Rufusreich

Trouble in Melvaunt

Father Neil’s party was approached by Truffles, Edgril and his ill-tempered but hot wife, Quervina, to help Edgril’s employer. After repelling an acid-breathing young green dragon, we accompanied Edgril to Melvaunt, where he currently resides with Quervina and the boar. Melvaunt is a major merchant city on the MoonSea. Its main rival, Mulmaster, sometimes sends assassins into Melvaunt.

Edgril’s employer, Woarsten Nanther, put the party up in the relatively lavish Crow’s Nest, where we stayed during the two or three days of our investigation.

We learned that the town government has recently been reorganized into a Council of Iron with 7 members. They include:

The Town Despot, who is the leader of the house of Marsk 1 member from each of the three most prominent houses: Bruil, Nanther and Leiyraghon. 1 from each of three guilds: Armorers, Weavers and Smiths

We learned that orcs have been kidnapping people in the Thar. The Thar is a wild area outside the gates of the city to the north, containing moors and swamps. We also learned that the Winter Ball was cancelled, and there is speculation that it was because one of the noble sons is missing.

Lord Woarsten Nanther offers us 1000 Platinum pieces for the safe return of his son.

Some information about the scion’s (transfer to their pages): Argens Bruil: a Paladin of Tyr; Bruil’s grandson. Lord Bruil’s son Halmath is the Keeper of the Keys. The bastard grandson has been made heir.

Kalman Leiyraghon: He has a drinking problem. He is the only one of the 5 missing nobles who is not immediate heir to his House. His family is unhelpful and rude – they are known to use a lot of magic items, and we suspect that at least some of them are rogues. His elder brother, Bremen (or possibly his father), tried to have us killed (see below).

Elaint Marsk: He is delicate in health and wears an Amulet of Health. He is having a relationship with Kara Calaudra.

Kara Calaudra: Has a Raven familiar named Esselios. Her family is all trained in magic use.

A search of each of their cribs revealed that they all had the same grey mud and thistles on their clothing.

House Natali has fallen on hard times. Lord Natali offered us 500 gp to prove his innocence in the disappearance of the youths. House Natali’s heir is crippled and feebleminded.

House Kannity has no blood heir, despite their happy and gay leader’s best efforts with his boytoys.

“Peri” the Mace led us to Lisette’s house. She is an old tarot card reader. While there, she was possessed by Pelor, and we received this prophecy:

“O City of stone, salt and gold. Your devourers await without. The Princely youths have blood so dear. Dear to parents but dearer to the dark. Heroes heed these words from above. The legend the ranger tells is true. The Thar will save the Thar. Through the flower of her knights; through the shining flowers.

Lisette’s son, Andros, runs a magic shop.

Temple of Tyr: Tyr is one of the new gods; very warlike. We learned from Father Jens that there are some Orc ruins 2 days north of the city. For 1000 years there was a Utopian society led by King Raburnum. Everyone lived in harmony until the orcs arrived. The King would shoot “shining flowers of gold” out of his hands. His marble castle was protected by a magical black fire.

Temple of Pelor: The friendly priest suggests that we will need silver or magic weapons in the Thar.

Temple of Oghma: God of Knowledge. There is a hidden chamber in the Orc ruins two days north of the city. We saw some Orc Tablets and artifacts some of which showed Orc erotic activities. The Cleric of Ogma gave us a map showing the road to the wild town of Glister; the GREY CITADEL OF XUL-JARAK lies off the road, two days to the north. There are many orc tribes and ruins dating from the era of orc dominance. The orcs seem to be getting more and more active, and are sometimes joined by ogres, etc.

Stables: We learned that Kalman Leiyraghon rented five horses and a pony. We soon learn that the pony was probably for Dorn Crownshield, a Dwarven fighter, who appears to have been a guide for the group of adventurers.

We found out that the group left by the north gate at midnight, a week ago.

We were ambushed in the streets by five thugs hired by the elder son of House Leiyraghon. They knew we were hired by Lord Nanther.

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A Trip to the Druids
It's A Nice Day to Awaken A Snow Leopard.

