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Tuesday, 1st December, 2009, 03:55 PM #231
Gallant (Lvl 3)
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Tuesday, 1st December, 2009, 04:14 PM #232
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Both genius and evil, by the way.
Tuesday, 1st December, 2009, 04:50 PM #233
Guide (Lvl 11)
Tuesday, 1st December, 2009, 11:51 PM #234
Thursday, 3rd December, 2009, 05:16 PM #235
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Who would have guessed that a trip to a library would be that entertaining. Great writing as always Sagiro. Eagerly awaiting further updates.
It may only be two cents, but at least it's MY two cents.
Saturday, 5th December, 2009, 12:37 AM #236
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
Mokad (the head of the Deliochan Scarbearers cult and the primary Black Circle traitor within the Church of Delioch) definitely didn't fake his death; when we stopped the Black Circle from killing Grey Wolf to bring Abernia and Volpos together, in the same incident where Califax was left soulless, we killed that SOB by trapping him in a passwall pit that we mostly covered by a wall of stone. When the passwall was dispelled, he did a creditable imitation of a tube of toothpaste, following which we beat on him with Kibi's axe. Mokad was the most powerful Black Circle priest we'd met, and having him dead was a tremendous relief.
If Praska felt the need to write "Mokad is dead" in the Book of Lies, then you can be sure he didn't actually stay that way. That's a bad, bad thing.
- Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now Kickstarting TimeWatch, a time travel game - please go check it out!
Monday, 7th December, 2009, 05:24 AM #237
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
A couple of tiny corrections to Piratecat's previous post. The actual chronology of Mokad's last few second of life were:
- ...dropped into a pit created by a passwall from Aravis. He catches the edge and hangs onto the lip.
- ...fingers whipped by Dranko; falls to the bottom of the pit
- ...struck by a magical axe thrown by Kibi
- ...casts a wall of stone himself to prevent line of sight by the party. It covers most but not all of the opening, so he could still escape if necessary.
- ...expelled violently (and indeed toothpaste-like) when Aravis dismisses the passwall. Still alive though.
- ...barely survives a round of spells and attacks from the Company. Tries to fly upward through the open ceiling to escape.
- ...killed by a sword-stroke from Kay, flying in pursuit.
And now, another update:
Sagiro’s Story Hour, Part 298
Scratching at the Edges
The Company returns to Tal Hae. Dranko receives a cryptic sending from one of the Undermen and excuses himself, while the rest enjoy a lunch courtesy of the Icebox and served up by Eddings. They discuss the Tome of Deceit, and what their next move should be.
“We ought to tell the Gods that someone's messing with their miracles,” says Ernie between bites of roast chicken. “In the meantime, I wonder if we can re-attune the book to someone else. Dranko in particular, since someday that Demon Prince is going to come looking for him.”
“We could write a story in the book about us always being in some particular place,” Morningstar muses, “and then heavily trap that place.”
“We don't necessarily have to re-attune it,” Aravis points out, “as we know it can affect multiple people simultaneously. On the other hand, I doubt we can just write anything we want and have it become protected knowledge.”
The fact remains that while they've figured out how to suppress the Tome, Praska is still shielded – probably by mind blank, private sanctum, or both. At least now their divinations won't be giving them patently false information.
“If we do find her,” Ernie says, “what do we do with her?” Kill her outright? Question her? Try to redeem her soul?”
“We never just kill anyone,” Morningstar sighs.
“I have no problem with killing her,” Aravis says with some vehemence. The memory of his death at the hands of her Null Shadows is still fresh. “But we should wring any useful information out of her first.”
“Say,” says Kibi. “Where's Grey Wolf?”
“In the basement,” says Flicker. “He realized he didn't have anti-magic field written in own spellbooks, so he's copying it out of one of the books we found in Het Branoi.”
Which makes sense, since anything they do to find Praska will have to take place while the Tome of Deceit is deactivated.
Ernie finishes his meal and also departs, desiring to pay an overdue visit to the Temple of Yondalla here in Tal Hae. (Also, he doesn't mind the celebrity status he enjoys there whenever he visits.) Aravis, Kibi and Morningstar continue to talk about Praska without any revelations. If Praska truly is mind blanked, there's little they can do to find her through magic. Morningstar halfheartedly wonders if they should try divining her every hour on the hour in an attempt to catch Praska in any gaps between applications of the spell. But Aravis points out that she could very well also be in a private sanctum. He frowns. The beginnings of an idea are forming in his head, but it's all so indirect...
