ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign

Tizbiz

Explorer
Recap 11

We take Kvarty, the wizard and Rock to the guard post of the fair. On our short „trip“ there, we talk a bit with Kvarty and he tells us that he's a big game hunter with experiences in hunting monsters. When he saw the flying beasts, he knew that the fair was in imminent danger, so he tried to help eliminate the threat. When he saw that Rock was acting utterly reckless and incompetent, he had to stop him before he could do any more harm. He continues to talk about ammunition and we ask him about his occupation. He explains that most times he's just organizing hunts for rich people, but we also learn that he is a bit of a bounty hunter. And while there is nothing wrong with hunting for an official bounty, it kind of seems that he doesn't always question whether the bounty is legitimate or not. Still, Kvarty was a great help in dealing with Rock, so we thank him, note his whereabouts in Flint and release him.

In the guard post (or rather guard tent), we see a small girl who's chained up for pickpocketing. She tries to convince us that she's innocent, but we try to ignore her since cases of theft are clearly a job for the police, not the RHC.

We try to get some useful information out of the flying monster's dwarven victim, but the guy is all nonsense and smells like he's been drowned in booze, so we order him to be brought to the nearest police station to sober up. Next one on our list is the wizard who used the golden staff and accidentally summoned more and more monsters. He introduces himself as Simon Langfield, a student of magic who didn't have enough money to buy himself a proper wand or even staff. So he resorted to a rather shady dealer to get one for cheap. We lecture him not to trust anyone who'd want to sell potentially potent or dangerous items in back alleys and tell him that we have to confiscate his staff.

Fortunately, Simon tells us how he got the staff: He was approached by a good-looking gentleman who saw him coming out of a magic item tent. This man sent him to a trinket booth where he bought a small chest containing information on how, where and when to meet the person who'd sell him the staff: some hooded, cautious woman. He says that the staff was extraordinarily cheap and that he only wanted to use it for self-defense. Which is what he did when the monsters started appearing out of nowhere. As he sounds pretty honest, we ask him for his address should further questions arise and release him.

Thinking about the description of the mysterious gentleman who approached Simon Langfield, we remember the description the young wizard gave to us from a similar description. One of the technicians working for MacBannin told us of a well-dressed man with a golden livree who also worked for the late mayor of the Nettles.

As we discuss the guy, the small girl approaches us again and tells us that she knows this man and might lead us to him if we could do her a favour. We brush her off first, but then she shows us the iron amulet she stole from the man. An amulet which looks quite similar to the ones MacBannin gave us when we tried to save the Nettles. We thank her for the tip and promise to return to her later – as soon as we finish our interrogation of Rock.

Rock tries to tell us that the whole incident was not realy his fault, after all he just wanted to protect his faithful fans. He says that he never wanted to hurt the victim, it just happened that his arm twitched and he misfired horribly. We kind of berate Rackus that he didn't listen to our advice to not use his damn pistol on an arms exhibit and that this mess is what his recklessness got him into. After all, he is now not only going to end up jail, but also might lose a good part of his fanbase. He is relieved when we tell him that we saw what happened and that he most likely won't be charged with attempted murder. Still his shooting is a t least a case of negligent assault, so he will face some time in prison. We advise him to get himself a good attorney before we hand him over to the police officials.

(well yes, we totally saw this coming. Rock seems like the child who has to burn himself to learn that fire is hot. And even after the whole story, we kind of thought that losing his fans might hurt him more than a prison sentence. On the other hand, having Rock in prison meant that the people – including us - were safe from his extravaganza at least for some time) (I still amused, why they despise Rock Rakus as much they do. They just met the guy but they hated him even before meeting him. Seems doing new music is always a bad thing if being judged by people who like old music?)

Next, we try to look out for more people who might be interested in cheap magic items. We manage to find a nervous looking young girl who is coming out of the trinket tent and who is carrying a small chest. We follow her to the Kaybeau station where she seems to be looking for someone. When she doen't seem to be able to find anyone (besides some workers eating lunch), she departs and heads to an impressive building in the central district. (The girl was there too early and i hoped the Players would come back later.) As we suspect that the girl might meet her shady dealer there, we follow her into the building (thanks to Caryle's spectacular knowledge of all kinds of locks) and try to listen to any kind of conversation she might have.

To our surprise, it seems like the girl we followed is actually the daughter of the Lord judge of Flint who came late for dinner and got grounded by her pretty angry father. We are pretty embarasssed to have accidentally broken into the house of such an important figure and sneak out again before we get noticed. As this appoach got us nowhere, we decide to talk to the little thief at the fair again. (*evil grin*)

The girl promises to help us to the best of her abilities if we can get her free and we agree that while being a little criminal, she poses no real threat and might have learned her lesson. She can lead us directly to the mysterious gentleman who doesn't seem too surprised to be approached by the RHC (well, he tried to flirt with Auryn, but was kind of sure that there had to be more to this Lady than meets the eye. Oh how right he was.). He introduces himself as Isaac Randall and instantly confesses that he worked for Macbannin, but thought that he was managing some sort of secret government research facilities.

We also arrest the woman who sold the small chests and confiscate all of her trinkets as evidence. Then we ask Margit to get both of them safely transferred to the RHC while we try to meet up with the actual black market „merchant“. We peek through the letters and identify the time and place of the next transaction. Being cautious creatures, we plan to examine the place an hour before the transaction should take place and look out for any kind of traps or hidden objects.

When Auryn searches some randomly placed pipes, she is suddenly attacked by six miniature... cannons! After being hit by a glancing blow, we instantly fight back. Carlyle seems pretty irated by the sudden attack on his colleague and smashes three of the constructs to tiny bits.He gets shot afterwards, but both of them manage to dissemble all of them in the end. When we take a closer look at the creature's „brains“, we realize that they are actually pretty advanced and were acting autonomously (They had some kind of proto-processors inside them). We also see the brand of Fordren Industries on their hulls which unnerves Auryn. Pulling herself together, she calls Carlyle to be worthy of being an „esteemed husband“ for his prowess and manners.
(„No one shoots at a lady's face“ he said. Not that Auryn would call herself a lady, at least not in the traditional Risuri meaning of the word. But her calling him „worthy of being an esteemed husband“ instead of „gentleman“ makes them even I guess)

After the rather loud fight, we calm both the arriving police officers and the neighbours down and call the incident a simple malfunction of automatons. When we are certain to have cleared the meeting place of all „nasty surprises“ and any evidence of our fight, look out for good hideouts and hide there. At the given time, a woman and some hooded bodyguard show up and we try to arrest the two. As they don't seem to be very keen on going to prison, they attack us immediately.
It turns out that the „bodyguard“ is some sort of robo-golem who starts mauling at Mr. Carlyle. The woman herself draws a cannon out of nowhere and shoots Carlyle who gets blown through the alley and suffers a nasty wound to his chest. As Carlyle was in point blank range, she accidentally „kills“ her unseen servant and harms her robot with the explosion. This time, Auryn is the one to get angry and she downs the woman with a few precise strikes. Carlyle heals himself with an infusion and together we fight the robot which erupts a necrotic substance (witchoil?) after every hit. When we finally beat the thing, its chest erupts in some strange spacetime bubble and drops a lot of magic items to the ground. (Loot! Being avid Diablo players, we really laughed when we saw the magic items pop and drop out of nowhere. We guessed that this robo/golem/Eidolon was somehow crossbred with a bag of holding). As we knocked the woman out and don't want to interrogate her in the street, we carry her to the local police station and make sure that she is transferred to the RHC HQ as well.

(As a note: Kaja's cannon should really not be able to crit x4. We were so utterly shocked when Kaya rolled a 20 when she shot at Carlyle and had she confirmed the crit, he would have been done for good from full HP to – 30 or so). (The players were really annoyed about the cannon. A crit would have killed Mr. Carlyle.)

We head back to the KATE as we are still officially on guard duty. We use this time to return to the young Mr. Carlyle and ask him about the „processors“ we found in the miniature cannons. He explains that these parts were used as prototypes for developing the B.E.A.R. When we show him parts of the serial numbers we found on some of the parts, he checks them with his list of previous orders and tells us that they were originally ordered by Macbannin and paid for by the Flint treasury. (The conspiracy rears his/her ugly head again. *grin*)

After this, we make sure that the magical artifacts the woman wanted to sell on the black market are kept in a secure place. Carlyle wants to pack them in leaded linen, but when he touches the items briefly, he is subject to a sudden vision of his and Srasama's death and his rebirth as a Deva. This leads us to the conclusion that the artifacts might be cursed, so we demand that no one else should touch them. Carlyle analyses the artifacts for traces of planar energy (thanks, Gale!) and finds an aura of Apet energy on them.

After our work at the KATE is done, we return to the HQ for the interrogation of our prisoners. Carlyle suggests that we should include Team 1 in this process as we got clues that our suspects might be linked to the case Macbannin, which falls under Team 1's responsibility. Auryn and Margit do not object, so we invite them to join in. (The players are strict about responsibilities and always respect the other teams cases.)

We learn that the mysterious woman is called Kaja Stewart who, at first, isn't really keen on speaking to RHC officers. After an unnaturally intense verbal intimidation by Auryn, she opens up a bit and tells us that she had been conducting magical extradimensional research for Macbannin. She also developed the witchoil catalyst which was later used to energize the oil. When she heared of Macbannin's demise, she wanted to avoid being questioned and took all artifacts she could get her hands on. She then offered Randall a share if he helped her sell the items at the black market. We decide to keep her at the RHC a bit longer, but offer her to free her of being charged with the attack on two RHC constables should she cooperate. She agrees and we make sure that she's locked up safely in our cells.

We then ask Isaac Randall the same questions, but he doesn't really have more to say than Kaja. We also decide to keep him imprisoned for the time being as we don't know whether the two of them were the last ex-employees of Macbannin we'd run into.

Team 1 thanks us for our „invitation“. In return, they share a story of a mysterious case they couldn't wrap their heads around. The lead us to some abandoned warehouse of a Vantrys steelworks factory. There they show us the body of a man who must have been dead for quite a while. What is most intriguing about the older human is the fact that he has been tied up with some massive steel rod and had his head smashed by a heavy object. Besides him lie the remnants of a bronze golem which has been smashed to pieces by some unknown force. We immediately link the bent metal to our very special friend, Leone Quintal.

We search the crime scene for further clues and find an iron ring, the initials A.G., a shattered rusty amulet, timetables for ships sailing to Elfaivar, and some really high quality piece of cloth. In addition, it seems like someone has poured witchoil down the dead man's throat. Auryn immediately identifies the cloth as Elfaivaran high fashion fabric and concludes that this must have been part of a pretty high class garment. She remembers Nathan Jierre who said he saw her ancestor Kasvarina on Axis Island and muses whether Kasvarina (or simply one of her dresses) might have been here.

Carlyle tries to attune himself to the spirit of this place and the events that might have happened here and he recieves a foggy vision: The now deceased man leads a seemingly dazed and helpless Eladrin woman out of the iron ring. A bronze golem accompanies the two. Then a second man who looks just like Leone Quintal enters the scene. He uses one of the metal rods to magicaly tie up the first man and then force-feeds him a bottle of witchoil. The woman looks at the scene and seems shocked, but doesn't really react as if she was kind of drugged. Then the tied up man seems to order his golem to attack him and the golem smashes the man's skull with his fist. This causes the metalbender to enrage, he shatters the golem to pieces with his magic and then takes the woman's hand and leads her back to where he came from. (I think that it would have a shame if the whole scene was wasted without the vision. The riddle can not be solved at this stage and i feared that the incident would go unnoticed without clues.)

Carlyle mumbles that the man must have been very brave and honors him for what he tried to do. He carefully releases him from his bonds and suggests that he is given a proper grave. When he realizes that Auryn and couldn't understand what he just witnessed, he tells her of his vision. Auryn is shocked to hear that Kasvarina might be a captive of Leone Quintal. She concludes that Kasvarina might have been under the influence of some alchemical substance and that she might not have been able to control her movements because of this. She also kind of tells Carlyle that someone used a similar drug on her once and that she loathes even thinking about that incident. (*evil grin* another personal grudge Auryn will carefully nurse. Poor Leone will get his share of pain, if she ever confronts him again.)

To Team 1 we suggest that they could try out whether the iron ring might lead them to Quinta's tracks. We offer them to use the amulets we got from Macbannin but warn them that the metal mage is no harmless opponent. As much as we want to look for Kasvarina and Quintal ourselves, we still have to follow the rules and everything Macbannin should be handled by Team 1. Unless we want to oppose Saxby. Which is something we really don't want to do.

We return to the RHC to write down our last reports where we are summoned immediately to Chief inspectress Saxby (well, that escalated quickly). She is pretty angry about another request from Col. Sebastian Harlock from the military academy where he demands to get both the flying monsters and Kaja Stewart. Thinking about the fact that we just brought Kaja, Isaac and the beasts to the RHC on this very same day, we find this rather strange. As such „secret“ news usually don't spread that fast, we suspect that we might have a mole in the RHC staff who's handing out insider information to the military academy. (ouch, that caught me unprepared.)

