands more.”

“We fought the creature below,” Riddle continues, “only to be ambushed by Captain Okoral and his crack troops. Long Fist, Jane, and I made our way to the surface to continue the fight against the giant worm, and that was when we found Auric chained right here and the creature bearing down on him. Raknian was above in his box crying for his god to accept this sacrifice of Auric, the Champion of these Games. Auric’s handlers ran in terror as the monster reared high above the stadium. But Long Fist, with the grace of Heironeous, was finally able to stop the ulgurstasa before it engulfed the helpless Champion.

“We quickly released Auric and disarmed Raknian. I called to these men here to stop and have the chance to give their say to the watch. You,” he says to one particularly shamefaced former arena bouncer, “come up here and speak for your companions – tell the Sergeant what happened here.”

The down-on-his-luck twenty-something with obviously poor grooming habits and a general sense of desperation about him shuffles forward. “It’s true, officer. All he says. The boss made us beat the tar out of Auric…”

“Made you?” Gandling queries with quiet intensity.

“Well, that is…” the Bouncer stammers, “he encouraged us to do it. Then he made us chain the poor guy to the floor. I just thought we were going to have some fun with him. You know, arena-style. But then when that gods-awful worm monster showed up, I knew we were into something terrible here. And the boss…”

After a pause, one of the other Bouncers pipes in. “He went loony.”

“Yeah, he went mad. Raving to the sky and some god about eating the Champion and ravaging the world, and…”

Gandling hushes the Bouncer with a gesture. “Enough. Thank you. You can tell the rest of your story at the station.”

“Finally, you should know,” Riddle says, “in front of Auric, ourselves, and all these men here, Raknian confessed to his crimes, out of his loss of his youth and his loss of Lahaka’s love.”

The assembled witnesses nod, in near unison. The sky trembles briefly, and then the torrential downpour seems almost to cease for a moment. Jane looks to the sky. The near-stoppage of the downpour does not seem coincidentalm though it likewise doesn’t seem like some nod from an active higher power or powers.

(The ongoing rain is not natural. This months’-long phenomenon is a straining at the edges of reality, a bending and twisting of the natural laws, a corruption of something deep at the core of the region. It Should Not Be. So, while the momentary relenting of the rain does not feel like someone or something actively “cutting through” the corruption in the air; it does, however, feel to Jane like a momentary slippage of the corruptive influence over the natural order of things. It is not so much something overpowering the Wrongness, but perhaps the Wrongness itself slipping in its own power for the briefest of moments.)

Riddle kneels before Gandling and his arcanist. “All this I swear on the memory of my mother. I will willingly submit to any magical probe that you or your thaumaturge can put me under to prove that these words are true.”

“I don’t think that’s going to be necessary. I’ve heard…and seen what I need to see here. Men!” he calls back to his platoon, “you know what to do. We’ve got testimony to capture, evidence to collect, and a long night ahead of us. Let’s get to work!” When the Watchmen swarm away across the arena and its environs, taking men into custody and hauling off the accused in chains, Gandling says, more privately, “How deep do you want to get into this? Are you sticking around for the circus that’s about to follow, or have we seen the last of you in these parts?”

Riddle exhales, not even realizing that he had been holding his breath and although he has physically changed over the past month he resembles again the youth from Diamond Lake. “I’m not certain Sergeant. We – I – have someplace that I must go. And quickly. I would confer with my companions but I think we will go. The only question is how quickly. But we will be back.”

Long Fist says to Riddle: “We ALL must go Riddle. I would not idly stand by for you to fight Illthain on your own. Not after all we’ve been through.”

Riddle nods and continues to question Gandling. “What will happen now? Will there be a trial? How will the lords of this city explain what happened here? Will we be put forth as heroes, or as the destroyers of the Games?”

Gandling pauses for a moment before speaking. “Well…I guess that’s what I’m driving at with my own questions. How involved do you want to be? I can smear your names all over this if you want the attention you – frankly – deserve. But something about you kids…” He eyes the towering half-ogre, the sharp-eyed hawk, and the scar-faced rogue in particular before settling back on the eerie physiognomy of Riddle. "Well, something tells me you prefer your privacy. You’ve laid out a convincing case here. I can call you for testimony if you wish, or I can leave you out of this entirely. But if you want out, now’s the time to get out. Because this will soon blow sky high.”

“Who will own this arena now?” Riddle asks.

“I’m sure that’ll get tied up in the courts for quite some time. Couldn’t tell you.”

Riddle moves over to Smallcask still kneeling over his sister’s corpse. “Smallcask, what will you do now?”

“I will return my sister’s body home. She will be properly honored. By the way…the winnings from the Games. They are yours. I only kept a share to legitimize myself in your eyes and the eyes of those watching us. But I do not need the money. And something tells me you might. Take it. It’s all yours.” Smallcask hands over his share of the winnings from the first two rounds, 3,150 gp.

Riddle squints and says, “Our thanks, Smallcask, for that. We will put it to good use. Safe travel home. I hope you are able to finally have some peace and move forward. I assume you will use whatever influence you possess to make certain that nothing untoward happens during the trial and that Raknian meets with swift justice? Have your friend ”/wikis/celeste" class=“wiki-page-link”> Celeste send to us if something goes wrong. I want to make certain that this, at least, is not left half-done."

Smallcask says, “I have no influence in this city. My family is from Cauldron and all of our influence is there. But, yes, if there is aught I can do, I will do it.” There is a small pause before he adds, “I do not expect to see Celeste again.”

Riddle turns to the party. “Well, do we stick to the shadows? Or do we step out into the light? Will either help us? Archie, you met with Webb – will our fame of saving the city buy us an extension on the week we were supposed to have to bring him Illthain’s head?”

“What about Racknian’s associate from Diamond Lake, Dourstone’s manager? And what of the Sisters of Eiseth? Are they still below?” The Sisters of Eiseth have been rounded up by the Watch for questioning and are being led away.

Riddle, with Long Fist’s recent statement about returning to Diamond Lake as a group still on his mind, asks the party, “What do the rest of you say? Do we return to Diamond Lake? Shall we leave now bereft of spells and tired – or do we wait til tomorrow morning and attempt to equip ourselves as best we can before we leave? I do not want to dally, but I do not think we will have another opportunity to arm ourselves and prepare spells.”

