Krys Runs: The Emerald Spire

20th of Rova (Session 45) The Automation Forge -> The Pleasure Gardens

With the crystal creature shattered, the party was eager to heal up and head to the next level. Though they paused long enough to wring the last droplets of life out of the alchemy lab for a few potions and salvage a nice set of bracers, they quickly headed towards the strange, magical lift. The Steward stopped them momentarily to mention that his perusals of the memory banks of the control system allowed him to give them another spire transport token and two shimmering ioun stones that served as memory cores to the now defunct intelligence that controlled the creche.

The party rode the magical lift down a 200 foot pit and found themselves at the top of a platform overlooking a carved marble hallway and a set of double doors. More importantly though, emblazoned over the set of double doors was a symbol of a crowned skull, gigantic and in all it’s glorious detail. Quesh, seeing the full crest for the first time, recalled her arcane studies and remembered that this was the symbol of a truly powerful wizard named Nhur Athemon, an Azlanti prince who was dedicated to necromancy and tried to raise undead as truly living creatures instead of the shambling mounds of necrotic energy they usually are. He fled Azlanti to get away from the authorities that hunted him but eventually his apprentices were found and betrayed his location to the Knights of the Ioun Star. They stormed his stronghold and slew him on the spot.

Now having an idea of WHO this mysterious figure behind the crowned skull is, the party was armed with a bit more knowledge. Also swords, which were helpful against the Tophets that guarded the doorway. The Julia sisters, in a strange sort of competition, each destroyed one of the constructs, with Avarita summoning a magical, shadowy pit that consumes all who falls into it, and Invidia slicing the other one to bits with the power of sword.

With the golems dispatched, Avarita did her usual scouting thing and spied a few giant plants in the main gardens and then found a… theater of all things. It was curious enough for her to creep into the room and look into the orchestra pit where a massive gibbering mouther was lying on the floor. After she noped the hell out of that room, she informed the party who decided it was time for plan ’Murder Plants."

“Murder Plants” started off strong with the party spotting a giant fly trap that was attempting to conceal itself in the undergrowth. Though it got a single bite on Invidia, the plant was quickly chopped to ribbons. The party quickly moved on to the strange, spire-warped moss creeper. It shot pollen the moment anyone approached it… luckily it was Zombtaur that approached. Unaffected by the pollen, the minotaur shrugged and the party descended on the creature. Though its tendrils had a shockingly long reach, the party closed in with little trouble… only to have the creeper disgorge three zombie-like creatures from its vine-coated frame…. one of which bore a striking resemblance to Victor the Victorious. The party blasted and cleaved through the plant and its poor thralls until there was nothing left and the party salvaged poor Victor’s equipment. He was surprisingly well-geared… little wonder he was so confident.

With the plants deadified, the party moved on to the strange theater. While Invidia stood at the doorway and the party decided how best they could handle a mouther, an imp appeared in a puff of smoke on the stage and asked if they’d like to see a show. He then shot the mouther with his wand of lightning bolt, prompting it to let out a horrible wail of insane gibbering that drove Chaaz, Invidia and Remnus into a state of utter confusion. Avartia took a terrible gash from her sister and Remnus though it would be a good idea to pray REALLY hard to Urgathoa by way of smacking himself in his own head with his holy symbol. Chaaz, however, kept his sanity long enough to decapitate the imp and the party descended on the horrid abomination of mouths and teeth. While they fought, five ghostly, insane whiffs of smoke appeared and attacked the party as well, but the incorporeal creatures couldn’t manage to touch the dexterous melee fighters and were all quickly dispatched. Remnus managed to control one though, who was commanded to tell him about Nhur Athemon before he was offered up to Invidia and Chaaz for… “Diplomacy”

With the Allip “diplomacized” all over the place, the party moved on and Avarita ascended a steep stairwell and peeked magically through a door… to spy a giant skeleton man sitting on a throne. Knowing that this would not NOT an easy fight, the party took some time, buffed themselves and summoned some extraplanar help before they let Remnus open the door and try to talk to the undead creatures. Strangely, this was not THE crowned skull the party was searching for. The undead terror only declared his master bade him to defend the halls and defend them he shall. With diplomacy not an option, the party descended on him with a flurry… and Avarita tossed him into yet another pit. …Unfortunately for her, it can fly.

How will the combat end up next week? We’ll see.

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19th of Rova -> 20th of Rova (Session 44) The Automation Forge

And so the party was entirely defeated by the pamper boss. The party relaxed in a large, communal hot tub and shared stories about their lives before adventuring. Invidia recounted the absurd luxuries of her debauched noble friends, her mother’s disapproval of her sword fighting career and the bane of having siblings. Chaaz too reflected on his own family that lived in nearby Thornkeep and the peculiarity of he and his brother’s shadows or lack thereof.

