Muddled Pasts - Pathfinder 3.5


Backstories #1! - Londis the Inquisitor

I've been lax at getting back stories up, so let's see if I can remedy that. As they are long I'll try to put them behind cuts. Wish my luddite ass luck.

Nope, I have no idea how to do it and no time to look right now. Another time, perhaps.

Londis Vaelar Baelarn was born the son of a cobbler in Korvosa nearly 32 summers ago. He lived with his mother, Marilis, and father, Galstock, in the poor quarter, helping around the shop, and running errands for the local merchants for copper pennies. He was not an exceptional child, but would frequently wander into the noble quarter of the city, marveling at the grandeur and opulence of the nobility, dreaming of one day joining that world as some long lost prince or the son of some duke, or at least a wealthy and influential merchant. But Londis was none of these things, and the guards would chase he and his friends from the streets and alleys back into the poor quarter and his simple life full of work and banality.
Galstock was for the most part a respectable man. He kept his shop in good order, was mostly good to his wife and son, kept his nose clean, and paid the protection money that was a fact of life for those in their part of the city. He wasn't successful, but made some decent coin. Unfortunately, this coin was usually spent down at the docks gambling, and his wife had to work extra time at the shop to make ends meet. Still, they got by, and Londis looked to be apprenticed to some other craftsmen in the city and live a quiet life as a common laborer.
When Londis was twelve years old, however, his parents had another child, a little baby girl named Rathonia. Londis' mother could no longer afford the time to work in the shop, and so his father fell behind on his gambling debts. The more he lost, the more he gambled to try and win it back, pushing him down a vicious spiral towards a mountain of debt and no way to pay it. He was starting to get behind on his protection money, and both his bookies and the local gangs were threatening his shop on nearly a daily basis.
In desperation, Galstock turned to the very crime lords that demanded tribute from him for a way out. They told him of a local noble and warlock, who kept his name secret but was known as the Perfumed Man, who was paying for children born under a certain sign, one that his son just so happened to be born under The amount was huge, double what Galstock owed and more, but Galstock could never see his child again. The Perfumed Man would take them and disappear. He did not want any meddlers in his affairs.
And so it was that one night Galstock awoke Londis deep in the middle of the night, telling him to pack his things and get dressed. He was going to live with a noble, he was told, to be a prince and live a life of luxury and comfort. Londis leapt from bed, full of excitement, stuffing his favorite possessions into a bag and pulling on his finest clothing. He nearly ran from the house with his father, following him through the streets to a colorfully dressed hooded man outside an abandoned shop. He smelled heavily of perfume, and wore a blue mask that covered the top half of his face. He was flanked by a pair of men in black cloaks carrying wicked looking hooked blades, who eyed Londis and his father warily as they approached
The Perfumed Man smiled a broad, malicious smile that never touched his eyes at Londis. He thanked Galstock and handed him a huge bag of coins, and the two spoke in whispered phrases for a few minutes before Galstock turned and said his goodbyes to Londis, promising that he and his mother would come visit soon and that he should be on his best behavior and do whatever the Perfumed Man said. With that he left, and Londis never saw him again.
With that he was whisked away by wagon to the noble quarter, and spent the next several weeks living a life of luxury. He ate strange foods and was made to repeat strange, chanted prayers to wicked looking statues and idols. Trhough it all the Perfumed Man was there, always wearing his mask, always smiling his malicious smile, guiding Londis through the rituals and full of promises of riches and wonders should he be diligent and obedient for only a few weeks longer, till a certain day when his work would all be rewarded.
The weeks passed and the day finally came. Londis was adorned in the finest of clothing and perfumes, and made to chant all day to the evil figures. At night he was led into a deep basement chamber he had never been to before, filled with hooded figures dressed similarly to the Perfumed Man arranged in a circle around a vast, arcane symbol. To its side was a long table flanked by a smaller one draped in a fine velvet cloth. In the midst of it all was the Perfumed Man, smiling his dead smile and directing the hooded figures about the chamber.
Londis was led to the tables by four of the hooded figures. Without warning, they threw him upon it and began chanting, as the Perfumed Man lifted the velvet cloth from the nearby table, revealing a huge array of stylized daggers, scalpels, and other instruments of pain. Londis screamed and begged to know what was happening, but the Perfumed Man only smiled and picked up the nearest dagger with his finely gloved hands, and began to chant as he drew closer to Londis.
The tortures inflicted that night do not bear repeating. Suffice it to say that they were horrific. The ritual continued through the night, and as it did, a shadowy figure began to take shape in the midst of the circle. It was hazy at first, indistinct, but as the night went on it began to take on shape and definition. It was huge, a thing of shadows and teeth, of curved spikes and claws and flames, and eyes of deepest malevolence. It did not move at first, but as it took shape it began to stalk about the summoning circle, eyeing the ritualists and the Perfumed Man, as if impatient and eager to be free.
As the night drew to a close and the Perfumed Man reached the last of his torture implements, a large, jeweled spike with three blades, one of the ritualists began to stumble over his words. The fatigue of the long night, and the intense, primal fear he felt when faced with the demon took its toll on him, and though he desperately sputtered on, his words lost coherence and meaning, and thus power over the demon. As his words fell further and further into dissaray, the demon sensed the interruption and stopped its pacing, stooping down to stare directly into the ritualists face. It was then that his words broke, and with them all hell broke loose. Even as the spike was held above Londis to deal the killing blow, the demon reached out and snatched the man, tearing him to shreds, before starting on the other ritualists. Bodies flew everywhere, blood splattered the walls, and the ritual broke down completely as chaos ensued.
In the resulting confusion, Londis had just enough sense left to jerk free and run. He ran until he left the basement, out of the the chamber. He ran out of the large, opulent villa in the noble quarter, until he left it all far behind. He ran until his legs gave out and his lungs nearly burst, and he finally collapsed in the streets and passed out.
Back in the chamber, amidst the carnage and chaos, the Perfumed Man sighed. Raising his hands into the sky, pillars of white-hot flame crashed down amongst the remaining cultists, burning them to cinders. As the last of the cultists perished, the demon faded from view, howling with rage. Smiling once more, the Perfumed Man turned and strode slowly from the room, signalling the shocked cultists outside to clean up the mess.
Londis was found outside of a dwarven temple to Torag, god of protection and the forge. The leader of the temple, Murnick, took pity on the injured young boy, and used his healing magics to nurture him back to health. He could not, however, heal the wicked scars that now covered most of his face and body. He was given a job cleaning up the temple, one he was all too eager to take as he now had nowhere else to go. He could not trust his family any longer, and was terrified that if he went out the Perfumed Man would capture him again. He kept mostly to himself, never speaking of what befell him at the villa, and while he was there he learned of the teachings of Torag, and the value of protecting others who could not protect themselves from harm. He also learned of the power one could gain from devotion, as the clerics performed magics of healing and blessing for the faithful. He learned during the days, and during the nights he fell asleep dreaming of revenge, and awoke screaming from his nightmares. Murnick saw the darkness clouding the young man's heart, and did his best to guide Londis towards wisdom and peace.
As Londis aged he grew less fearful of the world, and felt the yearnings of a young man to find his destiny. His growing bitterness also left him with a thirst for violence that couldn't be quenched in the peaceful halls of the temple. And so when Londis was seventeen he left the priests of Torag, to the protestations of Murnick, and joined a traveling mercenary group known as the Gauntlets of Fortune, which had just been contracted to defend merchant ships sailing between Korvosa and the Chelaxian empire.
For the few years Londis spent aboard the ships, he was happy. The mercenary group was led by a man named Joruf, a barbarian from the Shoanti highlands who had come south to make his fortune with his strength and swordsmanship. He took Londis under his wing, teaching him how to fight, how to move around in armor, and how to navigate by the stars and keep himself alive when all he had was his wits and a hunting knife. He also told him the many wondrous things he'd seen in his travels, of sea serpents that could swallow a man whole and of forest creatures that could steal his mind with their beauty, and all the other wondrous and terrifying things he had seen. Together they slew pirates and thieves, and sailed the seas raking in a small fortune.
But eventually the work dried up. The shipping companies that hired the Gauntlets went out of business or became successful enough to employ their own guards, and the men of the company grew restless at the lack of work. Joruf saw the unhappiness of his men, and told them he had found a job that would pay them all handsomely. He gathered up Londis and the other men, and led them onto the roads on the grasslands surrounding Korvosa, until they came upon a travelling caravan. Smiling at the company, Joruf motioned to the caravan and told them he had found them new work, a Varisian caravan that traded Thassilonian artifacts between the great cities. Plundering their wares would keep the men happy and wealthy for months. Excited at the prospect of riches, the men charged the caravan, and battle broke out between the caravan guards and the mercenary company.
Appalled at the actions of Joruf and the men, Londis stood frozen near the fighting, conflicted. Every instinct from his years of learning the ways of Torag told him to help the people of the caravan, but to do so he would have to stop his friends, and more importantly, his mentor. He thought about what his life would be like amongst the mercenaries, looting and pillaging for the rest of his bloody days with his companions, living a life of riches. He strode up to Joruf just as he was finishing off one of the caravan guards, who greeted him warmly and gestured out amongst the caravan to Londis, telling him the first pick of treasure was his.
With a heavy heart Londis hefted his mace and struck in the back of the head with all his might, praying that Torag would guide his hand. Joruf fell to the ground, motionless, and Londis fell among the rest of the company, felling any he could reach and turning the tide against the now leaderless mercenaries. The caravan archers, however, saw his uniform amidst the chaos and shot him, piercing his side with a poisoned arrow. Londis grabbed his horse and fled, riding towards Korvosa to collapse injured in front of the temple of Torag as he had so many years ago.
As he was nursed back to health once more, he told Murnick of what had happened in his years away. Londis begged forgiveness for straying from his faith and for ever thinking of showing mercy to the wicked. He swore oaths to his god to ferret out those would be harm the innocent and put them to a swift death. Murnick, seeing for the first time an outlet for the violence in the man's heart towards good, gave Londis his blessing, and instructed him in the ways of divine magic. He told him of the inquisitors, godly warriors who rooted out any who opposed their gods principles and destroyed them, who had the freedom to act in ways the clergy could not. He told of how the inquisitors of Torag could not reveal their association with the church, as their ways were radical and frowned upon, if effective. Finally he told Londis of several minor criminals in the surrounding towns that were terrorizing the local peoples, murderers, rapists, and the like.
Taking up the sacred warhammer of the monastery, and the armor and equipment he had earned as a mercenary, Londis struck out and sought the criminals. Using his martial prowess, intimidation, threats of torture, and newfound divine magic, he tracked them to their dens and dispatched them, leaving a terrified, angry, but safer populace in his wake. While Murnick disapproved of Londis' methods, he could not argue with his results. Londis had not crossed the line into evil, though he tread upon it nearly every day. Longing to spread his justice into the world, Londis left the temple once again, this time filled with a sense of purpose and self righteousness.
He made his living adventuring, killing minor beasts that plagued the populace, or preying on small time criminals against whom there was not enough evidence to imprison or hang. More than once he was chased from town after killing some criminal without a chance to bring him to trial. From time to time he would stop back at the temple of Torag, to seek the wisdom of Murnick and the guidance of his god to smite only the wicked. Then one day he returned to find Murnick holding a letter, requesting help from a father Xanthis in Sandport to deal with a growing goblin problem, and immediately set off to lend what aid he could, and protect the people of Sandport by punishing the evils who might dwell there.

Notes on Londis:
Londis' smile he does to intimidate people is the same as the Perfumed Man's, he subconsciously emulates it.
Londis has never physically tortured anyone. He finds the practice deplorable. But he knows the effectiveness of the threat of torture.
Londis has not forgotten the Perfumed Man. One day when he is strong enough he wishes to return to Korvosa and find him.
On Londis' person is a brief history of what happened when he was a child, as well as a request that if he dies someone stops the Perfumed Man in his place.

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Backstories #2! Grezzalik the Sorcerer

talk about verbal excess . . . :p. Changed some names to make them all correct.

