We talked 6 dwarves into carrying the entombed Artalava out of the sewers and to the Tower of the Gift in the hopes that Lord Rannick could help. It took some convincing, but the guards let some of us past where we (Hadrion) explained everything to Rannick: the Alchemists’ Guild’s involvement in setting the bombs, what was going on with Elios, the Guild of the Falling Leaves’ cube entrapping Artalava, everything. While he took it all in, he sent Tokalo to the armory to get a more appropriate weapon for his new fighting stance.
Meanwhile, Raksha went back ‘home’ to gather intel on breaking into the Alchemists’ Tower. She traded her alchemical fuses and her month’s quota of dessert for a distraction and was able to steal a map from Mushi’s quarters. The real trick will be returning it leaving Mushi none the wiser.
Rannick agreed to cooperate against Elios as long as there was hard evidence and sent us off with a few elixers and a Warhorn, which would summon a squadron of guards.
We regrouped at Woolrin’s Tale and made our plans. There were three entrances into the Alchemists’ Guild, and after deliberating through each of them, we set off for the sewer. If we survived all the traps, we’d enter 3/5ths of the way to our target: the Grandmaster’s Workshop.
Rapiel led us to a small, circular tent that had a long line of people waiting outside its door. That line was halted to allow us to pass, and those nearest the door were visibly relieved at the delay. Not good. We had a brief discussion, and Thranduin nobly agreed to enter the tent with me. The door snapped shut behind him, and we found ourselves stumbling about in utter darkness. I made a globe of light appear in my palm, but it shot up into the sky and lit up the entire place. We were standing in a large, grey wasteland – much larger than the size of the tent we entered.
Felix was there, tapping his cane on the ground and chiding me for breaching the terms of the contract. I asked about that, because I hadn’t seen any contract, but Thranduin pulled out his ticket and read off what it said. My worst fears were realized when he got to the end and it saying that the bearer agrees to pay the remainder of dues with his life. Hearing Cassandra’s future was so not worth it!
I tried to wiggle my way out of it, but he would not relent. In my desperation, I started offering him any life but my own, and I’m ashamed to admit that I even briefly considered offering Thranduin. Thranduin, who has been such a loyal friend that he entered the tent under no compulsion other than the goodness of his heart! Felix finally settled on a price in exchange for my life. I was to deliver him 100 souls. Trade my life for a hundred others? When the chance of escape was made in such blatant terms, I knew there was no way I could agree to it. I would rather die than subject a hundred others to this hell. And if that was my option…..I raised my hand to him and blasted a blazing bolt of fire at him, striking him in the chest!
A skirmish ensued. Thranduin threw a flash of light into his face, which left Felix slashing and stabbing blindly with his sword. I threw another firebolt at him, which melted a portion of his face off revealing strange bone spurs where his chin should have been. Thranduin hacked mercilessly at him with his axe while I tried to fire my new Wilk’s Laser Pistol at him. (If I survive this, I need to practice shooting!)
Felix pulled away momentarily and brought his offer down to 50. 50! That’s fifty too many. I’m determined to put an end to this horrid slaver or die trying. If I end up spending the rest of my life serving honeycakes (or being served AS honeycakes!), I want to do it with the knowledge that I tried to save everyone and that I gave it my entire effort. After refusing him, he cut my blaster in half and sliced through some of my armor. I recognized my end drawing near, but I was oddly at peace with it all.
Then we saw a sliver of light cut through the wasteland near us. I think it’s the door! Decision time: do we flee the foul skeletal creature we’re fighting, or do we slay it now and end its reign of soul-stealing?
It turns out that we truly HAD stumbled into a carnival, but it was the weirdest one I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve seen that many!) We were promptly greeted by a young man who introduced himself as Felix and his flower as Andromedin. He told us about the various attractions and sold us a few tickets. He also provided valet services for Ajax….if you consider a two headed dog named ‘Bones’ sitting on the Glitterboy’s feet a type of valet service.
