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ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign


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Lylandra

Adventurer
(Oh and for a non-spoilery teaser: The campaign ended with a thunderstorm 15 years after the Ritual)

Private developments

Next, we discuss Doctor von Recklinghausen and Andrei and decide that leaving the Doc in Seobriga would be better for the time being. After all, he still got work to do and he seemed not entirely ready yet to reunite with Andrei in Flint. Carlyle seems to understand Recklinghausen's hesitation as Andrei did mess up the Danoran laboratory and is indeed more than a mere human. He's glad that the young man managed to integrate quite well into his Flinter community, using his powers for constructive work, but he's still unsure about Andrei's mental stability.

“To be honest, I'm quite concerned regarding his relationship with Isobel”, he says all of a sudden.

“Why would that be? They're both so sweet and Andrei is all 'gentle giant' whenever he's around her”

“They are still both children, Auryn. Children who only started to develop and understand romantic feelings. It may be fine right now, but do we know how Andrei might react should Isobel eventually reject him?” Carlyle explains, biting his lips at that thought.

“I know where you are coming from, Gabriel. Still, Andrei is not the type of guy who goes on a rampage and hurts the one he loves. He has a kind and naive spirit”

“He has been prone to throwing horses in the past...”

“...at bandits who killed people, I remind you”

“Also, it doesn't need a horse to put Isobel at risk. Even a mere slap from Andrei could end badly for her. He does know rage and he does know how to use force, that's all I'm saying.”

Auryn nods slowly and takes a deep breath in response.

“Fine then. I'll keep an eye on them for signs of trouble. Still I don't think that Andrei will ever misbehave towards Isobel. I've seldom seen someone with that big of a heart and Isobel is the person he holds dearest. Also, I instructed her on how to express her wishes and how to say 'no'. Let's just watch these little birds falling in love, shall we?”

With these words and a disarming smile, she ends this controversy and reminds Carlyle that he still owes her that dance at the Tango bar.

(Looking back to Carlyle's background, it is really understandable that he's concerned for Isobel's safety, even if he doesn't have that close of a relationship to the young Eladrin. Also, deeply caring for Eladrin is a common thread that keeps showing up again and again. Something you can look forward to for adventure 8)

Carlyle turns out to be quite the capable dancer yet again and when Auryn asks him how a man like him wold know so much about dancing, he simply replies that there had always been young Vantryses who needed to learn and polish their societal skills.

We return back to Flint and hand our report to Delft. Then we continue to spend some time with Gene, the mad Godhand and finally get through to him. Unfortunately, he doesn't remember what happened during the last 300 years and doesn't even know why and how Trigenes ( or rather *cough cough*Ashima-Shimtu) would have expanded his lifespan that much. He tells us that he had found texts referring to an ancient, demonic evil being locked away in a hidden crypt and decided to rid the world of it. Being from the “Order of the shining Inquisition”, he felt as if parts of the Clergy had been corrupted from within and were too weak to forsake the use of such a demon. So he entered the Crypta on his own. All he then remembers is that he found Ashima-Shimtu, somehow undid the hook on her mouth and that's it.

Also, he's still quite an ungrateful fanatic who accuses Auryn of being a demoness from the Dreaming who somehow managed to seduce an otherwise sanctified being like a deva. Auryn calls him out on that nonsense and tries to explain that the Demonocracy had been an enemy of both their nations and that he should at least be a tiny bit grateful that we didn't let him rot down there or outright kill him for his hostilities.

(This is a trait that a lot of Clergy members seemed to have in common. Being blindly fanatic to the point that they'd rather call you a whore or demon despite saving their lives and showing kindness and also despite having two highly diplomatic characters. I know they are meant to be an analogue of the renaissance church, but it sometimes felt too much and too frequent to feel like 'real people' and rather seemed like caricatures. For a campaign that's all about ethics, philosophy and opposing beliefs, a lot of the Clergy were just overly antagonistic and portrayed as “obvious bad guys”

I guess this is a symptom of the synergy between our DM's disdain for religious authorities and the way the Clergy is presented in the adventures though ;) )


We agree that we probably shouldn't let Gene run free in Risur as that guy might actually harm random people with his fanaticism. So we decide to schedule a meeting with Cippiano to arrange for an exchange of “prisoners” with Crisillyir.

Next, we send a message to Asrabey to ask about his and Kasvarina's whereabouts. Fortunately, both seem to have gotten away from the Colossus and they are currently residing with the Unseen Court. Asrabey reports that his matriarch's memories are coming back at a very slow rate and that she's remembering her youth and life as a young, married woman. He seems a bit upset about the frequency in which she's talking about her first husband Pillai though.

The next days, we go on with our day-to-day lives. Auryn is busy doing paperwork for her enclave plans and takes Carlyle on several trips to visit some locations in the Cloudwood which she could use for the settlement.

Up next is the wedding of Lord Nathaniel Vantrys and Cecilia Fordren. And of course we offer our help for the preparations of the big event. Ans as both of us still got matters to discuss with Fordren, now that we know his true identity of Gradiax, we ask him for a quick six-eyes talk.

As planned, Carlyle first asks him about the true nature of Cecilia, fearing that she may be a puppet of Fordren. And he's kind of relieved to hear Fordren call her a “beautiful asset” instead. He then boldly explains how he had that genius idea of marrying into the Fordren family to gain a well-known Danoran name and use it to found his empire. Cecilia, he then says, is the person she claims to be: A daughter of one of his family's branches.

“I'm relieved to hear that.” Carlyle replies. “So neither she nor you will mean harm to the Vantrys family.”

“Of course not. The young Lord is one of my most important business partners in Risur. My gate to the country, so to say. A fool would I be to crush that gate.”

“Alright. But know this: To me, Lord Vantrys is like a son. So I will always stand firmly and loyally by his side. At this moment, I am grateful that he finally found a reliable business partner in you. But the moment you betray him, double-cross him or put him in harm's way, you and I will become bitter enemies. And unlike usual humans, I have a lot of time to ensure your downfall.” the last words, Carlyle says with an icy determination.

Fordren smirks at Carlyle's unusually emotional statement. “Understood. Is there anything else you wish to discuss, Mr. Carlyle?”

(Not sure how Gradiax thought about Carlyle's threat that time. He's both full of himself, and from time to time quite aloof, but also a strategist and long-term planner. I'm sure he did his research on Carlyle the moment he knew that Vantrys would be of interest. Usually, he'd dismiss 'Mere mortals', but this mortal managed to subdue his rebellious daughter, and knows his secret so... who knows?)

“Just one more thing: As you probably noticed, Risur is very much not Danor, so exploitation of workers is only successful on the short run. Times are changing and young entrepreneurs like Lord Vantrys and Mr. Sechim are the spearheads of the advancing future. So it might be wise to use them as examples for your own practices.”

This Carlyle says with his usual calm and almost gentle demeanor. Then it is Auryn's turn to speak her mind. She asks Fordren whether his stated regret about the death of Zahir back at the summer court had been his honest feeling or whether this had just been part of his 'Fordren persona'.

“I'm curious why you'd ask that, my dear, but let me make this clear: Eight years ago, I felt a desire, so I placed an order for an Eladrin. Unlike legends say, I do not desire death and destruction for their own sake. I am not a monster. So no, I did not want that boy to die and I regret that he did. I saw what that circumstance did to you and I did not enjoy seeing you grieve and in pain.”

Auryn nods slowly and with a certain relief.

“I see. And I believe you. Strange as it may sound, but over the course of the last weeks, I happened to experience facets of you I deemed to be nonexistent before. So maybe... I do understand you... a bit. Therefore, I am willing to make you an offer: To renew the pact we made, despite the fact that the circumstances have changed quite a lot.”

“I agree.” Fordren answers and immediately offers to seal the deal with a good old handshake.

