- Note: Katsuo’s player is still not around. *
7 Lekkan, Autumn 627AU
After being released from custody, Ketta decides she needs to find Grunt. She follows Standard Operating Procedure to find the highest building and climb it until she can see the giant orc. The tallest building nearby is a Temple of Aisara, where Fiona has brought Strangelove.
Ketta uses her whip to help her climb. She falls, but tries again, and makes it to the top. Doctor Strangelove below is trying to talk to some orphaned street urchins who tend to gather near the temple in order to receive handouts of food and clothing. He wants them to search for the fist symbol throughout town, and report back to him the next day for a reward. He is trying to bribe them with gold pieces to run this errand, but they are only convinced to take his money and get him to keep bribing them.
Ketta decides to help by calling, “HEY all you urchins! You should do what he says. And by do what he says, I mean take a gold piece from him, and then do what you do very well, for what you do well.”
Twenty-three urchins then mob around him, so he drops a smoke bomb. Ketta sees him, and doesn’t realize it isn’t a good idea to tell the urchins where he is going. She yells, “GET HIM!”
Strangelove screams, “Call off your minions. I have arms!” As he tries to get away and scold the halfling, “I’ll throw a knife at you, STOP HELPING!” Then Strangelove has a new idea, and tells the urchins, “Calm down and I’ll give you a vial of acid!”
The orphans eagerly surround him, each crying, “I want it! I want it!”
Ketta helps more from the top of the temple, “Now you, this time, listen to him and do what he says, because that is what you should be doing when you do the stuff you do so well.”
Strangelove pulls out a platinum piece, which he will reward to whomever finds him the symbol of a fist. For further motivation, he states, “I’ll inject you with an evil, slow-acting venom if you fail!” The urchins take him up on this offer, as a platinum piece is more money than they could ever hope to have in their lifetime.
Ketta peers out over the city, and spies Grunt as he is walking with Inquisitor Underhill. She jumps straight into the air, and glides off with her hidden, tiny kobold wings. Her patchwork cape flutters in the sunset, as she aims for the next roof over. She lands, and leaps across three buildings in an awesome display of acrobatics. Then she catches her leg in the last straw roof, and rolls off the side. Fortunately, Grunt hears her and lands in his huge, outstretched hand. “TEAM,” he grunts.
Ketta salves her pride, proclaiming, “I meant to do that!” Grunt believes her, but Underhill is not impressed. Ketta informs Grunt that it’s time to pack up. Underhill asks why Ketta is leaving town, when the cult still needs investigating. She is a traveling merchant, and “The cult isn’t making me any money.” Underhill threatens to ban them from Holt for inhibiting an investigation. Ketta is cowed into not leaving immediately, but still plans to leave when the opportunity rises. Underhill informs Ketta to meet him at the hole in the ground later that evening.1
Conrad is helping at his family’s smithy for the remainder of the day. Underhill heads to the local temple to ask for Fiona, which allows Ketta the opportunity to leave. Grunt and Ketta pack their things. This includes the giant orc grappling Katsuo, tying him up (with a gag, for good measure), and stuffing him into a Large chest. They head East. Being directionless, they only know that they are going along the coast for a ways.
Dorothy inquires briefly at the local temple for Fiona, and learns about the halfling jumping off the building, and a swarm of urchins. Dorothy and Dr. Strangelove head to the town hall while Fiona goes to the main Temple of Aisara to look at their records. They agree to meet later to share their findings.
Fiona convinces the temple of her need to view their records for any other cult activity. As she gets started, Underhill arrives and sends a message requesting to speak with her. He asks if she knows how to contact the others, but she had only just met them and has no idea how.
Underhill heads to the Chelmsford smithy, and hires Conrad as a bodyguard to meet him later when they investigate. Then he goes to the town hall to look for Dorothy, as she had mentioned during the interrogation heading there to learn about owning a store. He puts out a warning to “Make sure a tengu with a horse, and a halfling with merchant’s cart doesn’t leave. Possibly with a half giant as well. They’re wanted on suspicion of smuggling.” Unfortunately for him, they have already left town by the time this message spreads through the guard force. He receives his “Holt Consultant” badge to encourage people to cooperate. He also requests the address to the mages’ guild, and finds it in an old registry for the noble House Hibiscion. He also asks, and learns that there have been some strange murders within the last couple of years in the city. Some terribly mutilated bodies have been dumped in the river, near one of the warehouse districts.
