Session 18 Summary

Started by David Roomes, March 09, 2017, 07:46:34 PM

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David Roomes

Session 18  Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party's wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows

The Current Non Player Characters

Halimir - An elven ranger, who has fought along side the party for several game sessions now. Has proven to be very lucky.
Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Nassan - A Padashani priest of Hram. Dour, sullen, doesn't talk much. Skilled at herbalism, alchemy and healing.

My apologies to anyone who might actually be reading these session summaries. This one is a particularly LONG one. A lot happened in this session and there was also a lot of talking. I try not to let these session summaries get too talky or too exposition heavy, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

The party had stopped their journey about a mile from their destination, within sight of the city walls of Qazadeen. The city of Qazadeen is built upon a gradual sloping hillside. It has two city walls, dividing the city into the inner city, mid-city and outer city.

The party could see that dozens of battles happening in the outer city with civilians fighting infected. It seemed that the entire outer city was being overrun by infected. Archers on the city walls were firing outward, toward the outer city, picking off as many infected as they could. They were firing outward only, which made the party conclude that the mid city and inner city had not been overrun.

There were several groups of people and many individuals fleeing the city of Qazadeen. Some on foot, some on horseback, some with carts and wagons. The vast sandy flat lands were dotted with groups leaving, all heading straight away from the city.

Nearest to them, were three groups:

  • About 150 meters to the east was a big ogre on foot, fighting of a half dozen infected by himself. He was swatting them away with some large weapon.

  • About 150 meters to the west was a small group of two men, three women and three children, being pursued by three infected, all of them on foot.

  • A wagon, being pulled by two horses, was charging up the road, heading directly for the party. Two archers were on top of the wagon with bows, firing arrows at a group of infected chasing after them. One infected clung to the back of the wagon while another grappled with the wagon's driver, causing it to veer from side to side as it came up the road.

The party quickly split up. Listig, Belkor and Winlock ran toward the ogre, thinking he might be a valuable ally.

Almahdi, Nassan, Halimir and William took the party's wagon and headed toward the group of men, women and children.

The two halves of the party were each about half way to their respective targets when the wagon with the two archers passed them, veered sharply, hit a rock and flipped over, landing on its side, half way between the two halves of the group. The two archers fell to the ground. The group of infected chasing them rapidly closed the distance.

Wasting no time, Belkor used his gauntlet of fireballs to throw a fiery orb at the group of infected closing in on the wagon. He aimed well and the fireball detonated near the back of the group. The explosion engulfed the infected in flames, incinerating six of them. Only two survived, and it charged the flipped wagon. The two archers and the driver rapidly got to their feet and drew blades. Including the one that had been wrestling the driver and the one clinging to the back of the wagon, it was three humans against four infected.

Belkor, using his magic boots, ran to catch up with Winlock who was continuing on toward the ogre. Listig ran toward the flipped wagon and then started firing arrows into the undead, assisting the wagon riders.

Very quickly there were three separate battles happening within sight of each other.

Listig and the three men fought the remaining four infected at the site of the flipped wagon.

William and Halimir fired spells and arrows at the undead attacking the group of civilians.

Winlock and Belkor came to the aid of the big ogre who was swatting at the infected with a very large wooden plank. Belkor's twin blades and Winlock's massive war hammer made quick work of the first four infected.

Several of the infected had already expended their vomit and seemed to be depleted. It was clear to the party that each infected could only vomit the blue ichor once and then required several hours, at least, to refill some internal reservoir. Two of the infected did manage to vomit their foul liquid, but no one was struck.

Very quickly, the infected were defeated and all three battles were won. The infected were not particularly resilient, and they would go down with a one or two good sword strikes or hammer blows. However, they were fast, aggressive and the risk of possible infection made all of the heroes uneasy.

Halimir and William managed to kill all of their infected and saved all of the civilians except for one of the women. The ogre was saved, but had been bitten several times. The party wasn't sure if that meant he was infected, but he was on his feet and seemed ok.

