Campaign of the Month: March 2016

Ptolus, City by the Spire

Session 22: We're Getting the Band Back Together
9th of Bloom, 721 IA
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Once again, the entire session was spent exploring Pythoness House.

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After getting Aendir Meliamne up to speed on what he’d missed (and getting all the players back up to speed on the entire story after our far-too-long break!), the Punnishers decided to finish exploring the gatehouse. There really wasn’t much to find, until Yona Note discovered a secret door that conveniently led onto that odd ledge in the courtyard. The floor of this hidden cubbyhole was covered in old leaves and debris, but careful searching revealed the long-lost brass key mentioned by the ghost. It certainly isn’t Neverans All-Key and it didn’t unlock anything yet discovered, but Chesh Briarthorn tucked it away for safekeeping just in case.

Their next stop was the third floor of the southwest tower. They climbed the rickety old ladder to find the top room to be a dead end. Inside was a table with a book, a candle, and a large glass jar filled with yellow liquid. Mosquilius Kito inspected all three with his special sight; both the book and the jar radiated magic, but the candle was just a candle (with the word SEGGINAL carved thereon?)

The book turned out to be accursed, as it sucked away some of the warlock’s essence upon his first glance at the forbidden words on its pages. (Bye bye, Intelligence points!) He was able to slam it shut before it did any further harm, but the damage had already been done.

The heavy glass jar was tightly sealed with what appeared to be some kind of metal instead of wax. Mosquilius Kito claimed this item.

With several options for moving higher into the keep, they then chose to return to the gatehouse and check out its rooftop. This revealed to them the roofs of the lower sections of the keep, and allowed them access to the old rooftop garden and the upper floors. They clambered down to the main roof and headed for the old rooftop garden, but were unexpectedly attacked with arrows from a gaggle of undead archers who emerged from a far doorway!

These archers’ aim was frighteningly accurate, and many arrows found their marks in the tender skin of the delvers. Aendir Meliamne led the charge to bring battle to these foes, and the paladin’s blade quickly began slashing through the foul undead. One of them struck him with a claw, dealing awful necrotic damage with its foul touch, indicating that these were likely some kind of wights. The battle was brief but fierce, though it became much more alarming when a new, darker skeletal figure appeared from a secret door right next to Mosquilius Kito! The delvers were up to the challenge, however, and were able to finally defeat the undead hookers.

After patching themselves up a bit, they moved inside to investigate the now-empty bedchambers of those undead hookers. Once lavish and decadent, these rooms were now faded and covered in dust and old cobwebs. They found a few baubles and valuables there, but the most interesting find was actually a journal filled with valuable information about the place.

They found stairs going both up or down, and in search of the “bug things” mentioned in the journal, they decided to first go down.

They found the bug-things!

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A horrid humanoid cockroach and a pair of massive beetles waited for them below. Aendir Meliamne and Thorzin Oakwood led the attack, while Mosquilius Kito and Nethwen Nagel used ranged attacks from the safety of the stairwell…

Until one of the Big Bugs spat a stream of acid at them! Yona Note nimbly dodged, but everyone else in the line of fire was badly burned by acid. And when the second Big Bug also spat a caustic stream, it proved to be too much for Mosquilius Kito and the halfling went down hard. Nethwen Nagel, also near death’s door, grabbed the warlock and retreated to quickly provide healing before it was too late to save her diminutive companion.

Aendir Meliamne used one of his precious spells to ensorcell his blade, and the now-magical weapon sliced readily through the demonic cockroach. Thorzin Oakwood needed no such extra enhancements; Brool buzzed its deadly song as he chopped and slashed at his horrific insectoid foes. Yona Note and Chesh Briarthorn also stood their ground, the rogue easily dodging those pesky streams of acid while the cleric fired shot after shot into the awful bug-things…

Nethwen Nagel got Mosquilius Kito back on his feet, and after dry-swallowing a few more healing pills the two of them moved back down the stairs to rejoin the fray. Unfortunately, about the same time a new group of insect foes also appeared! A second cockroach-demon showed up, along with a couple of huge swarms of cockroaches…

One of the massive beetles finally fell, and the second managed one more acid spray before also succumbing to the repeated attacks of the heroes. The swarms proved particularly hard to kill, but once their demonic master fell they immediately dispersed.

Badly wounded in this fight, the Punnishers needed a rest to recover their strength. After looting the lairs of the bugs (more shiny stuff!), they attempted to leave [[Pythoness House but discovered an invisible wall blocking the main courtyard entrance! (Could that echoing come to meeeeee they’d heard earlier have something to do with this?)

Trapped inside the keep, they chose to return to the relative safety of the gatehouse and the ghostly Taunell. Thankfully, the party was able to get the long rest they sorely needed.

End of Session.

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Session 21: Giant Moles and Killer Dolls and Friendly Ghosts
9th of Bloom, 721 IA
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The entire session was spent exploring Pythoness House.

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Aendir Meliamne and Chesh Briarthorn were ready for a fight. The door burst open to reveal a pair of monstrous moles the size of wolves, with frighteningly large claws! The halfling immediately shot one of them, but only grazed its flank. Both leapt to the attack.

The loud report of Chesh’s pistol brought the rest of the Punnishers running… well, all except Yona Note and Mos. Those two reprobates decided to do a bit of exploring on their own, and entered another decrepit boudoir room.

Thorzin Oakwood and Nethwen Nagel fired at the giant dogmoles as Aendir Meliamne initially kept them contained in the doorway, but then the paladin fell back and allowed the critters to come out so everyone had a clearer shot. Thorzin Oakwood switched immediately to his trusty axe Brool. Chesh Briarthorn and Nethwen Nagel provided deadly ranged support, and those two beasties never really had much of a chance.

But meanwhile, Mos and Yona Note poked around in the old boudoir. Around a large window seat were niche shelves holding lots of little knickknacks and dolls, but as the halfling approached, a half dozen of the creepy things jumped up and swarmed him!

They weren’t very strong individually, but they had needle-sharp teeth that tore painfully into the warlock’s exposed skin. He and Yona Note began knocking the creepy little bastards across the room and scorching them with eldritch blasts while they were crawling all over him and gnawing on whatever they could. They exploded into splotches of purplish goo as they died, until finally the wild-eyed Mos stood among the remains, panting…

The room the dogmoles emerged from turned out to be the lair of the hobgoblins, and also the ancient remains of a kitchen. The hobgoblins didn’t have much, aside from a bit of coin, but it was still more than those creepy-crawly dolls had.