Ultimately the party decided that having a small cabal of pampering robots would be pretty nice, so they decided to assist the automatons and help restore them to full functionality. The Steward, overjoyed, informed them that he could take control of the facility if he was plugged into the Iron Creche, a strange, magical device that apparently controlled the facility’s automatons. And so, after a meal of scallops and oysters and a luxurious night’s rest, the party set out to find the Iron Creche.

Turns out with the teleporter functioning the Iron Creche was REALLY easy to find, granted it was behind a wall of electricity. Avartia, however, effortlessly disabled the dangerous trap and the party entered the room with the emerald spire that was apparently acting as the Creche’s power source. The Steward requested to be plugged into the device but no sooner did Avarita get close to the control panel than the strange coffins in the room open up and a swarm of automatons attacked the party. Distressingly, the automatons reforged themselves after a single round and exited the coffins of the room over and over again, each time growing just a bit more powerful as it got used to fighting the party. Luckily, Avarita and Remnus were there to assist the Steward in reprogramming the Creche and they deactivated the system in short order.

Once the system was shut off, the Steward’s eyes flickered off… and his voice started sounding out of the walls of the room, politely informing them of their success and taking the liberty of deactivating any remaining reclaimers and the deadly traps still functioning on the rest of the level. He also was happy to print out the sigil for the next level down that the party could use if they desired and he quickly set about repairing the automatons and creating a seamstress automaton for Avarita’s request.

Deciding that they would let him work, the party explored further into the level, quickly finding a pool of foul smelling acidic liquid, some deactivated reclaimers and a slew of inactive mechanical tentacles. Clearly this would have been much more dangerous had the party entered without assisting the Steward. Regardless, Avarita bravely scouted forward again… only to be spotted by a tremorsensing Shard Slag. Luckily, she spotted it before it could lunge after her and the party fell on the amorphous blob like a hammer to an anvil and slashed it to death without much trouble.

Avarita continued her explorations to find another set of deactivated reclaimers and also a furnace with a giant fire elemental bound inside it. Curious, the party asked the Steward if that was, in fact, supposed to be there. Turns out it was and that they were using the bound elemental to power the forge.

Deciding they’d rather not potentially rob the hot tub of its heat, the party left the furnace be and went to the defunct alchemy lab. The place was broken down and everything was covered with a purple crystalline coating of slime but nothing was immediately threatening… until Invidia walked too close to the east wall and a crystalline ooze burst out and attacked her viciously. Distressingly for the party, the ooze sent out a wave of harmonic sounds that stunned most of the casters, leaving Chaaz and Invidia and the undead to hack away at the shockingly resilient ooze. Though the ooze got in some absolutely brutal hits and nearly froze Invidia to the ground, the party broke the amorphous creature into bits.

Next week, we finish up looting Level 12 and then move on to who knows where? (Probably more down.)

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19th of Rova (Session 43) The Tomb of Yarrix -> The Automation Forge

Moving right along with exploring, the party inspected a room magically kept below freezing point in which five corpses lay on rusted metal beds. Knowing his evil cults well for some reason, Remnus was able to determine that these were clerics of rival faiths brought here for ritual sacrifice in order to break the seals of the tomb and wake Yarrix from her slumber. Of course, judging by the fact that she’s asleep and the tomb is stills sealed, one can only guess how well that worked out.

While disturbing, the party quickly moved on to the supremely locked door with the failed seals and wards hanging off it which they scouted to have two devils and a sarcophagus inside it. With it being an excellent lock, Avarita was unable to pick it quickly and was forced to make a long, noisy attempt to pull it open. By the time Invidia kicked down the door, the room was no longer a crypt but a horrifying hellscape and the sarcophagus was open… and Yarrix was standing before them. The horrifying visions and the overwhelming aura of despair emanating off of the ancient cleric paralyzed Avarita and Quesh but Invidia and Chaaz’s wills could not be broken and they rushed forward to make sure Yarrix died a second time, this time for good. Though the cleric was able to send waves of painful negative energy through the group, she was torn to bits in short order with her devilish servants falling quickly soon after.

The party was rewarded with her magic ring, magic staff and a peculiar journal. Flipping through it, they were given accounts of Yarrix’s horrible rituals and fiendish abominations… but also given yet another symbol for the spire. Though no one could speak Azlanti, so it was anyone’s guess for what floor it was for. Deciding that blindly teleporting was a bad idea, the party tucked the journal away for safe keeping and moved on.