The three men at the flipped wagon proved to be capable fighters, but Listig's aid was invaluable.

The survivors of all three battles and the party quickly grouped together. With Nassan and Almahdi translating, the party did their best to calm down the civilians, who were clearly shaken by the battle.

The party asked them "What's going on in the city?"

"The plague was spreading quickly in the outer city. We heard there were a few cases inside the walls, but two days ago, the King closed the city gates and forbade anyone from entering or leaving. The last two days were awful. The sickness spread like wild fire through the outer city. People were dying faster than we could bury them. Bodies lay in the streets being eaten by crows and dogs. We began hearing about attacks on people by the walking dead. It spread quickly. Those buried out in mass graves began walking back into the city. Bodies in the streets rose up and attacked. Those bitten become infected as well".

How fast do people turn once infected?

"At first, only the dead coming back to life. But now the illness burns more fiercely. People die in less than a die. And those bitten, turn very quickly, becoming ill and dying and rising in less than an hour. It seems to be quicker with step in the chain".

The three men with the wagon were all that remained of a bowyer/fletcher shop. They had put as much of their shop and wares into the wagon as they could and had fled. As a thank you to Listig for his aid, they gave him their finest bow, a veritable work of art. They also gave him their very best arrows, a set of magically enchanted "hammer head" arrows, that magically increase size and weight in flight, to become something akin to battering rams. Listig accepted the gifts with many thanks.

The ogre, it turned out, was an escaped slave. He bore the brand of the slavers guild on his shoulder. His tongue had been cut out long ago. He was from Ithria and, although he could not speak, he did understand the Southern tongue. He had managed to escape that very morning in the chaos and confusion of the outer city battling the infected.

The party tried to persuade the people to join them and guide them into the city. None of them agreed to that idea. They were terrified of what they had seen.  They only wanted to get as far from Qazadeen as they could. Besides, they said, they could not get the party into the mid or inner city... the city gates were closed. They would be of no use.

The party asked the ogre if he would fight with them. He was big and strong and good in a fight. They could use him. The ogre, through pantomime and gesture, indicated that he would go with them and fight beside them. The party gave him one of the potions they had received from Yaqibe, the old priest back in the town of Hefelia. They weren't sure if it would do anything to stop or slow the infection, but it might help. They also put poultices and bandages on his bite wounds. Yaqibe had said that the poultice would help as well.

Having no way to ascertain his name at that moment, they decided to call him "Groot" and the ogre seemed fine with that.

The three men with the wagon and the other civilians decided to travel together. They piled on to the wagon and headed north, bidding the party farewell.

The party, along with Groot, turned their attention back to the city. Humble Almahdi had picked up a map of Qazadeen several days earlier in one of the northern towns. Now that they were here, the party pulled out the map and reviewed it.

You can view the map of Qazadeen here:

William decided to sit and meditate with the Talisman of Dreams again. Now that they were closer to the city, he might be able to get a more precise fix on the location of the Talisman of Blood. After a few minutes, he was able to find it. Based on the reading, William was sure that it was in the city of Qazadeen, but more precisely, it was in the inner city, near the very center of Qazadeen.

They asked Groot if he knew of any way to get into the inner city and he shook his head "no".

William again, took the Talisman of Dreams in hand and cast a Divination spell with it. It was the most recently unlocked of his abilities with the Talisman and the first time he had cast this particular spell.

As soon as he completed the casting, the ground around them began to tremble. A mound of sand began to rise slowly and began to take shape. Within four heart beats, the sand had taken on the rough form of a humanoid figure, robed and cowled. The figure, completely composed of sand, stood towering over them. Within the hood, nothing could be seen but darkness. It turned its head toward the group and spoke with a deep, resonant voice.

Long have I watched you. Long have you struggled. This summoning is long past due...