(From Auryn's perspective, she just made one of the biggest deals of her life as her original “pact” included that Fordren would forever forsakte the thought of owning an Eladrin ever again, thus not only ensuring her own safety, but her sisters' as well)

“Now that we got this settled, let me ask you another question: why me?”

“Why you? An interesting question. It wasn't about you specifically, as you probably already guessed, but I heard rumors about a truly rare beauty with both the radiance and the demeanor of a queen.”

“And so you wanted to tame yourself a queen...” Auryn says silently with a stoic but thoughtful bitterness in her voice.

Fordren chooses to not comment, leaving Auryn to her own thoughts.

“Very well then. We will probably never be 'friends', Mr. Fordren, but under certain circumstances we may be allies. We share the same enemy. Also, Mr. Pemberton's forces were of great help for Sawyer, the Covenant and all of Kellandia during the pursuit of the Imperial raiders. For this, I am truly grateful. And I do sincerely hope that he will continue to be a valuable ally in the coming war against the Mad King Vardanis.”

Fordren replies that “this guy Vardanis” seems like a threat to both Kellandia and Macdam, which is why he doesn't see any reason why Pemberton would stop his support. He seems eerily positive about the prospect of being our “ally” and we wonder whether it is just his curiosity or yet another plan that finally comes to fruition.

A few days later, Auryn suddenly invites Carlyle to the famous Chez Fernandez, an exquisite risuri-crisillyiran restaurant.

(Making fusion food before it was cool)

When Carlyle asks her why she'd go through the hassle of reserving a table in such a noble establishment, she tells him bluntly that she had asked him to name one thing he'd always wanted to do but wouldn't because of being inappropriate for his societal rank. As she knew that he wouldn't be able to name such an unfulfilled wish in time, she just took matters into her own hands and asked Lord Vantrys for his favorite restaurant in Flint.

Turns out that she chose wisely as Carlyle seems to enjoy the really good dinner and fine wine. During their stay, Auryn then tells him about the nine traditional vows Eladrin couples make to each other during their wedding ceremony in front of the holy flame of Srasama: First there is the promise of duty and responsibility for each other, their family and their community. Then there is the promise of growth, which means that a couple is growing together in terms of mental, physical and spiritual strength. Then there is the promise of finding the right path together and being a moral compass for each other.

Carlyle smiles at the first three promises in response, saying that these are qualities that they already find in each other and Auryn agrees wholeheartedly. She then goes on to explain the fourth promise, striving for prosperity in both material and spiritual aspects. The fifth promise is centered around the gifts of a relationship: Happiness, content, love, respect and trust.

Auryn then laughs softly as she says that it might sound weird to have someone like her speak about love in an entirely romantic way. Bust, she explains, these vows are actually ancient and carried over from a more peaceful time. Carlyle is a bit astonished as well, but doesn't really mind. Instead he notices that, of course, these qualities would be natural and to be expected in a functional partnership.

Sixth, she goes on, is the vow of protection and preservation. In recent times, the physical representation of this vow had become somewhat the husband's burden, she explains, as Eladrin women are trained to protect themselves and their smaller children. Still she is no usual Eladrin, that much she knows by now.

Seventh, there is the promise of founding a family and of raising their children together to let them become strong and capable members of Eladrin society. For this part, both agree that founding a family might not be the first thing they should be doing right now as there are more pressing needs and both of them still got plenty of time to settle down.

Eighth is the vow of unity where the couple becomes one with each other in terms of mind and soul so they might understand and truly connect with the world and everything beyond.

(I wonder where this one might come up again ;) )

Together, all of these vows form the ninth: to become true companions, friends and lovers.

(all in all, I took heavy inspiration from traditional hindu wedding ceremonies. But where they got seven vows, I thought of using nine to put emphasis on the fact that the number three would be considered holy for Srasaman rites)

Carlyle states that he sees no reason to not make these vows eventually and thanks Auryn for the insight on this part of her culture. She agrees that they still got plenty of time to form such a bond, even if they are already basically living quite a few of these vows.

“But there is something that I do wish to change: I don't want to hold back my feelings towards you anymore. I wish to be close to you, to feel your warmth. And I would be happy if you felt the same way about me.”

With these words, Auryn gently cups Carlyle's chin and places a loving kiss on his mouth. Carlyle seems to enjoy her sudden honesty and replies that he does feel quite the same about her, he just feared losing his precious privacy and alone time and needed time to think about his future.

“I am happy to tell you that I made up my mind. And that you were right about my home: It is indeed way too large for just one person. And it lacks life. So I wanted to ask you if you might wish to move in?”

Auryn is really taken by surprise this time, so it takes her a few seconds to react to what she just heard. She then happily agrees to move in with him and adds that someone might then finally make good use of that old covered piano.

When they take the cab back to Stray River after dinner, Carlyle then hints that he did not specify on a particular date when Auryn might move in, so why not just come over and start living together tonight? Auryn is positively surprised by the sudden invitation, so she spontaneously agrees. He then shows her around in the (really spacious and underused) house, and this time, he includes all the private and hidden rooms as well. He finally leads her to the beautifully decorated bedroom where both spend another night together.
 

Charming. Though I almost wonder if the warning about Andrei might be a telegraph of some bad future between Carlyle and Auryn.

Also, in our defense as writers, the first Clergy member you meet is Morgan Cippiano. And after that, I'd intended Ottavia to be pretty reasonable.
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
My group quite liked Ottavia and managed a working relationship with the God Hand in book 6, overall though they don't particularly like the clergy due to corruption and anti-eladrin genocide
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
coincidentally, we loved both Cippiano and Ottavia (who returned to Crisillyir after adventure 4) and they will continue to play pivotal roles regarding Crisillyir. So kudos on both of them :)

And yes, their relationship clearly has its ups and downs, that much I can say. (Weirdly enough, I'd say that the even-numbered adventures tend towards up and the odd ones are more related to downs... at least from Auryn's point of view. Interesting...)
 



Lylandra

Adventurer
A new home

After officially moving in, Auryn offers Isobel to give the rental contract for her home to her so she may use the place for herself and Andrei. Flying Spark, on the other hand, decides to try expand his territory to a second garden.

Before the grand Vantrys-Fordren wedding, Auryn and Carlyle talk about possible gifts for the couple. Auryn tells him that she's in the process of making a stylistic painting for the two based on the elvish sign for “family”. Carlyle explains that she doesn't need to worry too much for her gift as the two will cherish her support and her being at the party.

Regarding his present, he says that he got a special pen for his Lord that shall bring him luck when signing future contracts. Also, he mixed some ink for writing hidden messages with said pen. So should he ever be in trouble, he'd only need to write him a letter with this ink and he'll come to his aid. After all, Lord Vantrys will always be like a son to him, so should the young man ever be in trouble he'll put everything aside to help him.

Fortunately for everyone involved, the wedding ceremony and the grand party afterwards turn out to be both memorable events and run smoothly without unwanted incidents. The only two notable events are Heward Sechim finally wearing a suit (and feeling obviously very uncomfortable in this “dress-up”) and Carlyle wearing the suit Auryn had modified for him back in the days (and really liking it)

A few days later, a young elvish looking woman suddenly stands in front of Carlyle's (and now apparently also Auryn's) home. We immediately understand who's facing us the moment we see her metal prosthetic. The blond elf introduces herself as “Shealis the war orphan” who heard that Carlyle got a room for rent and says that she got a stipend for Pardwright.

“A war orphan? Fourth Yerasol? Then your parents died heroically for Risur. Who were they?” Carlyle asks curiously with a small grin.

“Umm... they were Martha and Bruce from Shale. They were elves, like me!” Shealis answers, obviously unsure about her answer.

“Which regiment? Do you have a family name? Where did they fall?” Auryn adds, smiling mischievously while inquiring further.