Saxby finds this a reasonable conclusion and orders us to find the culprit as soon as possible. So, we gather information about all RHC employees who coud have had access to the information that we arrested Kaja and Isaac and brought some strange, dead, magical beasties to the examination room. Then we thin down the list to all people who were present in the timeframe between 1 and 3 hours ago (getting letters from the RHC to the academy and back usually takes at least 1 hour, and our interrogation was 3 hours ago). (My Players love calculating things and that gets me into trouble)

We search the attendance protocols and find out that a young technician left the RHC 2 ½ hours ago due to familial problems. We ask for his files and also send a letter to Pardwright University to check for the authenticity of his degrees and certificates. In addition, we plan to question all of the other staff next morning just to be sure to catch them all.

Before Carlyle can get home to get some rest, Auryn kind of demands that the two of them go out for a drink. She chooses the golden sawfish and orders a „Voice of Rot“ cocktail. (Which is something akin to a Zombie. So really strong stuff.). Before she's served, Kronk informs her that some reporters came earlier and asked for her (Auryn Galadin, not Calla Aurea). She finds this strange and asks Kronk to send them to the RHC should they need official RHC statements. (she really doesn't want her friends to get entangled in her official business and Saxby is already pretty unamused about the news coverage of the agents Auryn and Carlyle...)

They head over to a separee and discuss the reason why Auryn acted so unnerved after leaving the the KATE for the first time. She tells Carlyle of their invitation to Goodson's upcoming wedding and that she might not be able to avoid a confrontation with Francis Fordren at this event since he and Goodson seem to be business partners. She explains that she'd love to see the guy dead, but she knows that she cannot kill him without losing everything she cares for and everything she has built up for herself in Risur. She'd probably lose not only her job and her freedom, but also her friends and her good reputation. Nonetheless, she's fed up with hiding herself and also fed up with living in fear of a man or showing her true heritage. She says that she does want to attend to Goodson's wedding, but that she wants to do so with her head held high and therefore triumph over Fordren in the true spirit of Vekesh.
(„He's just a man and here I am on my home turf. Here I am in control. Here I got my friends and allies. I will show him that he has no power over me.“. She slowly realizes that, for her, this is a power struggle and she wants to believe that showing her enemy that she'd not only „survived“, but become more powerful in the process will help her truely defeat him on an ideological level)
Auryn then asks Carlyle to be loyal to her in this matter and to promise that he'd take her side and defend her should any kind of conflict arise. She says that she doesn't want to get rear admiral Dawkins involved at this point as she guesses that he might loathe Fordren as much as she does.

Carlyle is a bit confused about why Auryn might doubt that he'd be a trustworthy partner and asks her whether she has planned anything illegal or suicidial for him. She explains that he might get into conflicts of interest as his „descendant“, the young Mr. Carlyle, is an employee of Fordren and therefore doing his bidding – even if she thinks he is an honest and pretty nice man. She only wants to be 100% sure that Carlyle won't take „Fordren's side“. Carlyle tries to dissolve her fears and says that as long as she doesn't do anything that might endanger innocents (like Cecilia, Lord Vantrys or his family) or demand that he'd be her champion in some romance-novel like „duel to the death during a raging thunderstorm atop the roofs of Flint“, he'll be her partner first and foremost. After all, he's a RHC agent.
(Seems like Carlyle is really into novels. Who would have guessed that?)

Auryn gets pretty drunk during their talk – after all, she just confessed some of her worst fears to Carlyle. Just when they are about to pay and leave, a small group enters the golden sawfish. Among them are Guy Goodson, his fiancee Cecilia and her uncle, Francis Fordren. Carlyle recognizes the man from their earlier meeting with Goodson, so he gently pushes Auryn back into the separee. He doesn't really want to risk a „showdown“ between his slightly agitated, drunk partner and Fordren. Auryn agrees to stay just a little longer until the Goodson/Fordren company has departed. She might be intoxicated, but she's not stupid and she knows that she'd need all of her mind's clarity to confront Fordren. She uses their spare time to thank Carlyle for his support and tells him that she'd really love to call him a friend as well. She just thinks that he's really buttoned up and reserved. Carlyle responds that this is just his nature and that he's better at listening to others than at talking about himself. He's been a butler for most of his life, so his own persona wouldn't really be that important in a conversation.
During our conversation, we notice two guys who are sharing stories of their past. (they were sitting in the next separee) Both have a strong beran accent and both talk about their exploits in various cities of our neighboring country. We don't pay them too much attention, but Carlyle realizes that they follow us for a while after we are finally able to leave the Sawfish. He remains cautious and is relieved when the half-orc and half-elf head down another alley after a while.
(Really expected them to be Fordren's or maybe even Leone's agents. We were pretty relieved to see that they were harmless – for now) (they were of course Lauryns Agents and their conversation was hiding the fact, that Lauryn was sitting there and listening to the constables conversation. Sir Nigel-Price will be unhappy to hear about the constable harbouring a grudge against a danorian industrialist visiting risur.)

With their „two shadows“ gone, Carlyle makes sure to get his partner home safely. When they both call it a day, Auryn briefly embraces her colleague and thanks him for his care. Then she leaves the visibly irritated Deva to get some sleep.

The next morning, Auryn gets to work pretty late and has a nasty hangover. We head over to Delft for our reports on what happened yesterday, when we see Margit emerging from his office. What nitrigues us more is the fact that she seems to be runing off to our office with a blushed face. We follow her back and ask her whether she said anything embarassing to Delft and she confesses that he just proposed to her. Both of us are more than just shocked at this revelation as there has been no sign that Delft would be showing affection, much less love to anyone. Margit tells us that she and Delft had been in a kind-of relationship for years, even if they never really spent time together besides their job at the RHC. Auryn makes a quick remark about the strangeness of Risuri men, but restrains from further inquiries. Margit is unsure about how to answer Delft's „request“ and we suggest that she might actually try to get to know her maybe-fiancee a bit better before buying a pig in a poke.

Delft is pretty worried about what happened at the KATE and asks us to do further research about Kaja's cursed artifacts and her connection to Macbannin. We mention that we are drawing dangerously close to Team 1's area of responsibility if we do investigate further in the causa Macbanning, but Delft brushes the argument off and encourages us to gather information discreetly. We also come to the conclusion that the atrifacts and the incident at the KATE might be connected to the growing number of people who suffer from distant madness, or, medically correct, distortion of dilataion. (Auryn refuses to use the sensational name some journalists invented „to sell more papers“).

Delft also mentions that there will be an audit with Viscount inspector Nigel Price-Hill soon, so we maybe should take the time to clean up any mess we might have left behind. As neither Carlyle nor Auryn did anything illegal or unethical, we kind of look forward to meeting our „big boss“ for the first time. („But... are you not worried about the audit?!“ „A meeting! With Price-Hill! We are so... EXCITED!“ Yeah, Team 3 is rather strange.)

Auryn also complains that Delft didn't warn her of Fordren Industries' booth and Fordren's possible present at the KATE in advance which he brushes off again in his very special Deft way of saying that she should grow up and be a big girl. This turns Auryn kind of sour and makes her leave the snarky comment that he might be more successful in his own advances should he at least consider spending some time with the subjects he cares for. Carlyle just stares blankly at Auryn's impudence, but she says that Delt totally deserved it when he dismisses them in a pretty rage-y way. (*grin*)

We turn to the mole problem afterwards. Therefore, we call all possible suspects to one of our bigger briefing rooms. Auryn then explains to them why they are here (security problems and leaked information) while Carlyle watches them and their reactions closely. When she finishes her pledoyer about unauthorized contact to military academy personnel, sharing information and possible financial advantages, she asks whether there is someone who'd like to confess or comment on the accusations.
Our prime suspect, the young technician then seems to meditate for a short time, only to act all confused and ask where he is right now and what he's doing here. (He calmly smoked his nicodemus leaf and then closed his eyes and left the place.)It turns out that this man is magically disguised (a suspicion Carlyle mentioned earlier), but doesn't know how he did it or how he even got to the RHC. When we relieve him of his disguise, we are surprised to find that this man is Doro, the mysterious courier we met at Macbannin's estate. (The man was wearing a hat of disguise and the constables where shocked that he looked like Doro when they finally turned that magic off.)

After a bit of interrogation and magical-alchemical analyses, we conclude that Doro is in fact a shoemaker who suffers from 9 months of amnesia as he has been possessed and puppeted by someone else via means of alchemy. We don't know how this would be even possible, but also realize that Doro, who had some medical issues before his possession, is now a pretty healthy man.
This still leaves more questions than answers, but at least we stopped the leakage and caught the mole.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
As a quick explanation on why we were so opinionated about Rock and his music:

Auryn loves both classical music (Elfaivaran, Risuri, Beran and some Crisillyiri operas) and modern docker art (which I imagine to be more jazz or blues music). In addition, she's intrigued by the story of Navras and his Opera House and dreams of maybe performing in these sacred halls one day. Now Rock mocked the opera and said that he'd never ever perform at such a boring stage and that it'd be better to pull down the building and replace it with something new and shiny. Combined with his tales of travelling to the moon and sleeping with fey queens his general public attitude didn't really do much to raise Auryn's initial opinion on Rock. His actions during and after their meeting in his tent didn't do much to change her mind. Oh and she doesn't really like his music. But that's something she only jokes about.

For Carlyle, he's already pretty conservative and this includes his taste in music (he even was upset when Auryn replaced sick Sean as pianist/singer in his cigar club because he was so used to his baritone). He also doesn't like newly rich people who need to showcase their wealth or who don't know how to behave. And Rock's orgies have been covered by the yellow press for months. Carlyle on the other hand is a man of absolute discretion.
 

Tizbiz

Explorer
Recap 12

This morning, Carlyle seems to have problems with orienting and his perception of distance. As we read about the symptoms of the distortion of dilatation (or “distant madness”), we deduce that maybe our colleague fell victim to this sickness as well. We guess that maybe touching the artifact of Simon Langfield could have triggered the distortion, as Carlyle remembers the strange vision he had when he tried to pick up the staff. As we've read in the press that the doctors of Flint can control or soften the symptoms of the disease, we suggest that Carlyle should visit a doctor as soon as possible. After all, he'd need his sense of direction for his job as an RHC agent and it would be far too dangerous for him to go on missions when he's constantly running into things.
(Now where is that sweet Dr. von Recklinghausen when you need him? Also, Dilatationsdistortion is such a great word!) (I loved the idea of the disease but did resist to toy with it too much.)

But before we can send Carlyle off, he insists that we take care of the stuff that can be done in our office. We already asked for data about the motion profiles of the other distortion victims and now it's time to analyze it. We see an overlap in movement parallel to the new underground line, down the main road in Central all the way to the harbor. With this data, we ask Kaja Stewart about her preferred trade spots. And they just happen to overlap with our victim's profiles! Same thing is true for the timing of the first outbreak of distortion of dilatation: It all began when Kaja first started her black market sales. (evil grin)

Kaja swears that she didn't know her artifacts would curse or infect people and she says she never intended to harm anyone. We kind of believe her, but insist that she stays in our custody as our conspirator-enemies could be interested in her. We also ask her about a Col. Sebastian Harlock from the Flint military academy, but she doesn't know anyone of that name. We need more information about that guy...

Afterwards, we report about our mole extermination progress to Chief Inspectress Saxby. We tell her that we still don't know what they did to Doro, but we're certain to have stopped the leakage of information. We try to give her tips on how to increase RHC security and maybe handle the ever growing interest of the reporters (after all, she didn't seem too fond of all the attention they would give us), but she rebuffs us harshly, saying that she does know how to handle her office and the press, thank you.

(We both were shocked to see her react so harshly, even rude. On a second thought it was totally in character for her as she wouldn't want her authority undermined even the tiniest bit) (yes, indeed!!!)

Before we leave the RHC, Auryn apologizes to Carlyle for invading his privacy yesterday. She says she's used to handle her problems alone and just wanted to explain what was wrong with her and then everything that worried her just kept on erupting. Carlyle just waves the matter aside as if nothing happened at all. (Well, he was a butler and maybe has been in the very same situation a lot of times in the past)

Next, we carefully help Carlyle to get to a doctor. We find the address of a specialist for mood disorders in North Shore and lead him there. We then try to get an early examination as we suspect he might have distortion of dilatation and just happens to be an RHC agent on an important and very urgent mission, but he's told he'd still have to wait. So Auryn leaves her colleague in the doctor's care and sees what can be done without Carlyle's involvement.