The party stood there with jaws hanging open. They had not expected the answer to their spell to have a voice, let alone take on a physical form...

What knowledge do you seek?

William already had his question in mind. "How do we get our group into the inner city of Qazadeen?"

The hooded head looked up toward the city and seemed to consider the question.

Seek the place of broken teeth to find the robber's road beneath.

Having uttered this cryptic puzzle, the figure dissipated, flowing back into mere sand.

The party scoured the map. Many buildings were labeled in a scrawled hand. Eventually, they found something... a small tavern on the south side of the city, in the outer city, was marked as "The Broken Tooth Tavern". The party assumed that "robber's road beneath" must refer to a tunnel and this tavern must be the outer end of that tunnel. With that knowledge, they headed out.

The party jumped up onto their wagon and began to circumnavigate the city in a wide arc, heading to city's south side. They kept their distance, attempting to avoid the attention of the infected. As they made their way south, they came across a series of large low stone structures. They were spaced about a hundred meters apart. Each was rectangular and built into the side of a small slope. Water was trickling from several large round openings in the west side. A variety of plants were growing in the damp ground where the water discharged. The water was foul and the miniature oasis had an awful smell.

Almahdi explained that these were discharge pipes from the city's sewer system. The party asked why the city didn't simply dump their sewage into the river. He explained that the river was sacred. The great Nupar River was at the very heart of the Hram religion. The river is life, the source of all life. To pollute it with sewage would be a great offense to Hram. No city anywhere along the course of the river dumps sewage or trash into it. Even bathing in the river was forbidden. Instead, water is taken from the river and used in the city – for drinking, cooking, bathing and to feed the sewer system, which is separate and never connects to the river. There are two separate sewer systems, one on each side of the river and each system discharges out in the drylands, away from the city.

The party stopped and examined the sewer discharge bunkers. The pipe openings were almost one meter in diameter. A man, not wearing armor, could crawl up the pipe, but it would be a difficult crawl in a very tight space, through a river of feces, for several hundred meters at least. It looked like one possible way into the city, but a disgusting one. There might also be any number of grates and pinch points and locked gates one might find in the labyrinth of sewer tunnels.

After some discussion, they decided against the sewer pipes. Better to follow the cryptic advice given by the sand-formed figure summoned by the Talisman.

The party crossed the river at a stone bridge and began veering east, heading toward the south side of the city. After another kilometer, they came across a group of eight bodies on the ground. Several of them had wounds and bite marks which indicated they had been attacked by the infected. Several of the corpses looked infected.

Seven of them were wearing uniforms. Almahdi recognized them as the Qazadeen city militia. The eighth wore a hood robe over a parang and looked like a scholar or wizard type. He had a large satchel slung over his shoulder. The party searched the bodies. The robed one was carrying an alchemical kit of sorts – mortar and pestle, flasks and jars, tubes and pots. He also had many herbs, flowers, powders, tiny jars of colored liquid and other alchemical ingredients. Several of the soldiers were carrying bags filled with blue flowers. Nassan recognized the flower as the bud of a flowering cactus native to the region. He said the flower was useful in several alchemical preparations and was mildly poisonous.

The robed one also had several pages of hand written notes and documents. Almahdi translated them for the party. One doument was an official writ declaring the possessor to be an "alchemist in service to the crown" and to be given due respect. One page contained a list of herbs, flowers and alchemical ingredients "to be gathered". Other notes implied that this alchemist was one of several that the Jhad of Qazadeen had searching for specific plants.

The party wasn't sure what to make of this. But they took the alchemical equipment and gathered herbs and flowers and put them in the wagon. They also stripped off the uniforms of the soldiers and scrubbed them thoroughly with sand, making sure that none of the blue ichor stains remained. The uniforms had a badge on them with text. Almahdi translated and said that these men were members of the "Sand Wolf" brigade of the city militia. The uniforms were stowed in the wagon as well. Finally, the party severed the heads of all the corpses, hoping to prevent any of them from rising again.