The next room vindicated Avarita picking the lock of the tomb as the party found a terrible trap of burning oil set to go off when someone approached from the other end. After disabling it, the party freely explored the once dangerous room and found themselves back to the room with the pit. Curious, they opened the door and looked down it… only to find a giant spider crawling up at them from out of the seemingly endless pit. Though ENORMOUS and rather hardy, the spider was cut down quickly and sent hurtling into the pit…. where it hurtled down from the ceiling about six seconds later, banging off the walls of the pit. Apparently the pit was trapped with a dimensional loop to make anyone who fell in it keep falling. Leaving the spider corpse to be slowly reduced to giblets from falling damage, the party prepared to move on, stopping only briefly to make sure that the false doors in the hallway were in fact, false doors that lead nowhere.

Though hesitant to move on, the party decided to press onward, descending into a spiral stairwell and passing a few workshops that had long ago caved in and been reduced to rubble. The stairs only terminated at a small landing with an iron rung ladder which Zombtaur was unable to go down. Boldly, Avarita leaped into the pit with her ring of feather falling, followed quickly after by Chaaz and Quesh with their magical flight abilities, along with the less-magical dragon zombies. Fortunate indeed that Avarita’s eyes were so sharp as she managed to spy the edge of a gelatinous cube sitting at the base of the ladder. Fortunately, she was able to port up before she was dunked into the acidic goo and Chaaz and Remnus’ dragons dissolved the ooze creature in short order soon after.

With the goo dead, the party was able explore again. They quickly found a store room full of old, mostly worthless supplies and a washroom that magically cleaned anyone who used it. After everyone immediately touched the cleaning crystal, the party moved on to find what Quesh recognized as a magical teleporter. In a stroke of arcane brilliance, Quesh was able to determine exactly how the device had been disabled and guided Avartia’s deft hands into fixing the thing up. Too excited to be careful, Avarita jumped on the teleport pad and popped into a giant storeroom with human-shaped alcoves in the walls… all filled with automatons. Unfortunately for Avartia, four of the giant ones woke up and immediately attacked her. Fortunately for her though, the party was right behind her and everyone but Remnus was eager to join in the fight.

While the party dismantled the automatons, Remnus approached the doors near the teleporter only to be greeted by an automaton head who was surprisingly happy to see him as evidenced by the fact that it immediately demanded tea be served to him. Cryptically, it referred to him and the other party members as “The Patrons” and by the time the party had returned from chopping up the hostile automatons, the automaton head (who referred to himself as Steward) was already well into pampering mode and the party was soon served tea and delicious cakes which were so well made they provided a hero’s feast benefit.

When pressed for information on his creator, the steward only pointed to a painting of a wizard slaying a dragon and told them that The Prince had created them. While this was very curious, the party was slightly distracted when they pushed open a set of double doors to reveal a relaxing sauna and a pair of automatons offering a massage and beautification.

Next week, the party will face the terrifying threat of being pampered SO MUCH they forget to explore the spire.

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19th of Rova (Session 42) Magma Vault -> The Tomb of Yarrix

Fresh off the heels of a dragon kill, the party was more than eager to venture forward into the depths of the spire. After a brief pit-stop to collect the uncomfortably scary looking black goo, the party descended down a set of rough stone steps and into yet another cavern that terminated at a set of nicely carved steps and masonry. There they found a set of well-locked doors, the emerald spire punching through the stone and…. the stairs leading to the next level. Even though they had the option of heading right for floor 12, the party practically laughed off the notion of leaving the level unexplored and Avarita got right to invisible scouting.

Unfortunately for her, her scouting was a bit short as the only thing to really look at was the set of double doors leading into the tomb itself with two mold-coated automatons standing ready in the hallway beyond. The door was locked with a fairly good lock but Avarita was able to easily pick it and make her way inside where she found a trio of traps waiting to be sprung… or more accurately one trap waiting to be sprung and two in the process of springing. Not wanting to be in the hallway as spells were slowly going off, the party lured the automatons to them and easily broke them, though the mold made the battle quite chilling to say the least.

With the automatons destroyed, Avarita determined the spells were Arcane Lock and Forbiddance… and were about to go off. She slipped out of the doors just in time for the entire tomb to be sealed off yet again. Fortunately for the exploration efforts, the lock was still BARELY pickable and Avarita went ahead to scout yet again, bringing them back a staggering amount of information. Of course, being able to spot traps and knowing what they do are two different things and the party, Quesh especially, were able to determine the nature of the various mystical traps littering the complex. One hallway would trap victims in a dimensional loop and the brazier in what looks like the main foyer would drain magic effects off people and fling fireballs back at them. Not a friendly place.

Remnus took special note of a statue in the room, determining that it was a statue of Yarrix, an ancient dark priestess who formed the Cult of the Shadowed Fire and who made a habit of sacrificing victims in flame for the power to create new life forms. They also happened to be allied with creatures known as Neothelids and worked to summon hideous beings of shadow and flame. Real down to earth folk.