Marielle looks peaked. We went to see the druids. Some harpies intervened.

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Giants Aren't So Nice
Trouble! Right here in River City!

The adventurers woke up in Sheepston on a drizzly morning, only to discover that during the previous night, many animals had been seen fleeing from the direction of the dwarven citadel. Heading to the East, the party eventually overtook a group of four dwarven traders. They were worried by the signs and portents but did not know anything that the party had not already discovered.

As the adventurers approached the citadel, the fog had settled in, and the air smelled acrid and sulphuric. The party eventually saw a fire giant, patrolling with a hellhound. With their magic boots, the party ran rings around the giant and killed it, scaring off the hound. But the giant had called out with its booming voice, and the hound brought help. Three more giants appeared, together with four hounds. The party backed off and looked for the dwarves that they had passed on the road, but the dwarven group was gone. Either they had been scared off by something or worse. Now evening was falling and the party camped.

In the morning, another foggy, drizzly day, the party approached closer to the citadel with caution. They formulated a plan to lure the giants into an ambush. This turned out to be an indifferent strategy, as the group was not prepared for the amount of damage that the giants were capable of inflicting with their gigantic swords and great strength. The party took heavy damage. But the party again used its speed to confound the giants and killed them, as well as the hounds.

None of the party members was killed (although one had been rendered unconscious during the fight), and the weather was improving.

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And Now For Something Completely Different...
When the blonde's away, the mice will play...

Tonight, we met up at Tegan and Juno Nim’s place in Morningside Heights to play the alternate party. Marielle was absent. We missed her! Clement DM’d, and Billy played both Xilaphor and Lucinda.

As you may recall (if we feel like it, we’ll do another blog post explaining what happened in session one, way back in .. October?) most of what was left to explore in the demilich’s dungeon lay off of a single huge room to the west; the room featured a fresco of many animals and monsters holding colored spheres. Lucinda’s true seeing spell last time showed that several of these were illusions hiding crawlways or large sparkling steel rings (magical?). There is also an arch whose contents are obscuring by glowing mist at the end of the hallway.

So that’s how it began—checking out the relevant colored spheres.

Blah blah blah.

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An Old Dwarf Spills Beans
"Bonus Track" from DM Billy

Thus saith Billy—we get an extra mini D&D session in, woohoo!

After killing the four fire giants and four hellhounds, the party thoroughly investigated the death and destruction caused by the invasion of the Citadel by the army of fire giants and their minions. It appeared that the giant army had defeated the dwarves, despite their heavy fortifications and superior magic, and that the giants had been exceedingly thorough in killing the wounded and carrying off all items of any significant value.

The party magically questioned a number of slain dwarves and found that the dwarves were surprised and overwhelmed by the army of Giants, Ettins, Trolls and hellhounds. The evil giants of the mountains to the east were tribal, living in family units, and they quarreled among themselves. They never organized any kind of serious threat to the dwarves. Now, for reasons the dead dwarves did not know, the giants and other monsters of the mountains had organized into an army so numerous that even the strongest citadel the dwarves could build could not stand against them. However, the deceased dwarves who had lived until near the end of the battle were proud to say that the dwarves, with superior magic and war tactics had done almost as much damage to the giant army as the giants had done to the dwarves. Indeed, they felt, the entire population of adult giant warriors, both male and female, was nearly decimated. They felt that fewer than a dozen giants had survived the battle – perhaps over 90% had died. None knew what the giants would do with the dwarven captives. None knew whether the Shaman had survived. The party also noticed that nearly all the dead dwarven warriors are wearing destroyed suits of magnificent armor, as Tordor’s impression of the armorers would imply.

All signs pointed towards the road to the east, where large amounts of traffic and materials had obviously and recently passed back and forth. The ranger, Tegan, concluded that both giant and dwarven tracks (as well as wagons, etc.) leading to the east represented the freshest tracks. She concluded that the giants must have taken a large number dwarven prisoners. She could detect no other significant signs of activity since the battle, except for the tracks of the four patrolling fire giants and hounds that the party killed.