Eventually, the party made it to the south road. When they reached the road, they were about one kilometer south of the city. The road ran straight north to the city. The distant sounds of battle in the outer city had quieted. And there were no more individuals or groups fleeing the city. They took this as a bad sign. The party assumed that the outer city had been completely over run. Those who were able, had fled. Everyone left in the outer city was either infected or dying or dead (or possibly hiding).

The tavern they sought, the Broken Tooth Tavern, was one of the buildings on the very south edge of the outer city. It would be one of the first buildings they would encounter as they headed north into the outer city. The party knew that they couldn't take the wagon with them. As far as they knew, they were going into a tunnel. Before the tunnel, they would likely need to be stealthy, moving from building to building, unheard.

They asked Almahdi to stay here, with the wagon, a kilometer south of the city. His job was to keep the wagon safe and to move it if needed. William said that he would be able to track Almahdi magically after they were done in the city so Almahdi could move the wagon as far as he needed to, to keep it and himself safe.

They decided to bring Nassan with them. Nassan had a great deal of alchemical knowledge and it seemed that alchemy was part of this. His knowledge might be handy. Plus, he was a healer and they might need some healing. Groot, the mute ogre, had been quietly plodding along beside the wagon this whole time. Groot was now carrying a massive two handed sword, a weapon the party had taken from the destroyed caravan out in the desert. They wanted him to come with them as well.

William's raven also stayed with the wagon. William hasn't used the raven since landing in Qeshir, but the raven is still with the party.

At this point, it was late afternoon. The party had some food and water at the wagon and waited until nightfall. They wanted the cover of darkness to hide their approach.

William used this time to cast an arcane eye spell. He sent the eye flying toward the outer city and used it to search the outer city. It didn't take long for him to find the Broken Tooth tavern. He remotely studied the area. A group of infected were wandering about the tavern, prowling like animals. He sent the eye inside the tavern. Inside, there were several dead bodies. There were also three infected that were up and walking around inside the tavern. He then sent the eye into the mid city and inner city. As expected, inside the great stone walls of the city, there were no infected. The dark streets were being patrolled by many city guard patrols who were searching the city with torches, looking for any sign of infection. Other than city guard patrols, the streets were empty.

Once it was dark enough, they said goodbye to Almahdi and the rest of them headed north toward Qazadeen.

As the party got close to the outer city, they slowed and went as quietly as possible. Noise might attract more infected, so  any battle would have to be done as quietly as possible. They soon found themselves within sight of the tavern. A wooden idol was perched above the door, with most of its teeth broken out. Seven infected standing outside of the tavern noticed the approach of the party and charged. Luckily they did not holler or yell, only muted grunts and growls.

Arrows and spells dropped three before they reached the party. Kenner's blades and Winlock's hammer finished off the rest. Groot, with his giant sword, cut one of the infected clean in half. When the battle was over, they severed the heads of the dead. They then listened. All was quiet.

They open up the tavern's front door and the three infected immediately charged out. Surprisingly fast and aggressive, these three proved to be tougher. One of them managed to bite Kenner on the neck. Another sank teeth into Winlock. Both warriors, now furious, cut the offending things to pieces, but the damage was done. Each had a neck wound dripping with the blue ichor.

They each quickly quaffed one of Yaqibe's potions and put a poultice on their neck wounds. There was no doubt that they were infected. They hoped that Yaqibe's medicine would slow the progression of the disease, if not halt it.

The party quickly entered the tavern and closed the door behind them. They began a thorough search of the tavern. There were more than a dozen bodies, but no one living. Several of the bodies showed signs of infection. They decapitated the bodies and then put all of the bodies (and heads) outside.

In a back office, they found an iron strongbox. Listig picked the locked and opened it to find it filled with coins and a couple of gems. In the office, there were 3 bookcases, side by side. They discovered that the center one was on rollers and concealed a secret door. They pushed the door in and it swung on to reveal a hidden room.