First, she's heading to Dawkins for a private chat. She tells her friend that they found clues about Kasvarina and her fate and that things look rather grim. She says that she and Carlyle would like to contact Asrabey in that matter, as he'd surely like to hear about his wife's whereabouts. For this, she prepared a letter to the Eladrin warrior which includes a part of the dress' cloth we found by the dead body of A.G. The letter says that we found this cloth in Flint and that it might belong to Kasvarina, but we don't mention Leone Quintal or Kasvarina's abduction as we hope to trade this further information for Nathan Jierre. And the Tielfing's knowledge of the planes might come in handy in the matters of the bleak gate travel technology. Morris Dawkins promises to get the letter delivered to the court, but states that he doesn't know how the fey would react on it.
(So maybe this mighty Eladrin warrior could be a great ally in our feud against Quintal. Time to put this flaming weaponry against Mr. metalbender!) (I feel so sorry for Quintal. The poor guy will be in trouble soon.)

He then shows Auryn a short article about the upcoming engagement and possible wedding of a certain Cecilia Fordren and Guy Goodson. To his surprise, Auryn already knows about this event. She says that she's been thinking about Fordren a lot lately and that she's come to the conclusion that she cannot simply eliminate her nemesis. At least not in Flint or Risur. Doing so would risk everything she cares for, her existence, her freedom. And she says that she doesn't think the guy would be worth such a sacrifice. Instead she wants to triumph in the “true way of Vekesh” to win a first victory against him. She repeats the statements about Fordren being only a man and having no power over her she's given Carlyle the evening before and Dawkins seems to understand. He adds that should she kill Fordren one day, she shouldn't do it for selfish reasons, but because he's a slaver who might hurt others for his own gain. She agrees to this argument, but says that her emotions are pretty strong and her need for revenge of him doesn't really stem from altruistic impulses.
(There was this tiny misunderstanding between Morris and Auryn where Morris hinted that Fordren might take other Eladrin or... people as captives while Auryn was certain that he'd only be after his Charusheela. She does know that Fordren's workers face a fate similar to slavery though and she often jokes about importing the institution of the Executores dola Liberta to Risur)

After her friendly exchange, Auryn heads to the embassy of Ber. There she asks for a conversation with Wolmi Heffanita, her dear friend and fellow student. Wolmi seems quite happy to see one of the two RHC agents again who helped her make a claim on her chieftain's lineage. She thanks Auryn and the RHC for their help before she finally hands her over the notebook of Toni Starke which she had used to support her claim. Auryn then asks about ancient artifacts and gives a rough description and sketches of the items she found on Kaja.

Wolmi explains that these artifacts show true signs of ancient orcish symbolism. She says that she knows these symbols from old totems in the High Bayou or in the berian swamps. As the young minotaur seems honestly interested in the items, Auryn promises her to be among the first to see them “live” should they eventually find them. Wolmi asks her to proceed her search with caution, as the artifacts could be cursed as well. Auryn agrees and adds that she already suspected a curse which is why the RHC should handle the search in the first place.

After leaving the embassy, Auryn then heads to the museum of natural history to meet curator Hans Weber. Weber seems to be occupied with examining some extravagant Docker art he cannot really wrap his head around, so he asks Auryn which of the three abstract artworks to add to his exhibition. As Auryn is no specialist for avantgarde art (dance and music, yes, but her own art is traditional Eladrin style), she suggests to... maybe ask a Docker artist?

She then asks him about the artifacts and Weber instantly recognized their description from a notebook. He goes off to fetch it and then shows her a lot of sketches of ancient artifacts which were promised to the museum. He goes on to explain that there had been an excavation in the High Bayou which ended in a disaster and that the artifacts found in the expedition were somehow lost and never arrived at the museum.

Weber mentions that only the expedition's leader, a Dr. Meredith from Slate University returned back alive. He mentions that Dr. Meredith might be in her guest quarters at Pardwright and that the expedition was funded by a certain Mr. Bergeron. Auryn asks whether this man happens to be a tiefling and surprised Weber confirms her thesis. (Kaja's / Macbannin's contact had been a tiefling after all). She thanks the curator for his information, but adds that the RHC will have to check the artifacts for any kind of curse or similar magic effect before handing them over to anyone. She hints that they are currently haunted by the curse of Apet which is what might cause the distortion of dilatation disease.

As she returns to the doctor, Carlyle is about to be released home. They tell him that he should take some herbal pills and restrain from any kind of stressful activity. Needless to say that the deva seems pretty miserable. He just got a prescribed vacation! And he's basically unable to work unless he wants to risk his health. Auryn tells her colleague of the information she gathered in the mean time and she tries to cheer Carlyle up by suggesting that they could visit this Dr. Meredith. After all, chatting doesn't really qualify as stressful activity. (The doctor did not really know what causes the disease but did what they usually do.)

They visit Dr. Meredith in the guest wing of Pardwright. She turns out to be a quite young archaeologist who seems both very nervous and afraid of what happened. Nevertheless, she agrees to tell us what happened to her and her expedition.

She tells us that Bergeron funded the expedition and helped her find experts who'd support her during the excavation. They found an ancient complex in the High Bayou where they stumbled across several ancient artifacts which they sent back home. Much later they found a golden disc deep inside the structure. They then waited until a group of specialists arrived who carefully removed the disc. Then some people started showing symptoms of what would be later known as distortion of dilatation. She herself departed after a while to fetch some supplies and was shocked to see that everyone was dead when she returned. She then felt an urgent need to flee and returned back to Flint.

We ask her about the ancient civilizations that might have built the structure and the people they depicted in their murals and Meredith tells us that she once read the name Egal the shimmering, a kind of demon lord of the golden legion, on an ancient scroll.

We assume that the Tiefling who confronted MacBannin with his artifacts and who -according to Kaja– was called out for “breaching the protocol” by the mayor was Bergeron. This way, Macbannin could have gotten his hands on them and this is how they finally ended with Kaja. As Beregeron seems to have gone into hiding, we plan to follow the only clue we have left: the complex in the High Bayou. We offer Meredith to accompany us there as she could really help us with all her knowledge, but she's just too afraid to go there again. (Somehow the players asumed, if Katja could not find Bergeron he must be out of reach. Maybe my fault?)

We plan to depart the next morning. Carlyle is very concerned about his health and he fears that he might endanger Margit and Auryn when he walks directly into the swamp or activates a trap or something similar. Margit asks him about the doctor's diagnosis and offers him to try to cure him the next morning. Carlyle thanks her for trying to help him, even if he fears the worst. (The condition was not intended to cripple the players. This was going downhill so i had to do something about it.)

We are all relieved to see that our medical specialist actually succeeds with her magic. She tells us that it was unusually hard to cure her colleague, but she guesses that she could perform this procedure again.
(No, we both didn't think that a simple cure disease would help against a curse-like madness. Thanks, Margit!) (evil grin)

As we prepare for our trip to the Bayou, Auryn jokes about Carlyle being afraid to catch Eladrin diseases and this is why he doesn't want to come close to her. Margit gives her a good laugh, but Carlyle responds that he just isn't used to close comradeship anymore. He once had a group of people in the Crisillyir military he could trust and with whom he was close, but that was 500 years ago. He thinks that maybe team 3 could form such a band of brothers (or rather, sisters?) in time, but they shouldn't expect him to do the first steps in such a direction. He's been a butler too long, so he's used to reacting and staying in the background.

He then tells Auryn that he does appreciate the help of others (as with his magic studies) and that he had troubles getting back to his old life and his own identity after his two reincarnations. He somehow ended up on the streets among the homeless where he felt comfortable and safe. These people, who had nothing for themselves, cared for him two times in very different cities and their sense for community touched him deeply. This is why he has a heart for the poor and homeless and he tries to help those who live in his neighborhood. They also share information they pick up on the streets with him.

So he asks Auryn to look out for him on the streets of Flint should he ever happen to die again. Even if he hopes that this day will never come again. Auryn is surprised to hear about this very unusual side of Carlyle, but thanks him for his trust. She promises to not let him end up as a hobo should he die and be reincarnated, but she also thinks that he's strong enough to survive the dangers of being an RHC agent.

So together we take the morning express to Bole and head to the small town of Agate from there. Agate is known for its high quality silk and as Auryn is still in need of a proper dress for the upcoming royal wedding, she plans to shop for raw materials there. She learns that the famous silk is harvested from huge spiders which live in the Bayou. We rent a room in a pension and have a chat with Jack (or Jacqueline)(too many males in premade adventures, so i have a habit to use male names for some females as a pun. And i change some NPCs gender. Thanks, Lylanda for telling me years ago!), the pension's owner. She tells us that she had other guests a week ago and that these guys were two dwarves, two tieflings and two city-dwellers. She thought them to be big game hunters, but the didn't return from the bayou with game, but one big, hidden object. We believe that the group might have taken the object and possibly other artifacts from the excavation site.

The next morning we head to a small pier to rent some boats for our journey through the Bayou. As Margit remembers stories about the sleeping titan, we agree that it'd be wise to please her. So we use the second boat for the traditional sacrifice of... chickens for the Voice of Rot!
In addition, Carlyle prepares his special anti-mosquito mixture to protect us from possible bloodsuckers and stingers (Thanks, Mr. Carlyle!). (The players had worries that the chickens might attract predators and i had plenty of fun teasing them.)

At some time during our rowing, we realize that one of our sacrificial chickens has gone missing. And after a while we perceive that our boat has somehow gotten heavier. As we suspect that maybe something invisible has entered our boat, we use detect magic and indeed find an illusion aura under one of the benches. It turns out that an invisible faerie dragon invaded our boat and took one of the chickens for breakfast. After we call out to him, he turns visible and congratulates us on our wise decision to bring the tribute to the old lady. (and the wise decision to provide him with free meals)

It turns out that the small dragon is a rather cute fellow who's pretty adapt at evocation magic. After a well-aimed lightning bolt, Auryn calls him Flying Spark (Funkenflug) ("Flying of Sparks" or "Sparks flying" is a more precise translation) and he doesn't object. He offers to guide us through the foggy bayou if we share some of our chickens with him (the Voice surely doesn't mind!). As he has seen the complex first hand, we agree to this deal. (Lylandras reaction was as predicted: "can we keep him?" *grin*)

We finally come along some landmarks: golden-red cloth wrapped around dead trees which Auryn finds eerily beautiful (don't question a fey's taste). They lead us to a very old ziggurat with engraved walls. There, armies of humanoids and monsters are depicted and they seem to battle each others. In front of the ziggurat we find three corpses of people who probably died weeks ago. We carefully examine their bodies and find that someone has moved them around, possibly while they were doing the same research we do right now....
 
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Lylandra

Explorer
Hey folks,

as Tizbiz has currently no time to continue this thread, I agreed to post a recap every now and then whenever I get another one of mine translated. I promised to add his comments according to his color-scheme, but I don't know when he might be able to do that, so until then I'll try to expand my own comments and thoughts. If I got him right, it was originally his intention to show our campaign through a player's lens anyway (which is why he wanted us to be able to read his thread and keep it mostly spoiler-free, I guess).

Regarding spoilers and discussions, we are already in the middle of adventure 4 (just arrived in Nalaam and had a "friendly talk" with Damata and the Familia), so feel free to comment.

I'll also cut my whole-session recaps down into more legible chunks as the later ones tend to be really long (~5-8 pages each) and will get even longer due to my comments and added details. It might get over the top, but I try to capture when, how and why PCs or NPCs react the way they do so I'll get a comprehensive retelling of the story once everything is done ;) .

---

We cautiously descend into the strange temple. On our way into the complex we realize that space and time do not seem to obey our laws of physics as it takes us several minutes to reach the first chamber which is only a few meters behind the entrance. We identify one of the symbols in this chamber as the sign of Apet and conclude that this could simply be a temple of Apet. We also find three mummified orcs who look as if they were once carrying weapons. This leads us to the assumption that maybe the three cursed artifacts originate from them. This is looking eerily familiar and we immediately link this ziggurat to the tomb of the ancient minotaur leader we found with Wolmi Heffanita.

We follow one of the hallways and realize that its walls are covered with an illusion which makes the walls look more impressive than they really are. Suspicious as this seems, we decide to regularly check up on the real walls to avoid nasty surprises.

After a seemingly endless corridor, we reach a grand room filled with colorful pillars and force fields. We assume that this might be some kind of trial or test for the original worshippers and decide to examine the rest of the structure first.

In the other direction we find some traps that can be more or less easily disabled by using the corresponding element (fire, a heavy stone and blown air). We also avoid the trapped undead orc mummies who try to stab us with their spears.

We reach a really big room where we are attacked by spider-like creatures and flying eyeball monsters. Fortunately, Flying Spark, our friendly Faerie Dragon, followed us into the temple and makes good use of his fireball spell as the spiderlings are out of reach. As the fireballs detonate, we realize that this room is also enhanced by an illusion and really not as big as it seemed.