Jane says, “Though I am anxious to see for myself what is happening there, and to hurry to Allustan’s aid, I do not want to arrive in Diamond Lake unprepared. I think we should remain in Greyhawk just long enough to rest, prepare and equip ourselves properly. We need to be careful, though — our notoriety here grows stronger by the minute.”

Tyrrell says, “Diamond Lake is shite heap and mostly I don’t care if it sinks into the bowels of the earth or not…but I know it is where our path lies, and I know Allustan, or his memory if that’s the case, deserves our help. But I also don’t want to rush in unprepared. So yes, rest and equip.”

Riddle turns to the his remaining companions, the ex-soldier and the duty bound archer. “And you two? What say you?”

Riddle takes Archie and Scar-Eater’s silence for assent. The party immediately begins making plans for resting and preparing spells, and accounting their funds for a shopping trip. Everyone is in the midst of making requests and trading items when Riddle’s face grows troubled. He turns back to the group with the constant rain mixing and streaming with his blood tear streaked face.

“My friends, I want to go to Diamond Lake immediately. But I do not have the power to do so yet. Unlike Jane or Long Fist, I do not pray for my abilities; they are just granted to me as the day turns over.”

“I can feel that I almost have the ability to carve a hole through space and time so that we can instantly appear in Diamond Lake, but the Elder Powers will not grant this ability to me til the wheel has passed through all of this day. In other words, ‘til my powers reset, I will not be able to teleport us there…”

“We have funds to purchase teleports but I am doubtful that they would be able to put us into Diamond Lake. It may be so. I could be wrong. We may have all of the rest of this night and all of this day, how shall we best spend it?”

Jane asks, “Do you have any sendings left? Perhaps Celeste would do us a favor and find means of teleporting us to Diamond Lake. She might have a personal interest in Allustan’s safety? Of course that wouldn’t make a difference in the matter of your preparation for whatever we might be walking into down there, which is not insignificant. But it might be an option.”

“I believe I can send once or perhaps twice more,” Riddle says. “I will make the trip without spells if need be. But to do that I will need to arm myself. My abilities with an axe have left me, stolen from my body and mind. In their place I find myself with the feel of a blade. I need a sword. The voices of the Vaati have made this clear to me. Even if they have kept so much else shrouded in half truths and guesswork.” Riddle then kneels and concentrates on his sending.

“Allustan, grave danger, pain, Diamond Lake, dragon Illthain. Teleport us there before tomorrow midnight? Urgulstasa destroyed. At Arena. Smallcask’s sister’s body found. Raknian in custody."

A reply to the sending comes swiftly: “Our prayers are with you, but I cannot do what you ask of me. Surely the purchase of a scroll is within your means?”

So the party continues discussing their options.

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Session Thirty-Six

Starday, 15 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

Before doing anything else, the party decides they must put down the zombie- Lahaka and put her corpse in the Haversack as proof of Raknian’s foul deeds, and to help her brother find some closure.

They distribute some of the items from the Kyuss priest’s trunk and scout out the unexplored areas of the floor, which is really just a hallway with one curtain on one side and a door at the end. Tyrrell gets more than he bargained for when he draws back the curtain and is blasted by a cone of cold and nearly-terrified by a large mosaic of Kyuss’ symbol. The real trouble, though, is the alkilith demon, all tentacles and eyes, perched in front of the mosaic. The party takes a few turns to figure out the best way to hit the thing before Riddle informs them that they will need good-aligned weapons to overcome its damage reduction, that energy attacks are basically useless against it, and that it can turn into a 20-foot-by-20-foot cloudkill whenever it feels like it. The party is pressed into new tactics to defeat it, but well-placed color sprays and spiritual weapons and one big smack from Long Fist eventually explodes it, bathed in the light of Heironeous.

The last door of the hallway is a latrine.

They head back to the altar chamber to deal with the giant worm they have determined is an ulgurstasa, and find everything is as they left it. Long Fist still senses a vulnerability in the shell holding the worm in place. Riddle casts divination to ask how we might best defeat it.

And then things go horribly wrong.

It begins as usual, with breezes stirring and crackles of energy in the room, but then there is an enormous thunderclap from the heavens, and when Riddle’s mouth opens, it is not to deliver the answer to his question, but a dire warning from a chorus of unearthly voices:

“They invade from the south,

They invade from below,

They invade from shadow.

The River of Blood has been breached, and where were you?

What have we Chosen?

You see much, yet see nothing.

Now, see nothing indeed.

Fallen warrior, REDEEM YOURSELF."

Riddle collapses to the floor, blood streaming from his eyes. He begins muttering over and over, “My soul for Order. My service for the Empire. My shell but an instrument. My life for the war.” And he is changed. Some things he could do before have been lost. The bleeding from his eyes slackens a bit, but does not stop. Jane asks him if he is need of atonement, but he does not know.

Long Fist tells a little of what he understands of the pantheon of the Vaati, that they often spoke as one, in chorus, when things of grave importance were happening, and that the ones they Chose to bestow deific blessing upon were usually people designated to protect holy places or sacred relics.

Riddle sends to Allustan: “Eligos slain by Raknian. We compete in the Games. Giant worm beneath stadium. Gaurd your back against Tirra. What is happening?”

And because what just happened wasn’t intense enough for him, Riddle receives in reply only a wordless scream of pain.

When he tells the party what he heard, there is silence for a long moment before Long Fist says gravely, “We made a choice when we knew the dragon was flying over Diamond Lake. We came here to do something. We need to finish it before we go back.”

Riddle looks at Long Fist with a decisive but grim nod. “We came here to destroy Raknian. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Games. Let’s kill this thing.”

So, armed with an amulet of health and a conviction spell, Riddle and Long Fist go down the hallway to the shaft where the ulgurstasa is kept. Long Fist channels enough positive energy into the shell surrounding it to break it, and Riddle immediately uses the priest of Kyuss’ scroll of heal to deliver a massive blow to the now-freed creature.

It seems like it might be really easy to kill the thing, but of course this is just when Captain Okoral shows up in another hallway with eight bodyguard goons. “Well, well, well,” he says. “He wasn’t lying. No mercy, boys.” It seems either Khelleck or Auric snitched on the party, to no one’s surprise.