The room had a large wooden table and four chairs in the center and a rug covering the floor. A few cabinets and shelves adorned the walls.

Hanging from the ceiling was a chandelier with a dozen candles in it. At the center of the chandelier, sitting in an iron bracket, was a glowing blue crystal. As soon as William walked into the hidden room, he began to feel ill. He immediately recognized it. It was a drellisite crystal which emits a kind of "anti magic field". This was a small crystal and had an effective range of only 15 feet, just enough to cover the room.

While searching the room they discovered that the beneath the wooden paneling of the walls were sheets of lead. The room was lead lined. Between the drellisite crystal and the lead lining of the room, it was clear that someone wanted this room to remain hidden, even from spells that might discover it.

Belkor was particularly interested in the crystal. He thought it would be very useful in dealing with enemy wizards and such. He plucked the drellisite crystal from the chandelier. It was a stout shard, about 10 cm long and 2 cm diameter. William protested and said that he didn't want the party taking that crystal with them unless they could contain its radiation somehow.

With a dagger, Belkor pried up a couple of the lead tiles that lined the room. The lead tiles were about 20cm on a side and one cm thick. The room was lined with several layers of overlapping tiles. Belkor asked Groot to help him. Belkor told him what to do and Groot used his strong fingers. Within a minute, they had rolled one tile up into a tube and pinched one end. Belkor put the crystal in the lead tube and put that in his knapsack. [DM Note - this crude lead tube weighs about 4.5 kg].

Listig noticed scrap marks on the floor. They moved the table and rolled up the rug. Beneath the rug was a large trap door with a recessed iron ring. They listened with ears pressed against the trapdoor. Nothing. Silence. They grabbed the ring and lifted the trapdoor. Inside was a steep ramp going down into darkness. No doubt, this was the "robber's road".

Without delay and trusting to their luck, they entered the tunnel in single file. The ramp went down a good a ways before opening up into a tunnel. It was a small tunnel, just large enough for them to walk down single file. Groot had to hunch over and his shoulders scraped the walls. The ceiling was arched and lead lined with the same square lead tiles that the room above had. It seemed, whoever built this tunnel had gone to a great deal of trouble to ensure this tunnel remained hidden from prying spells.

Winlock and Listig, who both could see in the dark very well, went first. The rest followed behind, illuminating their way with a pebble upon which William had cast a light spell.

The tunnel travelled mostly north, turning slightly this way and that, every hundred paces or so. After a short distance, the tunnel opened up into a large circular room. A giant rat was in the room and it attacked as soon as they party walked in. Listig quickly dispatched it with a single arrow to the eye. Upon closer examination, it was clear that the rat was infected by the same plague that was affecting the people above. This was the first indication that the plague affected animals as well.

They examined the room. It was a large workshop of sorts. Several work benches and tables and shelves provided work space. There were three narrow carts on wheels lined up against the wall. Several copper ingots (stamped with the standard of the Karoush Mining Consortium) were on the shelves. There was a box of nails, a few horse shoes and a few stray pieces of iron ore scattered about the shelves as well. A few iron weapons, maces and swords, lay on a table.

The party found nothing of interest in the work shop. They continued on their way. They passed several smaller side passages which went to empty chambers or dead ends. They continued along the main tunnel.

After what felt like another 500 meters, they could see a glow of light ahead. A voice came echoing down the tunnel toward them.

"Prost! Gahusha bal tan! Myratta pol handra aben malal aso tenaka"!

All faces turned toward Nassan. Nassan smiled weakly. "He say... stop. And speak our names so he knows we are not one of the creatures. Or he will drop the ceiling on us".

Nassan spoke to the guard and the guard replied. The two went back and forth for a full minute. Finally, Nassan said, "he is going to let us pass. He is calling for others to come and escort us from here".