Dorothy and Strangelove, though, have changed their plans to finding a mages’ guild. Fumble Diplomacy: “What mages’ guild? Who are you, you crazy man? Get out of my bedroom!” Dorothy tries another tactic by asking random guards and passerby politely, and giving them sugar cookies even if they don’t know about it. She makes a lovely impression with her smile and rabbit fur coat, and eventually they meet a tourist who has The Traveler’s Guide to Ispentine. He informs them that the noble House Hibiscion is rumored to hold meetings for wizards. Then they find an inn.
Fiona finishes her research at the main Temple of Aisara. She learns that the symbol of the fist has been seen her and in other cities before, though the last occasion was in the early 500s. They wear a red band on one arm, usually the left, and referred to themselves as “The Handless”. They were involved in a lot of vague but ominous dealings, disappearances and murders. She proceeds to help with chores and sleep at the Temple.
On the Road
While traveling, Ketta tells Grunt a story she knows about the real history of King Linnaeus going through Blood Pass. Grunt mostly gets out of this that Linnaeus was the best barbarian of all time because he raged for three days straight. Katsuo, forgotten inside the chest, understands much more from this story.
Ketta goes without her halfling disguise as they travel, and spends her time examining the fancy ring they looted from the cultist rubble. She had appraised it to be worth at least 125,000 gold coins. She plans to bring it back to her clan to be added to the Great Hoard. This is a communal collection of treasure by the kobolds that is meant to entice the great dragon goddess D’hathmilleuthil to acknowledge their existence, and make kobolds as great as other dragonkind. However, Ly’miirik is finally unable to resist the temptation to wear the ring. She puts it on and admires it as they travel. Unbeknownst to the trio, they have made their way in a large circle for several hours.
Ly’miirik tries to use the ring as a magic device, which causes a wave of fear to spread around them. Grunt runs away, along with birds, squirrels, and other wildlife in the area. The horses also bolt, trying to get away from Ketta, but failing because she is on the wagon. Ly’miirik manages to stay on the wagon as it crashes through trees. Katsuo is unaffected by the supernatural fear, but is quite uncomfortable in the chest as it bounces around the wagon. Finally, the exhausted horses slow. By pure chance 1d8, Grunt and the wagon fled in the same direction, and they are able to meet up to make camp.
Ly’miirik tries to take off the ring, but cannot bring herself to do so. She spends several minutes mending the wagon. She decides that the ring doesn’t need to go to the hoard immediately. She grabs the friendship ring they found after killing the ant queen, and disguises it to look like the fancy one. She puts the disguised ring in the box that the others had witnessed her store the real magic ring.
Grunt keeps Katsuo bound and gagged in the chest. He hangs it in a tree with his chains, so he will be safe from bears.
Underhill meets up with Conrad, but calls off the investigation because no one else is there to help. While they stand near the buildings, they notice three figures sneaking into the alleyway between the shops. Underhill readies his manacles, “Let’s go.” The pair tries to sneak up on the figures, but Conrad is not a very stealthy man.
“What are you doing here?” asks a man from the alleyway to the big man in full plate.
“Stopping suspicious activity. What are you doing here?” answers Conrad.
The three take off running. Inquisitor Underhill blows his whistle and his riding dog comes running. Conrad manages to smack one with his sword. The man groans for mercy, then summons a giant ant. This gives Conrad the opportunity to knock him unconscious. The Inquisitor sees the ant, so he drops his manacles and grabs his dagger instead.2 They easily dispatch the ant, and arrest the unconscious man. The other two get away. Conrad searches the man and finds a sickle, traveling clothes, a pouch of coins, and a red strip of cloth.
They wake him up and march him to the nearest guard station. Underhill brings him to the holding cell, and assigns the guards to keeping him awake the whole night. He also sends a message to Fiona at the temple to find him at 10a.m. at the station. Then he heads to an inn for the night. Conrad returns home.
