Monday, 23 May 2016
Win over remaining Gray Maidens in Barracks (4): 900
Recover Perfumes of Sorshen from trapped Perfumery (CR 7): 2900
Shrine of Nocticula - Defeat Shadow Mastiffs CR 5 (3): 1800x3 = 5400
Teleport Chamber - Defeat 4 Lust Sinspawn CR 2 (4): 450x4=1800
Total: 11000/8 (counting NPC Gray Maidens as one share) = 1375
Exploration Bonus: 100 (Perfumery) 100 (Hidden Shrine) 100 (New Level) = +300 each.
Total: 1675 each.
Session account bonus xp: 300 to Keelan, 150 to other party members.
Lust Sinspawn garments equivalent to Studded Leather (Light Armour AC 12+DEX) on appropriate wearer. Each had a guisarme.
Keelan's Account - by Joe.
Keelan's mental journal. Day... Errr... I have no idea. It feels like we've been underground for a good few days but without daily sun rises and sunsets I've lost track. We rest when we can and mostly we can't, everything is trying to kill us and I've died once already... Best not to dwell on that just yet.
After getting some much needed rest following the intense struggle – in which I ended up unconscious (again) - with another Sorshen impersonator (and let's face it, I'm the most qualified for that now) I feel a bit more at ease. A few of the spells I'd been working on are finally feeling like I could pull them off on demand and I'm feeling pretty good all in all. We gather our now considerable Grey Maiden forces and decided it's time to head further in and see what wants to kill us today. We've got Gert and Ralin who seem to be largely in charge (if I'd wanted to be fully versed in military ranks I'd have joined an army). There's one called Ara who seems to be making herself known and then there's Helanda and... You know what, I can't remember their names, hopefully it won't be important. I'm not even sure what name I should use really...
We set back off over the infested waters again but only have enough boats for nine of our twelve, excluding my roguish faerie dragon friend Trix who seems to be less fazed by my death than me. I remember that I must start teaching her the common tongue at some point. We leave two of the Grey Maidens behind with Geddout. I'm not sure they realise they drew the short straw but, quite frankly, he's stopped starring at me as much lately which is fine. Sephiria mentions a puzzle about a boat, some corn, a chicken, and a fox in that way she does when seemingly oblivious to the fact she has more smarts than most folks. I'd have just said we'll send boats back and left it at that. I then wonder if I only understand the puzzle because of the headband I've had for over a year now and whether I'd just be confused like the Maidens without it. Best not to dwell on that either...
Amazingly the passage across the water was this time incident free, perhaps our luck is changing. We beach the boats next to two more and Ara goes into what we believe is some sort of outpost for the Maidens near a teleportation pad like we'd used yesterday. Once again we explain the situation and they seem satisfied enough to join with our mission goals. We have of course failed to mention the Shard in those mission goals but why potentially complicate matters, these ladies have clearly had a bad run of it under their previous commanders and we're being truthful. Mostly. I of course fail to mention I was robbing Sorshen when I awoke in her body. The thought does cross my mind, as I'm sure it does the others, that we're slowly accumulating a force we could not expect to defeat if they turned back against us. I hope it does not come to that.
While we peer around a cooking room I notice Quillax eyeing up a tiny vent for the fire smoke and then visually measuring up Trix. No chance I'm letting that happen. Thankfully we are suddenly distracted by the discovery of a fine lavender smelling bath. I have to admit I'm not exactly feeling fresh but the women go first and I'm not allowed in. I'm sure as hells not going with the men if Geddout plans to... I start to realise there's probably some serious life choices to be made when I get back. Still they do show me how they apply perfume. That's something I guess? I'll not dwell on it right now...
After a brief chat with the Maidens (I wonder if they'd prefer the nickname Greys instead) they explain the local layout: A room with an iffy door that leads to a pit trap, a teleportation pad that leads to some sort of 'death by perfume' room (I am dubious about the use of the word 'perfume'), and a teleportation pad that leads us further on. Even the Maidens don't seem to go through here much. Still there's only really one choice. Before that decision can be made, or at least expressed, Eagle-Eyes Neril, that's what I call him, well as of just now, in my head, spots a secret door. I swear I'd just noticed something odd too but it's good to see he's always got his wits about him, it's certainly served us well so far.