Not long after, they could hear others ahead. The guard called out again. Nassan said "he wants us to come forward, with our weapons sheathed and our hands visible".

The party complied. They came into the light in a room. The guard they had been speaking two was a man with a turban, a pointed beard and gold earrings. He wore light leather armor. He had a scimitar in one hand and his other was on a lever in the wall.

Behind him were six big men. They wore gold rings on their arms, brightly colored turbans, loose pants and leather jerkin vests.

The six men led the party through a several chambers until they came into a large square room. It was dominated by a large conference room table upon which was unfurled a huge leather bound map of the city of Qazadeen. Standing on the far side of the table were two men. One was a heavy set black man with a neatly trimmed beard, a jeweled turban and a green surcoat. Next to him stood a tall man dressed in a dark grey parang.

At the sight of the party, the black man burst out laughing and shook his head as if in disbelief. He spoke in a soft deep voice and in the southern tongue, but with a Padashani accent.

Well, well, well.. the Gods have a wicked sense of humor. You could not have picked a worse time to sneak into a city! But I'm glad you braved the journey because I have so many questions for you...

King Dalmoran has many spies. Not just in his own nation, but scattered far and wide in other nations. He likely has a many spies scattered throughout the Padashan Empire. Here in this region, we know the identify of some of them, but not all. Those we know of, we keep an eye on. And look at this.

The man pulled out a parchment and laid it on the table. It was the wanted poster that the Black Guard soldiers had, the poster that had been put up in western Mercia. Their faces stared back at the party.

It seems Dalmoran has his spies searching for you. Don't worry... I don't think that his spy network knows that you're here. I have been playing games with his spies for years. I think this, shakes paper, was given to every one of their spies and every spy was told to keep an eye out for you. His minions are looking for you, but they don't know where to look. That's why they are looking for you everywhere. But the question is, why? Why is King Dalmoran, arguably one of the most powerful men in the world, searching for you four? Now, normally, I would bribe you with something like that... bribe you or threaten you with exposure. But things are not normal today.

My name is Kalrotus. Third in command of the Bellowguard. Here, in Qazadeen, the Bellowguard rules the underworld. A bit of thievery, a bit of fencing stolen goods, spying, smuggling and so forth. Seems you've already found our smuggling tunnel.  I don't know how you found our tunnel, but that's not really what concerns me. The larger question is why... why would you risk life and limb to sneak your way into a city that is on the verge of being overrun by an army of undead. You don't look Anquaran. Neither do you look Padashni. You're from Ithria. Since Dalmoran is looking for you, you're not any of his spies. And you're not spies of the empire. I suspect I know why he's looking for you, but I'd like to hear it from you.

The party looked at each other but offered no answer.

Allow me to be honest with you. And I admit, honesty is not normally my first instinct. But here we are. Desperate times, desperate measures. The truth is that I don't know exactly what is going on. But I'll make a deal with you. You tell me why you here and why the mad king is looking for you. In exchange I'll tell you everything that WE know. An exchange of information. Perhaps we can cooperate.

"Agreed", said William. "But you go first".

Very well... The Karoush province was once a proud kingdom... the most recently conquered addition to the empire. Being subservient to the empire has never sat well with the people of Karoush. Tensions with the empire were always strained at best. And now those tensions have erupted into full scale war. Armies roaming the land and clashing in great battles leading to all manner of suffering, displaced refugees and so forth. War is bad enough. But then the plague came. Quite suddenly. People falling sick by the hundreds. And then, a few days ago, the first reports of the walking dead. The infected.

We know what the cause is. A death cult. The Death March. Vanquished more than twenty years ago. That's what the common citizenry believes. What isn't widely known is that this Death Cult returned several years ago... quietly infiltrating the ranks of the royal court at Qazadeen. It's difficult to get a spy into the royal court. But we did our best to keep an eye on these cultists. They were seducing the Jhad with tales of the thing they worship, preying upon his feeble will, anointing him with blood in their rituals. They filled his head with tales of how their dark magic could slay his enemies, and how they would help him lead his armies to victory over the empire.