We wandered the carnival and tried a wonderful treat called a ‘funnel cake,’ which tasted amazing but left me hungry for more. Not in sense that it wasn’t filling…I mean, it wasn’t. But not at all! Even though the thing was bigger than my face it was like I hadn’t put anything in my stomach. I took a look around for magic and the place was flooded with it. Between that and being smack dab on a ley line started making me wonder what was actually going on.
But despite those misgivings, we gave a valiant effort at the ring toss game. Cassandra and I both walked away winners having gotten one of the three rings on, but Thranduin either wasn’t lucky or wasn’t as skilled as we were (he talked big beforehand though!). Another odd thing happened after the ring toss. Thranduin made an offhand comment about needing more tickets, and Felix was there right behind us. I certainly didn’t hear him sneak up behind us, but even still, there he was – and all too eager to sell more tickets.
We all entered the fortune teller’s tent, but Thranduin took one sniff of the intense incense and left. Not sure where he went, and honestly, I didn’t care all that much. My attention was arrested by the woman shuffling a deck of cards and offering to tell us our futures. Now, let’s get something straight. I’m not the type of guy who believes in all that, but there was some serious magic going on at this carnival, so I figured that if anyone could divine the future, this lady might.
She drew three cards for me and explained what each card meant. All of it was pretty grim, from Ajax falling to a message from ‘the Devil,’ to seeing myself hanging from a gallows. As I watched that last image, I could almost feel the rope around my neck! It may have just been my imagination, but I found myself seriously doubting my doubts about her veracity.
She offered to also read Cassandra’s future, which she agreed to. I opted to stay for it too. Some of my future had Cassandra in it, so I wondered if I might see more of my own. I wondered for a moment if I’d have to pay to stay, but she never said anything, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt. Her future didn’t seem as grim as mine. I got the impression that there are some serious decisions and choices in Cassandra’s future, and her decisions may mean life or death for me and Thranduin.
As we left, a masked man grabbed me and said that Felix wanted to talk to me about me being over my ticket limit. The little bit of uneasiness in my stomach suddenly increased tenfold as I realized that I really should have paid to stay for Cassandra’s future! Rapiel said that I could have a few words with my companions, and I used that time to give Cassandra and Thranduin the recovery roses. If I was going down, I didn’t want to cause their demise too.
We left toward Felix’s and I caught the briefest glimpse of a sign over a new attraction, “Coming Soon – Brent’s Honeycakes.” This can’t be good.
The five of them, Kenin, Famia, Bet, Shem, and Azor had been journeying togethers as Jackals for some time and recently found themselves arriving in Orsem Yahan where they were hoping to find employ. The various traders in town were worried about recent attacks that had taken place, and the town leader, Nomar, explained that two caravans headed North had been beset by local bandits, otherwise known as Wolves. In the most recent attack, a Trauj warrior by the name of Bai had managed to escape after slaying a number of them.
The five Jackals agreed to pursue the Wolves and easily followed the tracks to a cave hidden being a cascading waterfall. Leaving the sunset behind, they stepped into darkness and were greeted by the smell of blood and death. They found the Wolves, but they had been slain by something else…ancabars! The surprise attack by the burrowing spider-like creatures was as quick as it was vicious, and Bet was almost taken alive down one of the ancabar’s tunnels. But the Jackals emerged victorious.
After scavenging bits of black coin and examining the Serpent-like tattoos each of the bandits wore, the party descended into the tunnels and discovered an ancient complex. The party momentarily split, with Shem and Azor finding a massive mosaic map while the others broke a pulsating orb of corruption. The explosion drew the attention of a large group of undead, and Famia, Bet, and Kenin fought a retreat until they were bolstered by Shem and ???. Shortly thereafter, the undead were put to their final rest.
Curiosity getting the better of them, they traced the undead’s tracks back to a room housing a large, stone sarcophagus. There they also found the skins of the missing caravan. Disturbing the sarcophagus brought forth a fierce battle against a potent spectre. Again, flesh and blood prevailed against the dead, though the battle was closer than any cared to admit.
Licking their wounds, the Jackals returned to Orsem Yahan where they got some much needed rest in the barracks.