He leads the investigation and stumbles upon another secret door (like I say, served us well so far) and your basic regular door. We gather in the secret room for a quick nose around. This is essentially how we earn our pay after all. There's an alter at one end of the room with a bloodied cup and dagger which, inevitably, draws Anastasia's attention. I've never quite figured her out, I'm not sure any of us have. She seems pretty deep in this occult stuff but I'm never actually convinced she quite knows what she's doing a lot of the time. Still her tale is quite tragic, like the Maidens but worse, and I'm not sure what we can really do to help. Or even if she really wants any help. Still she seems more with it today than yesterday and that's something. Maybe she'll know something about what's been happening here. She cuts her wrist to get a small amount of blood into the cup. Things get weird. Oh for [expletive deleted]'s sake, three semi corporeal / mist hounds congeal out of the ether around me. ALWAYS AROUND ME! They don't look pleased. What was I just saying about Anastasia not knowing what she was doing...
A significant skirmish ensures during which our Tiefling gets knocked out twice but is brought back both times by Quillax, and I manage to pull one of the Maidens back from a potentially sticky (fatal) patch. Sephiria drops a fireball amongst a few other spells we fling around but these beasts are made of tough stuff, well tough mist; nothing seems to cause them significant hurt but we manage to grind them down until Geddout and Ara arrive and dispatch the final one with some old fashioned pointy metal and elbow grease. Amazingly I manage to not take a scratch and feel smug enough with myself to look past Anastasia's unintentional summoning ritual. At least I presume it was unintentional and she didn't quite know what she was doing... Best not to dwell on it.
We examine the room and I clamber up a wall carving after seeing through the illusion covering it - with the help of my pendant alerting me to the magic – and take a rubbing of some ancient Thassilonion text for the others to decipher. Neril seemed hesitant climb up. I wonder if my reckless nature makes the others as weary of me as I was with Anastasia. There's probably a lesson here but then heeding it would probably not be a great deal of fun. More importantly it turns out that this was some sort of secret worship room used by Sorshen, the real one, for some nefarious purpose to do with those bound to the Lady's Light. It also looks as though the names on the carving have been changed magically over the years and currently implicates Anastasia's half sister. Also it states that speaking the name of the creator of this artwork will lead to something happening. Before we can fathom whether this would even be a good idea we realise we have no idea who it could be anyway. I take a sly look on the artwork for a signature or some kind. Nothing. “I guess they weren't that proud of this piece then,” I chuckle to myself. We grab the loot and move on.
From the Maidens' description half the group feel that the regular (not secret) door leads to the perfumery of death, I'm not convinced. Nevertheless we decided to go in. I say 'we', after seeing Gedout urinate on a cloth and place it over half his face 'to stop the bad smells' I decide to take a back seat for this investigation. A few of the others go in too but just use some more mundane liquid to dampen their rudimentary masks. Needless to say after a minute or two a slight cracking of glass is heard followed by a hasty retreat by the three. There seems to be some noxious fumes traipsing from the Bag of Holding Gedout is carrying. He'd better not have damaged it, that cost us a small fortune! It turns out a number of the vials contain a toxic concoction and were essentially rigged to smash when meddled with which occurred just after we'd got them in the Bag... I guess our luck isn't changing after all. Neril takes the bag near the vent Quillax had earlier eyed up and opens the Bag to release the remaining fumes away safely. While Neril carries out this task I keep an eye on him from a safe distance in case things go south, like our plans often seem to. Shortly it occurs to me we have no idea who or what we may have gassed. Still it seems unlikely there was much in this place that probably didn't deserve it. Best not to overthink it...
With the Bag poison free, Quillax manages to clean out the rest of the glass fragments while Sephiria investigates the non-lethal potions. Looks like they're some sort of rich perfume and worth a pretty penny, that's more her world than mine so I trust her judgement. Apparently there's still some more left in the room too. At this point I remember I have my trusty alchemist's kit I've been meaning to use and there's still a few vials of unbroken poison... It'd be a shame to let it go to waste...
A few of us enter into the room, including myself this time, in our makeshift damp rag masks (I USE WATER!). Sephiria and Quillax identify the mysterious goo hanging in a large orb above us as being bad. Very bad. It seems secure to me so we send Gedout out of the room for reasons of self preservation and with a little help I manage to transfer a few fragile vials of poison into some more secure vials and pocket them. I must remember to use them, I've still got a few fire bombs lying around somewhere. We also clean out the rest of the perfume flasks.