However, this particular fight is not going to go as well for Okoral and his boys as he hopes. Okoral leaves himself exposed to a point blank manyshot/rapid shot from Archie and though he resists the fire arrows (and doesn’t seem as ‘distracted’ as Archie’s usual targets do), he still takes an assload of damage and has four arrow shafts sticking out of him. This attack is immediately followed with Scar-Eater’s ray of enfeeblement, leaving him little recourse but to duck behind a corner and let his bodyguards move into the fray. Bast joins the melee with the goon squad as well, while Tyrrell snicks away at them from his tidy corner.

Meanwhile, Long Fist and Riddle are still attacking the worm. It blasts out a column of razor sharp hairs into the hallway, making it hard to see and attack within the blast, and then proceeds to move…up. They hear it crashing through the dome overhead. Riddle and Long Fist make desperate attacks as it moves away from them towards the arena floor and out into the City of Greyhawk.

Jane, Archie, Scar-Eater, and Tyrrell continue trimming the bodyguard fat and get to Okoral, but hearing the commotion down the hall, Jane breaks off and joins Riddle and Long Fist. Long Fist, with help from Riddle, flies up after the ulgurstasa.

He sees a mob of men crowded around an obscured figure on the ground, and Raknian, sixty feet up off the floor, in his resplendent breastplate, his eyes wild with religious ecstasy. Raknian cries out, “There is your Champion! Consume him now!” The ulgurstasa rises up as the crowd rushes back. There is Auric, Champion of the Games, chained to the arena floor, and about to become a worm’s supper. But there is about 200 feet between the worm and Auric, and Long Fist is not giving up. Riddle dimension doors himself and Jane on to the arena floor, and what’s going on is fairly clear.

As the warriors below clean up the remaining enemies, and accept Okoral’s surrender, Jane throws a holy smite at the ulgurstasa, damaging it some but more importantly, blinding it. It slows down and Long Fist is able to catch up and deliver a mighty smiting attack against it. Jane sacrifices her next action to allow Long Fist to do it again, and an incredibly powerful smack destroys the creature, revealing its horrifying innards and a glimpse of what they might have had to fight had it been allowed to continue.

Every ounce of energy seems to drain from Loris Raknian with the death of this creature. He is defeated. Long Fist goes to Auric on the ground, while Riddle and Jane fly up to Raknian.

It would seem that Games’ closing ceremony has just taken place.

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Session Thirty-Five

Freeday, 14 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

With Auric and Khelleck onboard, Riddle approaches the Sisters of Eiseth in an effort to enlist their aid as well. They refuse, however, telling Riddle he is being duped.

Riddle uses his censors to map out the area they are headed to. From the morg room there is another hallway leading to another room. In there is a simple stone altar of black stone facing a set of stone double doors to the west. Upon the altar a glowing green scroll emits a green beam of energy towards the door. Kneeling in front of the altar is a grotesquely fat, flaccid humanoid man with cloven feet and stunted horns coming out of his head. He wears full chain mail and carries a wooden shield and horrible bone club that glows sickly black. He also wears a jade holy symbol of a screaming skull with worms pouring out of the mouth. The stone doors lead to another hallway into a 20-by-20-foot shaft that is under the dome the boys scouted above. In the shaft, encased inside a pulsing sphere of sickly green energy, is a 50-foot-long maggot dripping acid from its mouth. It is covered in hairs. Everything pulses with the light from the scrolls.

A different hallway from the altar room leads to a square room with a central pillar of green marble, decorated with green worms. There is a bed, a table, an elongated trunk, and more door out of the room. The door leads to a hall and curtained off room.

Armed with a definitive layout of the area, The Infidels and Auric’s Warband plan for their attack, to come after midnight.

Starday, 15 Sunsebb CY 595

Riddle and Khelleck each dimension door half the group to the site. Riddle brings the melee fighters to surround the kneeling priest, while Khelleck brings the ranged attackers to the hallway between the priest and the morg room. The melee fighter destroy the surprised priest within moments, and the whole party moves into the hall to fight the undead. When he falls, the scrolls blast out black energy that fills the room, and from the shaft, they hear an ungodly screaming. The green beam continues to pulse.

Jane releases the door keeping the undead out of the hallway. A brief but vicious battle ensues, and both Khelleck and Auric run screaming upon first sight of the Spawn of Kyuss. At the first opportunity, Khelleck dimension doors himself and Auric to safety, leaving Auric’s greatsword behind. Jane moves around the fight cutting worms out of people when they get infected while Long Fist blasts positive energy at everything he can.

Afterwards, the strip the priest of Kyuss of all his possessions and turn their attention to what they have decided must be the Apostolic Scrolls themselves. The arrow Archie fired at them earlier bounced off some kind of invisible protective shield, like a temporal stasis.

With a good deal of help from Riddle, Jane uses dispel magic to suppress the temporal stasis long enough for the others to stuff the Scrolls into a lead box, and then into the interdimensional pocket of their Heward’s Handy Haversack.

Long Fist inspects the maggot-worm. The field around it feels weak. His instincts tell him that positive energy might really hurt it right now. There is, after all, all that alchemists fire in the storeroom…

Tyrrell searches the priest’s bedroom. Behind the curtain on the east wall they find the zombified corpse of Lahaka Smallcask, identified by the half moon tattoo on her face. Around her neck there is an impression of a ring, possibly worn by the person who strangled her. The impression is from some kind of serpent ring, of a kind which Loris Raknian wears.

Tyrrell turns his attention to the trunk. It is darkwood bound with steel, three feet by a foot and a half, by a foot and a half. It shows a massive horrible figure of a man covered in worms, chained to a monolith, with worms breaking through to a blasted landscape. Tyrrell searches for traps and finds none, though it is locked. He disables the lock but where his fingers touch the lid, worms burst out of his flesh, draining his very stamina. Inside, there is a wealth of treasure (including a wand of restoration that Tyrrell can use to cure himself).

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Session Thirty-Four

Freeday, 14 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

The crowd is going crazy as The Infidels await Raknian and Okoral on the arena floor. Filge, in particular, seems to be loving every second of this. Wardens fan out around the party as the two gentlemen approach. Okoral says, “What would you have with him?” Long Fist says they would prefer to meet in private. “And not on your field of glory? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…The Infidels!”

The party bows to the pounding and screaming in the arena.

“This is your moment, son,” Okoral continues. “What do you want, exactly.”