The Punnishers regrouped to explore the remaining rooms on the first floor.

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Aendir Meliamne and Thorzin Oakwood led the way into the last remaining boudoir on the main floor, but as they entered the dusty, undisturbed room they had a sudden vision of a clean, sunlit chamber with a trio of scantily-clad women beckoning them in to have some fun. Everyone else, however, saw three very undead creatures get up from the beds to move towards the heroes. Thankfully neither of the warriors fell for the illusion, and the group immediately began hammering on the three undead monstrosities with weapons and spells. They didn’t last long.

The undead hookers had lots of golden jewelry though, and Yona Note was quite happy to dig through their ancient unmentionables for “shinies.”

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In the big hobgoblin fight we’d run right past the side room with the weird statue of the naked fat guy, but we HAD to check that out now. With an arrogant smirk and stance, the statue of a bald male human was something else in this place that just oozed the whole “creepy” vibe. The statue turned out to radiate strongly with both magic and evil, and Yona Note noticed (from scratches in the floor) that the statue’s base would slide about five feet forward. Unfortunately, no means of moving it could be discerned (despite many hand placed on inappropriate parts of the statue).

They’d found a couple of ways up to the third floor, but there was one remaining door on the second floor to investigate. It was locked, but that barely slowed Yona Note. She deftly picked the lock and led the way into the western tower of the old gatehouse. A rickety ladder leading up to a trapdoor in the wooden ceiling was the only thing in the room, and she quickly clambered up to investigate.

The room above held only a couple of dusty old crates and a lantern, but she was shocked to see the lantern rise into the air and hurl itself at her head as a ghostly voice moaned “GET OUT!”

She shouted a warning to her team as she quickly climbed up into the room, looking for a target. Mosquilius Kito was particularly skeptical, and tried to determine if this was really a spirit, or if it was some kind of con. (You know, since he himself was an expert on cons.) The halfling kept trying to convince the ghost that they were tax collectors, but the angry ghost wasn’t playing around though, and attempted to possess the warlock! Mosquilius Kito was able to fend off its mental attack, and the party was preparing to attack the ghost when it noticed Aendir Meliamne and paused when it saw the Lothianite holy symbol on his shield.

The ghost visibly calmed, and reached a hand to the paladin. After a moment’s hesitation, Aendir Meliamne took the ghost’s hand and allowed it to possess him!

Things We Learned from the Ghost

  • One hundred ninety years ago, a human Lothianite cleric named Taunell died defending the house.
  • He watched the wanton women and the red-cowled priests of Pythoness House perform all manner of unholy rites, although one strong woman seemed to resist their evil.
  • The Cobbledman has one half of a strange spiral-patterned disk. The other is in the northeast tower, although Taunell doesn’t know how to reach that tower. The disk is the key to moving that strange statue.
  • Protecting the house is the most important thing to him, and he deeply regrets being unable to stop the red-cowled priests.
  • He doesn’t really know anything about the other spirit infused in the house, or much of anything about the level below, other than that it exists and the other spirit—which he calls the “chaos spirit”—guards what lies below in particular.
  • He says that before the red-cowled priests came, he hurt a young woman, and for that he is sorry. Sometimes the sin of anger overtakes him.
  • He doesn’t know anything about Neverans All-Key specifically, but he watched a young woman drop a key off the roof down onto a ledge some time ago, and no one ever came to get it.

Taunell stated that he is being punished by Lothian for his sin of anger, and that there is no way to end his torment. He is unable to leave the gatehouse, though he can sense other areas of the house.

While possessing Aendir Meliamne, Taunell even cast healing magics on Yona Note… but none for Mosquilius Kito.

He sadly exited the paladin’s body and allowed the heroes to continue on their quest. Aendir Meliamne remembered nothing of the conversation and had to be filled in after he came to his senses.

End of Session.

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Session 20: Honey, I Shrunk the Adventurers!
9th of Bloom, 721 IA
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No one had a strong opinion about what to do next, and there was much discussion about the postings on the Notice Board in the Delvers Guild Office. The only person excited about any of the notices was Yona Note, who really wanted to go check out the free potions. With not much else really catching their interest, they agreed to check it out. Chesh Briarthorn had heard of this Professor Zallin, and decided to go across the Undercity Market to Potions and Elixirs to see if they had any information on him.

The shop – very nice, with a very exhaustive collection of potions for sale – had a wrinkled old sourpuss for a proprietor. He wasn’t very interested in chit-chatting about Zallin, but thankfully a beautiful elven woman came to the rescue. She fondly dismissed the old man to the back room and was much more helpful.

She explained that Zallin was an accomplished alchemical tinkerer, always striving to create new recipes for magical concoctions. He was, of course, looking for test subjects for his latest batch. Chesh Briarthorn bought a couple of potions.

With some reservations, the Fellowship headed to Zallin’s Tower on Vock Row in Midtown to inquire about the testing. Professor Zallin turned out to be an eccentric gnome wizard with a rather messy workshop.

Zallin was persuasive enough to convince them to be test subjects for his latest batch of strength potions. Mosquilius Kito in particular was very interested in the gnome wizard’s pocket of holding, but he wasn’t at all interested in selling it. They each requested a potion (flying and invisibility were the popular choices) as a reward.

Professor Zallin said the new strength potions would give them the strength of an ant, but something went wrong. With a very impressive explosion, the potions gave us the size of ants instead!

The heroes watched in dismay as a now-gigantic Zallin said, “Oh no. Not again!” and “At least there aren’t any chunks of them this time.” He then left!

Thankfully, Chesh Briarthorn had already prepared a dispel magic as a precaution and used it on herself to remove the effects of the potion. She grabbed Zallin’s antidote off his desk and used it to restore the others. Zallin returned in the middle of that task, and was immediately and profusely apologetic.