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I'm not 100% sure about this, but here's how I think it all works: There's what you're pretty sure you know; there's what you think you might know; and then there's the truth, which has little to do with either of the other two.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Sound crazy? Maybe. Things are certainly upside down and sideways and inside out – but maybe better, too. At least I don't have to worry about working in the family business anymore, that's for sure.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] My name is Grezzalik, but you can call me Grezz – most people do. And yes, you're right in assuming I'm - oh, I won't sugar-coat it – a mutt. A breedo. A stewpot. There's lots of names for someone like me, someone with obvious elven blood. I suppose the Varisian roots are more obvious than ever now as well. Could I cover my ears up, try to draw attention away from my cheekbones? Probably. But why? I am who I am. Now I just have to figure out exactly who that is.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] My last name? Go with M'Rethen. I'll explain why in a bit. Up until a little while ago my last name was actually Renth, and I – yes, of House Renth, also known as Renth Mercantile and Traders. Why was it changed? Better order another round, this is a long story. Probably longer than you'd like but hey, you asked. I'll tell it the way it unfolded for me, so you can see how things unraveled. Well, that might not be the best choice of words – things have changed, but not all for the worse. Not at all.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I was adopted into House Renth by Gordalen Renth – wait, better back up. Gordalen Renth, founder of a small but ambitious mercantile house and determined to become part of the Game of Houses in Sandpoint, had four children with his first wife, whose name I can never remember. The first three were sons – Ardanth, Borazco, and Charden. The fourth was Dessavia, a girl, and the closest thing to a real sister I have. The brothers mostly ignored me, although Borazco has a nasty, nasty streak that comes out when he's drinking. After Dessavia Gordalen kept trying to have more children – this I learned from Dess and some of the servants – but wife number one stopped popping them out. After about 6 years she died, and he quickly married the woman that was the closest thing I had to a mother. Her name was Shamara and judging by my vague memories and a painting or two I've found squirreled away in the dusty attic, she was stunning, overflowing with dark Varisian beauty. Her first attempt at a child with Gordalen was stillborn, and supposedly she was so devastated by the loss that she insisted they adopt an infant to take its place. That's were I come in – the begat of a prostitute, rumor had it – but Shamara treated me like her very own. At least that's how I remember her, always laughing, always happy, despite a coldness emanating from Gordalen that even I could sense as a toddler. I don't know if they tried to have more kids, but none came along for a while.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Then Shamara died. At sea, I was told, on a pleasure vessel that sank from unknown causes. I was six and understandably distressed. It didn't help when Gordalen – did I mention he commanded me to call him that instead of Father or Dad or anything like that? Yeah. Anyway, Gordalen had a woman around what seemed like the day after Shamara's funeral – a very quietly done one, in fact – and before I knew it he'd married her. Elarra. It rolls like rancid fish oil off the tongue, doesn't it? Appropriate, that. I'd had called her out as a harpy if only I could figure out how she disguised her feathers and beak. She had no use for the foundling, and even showed up with a son that looked an awful lot like old Gordalen – and he was about my age, to boot. What a coincidence that was, eh? And Eztarran proved to be a right bastard too, spoiled and devious. At least he was just as nasty to the others that followed – his brother Fardalen, sister Gelancen, and I think there were more after that – I'd escaped by then, so to speak. Dess did her best to look out for me and I was very friendly with the servants and their children – really, I wasn't one of those gloomy, glowering mopey types at all. And they were good people to be around – they taught me knife fighting, which end of a crossbow to use, how to take care of a horse, and a thousand other things. Mostly we just all tried to stay out of the way of Elarra and Eztarran, which was a rewarding task. [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] When I got to around the age of twelve I could tell they were trying to figure out what to do with me – the elder four kids were all ensconced in various aspects of the business as House Renth was a up-and-coming social power. Still one of the little fish, but become more well-known. I would have thought my glibness and ability to talk to almost anyone would have been a boon, but it became obvious Gordalen didn't want me involved. That problem was solved for him when I suddenly started displaying an affinity for magic – small electric crackles between the fingers, noticing auras on items, and so on. This was confirmed by a wizard and thus my path was set, no doubt eliciting a large sigh of relief from my 'father' – off to the Academica Arcanica for me.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I had no complaints, as there was little left at the house for me. Dess was busy with work all the time and had suitors by the score. Eztarran was proving to be a bully of great measure, aided by his size and his mother's blessing, and I had discovered early on I didn't like to be pushed around or see others intimidated. Our fights were epic, although in the brawls I usually lost. I made up for it with pranks, tricks, and other nasty surprises. At times it was satisfying, but I wouldn't say it was fun. I left with a smile on my face, off to be a wizard.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] The Academica was difficult for me in some ways. I had no problems making friends – and enemies as well. Since most of the families of the Game of Houses had children enrolled, there was just as much petty social and political :):):):):):):):) in there as there was outside. I did my best to avoid trouble but just had to stick my nose in one day when I saw a friend of mine – Nortlan, who had to have a little bit of gnome in him – getting bullied. I didn't know who the ringleader was, but he made sure I did once I'd intervened. Zerlan Scarnetti – yes, of House Scarnetti. Yes, THAT House Scarnetti. I'd managed to pick a feud with a product of one of the most powerful houses in town. Wonderful.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] For the most part, it wasn't something that came up often. The school was large enough that our paths rarely crossed, and unsanctioned fighting or magic use was strongly frowned upon. Which was good, because I was having enough trouble keeping up with my studies. I was supposed to pick a branch of magic to specialize in and it drove most of my instructors crazy that I just didn't want to. Every wizard had aspects they were great at, and aspects that were beyond them, almost repellent to consider. I didn't seem to. It all appealed to me. Even the alchemy classes, which most students avoided like a case of groin rot – it was looked down on as something any mundane could do, and if we wanted to learn this why not just apprentice to an alchemist and join their guild instead, and so on. Me, I liked it and stuck with it, with the added bonus that I was pretty good at it.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] As for my teachers, the only one who seemed to understand me was a wizened old Varisian named Janro, and thus he was the simple choice for my adviser. For years he helped me with my struggles while also providing me with history on Varisians and tutoring me in the dead language of Thassilonian, still found on ancient monuments. He kept telling me I was missing something, but would never tell me what – annoying, true, but I was grateful for his aid. Otherwise I was like any other student – I had friends, relationships with women that invariably fell apart, and studies I could never really keep up with. I was falling behind the others, and I knew this – something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Problems started to increase when I was around seventeen. First was that they took the gloves off in the Pit – right, the Pit. The Pit was basically a battle arena for the mages. We'd go in, armed with our cantrips and padded weapons, and learn to use our skills under duress. Sometimes in teams, sometimes one on one, sometimes a last-mage-standing type of thing – it was supposed to be fun, but I didn't care much for it. For one thing, getting hit with an acid orb hurt, healers nearby or not. The more advanced students also has some minor spells at their disposal, and I can distinctly remember the first time Zerlan hit me with a magic missile. I doubt it was a coincidence that it happened the day after he found out I'd been out with a student he'd taken a liking to, and no way was he going to lose out to some breedo from a lower House. For my part I figured out pretty early on that I was kind of a novelty for most of the women there, a chance for the mostly Chelaxian females to dally with someone they probably shouldn't have. At first I got upset, but as time went on I just learned to accept it. Not like I had a choice. But damn, that missile hurt, almost as much as his superior smirk. And there was nothing I could do to stop him. I looked up and spotted Janro watching, and gave him a frustrated shrug. He nodded. I had no idea what that meant. [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] The next day when I arrived at Janro's office, he bade me to close the door. After fiddling with some book on his shelf a section swung in revealing a small cavity, and from this he drew a slim tome and handed it to me. “For a smart kid, Grezz, sometimes you can be a bit dense.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I looked down at the book. The cover was tattered and worn, and in faded, hand-written letters it said, 'Aspects of Sorcery.' I thumbed through it and looked up, puzzled. “Why are you giving this to me?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] His response was to stare at me expectantly.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I stared back, confused. “I said, why . . oh. OH!” I looked at it again. “Really?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Turned out yes, really. He'd mentioned sorcerers countless times during our Varisian history discussions, but I'd never made the connection. He advised me to keep it somewhat quiet – while sorcery wasn't illegal, it was definitely thought of as inferior to wizardry within the confines of the Academica. I confided in my friends, who seemed relieved that it wasn't just because I was a really bad wizard all along. I kept the book a secret and took to reading it on the roof at night – I loved the feel of the wind blowing against me, or watching a storm rage by. Janro stepped up the history lessons as well – I guess I hadn't noticed how few students were Varisians before – providing me with information he'd withheld before. Plus, he showed me his tattoos, something that was a bit of a rarity around here. The Chelaxians wanted nothing to do with them, but I thought they were fascinating, running the length of his arm. He cautioned me to think long and hard before committing to them if I chose to. At the same time I had a pretty thing named Fariella introduce me to Shelyn – she did wonderful sketches and I liked the feel of the temple she more or less dragged me to one night – when you're seventeen and trying to get inside a girl's robes, a trip to a church is a sacrifice you can handle. I came away invigorated, the same way I did on the roof. Plus I got lucky that night with Fari as well. [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] As I turned eighteen and navigated my way through my final year at Academica things began to evolve around me. House Renth continued to grow in stature and power, not to mention wealth. For some reason this bothered Zerlan, and his indifference gave way to aggression. Things began to grow ugly between us, although I imagine it could have all been avoided if I'd backed down a bit – but I don't like being bullied, and I never claimed to be wise. The only person I talked to from my family anymore was Dess, and of course it was her, in a well meaning way, who started the end game. Not too long before I was scheduled to graduate she asked me to come home for a visit, promising exciting news. My school career was winding down, and in an unexpected turn of events Nortlan and I had managed to make it pretty deep in the two versus two Mage Battle, with the finals looming just two days away – against Zerlan and one of his cronies. It wasn't something I was particularly excited about – the asshat was pretty damn good, and our own chances were slim.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] As for my sister, her news was as good as promised. She'd fallen in love with a son from another merchant house, and his business could actually use someone like her – she'd be leaving House Renth. Gordalen seemed to be happy for her, but I suspected he'd make her sign an non-disclosure agreement before she went. We talked about happy things for a while before she turned the focus of conversation to me. It wasn't long before I confided in her that my magical skills weren't wizardly.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “A sorcerer, eh? I'm not surprised,” she said. “Shamara was an unusual woman.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I know,” I said with a sad nod. “I miss her. She was so good to me, even though I was adopted.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] An odd expression passed over her face, and she started biting her lower lip. I knew that meant she was thinking. “Okay, well, that brings me to another thing I wanted to talk to you about.” She paused, sighed, and grabbed my hands. “Grezz, I should have told you this a long, long time ago, but I wasn't really sure. I mean, I was pretty young when you came along, you know?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Okay. So what are you telling me?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “You . . . you weren't adopted, Grezz. I mean, I had an idea, but I found some papers in one of Father's spots the other day that confirmed it. Plus, you look so much like Shamara now that I don't have any doubt.” She gave me a squeeze. “I wanted to be sure.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I sat dazed. “But . . . why does Gordalen treat me like something foul he stepped in, then? Why has he always been like that? I . . .” Like I said, not the quickest on the uptake. “Oh. No wonder the cover story.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] She laughed. “Yeah, they took a trip when she was almost ready to deliver you – he must have known. That wouldn't have looked good in the Game of Houses, so you became an inconvenient lie.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Confusion turned to anger. “So what happened to my mother, then? Did he do something to her?” [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I have no idea. She took a trip on one of our vessels, and it supposedly sank. After the funeral her stuff was just . . . gone. I have no idea if it went to her – I mean, your family. I don't even know where she came from, being Varisian and all. As for her stuff, well, that might have been Ellara's doing, though. She moved in rather quickly.” She lowered her voice and looked a little abashed. “I think they'd been together for a while before that.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “But all we know is that her ship supposedly went down? I mean, the whole thing could be a lie, right?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Her shoulders raised and fell. I jumped up, letting my hands slide free. “Fine. Where are these papers? Better yet, where is he?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] She stood up, tried to soothe me. “He's not here, there was a problem at the docks and pretty much everyone is there.” When I spun on my heel and headed out she said, “The papers are in the one under the chair, but-” [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Whatever else she was trying to tell me was lost to distance as I strode down the hall to his office. As kids we'd found several hidden spots in there, and it took but a second to move his chair, the rug underneath, and the panel set into the floor. Inside were several sheaths of paper. The top one contained a marriage contract between Gordalen Renth and Shamara M'Rethen. There was also a handwritten letter, signed and sealed by my father, swearing he would take care of her child Grezzalik as if he were one of his own, as long as Shamara stuck by the adoption tale. Pretty clear cut.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I probably should have stopped there, but I went through all the papers I found. Gordalen's fault for not at least putting them in a safe. As if I hadn't been shocked enough already, there was more. I now understood House Renth strong and steady climb in power and wealth, while so many other Houses had been struggling, especially the mercantile ones. For years caravan and ships had been plagued by bandits and pirates, respectively, unusually well-armed and informed. Renth had been fortunate in avoiding the worst of the plague, and now I knew why – Gordalen was in league with them. He supplied them with weapons and schedules, and then bought from them the goods they'd plundered at prices that made both groups happy.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] The bastard. He'd killed countless people – not by his own hand, but still – just for power. The letters were vague enough to be non-condemning, though. If I walked into the magistrate's office with them they wouldn't be enough, and once word got out I deemed it highly unlikely my life would continue on much longer. Insurance, then. I stuffed the letters into a pocket and headed out. This family, that I had called mine for so long, was deplorable. I didn't want to be deplorable. I didn't want to be some idiotic white knight out with a vow to save every living creature either but . . . I wanted to do good things, to make Varisia a better place. And I knew the first step. Embrace who I was. Who I was meant to be.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Janro looked up as I came in. “Yes?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Do you know a good tattoo artist?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] The work took a long time, the better part of two days. When it was done I had a string of runes running the length of my body, starting from just below my right eye and meandering over my shoulder and down both my arm and side, wrapping around my waist like ivy before continuing down my leg and ending at the edge of my toes. Long and painful yes, but when it was done I felt like I'd found a part of me, a piece of a puzzle, one I hadn't even known had been missing. That night, with my new ink still raw and howling, I climbed to the roof of the Academica as a wild, violent storm rolled in from the sea. I stood there laughing, arms raised, as lightning and thunder raged around me. I could feel the power surging above me, around me, and through me, and I never wanted it to end. At times it seemed I could hear whisperings deep inside my head, muttering I could barely make out, in a language I didn't know but somehow understood. It should have frightened me, but it didn't. I didn't feel afraid – I felt alive. I don't know if I was touching the raw elements at their base essence, or being touched somehow by Shelyn, or whatever – I just felt right. I just let myself go and lost myself.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Normally, that's a great idea. And I won't say I regretted it for a second, but it did cause a bit of a problem. I'd spent two days and a night being tattooed, then passed most of the night reveling in a storm. Both very cool. Both very important to me as a sorcerer. Both very distracting. As in, I suddenly realized, as dawn was breaking through the receding clouds, that I had no spells prepared for today's showdown.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I'd never had to study obsessively or with a narrow focus like the wizards did. I thought it was because I was brilliant, before the book on sorcery explained the truth to me. Still, I need need hours of quiet concentration and meditation (or, to be more honest, sleep) to have access to what I knew. I'd obviously blown that, and the nap I took didn't help much. Well, I was grateful I'd done enough to regain my cantrips, but that was like bringing a dagger to a swordfight. When it had come time to choose my 1st Circle spells I'd done so knowing my life was destined to be out in the world, a dangerous place, and so I'd gone offensive – no, not magic missile, the wet dream of every bloody evocation wizard. I'd opted for an illusory spell called color spray that had worked quite well in the Pit. With my other slot I'd gone with the unexpected and taken a summoning spell – having a dire rat pop up next to them had made a number of opponents become quite unnerved. My cantrips, well, they were much more practical and utilitarian, things that would be useful to me away from the friendly labs and helpful teachers of the Academica. There was detect magic, and read magic, and mage hand – very useful for alchemy, indeed – and finally daze, something pretty much everyone took.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] So, heading into battle with those four at my disposal, you can see how I might be in trouble. Not really an attack spell among them. As I dressed for the contest my eyes fell on a training mace I used sometime for a change of pace while sparring. Couldn't hurt.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I arrived moments before we were scheduled to begin. Nortlan was a nervous wreck and began yammering at me as soon as he caught sight, but I shushed him. [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Enough. I'm here. What's the layout?” The terrain of the Pit battles was randomly determined before each match, with casters using telekinesis and other ability to shape the battleground.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Bare. Empty.” He cocked his head. “Grezz, what's all over your face?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Bare, eh? Gonna be a short one. Okay, let's do this – you-”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “No, seriously, what's all over your face?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I sighed. “Tattoos. Tattoos of runes, okay?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I see that. But why?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Because, Nort,” I said with a grim smile, “it seems I'm a sorcerer.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] His eyes widened for a second, then he shrugged. “Okay. So what's the plan?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I possibly hadn't realized what a good friend he was. “Thanks.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Yeah, yeah. The plan?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] There was a huge crowd lining the stands of The Pit – every seat taken and dozens more crammed in. The four competitors marched out and met at the center of the barren oval. Zerlane just stared at me for a bit, contempt plain to see. “Your little upstart house is nibbling where it shouldn't be, mongrel. Meddling in House Scarnetti contracts.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I have nothing to do with House Renth dealings, Zerlane. Take it up with Gordalen.”[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace] He smirked. “No, I think I'll make a point here today, breedo. You see, here's the thing.” He leaned in, lowered his voice. “I really don't care if I win or lose here today, but one of you is going to die. Understand?” His partner, a hulking sadist named Garradin, gave a dark chuckle. “I hope it's you, elven filth, but I'd settle for you friend here. It's a shame when someone dies in the Pit, but not exactly unknown.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Two days ago that might have intimidated me, but now it just made me mad. “I'll say it again, thickwit – I have nothing to do with the dealing of House Renth. But I also don't like being threatened and bullied, so don't be surprised if you get more than you can give.” Brave words from the archer with an empty quiver.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] His snort of disbelief was the last noise made before the judges called for attention and told us to take our spots. With nothing to hide behind there was little to do aside from spreading out to avoid area spells and hope that we were quicker on the draw than they were.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] We weren't.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] When the signal went off Garradin moved with stunning quickness, catching Nortlan with a daze cantrip. I managed to return the favor, leaving the big thug reeling as well. With my mace – head padded - already in hand I managed to take a few steps in that direction before light screamed from Zerlan's fingers. I braced for impact but wasn't the target – the magic missile slammed into Nortlan and sent him sprawling, out cold. The next few seconds were dicey – I hoped to reach Garradin before he or Zerlan could fry me as well, but it was a race I couldn't predict. [/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] This time, I won. His eyes were just starting to refocus when I reached him, already swinging. Padded head or not, I clocked him in the temple and he went down, hard. As soon as the stroke finished I turned, ready to receive whatever Zerlan had planned for me.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] It wasn't what I expected. He targeted Nort again and blasted him with another magic missile, sending his prone form skittering across the arena floor. The crowd – had they been there the whole time? - roared either in outrage or approval, and the smile he wore enraged me further. However, I was supremely :):):):)ed. There was no way I could reach him before she shot again, and if Nort wasn't already dead than another bolt would surely do the job. I started running at him anyway, my anger building as he mouthed 'Say goodbye,' and targeted my friend again.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I was furious beyond words, but at the same time I felt the storm rising within me, the whispers in the back of my head. Screaming “Nooooo!” at the top of my lungs I pointed a finger at Zerlan – and was probably more amazed than anyone else present when a jagged bolt of what appeared to be bright green lightning leaped from my outstretched digit, streaking toward my foe.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I was able to see his eyes widen in surprise – before the bolt hit and his head simply exploded. For a second the body stood upright in place, as if asking 'Did that really just happen?', before slumping to the floor. I'd just killed the son of the most powerful House in the city. With something I didn't even know I could do, but at the same time was fairly certain I could do again. Lucky shot? Not in the long run, probably not. Ignoring the stunned noises the crowd was making, I rushed over to Nortlan, relieved to discover him still alive, if just barely. Then the medics were there, and I headed back tot he prep room for what I knew was going to be lots of fun with those in charge.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Sometime later I found myself standing in front of Gordalen's desk while sat chewing an unlit cigar, fairly frothing with rage. “You had to kill him? Do you know what trouble this is going to bring down on this house?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I didn't need to be a part of the family to venture an educated guess. “Yeah, you're in a world of :):):):), that's for sure.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “You bastard!” That was Essara, an unwelcome presence, as was the odious Eztarran. “Have you no respect for your House?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I laughed. “This isn't my House, nor was it ever. I didn't mean to kill Zerlan, but I'm not sorry it happened.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Gordalen regarded me with cold eyes. “Not sorry? Will you be sorry if I have Eztarran crush your skull and offer it to House Marzden as recompense?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “No, but I'd be surprised if his corpse would be capable of such a thing after I'd blown his head off as well.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Ez growled, jumped to his feet. “I'll teach you, half-breed!”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I didn't even bother to look in his direction. “It's hard to hear you, Ez. Everything gets muffled by your mother's skirt.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Why you -”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Oh, stop this, please.” Gordalen shook his head. “You found some balls with those ridiculous tattoos, Grezzalik, but that doesn't change the issue here. Things would go best for us if you were to be delivered to House Scarnetti, whether a death in the Pits is just a fact of magic or not. So while you do seem to have come into some power, why shouldn't I just have the seven or eight guards waiting outside come in and make you a solution, rather than a problem?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Well, for one, I have a better idea. Two, if you do that, the letters I stole that detail exactly why House Renth has been prospering will find their way to the chief magistrate, whether I'm alive or not.” I crossed my arms.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] His eyes gave him away, flicking downward. “Yes, those,” I said. “You really should invest in a safe.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Gordalen studied me for a moment, then grunted. “El, Ez? Can you excuse us for a moment?” Both erupted with protest, which he silenced with a shout. “Now!” They went, Elarra muttering. At the door Ez paused and said, “I'll kill you, Grezzalik.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I felt a smile stretch across my face. “If you try, succeed, or I promise you pain beyond imagination.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] The door shut, and Gardalen let out a heavy sigh. “Okay, fine. Have a seat. Do you want something to drink?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I shook my head. “Neither of us wants this prolonged. Let's hash out details, and I'll get out of your life.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “And how does this help me again?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Simple. Make a big deal out of some mythical position I held, something crucial and extremely important. Then declare be outcast from the family, stripped of all belongings, and stricken from the House records. If I'd knifed Zerlan in a tavern that wouldn't hold, but hundreds saw him deliberately trying to kill a helpless person. House Marzden won't like it, but it offers them a bit of face saving. The papers I have can stay where they are as insurance – I have a system set up with a friend, and if I die in a suspicious manner, well, you know.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] He mulled that for a while. “And you'd stick to that story?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I may not like you much, but you stuck to the letter of the contract you signed with my mother. It might not have been the closest family to grow up with, but you didn't toss me into the streets.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Ah.” He rubbed at his chin. “You know, eh?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I do. And this is the point where you tell me what really happened with my mother, and where I can find her.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I don't know.” Before I could protest he said, “I really don't. Things here had become uncomfortable – let us not forget she'd conceived you while on a scouting trip – woman never could stay put. I wanted to be with El but a divorce was unseemly, so we agreed to have her disappear. She was supposed to be transferred during a fake attack by pirates, but the bloody navy showed up and ships went down. I have no idea what happened to her.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I got the sense he was only giving me about half the truth, but I knew how unlikely I was to get more out of him. “Fine. Why didn't she take me?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “I don't know.” That was a bald faced lie and he knew I could tell, so he followed with, “It might have looked too suspicious, you going with her on a scouting trip. You were only six, and supposedly adopted.” Plausible, but still a a lie.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Where was she from?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Gordalen laughed. “Who knows? Bloody Varisians, she wandered into town one day and I swore I'd never seen anything more beautiful in my life. Should have known better than to try to cage that bird, though. Much better off with a good Chelaxian like Elarra.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] “Yes, you two certainly deserve one another.” I rose. “I'm going to gather my things and go. Stick to the story – exaggerate beyond what we've agreed on and it'll get ugly.” I turned to go, then stopped. “Thank you for giving me a place to grow up.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] He offered a wry smile. “Please go far away.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] I nodded and added, “Keep Eztarran on a leash. He comes after me, you'll have one less son.” With that I left. Where I was going, I wasn't sure. I had my crossbow, my mace, my alchemical kit, some money, and a new sense of power coursing through me. There was this bard I had gotten friendly with at a local pub – little thing, a halfing, but no less gorgeous for that – who'd been mentioning getting out of town and finding some new challenges. She'd mentioned others who might be interested, invited me along as well. Could be the start of something interesting.[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, monospace] Hell, life was already interesting. This would just be a continuation.[/FONT]
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Session #31 - April 18th, 2011 - Like There Was a Chance We Wouldn't See HIM Again