The flying eyeballs turn out to be really insidious enemies. They attack our consciousness and let Margit, Carlyle and Auryn experience their worst fears and memories. Margit seems to have had a happy life so far as she sees Stover Delfs breaking up with her. Carlyle is first subjected to societal mishaps and scandals and then has to relive his last death when he failed to protect the late Lord and Lady Vantrys. Auryn witnesses the death of her cousin Zahir and her unsuccessful fight against the pirates. She seems to struggle with her vision as she curses the bloody bastards and violently stabs the eyeballs. We also manage to avoid an illusory trap of a bottomless pit.
(Seeing pirates instead of eyeballs and Auryn's resulting frenzy were my own fluffy interpretation of the monster's mental attack. „I won't let them kill you as well!“)

We head down the next corridor and find it covered by a beautiful illusion of a starry sky. At first we cannot recognize any of the depicted constellations, but we study them a bit and find out that they could show the sky as it was hundreds of years ago. Then we come across a room which is blocked by a force field. A doormat with a „welcome“ sign seems to invite visitors, but we see no way to enter. However, three bodies of tieflings indicate that there must be an entrance somewhere. We believe that this barrier might be linked to the trial in the rainbow room and continue our exploration.

(standard dungeon logics. As seasoned D&D players, we kind of developed a routine when it comes to carefully examining dungeons of all kinds - thanks, Rappan Athuk. So explore everything first, be careful to not activate any trap, and don't use any mechanism before checking the whole structure unless you 100% know what it does. So yeah, see you later, rainbow room)

The next room is filled with pictures of orcs and rituals. We also find a symbol of Mavisha, the plane of water, on the floor but see no obvious trap linked to it. We try to trigger the symbol by pouring water and drops of blood on it, but have no success. We also see a hole which is carved into one of the walls and conclude that there must have been an object placed there. In addition, we find a corridor that was obviously added by someone who digged his way through one of the walls.

We follow this corridor as well and find an ancient map which, to our surprise, contains no Yerasol Archipelago. In its stead, there is a huge land mass which connects Risur and the northern part of Lanjyr. Above the map are golden plates with holes. Mechanical devices are attatched to the plates and we believe that someone used them to readjust the plates. Above this whole apparatus is a crystal. Once we ignite this gemstone with a light spell, we see two dots of light on the ancient map: One points to the place we are now and one to a place which must be located somewhere in the ocean between Elba and Ber. We take some time to make a drawing of the map and the two locations.
(We got some serious Sundering/Ancient Kalimdor vibes from the map... and should learn someday that Lanjyr was once shattered by an exploding well of magic when some demonic horde tried to invade our world, we'll both share a good laugh ;) )

As we cannot open the next door, we head back to the rainbow room and start decyphering the puzzle. After a bit of trial and error we find out that we simply have to get one person behind the rainbow colored force walls. We decide that Margit is the worst one at jumping/flying around and let her do the job.

(Puzzles! We both really enjoyed the rainbow room puzzle and insisted to play it in „hard mode“. Carlyle also tried to avoid „cheating“ by flying over chasms as far as possible. It wasn't that hard though and definitely one of the better and well-implemented and -integrated dungeon puzzles. Tizbiz used colored cut out paper models to represent the bridges and walls which we added and removed whenever we activated one of the corresponding colors. And now we know why Flying Spark accompanied us down there ;) )

When we are about to dissolve the final wall (and are very much all spread over the whole room), we are attacked by some monsters again. Margit seems to be safe between the walls, but Carlyle, Auryn and Flying Spark are suddenly under attack. Auryn manages to defend herself (thanks, parry!) and is aided by our magical Faerie Dragon and his elemental magic. Meanwhile, Carlyle does his best to strike down the enemies who come at him one by one. Fortunately, we can keep our minds closed this time.

(We did expect some obstacle along the way, but the enemies attacked us in a very delicate situation with Carlyle near the room's entrance and Auryn on the very bottom left edge while Margit was sandwiched between two walls of force. Mobile Flying Spark saved the day here as Auryn and Carlyle had to switch to full defensive. They really didn't want any more mental assaults. It was a fun encounter though)

After a long and tedious battle, we finally strike down the last of our foes. We put down the final barrier and a door opens in front of Margit. It leads, surprise, surprise, to the map room. But this time, we can witness a vision of three orcs who are carrying the three artifacts we found when we arrested Kaja Stewart. They say they fear that a seal might be broken and that this is why war beasts of Gidim might be standing in front of a golden plate. Said beasts look exactly like the beasts who attacked us back at the KATE... One of the orcs says that this might only be an effect of the seal of Apet and that the seal itself has to be still intact. We manage to get some understanding of the Ancient's language through this vision.

We continue to the room with the dead tieflings and find the barrier gone. Cautious as we are, we decide to search for traps first and find that no living being can enter this room without being seriously harmed. Auryn summons an unseen servant to place a rope around one of the dead bodies and we drag the tiefling outside to examine him. We find some strange mutations on his body and Margit says that he either have died of fear or another mental trauma as she cannot find any bodily wound.

We cannot find any notes or other clues at the body, so Carlyle agrees to teleport behind the trap's trigger to examine the room. Auryn promises to keep her servant on alert so that it could do the rope trick again and let us save him in case of emergency.

Fortunately our plan succeeds and Mr. Carlyle starts searching the room. He finds another opening in one of the walls, this time a circular one, which is covered by a seemingly golden plate. Once he takes a closer look at the object, he finds out that the plate is only plated with gold. Also, Apet Energy seems to be seeping out of the opening behind the plate, and we come to the conclusion that this plate might keep a massive wave of planar energy – which might stem from a portal – from erupting into the room. We all know that this might sound ludicrous to a magical scholar as creating portals to other worlds is kind of impossible.
(We're finally reaching X files territory, aren't we? No one's gonna believe us anyway. I wonder if Auryn & Carlyle would be as intriguing as Scully & Mulder...)

We also remember the vision of the orcs and realize that the square plate is not the same thing as the round, massive golden seal that we saw. We also remember that Dr. Meredith spoke of a golden seal as well and think that this object might have been the heavy thing the dwarves etc. were carrying when they came through Agate again. Then the three dead Tieflings might have been her missing specialists. So maybe the remaining members of the expedition brought the seal to Bergeron?

In front of the plate, Carlyle finds two half circles which are drawn with chalk. There is a third circle made of stone as well, but it seems to be damaged. We think that these circles might be protective wards which keep the Apet energy at bay. So Mr. Carlyle makes sure to not interfere with this whole construction.

When he cannot find more information in the seal room, Carlyle teleports back to reunite with the rest of our crew. The moment we plan to leave the Ziggurat, we suddenly hear the sound of fast approaching water...

(When we accidentally activated the trap of Mavisha, Tizbiz informed us that there would have been a way to prevent the flooding by pouring salt water onto the symbol. To that point, none of us would have linked Mavisha to salt water, and there really is no ocean nearby so I don't know how or if it would have been reasonably possible to disarm the trap. Also, my blood is pretty salty, dammit! :D)
 
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Lylandra

Explorer
We fear that the whole temple of Apet might sink into the abyss, so we make heel to reach the exit of the Ziggurat as quickly as possible. On our way out we find that the mummies who were previously trapped behind the walls are now roaming free in the hallways. As the Tiefling bodies we've left behind seem to come to life as well, we fight through the mummies in front of us and run for our lives while trying to get away from the water/poison liquid as fast as possible. After all, no one wants to be impaled or eaten by a rabid undead.

At the entrance chamber, we are stopped by the three animated orc warriors we saw in our vision. They call us thieves and defilers of their temple (hey, we didn't dig that tunnel or steal your artifacts and we completed your rainbow trial!) and start to attack us immediately. They seem to be stronger and better equipped than the wall-trap-mummies and one of them even seems to be capable of using magic. This orc throws a fireball at us which is hard to dodge because of our limited space in the corridor. Auryn starts a fire protection dance (she's of the Flamedancer Bard archetype) which is then complemented by a similar spell from Margit. The two melee mummy fighters team up on Auryn who does her best to defend herself. Fortunately, the attacks on Auryn leave Mr. Carlyle enough room to bring himself into a good position behind the undead's backs and we manage to strike the mummies down one by one.

Then we flee the Ziggurat just before the poisoned water can reach us. To our horror, we see that a seeming army of undead animals who must have drowned in the swamp long before is now approaching the ziggurat. We see no way to fight them all on an open field and so we decide to climb the top of the ziggurat to leave them as little space as possible to attack us.

Then mist arises from the swamp and a huge snake, as tall as a building, rises up from the deep. It wraps its body around the ziggurat and crushes the undead who were already on the climb towards us. We instantly realize that this magnificent being can only be the Fey Titan known as Voice of Rot.

The titan then raises its voice to hail us, the agents of Kelland. We realize that to the Titan, all mortals must kind of seem the same and that he's probably not that interested in news about who the current king of Risur is (plus it was Kelland who challenged the Titans, so this might actually work in our favor), so we decide to humbly bow before him and keep silence.

The Voice of Rot seems upset that something has escaped from this temple and that it were mortals who helped it escape. He says that he cannot find rest until the thing is hunted down and brought back or destroyed and he (and we!) really really wants to get back to his sleep. He then basically orders us to find and catch it by following its stinking trails out of the swamp. He adds that he is generous and that we better not disppoint him, then dives down to the swamp only to reappear and spew out some "useless trinkets" he found on rotting corpses. The Titan then slithers back into the swamp and disappears.
(Tizbiz used this opportunity to hand us some seemingly random treasure we could then bring back to the RHC. One of the funnier ways to obtain treasure I suppose)

We are relieved that neither the undead, nor the Titan tore us to pieces. Even Flying Spark, who previously spoke very boldly of his rather relaxed relationship with the "Old One" is still shivering to the bone. We cannot see the trails the Voice mentioned, so Auryn tries to detect magical traces while Mr. Carlyle uses Gale's planar energy tracking spell. His spell finds some traces of Apet Energy, so we head back to our boat and follow the tail.

On our way out of the swamp, we learn that the trail is actually six small trails plus a big one. The six go in parallel, while the big one occasionally uses a slightly different route and we deduce that this must have been a singular person or creature who came along later. This might be the "one that escaped", so we concentrate on this trail. Both trails eventually lead out of the swamp and into the direction of Agate, so we decide to visit the town once again.

Auryn decides to take the opportunity and buy some high quality silk for a fairly reasonable price. After all, she'd need some really fancy dress for the upcoming royal wedding. She decides to buy some additional rolls for Milena Dawkins as a gift and hints that Mr. Carlyle might want to get a new dress suit as well. (Nothing against Mr. Carlyle's style of dress, but a royal wedding is a really special occasion and he's no mere butler anymore. So he'd better open up for some clothing advice ;) )

Back in the tavern, Auryn tries to shake off the horrors of the undead horde and her first meeting with a Fey Titan. Unfortunately, all the guys who'd like to flirt with her are "inexperienced younglings" in her eyes and she muses whether this Risur has some suitable companions for her at all. Margit explains that all the guys were handsome young gentlemen and that maybe Auryn is just very picky (oh yes, she is!). Auryn says that she honestly believes that Eladrin and "the other mortals" might just have slightly different interests which leads to Carlyle asking her about her preferences. He adds that she's more than just beautiful and usually not really conservatively dressed, so he guesses that she's somehow seeking attention. Auryn objects and says that she's simply dressing the way she likes (which is pretty elven/elfaivaran) and that she's simply used to getting attention, not actively seeking it. She's a hitiko and a matriarch's daughter after all.
(Again one of the many misunderstandings between Eladrin woman and Risuri man. Auryn's just used to do whatever she likes and the reaction she might get from men doesn't bother her at all. Where she comes from, she wouldn't even have to dress up to be noticed as someone special as she was already special by merely being born. One of the many reasons why she wanted to be "perfect" back then)

For her interests, she says that it's complicated. Usually, she has been attracted to elves, half-elves, minotaurs and some humans somewhere between the ages of 30 to 60. And she's really not into inexperienced "boys". (Somehow Eladrin men seem to be even more rare than Eladrin women in Risur...)
She avoids discussing her crush on Recklinghausen though.

Just when Carlyle jokes that Ms. Auryn Galadin might be among the most demanding women he's met over the course of the last century, a carriage stops in front of the tavern. Then an older half-elf emerges from it who's accompanied by a middle-aged woman. The women rents a room while the gentleman, a certain Romeo Casanunda, does his best to flirt with Auryn.

She realizes that all of the guys's stories about his journeys to foreign countries are pretty fake and it turns out that on top of that he's a notorious duelist who loves finishing off the cuckolds should they demand satisfaction. Auryn plays along for a while and then suggests that they could duel a bit to get the blood flowing. He doesn't seem that interested in fencing and tries to spike her drink with an aphrodisiac instead. She then says that she's not into this sort of nonsense and he leaves her at her table.