The heroes really laid it on thick, and convinced the wizard to give up TWO potions each for their troubles, and he also offered up an additional incentive if they would agree to keep this unfortunate incident quiet: a Magically Sealed Chest! He hadn’t been able to open it himself, but he’d just discovered a possible way to unlock the chest. He’d been researching something called Neverans All-Key, and he’d just translated a text that hinted the key may reside in an abandoned keep called Pythoness House over in Oldtown. This magical key is rumored to be able to open anything, including (maybe?) Bluesteel Doors.

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This sounded like a VERY good thing for us to go find. Even moreso for Mosquilius Kito when he learned that Pythoness House was once a brothel…

They called it a night and decided to go bright and early the next morning to check out the place. So… around noon the hung-over delvers trudged up to the place.

Standing around 80 feet tall, the old keep is on a little-used dead end street in Oldtown and is surrounded by a large yard with a wrought iron fence. The heroes walked right in and checked out the courtyard.

Very little sunlight reached the ground here in the high-walled entry, but a narrow set of stairs led up to an old well. Chesh Briarthorn couldn’t resist and had to go up to take a gander at it. There was a rope, but she couldn’t see the bottom and dropped in a coin. She heard it splash, and decided to pull up the bucket. When it got to the top, she spotted a bunch of nasty green worms in the water and immediately let go of the rope. They all heard the bucket thud into something before it hit the water, and they realized the owner of those worms was on its way up the well!

Aendir Meliamne ran up to the well to fight whatever appeared. A spawn of kyuss crawled out of the well, but the heroes were ready. It did get in one good hit on the paladin, but the Fellowship blasted it right back down into its watery grave.

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They moved on into the keep, where they immediately found a hobgoblin ambush waiting for them!

A pair of powder bombs clanked on the floor at their feet just before detonating. On a ledge above were a pair of hobgoblins and a strange, cyclopean goblinoid leader type.

Everyone began to fight back against the threat, but Yona Note stood next to the northern curtain and could hear someone or something on the other side. In a reckless maneuver that did Thorzin Oakwood pround, the rogue chose to charge through blindly and tackle whoever was back there. Unfortunately, what she intended and what she accomplished didn’t quite mesh. She ran face-first into the chest armor of a waiting hobgoblin!

He and a bunch of his buddies were hiding behind the curtain, ready to attack. When the rogue appeared, they unleashed a flurry of arrows that left her reeling. Thankfully, their captain’s thrown javelin missed, catching in the curtain and jutting through the other side…

Meanwhile, the cyclopean goblin-type up on the ledge was taunting and trading shots with Aendir Meliamne. While Mosquilius Kito, Nethwen Nagel and Chesh Briarthorn hammered him with devastating ranged attacks, he tried unsuccessfully to charm the paladin. Aendir Meliamne then charged up the stairs to take him on face-to-face…

Thorzin Oakwood had seen Yona Note disappear behind the curtain and, seeing that spear sticking out, guessed she might need aid. The dwarf put his head down and charged that curtain.

The good news: He pulled down the curtain.

The bad news: He completely buried himself beneath the heavy curtain, and he up-ended Yona Note in the process. The rogue lay on her back atop a wriggling mound of moldering tapestry, right at the feet of one of the hobgoblins!

Outside on the ledge, Aendir Meliamne traded heavy blows with the cyclops. If it hadn’t been for the hard-hitting support of the rest of the delvers, the paladin might have been in serious trouble. But the combined strength of the Punnishers was too much, and finally the strange goblinoid fell.

Seeing him drop, Nethwen Nagel turned and fired a hail of thorns into the now-unhidden group of hobgoblins, dropping most of them in a single shot! Thorzin Oakwood got his feet under him and burst out of the rotting fabric cocoon to slash the front hobgoblin with his mighty axe.

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The hobgoblin captain, seeing his entire force wiped out, decided he’d had enough. He turned tail and took off up a spiral staircase with Yona Note hot on his heels. He tried to run and hide under a table in the upstairs dining room, but the rogue spotted him easily and blasted him into oblivion.

Meanwhile, Chesh Briarthorn tried to outflank the fleeing hobgoblin and joined Aendir Meliamne on the balcony level. Spotting a door, she guessed that the runner would be rushing through any second and quickly spiked the door shut. She was still startled though, when something hit the door hard the moment she’d finished jamming the portal. She backed away with her gun drawn, while Aendir Meliamne walked over with sword drawn to kick out the spike and attack whatever appeared.

Just then, from somewhere in the house a deep, menacing voice called out, COME TO MEEEEE

End of Session.

That was FUN. I’m really excited by the new venue, especially the projector screen. I’ve jumped into that sandbox with both feet, and I’m going to have some exciting new toys for everyone to play with next time. See everybody in a couple of weeks!

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Session 19: We'll Take a Hard Pass on Starting a War, Thanks.
8th of Bloom, 721 IA
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Elevensies, the general goods store owned by Mos’ parents, was on fire.

Mos spotted his mom Esme outside the shop, but his dad was still inside. He (and Thorzin right on his heels) ran into the store without hesitation.

Daerphilius Kito was inside, vainly trying to put out the flames that had engulfed a wooden bugbear statue just inside the shop door. The fire was beginning to spread to other areas, and smoke filled the room. (If the heroes hadn’t been a halfling and a dwarf they could have been in danger of smoke inhalation!) They grabbed dad and hustled him out just as the Fire Brigade showed up. On his way out, Mos used druidcraft to snuff the flames on the statue, allowing the Fire Brigade to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the building.

Chesh and Nethwen consoled Esme Kito while Aendir and Yona scanned the crowd for suspects. The paladin spotted someone who looked suspicious, and after subtly attracting the attention of his companions, approached the smirking suspect. With a quick casting of zone of truth, Aendir walked up to the stranger and asked if he could provide any information about who started the fire. The guy (one Jord the Clever) recognized the spell and managed to avoid implicating himself directly, but he definitely seemed to be involved in some way.

He wasn’t particularly intimidated by Aendir, but when Nethwen and Kemnebi joined in the discussion, he was particularly surprised to see the cat. He did a double take and muttered something about expecting someone else…

But when Jord called for the City Watch, Aendir knew he couldn’t hold the guy any more and had to let him go. Nethwen cast a pass without trace and she and Yona Note started tailing him as he left.

Meanwhile, Mos and Chesh were talking to his parents and the Fire Brigade about the fire and what started it. Day-o confirmed that some “clever” guy had come around trying to get them to pay protection money to Killraven, but he’d refused to pay.