So far today I've not taken scratch so it's going well. I mean a few of the others have seen some hair raising moments but we're all still in one piece so onwards and upwards. The Maidens explain how this teleporter works and about the Sinspawn guards on the other side. Wait. What? There's a couple of us who don't have the fondest memories of Sinspawn. We spend some time coming up with a plan and once again if I'm not fighting someone pretending to be Sorshen, I'm trying to pacify someone by pretending to be Sorshen. I'll simply go through an explain that the Maidens are coming with some prisoners captured with Anastasia's help. I saw a similar ruse in a play as a child called Wars in the Stars. What could possibly go wrong. As I step through the teleporter I realise I should probably command rather than explain to these creatures... No time to dwell on it!
Yup. Four hideous creatures await on the other side. Keep it cool, I got this. “Stand down!” I command. Then proceed to explain why. Was that too much? Gods be damned, I wasn't going to 'explain' anything, like five seconds ago I'd agreed that with myself... They fall to a knee and bow their heads. Boom, who's the man! Wait, woman! Whatever. I start leading the group through the room. Suddenly it occurs to me we never agreed when to attack, now seems the opportune moment, most of us are here. I'm going to drop one of these creatures with one of the new spells I've been learning, that should get things rolling. 5. 4. 3... I hear the sound of metal swinging and a thud. Gedout has eviscerated one of them... I mean, I guess we could do it that way. Note to self, no plan is ever thorough enough.
A short fight ensues, they're certainly not as tough as those hounds thankfully. However, Gedout takes a bite from one and instantly turns to attack Anastasia. At least I think he's attacking. Wait he's just pinned her and. Oh. I see. I explode the final Sinspawn causing the effect to drop (in a somewhat underwhelming way, I'll save that new spell to show off another time, I'm sure there'll be one – soon). Thankfully Gedout didn't manage to get past the pinning down of poor Anastasia but she repays his actions in kind with a swift knee to his nether regions. I chuckle to myself, wonder if anyone else saw the funny side of the situation and cast my eye to some of the armour left by the slain creatures, it looks like it might fit my new body a little more than my current set.
“Well, you know what?” I think to myself. “Our plan worked!” I dwell on that for a few minutes with a faint grin on my face as we deicide our next steps...
To Zimandi, Baroness Kaddren, from her sister, Sephiria.
Greetings honoured sister. I trust all is well with you and that you are finding Magnimar’s delightful ruling Council as stimulating as ever…
For my part I must thank you for your recommendation to join Sheila Heidmarch’s little group. Despite knowing it was a ploy of yours to get me away from certain people (who I was apparently offending?), it has been quite an interesting experience thus far.
My new companions are rather unusual people, but none the worse for that. There is Quillax, a druid with a passable tactical bent who delights in transforming into bears, sharks and such like; a formidable barbarian warrior – Gedout - whose approach almost redefines recklessness; Anastatsia, a tiefling of dubious morality (and, I think, equally dubious sanity) with a fondness for the grotesque; a monk – Neril - whose bare hand attacks can damage creatures of shadow; and a bard who is presently inhabiting a body once belonging to Runelord Sorshen – but more on that later.
By the way, did you know how unpleasant it is to wade through swamps? The sea captain that Mistress Heidmarch hired for our journey delivered us as planned to the Lady’s Cape, but we still had to traverse part of the Mushfens and then talk to an extraordinarily eccentric half-orc hermit – whose cooking is worse than yours, dear sister – as well as try to negotiate the politics of warring tribes of bullywugs and troglodytes. As has been pointed out (repeatedly), diplomacy is not my strong suit.
We ended up allying with the troglodytes – they use a bastardised form of Draconic that is very unpleasant on the ear, and they seem to have decided that noun declensions are a forgotten mystery that should remain consigned to history. The bullywugs are rather worse, even if one of them possessed an interesting bow with the apparent, if somewhat messy, ability to explode troglodytes.
There are also in the area a group of the Grey Maidens, late of Korvosa, who are attempting to ally with the Runelord Sorshen. We have since met several of them and I’ve offered them a job if we get out of this, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
It’s at this point that the situation really started getting interesting. On entering the Lady’s Light, the bard Keelan decided – against my advice – to interfere with a sarcophagus containing the uncorrupted body of Runelord Sorshen: almost certainly a clone prepared long ago for emergency use. Needless to say, powerful magic warded it, but even a Runelord’s plans sometimes do not survive the millennia: the trap spell obliterated Keelan’s body as it was surely intended to do, but then the clone drew his discorporated spirit into it and Keelan awoke in the body of an Azlanti Runelord.