Just as the party concluded its investigation of the Citadel and was preparing to follow the eastern route, Copernicus, flying through the partially destroyed Citadel, heard a small cry. Following the sound, he saw something alive trapped in the rubble. He alerted Marielle who brought the party. A venerable dwarf, Alzheimus, lay under the rubble, limbs and ribs broken, dehydrated—at death’s door. Brother Clement ministered to the old dwarf, but he was frail from old age.

The dwarf had been an Elder of the Citadel, and he well remembered the days of the great Red Dragon, Clytemptra. She had threatened the Citadel and other fortified cities near the mountains for human generations, organizing the evil giants and other monsters of the mountains into an army. Over a dozen years ago, she mounted an attack on the Citadel. The dwarves detected the approach of her forces and were able to call in the help of neighboring settlements of humans and even an elven force. With their combined might, the humanoids were lucky enough to defeat and kill her and to deplete and disband her forces. Since then, the Citadel had been relatively unmolested by the tribal and quarrelsome monsters of the mountains.

Having imparted this vital history, Alzheimus expired. Juno Nim wiped away a single, sympathetic tear—which he denied heartily when Marielle teased him.

Clytemptra was dead. And yet the evil races were united, as only she had been able to do. Now, some leader had arisen to bring them together again.

...cue the spiky violins on the soundtrack, y’all…

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Sneaking among the Big Boys
Gifts of the Magi; an Unwelcome Sighting....

Father Neil’s party tracked the giants, loot and captives into the mountains and finally found a cave entrance guarded by fire giants. Ducking the giant patrollers, the group cast invisibility on Billy and sent him to sneak into the cave and get intelligence, since he speaks Giant. Billy found large numbers of giant children in the cave, orphaned by the war. Several adults were patrolling or taking care of the children, with Ettin slaves and Hellhound pets in tow. Eventually, deep within the cave, Billy found a well-guarded prison where the dwarves are being forced to craft improved armor for the giants. Retreating from the giants’ lair, Billy reported back to the party.

After much searching, the party found an alternate entrance to the mountain – a crevice hidden well up at the end of a canyon wall. The party shimmied, scrambled and spelunked through the mountain along the crevice, eventually meeting the giants’ cave. Surprising a patroller, the party killed two giants and their hellhounds (who were so surprised that they forgot to breathe fire). The party then hid the giants’ and hounds’ dead bodies using a rope trick spell, and then used a polymorph self spell and some clever disguise to exit the cave pretending that Billy, disguised as a giant, was leading prisoners. Using alter self and enlarge, Tegan was transformed into a convincing ettin slave. The party ambushed the guards at the cave entrance, was able to kill them and throw them into the canyons and beat a hasty retreat to lick their wounds. Some minor intervention by Pelor himself was needed to save Brother Clement from an untimely meeting with his maker.

Keeping watch that night, some miles from the cave, Copernicus spotted the family of Cloud Giants angrily returning from Melvaunt. Father Cyrus, mother Headina, teenage son Storm, tween daughter Narya and young Seeda reported that they had been unable to convince the Despot of Melvaunt to send an army against the fire giants, because the Despot’s seers told him that it was too late to save the Citadel. The Despot was made aware that some dwarves survived, but he was not willing to risk his own men in an effort to free captives so far from his city. Nevertheless, when the Giants told the Despot that they had seen Father Neil’s party, the Despot had the Melvaunt Laboratories put together a package of magical potions and other items for the party’s use in any rescue attempt; see the link for more information. These gifts have also been added to each character’s inventory.

The Cloud Giants are eager to hit the fire giant lair immediately. The fire giants must be destroyed to the last crying baby, they insist, so that they will not again threaten their neighbors. The party explain that they are much battered and out of spells, that they must sleep, and that Clement must pray in the morning.