The Fire Brigade let them know that the fire had been started using magic…

Yona tailed the guy to a nondescript warehouse, where she saw him knock on a door and gain access from someone inside. She returned to Elevensies to report back, and they went to check it out. Mos knew right away that this was the Cock Pit, an illegal gambling house that was a well-known “secret” to both the clientele and the authorities. In addition to traditional gambling tables, inside there is a brutally deadly gladiator arena and private rooms for high rollers and other less savory activities.

Mos went in, but as expected he couldn’t find Jord anywhere. (There are multiple ways to enter and exit this building, both above and below the street.)

The Fellowship then got into a long discussion about what to do. They didn’t relish the idea of going to war against a criminal organization that could hit their families.

But while everyone else debated, Mos decided to slip away to “take care of a few things.” He went to Shadow Sendings and sent a message to Jord the Clever to arrange a meeting in a neutral location. With a magnificent emerald he’d acquired, the warlock bought a year’s worth of protection for both the Tenpin Children’s Home and Elevensies. Jord was quite satisfied with this arrangement.

The Fellowship of Punnishers were also satisfied to know that the issue had been resolved peacefully (though they didn’t ask for any details).

They decided at this point to go check out the Notice Board in the Delvers Guild Office to see if there was anything of interest…

End of Session. I was kind of surprised by this decision, but not in any way dismayed. I’m not going to force you to take a plot hook you don’t want to follow!

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Session 18: Rats are hard to kill. Oh look, a new quest!
7th of Bloom, 721 IA
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Our intrepid group of delvers climbed the stairs to the Cannibal Cave in search of the few remaining Ratmen and chaos cultists.

There were no Ratmen guards anymore in the room at the top of the stairs, but the heroes moved in with caution. The charcoal writings were still present here, and in the next chamber the charcoal drawings covered everything – walls, floor and ceiling – but this was obviously an antechamber. It was time to end the Ratmen threat for good…

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Within the Ratmen temple, it got real almost as soon as they opened the door. A ceremonial ritual was in progress, with two robed Chaos cultists standing by the altar up on the dais at the far end of the room. A trio of ratbrutes and a half-dozen or so ratlings were singing and chanting in unison. And then they noticed that the dais was almost entirely covered by a huge swarm of rats…

The heroes were able to move in unnoticed, and unleashed a well-coordinated simultaneous assault. Mos dropped a perfectly-placed hypnotic pattern spell, captivating two of the three brutes and most of the ratlings all in one fell swoop!

Aendir and Thorzin Oakwood leapt to the attack, hitting the undazed brute both high and low, and the other delvers fired at the vile priests up on the dais…

And the cultists finished their ritual spell.

The swarm of rats began to gather in a heap, and then that heap stood up into a huge, humanoid figure that lurched forward to attack!

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The heroes hit them again, but then it was the bad guys’ turn. The Plagueborn Cultist was (thankfully) too far away to use his Chaositech weapon, but he had spells too. He started off with a fireball that roasted almost every member of the Fellowship! The other cultist – who they recognized as the cricket-legged bastard from the Deep Temple – tried vainly to paralyze the paladin, but Aendir shook it off and kept swinging.

The combat continued, and Cricket Legs and a ratbrute fell to the fired missiles and spells of the heroes, but the other cultist dropped a second fireball that seriously hurt the heroes, rocking them on their heels.

But while Aendir and Thorzin hammered away at the bizarre rat king, the rest of the party pummeled the cultist with missiles and spells. He’d apparently had enough, for next he opened a portal and vanished! It was only thanks to the sharp eyes of Nethwen Nagel that the cultist was stopped, for she spotted him far behind them, right by the exit stairs. The ranger coolly launched a pair of arrows that skewered the evil caster, instantly dropping him!

The rat king, while daunting, was no match for the combined fury of the Fellowship of Punnishers. With its demise, the still-bedazzled ratbrutes were easily dispatched and the heroes were triumphant. At long last, the ratmen warren was completely destroyed!

There was much rejoicing.

The heroes looted bodies and returned to the surface for some well-deserved R&R. They sold off treasures, partied a bit, and made plans to meet up the next morning to discuss their next moves.

A shadow sending message for Chesh Briarthorn changed their plans. Mother Barrow, the halfing matron of the Tenpin Children’s Home was in dire need, and they soon learned why. The front desk of the orphanage had been firebombed, and the entire front room still stank from the remains of the fire.

Mama Barrow, after a stern lecture for the wayward Mos, told a tale of a protection money racket and an Assarai known only as Stinkman, who is a known enforcer for the up-and-coming Killraven crime league. He’d been poking around and pressuring her to pay him for “protection” to avoid bad things happening to her business. She’d refused, and the firebomb was the apparent result. Chesh promised to help.

The heroes split up to talk to their own contacts to learn more about the Killravens.

Chesh Briarthorn and Aendir Meliamne went to their superiors. Nethwen Nagel went to her family. And the others tagged along with Mos as he went to talk to his underworld contact, Londo the Fat of House Balacazar.

Londo was surprised at the line of questioning, but was willing to talk. They learned:

  • Killraven hasn’t been around all that long, but they’ve been muscling their way into the city’s underworld.
  • Because he works the South Market, Londo doesn’t know anything about Stinkman (who apparently works Midtown, but he did share the name of one Korben Trollone, a.k.a. Korben the Keeper, who manages Killraven interests in the South Market.
  • Trollone is rumored to have a menagerie of dangerous beasts in his hidden lair.
  • Londo is interested in hiring Mos to come work for the Balacazars.

As our heroes left Londo’s place, they heard the clanging of alarm bells out on the street. The Fire Brigade were running down the street toward a column of black smoke in the near distance, and they overheard the shouts between City Watch members hurrying towards the fire.

Elevensies, the business owned and run by Mos’s parents, was burning.

End of Session.

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Session 17: Mopping Up
6th of Bloom, 721 IA
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With a bunch of freed people in tow, the heroes returned to the surface.

Rewards were collected. Loot was distributed. Magic items were painstakingly debated, and eventually divvied up. Thorzin Oakwood hadn’t let Brool out of his grasp the entire trip back from the Rat Folk warrens, and he wasn’t about to share the axe. Mos claimed the Immovable Rod, Nethwen Nagel took the Elemental Gem, Yona Note claimed the Gloves of Missile Snaring, Aendir Meliamne took the Ring of Water Walking, and Chesh Briarthorn – after discussing the potential danger to her immortal soul – took possession of Hellblazer.