“Uh, listen. I got this work of paper...” - she then pulls out her legal documents, which identify her as Shealis Hayburn - “...everything you need to know is in there. Also, I got gifts for my wonderful new landlords.”

She then pulls out a magical hearthstone and some really old pieces of fine ceramics that had been missing in Carlyle's cupboard ever since one young Vantrys broke them in a rage a few centuries ago. (She must have cast divination or something like that to know what to get for each of us)

Auryn and Carlyle are quite surprised by her gifts and push her inside. We then spill the beans that it didn't take us long to get her true identity and understand that she was probably sent to us by Harkover Lee to give her a temporal home (and to keep an eye on her). Carlyle doesn't seem too happy at the prospect of getting a subtenant, but who is he to go against the Principal Minister's wishes.

He then looks the elf formerly known as Teraklir straight in the eyes and gives her a few instructions:

“Well then, you may live here. But know that this is not an easy place to live. First, as you already know, we are agents of Risur. We got enemies. Clever enemies who are watching us and our moves. We didn't buy your little 'orphan' story and neither will they, no matter what your passport says. So you better improve it. Learn the details, live the details. Second, you will care for yourself. You will clean and tidy your room, do the groceries and cook. I may be willing to cook for two people, but I won't cook for three. And third... do not break anything. Understood?”

Shealis just nods silently before we show her one of the guest rooms to inhabit. Before we leave her to unpack her stuff, we can hear her mumble silently about how she totally should have gotten herself servants to care for her in these uncivilized lands.

(Speaking of Shahalesti shenanigans, eh? Shealis had been the Ex-girlfriend of Tizbiz' character in my WotBS campaign. So he returned the favor and brought her back as a dragon's alter ego. Anyway, this is how we got our second house dragon. And this isn't the last time we heard from her.

Also, she got the room furthest away from the Lord's bedroom)

Shortly after, Dr. von Recklinghausen finally asks us to give him and Lynn a teleport to Flint to meet his estranged son. Both are instantly charmed by Isobel, but the Doc seems to be approaching Andrei very cautiously and we guess that he'll need much more time to connect with him. Andrei on the other hand knows very little about his father, but he does wish to make a good impression, so he tells the couple all about his work as a construction worker.

A couple days later, Auryn gets a tingling sense of being watched while she's making love with Carlyle. She tries to not be bothered too much by it, but when Carlyle gets the same sense of impeding scrying a few moments later, he apologizes and leaves bed to get dressed.

“Enough is enough. These guys have been going on my nerves, but this is it.”

He then leaves to got for an emergency shopping of magical scrolls and returns with a “private sanctum” spell and a scroll of permanency.

(that's what favors and prestige are for, I guess? ;) Never seen the private sanctum be used that literally.

Also, we don't really know who's doing the scrying stuff for the Obs, but it has to be quite the capable spellcaster. Anyway, I remember joking about good ol' Nic having to witness the disturbing sight of Kasvarina's striking image doing it with another man.)


Carlyle continues ranting sarcastically about the Obscurati being creepy peeps and being a man who values his and his lover's privacy. After finishing the spells, he returns to Auryn's side, promising her that she won't have to expect more prying eyes.

(I could show the full layout of Carlyle's house if you are interested. His player took the effort to make up one that would be fitting for a noble's former home)

---

We suddenly find ourselves aboard a ship heading towards a mist-covered island with one lonely estate atop it. To our surprise, we are wearing the bodies of very different people, who are soon being adressed as “Livia Hatsfield” and “Kiov Hetman”, members of the Obscurati. We and other Obs agents arrive on said island and are hailed by none else than Leone Quintal (didn't we kill that guy?) and Han Jierre to some kind of gathering.

The Obs on the island use Witchoil lanterns to bring us all to the Bleak Gate where a giant Shadowlisk scans all of us for signs of trouble. These precautions turn out to be warranted as one of our group turns out to be a Godhand of the Clergy in disguise. The Shadowlisk uses its powers to... melt the poor guy to the walls all while he's screaming in pain. As soon as the transition is completed, the ghost of another old acquaintance greets the rest of us.

“Welcome to the Obscurati” says Reed Macbannin.

(This was a major WTF moment. We knew that this was just a teaser of what could happen during this adventure – and I actually changed Oscan Ligurio to Kiov in this version as we did not choose that madman. First, Leone and MacB still being around and then Han Jierre as a senior member of the Obs?

Also, see, yet another crazy Godhand! And well played with that introduction that happens almost roughly at the halfway point of the whole campaign. Looking back, there are quite a few things in adventure 7 that will come back full circle at the end of the campaign)
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
Oh no, having a little tease can be refreshing. We do have some comments on adventure 13, but it will take some time until we get there ;)

Sooo... here's the layout (and caution! long post!):

Ground floor

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1 - Entrance (Beautiful carpet, small desk, few simple paintings and portraits, one magical lantern)

2 - Kitchen (Oven, stove, several cupboards, drawers, shelves, cozy sitting corner, the whole room is filled with a certain smell of tea)

3 - Storage Room (for ingredients and general supplies)

4 - Hidden Room (without any door, contains weapons, armor, fine tools and a backpack with survival gear)

5 - Grand Dining Room (finely decorated room, parquet floor, big wooden table, high quality chairs, cupboards containing fine porcellain - almost everything is covererd with sheets... Yep, Carlyle is actually dining in the kitchen. If he's in the mood for having dinner at all.)

6 - Salon (finely decorated room for social gathering, parquet floor, comfy chairs around a small table, a small bar, some cozy seats - almost everythig is covered in sheets)

7 - Lounge (cozy living room, parquet floor with several expensive carpets, two leather sofas, several leather seats, large glass front containing a door to the garden, several portraits, a large picture of Flint, a larger wooden bar, the piano! There is a soft smell of tobacco smoke in the air - nope, that's not from Nic - seems as if Carlyle is using this room)

8 - Cigar Room (smaller room, ceiling is a bit slanted due to the stairs leading to the other floor running above this room, parquet floor, several winged chairs, a minibar, a chest containing a selection of high quality cigars, whole interieur is filled with the smells of tobacco, smoke and other smoking weeds)

9 - Library (parquet floor, several reading seats, book shelves all over the walls containing the grand classics of Risur, official and family chronicles, encyclopedias, legal texts from several centuries, large collection of textbooks for historical and political topics, herbology, alchemy, heraldry and a small corner with "shallow literature" - mostly romance and adventure novels. There is also a large writing desk with orderly documents. Auryn will definitely add several books about botany, philosophy, druidism, music, arts and magic)

10/11 - Small Bathrooms (contaning manual pumps for water supply)

12 - Workroom (containing tools and material for everyday work, maintenance and repair. Servants used to work here, and Carlyle is still in his DIY mood, so it is used regularly)

13 - Servants' Room (simple room, bed, closet, washing cubicle, chair, simple desk - everything is covered in sheets)

14 - Wardrobe (long room for coats, hats, shoes and umbrellas)

15 - Intermediate Corridor and stairs leading upstairs (short hallway, carpets and more portraits / paintings)

16 - Corridor leading to the Basement (same as 15)

44 - Garden (large garden area with a well-kept lawn, several herbal beds, a few flowerbeds, a small terrace with an outdoor lounge, a brick-built barbecue and a high hedge)

1st floor (or 2nd depending on how you count)

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17 - Corridor (like the one downstairs, both stairs are secured by wooden banisters)

18/19 - Guest Rooms (Garden view with large windows to both sides, each containing a large bed, a desk, a chair, and a closet. One is unused, furniture covered with sheets. The other one is Shealis' room. Auryn inhabited one of those during the Byron part between adventure 3 and 4)

20 - 23 - More Guest Rooms (Side view, otherwise just like the other two. Covererd in sheets. Vantrys kids used either these or the Garden view rooms, depending on the status of the guests back in the days.)