Riddle steps in begins ranting about people trying to control the Games and not wanting them to have any further access to the teams. They ask for evidence of any meddling, and Riddle says that one of them was contacted by a member of an organization they cannot name. “And you stood up for yourselves?” Okoral nods. He turns to the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, in addition to the martial victory you just witnessed, these people were approached by outside sources just yesterday, but they were strong of heart, and preserved the integrity of these Games! I give you, THE INFIDELS!” There’s lots of buzzing and people scurrying out of the Arena. Filge blows kisses to the party. Scar-Eater does a spontaneous handstand. The party returns to the ceonoby.

Half an hour later, Smallcask arrives with their money. He asks after any information about Lahaka, and when the party says they have not investigated yet, he reminds them that their time is running out. But perhaps still riding the adrenaline wave of their victory, the group can’t seem to focus on anything but the Games. Between divinations and chatting up the guards, they guess that it is actually they that will fight the exhibition match the next day, and not Auric’s Warband, as everyone expects.

They send Smallcask off with 5,070 gold pieces to bet on themselves in the next fight. After he’s gone, Riddle, Archie, and Tyrrell head off to stealthily explore under the ceonoby and see what they can find out about Lahaka.

At their first stop, Archie can hear the distant sound of felines and boars in one direction, and men sitting down at a meal in the other direction. Riddle, with intense focus, hears even further away, an upsetting sound…distant screaming. As he moves closer to a particular staircase it resolves into a very unpleasant, wordless, male moaning, like someone in pain. He attempts to place a visual sensor near it but fails. They move off and he attempts it again. He sees three crude prison cells in a hallway that looks over the top of a dome structure. Huddled in the corner of one cell is a ruined man. He looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten in days. His clothes are ragged, he’s been clawing at his face, sitting in filth, staring. He is bleeding and covered in sores. He is insane beyond all reason. It is not n extreme leap to ascribe what Riddle sees in this man as similar to the way people respond to the Spawn of Kyuss.

Riddle moves his sensor to the mess hall. It doesn’t seem possible that they could be unaware of the man in the cells. The three of them move around, avoiding the mess halls by going up and down stairs, to the prison hall. Riddle goes first around the corner, detecting thoughts on the prisoner — abject horror, writhing worms, huge fat creatures with horns and hooves and eyes and worms and worms and worms…

When Riddle pokes his head around the corner, the prisoner freaks out, crying “No, no, no…” Riddle tries to speak with him, but he only says, “With him…with the eyes…” and proceeds to bite off the tip of his finger and draw a figure on the wall with the blood. He draws a very fat man, giving a worm to another man backing away. The squiggles.

The threesome moves on to find another ten by ten foot storeroom filled with scores upon scores of stoppered gray flasks. The room, they discover, is full of alchemists fire…and the ceiling above it is not particularly thick. They are unsure of what that means for now.

Moving on, Tyrrell discovers a secret door, surviving the slay living glyph on the floor with a heroic effort. There is a horrible aroma coming up from below. They move down the stairs and Riddle uses his censor to scout out the area. One room has four Spawn of Kyuss and three coffins. In an enormous room off that one that might have once been a chapel, there are six more Spawn of Kyuss and another creature identified as a morg.

The scouts return to the ceonoby to report everything they found, and learn that the Sisters of Eiseth beat Draconic Brood. Shortly thereafter, Auric’s Warband eliminates the Snow Leopards. Only three teams remain in the competition.

Archie knocks on Auric’s door. “You? What now?”

Archie: “I thought we’d be able to have the conversation that we weren’t able to have up in the arena. Personal things about you, and larger things to the people of Greyhawk. You know who our manager is. He hasn’t heard from her either. We believe you had nothing to do with her disappearance. We’re looking into it.”

Auric: “While fighting a gladiatorial competition.”

Archie: “This is where she disappeared from. What better place to start? Did she say anything?”

Auric: “Whatever happened between her and ”/campaign/the-age-of-worms/wikis/loris-raknian" class=“wiki-page-link”> Raknian went terribly wrong. She left him extremely upset, fell into my arms, and would not discuss whatever went down with the two of them in my presence. Then everything was great. We got it on, we were getting hitched up, and then she left me. She said she wanted nothing more to do with me. Me. Right after the Games last year. Drove me into dark places. She was a woman. I don’t know if she was in her right mind."

Archie: “How much do you know about Raknian?”

Auric: “What everyone knows. What do you mean?”

Archie: “We believe Raknian is up to some nefarious deeds that might possibly endanger the lives of everyone here assembled for the Games.”

Auric: “He’s a public figure. He’s a philanthropist. He does great things for this City.”

Archie: “Ever heard the name ”/campaign/the-age-of-worms/wikis/kyuss" class=“wiki-page-link”> Kyuss?"

Auric: “Maybe. Who is he?” Archie explains about Kyuss. “That sounds horrible.”

Archie: “Funny you mention that because there are currently at least ten infected undead in this structure as we speak.”

Auric: “Are they nearby?”

Archie: "They are. The theory I’m operating on is that your fiancee may have learned something about this – "

Archie is interrupted when Khelleck opens the door wider and tells Auric to go to bed. “Are you disturbing my teammate?”

Archie: “Not at all.”

Khelleck: “Well, he needs his beauty rest.”

Archie: “Don’t we all? I was just asking him some questions, perhaps you might have some insights?” Archie asks about the flesh golems, but Khelleck will not be drawn in. Archie persists. “I was just wondering what, if anything, you did to find out what happened to his fiancee.”

Khelleck: “The dancing girl? She left him.”

Archie: “She left him and vanished into thin air.”

Khelleck: "And I should give a shit why?’

Archie: “We think something horrible happened to her, and we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Khelleck: “Excellent for you.” He tries to shut the door on Archie, but Archie keeps at it, telling him all of their lives are in danger, and throwing words out like Kyuss, and the Age of Worms, both of which Khelleck has heard of. Archie tells him about the Spawn of Kyuss, to which Khelleck drily replies, “Sounds like a job for a superhero.” From within, Archie knows he’s at least managed to convince Auric when he cries out, "Innocent lives are at risk! Kehlleck, we cannot stand by – " Khelleck shushes him and turns back to Archie. “What do you want?”

Archie: “This is going to go badly very soon, unless we, the Sisters, and the Ashborn take care of this problem. And then we can go back to killing each other in the Arena.”

Khelleck: “Show me these creatures.”