First thing in the morning, they headed back in to clear out the rest of the Rat Folk warrens.

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The crew worked their way through the remaining rooms of the Rat Folk warrens, but didn’t encounter much for a while. They cleared out the few remaining Front Door guards without much trouble. Later they did get to meet a hungry otyugh too, but they killed it before it could really start smacking heads around. (Dammit.)

After all the running around and mopping up, they were about to call it quits before someone realized they still hadn’t checked out those ominous double doors up in the Cannibal Cave

End of Session.

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Session 16: Cannibals and Killer Lobsters
5th of Bloom, 721 IA
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Having survived the attacks of the black pudding, the heroes were ready to explore more of the Ratmen warrens. But as they were leaving the room, they could hear the first clanging beats of some kind of distant alarm gong. In the past, they’d heard the Ratmen use single drumbeats and four drumbeats as warnings, but this time it was a repetitive two-beats of clanging alarm. The Punnishers were pretty sure they hadn’t been spotted by anything still living, but they readied weapons for attack as they moved further into the Rat Folk warrens.

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Checking their maps, they noted that behind the next side door was a stairwell leading up to an unknown area. They paused and listened, and barely audible above the constant gonging they heard the sounds of squeaking Ratmen beyond the door. A brief, whispered debate began, but was interrupted when Mos casually opened the door a crack to peek in. (Chesh’s shocked expression was well worth it.)

They could see a few ratlings, and Mos caught a glimpse of the tail end of a ratbrute exiting to the south. The warlock smirked, then pushed the door open the rest of the way just before Thorzin barreled through it.

The five ratlings didn’t put up much fight, but one was merely wounded and took off up the stairs… after it cast a spell!

They didn’t have an immediate opportunity to pursue though, as the ratbrute returned. And it brought a friend. But even two ratbrutes couldn’t slow the rolling Punnishers, and they fell rather quickly.

Meanwhile, Chesh Briarthorn was guarding the rear and watching for Ratmen reinforcements in the tunnel. She spotted a ratlord and a half-dozen ratlings, but they were apparently hurrying in a different direction when they spied the halfling. She promptly shot a very large hole in the ratlord with her hand cannon, and both she and the rats quickly retreated in opposite directions.

Mos popped his head up the stairs to see what he could see. A pair of ratling guards were standing in front of a set of double doors up there, and the warlock and the guards spotted each other at the same time. The ratlings lobbed poop bombs at him, splattering his face and hair with malodorous brown gunk. He chose to retreat, and his companions laughed at his appearance.

Our heroes tracked the blood trail left by the wounded ratlord, and found that it was heading for a fight – they could hear the sounds of pitched battle further down the tunnel, and could eventually see just a bit of the action. It appeared that the Ratmen were fending off an invading force of goblins and ogres. They chose to not get involved.

They did, however, find a couple of ratling snipers who chucked poop grenades at them. Now Mos laughed as the others were also doused with the stinking stuff!

They decided to investigate in the direction of the (still ringing) gong, and next found the personal quarters of the old albino Rat Chieftain (killed by Aendir a while back). There were no residents here, and the chieftain’s quarters appeared to have been pretty thoroughly ransacked.

Continuing on, they finally found the huge-head cavern. Someone in there was beating on a gong of some kind, but they chose to not investigate. (They didn’t want to alert anyone just yet.)

They investigated a couple more trash-filled rooms, including one that was also very wet (it had some small pools of water, draining into a hole in the floor) before finding a second set of stairs up. It was time to check it out.

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The walls of the room at the top of the stairs were covered in charcoal drawings of serpents and tentacles. A pair of low-burning braziers provided some light here, and another pair of ratling guards stood ready for them. The gleam of bright light could be seen leaking around the wooden door the rats were guarding; the delvers quickly took out the guards and rushed the door in hopes of catching the human cultist unaware.

Fortunately, they guessed right that this was the bedchamber of the cultist priest.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t home.
Fortunately, there was someone there they could take out their frustrations on.
Unfortunately, it was a quartet of ratlings wearing frilly, pink lingerie!

The “ladies” didn’t put up any real fight. ’Nuff said about that.

There was a LOT of coinage in this room, and there was also a silver statue – also doing the whole snake/tentacle thing – that gave off faint emanations of magic and evil. Chesh thought it might be unhallowed.

They kept going, and found themselves in another cavern. This one had a stream running through it, and they decided to go upstream first. They found a very disturbing slaughterhouse “kitchen” where a ratbrute butcher and his underlings were getting ready to roast the skinned carcass of a dwarf.

Thorzin Oakwood charged immediately.

It was a brutal fight. The ratbrute wielded its massive cleaver well, hitting Aendir Meliamne with a couple of hard slashes before falling.

They found the “larder” next – there were 25 still-living prisoners in a small side cavern. And half of them were Ratmen! Half a dozen goblins joined the ratlings in the sweet release of death, but there were 7 humans and demihumans who were sorely glad to be rescued from a horrible fate.

They then found the Ratmen‘s Next Generation in another side cavern – they’d apparently been busy – and the delvers took care of 30 immature but feisty ratlings.

They knew they needed to get the weakened prisoners out, but weren’t sure how to navigate getting past all those Ratmen below. Thankfully, Nethwen Nagel had a thought – the stream had to meet up with the Lost River someplace!

They checked downstream and found a cache of rope and healing potions (though they smashed some of those getting the chest open), then found themselves on a high ledge overlooking the Lost River Caves East.

They quickly tied off the ropes to allow them to descend to the floor 80 feet below, but paused when they realized that big, moving thing was very nearby. Nethwen Nagel studied it for a few minutes, then remembered a lesson specifically about chuuls! The nine-foot-tall lobsters weren’t smart, but they were tough. And they liked to collect magic!

Armed with that knowledge, the Punnishers were much more willing to take on the beast. Aendir Meliamne, Thorzin Oakwood and Yona Note descended on the ropes, while Mos cast a pair of spells that allowed him to fly around invisibly until the others were ready. Nethwen Nagel and Chesh Briarthorn remained up on the ledge with the refugees and shot at the thing from long range, and everyone else unleashed a flurry of attacks… that would have finished it off quick, but its partner came charging in from the rear!