Giving the trapped brazier a wide berth, the party got down to the business of monster killing and burst down a door filled with mummies. Invidia was… less than prepared to gaze on their supernaturally horrifying figures and found herself paralyzed with magical fear. Luckily, undead feel no fear, Chaaz happened to be rather well fortified against it and Avarita already got a load of the terrifying thing during her scouting. Through a combination of slashes, fire and a lot more slashes, the mummies and another automaton were reduced to dust.

The party went on to scout on a room that looked… pretty much like just a big ol’ pit. Deciding that dropping into nothing could be saved for later, they doubled back to open up the door which Avarita could only spy a veil of thick fog inside. No sooner did the party open the door than gibbering, maddening whispers fill their minds and Zombtaur came face to …er… face(?) with a large, hideous worm being with a tentacled tail that held a sword and wand. Just being in their presence confused and maddened a fair bit of the party but luckily the beasts were rather flimsy and they were felled quickly before they could drive everyone entirely insane.

Gibbering creatures of pure madness aside, the party continued onwards into a hallway lined with statues. Avarita had long since determined the two closest statues were more than likely ambulatory and the party was ready when they sprung to life after Chaaz tried to pilfer the magic sword from one of them. Though the statues could shatter steel, Invidia and Chaaz’s adamantine weapons were in no danger and they cut up the semi-living stone like it was made of flesh.

With most of the denizens of the tomb slain by now, the party will press on next week and see if they can’t slay the rest of them and maybe avoid getting sacrificed in fire by dark cultists.

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18th of Rova -> 19th of Rova (Session 41) Fort Inevitable - Magma Vault

The session started off with the party making plans to attack the undead army. Fearing the weaker members of the hellknights would rise as zombies were they to fall, the party bade the hellknights to stand back and let them handle things. Though most of the Hellknights were… somewhat shocked at the offer, the Lady Commander agreed that the risk would be great if her own men rose up as zombies and allowed the party to sally forth and meet the army head on. She, of course, joined them.

Though the party was quickly surrounded by skeletons, the swarm of undead couldn’t manage to land blows on the veteran warriors and the Morghs, though certainly dangerous, were handled with a combination of deft sword work and two magic pits. Through tentacle, swarm, fire and undead commands, the army was quickly decimated and the fort was once again saved. The hellknights greeted them with thunderous applause and the Lady Commander thanked them for their help yet again, dropping off a pack of 1000 gold at their townhouse in the morning.

Speaking of the morning, the party decided that maybe now would be a good time to go to the Emerald Spire. And so they did. Unfortunately, without a way to teleport to level 10 safely, the party was forced to take the two hour march down the tunnels again. As they were about to walk through the Magma Vault again though, Avarita heard the faint sound of breathing. ….And then snuck ahead to find an adult Magma Dragon. The party was a little split on whether they wanted to fight it or not, but ultimately decided buff up and give it a shot. With MASSIVE preparation, the party fell on the dragon like a crashing wave. Though the dragon did breathe a fair bit of fire and gave Invidia several nasty cuts, the dragon was killed quickly. Far more quickly than your DM expected. :|

Next week, we’ll continue down into the spire again, presumably. Provided nothing else gets in your way.

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24th of Arodus -> 18th of Rova (Session 40) Fort Inevitable

The hellknights were quick to arrive on the scene of the ambush and Gregan and Oritian were soon taken into custody along with Oritian’s cohorts, escorted by the Lady Commander personally. Congratulated on a job well done, the party was finally able to take a break from intrigue in the fort and get back to magical item crafting.

Apparently a top priority, the investigation into Gregan and Oritian’s scheme only took three days and Gregan and his prisoner pawn were both hung in the town square, Dandru apparently having little patience for mutiny in his ranks. Gregan seemed angry at him before his neck was snapped.

Everything was quiet when the 4th of Rova finally rolled around and Lictor Severs DiViri arrived. Greeted by a military procession, the lictor was personally welcomed by the Lady Commander. Although he appreciated the pomp, the old man went right to the point of seeing his dead granddaughter resurrected, pausing only to ask where Oritian was and that Oritian had wanted to talk to him about the town….

The resurrection ritual was quite fast for someone who was dead for thirty years and Chaid had a very touching reunion with her grandfather and a LESS touching reunion with her creepy familiar, Aoz. After a long while, she found her way over to the party and gave them her thanks and asked about the Emerald Spire which ended up in her getting invited for tea at Invidia’s new townhouse later on.

The party might have been fooled that everything was fine until the Lady Commander called on Avaritia to help her testify. Paravicar Verosin, a quite high ranking member of the Order of the Gate, was quite curious as to why his fellow member was languishing in the town goal and needed confirmation before deciding on any sort of punishment. So the party and Lady Audara went to his cell.