“I couldn't help overhearing,” says Grey Wolf, up from the basement for a quick drink of water. “But if Praska is in a sanctum but not mind blanked, then commune will work while the book is suppressed.”
The door to the Greenhouse swings open; it's Ernie, back sooner than the others expected. His face betrays a great concern.
“What's the matter?” Morningstar asks anxiously.
“I learned something disturbing while I was at the temple,” Ernie says, sitting down. “One of Sunblossom's adventuring under-priests, Tolo, was killed in the field; some monster or other that they think got loose with the Masking breaking down.”
“I'm sorry to hear it!” says Flicker.
“That's not the disturbing part, though,” Ernie continues. “For one thing, his friends killed the monster, and for another, High Priestess Sunblossom raised him from the dead. But apparently Tolo's soul didn't go anywhere, just like Aravis's. So it's not that there was anything wrong or strange going on with Aravis in particular; it's likely that no one's souls are going on to the afterlife! Which means it's something more sinister.”
“Maybe a Black Circle plot,” Kibi surmises. “Maybe that's how they intend to gather up a huge amount of life force?”
“Wouldn't that make it 'death force?'” asks Flicker.
Who can say? Well, maybe Yondalla can. After the Company mulls over some possible questions to pose to a divine agent, Morningstar and Kibi fly out to an empty field on the outskirts of town, taking the Tome of Deceit with them. (No one wants to find out what happens if an anti-magic field is invoked in the Greenhouse!) While the Tome is being suppressed, Ernie casts commune in the Greenhouse kitchen. The scent of fresh bread fills the air, and a holy presence speaks into Ernie's mind.
ASK YOUR QUESTIONS, MY SON
Are you receiving souls from this plane, from those who have died?
NO. NO ONE BRINGS THEM.
Is Mokad alive?
I CANNOT TELL.
Has the soul of Mokad left whatever afterlife it went to after his death?
IT WAS NEVER THERE.
Is Praska protected by a Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum?
I CANNOT TELL.
So she's almost certainly protected by a Mind Blank, whatever other safeguards she might have. Drat! They have other questions lined up that are no longer worth asking. Aravis feels like he's almost figured out a solution, but he hasn't quite put together all the pieces...
Is Sagiro well?
SAGIRO DOES NOT EXIST.
“Wait!” exclaims Aravis. “I've got it! Ernie, repeat these questions...”
Aravis dictates the next set of inquiries.
Has anyone spoken to Praska recently?
(After a long pause): YES.
Was the person who spoke to Praska most recently, in Hae Charagan?
In Het Branoi?
Someone we know, or know of?
Within 300 miles of Djaw?
In the Endless Wood?
Is the departure of Drosh the reason why souls are no longer traveling to the afterlife?
Is the departure of Drosh related to the death of the member of the Great Pack?
Interesting that Mokad's soul never even made to the afterlife after he was killed in Kallor.
Interesting that it's Drosh's departure (presumably into the Crosser's Maze) and concurrent abdication of duty that's preventing souls from ascending to the afterlife.
And, to Aravis, interesting that you can divine people by their associations with someone protected by a mind blank. He sits and has a good long think about how to leverage that.
Kibi returns to the Greenhouse while Morningstar reports this new knowledge to High Priestess Milanwy. She's surprised to find that they already know.
“We're aware of the situation,” Milanwy says. “But we're unsure of what to do about it. It turns out Drosh has been the shepherd of souls in Abernia, and he is no longer doing his job. Souls are not ascending to the afterlife. It is troubling, but not our business; we have faith that the Gods will figure something out.”
Dranko returns briefly to the Greenhouse as most of the Company are going to bed.
“I've got to go attend to some Undermen business in Kivia,” he says. “Apparently we have a huge opportunity to make some inroads into the Seresef gem trade, but they'll only negotiate with the leader of the Undermen. I've got Morningstar's doo-hickey so I can return to you guys in an emergency, and you can always keep me up to date with sendings. Probably shouldn't be more than a day or two.”
And with that he's off again.
Aravis, Morningstar and Grey Wolf are the last folks awake. Grey Wolf is still copying anti-magic field, while Aravis sits on a couch in the living room, thinking furiously.
