Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Tal' Dorei Week Three: Solving the Mystery of the Raven Feathers and the Shit-Eating Senator

As we waited for the mysterious monk Pliz'skin to exit Gilmour's Glorious Goods we agreed to all go to our respective temporary living quarters and meet up in the morning to pay the Tiefling Amnon a visit.

Little did we know (or still know, technically), the Senator Tyronious was returning from a meeting with his fellow public officials in Syngorn to discuss their policy towards the Emerald Tower, which had until recently been of no real tension between Emon and Syngorn. But on his way back to the capital city of Emon to keep the meeting with the Arcane Master he was meant to show up at two days ago, and who knows what other secret business, the good senator and his entourage was ambushed on the normally safe road between the two cities by a gaggle of orcs and goblins demanding a toll in order to pass. Not wanting to divulge that he was a senator, Tyronious agreed to pay the toll of two gold pieces per head, but also took the opportunity while dealing with the dumb creatures to employ his wile to gather information. Claiming he was sent by General Bloodfist, he managed to pursuade the orc leader to divulge the location of the main Ravager camp. He was then given a highly out of character salute by the orc leader, who he rewarded with two extra gold pieces. 

Meanwhile, back in Emon, the party gathered at Spork's office to discuss how to approach Amnon. It was soon agreed we would strongarm the Tiefling in an attempt to gather information and retrieve both Sean Gilmour's stolen artifacts and Kaeleth's missing journal pages. But upon arriving at the small house it seemed to make more sense if a stealthy person poked around a little bit to get the lay of the land before we descended like an army of noisy hobgoblins all willy nilly. Inspecting the perimeter of the house, the self-selected stealthy personage, Pliz'skin, discovered the house completely dark and apparently empty, but also smelled out a trail of blood that led into a basement. Two creatures had enetered the domicile an hour before dawn, perhaps two Tieflings, or maybe even a Genasi. Returning with his report it was decided he would simply knock on the front door while the gentle Druid Large Silent Friend and the mighty Goliath Trog would wait at the back door in case anyone decided they wanted to leave in a hurry. The Blood Hunter Banlys perched on the roof to gain a bird's eye view of the entire scene. 

Amaris volunteered to knock, reasoning that one Tiefling would not seem as threatening to another Tiefling. Pliz'skin concurred, and transformed himself into a Tiefling also with the Hat of Disguise he had obtained under questionable circumstances at Gilmour's Glorious Goods. The door opened, but only a crack, but upon seeing Torie, the Tiefling woman who had began to open the portal hastily slammed it. Torie shouted "That's Chastity," the Tiefling who had defeated the detective Spork in a battle of brains two nights previous. "Go away" came a raised voice from behind the door. The two Tieflings and mysterious monk disguised as a third Tiefling did not go away.

It was at the same moment the back door flew open and yet another Tiefling made an attempt to bolt from the building. A failed attempt, as a gentle Firbolg Druid and rather unamused Goliath were waiting for just such a happenstance. Ironically it was not the frightful Goliath, but the lumbering Firbolg who managed to wrap the scurrying creature up in his arms and assure him he would not be harmed if he simply co-operated. The fell creature did not co-operate, and instead also ignored Trog's demand to surrender, lashing out at Large Silent Friend with the dagger he held in both hands. 

In front Pliz'skin had barged his way into the house, and right behind him Amaris cast a spell that caused Chastity to recoil in fear. Unsatisfied, Pliz'skin raised his hand and sprayed the terrified woman with a noxious cloud of gas that sent her to the floor writhing in pain until she lost consciousness.

I'm not saying Pliz'ssssskin is a Yuan Ti, but I'm also not not saying it

At the same time in the back, Banlys had shot a crossbow bolt at Amnon, which revealed he was wearing an armor made out of the skin of other creatures. The wriggling Tiefling managed to slip out of Large Silent Friend's embrace, and was rewarded for his effort by a thunderous hammer blow to the knee provided generously by Trog. However, the response was far from what one would expect from one whose knee had just been demolished by a thudding strike from a giant hammer. "It's about time," the lamentable creature murmured, appearing to enjoy the pain. Soon after Banlys' battle axe slashed his midsection, exposing more of the makeshift armor he had apparently cobbled from the skin of other beings. Grinning, and seeming to enjoy the skirmish more and more the bloodier it got, Amnon sprung up and flailed at Trog with both daggers, narrowly missing. He took this opportunity to turn tail and run, rounding the corner of the house and out of sight. Large Silent Friend followed.