Surprisingly, Oritian was quite straightforward in his involvement in the plot, though he confided that murdering Tisserle was Gregan’s idea. As it turned out, Oritian was hoping to use the Lictor’s visit to call into question the Lady Commander’s leadership as a unanimous vote by all the high-ranking officers would all but guarantee she be stripped of her position by the Lictor. As it turned out though, Tisserle was extremely loyal and couldn’t be persuaded and another officer wouldn’t agree unless everyone else did too…. so the plan was hatched to replace Tisserle with Gregan who insisted the only way to replace Tisserle was killing her and replacing her directly.

As to why he was so dedicated to seeing the Lady Commander replaced, Oritian was all too happy to admit that it was because of the party. The Emerald Spire isn’t just a dungeon to be plundered, he explained, but its depths is a veritable repository of great, law-aligned power and dangerous artifacts with the potential to shape the entire region. His god Mephistopheles had been quite insistent as well that the powers not fall into the wrong hands. With the Lady Commander stubborn about changing her policy on the spire and not forming another expedition, Oritian felt he had no choice but make moves to replace her. Ominous portends aside, the Lady Commander took it as a full confession and asked he be hung. The Paravicar agreed it was a confession but seemed intent on keeping the matter of justice within his own order.

Later that day, Chaid visited the townhouse as requested and talked with the party. Avarita was curious what she had to say about her uncle that was under his command so many years ago but Chaid had very little light to shed on the man since she died before he did at the end. She only remembered him cursing her and her devil for bringing him down there and muttering in desperation about not wanting to die. Other than that, they were happy to swap stories about the spire itself and Chaid suggested the party should join the hellknights as a bit of a discipline might do them good. The party, of course, refused. Chaid, having wanted to go to the spire again, was disappointed and bemoaned the complete lack of organization and leadership in their group, stating that she couldn’t work under such a chaotic hierarchy or lack there of. Still, she left on good terms and was clear she was going to hound the party for information on each new level of the spire.

In the days that followed, Oritian’s followers were released from the gaol for being ignorant of his broader scheme, though they were very quick to leave town with the Fort no longer welcoming them. Oritian himself was taken away by the Paravicar in chains, off to an unknown fate. Things were looking pretty awesome.

Then the undead attacked. Like 100 of them.

“Right.” Our collective unconsciousness went. “THOSE guys.”

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21st of Arodus -> 24th of Arodus(Session 39) Fort Inevitable

Knowing they’ll need more evidence than “Our god said so”, the party briefly discussed a way to entrap Gregan. Invidia was the first to suggest giving the prisoner fake poison and faking Tisserle’s death in hopes that they’ll get complacent and reveal something. With the ioun stone allowing her to make a perfect disguise, someone could impersonate Tisserle and they could all find out what’’s going on at last. As though matters weren’t clear enough, Avartia spotted a note hidden in the shiv as the Lady Commander handed it to her, a note that read: “I can get you out. Hide this bottle of poison and this shiv and stab Tisserle when you get a good chance. Do not miss. – A friend.” A nice confirmation. Though the Lady Commander wasn’t entirely keen on the plan, she recognized that subterfuge was essential and gave the party a go ahead.

A fake, harmless looking poison was easy enough to brew and it fell to Avarita’s skill in stealth to deliver the vial. Though she was spotted by a lucky guardsman, little came of it and she was able to deliver the poison to the prisoner. The prisoner, an elderly, rough-looking man named Nichye Finchey, seemed to have no idea what all this was about when the poison and shiv were handed off. But if someone had psychologically profiled him before, they did a good job as he reluctantly agreed to to the job for the sake of freedom.

With that piece in place, the party merely had to wait for the right time. When Tisserle was scheduled to make her rounds, the party swapped her and a disguised Invidia after briefly explaining that her life was in danger. Soon, Invidia was in the basement of the Halls of Rectitude and walking straight to the cell with Nichye. It was easy enough to let him (mostly) harmlessly stab her and then collapse on the ground. Gregan was slow to come to her side and check her pulse, though rather than finishing her off in full view of prisoners he did a somewhat poor job of acting surprised and “rushed” to get help… presumably stalling for time to let the poison work.

The party had a tense couple of minutes hiding nearby, invisibly or no, waiting for Gregan to return with two hellknights to inspect the still-living Invidia. Clearly surprised to find her breathing, Gregan told the hellknights to go fetch clerics while he dragged the body to the office. Gregan paced back and forth in front of the ‘unconscious’ Invidia, looking like he might finish the job himself and the party was ready to pounce until he stopped and suddenly started talking to thin air. Though they only got half the conversation, enough of the party was able to follow close enough to him to overhear him complaining to someone that the poison failed and they made plans to meet during the night.