8 Lekkan, Autumn 627AU
On the Road
Ly’miirik wakes up first in the morning to find a murder has taken place. A great deal of crows have perched atop the chest. She pokes the chest. The crows stare at her. This is apparently rather unnerving, so she sits down with her repeating crossbow to watch the crows until everyone wakes.
Grunt wakes up and brings Katsuo down from the tree. They try to convince him to show them the way back to Holt. Their diplomatic assertions fall on deaf ears, but he decides to help them anyway, for his own reasons. They keep all but one arm bound, and have him point the way.
As they travel, they hear some heavy walking and other disturbing noises from the side of the road. Abruptly, fear streaks through the area. Grunt manages to keep a hold of himself and stay with the wagon as the horses crash forward. The giant orc and kobold try to calm the horses, to no avail. Katsuo reaches with his one arm and calms the horses with a touch, then points the group on their way.
As they near Holt, Ly’miirik disguises herself as a different-looking halfling, and Grunt as a minotaur using some of the furs and other animal products in her wares. They put Katsuo back into the chest. The guard asks if she has any items to declare, so she begins to pull out every single container on the wagon for inspection. They wave her on as a merchant.
- – - -
Dorothy rises and heads to the Temple to meet Fiona. Meanwhile, Strangelove meets with the urchins. Four of them think they’ve found something, and he arranges to meet them at noon. The three of them meet back at the inn to share the information they’ve accumulated so far. Fiona asks them to come with her to meet the Inquisitor at the station.
Underhill, after a good night’s sleep, heads to interrogate the suspicious character. The man is quite tired and understandably surly. The man identifies himself as Samuel, and his associates as his bodyguard Hannok and apprentice Jeoffery. He owns the apothecary above the cultist hideout. He hints at knowing about torture and poisons. He first claimed to have been robbed on the road back to Holt, where he lost his horses and much of his supplies. He was returning to town late, and wanted to check on his shop.
After several hours of repetitive questioning, Underhill catches the man in his lies and fishes out the full truth. He was making a delivery of some less-than-legal goods to Harrick Leonson in Collearn to the North.
Dorothy, Strangelove and Fiona arrive at the station to find Conrad already there waiting for Underhill. The Inquisitor is informed of their arrival, and gives the prisoner permission to rest. Underhill ribs Fiona about not showing up to investigate the cult site. Conrad begins to intimidate Underhill for upsetting the shy cleric. Dr. Strangelove slips out a bomb, and whoa guys, calm down. He was just mentioning that it would have been nice to have her there.
They share the information they had gathered, which causes the red cloth found in the man’s possession to be more important.
Underhill has Strangelove review the list of poisons Samuel claimed to know, to see if he is a legitimate herbalist. The doctor declares him to be a “worthless hack” who doesn’t know anything stronger. He recommends using belladona on the man, and they make a plan to finish the interrogation. Dr. Strangelove still needs to meet with the urchins, and everyone needs to do some investigating, so they decide to meet at 2p.m. Underhill spends a silver to send a messenger to Collearn, to check if Samuel’s story adds up.
Back in the market square in the place they were set up before, Ketta has disguised herself as her normal halfling merchant guise. She does a spectacular job 68 of disguising Grunt as a very Large dwarf with a gigantic beard. She spends her time crafting a helmet with a handle for Grunt to drink from. She manages to work in a way that creates interesting percussion, while Grunt bangs out a basic rhythm along with her. After working up a bit of a crowd, Ketta begins to tell a story about the history of smithing and legendary crafters. Working this way, she picks up some coin and builds her reputation.
Conrad and Underhill head to the warehouse district to check it out for illicit cult activity. This particular area had taken a recent economic downturn. People are selling some property for cheaper, general crime is climbing steadily, and poorer merchants are taking the chance to buy their way into the area. A couple people might’ve been seen recently with red bands in the last couple months, but they don’t get anything more specific than that about cult activity. They do, however, find several places that would be perfect for dumping a body.
Fiona and Dorothy convince the Town Hall to look up who owns the stores above the cult basement.
|General Goods||Gisela Tremort|
They copy down these names, and share them with Strangelove and Underhill later.
Strangelove meets up with the urchins. Four of them claim to have found a fist sigil, and he has them lead him on. The first brings him to near the shopping district where the cult basement was. They had found a house that had been burnt down, and is barely there now. Strangelove inspects the symbol carved into one corner, and decides it looks old and legitimate. The urchin is given a platinum.