Inside Pliz'skin, following a faint trail of blood, was led to stairs descending into a basement. Festooned along the stairs leading down was a grisly discovery that might have sickened a less unfeeling creature: the stripped hides of what seemed to be several humanoid creatures, cured with mint and pine cones to disguise the nauseating smell. At the bottom of the stairs Pliz'skin saw the body parts of many creatures strewn about as if the were merely discarded pieces of trash. He also saw a door on the other side of the room. Large portions of creatures that had been ripped apart were suspended from chains and hung fom the ceiling. The steely Pliz'skin concluded whoever had done this was a demented, dangerous fiend, and decided it would be a good idea to go back upstairs and tie Chastity up while she was still incapacitated by his noxious gas.

Outside, though, Amnon was not about to be subdued. or so he thought. Following close behind as he attempted to round the corner of the house, he came face to face with Amaris, the coroner's assisstant, but before she could cast the Cause Fear spell she was chanting LSF cast Thorn Whip and ensnared the serial killer in a lasso of thorns, pulling him to the ground. It was at this very moment Trog took advantage of the doomed creature's prone state to deliver a resounding blow to its spine. It was a blow that would have caused most to reconsider the path they have chosen in this life, but undaunted, the wretched soul remained true to his ill-advised plan to suffer an epic ass-whooping and spit back at Trog with Hellish Rebuke. His effort was repaid with another slashing blow across the back courtesy of Banlys' great axe. He laughed maniacally, but dropped his daggers and said "I yield. I yield."

It was at this moment Pliz'skin appeared, apparently having decided if Chastity died she would be of little help answering questions, so he dropped her at Large Silent Friend's feet to be healed, and took advantage of being unencumbered by her weight to take a running start and head butt Amnon into unconsciousness. It is said by some that Amnon's daggers were inscribed "Mother" and "love" in Infernal, but such rumours are mere speculation as the daggers instantaneously seemed to disappear. 

Trog immediately began questioning Chastity in his Goliath accent which sounds a lot like a Russian accent. It seemed the main gist of his line of questioning was "What the fuck are you doing here, and why?" Chastity broke down immediately and said something about just trying to save the world from darkness, then asked if we really wanted to interrogate her right here in the open. That made sense, so we carried all of those who no longer could carry themselves down the stairs into the torture dungeon. 

Chastity the Psycho Tiefling who thinks she is saving the world from evil by committing unthinkiably evil acts

Once in the privacy of the two butchers' macabre work room, Chastity once again repeated her assertion that everything that was being done here was merely an attempt to save the world from an encroaching evil. "Well, not Amnon", she said, "he's just a psycho." Which the psycho confirmed himself after being welcomed back to consciousness by a slap of Trog's meaty backhand to the chops, by responding to Trog's question about the torture dungeon by saying "It's a hobby." Bad answer. But he did confirm that all of this was an effort by Chastity to "Save the world," and that what they were really trying to do was "build somebody." He was merely living out his fantasies by committing the murders and gathering the body parts at Chastity's behest. 

Turning to Chastity, Trog motivated her to reveal her evil intentions. "There is a darkness consuming us. We come here (to Emon) to find orcs and goblins and evil everywhere. And the heroes of our age (Vox Machina) will do nothing about it." She revealed a dark obsession with each member of the Vox Machina, and blamed them for doing nothing as an evil crept into the world. 

But the door. What's behind the door Trog asked. 

"The door is not locked," she replied. 

Before Large Silent Friend could cast a cantrip to protect his Goliath friend, the intrepid Goliath had entered the room to discover a table containing a partially finished flesh golem. A flesh golem that appeared to be a very rudimentary and amateurish attempt to mimic a half-elf with blond hair. But why a half-elf.

Without coercion or even a twist of the wrist Chastity proudly blurted out: "We  are trying to bring back Vax, the only hero of the Vox Machina who ever tried to save this place."

Trog asked the obvious question we all wanted the answer to. "Was it Kaeleth who put you on this nefarious quest?" She answered curtly that it was her own will to resurrect Vax, and no deception was detected in her words. In fact, she was very outraged that the Vox Machina seemed unconcerned with helping do anything about the current foothold evil seemed to be taking in Exandria.

