Episode 10: 8/9/08
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-2
Haroldur, human cleric/4
Nineve Floret, human knight/4
Sarek, human wizard/4
Zollara interprets our Harrow reading:
“Through your aid and prudence one who was lost without hope of salvation has been allowed to bring forth information from the darkness of forgotten history. One who has watched his comrades fall and was thought lost forever has been found. Elsewhere, a woman of dark power masks herself and shapes the events that will divide your future. A safe journey leads to a place of fellowship and camaraderie. Four crows, brothers in violence, plot in the depths where none who are led emerge alive. Within this place, a dark soul awaits the creeping touch of true corruption.”
Our return trip is uneventful, and we arrive at the Ruby Temple in Istivin without incident. We return to our cells to recover from our journey and await debriefing.
In the morning, we give Mossad our full report. Privately, I also turn over the curiously sinister box with the writhing runes. With these formalities out of the way, I find I’m feeling slightly adrift, like I may be losing my focus on Wee Jas after our recent adventures and departure from monastic life. I elect to spend 2 days in meditation to refocus on The Lady’s will. During this time, Sarek undergoes the ritual of the Ruby Initiate.
At the end of my meditations, I take 31E with me and we pay a visit to the (really creepy) lab of [[Dr. Morgus]]. The ‘good’ doctor is completely disinterested in the construct, but he takes my nutritive goo samples and says he’ll get back to me. He snatches the vials from me and immediately begins experimentation; he shooes us out of his lab without even looking up. 31E seems to take it all in stride (which is impressive, as he only has ONE LEG!!!), but I’m glad to leave the freakshow lab and go about my business.
The next day, I meet with the completely disinterested Marten and obtain a writ to undergo the Ritual of the Deathly Scholar, as well as the Ritual of Intuit Pattern. At dusk I head down to the crypts to learn these new secrets. Later, back in my cell, with my new found power I am able to finally translate the rune above the inactive portal in Icosiel’s tomb – “Amsophar”! I’m quite pleased with this bit of progress. Just as I’m putting my notes back in order, Dr. Morgus’s 3-legged hunchback appears and informs me that the Doctor can create an elixir which will permanently grant 5 HP to the user, at the cost of 1 pt. of Influence (for Morgus’s time). Unfortunately, I am no longer in a position to benefit from this discovery, but I share this information with the others, and Nineve and Haroldur each get a vial of the elixir.
Days pass and we begin to fall back into the routine of temple life, when we are summoned to Marten’s office. He assigns us to oversee Lord Ondore’s funeral (pt. 2), and introduces us to Myra, a severe-looking middle aged woman. He informs us that Myra will be observing us for a while. We hardly have time to ponder the meaning of this new development, as we are ambushed on our way out of Marten’s offices by an attractive young woman who introduces herself as Eledara Lillybrook. She pleads that the decision to leave her uncle Ondore in the realm of the deceased be repealed. She is quite animated and insistent. I swiftly lose interest – we’ve heard sob stories like this one a thousand times. As she shamelessly throws herself at Sarek and Haroldur, I notice she has a tattoo underneath the glove on her left hand, but I can’t quite make it out… Haroldur takes the bait and agrees to meet with her privately. I roll my eyes and stalk off to the requisitions officer. I put in a request for a wand of CLW and supplies for Ondore’s funeral tomorrow, and then spend the rest of the day in the library.
I’m looking into Jodai, a forgotten god of luck who is enjoying a popular resurgence among the commoners. Jodai is Chaotic Neutral (the worst kind!) whose portfolio is Luck and Games of Chance. His followers hold lotteries where they redistribute church donations to a few lucky faithful.
Meanwhile, apparently finished with his private audience with Ms. Lillybrook, Haroldur works with Advocat to determine if there’s any way to reinterpret the ruling on Lord Ondore. I’m a bit surprised by his tenacity, actually. However, he eventually runs up against the brick wall that is Marten, and eventually must admit defeat. The next day, he breaks the news gently to the crestfallen Elidara, and manages to make his failure to reverse an irreversible ruling seem like Marten’s fault. She gives him a small token of her appreciation for his efforts – a mundane ring bearing the Lillybrook crest. Humans are so melodramatic!