Thus, the night passes without incident. In the morning, Father Neil’s party and the giants take the potions and use any other appropriate spells and begin to move through the heavily forested valley back towards the cave entrance as stealthily as Cloud giants can move…. After perhaps an hour, with the party still about two miles from the cave, Copernicus, high above, sets off in Marielle’s mind a most urgent message: HIDE!!! GET DOWN!!!! Copernicus has seen, coming around the ridge of the massive mountain from the other side, two gargantuan black birds of prey: Rocs! The Rocs are bad enough, but they flank a smaller flying creature – a creature of merely large size. The unmistakeable reddish glint from a scaly wing identifies the flyer that they are flanking…. could it be Swarven?

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An Epic Battle!

Using some Clairvoyance spells, Father Neil’s party and the Cloud Giants chose the best time to sneak past the patrols and avoid detection by Swarven and the fire giants. The plan was to attack the guards at the cave mouth and then make a stand against Swarven and the rest of the Giants using magic and tactics. The party drank all the potions that the Despot of Melvaunt had sent, and several more of their own, until they felt they had the best defense and offense against the giants.

Using the Cloud Giants’ ability to levitate, they silently drifted up along the shadowy crevice near the cave mouth, reaching within 60 feet of the fire giant guards posted outside the cave mouth. When they were finally discovered, all H*ll broke loose, and the party exchanged missile fire with the Giants, finally engaging them in battle. They defeated two adult giants, five teenage giants (including two who had been invisibly hidden), two Ettins and four Hellhounds. After healing most of the damage that they took, the party moved a few hundred feet into the cave to set up a defensible position before the noise of their battle drew attack from within the cave.

As the horde of young giants, led by the giant clerics, four Ettins and eight Hellhounds thundered towards them, the party used their last preparation spells, including hasting themselves. The giants put up good opposition, including blinding Marielle, the sorceress and doing good damage against Cyrus and Headina Cloud. The party killed the giant clerics, the last adult giant, the last teenage giant and nearly all the ‘tween giants, and began to devastate the ranks of the nearly 50 younger giants behind them, but after less than a minute, their attention was drawn to their rear quarter. SWARVEN had flown into the cave!!! Using his tremendous speed, he bore down on the party and breathed DRAGONFIRE! He also used the Quicken spell feat to cast spells to protect himself and to Enfeeble and Daze members of the party.

After several passes at the party, Swarven managed to kill Marielle and her familiar, Copernicus, as well as the youngest Cloud giant, Seeda, with his infernal fire. Nearly every member of the party took heavy damage. But the party members rallied and pelted Swarven with rocks and missile fire every time he approached. Despite all of his magical protections, the party eventually brought him down and killed him. The dragon could easily have escaped, but his insane thirst for vengeance, coupled with his ego and vanity, allowed the party to finish him off.

Once Swarven was dead, the remaning three dozen juvenile fire giants turned tail and ran, pursued for a distance by some of the party, but the party was so bruised and battered that it eventually let them get away. They headed East into the mountains, presumably to try to find some of their own kind there. The party freed the dwarves from their prison and restored to them the wealth of their Citadel that had been collected by Swarven in his lair and that had been distributed to the giants. They had to use up all of their healing magic, potions and scrolls, and still they were in precarious shape until a night had passed and Brother Clement and Headina Cloud were able to heal everyone’s injuries to a safe level. Fortunately, no further attackers threatened the group that first day and night.

The dwarven Shaman, who had hidden his identity and powers from Swarven, readily identified himself. Combining the party’s magic and the Shaman’s, as well as magical items found in Swarven’s lair that he had stolen from the Citadel, the Shaman and the party were able to revive Marielle and Copernicus from the dead. Using his special powers, the Shaman was able to transfer experience from the grateful dwarves to the party, and the party soon felt his weird magic coursing through their bodies as they all progressed to the next level of power.

The giants wrapped up their dead daughter’s body the next morning; they needed to travel to their homeland to let their own high priests raise her from the dead. The dwarves rewarded the giants for helping to save them with wondrous magical items and gold. The Cloud giants bade a tearful farewell to the party and moved off in haste towards their homeland, justly proud of their contribution.