Now facing off against TWO chuuls, the delvers were in for a much tougher fight. But don’t worry, they did prevail.

And then they went searching and found the chuuls’ nest full of goodies, including:

There was much salivating over these new toys, especially after Mos identified ’em. Thorzin Oakwood tried out the axe Brool and discovered that in his hands, the axe would deal out cold damage.

And Chesh Briarthorn was quite dismayed to learn the details about Hellblazer

End of Session.

I made a small error – Thorzin has blue eyes, and in his hands the axe will deal cold damage instead of force damage. Green-eyed characters (like Nethwen Nagel and Mos) will deal force damage when Brool is activated.

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Yona's Journal
How to Bathe a Dwarf/ The Bath Wars

Today is the day I finally get that dwarf in a bath! My friend, Thorzin, hasn’t taken a bath for months. Maybe even a year. He is so intractable about taking a bath that it is crazy. When we go out on adventures, the enemies can smell him from a mile away even while I’m sneaking around. This is my impetus to get him to take a bath even greater. Oh yeah… hello my name is Yona and I’m an elven rogue that goes on adventures with my amazing party that let me steal shinies.

In the morning, I start to plan my attack against Thorzin’s pungent stench, acting very impetuous. I get pretty far into my plan before Thorzin thumps on the door, scaring me into thinking he is going to bring the door down. He then says in his booming voice, “Yona it is time for breakfast.” he then walks off to breakfast. I quickly gather up all my plans, that I wrote down on paper, and put them under my pillow.

I get to breakfast when I find Thorzin at the table eating breakfast already. I join him at the table and order breakfast for myself. We have a nice chat for awhile while I’m waiting for my breakfast until I ask about why he hates getting water on him. Thorzin looks proud as he clears his throat ahem Us dwarves dislike water because all these battle marks (stains) remind us of all our battles that we fought." He then incisively describes each of his battle marks, pointing at different stains, and goes on about them until my breakfast finally shows up.

Once I’m done eating I ask Throzin what he is planning to do today. He responds with, “Having a date with the barmaid and her beers, but mostly the beers.” I’m not surprised at all and this just makes it easier for me to get him to wash in my mind. I go to town and “pick up” everything I need to get him into a proper bath. Some people unknowingly help me pay for everything I need by leaving their pockets open and easy to pick at.

I get back and casually stroll past Thorzin to return to my room with everything. Once I get back I set everything on my bed and continue with my punctilious plans. I emerge for lunch, coming out with a bucket of water, and find Thorzin drinking beer still. I attempt to sneak up on Thorzin but that dwarf must have some weird sense of doom. I threw the water at him and he retracted himself, causing it to hit the barmaid. She gave me such a fractious look and dragged me back to talk to me behind the bar about what on earth I was doing.

Once I impulsively get done bribing her to pretend it didn’t happen, (which I knew I would feel compelled to steal back of course), I sit by Thorzin and have lunch. Before I left he said, “You’re going to have to do better than that.” This just gave me more determination to bathe him, and next time it will have soap in it! I spent a while thinking how on earth am I going to get him wet since he is going to be sitting and drinking all day. I decide at last to go on a walk since I need to clear my mind.

While out on my walk around town I continued thinking about how to get Thorzin wet. If I can get it to rain I could get him out in it. I think “YES THIS THE ANSWER TO THIS!!!!!” I ponder, thinking how I’ll bait him out with beer. I get happy with this thought till I deduce that I cannot control the weather and rain is not expected for a few days. This puts me right back to square one.

When I get back I decide to be social and sit by Thorzin as he drinks. We talk for awhile about our group and what they might be doing with their free day. I know some of them are stopping at important places and here I am spending my day trying to get Thorzin to take take a bath. While I was lost in thought, Thorzin got up and went to the restroom. I was seriously thinking about putting a bucket on top of the door, but then I saw a huge, scary, fighter guy go in. I know if I put the bucket up there, and it wasn’t Thorzin that got hit, that might get me killed.

I decided not to put a bucket of soapy water up and swore to myself when Thorzin came out before any other guy did. This just made me slam my head down on the table with a BLAM. I was still so tired of thinking of ideas. I decided to take a nap for a while since I was still so tired from our latest adventure. Once in my room, I flopped onto the bed with a sigh of defeat. I look around my room thoroughly, relaxing finally till at last, I fall asleep.

I woke up from a dream that he was all cleaned, and came out to see Thorzin. Nothing had changed, at all. I was way too sad and disappointed about this. I finally started thinking whether or not this was worth it. Once I thought this completely though I decided it just was not worth the rest of my free day to get him clean, despite his stench.

When I look outside to see it’s already dark, I head to Thorzin’s table where he said he would be all day. I go to sit by him and buy my dinner, but while I’m waiting for my food I realize that he has been drinking all day, so maybe I might be able to out drink him? Thorzin slyly asks, “Did you have a nice nap?” I nod yes and then say, “I want to have a drinking competition with you. If I win you have to take a bath with no complaining.”

Thorzin then produces a big smile and accepts the challenge. We start drinking and went on for quite awhile. Though of course, I was going against a dwarf, so my destiny was sealed from the start. I lost of course, but since I was drunk I quickly ran back to my room, grabbed the soap, sponge, and a bucket of water, and came running back towards Thorzin with a bucket of soapy water. I ran around chasing Thorzin till I fell asleep, getting soap everywhere BUT on him.

So, the moral of this story is quite simple: Never try to out drink a dwarf, because you will lose. Also, don’t try giving a bath to a dwarf unless you have an army to help you and even then I would still not recommend it.

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Session 15: The Eyes Have It!
5th of Bloom, 721 IA
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(Oh hey, there’s dice for sale! Everybody go pick some out!)

Now that everyone had a chance to blow off some steam, it was time to start thinking about getting back to business.

(We had a lot of fun this week, and I know we didn’t get very much accomplished. That’s partially my fault; I needed to blow off some steam too. It was a lot of fun – and hopefully no one minded too much that we were straying off topic a lot – but we’ll do better next time.)

Okay NOW we’ll get down to business.