notes: sorry It's been a while, we've actually missed two sessions in a row - kid's b-day and GM work - so I've been a little lax about updating. Agonizing about 8th level choices - only being able to pick a single spell is brutal. Phantasmal Killer is just oodles of fun but Summon IV lions and rhinos and hound archons, oh my!

Can't believe I trusted the Mac Bac Feagals not to steal from us. What a dope.

From the journal of Grezzalik M'rethen:

The Slumbertongue River stretched before us, making everyone but Calafalas and myself pretty nervous. Even just standing on the edge I could see the others getting a little drowsy as Londis dug in his pack and produced his boat feather token. A MUCH larger ship than we needed sprang into existence and soon we were off. Times like this, it was nice to have someone like Tofa manning the helm or whatever you call it, although i thought she was going to skewer me with a javelin when I asked her what time she wanted us to mutiny at.

After a couple of hours the Feagals waved us to shore. Grinding to a halt, we piled off and Rob Anyone stood there beaming. "Sure, here it be!"

We looked around - nothing but swamp. He grinned again and pointed at the river. "Nay, it be a cave entrance about 10 feet underwater."

I sighed and started shucking clothes. Have I ever mentioned I'm not a strong swimmer?

It took me a try or two to be able to best the current, but soon Calafas and I emerged into a small grotto. There was a big pile of copper coins, an interesting looking spear, and a statue of a dragon holding an orb that absolutely reeked of magic. I sat down and started trying to figure out what is was, barely acknowledging Calafas when he said he was going back up to get the others. Aided by a Bag of Holding he got them in, and soon they were examining the slim pickings.

Well, all except Londis, who marched up to Rob and glared at him. "Where is it?"

"Where be what, laddie?"

"The stuff you took before we got here. The stuff we earned by killing the dragon."

Rob took a good look at the ruin of Londis' face before saying, 'Oh, THAT stuff. Well, you know, it's just a wee taste we be . . . "

Londis' stony visage didn't move except for a slight tic near his left eye. Rob offered a weak smile. "Aye, fellas, cough it up."

There then followed a great reappearance of valuables from under kilts, behind ears, under shirts, and so on. It was kind of like a mini-waterfall of loot. And here I though the dragon just hadn't found any gold.

The little buggers didn't even have the good grace to be abashed.