It is slightly unnerving but rather useful to be travelling through the lady’s light escorted by “Sorshen” as it seems there is already a Sorshen pretender here – a relation of Anastasia’s, it seems. A number of demons had been bound here to serve Sorshen, but it would appear that most have escaped. Most of the remaining inhabitants seems to be less than sane, and frequently quite deluded. Of particular note in that respect has been a Cave Giant – there’s rather a good picture of one in the copy of Kelthun’s Miscellany that I brought back from the Arcanamirium – that was also convinced she was Sorshen. It would have been funny if she hadn’t been so dangerous.
Back to the subject of the Grey Maidens: they appear to have been duped by this Sorshen pretender but they do seem to be quite effective warriors and I’d much rather have them with us as opposed to having a cadre of well-trained mercenaries wandering around Varisia looking to foment revolution – hence the job offer. And I’ve also picked up a few books to add to the library.
We’re presently ascending the tower of the Lady’s Light, so we expect to meet the next fake Sorshen soon. To have survived so long bound in this tower I imagine she’s likely to be quite formidable, though like its other long time inhabitants, I wouldn’t want to make any claim as to her state of mind…
Sunday, 8 May 2016
Returning by boat they encounter the Cave Giant Mochtau (who thinks she's Sorshen), Quillax summons earth elemental to rip the bloody doors off... Mochtau defeated, group fetch remaining 3 grey maidens from below and rest overnight in her lair.
PC Group (all level 5):
Quillax (Druid), Keelan-Sorshen (Bard) 5>6, Neril (Monk), Gedout (Barbarian), Sephiria Kaddren (Wizard). Anastasia in Psychic Commune with her sister.
NPC Gray Maidens Gert Ralin & Helanda.
Quillax's Account - By Keelia.
We have decided to come clean with the Grey Maidens. I feel for them - their lives have not been easy and Anastasia's half-sister cannot be an easy mistress, but that doesn't make me or my party stupid. Should they feel so betrayed as to attack us, we stand a better chance taking two of them down now rather than if they turn on us later when more of their sisters are standing against us.
It seems that our desire to not kill them has helped sway the armoured Maidens to our side, despite Keelan not being Sorshen. I am not the only one that pities these poor women. Sephiria has kindly offered her family's employ to the Grey Maidens that take our side, provided she lives, of course. Though, I fear I may need to let Anastasia have a word with our Barbarian, as his ardour for the Grey Maidens is not best timed.
Speaking of our daemonic companion, Anastasia looks unwell to me and has been in a trance most of the day. She can be easily led and will sometimes speak, but she drifts primarily in her own mind, sometimes murmuring softly in a language I cannot understand. Most unsettling is her soft giggles, though from what I know of trances, I am glad her dream state makes her laugh and not cry. We can only hope she can rouse herself if we find ourselves in a dangerous situation.
The Grey Maidens have revealed more of the trauma they suffer here. Anyone that does not fanatically believe that Anastastia's half-sister is the Rune Lady is given to a Sea Hag to be tortured and killed. One of their number may yet still be alive. It is in our best interest to try to rescue her - another loyal Grey Maiden will help persuade their sisters not to fight us - and I find all this talk of torture to bring up things I prefer not to think about.
I put forth my plan and the party agrees, including the Grey Maidens. We clamber into the boats and row along. Lichen lights our path, a familiar thing to me that brings a touch of homesickness, but we have more important matters afoot. We have been warned that things lurk in the water and we must be vigilant.
Neril raises the warning from the rear boat, giving us time to draw our weapons against a large number of water ghouls. I hate the undead - their rotten stink cloys my senses, but we are well armed. I can hear fighting in the boats behind but my attention is on my own two enemies. The Grey Maidens are too heavily armored to swim and it shows in the tentative sweeps from the one in my boat. I can hear struggles from behind and a few victorious shouts, so they are holding their own. I leap into the water as a crocodile, taking heavy damage as I pick an enemy and close my jaws around it.
I can hear and see little until my enemy is dead and I clamber back into the boat. A quick head count reveals my friends are all standing, or in Sephiria's case, flying, and our two Maidens are accounted for. No one seems badly injured; Gedout and Neril had successfully defended their boat as well as the middle boat, and the Grey Maidens overcame their fear of tipping the boats to bisect at least one enemy so we proceed forward.
Sephiria's startled sound brings my attention upward and I can just make out the whisper of wings. Bats loom out of the darkness, guardian beasts belonging to Sorshen, or perhaps the false one, as once Sephiria displays the symbol on her cloak, the one most of us have repainted on our skin, the bats seem less bothered by us. They ignore us completely once Sephiria moves closer to the boat.