Auryn seems to be pretty frustrated about Casanunda and not getting her way, so Carlyle reaches out to his super secret weapon: A steamy romance novel. He adds that the contents might help her release a bit of her accumulated stress. She thanks him for the book although she's a bit skeptical, knowing that her friend Nymeia reads similar novels with rather strange contents.
(So there's the reason why Carlyle wouldn't let Auryn into his "secret library"... this man has some interesting guilty pleasures)

Auryn just started reading the first few chapters of Carlyle's book in her room when she hears strange noises at her window. Down below stands Casanunda, rose in hands, who asks for some private time with the sweet lady. Auryn is pretty irritated by the man's sudden move and almost jokingly invites him "if he manages to get up there on his own". She's surprised to see that Romeo is pretty agile and climbs the wall with almost no effort. "Screw it" she says then, turns to Romeo, tosses him to her bed and spends a night with him.

Though she suspected that he'd probably die somewhen to a heartstroke that night, he's gone before the morning comes.

In the mean time, Carlyle does some research and finds out that Romeo plays his game almost professionally and he's more than just disgusted by his practises. So when Auryn mutters that even more active ways of stress relief didn't help, he seems pretty shocked and explains Casanunda's bad reputation to his colleague. Auryn tries to shrug it off and says that there's nothing wrong with an unmarried woman sleeping with someone because she's stressed and wants to clear her mind. Carlyle says that she just gave Casanunda what he wanted and Auryn heavily objects, saying that this wasn't about *him*, but *her* and that he was merely a means to an end. After all, she'd thought that he wouldn't make it till sunrise. This doesn't change anything for Carlyle though and he adds that he thought she'd have higher standards. (For a relationship and serious attraction! To Auryn, Romeo was a mere tool which didn't help anyway. Now she knows that something's wrong with her...)

We leave the tavern and follow the trail all the way to the train station of Bole. From the workers we hear that they transported a big object recently which was to be shipped to Flint. Also, one worker who had symptoms of the distortion of dilataion sickness accidentally touched the object and got magically cured from his condition.

In addition, Carlyle meets a servant of a man who's looking for a certain Romeo Casanunda. His master is looking for that guy and demands compensation. Carlyle tells the man to warn his master as Casanunda is a notorious duelist. He also looks piqued at Auryn who just shrugs and says that these men wouldn't face that many problems if they'd just let their wives do whatever they want or keep it a matter between husband and wife. As long as they make sure to not produce any offspring with stray cats like Romeo, lust, love and duty are three different kinds of animal. (She can be so totally unapologetic.. Coming from a matriarchal society, she has sometimes quite irritating views for a traditionalist like Carlyle and the two often clash when it comes to what is or isn't right and proper)

We take the next best train to Flint and meet a young, nice man named Jules on our trip back home. He's an entrepreneur who's working in logistics and on his way home. Mr. Carlyle takes his time to tease the nervous Jules when he introdices himself as agent of the RHC. He jokingly asks him questions about his business while Jules firmly believes that he's being questioned for real. Carlyle tells him he's been not really serious and adds that Jules may come to the RHC HQ in Flint should he ever need a proper agent to investigate in mysterious matters. The two men exchange cards and spend the remaining time with smalltalk. Meanwhile, Flying Spark draws a lot of attention from our fellow passengers and Margit is concerned about her dog Ripper as she left the little one in Delft's care.
(Carlyle can be sooo mean if he's playing his playful tricks on others to amuse himself. He's also prone to suspecting mimics everywhere when Delft is around just to tease him and Delft more then often tosses some stuff from his desk at him in returm.)

We arrive late in Flint and decide to go to bed before reporting to Delft the next morning. When Carlyle arrives at his home, he quickly realizes that someone must have been in his house while he was away. He searches for missing objects, but finds only that some items slightly changed places. He's pretty worried about what happened and whether someone tried to spy at him. When he goes outside to check up on his yard, he's hailed by a bravura of the Familia who clears up the matter for him: He tells Carlyle that someone broke into his house to leave a letter and a pocket full of gold. He then decided to enter the house himself to carefully remove them both.

Carlyle reads the letter and is surprised that someone seems to wish to connect him with bribery as the money is meant as payment for information about Kaya Stewart and signed with a „K“ (which might be the initial of Kell).

He takes letter and gold to his neighborhood cafe near the boule ground to discuss this matter with Pietro. The bravura tells Carlyle that he saw people spying in the surrounding blocks recently but that he also thinks that some of them are actually pretty good at their job and might be related to the RHC. He adds that he feared someone might have done the same trick at Auryn's house, but they fortunately found nothing suspicious. Carlyle thanks Pietro for his care and gives the bribing money to Pietro and his godsiblings as he has no need for it. He then carefully burns the letter.

Carlyle fears that Auryn might panic once she realizes that someone broke into her house (After all, she is concerned about her personal security and he knows that she's afraid of Fordren's goons), so he decides to pay her a visit. When he arrives at her home, he's relieved to see that his colleague interpreted the scratch marks at her door as signs of a failed intrusion and is in the middle of explaining Flying Spark very basic level forensics. Carlyle tells the two what happenes at his house and they all agree to keep an eye open for falsely incriminating evidences.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
The next morning, we all meet again in Delft's office and give him a report on our field trip to the ziggurat of Apet. He's worried about the awakening of the Voice of Rot and decides to give Flying Spark a „constable on trial“ badge to let him follow the orders of the Fey Titan. No one wants to mess with one of these...

Delft also mentions a possible Ragman copycat who specifically targets artists and thinkers. He gives us the files on this case and we read that this Ragman seems to extract the brains of his victims by unknown methods. As no Ragman ever targeted the brains and nothing else, we suspect that this one has nothing to do with the real Ragman. We promise to keep our eyes open on the serial killer though.

Margit takes us to her examination room to examine the latest victim of the new Ragman: A poet and philosopher named Satanas. She explains that the murderer must have had some really good knowledge of anatomy and medical procedures to extract the brain by this means and she looks thoroughly impressed. (Margit can get quite creepy from time to time...). We also find traces of Apet energy at the body, so we eliminate a possible political motive.

Carlyle is creeped out and also very concerned about Auryn's safety. He says that she's one of the most artistic and unconventionally thinking people he's ever known so maybe she should ask for professional police protection. Auryn thanks him for his care, but at this point she'd rather fear for the lives of the poor police officers who would try to protect her. After all, the last agent who wanted to protect one of their clients (Lynn) ended up being killed by Leone's thugs and the very last thing she wants is to offer condolences to families whose sons and daughters died to protect an RHC agent with superior defense skills. She also adds that she now has a frightful dragon tyrant in her garden, so no sane creature would dare to attack her anyway. Carlyle is still not convinced, but he sees reason in her words and puts the matter aside.

We head back to Delft and he reminds us of the upcoming audit. He adds that he isn't too worried about the outcome. After all, his Team 3 are the constables who insisted to fill out forms for mere mocha presents. Delft also mentions that we'd probably be audited by Saxby anyway, so it is just business as usual. We try not too hard to hide our disappointment at these news and raise our concerns at this method. After all, it would be quite expensive to have Price-Hill move to Flint for quite a while only to audit Saxby and Delft and no one else of our staff. We add that this way, it will be very hard for Price-Hill to notice irregularities should they happen to be located within the leadership of the Flinter office. We say that we don't want to suspect anyone, but that maybe the Viscount Inspctor would want to talk to the teams personally.
(Don't know whether Tizbiz misread something here, but it seemed strange to both of us to have almost all of our RHC staff audited by Saxby alone. At this point, we had no basis to suspect any irregularities, but talking to us offered Price-Hill and his interns some hooks they could have acted upon later)

We agree to follow the trail of the missing seal next. Coincidentally the transport company which was paid to transport the heavy object is connected to the same Mr. Jules we met on the train, so we head to his office to ask for more information. It doesn't take him too much time to find out that the plate was brought to a warehouse in Bosum Strand.

Five of the other Apet traces lead us to the harbor where we learn that this group took some underwater excavation materials to a ship called „Il Dracon de Mer“ which is headed to the colonies in Elfaivar.

We assume that the Dracon de Mer might be a simple disctraction (after all, there were five traces and not six), so we decide to go to the warehouse first. Inside it we find three dead people. Or rather, their blood, as this is all what's left of them. We find no signs of Apet energy and assume that the seal might have neutralized it. By examining this place we learn that two of the dead were guards and one an adventurer. And we hear one whispered name: Sijhen.
(In a hindsight, it should have been obvious that the dead adventurer was the missing sixth person of the excavation team. But we were pretty much on data overload at this time and wanted to be extra extra sure that the Dracon was no red herring. Tiz surely loves throwing some crimson fishes at us.)

We are a bit overwhelmed with what we found, so we head back to Delft to discuss this matter with him. He suggests that we'd maybe check up on Meredith and keep an eye open for this mysterious Mr. Bergeron.

Unfortunately, we find no Dr. Meredith in her appartement as she apparently left to care for her family. When we search for planar traces, we find a strong trace which reminds us of the strong signature we found in the bayou. So we guess that maybe the thing which escaped the Ziggurat and which maybe Sijhen could have possessed Dr. Meredith and escaped in her body. (Dr. Meredith and Ms. Sijhen? The family matters excuse reeked like an obvious lie)

We search for more clues on the tiefling Bergeron and find that he has taken a room in the Silver Swan. There we are greeted by a fellow ex-butler who knows Mr. Carlyle from previous societal events. He quit his job recently to take the opportunity to work as a hotel manager. Mr. Carlyle and the other man get along pretty well and he can tell us quite a bit about Bergeron. He really appreciates this well-mannered gentleman who's welcome in the finest circles in Flint and beyond.

Mr. Carlyle uses this opportunity to tease Auryn on the not so fine circles a certain Casanunda seems to be part of. He also muses that the "other middle aged industrialist gentleman" who had interest in her might not have the best character as well despite his obvious wealth. This is where she immediately stops him with a really bitter tone and tells him that he may joke all the way about Casanunda and other gentlemen, but that mentioning Fordren is beyond appropriate and no material for jokes. Carlyle instantly realizes his mistake and apologizes honestly.
(That guy can be so charming and polite and yet so mean. But he surely knows how to take a "no")

When the manager opens the door to Bergeron's room, we find the tiefling lying dead in his bed. Nothing seems to be missing – besides his brain. We also find a strong trace of Apet energy, so we assume that our Ragman/Sijhen/Dr. Meredith must have been here. The manager explains that he knows this Dr. Meredith and that this woman had a verbal argument with Mr. Bergeron only recently. We decide to take Bergeron and his belongings (his nightgown and his ring) with us to let Margit make further examinations.

Now there are only two tracks left to follow: One strong trace of Apet energy which leads to a smuggler's quai in Bosum Strand where a small smuggler boat took off in the direction of Pine Island and the Dracon de Mer. Auryn offers to talk to her friend, rear admiral Dawkins, to maybe get a ship to follow both traks one after the other. She promises to return the next morning with more information on that matter.

She then uses her free time to visit Dawkins in his manor. Flying Spark is curious enough to accompany her and Milena, who is more than happy to see her "young" friend again, is instantly smitten by the cute little dragon. The Faerie Dragon seems to enjoy the attention and care of the nice human lady and even gets overly lively. All of a sudden he gets quite quiet when Morris returns from work as if he realized that the rear admiral's common appearance hides a far more powerful presence.

Auryn discusses the awakening of the Voice of Rot and the possibility of some idiots breaking a seal and accidentally wakening the Kraken in private. Morris agrees that a wake Voice is troublesome indeed, but he's also pretty sure that the Kraken's sleep is not that easily disturbed. He warns her to be careful with the order the Titan gave her and to better do what the Voice asks for as he cannot really protect her from a Titan's wrath. Auryn says that she and Carlyle have to put down the creature anyway as it poses a threat to all of Risur. This is why she and her team need a ship to chase the Dracon as it could be quite likely that the possessed Dr. Meredith followed the adventurers to whereever they went (probably the spot we found on the map).

(Dawkins turnd very stern and almost reserved the moment Auryn brought up the Titan. He's always been serious, but his tone was so much off that she feared he was very worried and unsure about the whole situation himself. Almost as if she's gotten herself into some deep trouble this time and he doesn't know whether or not he could help her at all. Even Beshela didn't seem to trouble him as much)

Dawkins suggests that her team might want to take a well-armed trade ship to minimize being seen as a threat of war to the Berans. He says that he could get the Impossible for her, but she is a warship and still out on duty, so they'd have to wait a while for her to return. So Auryn agrees on the trade ship. She also discusses Carlyle and his connection to Srasama which she links to herself feeling quite comfortable in her colleague's presence. Dawkins says that Carlyle has some dormant power inside him and that it is not yet decided fot what cause the Deva would use it. He leaves it up to his trusted friend how and when she'd tell Carlyle more about the Vekeshi.