We started screwing around with the dragon, trying to figure out a way to get the orb open. I could read the draconic inscription - "Blessed are the true sons of Dahhk" - but it took some tinkering and futzing before Londis placed some claws and I poured some of the captured blood into an indent, gaining us accent to the inside and some very nice stuff. Chimes for Trixie, arrows for Calafas and Tofa, bolts for Tricxie, and an ioun stone that snuggled right into our Pathfinder. Nice.

We also saw something in the statue's mouth, and since the thief - uhm, the bard - wouldn't go near it, it was up to me to try to pry it out and thus get sprayed with acid. She finally agreed to take a shot after I cast a powerful protection spell on her - well, several shots before she popped out the ebon wand of acid spray - nice wand, but it would have been much nicer with 12 charges instead of the 4 it had left.

We headed out and had the Mac Bac Feagals find us a place to camp, wherein Rob told us that he figured he had died and gone to paradise. "Aye, we have things ta fight and treasure and all sorts of fun - surely we're being rewarded, eh?"

Eh, indeed.


The next morning found us a few hundred yards away from Rhoswyn's citadel. In addition to lots of terrain there were at least 4 big troll waiting for us. We decided to try to run up under cover of illusion like we did a while ago but turns out we weren't the only ones with that idea - as we rushed it the trolls vanished - fake - and our buddy Caldous the centaur roared out of cover along with a host of his buddies and battle raged. Meanwhile mind-controlling spells were popping up left and right, and as the battle raged around us I spotted another blasted gnome hovering a hundred feet away, causing trouble. My lightning ball caused him to smirk as the power was absorbed - I wasn't the only one who knew that spell. He didn't have an answer for Calafas's arrows, and after the damned centaur trampled me and clobbered Londis we managed to take him down with some horrible spell from the dwarf and the blows from the thoroughly irritated inquisitor. Toda cut down a slew of centaurs on her own and Trixie offered up extremely timely healing - again, we functioned quite well as a team. I didn't even object when Firendrin grabbed my special wardstone bola and tried to finish off the gnome. He didn't but Calafas took care of that, and suddenly we found ourselves standing at the gate of citadel of the Fellnight Queen.

A reckoning was coming due. I didn't need to be an inquisitor to know that. Nobody wrecks our friends' wedding.


Session #32 - May 9th, 2011 - No more Field of Dreams Jokes, Please

Notes: back after a couple of weeks off, and it showed - we were chatty, distracted, and no doubt irritating to the poor GM. It was also pretty much a watershed moment for Grezz as he finally found his mother and . . . well, I made an unusual decision on how to handle it which will be explained in post. I was tired and out of sorts with concern about outside things as well, and not particularly pleased with my gaming for the evening. Ah well. that's what the next week is for, as we stare at a worst-case scenario and the reality of a possible TPK. "It's 30 feet to Rhoswyn's throne room. We're low on spells, our sorcerer is close to having a nervous breakdown, we're cutting deals with the Winter Court, there's an army of trolls and whatnot on the way here, and the Fae Queen is waiting for us in the center of her power."

Hit it.

From the journal of Grezzalik M'Rethen:

Nothing easy. Absolutely nothing can be easy. :):):):)ing Medea could have warned me, although I should be grateful for what she told me about Loric. Bastard.

Before the gnome's body had even stopped twitching Londis took off through the salleyway and into Rhoswyn's citadel. We ran after him, taking advantage of the chaos we'd created that was keeping the defenders off-balance. A few spriggans launched darts at us, but nothing impeded us as we thundered toward the giant tree that was the fortress. A pair of doors led into an antechamber. Inside there were trolls and more spriggans in good ambush position, but after dispatching a couple of gargoyles and letting one of my web spells occupy the others we skipped the clash and, following Rob Everyone's directions, moved into a barracks. The fighters crushed a couple of spriggans and we climbed a staircase to the third level. A large terrace covered in greenery waited for us, and a satyr was lying in wait. It garbled what i could only assume was a song at us, but nobody even blinked. As we began to engage a giant shrub rose up from cover and grabbed Firendrin - I felt like I'd seen a picture of it in a book in one of my nature classes, but there had been this smoking hot evoker sitting next to me and I had spent most of the time staring at her instead.

So when I got my chance I fired out twin rays of lightning, one dropping the satyr and the other hitting the bush and . . . making it much, much larger. Ooops. NOW I remembered, shambling mound, right. Lightning heals 'em and makes 'em bigger. Yeah, probably shouldn't have done that.

That thought was echoed by both Tofa and Londis rather colorfully. Sorry. Did I mention how hot the evoker was? I swear, she used to let her robes slip open on purpose to show some leg.

Trixie took it out with a cold-iron tipped bolt, and as it died a door opened to reveal a well-dressed elf. "Greetings. My name is Siliwas and once you're done here, My Lord Loric Tinvallen asks that you would please come see him."

Tofa looked over and snarled, "Who is dis Loric?"

Before Siliwas could respond I cleared my throat and said, "He's the Winter Court Ambassador to the Fellnight. There's also a chance he's my father." I nodded to Siliwas and, when he turned, followed him out. The others followed with mutters of apprehension.

We were led through opulent chambers before being brought before a tall, distinguishing-looking elf. I happened to glance at the others and saw them looking from me to Loric - the resemblance was impossible to miss. But honestly, I didn't give a rat's ass about him, because there was someone else in the room - my mother.

Holding something wrapped in blankets and cooing. A baby. I had a sibling? By Shelyn's Grace . . .

(OOC: okay, at this point I decided that Grezz had two courses of action - one, rushing over to her, which would be normal for Grezz, or two, kind of freaking out and instead going to all business as a way to cover up how freaked out he was. To myself I set the DC at 15 to be normal Grezz and go over for hugs . . . and rolled a 2. even with a decent will bonus I was far short, so I played it as him being freaked)

My mother looked . . . not right. her eyes were fixed on the bundle in her arms but seemed wrong, either bespelled or . . . worse. And I just stood there, uncertain of what to do.

Loric cleared his throat. "Well, welcome to all of you who have found your way here along with my wayward son and -"

My eyes flicked to him and I growled, "Don't call me that."

He smiled, unperturbed. "Please help yourself to refreshments, if you like." Only then did I notice the tables piled high with food and drink. "I must say, you've done well to make it this far. Most impressive. And I believe we may be able to aid one another."

Someone spoke up, not sure who. I was watching my mother not notice me. "Where are we?"

"You're in my chambers, which for all intensive purposes is the Winter Court. It is a safe haven for you, for the time being. I'm able to slow the passage of time somewhat but reinforcements are finally getting organized downstairs. I assume you're here to kill Rhoswyn?"

I turned back to him, ignoring Trixie's nudges toward my mother. "Kill or defeat, whichever. I assume that fits in with the desires of the Winter Court?"

Loric chuckled and picked up a flute of wine. "We would not be opposed to it, no. I would ask that you not irrevocably harm the World tree, though. This place was built as a prison, and taking it down would be unfortunate."

Londis snorted. "Why should we help you?"

"Well, I of course can't act directly against Rhoswyn. Not that I'd really want to in her throne room, but you've made doing the impossible a tad commonplace, it appears. I could hear the Queen raging from here when she learned you'd destroyed the dragon." He took a slip, paced a bit. "For you to undertake this task I would offer you as much information as I have, an escape route when you're done, and also be willing to offer you protection from any and all machinations of the Winter Court, for the length of a mortal's life."

"Why would the Winter Court be interested in us?"

He shrugged. "It's not my place to opine on the thoughts of Mab. Having such protection would unlikely ever be a bad thing to have. In return I'd ask for the elimination of Rhoswyn without the destruction of the tree. Oh, and you can take anything of hers you like, of course, aside from the scrying crystal in her throne room. That would stay here, unharmed."

"Under the watching eye of the Winter Court, no doubt," I said sourly.

"Indeed, son."

"No," I said in a low tone, "you don't get to call me that." He smirked and started to answer but I cut him off. "Now isn't the time or the place."

Trixie, meanwhile had edged over by my mother and started to sing a quiet little song. Shamara looked up and smiled, then tickled the baby and said, "Oh, Grezzalik, isn't that a pretty song?"

Oh, just wonderful. A fight against a Fae Queen looming, low on spells, and I also had to worry about my mother being batsh*t crazy. To make it worse, she shifted and I could see that the baby wasn't a baby at all, but rather a few balls of yarn. Terrific. Bloody terrific.

Trixie altered her song a little and cajoled Shamara to look at me, which she did after a few seconds. Her brow began to furrow and she looked confused.

"So," said Loric, "have we a deal?" We did. "Splendid. Let me tell you what I know."

It wasn't pretty. Rhoswyn's powers were tied to the tree and she was most powerful in her throne room, where we'd have to go. She specialized in shadows, illusions, and mind control, and would use tree stride to hide in the eight large columns present. Her staff was from the tree and greatly enhanced her power - I instantly wanted it for my own. She'd likely be guarded by her personal stone troll named Gruglok, and perhaps others.

I rubbed my eyes as my fath - as Loric spoke. This was bad. I was okay on spells, maybe at half power, but she'd likely be prepared to absorb my electricity, and fire was tough to make here. I'd probably be best off trying to counter her spells. Trixie, after glaring at me for quite some time, showed off her cleavage to Loric - no, that wasn't creepy at all - and asked him to tell her about the chimes we'd found in the dragon's hoard. They turned out to be Chimes of Harmonic Agony and at another time I would have made a joke at Trixie's expense, but I wasn't in the mood and she was clearly angry with me for not going over to see my mother. As if it were her business! I was upset about it enough as it was already, and the last thing I needed was to go over there and have her not recognize me. More distractions when going to fight a bloody Fae Queen would be a bad thing.

I turned to Loric, who was watching me with a odd expression. "Good info. Since we're the ones doing your dirty work, do you have anything a little more material to help us out?"

I saw what looked like approval flash across his face, and after a moment he nodded. "Of course." he rummaged in a chest and produced an enameled box. When he opened it Calfalas gasped, the first time I'd seen the Cerulean Guard show surprise. "Cold iron. Fae bane. A most apt weapon for here."

Londis stepped forward, eyes glittering as he took in the short sword. "If nobody else objects, I'll use it." Nobody did. Loric muttered something to Siliwas, who nodded and left the room. "I've asked my aid to . . . delay the reinforcements, but you should probably go do what needs to be done.

Trixie was glaring a bandolier of daggers at me as I got myself organized. I met Loric's eyes and said, "When we're done with Rhoswyn you and I are going to take care of all this," I said, gesturing toward my mother. "Clearly things to be discussed."

"Of course, son, you -"

I shook my head slowly, feeling green lightning involuntarily crackle between my fingers. "Don't. Just don't."

With that we went to kill the Queen of the Fellnight.

More notes: Trixie is disgusted with Grezz for not going to talk to his mother and has OOC said she won't heal him. My OOC reply is that Grezz doesn't give a flying fig what Trixie thinks. Poor Grezz, no luck with women no matter what the context. And we didn't level! Arghhhhh it would be so much easier! 'Here Rhoswyn, catch this RHINO!'
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Session #33 - May 20, 2011 - Don't Be Expecting a Father's Day Present, Either

Notes: Decided to change my luck and bought a Pound O Dice. There was a great tournament to determine the worthy, and an extremely plain white d20 with red numbers beat out an identical twin to win top spot.

The effects were immediate and dramatic, starting with a Will save roll of 18 and never really looking back. Sure, there were some bad rolls, but it was like night and day compared to what it used to be. Okay, it boned my only attack roll of the combat, but when I needed to get better than 12 followed by better than 15 – 15! - on a crucial dispel magic, the die came through. It's so good I feel it deserves a name. I will contemplate this.

Queen of the Fellnight in her throne room makes for one hell of a fight, especially since we were low on spells. We probably could have rested up after whomping the centaurs two sessions ago but charged the open gates of the citadel instead, and in retrospect that was a good idea.

So. Once more into the breach, dear friends. Dinner was quiche, sausage, and salad.

From the journal of Grezzalik M'Rethen:

We stood outside the entrance to Rhoswyn's throne room, casting spells in preparation to enter the lair of the Fey Queen. I was fairly low on juice myself but still had a few tricks up my sleeve. I summoned a fire elemental that appeared with no difficulty, read a blink scroll, cast keen edge on Londis, and just before we headed in I covered all of us with Haste. We would never be more ready.

Plus, all the spell casting helped to keep my mind off the unique family situation I'd just discovered. Loric and I were going to have a chat when we were done with this bitch.

I didn't trust the elf who'd sired me but as we burst into the huge chamber it appeared the information he'd given us was correct. Eight twisted trees served as pillars, lining a route to the throne at the far end. There were a few other scattered trees around as well, and I ran in behind Londis, our plan firmly locked in my mind. As he ran toward the throne his invisibility-canceling magic revealed Rhoswyn waiting for us, and OF COURSE she launched into a monologue about how we were impudent worms and how she was going to crush us and blarg blarg blarg – by Shelyn's Grace, these meglo-maniacs do love to hear themselves talk! My concern wasn't the Queen, though – we'd figured someone of her power would have little problems shedding the effects of my spells, so I had a different job – her sidekick.