Trog suggested that perhaps meeting Kaeleth might give Chastity an opportunity to voice her complaints face to face, then asked about the missing pages of Kaeleth's journal, which Chasity conceded that she had stolen, but found to be of no use in her obsession to bring Vax back. Escorted to her room where she claimed she kept the pages by an increasingly impatient Trog, Chastity screamed that they were missing.

Oh, you mean these pages, Pliz'skin hissed, producing the pages from a fold in his robes and claiming a breeze had blown them onto the floor. 

But what were we to do with these two heinous psychopaths, having seemingly solved the mystery that Torie had originally paid the detective Spork Fastwhiler two gold pieces to solve? Shouldn't we really get those two gold pieces? Should we really take them to Greyskull to meet a vengeful Kaeleth who would almost assuredly kill them in a fit of fury? 

Amaris said there was one person we could ask for advice: Professor von Schlezzler, head coroner of Emon and her mentor. More advice is sometimes better than less, so Amaris called von Schlezzler on her sending stone, and he advised her that Kaeleth would be unmerciful if we brought these two to Greyskull. He recommended turning them over to the proper authorities, but if there's only one thing every member of this party agrees upon it's that there are no proper authorities, a credo Trog was about to demonstrate abundantly by bringing his hammer down on Amnon's neck. 

But only an instant before he delivered the certainly fatal blow, Pliz'skin intervened to remind him we still hadn't recovered the items he stole from Gilmour's Glorious Goods, and without those items we wouldn't receive the reward we were promised by Sean Gilmour for their recovery. Ever open to the voice of reason, Trog inquired politely about the location of said stolen items, and learning their whereabouts brought down the hammer flush on the mad butcher's neck with a crack. Was he still enjoying the whole bloodbath at this point, we had no idea, but as for us we had accomplished all of the tasks that had been set before us and were off to collect our rewards.

But which reward to collect first? Sean Gilmour's promise to pay us for the return of his purloined items, or Kaeleth's implicit promise of recompense if we returned the journal pages.

We surmised the easiest order of operations would be to schlep the Tiefling off to Greyskull to meet Kaeleth, then head to Gilmour's to collect our reward. 

Somehwere else in the city at that exact moment a senator from Syngorn named Tyronious had called a press conference where he had summoned The Minister of Defense and other top officials, who were obviously concerned about what he would say. Tyronious said he was there to recount the incident on the road from Syngorn to Emon, and to warn the assembled press of the impending threat from the Ravagers. Relating a semi-accurate retelling of the actual incident, complete with a harrowing tale of how he was beaten nearly to death by Ravagers, and forced finally to survive in a ditch on a diet consisting only of his own tears and horse shit, Tyronious weaved a spellbinding tale of dark hordes slowly descending upon the civilized cities of Exandria, and concocted a call to action meant to stir all citizens into a frenzy of fear and hypervigilance. In mid rant Tyronious spell was broken by the Minister of Defense himself, who called the press conference to a halt and pulled Tyronious aside, saying he was aware of the problem, but could do nothing until war was declared, a small detail Tyronious could help with.

Charging Tyronious with forming a committee to investigate the problem, the Minister intimated to Tyronious that if he could provide the pictures he'd provide the war. Tyronious accepted the offer, and sent out underlings to find his missing senechal Bromm, who for some reason had simply been misplaced.

Probably about the time this meeting was taking place, we arrived at Greysckull, where we saw two Gnome children playing in the grass merrily. Greeting them, we quickly discovered they had no desire to answer any of our questions, and went to get their dad, who turned out to be the renowned Bard Scanlan, who immediately charmed and put us all at ease. He explained all the recent turmoil had resulted in the Vox Machina deciding that they needed to maintain a constant presense of at least one member at Greyskull, and that he had drawn the short straw. 

Vox Machina Bard Scanlan Shorthalt

Ever diplomatic, and not one for beating the bushes, Trog asked if we could speak with Kaeleth. Ever graceful, Scanlan said it may be possible, but definitely chancy to draw Kaeleth's ire. This of course did not phase Trog, who assured Scanlan his request was in earnest, The Bard acceded, but insisted a feast was in order first, and invited us to the war room. Asking his children to retrieve his diamond tuning fork, he tapped it on the table, producing a feast beyond any of our wildest imaginations. As we ate we felt refreshed, rejuvenated, inspired, and incredibly serene. 