The second child leads Strangelove to a seedy tavern frequented by sailors. The symbol carved into the wall of the tavern from the alleyway looks legitimate, and the child is paid. Strangelove is brought to the third symbol in another shady district on a different side of town. It was obviously carved the day prior, so he sends the urchin away with no reward. The last symbol brings them to the same warehouse district where Underhill3 and Conrad are searching. A fist was carved into a post on an old pier. It was once painted in with red, which has mostly flaked off since then. This urchin is paid.
At 2p.m. they meet back at the guard station as planned, and share their information. Strangelove adds a poison to the prisoner’s meal, and Underhill brings it in. The man is quite hungry, and devours his bread. Underhill hints at poisoning the food. Then he presents the red cloth he found on Samuel. He hints at knowing about the cult. He invites Strangelove inside, who presents a bottle of Insanity Mist to Samuel.
The prisoner freaks out when he recognizes the poison, and begs for the antidote. Underhill holds out resolutely for answers. Samuel admits to operating an illegal smuggling ring. He names his supplier as Leonardt Marcell, and his main distributor as Hubert Laurenz, who can often be found on a particular street of a poor area. After confessing, he begs again for an antidote. “If I had really poisoned you with this, you would already be insane right now,” Strangelove informs him, happy to hold superior knowledge. Underhill has the man arrested for smuggling illegal substances, and prepares a list of locations and names for other lesser investigators to gather evidence. He leaves standing orders to be alerted of all new information.
Back at the foreign marketplace, Ketta has finished up her crafting for the day and decides to investigate the wand shop on the other side of the block of stores. From a tiny vent from the alleyway, she can see various shelves laden with goods inside the store. She climbs up to the roof and finds a weak point to shimmy down on her whip. She casts Detect Magic, and finds that, while none of the wands are magical, there is an abjuration behind the counter. She realizes it is probably an alarm set on the secret trap door that would lead down over the stage. She plans to stake it out for a few hours from the roof, so that she can still see Grunt, in the pavilion tent, and not feel so alone.
The rest of the group returns to the foreign market to investigate things. Ketta catches Conrad’s attention from the roof, to alert them to her presence. Strangelove heads to the apothecary and dissolves the lock. A passing woman notices him do this, but Ketta blinds her with a shiny reflection to cover it. She drops her buckets of offal, when Grunt, still looking like a 14-foot-tall dwarf, barrels through the crowd to catch a bucket. The other spills all over the dirt path.
Strangelove advises her to, “Throw some salt on it. Cook at a high temperature. No diseases,” and walks into the apothecary. Grunt puts a silver piece into her bucket, and helps her across the street. She is quite confused. He keeps walking, bumping into people, and knocks some over that are being assisted by Fiona and Dorothy after he had crashed through them to begin with. Ketta tries to leap over the gap to them, but fails. She gets her wings together in time and alights in the one spot free of rat feces, where Samuel had fallen unconscious the night prior.
Inside the apothecary, Strangelove finds a lot of empty shelves and barrels. He sits in a chair behind the counter, near the cauldron, and acts like he owns the place. Ketta joins him in the apothecary, so he pushes her into the chair and shares all of the information that they had collected. In return, she tells him the real story of Blood Pass. They notice Underhill sneaking up to eavesdrop, and she ends up writing out most of the story. He does, however, hear the names Karathalax, Kareth Laxinan, and King Linnaeus. Strangelove eats the paper.
Fiona offers a sympathetic ear to the passerby. She learns that between two months and two years ago, the condition of the neighborhood has escalated. Also, there has even been a building that imploded recently!
Ketta realizes that she stopped watching the alarm spell, “ody should be watching that; be right back!” She finds the alarm is still active, but feels like there are some facts she could piece together. She mage hands the flesh book out of the box and re-reads it. She pulls out the cultist robe and looks at the symbol. She thinks about the ants, the amount of dust everywhere, the terrible blood stains covering the basement with tracks fleeing, and all the other things they had found. As she reads, she feels as if she could perform some of the dark rituals inside. She doesn’t know how to do the dance, but she feels as if she’s seen it before, and could mimic it given the materials. Inquisitor Underhill watches her from the window. Ketta finishes her thinking and returns to her merchant tent.