The Fellowship of Punnishers decided to go back into the Lost River Caves to take on the Rat Folk once more, hoping to finish them off for good this time.

Their trip through the Sewers and the Kobold Slaughterhouse were uneventful. There were now a few carrion crawler carcasses among the dead kobolds. (Other delvers had obviously been through the area.)

But as they passed through the Western Caves, they ran afoul of something truly unexpected. A large swarm of eyeballs floated toward them from the darkness, moving fast. Nethwen Nagel shot an at the swarm as it approached, but her arrow didn’t get a very good impact and popped one of the hundreds (if not thousands) of eyeballs.

Oculo_Swarm_Image.png

The swarm swiftly enveloped both Aendir and Kemnebi, and both discovered the incredibly strange sensation of their eyes trying to literally pop out of their heads! Thankfully, both were able to escape from the cloud of eyes. The panther quickly retreated, but the doughty paladin quickly chanted a prayer to Lothian and imbued his blade with magical energy as he swung. His ensorcelled weapon ripped quite satisfyingly through the swarm, bursting dozens of eyeballs easily.

As he did so, the rest of the team also attacked… from a distance.

Mos in particular, having already experienced the (temporary) loss of his eyeballs, was keeping far away from the strange thing and pelted it with eldritch blasts from nearly maximum range of his spell.

The swarm didn’t like the paladin’s blade and moved quickly away, enveloping Chesh and Thorzin this time. They felt a strange disorientation as all of the eyeballs locked their gazes with them, but the hardy delvers would not fall victim to the confusion attack.

It didn’t get another chance to attack before the Fellowship destroyed every last eyeball. Even after it was dead, Mos wouldn’t come anywhere near…

They continued on into the Lost River Caves East. There was no sign of the Ratmen here; the sniper nest and the archers were no longer occupied. Yona decided to sneak off to the south and see if she could sneak in through the main entrance tunnel. She found two heavy doors at the end of that tunnel, each carved with the skull symbol of Ghul the Half God. Her keen eyes also spotted the murder holes in the doors, where defenders from within could fire arrows at anyone in this area. She opted to retreat and report.

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Rather than attempt a painful frontal assault, the Punnishers decided to find another way in. They climbed up to the unsearched clifftop where Ratmen archers had been. No rats were there, but far off to the east they could see a hint of movement near the far eastern wall of the massive cavern. They thought about it, but chose to leave whatever it was (it was pretty big) alone for the time being.

CLICK ON THE MAP TO SEE MORE DETAILS

It was time to do some exploring. They checked out a garbage-filled room where a couple of leftover ratlings were hiding, and that was an easy fight.

The next room held more garbage and more ratlings, but there was also a door – buried by mounds of trash – that was of interest. Mos was able to detect the faint glow of magic within that room, and convinced Aendir to muscle it open and see what was in there. They swiftly regretted that decision, as they were unexpectedly attacked by a black, amoeboid mass! The thing’s pseudopod slam was stopped by Aendir’s shining armor, but there was a sickening sizzle where it struck and the paladin was horrified to see that the armor was now pitted and scarred by the monster’s acidic touch!

Nobody wanted to get too close at that point, and everyone started unloading on it with ranged weapons. Nethwen immediately recognized the thing as a black pudding, one of the deadliest of the oozes, and shouted a warning to not use slashing blades against it. But poor Aendir had already used a spell to enchant his sword, and swung a mighty blow…

And sliced the thing into two smaller puddings.

But before the things could attack again, Mos torched each with another eldritch blast, burning them into ash.

There was much rejoicing. Especially when the halfling picked up a magical gemstone…

End of Session.

We didn’t get a lot accomplished, but it was a lot of fun. Sorry this update’s so late – I had a lot going on at work, and am only now finally getting things back to some semblance of normalcy. See you next Friday!

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Session 14: We Went to Prison, But It's Not What You Think...
4th of Bloom, 721 IA
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Surprised to be standing in the sunlight, the heroes now known as the Fellowship of Punnishers (and yes, the misspelling is intentional) looked around the Necropolis. They were less than a bowshot away from the Dark Reliquary, and with less than an hour before sunset that was most assuredly NOT a place they wanted to remain.

They made their way through the cemetery toward the nearest exit, where they were met by a fully armed and armored knight. She wore the unmistakable sigil of the Keepers of the Veil on her shield, and the curious knight struck up a conversation with the bedraggled bunch of delvers.

She was astonished to learn that they’d come up through the tunnels of the Darakhul Empire, and warned that attempting to return that way would be suicide.

Aendir was thoroughly disheartened to learn that Phadian had seen the two fugitive cultists leave the Necropolis not ten minutes prior, but there was no way to know which way they’d gone.

Anton Khatru was fully ready to go do his own thing, but Nethwen wasn’t about to let him wander off without claiming the reward from his House. She escorted Khatru and his companions to the Khatru Estate in the Nobles’ Quarter, while everyone else split up in search of baths, beer, and wisdom. (The order of those priorities varied greatly person to person.)

Aendir reported to his chapterhouse. Chesh reported to her temple. Mos disappeared. Thorzin and Yona went drinking.

Aendir and Chesh received wisdom from their mentors, and were asked to keep an eye on each other. Thorzin drank Yona under a table.

Meanwhile, Nethwen and Anton went to his home. As they entered, the other two delvers peeled off and went to do their own thing, while Anton took her to meet his father. Dorant Khatru, head of House Khatru, member of the Commissar’s Twelve Commanders, and head of the Order of Iron Might, looked surprisingly young and hale. He was gruff, stoic, and surly, but seemed satisfied that his son had finally returned. He thanked Nethwen for bringing his son home, and gave her a cheque for the ten thousand golden thrones of her reward (to be collected on the morrow from the Order of Iron Might.

A little shell-shocked, Nethwen went home and was welcomed by her family.

The next morning, everyone met up at the Delver’s Guild Office and discussed what they wanted to do next. Shopping was the first choice, and after collecting their reward they were off to Delver’s Square. They stocked up big-time on healing potions, but a trip to Rastor’s Weapons revealed that even with this big haul they didn’t have enough to buy magical weapons from the big litorian. Yet.

It was about then that a little black bird – actually a shadow sending – landed on Nethwen‘s shoulder. It whispered – in the voice of great-aunt Fransin Nagel that she’d better hie herself home right away because something was waiting for her there.