Riddle dimension doors himself, Khelleck, and Long Fist into the hallway between the rooms. Khelleck sees all the undead as Long Fist blasts a bulk of them with positive energy. Khelleck takes the three of them back and says, “Well, I will admit that looks awfully suspicious.”

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Session Thirty-Two

Godsday, 4 Sunsebb CY 595

The party sends to Allustan the news of Illthain roaming the skies over Diamond Lake, to which the wizard replies, “Terrible news. I shall investigate. Remain vigilant.”

The party spends the rest of the day shopping and makes an appointment to meet with Ekaym Smallcask at The Palace on the morning of the following day.

Waterday, 5 Sunsebb CY 595

The party goes into the meeting with Smallcask intending to be bold and make a display a power, per the divination from the day before. They are shown to a private dining room where they strike impressive poses, Jane in her large tiger form. A few minutes later a handsome fellow in his early forties enters with a lute strung over his shoulder. He seems a bit spacey, and upon seeing the party says “Wow.” He then informs them they are the ninth or tenth group he has seen for consideration for the Games. When he asks who they are, Tyrrell replies, “We are…the Infitics.” The interview sort of goes downhill from there, with no one in the party prepared to speak.

Soon, Smallcask’s partner enters. She is the same woman who accosted Tyrrell on the scene of Eligos’ murder investigation. She doesn’t seem to want Smallcask to introduce her, and asks if the party is willing to submit to a truth spell, which they are. She asks as string questions, mostly about Eligos’ murder, and answers a few herself, revealing that she knows Allustan and that she is dear friends with Tenser. Archie tells her of what happened to Marzena.

When the woman asks if they have any intention of hurting Smallcask, Jane reverts to her human form and explains what she saw in her scrying of Loris Raknian and that they believe Raknian had Captain Okoral murder Eligos, but that they don’t know why. Smallcask is not surprised, and at the conclusion of the interview, the woman tells him he is safe with us and vanishes. Smallcask offers the party the position, and asks their names. Tyrrell will only give his name if he gives us the woman’s name. “”/campaign/the-age-of-worms/wikis/celeste" class=“wiki-page-link”> Celeste," he says.

The party negotiates a 55/45 split of any winnings in the party’s favor, and Smallcask tells them to meet him in a lovely coffee shop on the corner at 5:00 pm on the 11th so they can enter the contestants dinner together.

Jane makes several scrying attempts that day with little luck. Auric and Allustan resist the spell and the attempt on Marzena results in a dark, foggy mass that might indicate she is within a private sanctum spell, which might further indicate that she is with Tenser in Magepoint.

Waterday, 5 Sunsebb – Moonday, 10 Sunsebb CY 595

The party hangs out in Greyhawk, waiting for the Games to begin and doing nothing of significance.

Godsday, 11 Sunsebb CY 595

The party signs the paperwork provided by Smallcask, calling themselves “”/campaign/the-age-of-worms/wikis/the-infidels" class=“wiki-page-link”> The Infidels“, and they proceed up the hill to the arena. It is surrounded by several outlying buildings and one private estate, belonging to Loris Raknian. The arena itself seats up to 18,000 spectators in 12 banks. Only one gate is open, and there are lots of people parading up the hill. The Infidels are met at the gate by ”/campaign/the-age-of-worms/wikis/talibur-wheelick" class=“wiki-page-link”> Talibur Wheelick, the Games’ referee, who makes it clear that his word there is law. Jane notes that Smallcask seems to be very good at making people underestimate him, but that he is actually a good deal sharper than he comes across.

All of the teams are seated around a big banquet table while they are announced. The crowd reactions are interesting and telling (only Smallcask applauds for the Infidels). Auric and Khelleck, of course, receive a tremendous welcome as Auric lays last year’s Champion’s Belt over the throne link chair.

As dinner begins, Auric’s Warband makes their way around, working the room. Jane watches Smallcask and notices that for all his chatting and appearance of light-heartedness, never really takes his focus off of Raknian. Much like Riddle, who pegged Raknian right away, and who noted that when Raknian noticed the party, a brief flicker of panic danced across his features before he clamped it down. He avoids giving them any attention or notice for the rest of the night.

Lots of people at the table are bookies, and they soon learn that pretty much everyone in Greyhawk, including the teams, gets in on the action. Tyrrell, pretending to be drunker than he actually is, approaches one of the bookies to find out the odds on the Infidels. Right now, the payout would be 5 to 1. Tyrrell places a bet with Deg Shannit, the bookie for 10 gold, and Scar-Eater places a party bet with Deg for 150 gold. Other than that, the party lays low for the first night. After the end-of-evening fireworks, the teams are taken one by one to a wooden platform at the end of the arena, and lowered down into the barracks.

Waterday, 12 Sunsebb CY 595

In the morning, the first round groupings are announced. The Infidels are scheduled to go up against Arcane Auriga (four female elves, outcasts from Celene for scandalous behavior, and lethal longbow experts), Badlands Revenge (three gnoll halberdiers led by a human barbarian and his dire badger companion), and Sapphire Squad (a swashbuckling janni named Korush and two human mercenaries, all mounted combat experts) at 10;00 am, the day’s second match. Arcane Auriga has been given the slight advantage because of how cool they look.

The fight begins with Arcane Auriga firing a bolt of acid at Badlands revenge, and Archie taking out Korush’s horse. The Infidels concentrate mostly on Sapphire Squad while Arcane Auriga works on Badlands. Korush attempts to disappear from the battlefield but Jane nails him with faerie fire. All told the fight doesn’t last particularly long, and it ends after a flame strike wipes out all of Arcane Auriga except its leader, Renita, who surrenders. Korush, who had been accidentally healed by one of Long Fist’s burst of positive energy, was in the middle of ethereal jaunt and the Infidels are declared the winner. Tyrrell wins 50 gold and the party wins 750 gold on their bet, as well as 1,100 gold from the day’s winnings (after the split with Smallcask).

The day’s other victorious teams include Auric’s Warband, Draconic Brood, Pitch Blade, the Sisters of Eiseth, and the Snow Leopards.