No problem. Just a massive stone troll.

It spotted Londis and started to go after him, carrying a huge maul in one gnarled hand and a large chain in the other. It had been a while since I'd cast a pit spell, but it still worked just fine and the troll dropped with a surprised thump. Excellent. My fire elemental roared up to Rhoswyn but she dodged it almost effortlessly. I frowned. She shouldn't be that agile, and she had almost no fear of the ball of flame. There were several nightingales in a cage next to the throne, and they shrank away from the heat.

My wind ruffled from a breeze that quickly increased to a gale, buffeting me as it roared past me toward the others. It was somewhat like an air elemental that I could summon, yet somehow wrong. Arrows hissed past my head from Calfalas' bow, three of them thunking into pillars. Another bit of info gleaned from Loric – Rhoswyn could cast from within these pillars and tree stride between them, but cold iron both kept her from going into them and expelled her if inside. Two bolts from Trixie's crossbow shrieked by, the buzz audible over her kazooing and the howl of the whirlwind. Five down, three to go.

Londis smacked Rhoswyn after she vowed to turn him into a pig (OOC: the first of our really big saves) and she vanished – an illusion. Of course. The troll was just getting to the top of the pit, one empty hand scrabbling for purchase. Dropped our maul, did we? I contemplated blasting it with some lightning but the angle was bad, and instead I pulled a cold-iron tipped bolt from my quiver and jammed it into the nearest pillar.

There was a scream, followed by a most unladylike string of cursing. I knew Rhoswyn had popped out of the column but couldn't see her – we weren't close enough to Londis. I started to pull out my Dust of Appearance when the troll, having swatted my elemental into a cloud of embers and moving much more quickly than I expected, was suddenly swinging a clawed hand at me. As it closed the world abruptly went dead quiet, and I muttered a silent curse. It hit me and dammit, it hurt(OOC: knocked me down to 19 hits). I saw Firendrin flying ahead of me and an enlarged Tofa chasing the sound of Rhoswyn's voice – Calfalas had drilled the final two pillars but the Queen could use the very walls as well, just not fully concealed. I couldn't hear anything but I saw Trixie's head snap back for a moment before her entire body shuddered and changed . . . suddenly there was just a nightingale to be seen, which darted to the nearest tree. :):):):)! Trixie was a bird!

I turned my back on the troll and ran toward her – in retrospect, probably not my smartest move, but I had to get away from the field that was cast on the blasted thing – and I felt the edge of the chain tug at my cloak as it whispered by. Sound returned with a rush and I fought through the layers of Rhoswyn's power to let the spell have a change to be effective – and it was. A somewhat confused Trixie found herself sitting on a tree branch with a whirlwind raging below her – yeah, that was still around too.

Londis had found Rhoswyn again and, after giving her a good cuff, tried to tear her staff away. This would be a good thing, as it was a branch from the World Tree and was much too nice a thing for her to have. She yanked it back with surprising force and moved again. As Tofa tussled with the troll she reappeared by her throne and grabbed one of the caged nightingales. It gave a sad trill and fell motionless as Rhoswyn suddenly looked much healthier. Bloody hell.

Still, our plan was working, as Rhoswyn appeared somewhat annoyed. She looked at me and said, “You're becoming a pain in the ass, so why not just become an ass!” I felt her magic tugging at the very edges of my being, but I shrugged it off. Tofa grabbed her and succeeded in separating the Queen from her staff while Londis enveloped them in a field of silence, but the damn troll broke her free. Firendrin used one of his hexes to put the troll to sleep, and his summoned grell tried to grab the queen but missed. I decided to make her life more miserable when she reappeared, but failed (OOC: a great loophole – no doubt she had SR up the wazoo, but a simple Acid Splash cantrip does damage, offers no save or SR, and would allow me to put the disruptive effect on her – or at least make her make concentration checks. Alas, the 4 that came up was one of the night's few bad rolls, and she had an insane touch AC of like 21 anyway). I wasn't as lucky avoiding the stupid elemental, and this time it scooped me up and knocked me around as I watched Tofa crush the sleeping troll (OOC: down to 8 hits now). I tried to cast a spell at Rhoswyn from where I was but it was too disorienting. Just as I was starting to worry that this damn thing would be the death of me, I felt the delicious warmth of healing and saw Trixie drawing her arm back. Renewed, I slipped free of the elemental in time to see Londis grab what appeared to be a battered and blind Rhoswyn and hear him yell, 'Pit us!'

No problem. I was running on a flat wineskin magic-wise but I had enough to make another hole, and the two of them fell out of sight. Seconds later there was a meaty thump, and as I dispelled the casting Londis rose up on the splattered corpse of Rhoswyn, former Queen of the Fellnight.

I'd seemed to have taken the most damage – hells, Londis hadn't take a scratch until I dropped him in the pit. Staff in hand, we found Rhoswyn's private chambers and roof access. Once there, with Londis and Firendrin aiding me, I recalled the ritual. The the small amount of power I had left flickering around the staff I performed it as well as I could and when done crakced an eyelid with nervous anticipation – just in time to see the glowing rings of the wards fire back up. We'd done it. Calfalas slapped my back with a large grin.

As we headed back downstairs Londis was discussing ways to damage the scrying stone, but Loric was waiting for us. His bodyguard stood nearby looking a little rumpled, as did the Mac Bac feagals, who had been performing yeoman's work keeping the rest of the creatures away from us. After Rhoswyn had died there'd been a tremor in the tree and various cries of despair. Before anyone could do anything Firedrin walked up to the scrying mirror and started babbling some sort of incantation. The eyes on the frame all snapped open and the dwarf saw something he didn't like, as his eyes took an even more insane cast than usual. A huge eye peered at us from the depths for a second before vanishing, and Firendrin started cackling. To sum things up, we stuffed a rag in his mouth and knocked him out, as it proved the only way to shut him up. He looked completely nuts now.

After we finsihed with the witch, the White Court ambassador greeted us with a slow clap. “Most impressive. I applaud you. Mab will be most pleased.”

I snorted. “Yeah, well, I hate to break your heart but we don't give a rat's ass about making Mab happy.”

He looked wounded. “It can never hurt to gain the favor of the Winter Court, son.”

Tell that to the Summer Court,” retorted Londis, and Loric nodded and smiled, conceding the point.

Wonderful,' I growled, “now while my friends here loot everything imaginable several times you can tell me what's going on with my mother.”

What? She's perfectly happy.”

I cocked my head. “She's cooing to balls of yarn and calling them Grezz. That doesn't sound happy, it sounds either insane or ensorcelled.”

He spread his hands. “She's merely living in a world of her happiest memories. No pain, no recollection of betrayals, how could it be any better for her? You don't know what she went though.”

Of course I do,” I said. “The pirate attack, being transformed by Medea and her merry crew, you 'rescuing' her, I know.”

His eyes narrowed. “Here she doesn't remember those things, and her life is better for it.”

Are you serious?” I spat on the ground. “That's not a life, that a prison you're keeping her in to amuse yourself.”

She enjoys it.”

Has she told you that?”

She doesn't need to, I know she does.”

I shook my head, crossed my arms, and tried not to let how weary I was show. “That's her choice, not yours. Take the spell off and let her decide.”

Loric laughed. “If I take it off, it's off forever. Actually, all you need to do is take her past the wards and she'll be released.”


Is it? Tell me, Grezzalik, what did you truly do in this fight? Did your so-called mighty spells do a single thing?”

We had a plan, each of us tasks to accomplish.”

Pah. You're my child, Grezzalik, and you've barely tapped your potential. It's going to waste! So much power available to you. I offer another idea – stay here with me and your mother. I will teach you things you haven't even imagined, and you will become a force to be reckoned with, my son.”

My turn to chuckle. “Son? Loric, you mean about as much to me as a guy on the corner selling bananas, except that at least he has something useful to me. You may have sired me, but you're not my father. I've been doing just fine without you.”

Da,” added Tofa, examining a glittering headband. “And I do not like you either.” She had the birdcage in her hand and jerked her head at me. “Is time to go. You, elf, promised us safe passage. Make it so.”

Loric looked from her to me, totally unreadable. He held up his hands and gestured to my mother. “Take her, then. My bodyguard will go with you. I'm so very disappointed, but perhaps we'll meet again..”

I rolled my eyes. “Please. I'm sure Mab will have quite the feather for your cap given your success here, courtesy of our dirty work.” With a final glance I walked out, leading my mother.

The escort? Not necessary. Everything we saw got out of our way unbidden and there was actual . . . fear in their eyes. Might just have been because we were still packing cold iron, but waxing the Queen probably had something to do with it.

Several things happened as we passed outside the wards. The nightingales turned into two humans and two elves, all of whom . . . kept acting like birds. Too long for them, I guess. My mother, on the other hand, aged fifteen years in an instant – still a beautiful woman, but clearly one in her late thirties now. She looked at me with confusion and terror.

What's . . . where am I? What's going on?”

I held out placating hands. “Mom? Mom, it's me, Grezz. Your son.”

Her brows furrowed. “Grezz? No, you're only six, not big . . . what's going on?” She was verging on panic.

I should have suggested that Trixie play some soothing music, but it didn't occur to me. “Mom, it's me. You were a prisoner of Loric's . . . it's me? Listen, remember this song you used to sing me?” I began to warble a simple rhyme she'd told me was a family song, back when I was young. She listened with a mixture of bewilderment and perhaps a tiny bit of comprehension. Clearly, this was not going to be taken care of in a night.

We heard a shout and show Daverre rushing over and waving with excitement. I looked at my mother and sighed. All in good time. All in good time.


Session #34 - May 30, 2011 - Frenemies!