After we had our fill Scanlan inquired who was the leader of this mish mash of a troupe, and being the anti-authoritarians we are by nature, none would come forward to claim they held sway over any other of us, so Scanlan's attention fell upon the Tiefling Amaris in a seeming attempt to cajole her into being assertive. "Is this the one responsible for these atrocities?," he said, motioning to Chastity. "And one last time I ask you if you really want me to summon Kaeleth." Amaris nodded, and Scanlan left the room to summon his fellow Vox Machina member. 

Moments later Kaeleth appears, and immediately extends her hand, which results in the life being visible drained from Chastity, who falls to the floor like a dessicated husk. 

"Did you locate my missing journal pages" she asked almost as a continuous action to having drained Chastity of life. Pliz'skin produced some of the pages from the journal, and Kaeleth took and examined them, inquiring if we had read them. We replied that we had not. She said some of her pages were still missing, and Pliz'skin insisted he had found no more pages, she said she would go to the house and investigate herself. "Thank you", she said, "the Ashari and Vox Machina are in your debt." With that she disappeared.

Scalan re-appeared and asked how we intended to dispose of Chastity's body. We said we hadn't intended to at all, and asked if he could do it. He said no, and threw Amaris a Bag of Holding in which to carry the body away from Greyskull. 

We decided our next stop would be Gilmour's Glorious Goods. A  female human clerk greeted us and informed us that Sean Gilmour was away on business, but had left instructions that we be paid 500 gp for the return of his misappropriated propriations. We divided the bounty among the five of us presnt, making each of us more than capable of buying our own places to live in Emon. Large Silent Friend also bought himself a bonzai tree to deal with the loneliness and bewilderment of going from the only home he had ever known in the forest to the bustling capital city of Exandria.

While at Gilmour's we also saw the afternoon edition of the Emon Chronicle, with the headline Shit Eating Senator Says Ravagers To the North. In a dark room somewhere nearby that shit-eating senator was just receiving a report that several centaurs had been found impaled on pikes on the road north to the Throne of the Archheart. What is this shit-eating senator's plan? Will we soon become embroiled in some political intrigue? Are the winds of war wafting into Emon? 

Large Silent Friend's notes: I thoroughly enjoyed this three session whodunnit immersion into the world of Tal' Dorei and the city of Emon. It wasn't until night three that we took up arms against an opponent because our opponent was the dark mystery we were immersed in. This is the third campaign I'm playing with these players. We have been in Planescape, Dragonlance, and now Tal' Dorei. We've meshed as a party and I think understand each other's tendencies and when it's time to let someone else have the spotlight, and when to just hang back. 

Have to get my Tal' Dorei guide this week at Top Cut Comics

After receiving our blessing from Kaeleth and our reward from Sean Gimour we naturally considered our mission a roaring success and decided to buy our own homes and blend in where we thought we most fit into the bustling city of Emon. Trog of course immediately put his mighty hammer up for rent as a sell sword, Pliz'skin went back to his monastary to study the truth, Bromm remained missing-in-action, Banlys slipped off and will no doubt be there when needed, Amaris rejoined Professor von Schlelling, Tyronious plotted somewhere in a back room, and the detective that started it all, Spork Fastwhiler was gone. What had ever become of him? Egad, was he one of the horribly mutilated bodies we had seen in that basement? Had we been thornwhipping, hammering, crossbowing, and great axing his skin only earlier in the day? No matter, it seems certain as these characters try to settle in and make their names in Emon that a call will come from somewhere, most probably soon, for them to re-assemble in order to fight some gathering darkness. 

But until that happens you can find Large Silent Friend, the fish-out-of-water second level Firbolg Druid in the Cloudtop District being gardner and pet trainer to the rich and famous, and pruning his bonzai at night and missing his friends.

Dramatis Personae

1) Large Silent Friend: Firbolg Druid
2) Banlys: Aarakocra Blood Hunter
3) Trog Gunga Galunga (Googie): Goliath Blood Hunter
4) Bromm: Human Fighter
5) Spork Fastwhiler: Human Ranger
6) Pliz'skin: Monk 
7) Tyronius: Half-Elf Warlock
8) Travis Legge. Dungeon Master 

9) Amaris: Tiefling Wizard

Week one
Week two 

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