Having conversed with the great Aurturi and received its sting and the subsequent changes, Leena, Odd, Radinator, Xenath, Xi, Zarvox, and Dãv entered once more into the pit once more. This time, they stopped in the room with the sarcophagus and took the young woman’s body with them. Using it to trigger the ‘clappers,’ they easily passed through that danger and descended down the elevator shaft into the room filled with floating chunks of shattered glass.
They approached the door that had remained sealed despite their valiant efforts and placed a hand on it. A wave of light shimmered across its surface and it rose silently into the ceiling, revealing a lavish, open room. Once-beautiful paintings adorned the walls, and a red carpet ran down the center beneath three chandeliers to the base of an imposing statue of the Queen. Placing a glowglobe in a pocket in the nearby wall, the chandeliers fill the room with cool blue illumination.
Odd approached the statue to see if it might be the ‘trap-laden statue’ referenced in a previously found clue and discovered that it was trap-laden when its eyes glowed red and a voice from around the room, “Defile NOT my final rest! Leave now while you have your life!” The chandeliers also turned red and a profound terror filled the minds of Leena, Radinator, and Zarvox. They tried bolting from the room, but Xi and Odd was able to stop them, where they remained cowering in fear for another minute or so.
Gathering their resources, it was decided that everyone would wait outside the room while Xi ran up to the statue to affix part of a cypher to it, allowing Radinator to remotely deactivate it. With the statue subdued, Odd opted to cut out a few of the paintings that were in good enough shape that they might be worth something. Zarvox asked Dãv to cut out the painting that depicted the same royal crest that was on his shield, and the culova climbed up the wall and easily sliced through the canvas, bringing him back the work of art.
Departing from the room through the doorway behind the statue before the cypher wore off, they approached a deep, wide chasm. A rope bridge was attached to two floating black rectangular objects and extended across the chasm to matching blocks on the opposite side. Zarvox told Dãv to stay on this side then stepped out onto the bridge. It immediately collapsed under his weight and he fell the 80 feet or so to the floor below.
Xi took some of his rope and tied one end to one of the Reality Spikes and tossed the other end down into the chasm. Grabbing ahold of the rope, Odd jumped onto his back and they safely descended down to where Zarvox lay surrounded by massive pieces of broken machinery. Radinator followed, leaving Leena up top with Dãv.
After everyone took a few moments to take in their surroundings and tend to Zarvox’s wounds, Zarvox called up to Dãv and asked him to climb down and provide some assistance. After the spidery creature descended, they explained to it that they’d like it to climb up the other side of the chasm and tie the other end of the rope to one of the blocks there, providing a way for everyone to climb out. It agreed and carefully made its way up the smooth wall. Once it arrived it at the top, it deftly secured it, leaving a very taut line stretching across the chasm back to where Leena waited. The remainder of the rope dropped back down to the bottom where the others were.
Odd climbed back onto Xi’s back and let the fabulous Seeker do all the work to climb up to the top. Radinator and Zarvox followed behind, chuckling at their companions’ antics. Leena slowly made her way out onto the rope across the chasm and made it about halfway before her grip gave out and she fell to the ground below. She lay there groaning for several minutes before dragging herself to the dangling rope. Tying herself to it, the others pulled her up to the doorway.
Reunited once more, they spent the next hour resting and recovering before continuing down the hallway, which Xi lit by infusing it with a significant amount of light. It opened into another room that had a humming machine in the center of it. Xi ran into the room yelling, “I am Groot!”
As he ran in, three monstrous creatures emerged from the shadows. Each bore physical characteristics of Radinator, Xi, Odd, Zarvox, Xenath, and Leena. A fight broke out, as the heroes fought for their lives. Their fear rose as each slain monster was absorbed into the living, making it bigger and stronger. But their efforts finally prevailed and they were left alone in the room with the humming machine.
Odd remotely deactivated it and their attention was drawn to a clear synth cylinder on the far side of the room. They decided to camp out in the room to regain their strength before continuing.
Xi unsuccessfully tries to use his beam lance to cut through the door…several times
They decide to retrace their steps and revisit Aurturi
Xi fabulously dives through one of the smashing panels but is painfully caught in the second one in the middle of his back handspring
The are surprised to discover that all of the traps and pressure plates in a previous room have moved. The path they once thought safe was safe no longer
They explore the other passageway – which lead to a small, empty room and an overhead surprise
Zarvox was able to talk down a very confused, angry, and hurt culova, offering it protection if it would stay close to him.