Speaking of the Vekeshi, both Old Stag and the Barn Owl attend to a meeting the very same evening. Nothing peculiar happens though, only Old Stag joking about the really bad music of Rock Rackus and the council cursing an industrialist with itches.

Carlyle spends his evening at his favourite cafe where he drinks Crisillyiri wine with Cippiano and thanks him and his bravuras for keeping an open eye on him and Auryn. When he returns home, he finishes a secret project of him: to turn his attic into a training area for commando fighting. Then he starts his first training session.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
Session 15

We are just about to finish our preparations for following the Dracon de Mer when Carlyle suddenly notices two further sources of Apet energy nearby. As we cannot be sure whether they are trails of our target creature/Dr. Meredith or simply seers/diviners, we decide to seek out the sources.

The first source of planar energy seems to belong to someone who's hiding invisibly on a rooftop. To approach the creature carefully, Carlyle prepares a distraction on the street while Auryn turns invisible while out of sight and climbs the building. To her surprise, the invisible creature seems to notice her and starts retreating. Carlyle calls out to what he presumes to be Dr. Meredith and offers to help her as he knows that something is amiss. This lets the invisible person drop her invisibility only to reveal... another RHC agent!

The elven woman introduces herself as Lauryn Cyneburg, a member of internal affairs and part of Price-Hill's audit team.
(Yeah, like Auryn with an "L". We always end up having NPC with names very similar to some of the PCs or background NPCs in our campaigns. Like Kaealys, Auryn's grandmother and RHC agent Kaea, or the double Jurak in Way of the Wicked. I suppose we'll run into some Carlisle somewhen in the not so far future...)

She seems impressed that we were able to spot her despite all caution. We presume that she's about to gather information about our team and working style and she admits that that this was part of her job in Flint. She adds that we have nothing to fear though as she couldn't find any evidence of misbehaviour and were in most cases acting strictly by protocol. She then cites a lengthy part of Auryn's and Carlyle's private dialogue from the Sawfish (that time when she had one too many Voices of Rot) and we are thouroughly impressed by her memory.
(Now at least we can be sure that the guys in the other separee were no goons of Fordren. Still... Auryn kind of openly discussed her thoughts of killing Fordren while being intoxicated. Oops...)

After we say goodbye to Lauryn, we follow the second trail of Apet energy. Turns out that this trail belongs to a certain Dr. Ricewind from Pardwright University who is just a harmless seer. When we find out that he's getting some semi-illegal shipments for his research, he offers us to use his magic to fing our missing Dr. Meredith via divination magic in return for not telling the officials. He promises to fill out the proper forms and go the official way next time...

We follow Dr. Ricewind to his ritual chamber and he confirms our suspicion that Dr. Meredith might be heading to Ber. As she's already close to the beran border, we got no time to lose, so we thank Dr. Ricewind for his excellent service and make haste for the sea.

We first follow the seabound Apet trail to the Avery Isles. To our surprise, the trail leads to an estate on one of the islands and then back to the sea. Curious as we are, we decide to search the estate and land on the corresponding island.

We are even more surprised to find out that this estate is actually the home of Lady inspectress Saxby. She has employed some pretty up-tight guards who are not very fond that the Lady's own agents are about to snoop around her estate. Carlyle politely explains them that it is his duty to search for evidences in his assigned cases, even if (and especially if) someone could have broken into his boss' house and maybe placed some false evidence there (he remembers that someone tried to do the same with him a couple of days ago). He still cannot persuade the guards to be given access to the estate, so we only get to know that "someone" broke through the fence and into the house, and left without stealing anything.

Now this situation turned out to be far more fishy than expected. We discuss a couple of reasons Saxby could have had to not report a case of burglary in her own home (maybe she got something illegal there? Maybe she doesn't want to lose her perfect image? Or she doesn't want to alert the internal investigations now that Price-Hill and his audits are about to happen?)
Nevertheless, we feel a bit intimidated by Saxby's perfect blending of power, influence, intrigue, and connections. Especially Mr. Carlyle finds that combination pretty terrifying and we both realize that Saxby could get us easily fired and disgraced if she wanted to.

With an uneasy feeling, we continue our trip to Ber. Auryn uses the spare time to sort her thoughts and seek her "dear friend" Carlyle's counsel again.
(Yeah, she somehow sees him as valuable advisor now. After all, the man has ~500 years of experience. Or so.)

She says that maybe, just maybe her "meeting" with Romeo Casanunda was a mistake as he (or whomever she could have slept with) couldn't be the relief she had hoped. She came to the conclusion that she had just unsuccessfully tried to let go of her feelings for another man who was out of reach. Auryn explains that she'd never thought to develop romantic feelings at all, and especially not for a human. She explains that her feelings are not like the "grand love" of epics and sagas, but rather a burning flame of desire. Still, this fire is strong enough to long for this person after all the time that passed and even if she knows that Dr. von Recklinghausen is most certainly happy with the woman he loves.

She supposes that her strange condition might be related to the Blooming and that the ceremonies of becoming a mature woman might have guided her through this were she still in Elfaivar. She adds that not only could her branch-sisters and her mother have given her guidance, but she'd also have married her first husbands soon. Which is why she could feel the need to be close to someone else.

Carlyle seems to understand her troubles and adds that he thought she was acting a bit overconfident, as if she was trying to prove something. He asks her whether she might be better off in Elfaivar where her family could properly guide her to become the matriarch she wants to be. She'd have to make her home there someday after all and no one in Flint and maybe all of Risur will be able to perform a proper eladrin ceremony for her.

Now Auryn objects and insists that she's now gotten herself into something more important than just learning how to lead a community. Her team, the RHC, maybe all of Risur needs her and she still has more than enough time to build an enclave of her own once this world is a safer place. Plus, she's already learned so much more than she'd have ever had had she stayed in her secluded enclave in Elfaivar.

Carlyle thinks about her words for a while, then smiles warmly as he agrees that time is probably the one thing both of them have plenty to spare. He muses that time is something infinite for him and that he recently occupied himself with the thought that there won't ever be a time in which he doesn't exist. Regarding her Recklinghausen-dilemma, he tells Auryn that he can understand her situation as he once loved a woman and had to break up with her when she was about to get married. She thanks him for this insight and adds that honoring a bond between two people is something they both have in common as she'd never ever take someone else's man away. For once, Carlyle seems to be impressed by Auryn's principles.

(as a side note, Carlyle's player shared some hilarious thoughts about deva reincarnations like "what if the planet gets utterly destroyed by an asteroid? Must be a bad time to be a deva: Be reincarnated only to die again after a few seconds" or having infinite food for the emperor's lions.

But jokes aside, he made a really complex and interesting construct regarding his character traits and abilities and how they are all tied into his character's backgrounds. For example, the stalker class gains access to some time-powers which are linked to his "eternal existence" and his notion that "time itself is a good friend" and his arcanist path – including the divine empyreal bloodline archetype – is based on the divine spark of Srasama as he'd never used magic before his first reincarnation.

And speaking of reincarnations, Carlyle could be pretty special as he is currently only in his second reincarnation and therefore much more human looking than most of his peers, especially Governor Stanfield.
)

After eight days of travel, we finally spot ships on the horizon. To our surprise, there is a total of three ships who must be a few miles away from the beran coast. So we decide to gather some information first and head to the nearest coastal village.

There we find out that the whole situation is even more curious than we thought. For the first foreigner to arrive in the small harbor was one Paco de los Loros, a goblin archaeologist, wo came with his ship "La Inspiracion" and started underwater excavations. Then another ship came and drove the Inspiracion away. They seem to love target practice, as they threatened to shoot at every boat which came too close. Then, a few days ago, a small cutter joined the Inspiracion, totaling in the three ships we saw.

These informations are enough to guess that Dr. Meredith might have changed ships and might now be aboard the Inspiracion. As the other ship is happy to fire cannons anyway, we decide to meet up with the other ships to check up on our missing academic. As we sail there, we see a strange current between the ships, but agree that while it seems curious, it is still pretty harmless.

As we guessed, a pretty lively Dr. Meredith greets us from the deck of the Inspiracion. She and our team talk to a pretty confused looking Paco. It turns out that the goblin is a pretty self-centered, loud-mouthed bragger. (Kind of like the Rock Rackus of archaeologists.)

We explain to Dr. Meredith that we fear she might be possessed by some kind of malevolent planar spirit and she agrees to be examined. To our surprise, we find both a strong and a weak source of Apet energy on her. Meredith tells us that she regularly felt being followed and even chased by some unknown presence and a planar possession might explain her strange experiences. She's also very shocked to hear about Bergeron's death. We believe that the being who's possessing her might be responsible for her memory loss as well, so we offer Dr. Meredith a careful examination.

Mr. Carlyle realizes quickly that the strong source of Apet energy is closely linked to an amulet she's wearing. This item resembles the other planar artifacts we found on Axis Island, so we believe it might have been created by the Ancients, the only culture we know to be highly proficient with planar magics. The moment Dr. Meredith puts the amulet aside, the strong aura vanishes from her and so it seems that we found our culprit. To prevent further possession, we wrap the amulet in lead-lined cloth and lock it away.

Next, we talk about our plans concearning the Dracon and its crew. An analysis of the ship's flag indicates that its crew might be a group of well-known Crisillyiri privateers, so initiating a direct fight wouldn't be that wise. (even if Auryn feels the strong need to get rid of them as in her eyes "privateer" is nothing more than an euphemism for "pirate with a license" and Crisillyir is not really a friendly nation). Paco tells us that he noticed that only six people were regularly diving into the ocean, so the "away team" might be a much more viable target.

The goblin also tells us about his own excavations and the special items he uses to be able to dig on the ocean floor: underwater lanterns. He also mentions a golden seal he found which is surrounded by a protective ward. He says Bergeron promised that he'd become most famous if he managed to recover the golden seal and he seems also pretty keen on keeping the gold as his own reward. As we already roughly know why the Ancients placed the seals in the first place, and we really don't want to wake the Kraken Titan, we do our best to talk Paco out of this nonsense. We promise that he'll get famous once his surely well-researched and documented article on this Seal of Mavisha gets published in an archaeological magazine. After all, he is the one who discovered this ancient site.

So we wait until the night falls and "sneak" below the ocean's surface. Fortunately, we were wise enough to get a good amount of potions of water breathing, so waiting for the perfect opportunity wouldn't be too dangerous. Once we reach the digsite, we find out that the area seems to be patroled by a shark and two octopi. We guess that one of the six divers might be a druid and that these animals could be his companions so we take care to avoid them and study their patrol patterns. We then hunt a tuna and use it to lure the shark out of the area. We then first kill the lone shark and deal with the octopi later.

Then we take a closer look at the digsite and find a spacious tent in the zone of one of Paco's torches. So we decide to hide in there to surprise the diving team of the Dracon should they return the next day.

(So I guess we managed to avoid all of the possible sea combat scenarios so far. Maybe we'd have tried with the Impossible and her magnificent captain Ruthger Smith, but as well-armed as our trade ship might have been, going against a freaking privateer ship from Crysillyir would have been ludicrous from our point of view. Never take risks you can avoid by implementing a clever plan ;) )
 

Lylandra

Explorer
As we expected, the team returns to the site in the early morning. One person, who we think might be the druid gets all angry about his missing shark. We seize the opportunity to overpower the team leader, a Tiefling they call Finona, to KO her bodyguards (Mr. Carlyle's job) and to send the druid and the specialists to the realm of dreams (Auryn's fey magic).

We tie up the excavation team and heal those we had to hurt in the process. Auryn tries to talk to Finona to get more information and maybe get her to their side. She tells the Tiefling about the gruesome death of her employer, Bergeron, at the hands of some unknown entity and suggests that she surely wouldn't want to end like him. However, Finona doesn't respond as we had hoped as she gets all silent and says that she doesn't want to believe what Auryn said. Only when we explain that we are RHC agents, Finona starts to see the truth in our words.

She seems both shocked and depressed when she starts to explain what she was trying to accomplish. She says that Bergeron sent her to secure this portal and to seal it up for good. He trusted only her to get the job done as there have been mishaps with similar excavations in the past which had disastrous results for the archaeologists. She herself is an expert, so she'll use a method which surpasses the "only temporal" sealing methods of the Ancients. She says she can even prevent the forming of planar pocket dimensions, so it'll all be safe and the golden seal can be secured safely afterwards.

Finona also says that Bergeron has been more interested in the seal's engraved scriptures which seemed a bit odd to her as the man was widely known as a sponsor of museums. Mr. Carlyle and especially Auryn are still not convinced that removing the golden seal would be a wise decision as they both fear that some disaster could disturb the permanent wards Finona mentioned in her process and opening the portal is something that should be avoided at all cost. We offer the now unemployed and seemingly grieving Finona to ask Delft for an occupation in the RHC research team, as well as professional protection should she turn out to be loyal to us and our cause and the Tiefling seems to be generally interested.