With a roiling dread in the pit of her stomach, she returned to Nagel Estate to find a scroll that had been hand-delivered from House Khatru. She read it aloud to her much-amused companions:

Wax_Seal_-_House_Khatru.png

My Dearest Lady Nethwen,

At first you were just another face in the crowd … just another noble passing aimlessly by, until that fateful day when my eyes laid upon your beautiful face. It was like a ray of sunshine, illuminating the dark depths of the Dungeon.
During my captivity by the cruel kuo-toans, I feared I would never again feel the sun’s warm kiss upon my face. When you rescued me, you showed me that there is still hope and love in this world. You made me realize that all things are still possible. Because of you I began to feel whole and alive. I now see beyond the clouds to a brighter and better day. I thank you for bringing me forth from the darkness and allowing me to truly see the light.
I have enclosed a token of my gratitude and affection. This letter will notify Odsen Rom – the Warden of the Prison – that House Khatru will pay the ransom for the release of Kurtlan Nagel. I have not yet notified the Warden of this intent, as I did not want to rob you of a joyous reunion with your great-uncle.
I look forward to our next meeting with much anticipation, and hope that you might honor me with the pleasure of your company on the evening of the Second of Bloom. I await your response with bated breath.

Affectionately Yours,
Anton Khatru

Great-aunt Fransin began crying tears of joy.

There was also a letter addressed to Odsen Rom, Warden of the Prison:

To: Odsen Rom, Warden of the Prison of Ptolus
From: Anton Khatru, Scion of House Khatru

Good Warden Odsen, Rom,
Please consider this to be your notification that the prisoner known as Kurtlan Nagel is to be released immediately into the custody of the bearer of this letter.
The customary “Release Fee” of Ten Thousand Golden Thrones shall be remitted unto the location of your choice by a representative of House Khatru upon notification of your residence or other, preferred delivery address.
Refusal to release Kurtlan Nagel immediately to the bearer of this letter will not only render null and void the above promissory remittance, but will henceforth remove Odsen Rom from the good graces of Dorant Khatru, Commander of the Order of Iron Might, Member of the Twelve Commanders, and Master of House Khatru.

Sincerely,
Anton Khatru

Wax_Seal_-_House_Khatru.png

…There was much rejoicing.

They discussed it a bit and decided that the entire team would accompany Nethwen to the Prison to protect her great uncle upon his release.

The only way to access the Prison was to go to the Docks and hire a boat, which took them across the bay to a barred cavern opening in the Cliffs of Lost Wishes beneath the Guildsman District. The guards let them into the entry, where their papers were examined, and they then loaded up into a pair of boats for the trip along the underground waterways to the inner prison areas.

A number of twists and turns through water-filled tunnels eventually brought them to a crenelated castle wall with yet another portcullis at its center. Beyond this heavy fortification they found themselves finally inside the Prison itself: a massive shaft at least two hundred feet across, with a ramp leading down, down into its dark depths. Doors lined the ramp and they could see torches lighting the ramp for several hundred feet down, but the bottom of the pit was shrouded in darkness.

An elevator platform and winch waited at the top though, and the ogre guard attendant began lowering them into the depths. Thorzin estimated they descended 382 feet before finally reaching the bottom of the pit. Far-off screams of agony and torment could be heard down here, somewhere in the distant tunnels.

Thankfully, they brought light sources with them, and the tiefling guards at the bottom chuckled darkly when they insisted on seeing the warden.

Odsen Rom was in his chamber, behind a door right at the base of the ramp. He was very, very agitated to learn that these interlopers were there for the release of Kurtlan Nagel. He initially refused to let them have the prisoner but grudgingly relented when Nethwen reminded him of what the consequences of refusal would be.

Rather interestingly, Odsen Rom was apparently angry because he’d been offered twenty thousand golden crowns for Kurtlan Nagel from some other “buyer,” though the cagey albino wouldn’t say who that was.

He led them down a dark tunnel, past numerous cells and side passages. The cell doors varied; some were solid metal, some wood with a small, barred window, and others were the wrought iron of jailhouse cell doors. All were shrouded in pitch-black.

From one of these, a ragged voice gasped Thorzin’s name. It was Wretched Bill, who now very much lived up to his name. The man begged for his forgiveness, and pleaded for them to free him from this place. Unmoved, Thorzin ignored his pleas and kept walking. Odsen Rom was definitely paying attention to this.

Kurtlan Nagel was alive – barely – and naked in a cold, wet, black cell. Aendir lay his healing hands upon the poor old man, and gave him his cloak. They left immediately.

On the way out, a voice shouted out from the small window in a cell door they’d passed earlier. YONA!! I SEE YOU!!” The rogue looked extremely uncomfortable as everyone turned to see some angry guy peering out from between the bars. Yona didn’t respond and just kept walking. The guy cursed at her for a while as they left. Nobody else recognized him, but Odsen Rom looked very interested once again.

They exited the Prison without further incident, surprisingly.

House Nagel was ecstatic to have their patriarch returned to them, and the Fellowship of Punnishers were hailed as true heroes.

Nethwen realized she really didn’t have much choice, and reluctantly agreed to go out with Anton Khatru. Her mother immediately bundled her up and took her dress shopping for her big date.

The team took some well-earned time off, and discussed what to do next. Aendir suggested possibly going back after the Rat Folk and their Chaositech-wielding Plagueborn Cultist. Chesh had noticed a posting on the Gathering Hall Notice Board, where someone named Degan claimed to have extensive knowledge of the Lost River Caves and could be found at the Red Stallion Pub.

While Nethwen was getting wooed at the Aristocrat’s Table (only the finest dining establishment in the entire city), everyone else was partying it up at the Red Stallion Pub with the locals. Right about the same time though, all of them heard the newest bardic tale, The Fellowship of the Punishers Meets the Black Hand, a rowdy, rousing tune that briefly tells of their exploits against the Kuo-Toa, the Deep Temple, and their hilarious chase through the Darakhul Empire

The Fellowship cheered louder than any at the end, and when they announced that the song was about them they didn’t buy another drink for the rest of the night.

And surprisingly, Anton Khatru was a complete gentleman. More importantly, he wants to see Nethwen again…

End of Session.

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