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Session Thirty-One

Starday, 1 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

There remains one more room in the complex to investigate, which they have seen but not entered.
In this room there is a big spidery statue and three trophy cases. The party looks at everything, but forebears opening any of the cases for the time being. In the first case there is a preserved head of a black scaled dragon, a pair of faintly glowing green eyes slightly larger than a humans (enchanted with a persistent light spell), an odd black metal cage covered in thorns but with nothing inside (sitting on a large velvet pillow), a shiny +2 unholy adamantine dagger, and twitching chains covered in barbs (according to Riddle, likely chains removed from a chain devil, or a ‘kyton’). In the second case there are four books labeled “Unspeakable Tome”, a weathered and tarnished griffin figurine of wondrous power, six jars of which four contain eyeballs on long stalks (the others are empty), and another book behind the Unspeakable Tomes. In the third case they find a mini-pseudodragon statue, a stuffed doll of a pale-skinned and hairless humanoid that bears a striking resembles to the Vaati statues from the Whispering Cairn and to Riddle (it has been pierced with twenty long bone shard spokes), a thick black tome wrapped in chains, a magnificent magical red greatsword with a periapt of health draped over it. When Tyrrell opens one of the cases, the statue in the center of the room comes to life and attacks. When struck, it makes no noise in the actual world, but a hideaous screaming fills their heads. It attempts to confuse them, but the party is able to kill it quickly. Tyrrell takes the doll. It feels very good in his hands. He removes all the shards from it.

Riddle casts speak with dead on Zyrxog. Staring at Riddle with pure malevolence, the mind flayer reports that the Apostolic Scrolls are “a scholarly tome”, that Loris Raknian hired him to kill the party “presumably because he wants you dead”, that the doll Tyrrell picked up “pleases him”, and that there is “no danger whatsoever” of handling any of the items in his trophy room – but it’s obvious on that question that he is trying to lie to Riddle. Riddle, with the intent of destroying it in green slime, takes the unholy dagger from the trophy case. Of course it is cursed, and Riddle finds he cannot stow the weapon once it is in his hand. Then Tyrrell uses his wand of unseen servant to open the case and retrieve the unidentified book, which Riddle immediately opens and reads. It says, “This book contains no information,” and furthermore, attacks his memory and sense of self. Luckily, he saves against all drain and damage. Scar-Eater reports that this is all beyond him, extremely strong auras of enchantment, and the party decides to leave everything alone (except the doll which Tyrrell already has, the dagger which Riddle cannot let go of, and the book which they wrap in a up with the intent to send to Raknian with a note claiming it is an addendum to the Apostolic Scrolls).

The immediate order of business is to remove the cursed dagger from Riddle, hiring a priest of the temple of Pelor in the Golden District to do the deed. Though he offers to dispose of it for them, Riddle doesn’t trust him and takes the dagger back to the green slime to destroy it himself.

The party then turns their focus to the Champions Games. They learn that to enter the competition they need a manager, and there is only one licensed manager without a team of the twenty-four licenses that have been issued, and that is Ekaym Smallcask. He is staying at a very exclusive Inn called The Palace, in the temple district, with a young woman, a companion of some sort. During their information-gathering they also learn that the Ashborn have changed their line-up for the upcoming games — replacing Tirra Elundriel with three flesh golems.

The party spends the night at the Curtained Palace by the wharves.

Sunday, 2 Sunsebb CY 595

The party spends the day scrying on people in a public park, wearing masks over their heads, while Tyrrell and Archie scout.

Jane scrys on Raknian successfully. He is sitting in a well-appointed study with a window looking over the city. From the direction of the view, the party guesses this building is located adjacent to the Champions Arena, one of the few elevated places in town. Raknian is in conversation with a slightly younger man. “Report, how did it go?”

“The mission was a success,” his guest replies. “I do not believe we were observed by anyone. Got off clean, but I was concerned about the lack of protection on his estate. Someone of his power, I was concerned about the lack of difficulties.”

“Were we set up?” Raknian asks.

“I can’t say. I can say, we were successful, this seemed too easy.”

“Couldn’t possibly be that cocky, could he?” Raknian wonders, and then asks about security for the Games and other projects. He tells the companion that it’s time to lay low. The party’s local knowledge tells them this companion is likely Captain Okoral, Raknian’s chief of security, but they can only guess who or what they might have been discussing.

Jane fails to scry the Faceless One, but does succeed in checking up on Illthain. They see the magnificent black dragon soaring gracefully and lazily through the murky night over Diamond Lake. They notice that she does not share some of the tell-tale characteristics of other black dragons, namely two forward-facing horns and two rear-facing horns, long aquiline bodies, and webbed patches between their toes. Rather, Illthain has a sort of crown of rear-facing horns, a stockier build covered in bone-shard spikes, and huge earth-raking talons. Everything about her associates her with a copper dragon, according to Scar-Eater, except the black scales (copper and black dragons even share the same kind of breath weapon). Knowing Illthain is a master alchemist, the guess that she might have changed her own appearance. If she is, in truth, a copper dragon, her size makes her an adult, and it would mean she can breathe a slowing gas, climb stone surfaces as with spider climb, and burrowing capability.

The party returns to their rooms to rest before their meeting with Eligos in the morning.

Moonday, 3 Sunsebb CY 595

There is a large crowd gathered around Eligos’ estate when they arrive, and there seems to be some kind of investigation taking place. Some quick questions of the crowd reveals that the owner of the estate appears to have been murdered the night before. A girl approaches Tyrrell and says, “Not finding what you expected to find here?”

“Excuse me?” Tyrrell replies. After a small bit of banter he feels a strong compulsion to be truthful, though it is not overpowering, and he definitely resists it. She pressures him to explain his business there, and threatens to go to the investigators if he does not tell her the truth, as he might be a person of interest.

“Did your plan here fail?” she presses. “Did you come to gloat?”

Tyrrell gives up and does his best intimidating. “I’m here to gloat, my plan failed, I’m looking for work. Now maybe I’ll tell the Watch about a person of interest who just appeared here in front of ME.”

She takes a step back. “Are you looking to make an enemy of me? You wish me to leave? Very well.” And with that mysterious bit of nonsense, she disappears. She bore no resemblance to Eligos, nor did she share his dialect.

Not sure if they can believe he’s dead, Jane attempts to scry Eligos, but the spell fails. Riddle casts a divination to figure out how to get the things we left from Eligos back without getting involved in the investigation. “One should move now, quickly and under stealth before it is all moved beyond your reach.” So the party loads Tyrrell up with every buff and utility spell that might help, and send him in.