We return to the surface and bring Finona and her team to the Inspiracion, so that the three archaeologists may discuss further proceedings. The Tiefling releases the crew of the Dracon of their service as they are no longer needed and the privateers happily sail away as they have already been paid for. ( Basically a win-win-situation for us all. Also, good riddance!). Finona also mentions a letter from Bergeron which she promises to show to us later. But first, we all have to discuss what to do with the golden seal.

After a lot of options were talked about in more or less heated discussions (for example, warning the government of Ber as the seal is basically in front of their border, employing a constant watch/outpost so no one can disturb or steal the seal, building a stone sarcophagus so that no one can reach the damn thing, placing more magical wards around the seal to prevent natural disasters from breaking the seal etc.), we finally agree that too many people already know of the seal's existence. And as the thing is made out of pure gold, it might attract a lot of thieves who care much less about the consequences than Paco. So it would be wise to recover and replace the seal and bring it to the RHC HQ where it can be safely stored and analyzed. Finona explains that the portal will be secure after her ritual and we can still bury the site under heavy stones should we feel the need to do so, even if the seal already survived centuries. After a bit back and forth, even Paco de los Loros can agree to this plan.

We decide to secure the seal in the morrow. Because Mr. Carlyle is in serious need of some quiet time and we don't want to leave the seal without surveillance, both he and Auryn decide to spend a night at the bottom of the sea. ("Sleeping with the fishes", eh? We really shouldn't tell Cippiano too much about our undersea adventure)

We wake in the middle of the night as something above the surface seems to have caught fire. When we return to the ships, we see that the crew of the Inspiracion, plus Margit and Flying Spark are in combat with slimes and a hydra. Meanwhile, Dr. Meredith's cutter is burning brightly.

As the situation is in utter chaos, we take the matter into our own hands. We ask Margit to stop shooting at the slimes and save the wounded while Auryn and Carlyle take care of the hydra who's about to snack one of the dwarves of the crew. Flying Spark is tasked with eliminating the slimes with his magic. Thanks to our precise strikes, we are able to save the dwarf and keep the casualties on deck to a minimum level.

However, the three archaeologists are nowhere to be seen, so we search for them below deck. We find two of them in one of the ship's common rooms: Both are dead, lying in a puddle of blood with their jaws wide open and their brains missing. Auryn needs a moment to pull herself together and call for Margit. Carlyle is more quick to react and he finds a very strong aura of Apet energy emanating from the whole room. Dr. Meredith is nowhere to be found, so was suspect that the creature Sijhen might be still possessing her and found a method to hide its own aura and deceive us all.

We ask Margit and Flying Spark what in the name of the Titans happened and whether they have seen anything suspicious, any sign they could have missed. The two say that everything was peaceful and normal until suddenly fire broke out aboard the cutter and then suddenly monsters appeared on the Inspiracion. We all come to the conclusion that the suspected amulet could be pretty harmless and was a cleverly laid trap by Sijhen.

The moment the cutter is about to sink and stops burning, Carlyle takes a last look inside and finds signs that someone teleported away from there. We don't know where Meredith could have gone, but Sijhen is surely up to no good.

Then we find the letter Finona mentioned earlier. The letter confirms all she mentioned previously and also reveals that someone of Bergeron's men must have been watching us. He also mentions agents of the unseen court which we haven't seen for ourselves yet (or maybe he refers to Auryn as member of the Vekeshi? She suspects this might very well be the case, but plays as surprised as Mr. Carlyle).

Bergeron ends with an invitation to a trip by train in winter and a meeting he'd have to attend to. He says something about a mysterious group he seems to be part of. To our surprise, Bergeron seems to be familiar with a certain "Master Rackus" whom he doesn't seem to be too fond of as he caused some ruckus in the ziggurat of Jiese (so that's where he got that mysterious amulet from!).

Mr. Carlyle gets the impression that Bergeron didn't think too highly of anyone besides himself and was basically an arrogant pig while Auryn disagrees with his judgement. She says that no sane person would speak highly of Rock Rackus, especially not Mr. Carlyle himself, and that she is sure Bergeron simply wanted to show his admiration and deep care for Finona. She adds that Finona's death was both tragic and wasteful and that she'd have surely deserved better than this.

(this initial exchange about Bergeron's character was kind of amusing... "So after what happened at the exhibition, would you, especially you, have used any other words when speaking about Rock?" "Probably not" "And to be honest, after what we've seen in the bayou, this expedition was a disaster, and even if he could have mourned the loss of life, you surely wouldn't add 'be careful or you'll die in a horrible way like these guys' into a letter to your cohort" "Well yes, that would have been... distasteful". So even if he indeed sounded pretty arrogant in some parts, he did speak the truth. And Mr. Carlyle can sound really harsh when he's pissed.)

Carlyle seems to take what happened to his heart as well. He is filled with guilt and says that it was his fault for not keeping a closer eye on Dr. Meredith. He's just been too self-assured and confident in their mission's sucess and not cautious enough. On top of that, he feels like death has been following him for quite a while now and that he's not sure whether anyone is safe in his company.

This time it is Auryn who snaps her colleague out of his gloom. She says that he alone surely isn't responsible for what happened to the archeaologists and their team. They all were just not as attentive as they should have been and they should have probably not both kept watch over the seal. She says that now is too late to discuss what-ifs anyway as the dead cannot be brought back and they both don't know whether they'd have been able to stop Sijhen or whether they'd just both ended up like Finona and Paco. What is more important now is that they all learn from their mistake, take some time to recuperate and then find and stop Sijhen before it can kill more people.

Carlyle sees reason in her words and together they perform funeral rites for the deceased, so that they at least can find peace. Mr. Carlyle uses his ability to contact the dead to reach out to Finona's spirit. He tries to apologize that he wasn't there to save her and asks her whether she can explain what happened. Finona shows him scenes of her childhood when she lived in poverty and where she met a father-like figure, who was a tiefling, like her. This person, Bergeron, cared for her and payed for her tuition. She then shows him a more recent image where Bergeron grew a bit distant from her and was surrounded by mysterious shadowy people.Finally, she shows him a vision on the attack on her: A dark, tentacled beast performed a mental blast and then attacked her while she was unable to fight back. Carlyle thanks Finona for the visions and guides her spirit to the afterlife where she'll surely meet her beloved mentor Bergeron again.

Carlyle explains them all what happened between him and Finona. Now it is Auyn who gets eerily silent. After a while, she says that Carlyle has been given a very special gift and that she's sure Finona can rest in peace should she really be reunited with Bergeron.

(Ouch. Right in the feels. To be honest, when we found all the dead people below deck, we felt like we had utterly failed. We tried to find out what we did wrong or where we could have been more inquisitive, but Sijhen had been too intelligent. Meredith was acting all normal and the amulet was the perfect culprit. And even if we had split up our watches, we don't know whether or not Sijhen would have simply de-brained one of us as well (Sijhen's stunning attack seemed like some kind of mind blast, so fail your save and get eaten...). And losing Finona hurt. Even more as we got as glimpse at what kind of person she had been.

In hindsight, the narrative was spot on. We really reached our lowest point there. Carlyle was shaken. And Auryn couldn't get around comparing Finona to herself, as she also has a mentor she really cares about. She had to put herself together so she wouldn't cry – after all, Carlyle needed her strength this time. And so we had to recuperate and find a way to find and stop Sijhen...
)
 

Lylandra

Explorer
Well, as I am one of the two players of my group, I gladly take this as a compliment :)

To be honest, immersion and playing complex, sometimes vulnerable characters with all their ups and downs is a big part of what makes roleplaying so much fun.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
A funeral for three and a feast for sharks

As we prepare Finona's body, we find a golden ring on one of her fingers which looks very much like the one we found on Bergeron. But instead of "Old Bergeron Gold", the inscription on hers says "Original Brave Ideas". Now we originally thought that the first inscription could be linked to a jeweller's shop of the same name, but this seems more than suspicious. We decide to hand both rings over to the RHC crypto-specialists, but make our own guesses as well: Both rings share OB and LE, even if the former seems more likely than the latter. We cannot make much sense of the last variable though (G and I might be codenames like Q and M?).

After we comforted each other and made sure that we could bring the dire news to the rest of the crew in a professional, proper manner, we get back on deck. Margit resumes her care for the wounded and Flying Spark agrees to be petted by those who suffered mental trauma.
(He secretly enjoyed the attention, of that we are sure...)

After that, we perform Finona's ritual to close the planar portal carefully. Because we accidentally stayed too close to the emanating wave of energy, it leaves an odd feeling of pleasure (Auryn) and pain (Carlyle). As we thought, the golden seal is able to nullify planar energy taint, so we immediately use it to cleanse the amulet of Dr. Meredith and other items that could have been contamined by Apet energy. We still keep the amulet locked and the container under surveillance.

As we also noticed that Dr. Meredith/Sijhen teleported to an unknown place, we use one of the sending scrolls to warn Delft and ask to be escorted to transport the Seal of Mavisha safely in 8 days. We also tell him that Dr. Meredith is the "new Ragman" and that they should arrest her if possible. (Searching through my notes, the sending was something akin to this: "Found seal. Need secure transport in 8 days. Flint Harbor. Meredith dangerous, powerful creature, Ragman. Arrest and detain with caution. Please." Yep, Carlyle insisted on a polite sending.)

After eight long days of travel without any major occurrence, we arrive back in Flint harbor. To our surprise, the welcome committee recieving us is no other ship than Rear Armiral Dawkins' ship, the Aurora (Or Dawn? I think Aurora is the more poetic translation of Morgenröte). Auryn is more than happy to see her dear friend again after all that happened recently. Politeness and modesty demand that she waits until she, Carlyle and Dawkins are in private to show her joy about their reunion. The three share a good cigar and bring each other's information up to date.

We explain what happened aboard the Dracon de Mer and warn Dawkins that Dr. Meredith harbors an extremely dangerous creature which might stem, ludicrous as this may sound, from another dimension. We can give an all-clear for the status of the Kraken though as She who Writhes is still sleeping like a good baby Titan.

Dawkins on the other hand has some dire news for us: Just two days ago, Guy Goodson, his son and his son's wife were found dead in an alley after they had attended to a charity event. The news coverage suspects a case of robbery, but police investigation had been mysteriously quiet regarding their demises. He adds that Goodson's funeral is scheduled for this afternoon and that he knows that all of Goodson's business partners are invited, even if he fortunately wasn't asked to attend himself. Mr. Carlyle suspects that the young Lord Vantrys might be among the attendees and Goodson was among the sponsors of some of Auryn's concerts in the past, so we both plan to attend to the ceremony as well. First we'll have to get the seal to a safe place in the royal treasury though.

Before we part with Dawkins, he uses his usual farewell gesture to Auryn to secretly signal her that she's now officially on the hunt for "the creature from beyond". Which makes Carlyle in turn wonder just how close these two really are.
(Yeah, the Vekeshi are not fond of a brain-eating monster roaming free in Flint either...)

We make sure to get the seal of Mavisha to the treasury as discreetly and safely as we can and are relieved to get neither Dr. Meredith nor suspicious planar energy in sight. We give the order to have the damn thing be guarded day and night as the "new Ragman" could be after this object. Afterwards, we hurry to change clothes and attend the funeral ceremony.

When we arrive at the cemetery, we are astouned to see that so many people have come to say their final goodbye to Guy Goodson and his family. We know that Goodson was a pretty public figure and had many business partners, but this crowd is really huge. And among them all, like a small fish in a basin of sharks, stands one very confused looking Nathaniel Vantrys just next to the fiancee of the deceased, Cecilia Fordren. It seems almost like the young woman is trying to seek comfort from the heir of the Vantrys family and it also seems like the young Lord for once doesn't mind to be so close to a woman. But maybe these two are simply the only two who feel highly uncomfortable to be continuously stared at by the other businesspartners of Goodson. The ony one who is gloriously (and fortunately) absent is Francis Fordren.

The ceremony itself is pretty traditional and conducted by a coven of druids who give the deceased back to the land which birthed them. We take our time to offer Lord Vantrys and Cecilia our heartfelt condolencies. Lord Vantrys seeks Mr. Carlyle's support again and this time, he whispers that due to the special contracts and their clauses it seems like he'd might actually inherit a fortune from Goodson who leaves no heirs of his own. All of a sudden, his financial troubles could come to an end – a relief Lord Vantrys seems embarassed to feel. Now the whole scenery suddenly makes sense to us and we promise Vantrys to talk to him in detail later. Just when we are about to leave the pair alone, Mr. Carlyle's otherwise stern expression momentarily turns into a faint smile.

