Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tal' Dorei Week Four: The Senator Meets the Centaur, and the Heat Is On

Bromm and Spork emerge gingerly from a hedge where they had been lost for some time in a maze. The first sight they see is a centaur galloping towards them. It is being hunted by a group of five goblins. The centaurs turns to face its pursuers and thrusts a javelin at them, narrowly missing their captain. Recognizing the centaur as Nevon, a child of Archheart they had been sent to safely guide to the city of Emon, Bromm joined the attack against the pack of vile goblins, slashing one with his longsword and dealing a fatal blow. Spork targeted another with his short bow, and delivered an arrow into its chest, but alas it was not a fatal score. The goblins descended on the ad hoc party and invited Bromm to a stabbing frenzy party. He accepted their invitation and was stabbed several times by goblin daggers, but survived. The battle teetered back and forth until the ill-fated sleuth Spork was once again reduced to the horizontal position he has become so familiar with by a goblin stabbing frenzy. Bromm and Nevon had no choice but to continue the battle, which they did, dispatching the remaining goblins without too much effort or further loss of blood, then attempted to stabilize Spork. Bromm introduced himself to Nevon and explained it was his mission to return him to the city, and since Spork was fighting for his life they decided to throw him across the centaur's back and head to Emon for help.

Nevon the Centaur

Meanwhile in Emon, the monk Pliz'skin had been charged with the task of assembling the motley band of madcaps he had so recently met to rendezvous with a contact named Reynard at the Leaky Tap and receive the details of a mission of utmost importance.

Pliz'skins first stop was the Cloudtop District where he found the Firbolg druid Large Silent Friend gently digging a hole in which to plant a lovely rose bush in the yard of affluent scientist named Rifton. The only unusual detail is LSF was now a brown bear. After a few details concerning the mission and a low key roar of agreement from the brown bear, the two set off to find the gruff but lovable Goliath Bloodhunter Trog, who no doubt was off on some grand and dangerous mission. However, they did not find their friend Trog embroiled in some daring adventure, they found him wandering in front of his apartment mumbling something about authority and cold days in hell that could be counted before he served in anyone else's army. It was of no difficulty for the master of truth Pliz'skin to convince Trog to join the operation. 

Next we paid a visit to Trog's fellow Bloodhunter Banlys, who had become roommates with Torie. The brown bear was asked to wait outside as Trog and Pliz'skin went inside to find Torie trying to assemble the pieces of what seemed like some sort of puzzle. As with Trog, not much effort was expended in the convincing of the Bloodhunter to go on a sortie where fiends, fey, and abominations would almost assuredly be encountered. "I can't get this to work" Torie could be heard saying over and over. Finally, she too put the pieces of the puzzle in a bag and joined the team. 

Off to the Lyceum to gather up Amaris. Having recently passed the test to attain the Right of the Sophomore, Amaris, like almost everyone else in the entire Lyceum, was engaged in a wild celebration to rival the finest bacchanalian thrown by any group of orgiastic Satyrs. Sporting a toga and smoking an herbal substance that seemed to have merry-making properties, the prospective forensic coroner greeted her friends in a jovial manner. Things took a slightly more tense turne when Amaris introduced the two Bloodhunters and the Firbolg, all sworn to destroy the undead and unnaturals, to Sandwich, an undead falcon that remained perched on her shoulder eyeing the three warily. Detecting the cognitive dissonance Trog was experiencing, and wanting to stave off a bird squashing incident that would no doubt be misconstrued as an act of aggression, the definitely-not-a-snake Pliz'skin used his powers of persuasion to calm the Goliath and convince him allowing the presence of one undead creature would eventually lead to the destruction of much more powerful undead creatures. Talking Amaris into leaving her house party and join in the mission was as easy as promising her lots of shit would get broken and lost of monsters would get hurt. There would be blood. 

Unbeknownst to the rapidly growing party, in a dive of a dump of a bar, a Kenku Rogue named Poirot, was meeting with a shadowy figure named Reynard in a booth. What was discussed between the two before we arrived can only be speculated upon, but upon entering the Leaky Tap we were greeted enthusiastically by a female Goliath bartender who was quite smitten with the male Goliath Trog, who dispensed with the flirtations and instead ordered dwarven ale for all who were interested, which was everyone. 