24 / 25 - Bathrooms (nowadays only used by guests, large rooms with a manual pump, toilets, lavatories, closets and mirrors)

26 - Storage Room (storage for bedsheets, cleaning material, additional pillows, blankets, beds...)

27 - Walk-in Wardrobe (Repurposed room, several coatracks, mirrors, small closets, dressing aids)

28 - Large Bedroom (luxurious noble's bedroom with lots of windows, a large, expensive wooden double bed - Carlyle pointed that one out and he seems proud of it - two bedside tables, soft bedside carpets and magical reading lamps. Right side of the bed there's a small corner for a sofa, a desk, two chairs and several more closets. On the left side, there's a small bathroom with two lavatories, mirrors, cabinets, bathrobes and another manual pump. Next to the bathroom there's a small corner with a giant mirror, hair care, brushes and perfume. Wonder if Carlyle and Auryn have enough space for all their clothes...)

29 - Secret Room (same as the one downstairs but specifically warded against scrying. Contains healing potions, a copy of Carlyle's spellbook and the personal notes)

2nd floor (or 3rd...)

1588361215021.png


30 - Alchemy Lab (several desks with lab equipment, shelves with flasks, beakers and other glassware, material components and specialized tools)

31 - Alchemy Storage Room (Additional storing space for sensitive/susceptible material in iron chests. There is also one chest with additional emergency equipment)

32 - Workshop for fine mechanics (large workshop for mechanics, locksmithery, engineering experiments and complex mechanisms . full of working benches, tools and protective features)

33 - Storage for the Workshop

34 - Training Room (Large "hall" filled with combat dummys, hooks, bars, climbing frames, mats and ropes. For combat and fitness training)

35 - Hallway (simple hallway without decoration)

Basement


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36 - Storage for Gardening Material (Gardening tools, chairs, tables, seeds and fertilizer for flowers and herbs, sunshades)

37 - Drainage and Main Well (Room filled with pipes which are connected to the manual pumps, large well with two additional manual pumps, one large pipe leading to the sewers system)

38 - Laundry (washing troughs, clotheslines, detergents, oven for hot water)

39 - Storage (Just your typical basement storage... boxes filled with old items and stuff that's seldomly used)

40 - Storage/Wine Cellar (For food that needs to be stored at lower temperatures, several wine racks and high quality spirits)

41 - Corridor (Simple, tiled)

42 - Grand Bath (Tiled, grand room with a large stone-plated pool suitable for several people, oven for hot water, multiple manual pumps, bathroom couches, towels and a minibar)

43 - Hidden Bullpen (Warded room with chains, ropes, magecuffs and gags. In case the RHC cells are not available and we got a prisoner... definitely not meant for kinky stuff)
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
Duel of the Fey

One fateful day, we receive a message without sender. It turns out that this message actually comes from Alexander Grappa who hints at an almost fatal clash with the Obs and is currently inhabiting the body of – Leone Quintal!

Before we can tell Delft that we “told him so” that letting Grappa go his ways without support would be a bad idea, we read further and see that the man had been following trails of Oscurati members all the way to Alais Primos where he found hints that the leader of the Clergy inquisition, the “Light of Justice”, Cardinal Testamenta Suchdol might have abused her position to gain access to artifacts of old. Artifacts capable of bringing someone back from the dead no matter how he died.

He followed said Testamenta's trails to Vendricce where he wanted to conduct further inquiries on the old Quintal estate. This is where Quintal – being very much alive again – managed to surprise him and shred his golem body to pieces. Still he managed to somehow enter Leone's mind and body and that's where he's hiding right now. He explains that he's able to take control of Quintal's body whenever the metal mage is asleep which is how he learned that the Obs are currently making preparations for a grand convention with Leone Quintal being one of the major organizers.

So he wants us to find him (and Leone!) as he might have found a way for us to sneak into said convention and learn more about the Obs' true plans. So it seems as if we'd have to go looking for the Mindmaker in the Steelshaper's body.

(That man surely knows how to get himself into trouble and escape last minute. Just hoped that Delft might learn to play it more safely next time)

While we prepare for our mission to get our hands on Leone/Grappa, we are being called to Delft's office. The chief inspector then tells us that Stanfield got something to discuss with us, which makes us wonder as the Governor usually keeps his distance from RHC related issues.

(really, we're that much closer with dear King Aodhan and Harkover Lee whereas Stanfield seems disconnected to the point of being nonexistent? We also felt like he did very little to improve life in Flint for the Flinter population (besides the subway), but I guess that's a common habit if you consider his background)

So we accompany Margit and Stover Delft to the Governor's Palace where we meet Dame Jillian and a certain Lieutenant Dale. Stanfield shares coffee and donuts with us and then explains that he's currently having trouble at the docks as the Dockers are on the brink of rioting due to unemployment.

“Yes, and...?” says Auryn, totally unimpressed.

“Of course the Dockers are quick to riot if something upsets them. But as long as the police doesn't enforce the law while being stupidly violent and as long as certain employers don't restart locking them up, then they'll be fine. I don't see why the RHC should get involved in such mundane issues unless you in your function as Governor see me as a spokesperson for the Dockers just because I also happen to be an artist and friends with Thames Grimsley. But that would not be part of my job as an agent, would it?”

Delft, Margit and Carlyle all seem to see reason in Auryn's words and then look to the other three. Dale seems totally unaware of this specific issue so he feigns ignorance while Dame Jillian looks back straight at Auryn.

“It is the reason why the Dockers are agitated that we are worried about. Ships have gone missing and no one wants to risk trade under these circumstances. And since these ships are involved in international trade, we... um... thought you might be of help.”

“Does the Rear Admiral know about this issue?” Auryn replies with a sigh, nodding to Jillian as she finally sees through her reasoning.

“Of course he does. He recommended...”

“Alright, I'll see to it. We got a full schedule and a mission to plan, but that won't take too much time.”

(way to piss off Stanfield... just mention Morris Dawkins and Auryn will do him almost any favor. To be honest, she just wanted to be sure that they didn't overlook the one who's actually responsible for the harbor area)

“Thank you.” Dame Jillian replies with a slightly sarcastic undertone before nodding towards Lt. Dale and presenting her second issue.

“We also got another problem, one of a more spiritual nature. You remember the destroyed witchoil facility in Cauldron Hill?”

“The one where the Colossus emerged from? How could we possibly forget that?” Carlyle answers, now both curious and alarmed.

“Mayor Smith and Lieutenant Dale heard about numerous sights of shadowy creatures near the abandoned ruin. We fear that they might be a threat to the people living near Cauldron Hill. We're still unsure about the source, but it must have to do something with that cursed place.”

Carlyle nods with his usual seriousness and he seems truly troubled by the news he just heard as Cauldron Hill and the souls trapped in the Witchoil are a personal issue to him.

“I understand. And I do truly want to help. But as Auryn mentioned, we got an important mission and don't have much time to spare. Also, I have to insist that this is not our decision, but rather Master Delft's. He is the Chief Inspector of the RHC.”

(He got a point there. We both love that the adventures give the agents a relatively large freedom to decide, but Delft was in the very same room, so, yes, this should totally be his decision as our boss.

“Master Delft” became Carlyle's preferred title for Delft as he was quite unhappy about the fact that he rose to higher social status than his boss after being knighted.

Also, Carlyle absolutely avoided to mention the Obs or our research about them in front of Stanfield. While it seems as if the Governor is being innocent, we still got that gut feeling and Macbannin's quasi-confirmation, so better be safe than sorry)


Delft grins with his usual charming look and then agrees to postpone the mission for a few days. He say he knows that Mayor Smith is an important figure for Flint and also a good acquaintance of agent Carlyle, who has a personal interest in exorcising the evil of Cauldron Hill, so he won't hesitate to let him deal with the Hill.