It’s the day of Ondore’s burial, so in the evening we proceed to the graveyard to preside over his second (and hopefully final) funeral.
Nineve gives a truly moving service, but it is once again interrupted by that interloper, The Hawk! Chaos erupts as thugs and zombies appear out of the woodwork, and the hearse bearing Ondore’s body takes off suddenly and crashes through the crowd!
The crowd surges forward in panic, and Nineve magically doubles in size, striking out at The Hawk, his followers and anyone looking suspicious. I manifest Expeditious Retreat (thanks to Zolara) and dash off after Ondore’s renegade hearse. Nineve, Sarek and Haroldur are reluctant to let The Hawk’s meddling go unpunished, but with some prodding from the ever-present Myra, they join in the chase. Some of the villains had crashed a carriage in the roadway in a well-coordinated attempt to impede our pursuit and make good their comrade’s escape in Ondore’s hearse. Fortunately, giant Nineve rights the toppled carriage in no time and Haroldur and Sarek use it to advance the chase. They soon overtake me as I sprint through the city after Ondore’s corpse.
We race through the streets, weaving through traffic and dodging obstacles. Sarek and Haroldur manage to catch up to the hearse and stop the escape – Nineve and I run up just in time to butcher the villains. Some of the men are dressed as thugs, and some are in robes. We do manage to subdue one of the band and take him as prisoner, along with the hearse-driver, who has clearly been charmed. However, a quick search of the coffin reveals that Ondore’s body is missing! We head back to the Ruby Temple with the hearse, the coffin, our prisoners, and the bodies.
Once we arrive, Haroldur and Sarek immediately set to the unsavory task of torturing the captive thug for information. Sarek is enthusiastic about the prospect… Maybe we should start calling him Sarek the Sadist… Nineve, the charmed hearse-driver and I rush inside to report to Mossad. We quickly explain the situation, and he meets us outside to search the hearse for clues while we remove the bodies. Mossad finds an empty potion vial and several black feathers. We commence investigation into the whereabouts of Ondore’s body immediately.
Haroldur and Sarek learn that the thugs were hired from the docks in Cliffside, and were told to steal the hearse. The captive claimed he saw some of the men in rust-colored robes pour a vial of oil on the corpse, which then promptly shrank to an impossibly small size. One of the robed men had a crow with him; he tied the tiny shrunken corpse to a crow’s leg, and the bird flew off.
In the hearse, Mossad and I find muddy bootprints, but upon closer examination, I determine the boots were caked in mud AND cow manure – which is rather unusual. Also, we notice the robes on the bodies are stained with blood along the hem… We conclude the robed men must’ve come from one of the local slaughterhouses. We’re about to split up and search all the slaughterhouses in the area when Mossad wisely suggests we interrogate one of the robed corpses using Speak with Dead. He finds an acolyte to cast the spell for us and we learn that the villains were supposed to rendez-vous at the Sawfish Boys’s slaughterhouse. With the help of the Cabal’s resources, we soon locate the establishment in question. We have no time to lose, so we set out for it immediately.
The Sawfish Boys are an unsavory lot of brothers, but as they fulfill a need, their brutish behaviour and questionable exploits are tolerated. When we arrive shortly after dark, the building’s lights are off and things are quiet. I scout the perimeter, but we decide to take the direct approach and knock on the door. A man who calls himself Vander Anderhoff answers, and we use our authority as agents of the Cabal of Wee Jas to convince him to let us have a look around. He is quite congenial, chit-chatting with us as he leads us to his office and shows us around. Next, he starts leading us down some stairs. Just before we reach the stairway, his veneer of civility drops. He draws his rapier and calls his dogs!
A pack of hounds, led by a dire wolf, bursts out of a room some distance behind us, and we are trapped between the beasts and their master. We beat up on Vander, but are unable to finish him off before he escapes down the stairs. However, the hounds are giving us some real trouble, so we are forced to let Vander go as we turn our attention to the vicious dogs. It’s a very tough fight, but after what seems like an eternity we managed to finish off the beasts. There’s no time to rest and regroup, though, as Vander has escaped into the bowels of the slaughterhouse…