The clerics arriving may have been awkward but fortunately the Lady Commander was “conveniently” making the rounds at the time and came to collect Invidia and take her to Remnus’ hospital to ‘recover’. Again, a plan was formed to shadow Gregan during the night and find where he was meeting this co-conspirator. The Lady Commander quickly agreed and at that point it was merely a wait for nightfall.

With Avarita tailing Gregan invisibly and Quesh ready to port as many people as she could onto the scene, the sorceress tailed Gregan to an abandoned house where he met with a cloaked figure. The figure, clearly in charge, told him to calm down and that they would merely have to change tactics. Gregan wasn’t happy but apparently trusted the figure enough to take his word. As Gregan was about to leave though, Avarita was waiting outside the door and dropped a stinking cloud in the house. Gregan, apparently tough, shook off the nausea and charged Avarita… though he was no match for the seasoned adventurer. In the mean time, the cloaked figure, nasueus and coughing, staggered out of the back door of the house where Quesh was quick to teleport Invidia and Chaaz. They pummeled the cloaked figure while Avarita had a bit of fun sending Gregan into a magical pit of spikes. Gregan tried his best to climb out of the pit, though things were looking quite hopeless for him. In the mean time, Quesh’s slumber hex quickly made the cloaked figure pass out and the party was able to reveal his identity…

Oritian Hast.

The ‘Whys’ may still be unanswered but this plot for murder has clearly failed. Next week we should see the conclusion of this bit of intrigue and maybe go to like… the Emerald Spire again or something.

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17th of Arodus -> 21st of Arodus (Session 38) Fort Inevitable

And so Plan Cast Commune was a go.

After a quick trip to the shops to buy some uncomfortably expensive incense, the party returned to the unfinished common room where Remnus was just finishing un-hallowing some water. Soon, the air had the aroma of an unsettling mixture of pleasantly scented incense and a graveyard and Remnus’ own voice became a conduit for Urgathoa’s revelations.

FINALLY getting some direct answers, the party found out that yes, there was a plan to assassinate someone in Fort Inevitable. The target was, surprisingly, not Lady Audara or Lictor Severs., but WAS a hellknight… and that Gregan Hadurnosk, Assistant to the Cheif Magistrate was behind it. Much deliberation was had over the whos and the whats. Though they were tempted to run off and tell the Lady Commander immediately, the party, after much deliberation decided they would arrange a quiet meeting with her for tomorrow night.

The next day Chaaz subtly passed the Lady Commander a note during a bit of training and Remnus was called to the Juilver Gate to meet a “visitor.” As it turned out, an archon of the celestial legions was at the gate. Though clearly uncomfortable with being surrounded by so many people that detected as evil, the archon offered Remnus his thanks on behalf of Ragathiel and also offered the magical staff the party requested. He did not stick around for small talk.

When night fell, Audara arrived at the unfinished basement, ignoring the scents of pork and incense and conversed with the party, admitting that she did indeed send Erron to warn the party about the potential for poisons. Though blunt about being unable to act on divinations alone, the commander was grateful for the information about the up coming assassination plot. She admitted she didn’t suspect Gregan, not because she trusted him but because killing his boss would be a mind-blowingly dumb move as he would be a prime suspect. With little more than speculation to go on though, the party had to settle for keeping an eye on Gregan and an antitoxin on Tisserle.

The next day promised to be calmer, though oddly enough the alchemy shop ran out of mugwort. Valencia offered to pick some up from the local gatherer but Chaaz felt he could trust no one with the shop at risk of infiltration. Instead, he went to Sefurd’s potion shop, knowing that he’s an informant for the Lady Commander and therefore at least likely to be trustworthy. Though Londor balked at Chaaz’s request, he eventually sold him a handful of the herb at a fair deal and they left with a weird sort of mutual non-loathing.

The next day promised to be even more dull. A new shipment of herbs came in to the potion shop and the rightly paranoid party checked the contents of the herb bags top to bottom and confirmed everything to be on the up and up. Still, the party was left worried and Chaaz stayed up during the night and rigged his shop with alarms to make absolutely sure he’d catch a thief sneaking in. For all his vigilance though, it was Avarita, stumbling home from a night of drinking that spotted something… a shadowy figure creeping in the alleyways and dragging the empty delivery crate away… Curious, she followed the figure to see them removing a false bottom out of the crate and pocketing a small herb pouch… one Web spell was all it took for the figure to be caught and Chaaz wasted little time knocking the person out. The party soon dragged the thief and her pouch of deathblade poison components straight to the citadel and into the warm, loving arms of the Lady Commander (Editor’s Note: She does not, in fact, have warm, loving arms.)