Stanfield, Jillian and Dale seem pretty content and we leave the Palace not much later. We then decide to go straight to the harbor as this won't be too far from where we're currently at. We first hear towards the Harbor Command to ask for the missing ships, but are being stopped on our way by a couple of marine soldiers who recognize us.

They urge us to come to the Docks immediately as a certain Fey Lady known as Beshela demands our presence right now. Being quite sure that she might know more about the ships, we agree to follow the soldiers who lead us to the Impossible where said Beshela already awaits us aboard the vessel. She's still as vain as we know her to be, but she surprisingly offers us a gift: a teleport platform for said Impossible, the crown jewel of our Navy.

We're astonished by her sudden generosity and are the brink of thanking her when we hear some ruckus from farther away. And of course it is Rock Rackus who is causing that commotion, being accompanied by a group of Dockers and some unseen voice that's mocking and insulting Beshela.

We turn to Beshela and see that she's turning violet in her anger, so we try to calm her down and promise to make Rock explain himself for this insolence. Turns out that this invisible voice actually belongs to a second Fey by the name of Copperhat who isn't exactly best friends with Beshela.

Rock, being his usual clueless self, brags that Carlyle requested his presence at the Docks, so here he is. And Carlyle being Carlyle just rolls his eyes and replies in all seriousness that he would never ever dream of summoning Rock Rackus anywhere. That, he explains, must have been yet another mischievous Fey jinx meant to cause even more confusion and noise.

Copperhat then intervenes and says that it was no ill will that lead him here, just an honest offer of friendship. He then demonstrates that it was actually Beshela who tried to trick us by installing a cursed teleport platform aboard the Impossible that would sink the ship should we dare to activate it. He then demonstrates the curse and lifts it with a wave of his unseen arm.

So we – being rightfully angry – turn to Beshela again and demand that she better explains her betrayal. The Fey Lady just shrugs and spits that it were us who sided with the “darkness threatening us all” and betrayed her ally, Lady Ethelyn. We try to explain that it was Ethelyn who started this conflict by trying to murder her own brother, the King of Risur, that we did all we could to get her out of this mess alive while the Court demanded her head and that it is actually us who are fighting against said “darkness”.

“Take it this way, dear Lady: We are Risuri agents, sworn to protect our nation and the King. You and Lady Ethelyn conspired against the King and almost committed regicide, which is the very definition of high treason. So both of you are lucky to be still alive.” Carlyle says calmly but with a certain emphasis.

"We also spoke to Ethelyn and she regrets what she did. She knows that we are fighting the same foe and she helped us with her information. There is no need to be on opposing sides.” Auryn adds.

But Beshela, all true to her fey self, isn't in the mood for an exchange of logic. So she dares Auryn to show her true intentions by engaging in a traditional battle of deeds. A challenge Auryn takes on with no hesitation.

Beshela starts by telling tales of her legendary wrath that lead to several wrecked ships and countless sailors drowning at sea. Sailors that were then eaten by her fishy minions.

Auryn responds by saying that simple wrath and destruction are way below her style. Also, Beshela and her presented deeds seem kind of limited. Limited to the sea. Limited in terms of method and impact.

“While you resort to striking fear to your opponents, I draw from the full palette to influence the hearts of mortals: I can offer them hope for a brighter future, bring them to tears with a single song, form community out of a single idea. I free fey from enthrallment, strike orcish hearts with terror as Banshee from the moors and take on the image of the most powerful of Dragons, making armies of gnolls heed my command. And I do all this by land and air.”

Beshela seems piqued and while she doesn't say anything, it seems pretty clear that she accepts Auryn's superiority in this round.

She then starts the next round by telling the tale how she came to be the true source behind the greatest symphony Risur has ever seen: Once, she says, there was a drowning violinist who she saved and took as her lover for several days. She then returned him to coast with no memories of Beshela's secrets or her whereabouts, so he wrote the Fable of Seaquen to win her back, resulting in the creation of the Hurricane Violin when he played it in the Navras Opera. She never returned to the guy though.

Auryn is actually impressed by this tale as she adores both the Fable and the Hurricane Violin and she pays respect to Beshela's deed.

(Right in the fangirl feels. Auryn is a music nerd who couldn't stop being enthusiastic about the Violin back in adventure 5 where it had been played in the Aurum during the peace conference. So yep, mind blown.)

Auryn takes a bit to return from her honest adoration and prepare a comeback. She then says that while Beshela's tale was truly impressive, she got one fact wrong: That the Fable was the greatest piece ever played in the Navras Opera House. This honor belongs to the Dirge of Vekesh and Navras, who played the piece that was able to save the Eladrin from extinction and lead them away from the path of vengeance. Navras built the most impressive Opera House of the world in its remembrance, and the Dirge had been the last piece he played before he vanished. She took her own part in this legacy when she rekindled the memory of the Dirge to give it new life and a new meaning by weaving it into a whole new Opera.

Regarding love, Beshela has proven yet again to be cruel as her lover died alone, yearning for his one true love. She then looks at Carlyle and explains that she would never abandon those who adore her and that while the violinist died, her love and memory are indeed immortal.

(First, did she just indirectly confess her love in front of the Dockers and two Fey Lords? Somehow yes though I'm not sure that Carlyle realized it this very moment.

Also, for one split second Auryn was tempted to boast about Gradiax and the influence she managed to have on his heart, thus slowly changing the view of the eldest dragon in Lanjyr. But that was more of a mental health exercise for herself. A contest like that isn't worth spilling what's maybe the biggest royal secret of Risur)


Beshela isn't fully convinced that Auryn beat her this time, so she prepares her last boast: That she saved the King of Risur and his sister before they were even royalty. Back in Yerasol 3, the two had stolen a Danoran warship, but the Danorans threatened to catch them. To save them, she dared to wake the Kraken Titan who, in her fury, destroyed all the Danoran ships, thus being the one behind Aodhan's most impressive feat.

The soldiers who are present seem surprised to hear that story. Auryn respectfully nods to Beshela for her help, but then returns that she doesn't seem to understand that true friendships last a lifetime.

“Back then you saved our King, even before he was famous. And while he took your friendship as a promise, you stabbed him in the back when you tried to kill him. It was us who crossed your vile plan and who saved the King this time, while you chose to become a villain in your heroic tale. But that is only one of many times when we saved King Aodhan: We waged war on the Prince of Slaughter to avenge his honor, and I let the Child of Darkness, who is as strong as any Titan, chase me a full day through air, land and sea, only to save the King and all of Flint. And then I dared what no other fey would: I commanded the dread ship Coaltongue, the very same ship you wanted to destroy, and made it wound the Child of Darkness so much that King Aodhan could banish it.”

The Dockers, who all remember Auryn's deeds too well, cheer in response. Beshela sneers briefly as she sees herself defeated. She then proclaims that Auryn has proven to be her equal in terms of deeds, but seems still a bit dissatisfied by the outcome. Realizing this, Auryn grins and then theatrically turns to Beshela and the Dockers.

“I took your challenge and succeeded, but you are still not satisfied, dear Lady Beshela? Then what about a battle of body and grace? I dare you to a dancing contest!”

Needless to say that the Dockers instantly go wild at the prospect of seeing their Calla Aurea dance off against Lady Beshela.

“Dance! Dance! Dance!” they scream and shout, trying to incite the surrounding sailors and soldiers while Auryn prepares her outfit for a proper dancing scene.

Beshela then rolls her eyes and agrees that, fine, Auryn has won this one. She rebuffs the crowd by merely apologizing for her trick and then mentions that she's now convinced that we are indeed not in league with those who conspire against Risur. Then she jumps into the water and vanishes while Auryn and Carlyle look at each other in confusion. How could she have possibly thought that we were part of the Obscurati?