(This scene was intense as well. First, Auryn hates funerals. Especially when those involved are people she knew. Now Goodson was a pretty grey character to begin with, but he was a philanthropist and patron for several artists of Flint, even if he maybe only sponsored them to give himself a good name. We secretly called him Mr. Goodguy on several occasions because of that. So she's really mourning his death and will probably miss him. Carlyle on the other hand saw Goodson as an opponent of the Vantrys family and the main reason why his Lord lost touch with him and his dutys. So he's secretly happy to be rid of him and to have Vantrys out of Goodson's influence. Even if he knows it is utterly wrong to feel happiness at someone else's cruel demise. And he made it so that he'd be sure only Auryn would be able to percieve this "dark side" of his. Yeah, that's Carlyle's way of sharing his thoughts and feelings.

Also... Vantrys is okay with a woman being close to him, too? Who'd have thought that after all that Jack romance and his uneasyness when it came to members of the opposite gender?
)

After the ceremony we and all the business-sharks accompany Lord Vantrys to the funeral reception at his estate. During all the chatter, we get the impression that Vantrys, along with Fordren (the uncle, not the niece) could be getting the lion's share of Goodsons's fortunes. This combined with Vantrys' known distaste for some of Goodsons' extravagant habits seems to stir the unspoken rumour that Vantrys might be behind the attack on the family. What adds spice to this rumour is the fact that the coffins of the family were closed during the entire ceremony, which seems really odd for a traditional risuri ceremony.

After the sharks leave Vantrys and Cecilia alone, the young Lord explains the mystery of the closed coffins: After the family was found dead, Stover Delft had him summoned to identify the dead bodies. And it turned out that they died by a sudden loss of brain – which was not really a beautiful sight to behold (and seeing Cecilia pale by his rather harmless description explains why Delft wouldn't have summoned the bride-to-be instead... seems like our boss is learning some empathy after all). We try to reassure Vantrys that everything will turn out to be fine and no one will believe that he ordered the assassination of Goodson as the culprit is almost certainly our new Ragman. And Delft will surely confirm that the Ragman has nothing to do with Goodson, Vantrys or their business.

We also talk a bit with Cecilia Fordren who all of a sudden has lost her fiancee and her financial security on top of that. She says that she'll get over Goodson as the two were not really close to begin with. The Carlyles offered to let her stay in their estate and the engagement contract she and Guy signed will guarantee her a monthly payment which is enough to cover her expenses. She says she's really fortunate that her fiancee thought of her security even if she had nothing to offer herself besides the Fordren family name as her own family branch is impoverished. This is why she was really surprised when her uncle offered her and her mother that Cecilia might get engaged to the famous Risuri businessman.

Vantrys asks us to stay in his estate and be his guests for tonight, an offer we gladly accept after all the travelling by ship. Mr. Carlyle counsels Nathaniel Vantrys for the rest of the evening and promises to make things right for his family. It seems like Lord and Butler are finally able to reconnect after having grown distant over the last months. We also promise to find and arrest the murderer, so Vantrys and Cecilia can find peace. Without wanting to go into further details, Auryn also warns Vantrys that Fordren might turn his interest towards him and his businesses, now that his original partner is six feet under. Carlyle agrees and adds that while Goodson might have been a nuisance, he was rather harmless compared to the predator that is Francis Fordren.

Later that night, Vantrys leaves Auryn and Carlyle with a fine bottle of Port (or whatever the drink is called in Risur). After a while, we get an unexpected visitor as Stover Delft was wondering where the heck we could have gone after the funeral was over (isn't that obvious?). We invite him to share a drink with us and he informs us about the latest Ragman activities, which ended in the untimely demise of the Goodson family. We also tell him about what happened at the excavation and that we at least managed to secure the seal. Delft says that he'd rather connect the Ragman murders to some other serial killer than to explain what really happened to the public as he fears that the people of Flint might panic at the revelation of some mysterious entity. We are not really convinced that this would be the best solution. After all, the Risuri are used to fey, the wild hunt and the Titans, so they wouldn't really care whether the person who's killing artists and philanthropists is a human or not. Still it won't be our job to decide which should be the official version of the story.

Once we finally got to bed and found some sleep, some loud noise wakes us again. The culprit turns out to be a stone which was thrown through one of the estate's windows and which is inscribed with the word "murderer". To our annoyance, Vantrys' guards only managed to beat up the stone throwing idiot (a drunkard with far too much pocket money than reasonable) without asking him who gave the order to throw the stone in the first place.

We plan to continue our search for Dr. Meredith the next morning. During breakfast, we are visited by a disturbed looking Hans Weber who hands us a note he found earlier. To our surprise, the note contains a message from Dr. Meredith who tries to warn Weber that Sijhen wants the three relics, has something to do with "Gidim" and is interested in something called "Obscurati". Mysterious as this all sounds, it seems like we don't have to give up on poor Xambria Meredith yet.
 
I'm always thrilled to read where campaigns take a detour from the written adventures.

I'd never considered what a Risuri funeral is like.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
Well, thanks :)
But to be honest, I'm seriously lagging behind in both, this and my WotBS campaign thread. For Zeitgeist, I'm basically just doing a translation of my own german recaps which are the aforementioned 5-9 pages per session. The WotBS ones are a bit more complicated as I take Tizbiz' recaps as a basis (he's playing Tinuviel) and retell them from a GM's perspective/make some small corrections.

I'm also thrilled where the whole Vantrys/Industrialist subplot is going and it is far from resolved. We still have no clue who might have ordered the attack on the Vantrys family which resulted in the death of Lord and Lady Vantrys alongside Mr. Carlyle three years ago. Plus the role of Francis Fordren/Fordren Industries and the Carlyle investments (they are also heavily involved in the Avery Coast railroad company) in a possible turf war in Risur is still unclear. (Auryn sees Fordren as an enemy and Carlyle is slowly reconnecting with his brother's family branch even if they are somehow opponents of Vantrys)

For the Risuri funeral... we didn't get too much into detail, but I imagined something like druids using their magic to bring the deceased back to the land. Maybe opening a grave, then calling on vines and roots to place the dead person down there where he is embraced by the roots. After that, the roots could grow into plants (memorial trees instead of tombstones?) to symbolize the circle of life. Risur has a strong druidic tradition after all.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
Going after a monster

Session 16

We ask the pretty confused and frightened Weber to accompany us to the estate's salon so we may discuss the matter of Dr. Xambria Meredith more discreetly. There, we talk about the contents of Dr. Meredith's letter. We try to make sense of her message but cannot really agree whether this is just another trick of Sijhen or whether the message is a genuine call for help. After a bit back and forth, we decide to give Meredith a chance as she might still be out there somewhere.

Our first assumption is that Sijhen might be from a place called Gidim and that he/she might be searching for a people or place called Obscurati. As it seems intrigued by the word “Obscurati” we cannot be really sure though.

While we further examine the message, Hans Weber drops the ball and tells us about the upcoming and already announced Gala of the Ancients in the Museum. We are kind of shocked that he didn't immediately cancel the event and more so shocked that he wanted to exhibit the three artifacts without getting an all-clear from us. Unfortunately, he sees no way to cancel the Gala without worrying the populace of Flint, so we urge him to forge replicas of the artifacts and exhibit these instead (they'll be hidden behind glass anyway, so no one will be able to tell the difference)

We also point out that it would be wise to be more cautious and heed the warnings of the RHC regarding the dangers of certain artifacts. (Mr. Carlyle basically gave him a big speech about responsibility and the dangerous greed for attention he put on display. And he was dead serious. Does anyone ever bother to take a look at the bigger picture? Or even take our advices to heart?
Oh and "dead serious scolding Carlyle" is one of his scarier modes. He despises people who act irresponsibly and endanger others while doing so.)


Next, we meet up with our colleagues at the RHC HQ. We agree that the search for Sijhen has to be top priority and that we should talk to Rock Rackus about the expedition to the ziggurat of Jiese. After that, Auryn gives a small speech about the events on the La Inspiracion. She says that no one but Sijhen is to blame for what happened there. The creature managed to fool them all by using methods they didn't think to be possible at all. Still they'll always have to consider this in the missions to come, especially when dangerous or alien creatures are involved. Plus they all should never leave a suspect without surveillance.

Then we visit the seer Dr. Ricewind again as he was previously able to locate Dr. Meredith in the middle of the sea. We ask him for another vision of Sijhen/Xambria and he starts his rituals immediately. However, the ritual strains him a lot this time and it takes him about four hours to complete. He's still able to get a pretty scary and confusing vision of a sort of ritual circle in what must be a forsaken warehouse. His description of lighting, materials and style of interior are fortunately enough to narrow Sijhen's possible locations down to a handful of warehouses.

We find the room from Ricewind's vision in a warehouse not too far from the one where we found the three bodies before our trip to Ber. But there is no sign of Dr. Meredith or the Sijhen creature Finona saw and the blood stained ritual circle is left completely forsaken. We examine the circle and find that Sijhen was about to do something that's completely violating our laws of magic as this seems like a hasty attempt to open up a portal to another world.

We find visible trails of a heavy cart in front of the warehouse, so we assume that the seal of Apet must have been here as well. As we muse that Sijhen might have relocated after Dr. Ricewind's divination attempt, we ask Margit and Flying Spark to go to land registry to check the register for any kind of property owned by either Caius Bergeron or Jules' transport business in this district. Meanwhile, Auryn and Mr. Carlyle pay the still imprisoned Rock Rackus a visit.

We come across Rock's lawyer first who tells us that Rock might be released from prison soon as he accepted to pay a good sum to the victim of his stray bullet. We continue to said Mr. Rackus and find him being his usual carefree self in a pretty cozy cell. He's pretty happy to see us though and thanks us again for saving him from his “rabid fans” at the KATE (he's kidding, right?). When we ask him about his adventures with Mr. Bergeron he's more than eager to talk about his exploits.

It turns out that it was Rock himself who stumbled across old teleportation scrolls when he was visiting the ruined library of Pala. He says that these scrolls were strange indeed as they pointed to very specific locations near ancient ziggurats (he said something like “circle-lads” if I remember correctly). He knew that a closer look inside would probably warrant a fully fledged expedition, so he came across the Tiefling Caius Bergeron and planned a team up to go to the ziggurat of Jiese which is located near Sid Minos. He found some artifacts there (“like your amulet?” we asked. “Oh yeah, so THAT'S were that came from...” he answered.) and also saw the golden seal of Jiese. To our surprise he can offer us a pretty detailed description of the seal and its inscription. He then adds that Mr. Bergeron bought the seal from him as he had no use for that heavy object, but he kept the other artifacts. Oh and we can totally keep the amulet as it is completely out of vogue anyway. We'd have to ask the wardens though as they took all of his stuff!

When we ask Rock about the other teleport scrolls he says that he's still some of them left in his house and would be more than pleased to go on an adventure with the RHC for a change. We're not really sold on going on an adventure with Rock, but we'd surely love to take a closer look at the scrolls once we finish the whole “New Ragman” stuff.

Unfortunately, our search for Sijhen isn't really successful. So we turn to our tried method of planar detecting the nearby areas. After a bit back and forth we find some seemingly hot trails which turn out to belong to a red haired woman in a barge named “Apet”. She says she's been hired by another redhead named Xambria to hide a bottle in her boat. And the bottle is full of Apet ectoplasm.
(“Now that's ridiculous! Sijhen's totally crazy anyway and now it's making stupid puns to annoy us?!” Carlyle said while shaking his head in disbelief)

Still the bottle gives us a brilliant idea. We use the bottle's contents to give our now finished fake-artifacts of the ancients their final polish as we plan to use them as bait for Sjihen. We know that the creature wants the artifacts and probably plans to steal them once they are exhibited at the gala. As we don't want to endanger innocent bystanders and also don't want to risk the real artifacts falling into Sijhen's hands, we ask our press department to announce a nighttime transport of dangerous goods in the common newspapers and have some roads closed off for that occasion. We then place the three fakes and ourselves in the carriage in hope to lure the wanted creature out of hiding.

It seems like we got lucky this time as Sijhen totally takes the bait and tries to raid our secure transport carriage with its mind monsters. “Dr. Meredith” mind controls one of our carriage drivers who in turn attacks his colleague. To prevent casualties, Auryn jumps out of the carriage (seems like we get a pattern here), puts two flying stingers to sleep and sings an enthralling song which turns both drivers' attention solely to her. Margit whispers a short prayer to the primal spirits which turns the thoughtform beasts tangible and which are then roasted by Flying Spark's fiery blasts. This leaves the job of handling their leader to Mr. Carlyle and his martial prowess. Dr. Meredith surrenders surprisingly after only a few hits with the Kukris' blunt sides as she seems to regain control over her body. To show her sincerity, she reveals alien eyes on her arm, concentrates on them and kills off the remaining monsters. She then lets herself get arrested and loses consciousness shortly after.

As Sijhen fooled us before, we make sure to not go into the creature's trap once again and so we make sure to lock the still unconscious archaeologist up in the most secure antimagic cell the RHC has to offer. We also agree to have at least two members of our team present to guard her day and night until she eventually wakes up.

(Hah! Seems like we've finally scored our 1:1 there!)
 
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