Poirot the Kenku Rogue

Taking the opportunity the alcoholic beverages and resulting good-times were creating, Pliz'skin seized the opportunity to skulk off into a corner to meet Reynard, who he found accompanied by a skulky, cloaked and hooded creature trying to be as discreet and unobtrusive as possible. The three dark creatures seemed to add shadow to shade as they clandestinely discussed their machinations.

"Have you assembled your team?" Reynard probably inquired of Pliz'skin, who probably confirmed that he had. Continuing, Reynard confided that some evil presence had melted through the crater into the Undercity and killed some of his guard. The mission was to descend into the catacombs of the Undercity and find out who or what was responsible, and destroy it if possible. 

Pliz'skin returned to the party with specifics about the mission. Trog confronted him and wanted to know what was in it for him. Twenty gold pieces was sufficient to secure Trog's blessing that we move forward. 

Wanting to start right away, we headed to the city gate where it was known we could enter the Undercity. This is where we witnessed Bromm, the centaur Nevon, and the unconscious Spork riding towards us as the throngs of city dwellers in the slums looked on with keen interest. A centaur is a creature of much wonder, even in a city like Emon. Seeing that Spork needed healing, Large Silent Friend resumed his Firbolg form and cast Cure Wounds on the woebegone detective. Upon seeing their friend healed, the party gave Spork a gentle round of ribbing for once again finding himself on the losing end of a fight with a much smaller creature. 

Bromm then recused himself in order to meet with Tyronious the good half-elf Senator from Syngorn.

Nevon says LSF will know what should be done to protect the child of Archheart from danger, and consulting his comrades LSF and the others agree Nevon would be safest with them even on their treacherous undertaking, Bromm's urging that the centaur should be taken to Tyronious aside. 

Amaris was easily able to persuade the centaur to go on a "cool adventure" with us.

Bromm meets with Senator Tyronious, who asks him where the hell he has been. Tyronious wants to get a declaration of war so he he can fight the Ravagers and increase his power. He also wants an accord between Syngorn and Emon. He sends a threatening message to the ArchMage: sign the accord and support my declaration of war, or else. A few moments the ArchMage appears in a rage. "I will sign your accord, and I will support your declaration of war, but you and I are going to come crossways sometime soon." The senator sends message to his home city of Sangorn to prepare for war, and calls an impromptu public address where he buffalows the gathered crowd and reporters by promising peace, prosperity, and a significant tax cut. 

We make our way to the entrance of the Undercity just north of the Cloudtop District. City Guards are stationed at the entrance. How will we get in? The Kenku Poirot suggested if he were able to talk with them perhaps he could learn something about procedure that would allow us to make our way into the Undercity.  Because he can only mimic speech he has heard, Poirot has difficulty relating what he had learned to Pliz'skin, but the two decide the best way to get into the Undercity is for Pliz'skin to disguise himself as a high ranking member of the City Guard and tell them there is an emergency a few blocks away. 

What would we find beyond the gates to the Undercity?

The canard worked like a charm, and the Kenku Rogue quickly dismantled the lock on the gates, which creaked loudly as they parted, as if they hadn't been opened in years. We quickly entered, knowing the City Guard would soon be back, and angry, and closed the gates behind us. Trog immediately lit a torch to pierce the Stygian darkness, and we began the arduous task of navigating the eternally menacing maze of the Undercity. 

We were immediately assailed with the stifling smell of brimstone. All of us knowing the myths of the Undercity, we knew fire elementals could not be too far away. The heat was even near the entrance almost unbearable, and was likely to get far worse. Only a couple hundred feet in Poirot discovered the remnants of what must have been a guard station. The leavings made it clear this was a well-used guard station. But why was no guard on duty at the moment? Whoever was using this location as a lookout was clearly not the City Guard. 

Fifteen more minutes of plunging into the serpentine depths of the Undercity made it apparent to the scout Poirot that moving forward would just be too dangerous. The heat and a noxious gas would assuredly overcome most of us. 

Feeling that his resistance to fire, poison, and gas would protect him, Pliz'skin volunteered to go ahead and determine the feasibility of the rest of us moving forward, and discovered we were merely in a pocket of noxious gas approximately 100 foot long. Our torches would no doubt ignite the gas, possible reducing us to cinders. However, if we were to extinguish our torches we might each be able to traverse the pocket of smothering gas and get to more hospitable conditions. Banlys went first, crawling on her bird wings, and once safely on the other side of the foul cloud lit a torch for the others to use as a guide. Pliz'skin remained halfway through the darkness in case any of us were overcome.