The thief, a female skulk, was quickly dragged off for interrogation with a Zone of Truth and the Lady Commander’s terrifying presence to serve as a good tongue loosener. Terrified, the skulk looked like she was going to spill the beans immediately, only to suddenly scream and start babbling like an idiot. Remnus and Quesh were quick to identify the spell as a Mark of Justice which had apparently cursed her with -6 intellect. If Remnus wasn’t such a powerful cleric, that might have ended the interrogation for good… luckily it only took 10 minutes for him to lift the curse and for the party to get right back to the good work of interrogation.

Sadly, as is the fate of most proxies, the skulk was not privy to ALL the details of the nefarious scheme. Only that she was hired to smuggle in some VERY potent poison, mix it up and hand it, and a shiv to one of the prisoners held in the Hall of Rectitude and that she was hired by two cloaked figures with male voices who were willing to pay her rather handsomely…. and who apparently cast a mark of justice on her for insurance.

With Gregan already under suspicion, it slowly became clear that Tisserle was the target of this assassination, possibly by proxy of a prisoner. Still, the question remained as to why. Could Gregan really be that daft as to poison his own boss to get her position? Or is there a bigger picture?

Maybe we’ll find out next week!

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16th of Arodus -> 17th of Arodus (Session 37) Fort Inevitable

With the note from Erron still worrying them, the party started discussing just what they were going to do about this. There were a lot of options…

Knowing someone wants to buy poison and that their shop could end up either directly or indirectly being part of it, they set to work. First order of business was Chaaz’s employees. Since they’d been told to watch their store for any trace of poisons, the alchemists working at the shop were prime suspects to having SOMETHING to do with it. Having a fairly generous amount of clout as their employer, Chaaz requested his three alchemists, Valencia, Richye, and Mera to step into a Zone of Truth and answer some questions about if they had brewed or been asked to brew any poison or if they’d tell him if anyone asked them to, and what they thought of the hellknights. All three of them were fairly cooperative and all three denied any wrong doing, save for Valencia who guiltily reminisced on her accidentally poisoning someone with a powerful diuretic. All of them agreed to report suspicious activity to him and likely to the hellknights as well. None of them were fond of the hellknights. The meeting concluded with that.

Though reassuring that the employees were at least, on their face, trustworthy, the interrogations didn’t bring the party any closer to discovering who or what was behind the poison purchasing. Fearing that leaving things without discovering real answers would be dangerous, the party made plans for a Divination ritual to Remnus’ goddess Urgathoa, to seek divine guidance. As a bit of a fringe benefit to conversing with a goddess of gluttony, the party was able to feast, nay gorge on fine foods and wines as part of the ritual itself, though the expensive food they DIDN’T eat was consumed by the ritual magicks almost immediately after the spell completed. As if the party needed another reminder that Remnus’ choice of deity is a weeee bit creepy, the roast pig they’d brought in sprung to life and violently squealed out Urgathoa’s response: “THE BLOOMS OF DEATH ARRIVE AFTER LIGHT. ‘FORE ARODUSWANE, AWAY FROM SIGHT. WITH WARY EYES, YOUR HOLDINGS SECURE. WHAT WAS OVERLOOKED HOLDS LIFE’S CURE

Unfortunately, the Divination spell doesn’t have a “No Cryptic Bullshit” option so the party decided that was probably the best they were going to get for now. Though CLEARLY open to interpretation, the party generally agreed that it seemed whatever is going to happen will happen before the end of the month and that the poison is going to be in plant form and arrive at night in some very subtle fashion. At the very least it seems Erron’s information isn’t wild speculation and someone is definitely trying to smuggle poisons into the fort.

Knowing Zone of Truth isn’t entirely reliable, Avarita and Quesh, through a combination of Invisibility, Dimension Door and taking 20s on perception checks, popped into the homes of Chaaz’s three alchemists to make absolutely sure they weren’t in on it. Though they found some rather interesting tidbits on each of their home lives and were able to gain yet more confirmation that Valencia is a bit scatter-brained, nothing suspicious was turned up and the party generally agreed that their employees are most likely innocent in whatever plot is going on in town.

Not particularly thrilled with more dead ends, the party thought that a bit more divine guidance could be in order and prepared to directly commune with Urgathoa for help. Knowing that these spells are very, very picky when it comes to the questions you want to ask, they thought long and hard about the questions they want to prepare.

It’s kind of amazing what can happen in one day. Next week, the party will likely go through with the commune spell and scrape up a few more pieces of this puzzle.