In their remorse, most of the party offered the spidery creature restorative cyphers or food and helped bandage up the very wounds they caused
They then discovered a burial chamber complete with an occupied sarcophagus
Leena got her hand smashed in the lid when it closed on its own, and when she reopened it, a gust of air hit her hand making it feel a bit better
She then sprayed her canister of sparkling spray into the sarcophagus just as the lid closed
Continuing their ascent, they were momentarily stumped by the tunnel with the coded doors, but they were able to figure out the pattern and emerged once more in the side of the deep shaft.
Everyone ascended the rope, some more bravely than others, and found themselves once more in front of the shimmering doorway leading to Aurturi
Hemming and hawing about what to do, they finally decided to spend the rest of the night outside on the landing, getting some rest and recovering from their foray into the Pit
When morning came, they approached Aurturi and had a discussion with it about the Sting of Death it offered as well as the deal it had brokered with Bach. They then offered him a promise of genocide in exchange for a similar deal. Aurturi agreed to ponder the offer.
Odd decided to take the plunge and asked Aurturi for the Sting. It happily (and speedily) complied, stabbing the man in the chest with its venom-dripping tail. Odd froze, paralized for a long moment before coming to once again. In addition to being hurt, he discovered that his neck had grown about 6 inches longer.
One by one, the rest received the Sting of Death and were one by one transformed in some way:
Odd’s parasite grew a tail
Zarvox grew gill-like appendages on his neck
Xenath’s lips turned a dark shade of purple
Xenath’s parasite developed a thick fur coat
Leena’s teeth became pointed
Xi found himself covered in lumps that each looked a bit like Odd
Having felt the Sting of Death, they thanked Aurturi and departed.
….using a bowl he had found, Xenath scooped up a glob of the black goo and raced back toward the room where the others waited. As he scooped it up, a cloud of black smoke poured from both the puddle on the floor and from the container he now held. Despite the fluid sloshing around dangerously (as it had very little viscosity), he was able to successfully navigate the hallway. As he entered the small room where everyone had congregated, everyone began choking on the black cloud. It stung their eyes and burned its way into their lungs.
Between coughing fits, Xi had Xenath halt long enough for him to dip his pinky finger into the goo. It immediately began burning away at his finger and he flicked the remnants back into the bowl. His finger didn’t look too bad off, but it was hard to tell as he could no longer feel it.
While they were fascinated by the numb digit, a portal of purple energy spiraled into the room, and stepping from it was Zarvox’s brother! Hansuraz introduced himself to the others, making fast friends with Xenath. He was apprised of the situation and attempted to help Xenath splash a bit of the goo up on the closed door, then swinging the bowl down fast enough to catch it again. Together, they threw it up against the wall and successfully caught it again. But in doing so, a glob splashed on Xenath’s shoulder. He was able to shake it off before it caused any damage, though his arm immediately went limp from the shoulder down.
Hacking and coughing at the putrid cloud filling the small room, they stumbled out into the room where the glass table hovered. They then spent the next hours trying a variety of experiments with the goo, table, and door, hoping to blindly stumble upon the right combination to cause the door to open. After all was said and done,
Half of Xi’s pinky was painlessly dissolved. The other half is numb and useless
Xenath’s arm is limp and numb and surprisingly useful as a dead weight to swing around
The glass table has been shattered. Shards of it are scattered throughout the room, floating at same level as table
Everything short of drinking the black goo or throwing someone into it were tried (and both those options were seriously considered)
When they finally grew weary of the continual pain and damage the black goo was causing, they left it and re-explored the area. Happening upon an idea, Leena shot her grapple cypher up the elevator shaft where it held fast to the bottom of the platform. Boldly grasping onto the rope, Xi climbed up and banged against the metal surface. A chance blow caused his beam lance to activate, slicing through the platform. He quickly pounced upon the opportunity and cut a hole large enough for him to climb through. Once having done so, he squeezed the ball to bring the elevator back down where he stepped forth and bowed fabulously.