(Looking through the source material, I have to say that we seem to have handled this section a bit different compared to the usual approach. We did more of a direct contest with Beshela in her own categories and didn't talk about the Obs at all. Also, it was a one-on-one battle, but that made sense for us as Auryn is a Fey and Carlyle's arc would be the Haunt on Cauldron Hill.

Also, neither Carlyle's player nor I would have been able to pull off an Epic Rap Battle of History. Leave that one to Rock ;) )
 

Yeah, rap is not a talent in my repertoire.

Maybe if the quarantine keeps going long enough, I'll start practicing. I feel like this would have been appropriate in ZEITGEIST.


Hm, is it too late to add in Rock and the fey teaching Drakr how to rap?
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
I'd always thought the Drakrans would be the ones to mash up philosophy and poetry into something rap-like. With (brass) basses. Risur felt more like Jazz country.

Also... Vlendam Heid... versus... Veeee-kesh! Begin!
 

Hmmm. Can I somehow get the ERB guys into D&D, and get them to invest a year or two into the campaign, all so they might write that rap?

Alas, first I'd probably have to write some of Heid's actual teachings, and the actual Dirge of Vekesh.

I don't have sufficient ego to think I could write a work of art good enough to save an entire culture from annihilation.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Trouble on Cauldron Hill and the Start of a Manhunt

Copperhat congratulates us for beating Beshela in her own game and then removes the curse on the teleport platform with a simple, flamboyant gesture. He explains that this one may come in handy for us who are dancing on the threshold between Waking and Shadow. Copperhat then throws what appears to be a simple sack in our general direction, which he calls an “Absurdist's Web”, and also mentions that we may need that one very soon.

(I... don't exactly know why or how Copperhat was able to predict the future. Is there any hidden explanation behind his sixth sense? Was that a part of his master's plan? Or simple convenience for the PCs?

Auryn didn't question it too much, as, hey, Copperhat is a Fey and a truly powerful one. This one had pretty heavy Loki vibes, that's for sure)


He then wraps his arm around his dear friend Rock and whispers that the Fey Queen requires his immediate presence at court... and maybe in her bedchamber. Auryn chuckles in response and wishes Rock good luck with his “Lady”. As Rock is being dragged off stage, Carlyle closely examines the Fey's gift and finds that it truly may come handy as the Absurdist's Web is not only able to store massive amounts of objects, it is also able to sustain unconscious bodies and grants only access to items that the one handling it knows to be stored inside.

“Truly a smuggler's finest treasure”, he calls it and places it safely in his backpack.

Meanwhile, the Dockers start to throw a massive, spontaneous party at the Docks. After all, the ships may travel safely again now that Beshela is pacified, which means new jobs for all. We celebrate a short time to show our sympathy, but then excuse ourselves as there is trouble on Cauldron Hill and we are still two very busy RHC agents.

Before we move to the Hill, we take a short detour to Rear Admiral Dawkins' office at the harbor. We tell Dawkins about the happening with Beshela and Copperhat and confirm that everything should be fine by now, so the ships should be safe. Dawkins seems still a bit troubled though as he knows that Beshela is basically a rogue Fey Lady who might just be trying to prove a point or stir trouble. Still, he's glad that we took care of her and made her pay respect to us without causing a fight.

(He probably still remembers his fight with Beshela during the very first adventure when he couldn't command the Coaltongue due to his “Yerasol malaria”)

We then ask him about the seal of Macbannin, but he doesn't know much more than us. He knows that it is indeed intact and that the Vekeshi are still providing their regular ritual, so whatever causes the seal to weaken would not be linked to missing support. We tell Dawkins that we'll be off for an important mission very soon, but we'll still look after the Hill.

To prepare for our trip to the haunted Hill, we gather protective gear that wards us against death magic and necrotic energies. Then we make an appointment with Dame Jillian and Mayor Smith for a meeting in the mayor's manor via message. Auryn seems really worried about the Hill, the ever thinning veil between the Bleak Gate and our World and what effect this might have on Carlyle. She remembers the last time he tried to help the trapped souls in the Witchoil and fears thet being confronted with so many lost souls yet again might really endanger him.

“Don't you worry”, he replies “I managed to pull back last time, and now I know what I'm up to. In fact, the only time I really couldn't bear to hear the wailing of the dead was immediately after the death of Srasama. Back then, I wasn't able to understand what happened to them... or to me. I had just reincarnated for the very first time, you know”

Auryn nods silently, but nonetheless takes Calryle's hand and holds it firmly so she may act as an anchor to the world of the living. He really doesn't mind, in fact, it seems as if he's getting accustomed and even enjoys being close to her.

In the manor, we team up with Dame Jillian and Dale and head up Cauldron Hill. On our way there, Jillian explains that the appearance of Shadow creatures is quite natural in this area, so she usually wouldn't worry too much about them. But it appears that their numbers have increased a lot lately, which is what is really troubling her.

Fortunately, Gale's Planar Energy detection spell proves to be working yet again, and we follow the planar trail of ever increasing Witchoil radiation to the destroyed Bleak Gate complex. There, we venture down the partially collapsed corridors and are surprised to find what appears to be a huge amalgamation of Witchoil and lost souls in the form of an oozing blob.

The blob appears to be hostile and pretty much not sentient, so we decide to combat it and disperse it into smaller puddles of Witchoil. Carlyle then examines the remains and is indeed troubled by his findings. He guesses that the barrier between our world and the Bleak Gate right here is so thin that phenomenons like that blob might form any time and that this probably won't be the last time we'd encounter such a thing.

He sighs deeply and fears for all these restless souls that are still bound, or drawn to, the Witchoil. Carlyle then muses that it might take the Power of the Land to heal this wound once and for all and to help the souls be free at last.

We then go to examine the seal of Macbannin to check if it is still intact. What we do find seems rather strange: The seal itself appears to be in a pristine condition, but still it feels as if one of its components is somehow... missing. And it might just be this missing part that's causing all this trouble. We discuss the nature of the seal and agree that it might be a good idea to research the planar Seals of the Ancients so we may make a blueprint for a new seal to the Bleak Gate should this one eventually fail to do its job.

(The missing component? Well, Macbannin of course. Unbeknownst to us, some Ob has managed to pull the Mayor's soul out and create the ghostly version of him we just saw in the small preview section.)

We return back to the RHC to give a report on the two “Stanfield missions” and then decide to take one more day to gather information and tend to our off-work duties.

Auryn participates in a meeting for her newly founded Club for Eladrin and friends of Elfaivaran culture in one cozy inn in the more forest-y outskirts of Central district. As she expected, the number of attendees is still small, as they are mostly the Eladrin mercenary company, some members of older Eladrin families and a few interested humans and elves. Still, the atmosphere is pretty positive and the meeting is all about song and story and Auryn takes some time to tell tales of Elfaivar.

Before we travel to Vendricce to look foe Leone Quintal, we first meet with Morgan Cippiano as the man might just have more information about his fellow countryman. So we meet up in the small cafe in Stray River and discuss the resurrected Ob over a delicious cup of coffee.

Cippiano tells us about his limited knowledge of the Quintal son, with Leone being one of the noble family's descendants. He explains that the family owns a large vineyard with a beautiful manor in the outskirts of Vendricce and also mentions that the families of Quintal and Suchdol have traditionally been close as they are kind of neighbors. Regarding the rest of the family, he tells us about Leone's siblings, Diginni and Lucrezia.

(OOC I was a bit worried at that point. Lucrezias always mean trouble. Always.)

When we tell Cippiano about the hint that a certain Testamenta Suchdol might have used Clergy artifacts to resurrect Leone, the Family Don turns quiet for a while. He then says that the Suchdols, and especially Testamenta are no ones he'd recommend crossing paths with as she is an influential cardinal of the Clergy with good ties to the Hierarchs.