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Notes: for the sake of player unity I chose to pass on what would have been totally justified PvP retaliation, but a number of things happened in the session to thoroughly piss poor Grezz off. I've played him as almost blindly loyal to his party mates to this point but even a doofus like him is starting to reach a boiling point. He might be a wee bit unpredictable in upcoming sessions.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]We ended up (as usual) with a bucketload of money. I wasn't able to spend until after the session due to RL time issues, but I went an unusual route for me an bought a few scrolls instead of one big fancy items. Forty-seven is still considered just a few, right?[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Dinner was the amazing hot dogs from my local butcher. Walked past the place yesterday and it was empty with 'FOR LEASE' signs in the window. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!![/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]From the journal of Grezzalik M'Rethen:[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]They forget. They forget what I have done for them, what I've contributed, and they treat me like some wet-behind-the-ears fledgling wizard fresh from the Academica. One day they will push too far, or embarrass me too much, and yet still, after I've responded with great ferocity, they will no doubt scratch their heads and say, “Why'd he do that?” [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes, I find members of my so-called friends a bit wearisome.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]We returned to Magnidaar loaded down with cash, items, the mind-fried bird people, and in my case, my mother. Over the ensuing days she slowly began to emerge from her shock and started living in the real world again. It took a while to figure out, but she finally decided that the best place for her, right now, was (TBD) (OOC: not resolved yet between myself and GM – Grezz has offered to buy her a house anywhere she wishes, move her in at the Hidemarches, or perhaps she'd be interested in Windsong Abbey. The GM is mulling it over. In any case, she's ensconced somewhere before we set out again). Aside from taking care of her, the next month was extremely busy for me. We sent Rhoswyn's former prisoners to the Sanitarium, which seemed the best option. It took me a while to write our travails down for the Pathfinder Society, but I got it done. Firendrin offered to do it first, but his first page consisted some, uhm, odd sentences, such as:[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif] “I've always found yellow to be the tastiest of the colors, but lacking in texture. For that, you need purple.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif] “I was once again lost in internal debate over whether or not it was worth amputating a toe to see what I truly tasted like.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif] “Yog-Soggoth is both frightening and yet arousing as well. Is it any wonder I get excited around octopi as well?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]And so on. I felt compelled to take over after that. Once that was done I spent some time in what I'd turned into my lab creating things, and even managed to make some grenades without blowing myself up. Once I glanced up and spotted my mother watching me from the doorway with a proud expression on her face.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]With a load of cash at my fingertips I decided to expand my usefulness and purchased a few dozen scrolls of varying types, making a merchant extremely happy that day. On one ramble through town I spotted Burgose, my sister's fiancee, and hailed him. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]He looked up, spotted me, went pale, and started to run in the other direction.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]He was easy to catch – the adventuring life has made me hardier than the average merchant, it seems – and once I got him to stop stammering apologies and begging for his life I was able to coax the story out of him that he and Dessavia had split. It took a little longer for him to admit it was because she'd caught him with other woman, and he looked at me with such terror that I burst out laughing. Maybe having a bit of a reputation wasn't such a bad thing.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]He knew where she was living – not at House renth – and when I knocked on her door I got my second surprise of the day as Nortlan answered. He blushed, shrugged, and gave me a hug. Dess looked happy and he seemed head over heels, and it made for a pleasant afternoon. He was doing well in his family business and their future looked bright. Good.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]He squinted at me and muttered under his breath as I was leaving, eyes widening. “By Erastil's Bow,” he said, “what have you been doing? You reek of power.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]My turn to shrug. “Killing dragons, lamia matriarchs, fey queens. Nothing special.” I invited them to visit my mother and headed out.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Near the end of the month we received an invitation from the Lord Mayor. Only a fool would refuse, and only a bigger fool would show up and make an ass of himself. Guess which option Firendrin took? I won't bother listing his antics, although I will note they weren't well received by either the Mayor or our other dinner companions: Lord Justice Bayle Argentine; Paralictor Darien Halst of the Hellknights; and Remiria Callinova of the Varisian Council. These were powerful people, and I spent most of the meal clutching my head in frustration over Firendrin's lunacy or Londis' naked greed. The inquisitor has seemed even more judgmental than usual, and slightly unhinged. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]We were offered a job. Fort Rennick, tasked with quelling ogres by a remote town called Turtleback Ferry, had stopped communicating with everyone for about 3 weeks. In addition a letter to the lamia matriarch we'd killed had been intercepted. It was from someone named Lucrecia and was unnerving – it seemed whatever we've been uncovering had a root up there. Six scouts had been sent up. None had reported back. That's where we'd come in. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]During negotiations Trixie cut a deal that allowed her to circumvent the local bard's guild, a good idea in case Drannalew still had influence. He'd vanished after being badly wounded and chased out of town. When it came to me I made a lowball cash offer and requested a minor political position, which was well-received. I'm not sure what I want to do in Magindaar yet – make life miserable for House Scarnetti? House Renth? Both? - but it would be nice to have an official position.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Once we settled, a barge took up upriver to the frontier town of Turtleback Ferry. The priest/mayor thought we were tax collectors while I thought he was just going along with a cover. When we poked around town we discovered a gambling and pleasure boat had sunk a few weeks ago, supposedly killing thirteen people including . . . Lucrecia, the head. Something told me she hadn't died.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Outisde we saw a dockworker with an interesting tattoo on his back – a sihedron rune. In an awkwardly handled exchange we finally got to take a look at them, discovering that they were magicked. Take a guess where they got them and who did the work? Right, our absent friend Lucrecia. Interesting.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Back with the mayor/priest Maelin Shreed we revealed who we really were before Londis so infuriated him that we damn near lost him as an ally. Guy is out of control. Later an offhand reference to his sister – I didn't even know he had a sister, it was just a random reference – got me punched in the face. Someone stepped in before I could retaliate, rage surging through me, and that was probably a good thing. Me trying to go toe to toe with Londis would not end well for me. Another episode like that and he's going to find out what happens when I don't fight fair. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Anyway, it was confirmed that Fort Rannick and its 75 or so Rangers had gone silent and we let him know the extent of the tattooing – like half the town had them, and all were magic. The next morning we headed out to the fort.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Maybe halfway there we heard a commotion in the woods. Investigating we found a bear in a trap. Firedrin used his sleeping hex on it, and then wanted to leave. As we argued there was singing heard, and a malformed ogre with a trio of dogs appeared. He claimed the 'ranger bear' as his own, and my friends . . . started to leave, despite my protests. (to be fair, Trixie later told me she'd objected as well, but I hadn't heard her as I'd been too enraged at Londis and Firedrin just leaving me alone) I was so distracted that the dogs slipped up and tore the sleeping bear's throat out as the ogre kept babbling about rangers.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]That was it. Alone or not, I couldn't let this pass. I blasted the thing with lightning and as it bellowed with rage Firedrin fired off a fairly advanced spell that changed the creature's outlook toward us. Useful. Find where these rangers are, what's defending them, and then slit this turd's throat.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Problem is, Firedrin is treating it like it's his best friend ever, and his disregard for the fate of the rangers and for the bear that, for all we know, could be a ranger in animal form, is incensing me. I know Trixie is with me, and from the way Tofa is looking at him it's likely she's with us as well. While they were busy I cast Gentle Repose on the bear and covered it as best as I could – perhaps after we rescue the others someone can do something to help it. And rescue them we will, if I have to go in there myself. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]That's not the best option, of course. But I'll be damned if I'm going to leave people to be used like cattle by filthy ogres – including the freakshow that's now friends with our freakshow.[/FONT]


Session #35 - June 13, 2011 - Eight Arms to Hold You

notes: Evidently we've found the Pennsyltucky part of Varisia! A somewhat abbreviated session as one player had both a migraine and a flight to Ohio early in the morning. Bad things happened to Rumpus the freak ogre, and I shall not shed a tear. Trixie's rod of wonder once again provided big laughs (of pathos) and we started taking a part Hatfields and/ or McCoys of Turtleback Ferry. Serious, I expect to see Lil' Abner and the Schmoo soon.

Firendrin is acting as suicidal as Telbaine was right before he bit it. Would kinda suck to be out here without a healer and all.

From the journal of Grezzalik M'rethen:

Lovely country up here, but the only thing I had eyes for at the moment was the malformed ogre currently chatting away amicably with Firendrin as it leads us back to the farm his family has no doubt taken over. Our desire is to get there in time to save some of the rangers. Before we left the bear's corpse I cast Gentle Repose on it in hopes that someone might be able to raise it. The ogre wasn't pleased about it, but I stood there with calm resolve, quite aware of Trixie with her crossbow readied and Tofa fingering her blade. No matter what Firedrin might have been thinking this piece of garbage ogre wasn't living much beyond first sight of the farm. Green electricity danced along my fingers at the thought.

We made our way to the farm, at which point it was shown just how little control the dwarf had over his new friend. It lumbered forward calling for its family, and if Trixie's sharp eyes hadn't spotted another huge mutant int he bushes we might have walked into a trap. As it was Trixie did what she does whens he sees a huge creature - Rod of Wonder.

The air was suddenly choked with more butterflies than I would have thought existed. I couldn't see a damn thing. As I dropped I heard Trixie shout and, when the butterflies finally disappeared, discovered that most of the grass in the area had grown to a height of ten feet. I could hear sounds of battle within, but given the uncertainty of the situation I opted to go airborne via a Fly scroll. From up there I spotted a house in sad repair and a large barn. My friends were mopping up the ogres - so long, Rumpus - and I headed over to the barn. Firendrin was also flying around, and Tofa soon appeared on a griffon with Trixie to get over the grass.

Via hand signals we agreed to check out the barn, at which point Firendrin drifted off by himself into the upper level of the house. With a shake of my head we moved inside, quickly finding a couple of closed doors on the second level. We kicked them in to find another freakish ogre, some rangers in cages, and a whooooooole lotta webs. Tofa charged in to take care of the ogre and of course a GIANT spider came shambling out as well. It turned into a pretty brutal fight. At some point Firendrin wandered in, missing a finger and bleeding, but instead of freeing the prisoners or healing or whatever he just pushed his way through the roof and vanished again.

It wasn't a pretty fight. I set the webs on fire to flush out whatever was inside, but as they burned quickly I used a water elemental to put them back out before we couldn't breathe from all the smoke. Soon enough we put the thing down, and freed three very relieved rangers. One was Shalue's beloved stepfather, Jacundos, and a pair of his soldiers, the remnants of a 20 ranger patrol. There had been a huge attack on Fort Rannick and their attempt to aid from outside had failed. We probably could have learned more but there was a ruckus outside, and we went to the edge of the barn to see the second floor of the house on fire, Firendrin with a spear sticking out of him and clearly not in good shape, and a horde of ogres and ogre-kin pouring out of the front door. I barely had time to growl a curse, hoping there weren't other rangers in the house doomed to burn alive. Also, any good loot that was now doomed to burn up as well. I could hear Tofa's blade keening next to me and, uhm, it was a little disquieting. I didn't blame it for getting riled up - some of these ogres were beyond freaky-looking. But we'd b happy to kill inbred ogres just as happily as we'd kill regular ones. We don't judge.

Well, Londis does.


Session #36 - June 20, 2011 - Not the First Guy to Let the Little Head Do the Thinkin

notes: Down one as Tofa's player called out sick but allowed us to group-play her. This led to a spectacular moment when a raging Tofa made 4 attacks in 1 round and rolled three ones. Thank goodness for weapon cords! This was a hairy, hairy fight that seemed like we might have been in big trouble at one point - the ogrekin weren't durable or difficult to hit but they were numerous, had huge to hit bonuses, and did heaps of damage. At fight's end we had Firendrin just recovering from being negative, Tofa down at least 60 hits or so, Londis having burned through a ton of healing to stay up, Grezz having to pull an ace out of his sleeve to counteract a necromantic wizard, and Trixie making everyone nervous with her Rod of Wonder.

And thank whatever for my scroll buying binge and deciding to cast a shared memory on someone for the wrong reasons, which saved us a huge headache down the road.

From the journal of Grezzalik M'rethen:

Total chaos. We'd piled the barely functional rangers onto Tofa's griffin and told it to get to a safe point. At least Jacundos knew how to fly the damn thing. The four of us - at this point we had no idea where Firendrin was, as he'd gone over to the prison cells but then burst through the roof and vanished - moved to the front of the barn to discover . . . right, chaos.

The farmhouse was burning and things were rushing out. Firendrin was flying unsteadily, eyes aglow. I couldn't be sure he'd set the place aflame and could only hope that no rangers were inside.

Well, no living rangers, as opposed to the mutated zombies that had once been Black Arrow rangers changed Londis and Tofa . As the battle started anew the undead were joined by three equally freakish ogrekin - one with an extra arm, another with bulbous eyes, and a third with a hunch. The zombies were soon joined by giant rats and the clang of combat filled the air. I dropped a lightning ball among them to get the party started. I was about 30 feet up trying to assess the situation when a bloated, repulsive ogrekin came zooming through the air, trailing several versions of herself and popping in and out of sight.

"Thas right, boys! Go git 'em for Mammy!"

Right. Mammy. I started to crank up a spell when something brushed against my shoulder. Turning, I saw a bat wink into existence and suddenly the lights went out for me. it didn't feel like a Darkness spell and I quickly came to the conclusion that I'd gone blind - or, rather, a spell had made me so. I heard Mammy cackle with delight. As a pair of spears thudded into me - ow, dammit! - I zoomed upwards and mumbled Dispel magic - but the spell resisted me. Balls.

I had no idea what was going on beneath me, whether Tofa and Londis were even still standing, not a clue. For a second I considered trying to dispel again but realized that things were pretty desperate here and I needed to get back in the fray. Lucky for me I happened to have just the right thing to make that happen.

I like Naffir Voss, the odd little alchemist back in Sandport. When i walked in and plopped the quasit's poison sacs on his worktable a while back, he'd been unable to hide the greedy gleam in his eye. Maybe his eagerness had caused him to grab a Greater Restoration potion instead of a normal one or even a lesser - in any case, I murmured a word of thanks as my hand dipped into my pouch and grabbed it instantly - handy haversacks are very, well, handy.

My vision returned immediately and I looked around. Both Tofa and Londis were standing but battered, and Trixie was darting around the edges of battle. Firendrin was slowly falling to the roof of the barn, seemingly out(OOC: Firendrin, while Grezz was blind, had sleep hexed an ogrekin who would have been huge trouble - +20 to hit, d12 + 26 and 3d6 for flanking. that was a big deal). I spun and threw Dispel magic at Mammy, who seemed a bit surprised at the incoming spell. A few of her spells resisted, but suddenly she was just one ugly thing instead of several. Trixie wiggled her wand - By the Nape of Shelyn's Neck, her cleavage looked magnificent from this vantage point - and a medium sized fireball exploded around Mammy, incinerating her bat familiar and singeing her as well. I fired two rays of lightning at her and through both has smashed into her, but she'd popped out of the way of one of them (OOC: of course her displacement made the critical hit a miss - arrgh! Gotta tell you, the prospect of rolling 12d6 for a 2nd level spell was kind of awesome!). the other rocked her pretty well, though, and she abruptly swooped at me with an outstretched hand wreathed in crackling blackness. Her swipe at me was awkward and easily dodged, though (OOC: uhm, yeah. She was cruising in with Vampiric Touch which probably would have dropped me and given her enough temps to be at full, but the GM rolled a one for his attack. I am not sorry about this), and I stepped back and blasted her again, leaving her reeling. Londis, who along with Tofa had wiped out 6 ogrekin, 3 zombies and a couple of giant rats, plunked an arrow in her to end her horrible existence. Firendrin, courtesy of his familiar using a wand, was stirring behind me as I sent a few water elementals in to stop the burning.

There wasn't much left, but in the basement we found a dead something, some loot, and a book. A book that radiated almost more evil than anything else I'd ever encountered. Firendrin, or course, strode up and grabbed it, but the pages were blank to him. Londis quickly took it and bundled it away, but after I repeatedly insisted to see it he reluctantly allowed me to examine the thing.

It was bad, a book of such power it was considered a minor artifact. Called the Kardosian Codex, it was a horrid cookbook of magic for necromancers. It held no secrets from me (OOC: +16 spellcraft + 3 inspire competence from Trixie +2 assist from Londis +19 on the roll = 40, which means I owned the bitch ;)). Just being near it made me nauseated, and after describing what it was I convinced Tofa that we needed to isolate it in extradimensional space and borrowed her Bag of Holding. Londis insisted on keeping it, which I wasn't opposed to.