One by one we made our way towards Banlys' torch, and found the air much cooler on the other side. Ahead we heard a bubbling sound. Having dark vision, the Tiefling Amaris, her undead falcon, and Pliz'skin scouted forward, eventually discovering a chamber where an ambient light shimmered in the distance. In the chamber they found two sets of leather armor, and the accoutrements of  two members of the Clasp all badly scorched or melted by the heat. 

Amaris rejoined the party to relate what she and Pliz'skin had seen in the cavernous chamber, and Pliz'skin no doubt investigated the Clasp member's belongings. The rest of the party joined Pliz'skin in the chamber, and we cautiously approached the blue, ambient light. 

Meanwhile, topside, Senator Tyronious and Bromm were led to the Defense Ministry building and taken to a secret room where a sealed portal was opened, allowing them access to the Undercity. 

The ceiling was glowing red, and where cracks had formed lava spilled to the floor of the chamber. Drawing nearer, we observed three figures. Two were elementals, and they appeared to be holding in place a human woman who was glowing blue, wearing plate armor and knee high boots. She was shrinking in fear and terrified of the elementals. The Bloodhunters Banlys and Trog  immediately identified her as an undead ghost who was bound to the plate armor she was trapped in. It was binding her to the material plane, and the elementals were apparently making sure she stayed in this place. Only the most powerful magic could make this happen. 

Large Silent Friend took the initiative and transformed into a giant constrictor snake, and slithered towards one of the elementals, but was unable to reach it. However, he was not seen because the elementals were distracted by the ghost. Poirot shot an arrow into the elemental on the right, and it struck him, releasing a cloud of steam, but  appeared to not damage it at all. 

Topside Bromm looked down the portal, but decided not to descend.

Spork surmised he also would not be able to damage the elementals and hypothesized his talents would be better spent further investigating the chamber. In one of the corners he discovered some water pipes, which led him to believe we were directly under the city, but also that if we could break the pipes the water might help us extinguish the fire elementals. He shot an arrow which lodged itself in one of the pipes, releasing a trickle of water. "Go for the pipes" he yelled to the rest of the party. 

Amaris had used her turn to advance on one of the elementals, and from her vantage point she was able to ascertain the arrow Poirot had shot did indeed inflict damage on the fiery creature, which allowed her to Toll the Dead, which caused a pool of lava to explode from the elemental's chest, but it still stood. It turned to face Amaris.

The other elemental remained in place to prevent the ghost from moving, but the other dashed forward and was poison sprayed by Pliz'skin. Pliz'skin then dashed back to a safe distance, and Trog used the opportunity to Crimson Right the creature of fire, creating a target of ice on its chest and smashing it with his mighty hammer. The blow cracked its chest open, and lava spewed forth, but it also survived.

Topside Tyronious had taken the plunge through the portal into the Undercity, issued a telepathic proclamation that all undead creatures would be damned, ran to the chamber, witnessed the ghost cowering before a table, and saw the two elementals engaged in battle with the party. 

Torie then reached into her purse and retrieved the results of the project she had so arduously been working on. It was a gun. Which she used to shoot a crossbow bolt into one of the pipes, releasing a shower of water that flooded into that area of the chamber.

Nevon threw a javelin, striking one of the elementals, and Banlys struck another with her great axe. We found ourselves in the thick of a protracted battle with two mighty opponents who seemed to have no intention of letting us get to the woman in armor.

Upon seeing his chief  hurtle into the chamber, Bromm also decided to take the plunge into the cavern, but as soon as his feet hit the floor the two guards in the Ministry of Defense immediately aimed their crossbows at Bromm and Senator Tyronious and fired a volley of bolts. 

This was certainly a shock. After all his machinations and manipulations, someone apparently had betrayed the good senator. But who? 

To the rest of us currently embroiled in a heated battle with fearsome elementals it mattered little, Tyronious and Bromm were now down here in the same predicament that the rest of us were. Now we were all on the same team by necessity. 

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
10) Nevon: Centaur
11) Poirot: Kenku Rogue

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