But Cippiano is not in the mood for ending our conversation with gloom and worrisome news, so he changes subject and asks Auryn about her recent gathering of the Elfaivaran culture club. When she tells him all about her idea of bringing risuri and elfaivaran culture together, Cippiano smiles warmly and asks whether a man of his background would be welcome to join next time. This surprises Auryn at first, but then she remembers that Morgan Cippiano is an enthusiast for all kinds of cultural events, and replies that she's actually glad that he asked. And no, she doesn't have any objections, in fact, she'd be happy to see a Crisillyiri learn more about Eladrin, so maybe this may even mend the cultural gap between their two nations. Flint is a cultural melting pot indeed.

We thank Cippiano for his knowledge and head back to the RHC to prepare for our departure. Delft mentions a certain Joe Hobner as a contact in Alais Primos should we decide to take a detour to the Crisillyiri capital. Hobner is already retired, he explains, but it'd still be nice if we could say hello to his old acquaintance. Delft also recommends one innkeeper in Vendricce we may ask for more information.

As we already got a hint on where to find Leone, we decide to directly head there and start looking for the Quintal estate. So we teleport to Vendricce and head towards the beautiful outskirts of what had once been an elfaivaran settlement. As the estate doesn't seem to be too far away, we agree to travel there in disguise and by foot to have more time to spot details and to maybe even relax a bit.

Auryn, being the usual botany enthusiast, shows interest in all the different sorts of grapes growing in the vineyards and Carlyle, being the usual wine enthusiast, takes quite the time to tell her all about Crisillyiri winemaking and wine in general. And it seems as if he's quite happy to have someone who's willing to listen to all of the finer details.

After a while, we finally arrive at one of the estates with a beautiful classicistic building atop a soft hill. So we turn invisible and sneak around the manor to gather more information. It appears as if this one is not the Quintal's estate, but the Suchdol's. As we know that Testamenta might be the one behind Quintals reappearance, we decide to enter the manor to look for incriminating evidence that she indeed did resurrect our archenemy.

We avoid the family who's having coffee in the garden and find one room that's heavily warded against all kinds of intrusion and conclude that this would very well be Testamenta's. Carlyle temporarily disables the Cardinal's traps and we enter the room in search for clues.

What we do find is quite alarming and also obvious. Besides the expected smell of incense, we see the remains of what appears to be demonic artifacts and traces of blood. Carlyle recognizes the faint smell of Leone Quintal among the incense and perfume, which seems to be strongest in the crinkled bed sheets. So there is no doubt about what must have happened here not too long ago. Still we are surprised that a Cardinal of the Clergy, Ob or not, did resort to such kinds of foul magic.

We search further and find a medallion containing one of Leone's locks. To prevent any further resurrection attempts, we remove the hair, take some of Testamenta's out of her brush, and dye it in the color of Leone's hair. Then we leave and lock the room behind us.

As the Suchdols seem to be otherwise innocuous, we leave their estate and head to the next one. There, we spot two families having coffee and sweets in their garden.

(This must be some kind of habit in this area... or maybe simply a crisillyiri custom?)

We eavesdrop to the familiy's conversation and find out that these are actually the Quintals who are visiting their neighbors for a chat. Lucky us, as this means that the Quintal estate will be largely void of people. So we hurry to the next estate and finally arrive at the Quintal manor. We do not find any trace of Leone inside the building, but do spot the well-known footprints of the Grappa-Golem at the estate's borders.

We follow them to a small family graveyard filled with tombs of the Quintal family. There, we see evidence that someone might have ambushed Grappa and felled him after a short fight. So we guess that this might have been one of Leone's many clever traps that caught poor unwary Grappa flat-footed. After a bit more investigation, we do manage to find the headless Golem's body, buried under a pile of dirt. We carefully remove the dirt and clean up the Golem, even if there is no spark of life left inside. Then we place it in the Absurdist's Web for safe storage and return to Vendricce to gather more information about Leone.
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
The Absurdist web is truly the king of magical items in this campaign, able to be used in so many creative ways. I do not recall a session since it was obtained that it has not been used for something.

I believe Copperhat is able to tell you will need the Web for bodies in the future as he is linked to the Voice of Rot which can use divination effects as a demigod and can sense when things are likely to die. I am assuming he is helping the pc's because his master wants them to cause trouble for the Ob so the Ob are too busy to notice his own efforts to sabotage them or at least that was what I thought when I ran the encounter , it also serves to potentially tip the pc's that Copper-Hat is linked to the Voice of Rot.
 

Yeah, the Voice of Rot benefits from being an antagonist in an adventure path, in that due to timey-wimey-ness and him eventually coiling around Reida, he's able to sense the future. He thus knows that he's going to learn the Ob are opening the Axis Seal, but he has to make sure he actually does learn that, so he has Copperhat give them the web so he can observe the convocation through it.

Plus, the spiders of the Dreaming are, at least in my head-canon, a bit non-chronolinear. The Dreaming has always been fast and loose when it comes to a regular procession of seconds, minutes, and hours. The Webway - a name stolen from a Warhammer 40k thing - sort of conflates three dimensional space with a slight ability to fudge fourth-dimensional time. It's one of those things you probably shouldn't meddle with if you want to keep your sanity.

In the upcoming Zeitgeist setting book, we had to make a new fey titan of the swamps, and she's The Hollow Widow, a giant empty spider carapace.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Now that makes perfectly sense, thanks for the insight :)

Never thought that the Voice would be actually screwing up the Ob by empowering the party so he and his cultists may fly under the radar or that he'll need to make sure to gather his required knowledge. That's some serious badassery. Should I ever decide to DM Zeitgeist, I'll definitely add more subtle hints and reveal that plan at the end.

Also, the Absurdist's Web is so incredibly powerful in the hands of creative PCs. We had a lot of fun with it.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
After spending a few hours in the city of Vendricce, looking for more information on Leone Quintal, we get the rumor that a certain Cardinal Testamenta Suchdol might still be in the same convent she visited when she arrived 3 weeks ago. Burton, who arrived here in advance, got even more as he found out that someone had been asking for Leone 4 weeks ago. In addition, a man fitting Leone's general appearance left Vendricce on the yacht Isabella quite some time ago, heading for Seobriga. He adds that the Isabella belongs to a certain Manuelle Carucci, a friend of the Quintal family, so it would be quite possible that this was truly Leone.

We're really glad that Burton made good use of his many connections and thank him for the details. For Burton, this is no big deal – as long as we don't make him join our deadly fights, he's more than ready to lend us his bag of tricks.

(He's still a bit traumatized after the events on Axis Island. But we're truly happy that this little goblin is still loyal and willing to work for the RHC)


We then visit the convent incognito and spy on Cardinal Testamenta who is busy performing a mass. To no one's surprise, she uses a mix of classic Clergy supremacy and a mish-mash of everything “demonic” in her rhetoric before blessing all attendants in the name of Triegenes. We follow her a bit afterward, but fail to gain any more information about Leone.

Sensing that Auryn's constantly clenched fists and her short-spokenness might be a sign of trouble, Carlyle takes her to a quieter place at the Vendricce docks and asks her about her state of mind. She sighs softly and then states that Crisillyir and its citizens are giving her strong headaches right now. She found it hard to stay calm when she heard Testamenta's hateful rhetoric and the woman's hypocrisy regarding demons and her own use of demonic artifacts is making her sick. That, plus the fact that she is an Ob agent who just revived their archenemy for her own gain really fill her mind with murderous thoughts right now.

What's making this even worse is the fact that none of the mass' attendants even batted an eye when she called for the complete dominion of her holy forces over the “evil east” and the eradication of her people.

“It has been 500 years now, and they still haven't changed a bit, Gabriel. And what is even worse is the fact that... all the people from Crisillyir that I met in Flint... Cippiano, you... they gave me hope that things may have changed. But these people don't seem to understand the meaning of 'coexistence'. There can be no peace with these war-mongers.”