Tyrrell gets into the second floor with finesse and disables every trap he comes across with ease. He returns to the party with all of our stuff and Eligos’ notes on it in under three minutes. Before leaving the area, Riddle casts audible whisper and says, in his best Eligos dialect, “Captain Okoral slew me, at the order of Loria Raknian, last night. Look to him for my killer.”

In his notes, Eligos indicates that the horns the party found in the real tomb might have belonged to a pit fiend named Kizarvidexus. Regarding the Cult of Kyuss, he notes that its numbers have traditionally been very small, with congregations often consisting of a single priest living a double life as an upstanding citizen. Recent evidence indicates that the Cult of the Ebon Triad may have been involved in the much older, smaller, Cult of Kyuss. There have been links between the deeds of both. There is a whole section listing thorough source material on the Age of Worms: Age of Eternal Ruin, prophecies recorded in the Book of Vile Darkness, the Necronomicon, Libris Mortis, and the Apostolic Scrolls. Oh, and Going Rogue.

Perhaps the most chilling notation regards the Spawn of Kyuss. Eligos suggests that though they are the most notorious, they may actually be the least dangerous of the undead associated with Kyuss. There are far more fecund creatures in the canon. In other words, Spawn of Kyuss appear to be the Red Shirts of the bunch.

One final divination before they retire for the evening tells them to look for Ekaym Smallcask “At ”/campaign/the-age-of-worms/wikis/the-palace" class=“wiki-page-link”> The Palace at a time of his choosing, brave face, bold front, power on display. Mend fences quickly with his ally, yet distaste for owner will serve you well."

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Session Thirty

Starday, 1 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

Looking into the pool of the grand chamber using the scrying pool in the hallway, the party sees thousands of little tadpole things with sucker mouths and four tentacles each. The party suspects they are looking at baby mind flayers. Suddenly a voice says in Long Fist’s head, “Observe the entrance to my lair, Protector of the Innocents. My only regret is that I did not make them suffer as I will make you suffer.” Visualizing the entrance, they see the two elven prisoners they tried to save, their heads ripped open. Archie’s knowledge of dungeons tells him that to talk to Long Fist, the mind flayer must be within 100 feet and have a line of effect on him. The party shifts position, preparing for the fight, and Archie moves to the entrance of the hallway, just as Zyrxog himself materializes right in front of him.

Scar-Eater blasts it with a scorching ray as the mind flayer begins casting a spell. Enormous tentacles lash out at everyone in the hallway. Hyaeliotrope, Jane, Tyrrell, and Riddle are all grappled. The octopins move into the hallway and join the fray. Archie risks and avoids their gaze attacks to fire at one of the octopins, but draws brutal blow himself. Long Fist makes a beautiful jump down the hallway but misses with his lunge attack. Jane shifts into Bast to muscle her way out of the grapple, but the mind flayer manages to catch her as she escapes, though he fails to re-engage his grapple attack. Tyrrell frees himself and draws his wand of cat’s grace. Riddle dimension hops himself out of the way and places a mark of doom on Zyrxog. Scar-Eater disappears from view to escape the hallway as the tentacles continue to crush Hyaeliotrope and grapple Archie. Zyrxog blasts Bast with a lightning bolt and she cannot dodge in time to spare any of the damage and she is staggered. Long Fist dismisses Hyaeliotrope and delivers a strong blow to the mind flyer, but its skin is hardened in some way to protect itself. Jane shifts back into her human form to draw her wand of cure moderate wounds. Tyrrell fails to make his wand work and moves closer to Archie. Riddle bursts into flames and moves into the range of the mind flayer. Scar-Eater hits Zyrxog with another massive blow but not a lot of damage seems to be getting through. Suddenly the mind flayer teleports into the chamber as the octopins go to town on Archie. Archie manages to get out of the way long enough for Long Fist to heal him up a bit.

The door behind Riddle opens with an otherworldly freakish screaming. Both Riddle and Scar-Eater save against whatever effect it brings with him, and Riddle’s partial resistance to sneak attacks helps with the crossbow bolt now sticking out of his side. They are staring at a scowling, paunch-bellied drow thrall with a spectacular chain shirt and a buckler. Jane is busy healing herself while Tyrrell finally manages to use his wand, and Riddle charges the drow and misses. Scar-Eater dimension hops into a flanking position and trips the drow. Meanwhile, Zyrxog grapples Archie and Tyrrell. The octopins squelch in and attack Tyrrell, Archie, and Long Fist. Archie gets away but draws another lightning bolt from the mind flayer clips him for serious damage. Long Fist breathes fire on one of the octopins. The drow thrall, still prone and surrounded, tries to disarm Riddle from the ground. Jane brings a flame strike down on both octopins and kills one of them. Riddle commands the drow to “Halt!”, effectively stunning it. Scar-Eater smashes it with shocking grasp but fails to overcome the drow’s spell resistance.

Zyrxog pelts Long Fist with several magic missiles as the remaining octopin hits Tyrrell. Archie peppers the mind flayer with arrows, plugging away at its resistance. Long Fist breathes another gout of flame on the octopin and destroys it. He quickly heals himself. Tyrrell draws a potion and drinks it, and Riddle and Scar-Eater continue beating at the effectively-stunned, prone drow on the floor. Zyrxog’s tentacles flail out without hitting anyone, but his mind blast stuns Tyrrell, who drops everything and stands, vulnerable, in the hall. Archie and Long Fist deal the mind flyer a bit more fire damage, and the drow disarms Riddle from the ground. Jane shifts to Athena and puts herself between Zyrxog and the stunned Tyrrell. Riddle grapples the drow as Scar-Eater swings wildly at it twice, missing both times. Zyrxog blasts Athena with five more magic missiles and tries to grapple Tyrrell, but fails. Archie slays the drow with his first arrow and nails the mind flayer with the other two, distracting it from Long Fist’s subsequent attack, giving Athena time to carry Tyrrell out of harm’s way. With their target dead, Riddle dimension hops himself and Scar-Eater to the middle of the hallway, hitting the mind flayer with electricity damage that simply crackles off of it. Scar-Eater risks a grappling attack to get underneath Zyrxog and hits it with a blow that finally breaks through its stoneskin. The mind flayer disappears.