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2cd of Arodus -> 16th of Arodus (Session 36) Fort Inevitable

The party started off the session sending Jhearo back to his home plane with the request for a Staff of Communal Energy Resistance from the divine realms. Confident the heavens would see that as perfectly fine recompense, Jhearo bid them good luck on their journey and a wish that Urgathoa will be kind to Remnus’ soul before vanishing back to the celestial realm. It’s hard to say HOW the party will receive their reward but the coming days may make that clear.

With the day nearly over the party, especially Chaaz, were making ready to go to bed until they were reminded of the strange steel case they had found in the Magma Vault. Now in town, Avarita went to the market to pick up a set of “locksmithing tools”. The seller made very clear that it was for “locksmithing” and that this was sold to her because she is a “locksmith” and if anyone asks, someone else sold it to her. With her new lockpicking tools, Avartia set to work on the box, spending a good ten minutes trying to fiddle with the lock. Though the keyhole was clear on the box, even extremely good tools and an expert “locksmith” like Avarita couldn’t manage to open it up, the locking mechanisms complex and shifting around as it’s picked. Whatever the key is to this thing, it must have moving parts.

Not to be outdone by a mere steel box, the party broke out their Gloves of Reconnaissance and looked through the box, though it took a fair bit of effort to get the gloves to look into a box and not through its contents as well. Once the gloves behaved though, Chaaz, with his darkvision, peered into the closed box and spied a book with a brown, somewhat stained cover. Nothing was written on the front though so other than the overwhelming aura of every school of magic emanating from it, the contents of the book remains a mystery. Still. What kind of book could be this powerful? The party will have to keep an eye out for the key.

With that out of the way, the party delved deep into magical crafting again while the Lady Commander worked Chaaz to the bone.with endurance training. During is training, the Lady Commander let slip that she heard about someone getting poisoned from Chaaz’s shop. Twas odd since they thought there was an understanding that the hellknights wouldn’t find out but the commander was vague and only hinted at the presence of her own information network in town. Other than her grumbling about Gen’reiel asking for 30-years of back-pay for his exploration mission though, nothing else of importance was exposed.

Days passed by again with construction and magical crafting but time went straight to the tenth before anything out of the ordinary happened until the 10th where Invidia overheard rumors of Chief Magistrate Tisserle angrily evicting Donovan (Oritian’s apprentice) out of the town gaol. No one knows what the argument was about. Most suspect he was hitting on her.

The next day one of the many fun moments of owning a potion shop happened when a clueless adventurer came in with a Potion of Haste thinking it was a Potion of Blur. Honest and steadfast, Chaaz corrected the man before he could over-pay him and word quickly spread of his honest dealings.

The day after that, . Remnus happened to spy Nathanel talking to Dandru Wolfhelm. Dandru seemed to be enjoying the conversation, which was odd for him since he was usually sullen. From the snippets of conversation, Remnus made out that Dandru was rattling off a litany of complaints about how the Lady Commander always talks down to him. He seemed pleased someone was finally letting him complain out loud. Nathanel seemed to be barely holding on to his patience and politeness as he allowed him to talk. Remnus decided not to interrupt.

With days refusing to pass by quietly, the next day brought a trade caravan to the gates that had been attacked by the goblins. Though they repelled the attack, the caravan leader was gravely wounded and rushed to Remnus’ hospital. With Quesh fortunately on hand to stabilize the man, the two of them were able to conjure up enough spell slots to heal the man away from the brink of death. Refusing payment for emergency services, Remnus let the man rest until he was better, which he did and was quick to praise the virtues of the necromancer to the town.

Again, the next day brought something new as Invidia, during her usual long, long bargaining and magic-item hunting rounds spied Nathanel talking to Hielon, the trainer of the hellknights and head rider. She struck up a small conversation with them, VERY subtly trying to get Oritian’s trust. If something comes of it, it’ll be hard to say.

The final day of the session, the 16th, brought a little more than passing snippets and amusing antics though. It brought the last day of Chaaz’s training (much to his back’s delight). After curfew ended, Erron (the Lady Commander’s Chamberlain) arrived to talk with the party having been informed that someone is trying to purchase poisons in town. An item that is, by the way, highly illegal. Though he clearly had permission to tear the shop apart looking for evidence, Erron was not flanked by hellknights and this was not a shake down. The party apparently had gotten enough trust from the Lady Commander to avoid the heavy handed tactics and merely took them on their word and asked them to report any suspicious activity immediately. As he left, Chaaz was subtly passed a note that said “KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR STOCKS. BURN THIS NOTE.”. Rightly paranoid, the party took a full inventory and found no poisonous substances in any of the stocks. Suspicions raised and questions of WHO needed the poison and for WHAT were abound. If something was coming, it hasn’t happened yet.

Perhaps Invidia said it best…

“Something is going on beneath the surface of this town, we need to figure it out and quick before it drags us down.”

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