Touched by the bitterness in Auryn's words, yet seeing that she got a point there, Carlyle exhales sharply and slowly shakes his head.

You're not going to go on a murder spree, will you?” he replies with a certain humorous undertone.

Auryn laughs softly, leaving the doom and gloom for a moment while shaking her head.

“Nope. I won't cut off heads for thinking ugly crisiylliri thoughts. I promise.”

"And I promise that every violation of Eladrin people and properties, including their territory will be met with severe retaliation.”

(This whole Crisillyir issue is really affecting her. She cannot really wrap her head around why regular Crisillyiri wouldn't be averted to such blatant propaganda if what remained of her people – sans Mad King – had left the path of vengeance. Especially as the Eladrin with their long life spans remembered while an age had passed for the humans. Plus, she really invested a lot of time and effort into curing Gene and his blatant rejection was like a punch in the face.

In her inner thoughts, she already strategized about how to deal with Crisillyir and the whole colonial issue in the future and at that point, she realized that some kind of war against the Clergy might be inevitable. But this time, it better resulted in a “the world vs. the Clergy” scenario. She had not given up hope completely, as she knew that people could change and maybe someone would be willing to try something akin to Sawyer in one of the Crisillyiri colonies.

And yep, she has to constantly face the urge to annihilate whoever seems to threaten her people or the Enclaves. Because, how else should she deal with people who deny her kin the right to exist? Even if she knew that this might have been very well the path that led Kasvarina to darkness.

But to be honest, Auryn didn't think too highly of “mortal humans” before she actually met them either. First, she saw them as invaders, threats and enemies. Then she realized how harmless and pathetic they were. Then she met their greed and was utterly disgusted. It took years and the influence of Morris and Milena Dawkins to make her respect them)


So next we go to Seobriga to check if and when Leone Quintal arrived in the city. But it seems like he never made it there and some local dockers and sailors can tell us that the Isabella had a rendezvous with the Cold Vessel, a liner to Alais Primos she met at high sea. We suspect that Leone used this opportunity to switch ships and divert his trail. So Alais Primos should be next on our list.

As the Crisillyiri capital is far more into the mainland, we guess that wandering around as an Eladrin wouldn't be the best of ideas. So Auryn and Carlyle do their best to disguise her as a human woman.

(Carlyle is really talented when it come to make-up and disguises. He mixes some of the stuff himself and uses it to hide his Deva markings every day. He's always more comfortable blending in with the crowd than sticking out.

We also joked about who would need more time for their individual morning routine... Carlyle, who puts a lot of effort into shaving, lotions and said make-up, but doesn't need that much for his hair or dress or Auryn, who doesn't do much make-up and simply needs cold, refreshing water, but tends to let her unseen servant go wild on her hair and has the more elaborate and complicated wardrobe)


As soon as we are in Alais Primos, we try to ignore the temptation of a longer sightseeing tour and directly follow Leone's trail to the pink cathedral of St. Tromboni (Auryn shakes her head at such a gaudy, distasteful non-style), ask a few people and find out that Signore Quintal had rented a room in a pension a couple of days ago. As this doesn't lead us much further, we then decide to pick up Delft's hint and visit his old contact, Joe Hobner.

So we head to Hobner's import business where we are met by a laid-back, yet charming man. When we mention his old comrade, Stover Delft, who recommended him as a guide for Alais Primos, he warms up even more and invites us to a drink to have a chat about his past as an RHC agent. He then tells a few anecdotes about his misadventures with “dear Stover” and then asks us about our reason for being in Alais Primos.

(this came a bit of a surprise, as no one in Flint knew what kind of man Delft had been during his time as an active field agent. He didn't share the mimic story though and... considering Hobner's true nature, this was so surprising in hindsight)


So we tell him that we're looking for one dangerous man with especially dangerous metal-manipulating powers who goes by the name of Leone Quintal. Hobner nods seemingly knowing and offers us a drink. Both of us choose the wine (hey, we're in Crisillyir!) and while Auryn takes a sip and notices that the wine is unusually bitter for such a fine one, Carlyle actually smells that something is off even before he tries it.

“This is strychnine. Don't have any more of that, Auryn. It is poisonous.” he says sternly while drawing his Kukris, pointing them at Hobner.

“You. Talk. Now.”

Hobner puts up a half-smile as if he wasn't too surprised that someone noticed the poison, then pulls out a strange sizzling device called Dazer (I see what you did there) and tries to electrocute Carlyle. Needless to say that his attempts are quite futile and he quickly ends up being knocked out.

Before we tie up “Hobner”, Carlyle asks Auryn whether she is feeling any kind of numbness or over-stimulus and Auryn replies that her fingertips are tingling, but that she's fine otherwise. Carlyle doesn't want to risk her health though, so he starts mixing an antidote. While he's at it, the backdoor opens and a small group of kobolds, led by a prominent figure with red scales, enter the scene.

“No reason to be surprised” says El Extrano, bowing gallantly before twirling his tendrils.

“Well, this time it actually is a surprise to see you”, Carlyle replies while eyeing the other kobolds carefully.

As soon as they see what Carlyle is up to, they hand us small vials of antidote and say that they knew this man was preparing to poison someone, which is why they brought these in advance. We thank the kobolds and El Extrano, who goes on to tell us that he and his Bruse got interested in the “conspiracy”, and that their trail led them here. He realized that this Hobner guy had been replaced by some conspirator and so he was curious about what he was up to.

El Extrano asks us to maybe take a little more time to chat with him, but we suggest that we probably do so elsewhere and add that we'd first have to tell our Chief Inspector Delft that his old friend is dead. That, and we need to get information from this assassin. Which we are more than willing to share with the kobolds.

So we take the assassin and teleport back to the RHC where we bring the bad news to Delft. First, he seems shocked, but then he's fuming in rage over the death of his close friend Joe. We agree that we'll interrogate the man, who turns out to go by the name of Robert the Black, together. Robert unfortunately isn't really an Ob himself, but seems to be rather hired by them to discard of nosy RHC agents. Just a job, he explains.

Carlyle smiles grimly at his explanation and casually mentions that assassins like him better consider the damage they do and that now we're going to leave him alone with the man whose friend he killed. So good luck with Delft.

(There is his rather ruthless side again. And yep, Delft was really glad that we brought Robert to him. To be honest, we don't really know how dark Delft can become when it comes to people who crossed him or his friends.)


We return to Alais Primos to meet up with El Extrano and his gang again. We tell him that Robert didn't know more about the Obs and our kobold acquaintance doesn't seem surprised at all.

“Sorry that we weren't able to save poor Joe” Extrano says while smoking his oversized pipe.

We reply that the beran spies were of great help already, so no hard feelings. El Extrano then explains that his kobolds got quite the functioning spy network among the dock workers in Alais Primos, so he would totally lend us his hand should we need it. We agree that both our nations have suffered from the Obscurti conspiracy, so it would be in both their interest if we joined forces in terms of intelligence.

Carlyle is curious about the reason why the berans would be so interested in Crisillyir in the first place and Auryn muses that it might trace back to the reign of the Dragon Tyrants who wanted to keep a close eye on their rivals. She then adds that Ber has always been wary of missionaries and been friendly to Elfaivaran refugees, so maybe they just wanted to make sure to know about Crisillyir's possible actions and reactions in advance.

El Extrano doesn't know more about this subject, but he seems genuinely friendly. He then hands us the Kodex of the Little People and asks us to read it so we may understand the perspective of the smallfolk. We reply that we do value his input and wouldn't dare to treat goblins or kobolds as less than the larger people just because of their size. The kobold seems contempt with this answer and then share his latest information about Leone Quintal with us: That he heard the man traveled to Enzyo Mons a couple of days ago. So it seems as if we'd have to scale a volcano next.
 

COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

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