“A ha!” he says out loud. He realizes that the commune has given him the bare minimum knowledge necessary to scry on “the person who had last spoken with Praska at the time of the commune.” He casts, and it succeeds – but all he can see is the blackness indicative of a private sanctum.
Undeterred, he rouses Ernie from sleep.
“Ernie, I need you. I want you to cast find the path, targeted on “the area protected by the private sanctum that's around the person I was just trying to scry.”
Ernie casts, and gets a direction: practically due east, and the tiniest bit south.
“Great,” says Aravis. “Now I want you to fly due north as fast as you can.”
“Due north,” repeats Aravis.
“Aravis, I'm still mostly asleep. Can I at least change out of my pajamas?”
Ernie flies, and the direction indicated by the find the path doesn't change, which means the person is in southern Kivia. Even better, tomorrow he can teleport the whole party to Kivia and find the protected area, and that is a significantly better lead on Praska than he had any right to hope for, given her copious defenses.
“Thanks Ernie,” he says over a telepathic bond. “You can come home now. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day!”
Morningstar is the last to fall asleep that night. She can't shake the image of hundreds of souls, lingering and confused and not ascending to heaven as they should.
Because Drosh, God of Death, has fled.
Because they gave Drosh's servant the Crosser's Maze – a decision for which she shares a heavy burden of responsibility.
Aravis is already at the table when the rest of the Company comes down for breakfast.
“Anyone up for a field trip?” he asks brightly.
Grey Wolf quirks an eyebrow. “Where are we going?”
“Kivia,” says Aravis.
“And finding Praska, and giving the Black Circle a good stern talking to,” Ernie adds.
“That will show them, Master Ernest,” Eddings says, clearing some dishes.
“If we don't come back, blame the Black Circle,” Morningstar adds.
“Do try to come back,” Eddings replies. “It would be lonely without you.”
Their morning meal done, the excited Aravis casts greater teleport without even telling the rest of the party where they're going. He lands them in Kivia outside of the city of Levenmud, on the road that rises towards the mountains to the east. They can smell the swamp to the west of town, the stink reminding them of the Sea of Snakes. There's some discontented muttering; no one particularly cared for this region of Kivia during their last visit.
“This is great!” Flicker says. “You know what I was thinking we were out of this morning? Snakes!”
Aravis glares. “Might I suggest at this point, a wind walk and find the path would be a good idea?”
Ernie gets a direction toward the location from the previous night – the place inside the private sanctum that prevented Aravis from scrying the last person to have spoken with Praska at the time of Ernie's commune. The spell is leading more-or-less in the direction of Kai Kin, a city on the southern coast, in the country of Ocir.
Over Kibi's inevitable grumbling, they wind walk, following the Eternal River. The land below them becomes greener and more arable as they fly, and for the nearly-three-hour duration of the spell the direction does not waver. They continue for another hour on the same heading before landing and recasting find the path. It turns out they have overshot their target, but a after a few minutes of backtracking the spell is indicating a straight-downward direction. They are directly above the small town of Opal in the country of Seresef.
They land behind a hill outside of town and Kibi casts a veil to make them look like local birds. (So now they look like wind-walking crows.) They pop off a sending to Dranko to apprise him of their whereabouts. As they approach the town they can hear an odd cacophony; it sounds like a hundred horses all neighing at once.
Which turns out to be exactly what it is. Every horse in town is raising a ruckus. A horse-drawn carriage has overturned on a main street; several men are trying to calm the horse that was pulling it.
Grey Wolf says what they're all thinking.
“I'll bet a horse-god just bought it.”
Dranko can hear it too, in the city of Kingstown, capital of Seresef. He glances up at the window in the office, as does the man he is meeting with. Dranko immediately understands what happened but keeps it to himself; Trevin Olfkir frowns and looks puzzled, but redirects his attention toward Dranko after a second or two. He extends his hand.
“So, it's a deal, then?”
Dranko has been deep in negotiations for many hours now. Kingstown is only about 100 miles south of Djaw, but is on the Seresef side of the Kingstown River and thus not included in the loose confederacy of city-states known as the “Jewels of the Plains.” Dranko has heard more than once since arriving in town that “there would be no jewels in Djaw if not for Seresef.”