It seemed, for more than two years, that they were content to play some long term game, bending the Jhad to their will. But now, quite suddenly, in just the last few weeks, things have changed. They demanded the Jahd send out his men to scour the desert and bring back the blossom of a certain flowering cactus. Meanwhile, the local apothecaries were taken by force, and emptied of certain alchemical components. We suspected they were brewing some potion for the Jhad.

But as the war was beginning the plague hit. And then, the infected, the walking dead. Perhaps it was the plague they were brewing up. Perhaps as a weapon for the Jhad, to be used against his enemies, to help him win this civil war. Last night, my men saw militia soldiers making deliveries to the temple. But then, this morning, the cultists took over the temple of Hram. Sealed themselves up in there. To our surprise, the Jhad ordered his soldiers to the temple, to break in and drag the cultists out to face justice. I don't know what to make of that. For whatever reason, the Jhad and the cultists have turned on each other.

Now, as for you... I know that Dalmoran has sent HALF HIS ARMY out in to the world to find the four of you. They are scouring the world. There's only one thing that could possibly motivate such a massive military movement... either you have found one of the lost pieces of the Talisman of Anquar... or he thinks you have. Either way, he will stop at nothing until he has you.

Now... it's your turn...

The party regaled Kalrotus with a story. They told him all about their adventures in western Mercia... the swamp, the militia, their attacks on the minions of the witch. They told him about their final battle with her, killing the witch and so forth. They left out any mention of the Talisman. They said only that she was "skilled in charm magic" and had used her magic to enslave the minds of those who served her. They told him that when they defeated her, they found a book filled with notes that talked about the Talisman of Anquar and hinted at a possible resting place in this region. They said that the witch had believed more information could be found within the city of Qazadeen and they have traveled here in search of it - to find the next clue on the trail and to eventually, one day, find one of the lost Talismans. There were clear to mention that they did not think the Talisman was here in Qazadeen, only more information.

They also mentioned that they did not expect to be facing a plague of undead and only used the tunnel to gain access to the inner city. They said that their quest was leading to the temple at the center of the city. Clearly, what they sought was tied to this Death March cult.

Kalrotus listened to their story, asking the occasional question to clarify some point. When they finished, Kalrotus was quiet for a time, lost in thought.
The party insisted that they only wanted safe passage. They also bartered for it. They told him of the mining guild's caravan that they had encountered out in the wastes and showed him an iron ingot as proof. They promised to give him the precise location in exchange for safe passage. Kalrotus copied down the location.

Kalrotus made it clear that he had no interest in the missing pieces of the Talisman of Eight. To possess one of the Talismans, even to know where such a relic might lay, would be to invite the attention of the Mad King Dalmoran, to invite disaster. Clearly, the players had already made that mistake. Either the Mad King thought that they were in possession of a Talisman piece or that they might soon be. Kalrotus wanted nothing to do with the Mad King.

What Kalrotus did care about was finding a way to stop this plague. The city of Qazadeen was home to his guild and its people were their prey. If Qazadeen died, so would the Bellowguard guild. The Talisman, the Death March cult, the plague - it was obviously all connected. Kalrotus demanded that if the party find any information about the plague, any way to stop it, any hint of a cure, that they were to bring that information to him. That was the price of safe passage. The party agreed.

Kalrotus had no men to spare, but let the party go on their way.

The party was escorted back up to the surface where they found themselves in a blacksmith's shop. The guards allowed them to go out and warned them to watch out for city patrols. The streets were under curfew and no one should be out at night. If they were caught, the city guards might arrest them and imprison them.

The party snuck to an alley next to the blacksmith shop. There, in the shadows, they talked about their next move.