The party takes a moment to heal and boost itself before Zyrxog’s next attack. Tyrrell asks Scar-Eater to collect the things he dropped before searching the dead drow. Athena flies Long Fist down into the chamber, where he promptly and inexplicably throws his gaseous form potion into the pool of mind flayer tadpoles. Riddle tells the others still in the hallway that the mind flayer is in his study, and dimension doors himself and Scar-Eater into that room. Scar-Eater gets one attack off before Zyrxog dimension doors himself into the chamber where Archie has his bow trained, and where Jane shifts into her Bast form and charges the aberration with everything she has, tearing it in half.

In the study, the party finds that Zyrxog has been doing all sorts of things for hire such as assassinations and procurement of items. There is a list of over a dozen thralls who have been working for him for months. There is also a list of recent business transactions, including two deals with Loris Raknian: 1) “the assassination of the younglings from Diamond Lake”, and 2) the purchase of an ancient relic called the Apostolic Scrolls. The party loots everything they can.

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Session Twenty-Nine

Starday, 1 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

Riddle moves the sensor into the area behind the doors bearing the sigil of a big pulsing brain and sees four stone benches and prisoners with wrist shackles on them, guarded by zombies. Riddle dimension doors himself, Long Fist, and Tyrrell into the hall beyond the drow cavern where Long Fist uses his blinding shield and Tyrrell charges the drow. Meanwhile, Scar-Eater dimension hops into the cavern and Athena flies Archie to the ledge. Soon into the fight, the drow leader does something that causes tentacles to burst out of the faces of all the other drow and the party is suddenly facing six mind flayers, but the party quickly realizes that they turn back into drow when they die. Tyrrell destroys the leader with an attack after Archie distracts her. The battle is over barely before it begins.

The party moves into the prisoners’ area where Long Fist turns the zombies to dust. A young teenage girl named Jesalyn tells them the mind flayer has been feeding off of them for weeks. The party sends the prisoners back a ways to wait for them and be escorted out of the sewers.

The party moves down the hall and engages in a brief fight with three nasty octopins.

Jane stone shapes a door off its hinges revealing a big brain stature that deals damage to their Wisdom whether they save or not. Moving through that room they find a lab and Riddle shatters an enormous tank, releasing a bigger octopin than the other three. They dispatch it quickly despite its attempts to slow and stagger and generally beat them to death.

Eventually they make their way to a small round chamber with a pool at the center. The pool allows them to visualize other areas of the complex. The hall continues past the pool and opens into something unseen so Tyrrell uses the pool to visualize that area. It is a massive white stone chamber 80 feet tall. The hallway they are in is about 45 feet up in one wall of the chamber. Within the chamber there is a huge jet black column of stone from floor to ceiling, with sludgy green liquid schlorking down it into an enormous placid green pool below. There is something written all over the black column with references to sheltering the infants, caring for the young, and nurturing new generations of spawn. Scar-Eater can determine that the writing, interspersed with alien sigils, are keyed to generate an unhallow effect, with a resist fire spell tied to it. Two more octopins are stuck to the wall above the entryway to the hallway the party is in. Beyond an entryway across the chamber, another room shaped like the brain room with large glass cases filled with dark artifacts. There is another door behind the pillar, and visualizing beyond that door reveals a private chamber with a desk, two shelves of books, and a chest.

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Session Twenty-Eight

Starday, 1 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

The party sees Sergeant Jessup Gandling and collects their money. They go shopping.

At 3:00 pm the party returns to Tarquin at the Crooked House. He is staring at a glass of whiskey, but not drinking, and waiting for the Watch to deliver his reparations. Pikoh has been hired and seems happy there, though his cooking is, perhaps predictably, terrible. Tarquin asks us to encourage the Watch to partonize the Crooked House – unless they expect free drinks. He knows a bit about Crusty Patton and the Cold Forge, but nothing that helps the party’s investigation into Zyrxog. Riddle leaves three bags of diamond dust for Tarquin, and catches Tyrrell as he tries to steal one back.

The party proceeds to the Low District where they find the Cold Forge. During their relatively brief conversation, the foul-mouthed Patton fires one of his apprentices (whom Scar-Eater sends to the Crooked House for a job cooking), Riddle reveals a new talent for learning things about people by shaking their hand, and Tyrrell buys a cold iron dagger. Patton insists that Tyrrell name the dagger before leaving, but rechristens it “Brrrrrraggit” when he doesn’t like the name Tyrrell chooses (“The Snicker”).

The party moves around the back into the alley. Archie finds a grate about halfway down the block from directly behind the Cold Forge with a small patch of garbage that has recently been shifted around. He also finds a set of split-toed boot prints with faint traces of what they think is beggar’s gold around them, and footprints belonging to drow. Archie follows the trail of beggar’s gold into the sewers and down a couple of levels, past an offshoot with a pool and opening into a natural cavern where the footprints lead. Tyrrell finds no traps, and Riddle spies into the cavern with clairvoyance. The chamber has a 20 foot ceiling and glows faintly with purple light from patches of fungus on the walls. The floor is completely coated in swathes of bright yellow fungus. Four enormous 5-foot-tall mushrooms for a circle. When he describes these mushrooms, others recognized them as shriekers. The whole room is naturally rigged to alert the entire complex that they have entered the cavern. Riddle casts silence into the far corner of the room, and he and Archie kill all four shriekers with ranged attacks within a mere twelve seconds.

Archie and Tyrrell move ahead to scout and encounter three drow lying in wait to ambush them. A quick battle ensues. Again, Riddle and Archie take out all three of them with ranged attacks before they have time to do anything more than throw a single vial of alchemist’s fire that misses Archie completely.

The bodies are looted and the two scouts move forward again. This time, three minutes go by and they have not returned. Long Fist uses protection from evil on Riddle, who moves forward to see into the rooms ahead. He finds Archie and Tyrrell curled up on the ground taking to a large, black, inky serpent creature. Riddle switches so that he can listen into the room but not see and hears Tyrrell explaining, “No…no, we’re here to kill it.” Riddle dimension doors Long Fist, Scar-Eater, and himself into the room while Jane shifts into Fury and bounds through the corridors on foot. They attack the naga in force, with Archie sadly attempting to grapple one of his own away from the naga, though Long Fist manages to get to Tyrrell with the wand in time so that Tyrrell can move into a flanking position with Bast and decapitate the naga in the second round.

Riddle checks the next chamber with clairvoyance. It is vast, 40-feet-high with a shelf 20 feet above the hole. There is a cage of livestock and a doored-off area. Three pairs of drow silently spar with each others, lorded over by a female drow in resplendent breastplate bearing the image of a spider.

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