Outside we reunited with the rangers: Jacundos Savinark, 2nd in command and Shalue's stepfather; Veil Temmues, a massive, dark-skinned fellow; and Caven Windstrike, a tall slim dude with shifty eyes. They sat wearily as we filled one another in on what was going on. They'd gottena tip of a large ogre attack force moving in on Turtleback Ferry and taken a squad of 20 to find and stop them. No ogres were found, and when they returned to Castle Rennick they found it under siege and in dire straits. They were trapped in a bad position and overwhelmed - it seemed entirely likely these three were the only ones left.

We started to tell them about the goings on in town when Londis, with his usual paranoia, detected magic on Caven. We found a Sihedron tattoo in his armpit which he seemed reluctant to show us. Once exposed he claimed he'd hidden it because he'd have gotten in trouble for frequenting the Paradise (OOC: the Black Arrow rangers seem an awful lot like the Night's Watch from A Song of Fire and Ice). He admitted Lucrezia had given it to him, and I popped out a scroll that would let me share his memories, in case she did something to him he didn't remember. As I cast it I felt him resisting me, which I thought odd.

Then I saw what he was trying to hide, and it didn't seem so odd at all. Caven was a traitor in the worst sense possible. As images flitted by I saw him enjoying the gambling, drinking and whoring on the Paradise - no big deal. He then started robbing the footlockers of his fellow rangers to cover his gambling losses and, once he was taken as a lover by Lucrezia herself, sold out his brothers in every way possible. He gave her the layout of the fort, patrols plans and armaments, and the strengths and weakness of his sworn comrades in arms. In bed he told her how much he hated being a Black Arrow and would do anything so they could get him free and be together forever, and he was the one who led the ill-fated patrol away from the keep and kept them delayed while the rest were attacked. he was still in denial about being left for dead by Lucrezia, but there was no doubt he'd sunk about as low as a person could sink.

I reeled back at the spell ended and grabbed Jacundos. In Elven I filled him in on what I'd seen (OOC: we played fast and loose with Shared Memory - it was supposed to be for a 1 minute block, but it was much more cinematically satisfying to have the montage instead) and his eyes widened a bit before narrowing. he asked for a rope, which I gave him. He quickly bound Caven before throwing him to the ground.

Then he and Veil pretty much lost their sh*t and started kicking the hell out him. Understandable, but after a bit we pulled them off and let Londis shackle him. I tried to de-magick the tattoo but failed, so Firendrin just cut it off. Half the town had these things. We were going to be very careful about when and how we were going to remove them - clearly this Lucrezia was a spellcaster of no small power. We did have a slight advantage as Caven indicated that Lucrezia thought Xanesha was still alive - didn't know we'd waxed her already.

We staggered back to town, Caven almost bleeding to death on the way (OOC: Firendrin had cast Bleed on his for unknown reasons, but Jacundos saw the flow and stopped it). Back in town we filled in the Mayor/Priest and decided to make sure we'd gotten all the info possible out of our traitor. Firendrin looked excited to take a crack, but Londis waved him away and said, 'This is what I do." He disappeared into the basement with Trixie, Tofa, and the rangers. Not one for torture, I spent more time talking with the mayor before he attended to other things, only then realizing I hadn't healed up after the battle. I jerked my head over at Firendrin, who was poking around.

"Hey. Are you going to heal me?" I asked.

I received a dark look. "I don't know. Am I?"

As I puzzled over that reply Trixie walked in and, with a glare at the dwarf, fixed me up. 'He's broken and telling us everything. Come down and make sure we don't forget to ask him something." When I hesitated she shook her head. "Londis didn't lay a finger on him. He basically just scared the crap out of him by showing him things he was willing to do. Londis is, uhm, kinda frightening."

Caven was indeed talking. There was a new leader of the Kreig clan of ogres that Lucrezia was in contact with, someone who had them organized and focused. As mentioned before she was excited to tell her 'sister' Xanesha of the great work she was doing, and he was still unwilling to believe she'd betrayed him. Maybe it would sink in as the rope bit into his neck.

We were talking to the rangers, asking them to delay his hanging until we'd at least checked out the fort so that Lucrezia wouldn't know we were on to her and her tattoos, when Caven suddenly yelled in pain. We turned to find Firendrin had cut off one of his fingers and was about to go after another.

"Enough." Londis' voice was like a whipcrack and Firendrin paused. After a second the dwarf said, "Fine. You all go upstairs then, I have just one more thing I want to do to him."

'No." Four separate voices. I couldn't tell you which of us spoke first, but we all voiced our denial. Firendrin looked confused then miffed before heading off upstairs. His behavior was becoming increasingly more disturbing. He'd gleefully killed a prisoner in Magnidaar and we had no reason to believe he didn't have something unpleasant planned here as well - his desire to inflict pain on the helpless (deserving or not) smacked of evil, and I wondered if perhaps he hadn't been corrupted by the mirror he tried to use, or the evil book, or any of a host of things. He would bear watching.

Later I found myself in a local tavern, exhausted but in need of a beer. Trixie joined me and after some general chat we narrowed in on our unnecessarily contentious relationship. It seemed like a series of misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and we realized we actually had each others' best interests in mind and we'd be better served watching each others' backs instead of sniping at one another. Fair enough. then we went to bed and f**ked like horny, horny rabbits.

Not really. But the blue is rather flattering on her.

Jacundos and Veil have insisted on accompanying us back to the fort. given their skill and knowledge of the place we'd be morons not to let them. Calphalas taught me the value of a good archer.
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Session #37 - June 27th, 2011 - Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls . . .

notes: Started out as a fun night, everyone in a good mood, laughing and joking around. Ended on a bit of a down note, but a PC death will do that to you. At this point final resolution is unknown - the PC definitely is stone dead and in this backwater there's nobody who can raise him, but if the player wishes there is a bit of a back door he could take to come back that isn't a pity thing. As of yet, undetermined. So we shall see.

Dinner was grilled chicken drumsticks with cous cous, watermelon, and strawberry shortcake.

From the journal of Grezzalik M'rethen:

"Hey! Wake up!"

I cracked an eye - wasn't my door supposed to be locked? - and found myself staring at Trixie. She was shaking me, clad only in a shirt that seemed unbuttoned but yet remained closed and nothing else. Surprised, I started to scoot over to make room. "I thought we agreed we should just stay friends. I mean, I'm not saying that this won't be fun, and - ow!"

She swatted me again. "No, you idiot! Something's attacking Firendrin! Get up!"

I fought my way out from under the covers, wincing slightly as my bare feet hit the frigid floor. I spared another quick glance at Trix - the shirt was just long enough to convince me that the Gods do indeed hate me. Trying not to be self conscious about wearing just underclothes myself, I grabbed my staff - get your mind out of Calistria's temple - and ran into the hallway.

Predictably, more chaos. Right in front of me Tofa was grappling with some sort of horrid spidery-looking thing, trying to club it with Hidarga's hilt. A little further down the hallway Londis was on his back, holding one away from his chest. Strange lights were coming out of Firendrin's room, but no noise.

Oh, and Tofa was naked. As in, buck naked. As in, the question about whether cuffs and collar matched was no longer a mystery. It provided an interesting contrast of femininity, for while Trixie is all about the curves and radiating a come hither attitude Tofa was no less a woman with her muscled yet still shapely form and -

"Get these things off us!"

Oh. Right. Blushing furiously, I unleashed a pair of shocking rays. The one on Londis screeched as about half its legs were blown away, and a few seconds later he swung it heavily against the wall, where it impacted like a ripe melon and melted into some sort of hideous goo. Tofa clubbed the other one into a similar state and I summoned a hound archon to help Firendrin. Much like the dogs Trixie had brought in, the archon crumpled right inside the door. I rushed down to see what was going on as Londis entered the room but when I arrived there it was too late. Firendrin, with a horrible looking wound on his head, was wandering around drunkenly, and I could see the residue of someone who had just planewalked out of here. What in Shelyn's Grace had happened?

Firendrin had no answers as he clumsily meandered into the hallway and . . .

Tofa came up, still naked, and said, "Da. Is he . . . eating the dead spider stuff?"

I fixed my gaze on a point of the wall over her shoulder. "Well, he was, but now he seems to be not moving at all."

Londis scooped him up and started to head out, then backtracked to his room and emerged with the sack holding the evil book. With a baleful glare at me he stomped out.
OOC: Londis took the paralyzed Firedrin - no dex - to the mayor's church and set off every alarm you could imagine. the Mayor told him his soul was blighted and he was carrying something made of pure evil, etc. My insane roll from last week confirmed that this book is seriously bad. It also attempts to corrupt those who touch it, so I have to keep an eye on Londis and Firendrin. Oh, and myself
The landlord popped his head up, saw us, and vanished. Couldn't say I blamed him, although now I was in a hallway with two women in various states of undress, and -

There were dual door slams, and I realized I was alone. Whatever, gods.

OOC: The creature Grezz didn't see was a denizen(?) from the home of Firendrin's kooky gods. Apparently it looked a lot like an illythid and drank memories. The spiders did DEX damage and also sucked memories - if you drink their goo you see images of those they've drained, so Firendrin got to see where they came from while the rest of us tried not to vomit watching him.

* * * *

Tofa surprised me in the morning by offering me the Belt of Health. "It's better for you," I protested. "It'll make you more hale."

"Bah! I am plenty hale, is true, yes?" I blushed as she slammed a hand on my shoulder. "You are far too squishy the way you are. You are good with the zapping and the explosions, yes, but when something hits you I expect to see you to break into many pieces. This will help."

Unable to refute her logic and also a little touched, I buckled it on
OOC: On this week's Very Special episode of Muddled Pasts, Grezz finds out that his companions don't think he's completely incompetent and give him things and nobody punched him in the face!
I immediately felt like I could go run to the fort by myself. No, not really, but I did feel a touch less frail.

My good mood was somewhat tempered as I watched Londis eating enough for three people. That wasn't good. The book was the middle section of the Kardosian Codex, a work of the Runelord Zutha. Lore said that if the 3 tomes were brought together the evil bastard could escape whatever prison he was in, and thatw ould be bad. Since the tomes have the ability to corrupt and Zutha was the Runelord of Gluttony, I had to be concerned if I saw Londis doing something gluttonous, like, uhm, overeating.

Bloody Hells.

Firendrin, somewhat healed and back with us, ate like a hungry horse as well. As for me, well, I seemed okay. Trix knows to watch me, and she didn't say anything. I wish I knew what to do with that book. As far as I knew it was indestructible, and for all I knew it was the reason Lucrezia was up here. if that was the case, the last thing we wanted to do was to bring it to her. What to do, what to do.

Jacundos and Veil really needed another day of rest, and the others wanted to try to explore the wreck of the Paradise, so I was outvoted and we hired a fisherman to be our water taxi.
OOC: outvoted = was upstairs putting the kids to bed when it came up :p
He got us close and Trixie used a spell to find the ship itself. The Paradise was about 80 feet down, so Firendrin sent his familiar down to scout. It changed from a not-an-owl to a not-a-squid and vanished beneath the surface. Not long afterward it jumped out and hid in Firendrin's pocket, spooked by the giant fish in the area known as gar.

Londis wanted to swim down and take a look, so I loaned him my new belt and used a Touch of the Sea scroll as well. He dove in, followed by the dwarf. The rest of us sat in the boat waiting - the ancient captain along with Tofa and Trix. For a minute or so, there was nothing, then some air bubbles began to surface. Just as we started to get concerned Firendrin flew out of the water and landed on the deck, gasping. Londis popped up a few seconds later, sucking for air. We pulled him in and waited for him to catch his breath.

Meanwhile, something else surfaced. Trixie let out a bleat as a dragon turtle came into view, and before anyone could even think of reacting she's fired her insane Rod of Wonder. The lake was suddenly covered with a thick morass of heavy water weeds, and the dragon turtle submerged as I tried to talk to it. "Hey! Wise and mighty dragon, please accept our offering of salad! Enjoy!" Either it didn't hear me or wasn't amused, but it started heading in our direction.


Tofa started wrestling with the boat - ship, whatever - as Trixie zapped again with the Rod, this time sending a huge gust of wind that soaked the flying dwarf but didn't seem to affect the dragon turtle, who was at least ten feet deep. We were moving, but not fast enough and as it gained Trixie threw some dolphins at it. It ate one and seemed moderately annoyed as one managed to hit it a glancing blow. It seemed even more pissed when I nailed it with a pair of shocking rays. This did not bode well.
OOC: bonehead move of the night - I could have summoned a medium elemental and put it in our sails, making a fight unnecessary as we zipped away, but I didn't think of it. We actually might have been able to deal with it non-violently but not after the Rod of Wonder started. hey, Trixie is scared of huge things, and a dragon turtle is pretty damn big

With a burst of speed the damn thing came up under the boat and tried to capsize us. Failing that, it climbed on the back and with appalling quickness snapped up Trixie! I yelled and zapped it again, the air filling with the stench of roasting reptile. Frantically I tried to think of something to do, but none of my spells seemed appropriate. behind the thing Firendrin swooped down. I though he was going to try to get in its mouth, grab Trixie, and Dimension Door out, but instead he held up the wand of Vampiric Touch we'd gotten from Mammy and tried to touch the thing. He did, but not in the way he intended. The dragon turtle's neck swung around and snatched him out of the air as well, then turned to us on the boat. Londis growled some sort of spell at it, and the dragon turtle shook its head before thwacking itself with a massive claw.