Some odd sounds tickle at my ear, reminding me of Spring in the forests but with less pheromones. It is annoying but not encompassing and quickly blocked by Sephiria passing around the wax that defends against mind magics. The Maidens seem uncomfortable, but not likely to strip off their armor, of which we can only be glad. We spot dark shadows deep under the water. Moray eels from the look of them; they can be dangerous but in the boats we look like a larger eel as long as we stick close together, so as hoped, they disappear into the depths.
We beach the boats on a small bit of land, and the Grey Maidens narrow our search for the Sea Hag down to two tunnels. I peer around and spot some tracks which strongly indicate the right-hand tunnel. We prepare ourselves with Neril casting a Pass Without A Trace spell, allowing us to creep up. We leave the Grey Maidens and their heavy armour behind to guard Anastasia. The tunnel does not go too deeply and we soon spot the Sea Hag and an unfortunate woman we can assume is our missing Maiden. There are other small beasts who tracks I spotted.
With soft whispers and hand motions, we make a plan. I provide the ability to walk on water, whilst Keelan aims to put our enemies to sleep. Gedout and Neril move swiftly to take on our enemies as the Sea Hag looks set to kill the poor woman. Some strange malady takes over Neril after he does some damage and he retreats past us, face pale. He recovers himself after some distance but I must keep focused to not hurt the unconscious woman with my fire.
We win the battle, beating down the little beasts, and rousing the woman. We clothe her and Gedout carries her across the water back to her sisters, whom Neril has fetched. We search the Sea Hag and find some things of interest. After ensuring the rescued woman is in safe hands, we explore the rest of the area, looking for a place to rest and ensuring there are no further enemies. Further hostages are unlikely to be found alive.
We find a net filled with interesting things under the water in one room, including two elemental gems, which Gedout and Neril swam down to fetch. The other direction, we encounter another pair of the little beasts, which we give chase to and kill. In total, we have found five dead women. Two were recently dead and easily returned to their sisters, who move to bury them on the beach. The other three have been there far longer and it takes us some careful work to bring them back to be buried. They all bear marks of torture.
I want away from this dreadful place and not just because there is no safe place to sleep. The Grey Maidens also wish to return to their sisters who will undoubtedly be worried. The women discuss the odd situation where patrols have been getting ever rarer and their lack of energy to protest against their sisters being thrown to the hags. Sephiria suggests it may be a lassitude-type spell, something actively making them uncaring.
We climb back into the boats and with another Pass without a Trace from Neril, we glide along silently. It is purely bad luck that the giantess the Maidens warned us about decides to step out of her cave as we are passing.
Perhaps ill advisedly, we taunt Mochtau's belief that she is Sorshen. I am getting heartily annoyed with the number of beings who believe they are the Rune Lady and I believe the rest of my companions feel the same.
We regret it swiftly as we find ourselves laid low quicker than expected. Keelan is struck by a boulder and Gedout fetches her and brings her to be healed while the giantess threatens to fetch more weapons. One Grey Maiden is struck down by the door she had been asked to guard upon Mochtau's return. Neril goes to rescue the Maiden with a potion but he gets struck whilst he defends her and is also knocked out.
We engage with magic or blade, Gedout charges forward. I choose a bear form, hoping the weight and size of this body will act as coverage for my allies, but I also grab an elemental gem from my bag. Sephiria spots me and recommends the earth gem. I head into the fray and the earth elemental is soon summoned and acts as coverage for those struggling to get up. Sephiria blasts Mochtau with her wand, overcharging it to do amazing damage, and the giantess retreats behind magic'd doors.
I am enraged now, and am not prepared to let this fight drop. I order my elemental to beat down the doors and cast Dispel Magic in the hopes to unlock the doors. It does end up making things worse as I inadvertently turned off the door-opening mechanism, which was not the plan. Still, the hunt is in my blood as it is in my companions'. We get our party to their feet and tend to our injuries while the elemental beats at the door. Eventually it crumples and we face the giantess again.
In the short time, she also tended her injuries and her rage at being mocked, no pun intended, gives her strength. We are forced to our limits to take her down, but we emerge victorious in the end. With the blood lust sated, we move around tending injuries and searching for treasure, of which we find some. Unfortunately, the treasure chests are outnumbered by the chest of rotten meat by a great number. Neril volunteers for the disgusting task of checking those chests for treasure, only to come up empty handed.
We limp back and collect our three other Grey Maidens and return to the Giantess' hold as it is easily defended, even with the broken doors.
We gather together for a rest, well deserved and desperately needed, and with Sephiria placing guard spells and our little troop of Grey Maidens taking turns guarding the door. After we rest, we will proceed with our plans.