Meanwhile, Grunt continues removing all of the rubble from the site of his new “pool”. Since he was released from helping Ketta perform, he moved about a third of the huge pieces out from the basement below the collapsed bakery. While working, he finds a variety of interesting materials. There is a large “desk” with “HE RISES” carved into the front. Grunt reads this, and lifts the Large mahogany piece above his head. He gathers up the assorted items he had found, and brings them to the apothecary, looking for Ketta. Strangelove points him back toward the wagon.
Ketta ushers him inside and pulls the tent close around them to evade prying eyes. Grunt dumps his new loot in the middle of the tent, showing off the “HE RISES” carved into the front of the altar. There is a hand with a cast iron spike driven through the stump of its wrist. He also found a pile of assorted chains, hooks, manacles, and other strange things that resemble torture devices. All of this he had covered with a heavy, velvet black cloth with a very detailed fist embroidered on it in red.
The hand quakes and points a finger upward. Ketta proclaims suddenly, “This is the hand of Karathalax the Handless.”
Conrad swats at it, but misses. Fiona determines that it is between a few months and a year old, and magically, rather than chemically, preserved. Ketta uses magic device, which produces a terrible vision unbeknownst to her, Dorothy and Underhill (because he is outside in the street). The inside of the tent erupts into a fiery hellscape. Fiona is surprised and pops with positive energy like a holy porcupine. Ketta tries to joke with Grunt about having waffles, so evil should beware, but Grunt turns to her and states, “I don’t have an appetite right now.”
Ketta casts detect magic and tries to use magic device. Unfortunately, she forgot to take the glove off that she wore to cover up the ring.6 Ketta is worried by everyone freaking out and tries to ask what is going on. Conrad tells her, “Your tent is on fire.”
Ketta throws open the tent flap and calls to Underhill, “Look what we found!” Behind her, he sees the grand illusion of what seems to be an active volcano in a firestorm, and realizes she may have summoned a leyline from the plane of earth and fire. Dorothy scurries out of the tent and asks Ketta who they might be able to ask for help about all this. Ketta thinks they should find a priest. The hellscape expires, and Fiona collapses from the emotional strain.
Grunt runs out of the tent when it is opened, and over to the rubble. Underhill’s riding dog passes and is then grappled by Grunt, so he can comfort himself. Fiona recovers a moment later, and wracks her brain for what happened. She knows quite a lot about the planes, and realizes that if they really had summoned a leyline to Tokkar’s plane that they all would have died. She explains this to Dorothy, Conrad and Dr. Strangelove.
Ketta expands the tent back to its full form while Underhill questions her. He voices his thoughts about possible leyline activity, though doubts that this was entirely what happened. Ketta explains that they found these cult things, along with a book made of flesh. She offers to let him look at it, but cautions him to “Use protection.” Inquisitor Underhill takes the book from her using gloves, and stores it in his own possessions to read later.
1 OoC in the notes: “I’ll need to go home and put on my other coat. My knitted sweater.” GM: “Was it knitted with strange love?”
2 “Aww, you’re not going to arrest the giant ant?” “I don’t have enough manacles.”
3 “We’ve decided his nickname is Mister Meaner.” (Grunt and Ketta)
4 (Runs through the list of knowledge checks) “Basically mugging a bard.”
5 Fiona was never privy to the Annals of Karathalax book, as she was in the other room until Ketta had already put it away.
- Everyone goes off in different directions to investigate the cult.
- Ketta and Grunt leave town with Katsuo as baggage. They have shenanigans with the ring, and end up going back to Holt. Then they craft a drinking helmet while performing.
- Underhill interrogates a shady character he and Conrad find in an alley. He is a drug smuggler.
- Grunt is now a giant dwarf.
- Apothecary is empty. Wand shop is fake, with a secret, alarmed hatch leading to the stage.
- Underhill spies on Ketta re-reading the flesh book.
- Grunt cleans out the rubble and finds an unholy altar, which causes a bunch of events that freak several of the party out. They decide to take it to be consecrated.
- Ketta gives Underhill the flesh book.