My eyes widened as I realized what was going to happen - it was going to breathe.

As it started there was a bright spark from inside the mouth
OOC: Trixie rolled a lightning bolt with the RoW, and the argument was put forth that the DT would get no save since she was surrounded by target. The GM agreed, but with a caveat . . .
and then we were awash in flame. As I reeled back in pain I saw the captain simply go up like a piece pf paper, and I fought to keep my feet.
OOC: from 43 hits to 2 in the blink of an eye - I was quite cognizant of the extra 8 hits lying at my feet in the form of the Belt of Health I hadn't had the time to put back on before the fight. Both Trixie and I once again forgot to trip our false life spells, although I did it right then
Frantic with concern for my friends who were at the source of the conflagration I yelled something incoherent and let another pair of rays fly, crackling with emerald lightning. As they hit the turtle's head simply exploded, and Londis immediately grabbed the bodies inside. Trixie was in bad shape, unconscious but still alive.

Firendrin, however, wasn't breathing. Londis and Tofa fussed over him but stopped without a word a few minutes later. The inquisitor looked at me and shook his head, and I sat back on the deck with a sigh, Trixie leaning heavily against me. In this little backwater hamlet, fining someone who could raise dead seemed unlikely. With no other option I handed Tofa a scroll of Gentle Repose and we at least bought ourselves some time. His familiar was nowhere to be seen.

Back on land Londis produced a pair of sodden panties he got from the master boudoir. the place had been cleaned out, the coal stores emptied - clearly the boat going down had been no accident. But why had Lucrezia scuttled her ship, and where was she? The boat, unfortunately, had become unstable and slipped into a much deeper crevasse, probably inaccessible to us now. Useful information, but at quite the cost . . .

OOC: Since the dragon turtle didn't get a save from Trixie's lightning, the bard and Firendrin didn't get a save from the breath weapon as they were at ground zero. Firendrin was killed instantly and would have had to roll a natural 20 to make the save anyway. Trixie was at -8 hits and lost one more before we saved her _ I believe her CON is 12 so it was a close thing. Belatedly we thought of great alternate plans - my air elemental for an escape, Trixie making a major image of a female dragon turtle in heat, and so on. Failed things we did try included Firendrin trying to sleep hex it (dragons are immune) and Tofa using the Medusa mask (it made the save). Londis hit with Terrible Remorse, which guarantees a round of inactivity once the save is made - holy crap! Firendrin's player is deciding what to do - he's a believer that dead is dead but he can be reborn via the sacrifice of his familiar, if he so desires. If not, he has a lot of choices - mmm, 8th level start! I'd be multiclassing, methinks. But dammit, Grezz just won't die.
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Session #38 - July 11, 2011 - Another Bad Mother

Notes: It was time to introduce a replacement character for the deceased Firendrin, which is always an iffy and touchy situation, magnified in this case by our group's general paranoia. Firendrin's player opted for a rogue, and it will be interesting to see what role in the group he can fill. Also, being stuck in this backwater without a proper healer is getting to be a pain in the ass, especially when the bad guys keep doing stat damage. Grrr.

I'm slacking up on Grezz's reins a bit and actually letting him be someone who is aware he is super-charismatic a bit, and also getting a little cocky with regard to what he and his friends have done. This si a good time to note that the Pathfinder Path we're taking (Rise of the Runelords) is doing a nice job of mixing up our encounters, no doubt aided by our GMs influence as well. Speaking of, GM is away for at least one and possibly two weeks, and even after he's back we may work in a couple of give-the-GM-the-night-off weeks and play other stuff (Fiasco this week! Woo hoo!).

Dinner was burritos and tortilla chips with a couple of salsas. Viva la revolucion!

From the journal of Grezzalik M'Rethen:

The mayor looked at us with sad eyes - well, not at Londis, he just kept glaring at him - as he cast Gentle Repose on Firendrin's corpse. "Nothing else I can do, I'm afraid. What do you want to do with him?"

Now that was an interesting question, as we knew little to nothing about him. I'd seen part of his journal a while ago when we rescued him from Nuallia, but I didn't remember any names. We promised to get back to him on that, then headed on our way.

Okay, I was late for the meeting the next day but that was hardly my fault. See I'd never really gotten to spend any serious time studying the Crook of Cildhureen before Firendrin had taken possession of it (and never used it), and once I had it back in my room and started to unravel what it could really do I admit I got a little lost furrowing out every nook and cranny of its power.

OOC: bit of a spoiler, so if you're going to ever play Queen of the Fellnight you probably shouldn't read this. Okay? Right, for the rest of you this is a perfectly lovely staff that cast Major Image 1 charge), Shadow Conjuration(2 charges), and Shadow Evocation(3 charges). In addition you can burn extra charges to up the output from each spell by 10% per charge. Nice! It gives me access to 76 spells, only 8 of which I knew before. granted they're shadow and can be disbelieved for reduced damage, but I'm not bitching about having every 4th level evocation spell to play with

So I snapped out of my meditative state (ahem) when the innkeeper knocked on my door and told me the others were waiting for me. After washing up a bit, I trotted downstairs (with crook). When I got there I saw a much more hale Jacardos and Veil, along with another human I didn't recognize. He was an average looking guy in a cloak and non-descript clothing, as as I entered I saw Trixie eying him with mistrust.

"Sorry," I said a little sheepishly, "lost track of time."

The guy I didn't know stood up and offered me greetings in Shoanti, looking perhaps a little surprised when I answered in like. He looked vaguely familiar. As I sat down Trixie grabbed my arm in a death grip - how can she be so strong? - and dragged me over so she could whisper. "I don't trust this guy," she hissed. "He already tried to schmooze me and Tofa. I bet Drannalew sent him." I glanced over at Tofa and saw irritation and amusement in her eyes.

Londis looked at me and said, "Well, he's not evil." Of course he checked.

Jacardos said, "Reznak works on the barges that go up and down the river, which might be why he looks familiar. He was on the one you came up on."

"Yes, and I'm worried about my brother. He was a laborer and he's disappeared, and I'm afraid he might have been taken by the ogres." Reznak fiddled with the edge of his cloak. "He's a good guy, so we need to go find him. Like now."

I looked at him again. "You sure I haven't seen you in Magindaar? Maybe you work for the Scarnettis?"

He shook his head. "I've never been to Magnidaar."

I raised an eyebrow. "They just said you were on the barge we took from Magindaar, no?"

"Right. Are we going to get my brother? Because I'm really worried about him. And I can help. I'm very stealthy."

Uhm. Wasn't sure how I felt about this guy. I had a few more questions for him when Jacardos cut in and said, "I've know him for a while, he's okay. And he's right, we've been sitting around here too long. I need to go see what that filth has done to our home."

I wanted to mention that we'd been sitting around waiting for them to heal up but thought better of it. "Fine. Let's see some maps or something."

The rangers were able to sketch us up a rough piece to work with. Surprise surprise, the fort was built on the ruins of something ancient. My guess would be some :):):):)ing runelord's evil power base. There was a back door of sorts into the place that could take us behind outer barracks or into the basement of the keep itself. At least we didn't have to go in the front door.

During this whole time I watched, with some alarm, as Londis ate double of triple his usual breakfast. He dismissed it at first when I mentioned it, but I pulled him aside and told him what I knew about the evil book he was carrying and how it was tied to the Runelord of Gluttony. To my relief he showed a mite of concern, but I was going to have to keep my eye on him.

Trixie never took her eye off the new guy as we headed north, her unease at him being with us evident. About halfway there Jacardos, running point, made a bunch of hand gestures I probably should have understood. I figured the best course of action was to just stop moving. He came back and reported 4 ogres were coming up the trail below us, and it looked strangely as if they were on patrol. That was a little organized for ogres, usually. "What do we do?"

I snorted. "We kill them. Four less ogres to deal with."

Reznak said, "Do we need to fight them? Why not just let them pass?"

"Sh*t, it's not like they're Fellnight trolls. They're just ogres. Let's just kill them."

The ambush went well. I stuck with my crossbow, not wanting to waste spells on these things. the new guy ran down there and I thought he was going to get turned into paste, but Jacardos stuck a bunch of arrows in one and Tofa, Londis, and Veil clobbered the others. I'd seen Trixie raise that bloody rod of hers at the beginning of the fight but now she was nowhere to be seen. I cocked an ear and heard her voice calling for me in a tinny tone, and indeed she'd shrunk herself to three apples high again. As i scopped her up and put her in a pocket I'd had sewn into my shirt for just such an emergency she sighed and said, "Where are the Mac Bac Feagals when you need 'em?"

Soon we were at the keep, which was clearly still festooned with ogres. Londis cast Invisibility on me and I read a Fly scroll before heading up for recon. It didn't look good. The place was a hotbed of slightly organized ogre activity, with a few on guard and the rest eating and brawling. There were a lot of dead rangers and a few dead giant eagles, and the aerie was empty. Heading back before my spell expired, I reported what I'd seen.

Jacardos grunted, and I realized he'd been holding out hope we'd find survivors. "The secret way in is past the lake by the waterfall, but we've got some open ground to cover here. Chances are we'll be spotted by a guard.

Reznak started grabbing branches,a ll the while describing how he was going to disguise us as shrubs. Feasible, I suppose, but we had better options. "Or I could just make an illusion of the woods and we can just walk over."

"Me too."

"Nah, Trix, save the spell. I'll use a charge on the staff."

We crossed over without incident, trying to shield the rangers from seeing their buddies floating in the lake that was being used as cold storage. Once behind the keep we came to a fork. "That's the back of the new barracks, but we don't use them. Didn't use them. There was only one door so they were a deathtrap. "Well," I said, "I think we're probably going to want to go in through the basement, but someone should check out the barracks and make sure they won't be a problem."

There was about 30 seconds of silence before I caught Reznak's line of sight. "You wanna do this?"

"Oh. right. i suppose." He slid off like a shadow, returning a few minutes later and reporting that there were ogres in and out of the building. he was very excited about torching it, but the rest of us agreed we didn't want to alert them to our presence just yet.

We found the secret way in, startling a few shocker lizards. One gave me a little tickle but I couldn't grab it. Too bad. Maybe I could become a wizard and make it my familiar, ha ha. We would our way through some natural caves before Londis came to a stone door - I couldn't see it due to the bend of the hallway. he opened it, and (so he told me) he saw an attractive redhead who was reading a book and regarded him with faint amusement. "Didn't expect to see you so soon, heroes. But my Master is so interested in meeting you!"

Then she turned into a lamia matriarch, like the one in Magnidaar. By Shelyn's Grace, why do we have to keep fighting this things?

I didn't see her at first but I heard what she said and that was good enough for me to feel like a fight was going on. I hasted those I could see before moving up. I stopped dead as I felt the heavy pressure of Londis' silence field just in front of me. He and Tofa were swinging away at her as she wielded wicked looking rapiers with deadly skill. I loosed a pair of bolts at her and while one got through, the other fizzled against her magic shield.

OOC: ugh, how I hate spell resistance. And I have spell penetration, but I lost 3 crits due to that. Ugh.

The fight was a hazy blur of action. Jacardos dropped his bow, then picked it up and drilled her. Lucrezia manged to get some of us in a row and unleashed a lightning bolt, no easy feat while silenced. I stuck with shocking rays, some getting through, some not, but tagging her with my disruptive curse all the same. She fought from a corner with the fury of a trapped animal, keeping Tofa and Londis at bay and swatting Reznak out of the air as he tried to leap behind her. Finally she made a break for it, bleeding from several wounds, and I stepped over and nailed her with both rays, which was unfortunate in a way because while I wanted her out of the fight I didn't really mean to make her head explode. Whoops. Tough to interrogate that.

OOC: another tough cookie, this one. The silence/disruptive combo kept her from using her 5th and 6th level spells, which I am going to deem a good thing. I streamlined the fight recap, as everyone really pitched in - and Tofa missed being hit by a 3d4 WIS drain claw attack by 1. Yay Haste!

We started to sift through the room and I was studying her rapier - nice piece, that thing - when I noticed that Reznak had done a pretty good job of making himself look like Lucrezia and was opening one of the other doors. "hey! Where are you going?"

he gestured to himself. "Look at me, I can pass for her. I'm going to go order them around."

I stood up, stretched. "Order them to do what?"

He started to say something, then stopped. "I dunno, maybe tell them to fight each other."

"Okay, that's not a bad idea, but we need a better plan than that. Also, we need to heal up first and check this area out in great detail. She didn't pick this room by accident."

"And we need to embiggen me."

Indeed. "So let's just hold up for a bit, okay?" He didn't look happy about that suggestion. I also noticed he hadn't mentioned his brother in hours and hours and didn't seem overwhelmed with concern for him right this second. I picked up Lucrezia's necklace, a twin to mine. Something else I needed to check, because what if they could track us via these things? Ugh. Life was easier when my greatest concern was just trying to duck Assface Scarnetti back at the Academica.

Voidrunner's Codex

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