William had a water breathing spell that he could cast on everyone and would allow everyone to breathe water for 24 hours. He wasn't sure if they would need it. But they were heading for a temple that was sitting at the headwaters of a river. It might come in handy. So he cast it.

After some discussion, it was decided the best course of action was for Listig to go to the temple alone and scout it out. Normally, the party didn't like to split up because they're anti-scrying charm had a range of about 100 feet. Being outside of that protective anti-scry bubble for too long was to risk discovery by Dalmoran, who was most likely still searching for them with magic.

However, the party had the drellisite crystal which nullified magic. They decided that Listig would carry the crystal and that this would be sufficient to spoil any divination spell that might try to target him.

With the crystal, Listig snuck through the quiet city. It was the middle of the night and the streets were deserted. He encountered, but avoided, two different city patrols. The grounds around the temple were gardens and so Listig found lots of good hiding places. He was able to approach the temple unseen. From the garden, he could see two groups of men outside. At the main gates, there was a group of city guards. Lined up on the ground were a number of bodies – some were city guards and others were bandits dressed in leather armor decorated with bones. It seemed that a large battle had taken place outside of these doors. Dozens had been killed. The bodies had been gathered and lined up, off to the side, so that they would be out of the way. The remaining city guardsmen were trying to get into the temple by bashing the front door down with a battering ram. So, far, they had barely scratched it.

Another group was off to the south side of the temple. This group seemed to be a mix of city guardsmen and miners. The miners were digging a large hole at the side of the temple's outer wall while the city guardsmen watched. It looked like they had been digging for hours. Ocassionally, someone at the roof of the tower would yell something and fire a crossbow bolt down at the diggers and the city guardsmen would fire arrows back.

Listig went round to the west side of the temple to where the river came out from the sub level of the temple through a mostly submerged portcullis. Listig dropped his bow, quiver and heavier gear and hid it all by a nearby bush. He then slipped into the water to investigate the portcullis. The portcullis was heavy iron and heavily rusted. Scattered on the river bed were four bodies. Three of them wore city militia uniforms. Suddenly a tentacle came snaking out through the portcullis bars. Listig tried to swim away, but the tentacle encircled his leg and began to drag him back toward the portcullis. He drew a knife and began sawing through the tentacle. Luckily, he was still under the influence of Wiliam's water breathing spell, so at least he would not drown. He managed to cut the tentacle enough that it released him and withdrew, vanishing back into the shadows on the other side of the portcullis.

Listig quickly retreated back to dry land. He grabbed his equipment and decided to try another way into the temple – the roof. The temple was built of large stone blocks with deep grooves between, affording many hand holds. He scaled the wall with little difficulty. On the way up, he noticed that every window was barred in unusual fashion, with curved rods of steel sunk directly into the stone. Listig used his stealth ring and turned invisible just before he reached the top so he could crawl over the edge unseen.

On the roof was a man dressed in burgundy robes. With him were three thugs, dressed in leather armor adorned with bones, same as the bodies down by the main gate. All of the men were armed with serrated blades and heavy crossbows. There were also five animated skeletons, armed and armored, standing quietly off to the side. The robed man seemed to be in charge and occasionally gave an order to one of the thugs.

It looked as though the city guards had already tried to scale the walls and reach the roof. Three grappling hooks lay here with severed ropes. No doubt their ropes had been cut and they had been fired upon from above. Even now, the robed one and the thugs would fire a crossbow down at those below trying to get in.
Listig found a hiding spot, deactivated his ring and waited in the shadows. He listened for almost a half hour to the occasional bits of conversation. At one point, he heard the following

"I wonder how long it'll take them to dig their way in" pondered one of the thugs.

"Come dawn, it won't matter," said the robed man. "It'll be too late".

Having heard enough, Listig grabbed a discarded grappling hook and climbed back down the wall.

At this point, it was roughly 1:30am. Listig returned to the group to report all he had seen and heard.

This is where we wrapped up Session 18.

David M. Roomes
Creator of the World of Khoras