The northern spur of the Greytower Mountains lies within the boundaries of Seresef, and from there comes the source of the Kingdom’s wealth – precious gems of a great many varieties. There is speculation all throughout Kivia that the surfeit of gems isn’t natural, that no stretch of mountains could have that many quality veins of that many gem types. The Merchant-Princes of Seresef are cagey on that point – it’s hard to know the truth of the matter.
Trevin Olfkir is the current First Merchant; effectively the King of Seresef. He’s a rotund but humorless fellow with profit seemingly his only concern. The Kingdom’s economic policies are rigidly enforced at the highest political levels, and so it has fallen to Trevin personally to negotiate such a unique opportunity. He had already been approached by none other than Olorayne Firemount (Tor Bladebearer's father and Baron of Forquelle) seeking to prevent a deleterious competition between the two by hammering out some terms, but Trevin had soon figured out that his operation was much bigger than Firemount’s, and that he could do better by waiting for the right opportunity. He and his inner circle had decided upon the Undermen.
Specifically – though he doesn't quite phrase it this way to Dranko – he wants the Undermen to be his fencing operation. He’ll sell his gems to the Undermen, and they will in turn sell them (at a tidy markup) directly to gem merchants around Charagan. Dranko is enjoined to not tell them where the gems really come from, to circumvent certain possible trade restrictions for as long as possible. (In fact, he encourages Dranko to think creatively about setting up front companies and faux mining operations that could claim to be the sellers.) While it’s possible that King Crunard could get around to passing (or trying to pass) increasingly restrictive laws, Trevin is confident that once the nobles of Charagan get a taste for his product, they won’t support that sort of thing. Dranko gets the sense that long term Trevin intends to buy out the Forquellian operations entirely and then start slowly jacking up the prices. It’s not clear that he’d still need the Undermen at that point, but that’s a long way off and there’s a lot of money to be made between here and there.
The only drawback is that it’s going to take a large up-front payment to Trevin to get the first shipments of goods. The more funds Dranko can raise, the better a bulk discount Olfkir will offer, and obviously the bigger the discount, the bigger the profit.
As for the product itself: breathtaking. Flawless diamonds. Silk-surfaced opals. Jade so luminous you could mistake it for emerald and rubies so deep red they look like you could squeeze juice from them. And the teardrop-shaped translucent white gems called Moontears (coveted by Morningstar), they have in relative abundance. Dranko is reasonably certain that there was no illusion or similar magic involved, and while Trevin was probably showing him the best of the best, it’s a good bet that Seresef gemstones are of generally higher quality than Forquelle’s finest.
Dranko takes the First Merchant's hand and shakes it with vigor.
“You wont' regret it,” he says, smiling.
“No, I won't,” Olfkir says with a toothy grin of his own. “Now, as I promised, I'll have one of my associates cast wind walk upon you, so you can rejoin your friends. I'll be in touch via sending to work out logistics. And one more thing: if you can find a trustworthy wizard associate who can cast greater teleport with any regularity, it would save you a lot on shipping costs and security.”
Dranko thinks he might know a guy.
...to be continued...
Monday, 7th December, 2009, 12:55 PM #238
Gallant (Lvl 3)
I do love this campaign
Question for you Sagrio: how much of this do you prep before hand and how much of it is ablibbed as you go along? I get the impression that you have copious notes, events planned out, then make the rest up as you go with the flow of the party's adventures; but really I have no idea how much work you put into it, but I am intrigued.
Twitter tag: @skyfullofdust
Monday, 7th December, 2009, 01:25 PM #239
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Why does Morningstar feel she bears more responsibility than the rest of the party for giving up the Crosser's Maze?
As I recall, they only surrendered it after doing everything possible to ensure it wouldn't be misused by the obviously evil recipient, and they didn't really have much choice in the matter.
And if the Maze is the reason why souls aren't going on to the afterlife, wouldn't Aravis know it via the fragment of his Intelligence he left inside?
Monday, 7th December, 2009, 06:05 PM #240
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
I try not to fill in the lowest-level details until the last possible minute, in order to maintain plot cohesion, take player actions into account as much as I can, and (most importantly) not waste prep work.
I'm not that great at plot-improv, and at this point the plot is complex enough that there's great risk of causing continuity glitches when I just start making stuff up mid-game. It happens sometimes, though -- this most recent post being a prime example. I had no idea the party was going to go after Praska via the "last person she talked to" route, so I just thought on the fly about what she would have done following her escape, whom she would have talked to, and where.
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