The dwarves stayed in Swarven’s lair for six days to pack up their treasures and many of them labored hard to reward the party. They gave each member of the party some special magical item or items:

For the stealthy Juno Nim, using Swarven’s hide and Juno’s own gauntlets of dexterity, their most skillful armorers crafted a special set of +3 Red Dragon Leather Armor of Dexterity, that has the following special powers: The total armor bonus is +5; The maximum dex bonus is +8; No armor check penalty; Arcane spell failure 10%; Even though it weighs 30 lbs, when donned, it acts for all purposes as if it weighs only 5 pounds; It grants a +2 bonus to swim and climb checks.

For the brave Tegan Ashmara, they forged a +2 Longsword of the Forest, crafting the blade from the rare native ores found only below Swarven’s lair, which grants the wielder a +5 bonus to Wilderness Lore checks. They also exchanged her old armor for her a +2 mithral chain shirt.

For the beautiful sorceress, Marielle, so recently returned from the other world, they presented a +3 ring of protection to replace her +1 ring of protection. The ring was ripped from the dead talon of Swarven himself. They also enchanted her Amulet with the dragon-like ability of Frightful Presence. If an affected creature has only one hit die (up to 1 die +3) then it becomes Panicked and must flee, with a 50% chance of dropping anything it holds (see DMG, p. 85). If the creature has up to 3 hit dice below the wearer’s level, then it must succeed at a Will save (against the DC of the wearer’s Intimidate skill roll) or become Shaken and suffer a -2 penalty to all attacks, damage and saving throws; if the creature has from two hit dice less than the wearer up to the wearer’s level, then it must succeed at a Will save (against the same DC) but with a +5 bonus; if the creature has from one to three hit dice more than the wearer, their Will save bonus is +10; above that, the Will save is +15. To “activate it”, she needs to 1) be clearly SEEN by the foes, so that they are awestruck by her enchanted aspect (not a gaze weapon; they just need to see her and get a sense of how frightening she is); and 2) take some kind of aggressive action towards the opponents or their friends, like an attack or spell casting or make a credible threat (DM to adjudicate whether action or threat are sufficiently scary – role playing is important). For example, if the wearer casts Hold Person, but the person makes the save, then the action would not be frightening enough to activate the effect against the opponent or its friends. The range of the effect is 60 feet and all creatures in the range who have a view of the wearer’s face are affected. Even if the wearer turns away, the creature is still affected once it has seen the wearer’s face. If a creature succeeds in its saving throw against the frightful presence, it cannot be affected again that day.

For her familiar, Copernicus, the dwarves enchanted his spurs so that, while worn, they grant him +4 bonus to his Wisdom ability and the feat of Flyby Attack. They are now known as “Spurs of the Shaman”.

For the plucky bard Billy Bartholemieux, the dwarves exchanged his old rapier for a +2 Rapier of Melifluous Swashbuckling. The wielder of this magic rapier must be a bard. He receives a +2 bonus to his charisma ability and +4 to his tumble skill and perform skill while within 5 feet of the weapon.

For the pious Brother Clement, the dwarves forged a +2 dagger. They also gave to him a +2 light crossbow and 20 +1 crossbow bolts.

In addition to these magical items, they gave each member of the party (not including Copernicus) 1,000 gp worth of gems and coins and one potion of cure moderate wounds.

After accompanying the dwarves back to their Citadel to begin their long effort to rebuild it and re-establish their community, the party began the trip back to Melvaunt.

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Six Eventful Things Before Breakfast
Something's brewing. It ain't coffee.

The party has spent four days recovering from the epic battle with Swarven, and working their “day jobs” in the town to earn some extra cash. (See my comment below for details.) Tegan, Juno Nim, and Marielle were enjoying a hearty breakfast when they had the first of many interruptions: a drunken Tordor, singing their praises and criticizing Despot Marsk and the rest of the nobility who run the city. Next (speak of the noble devils) Oreal, Argens, and Kalman entered with two new associates: a tart-tongued woman named Ulfa, and her knife-loving husband, Pegrin. Ulfa pulled the noble kids into a back room, glaring at the party.

Just when the party thought they might get to eat some oatmeal, they were interrupted again by Lisette, and a visibly shaken Br. Clement. At Lisette’s insistence, Clement confessed that for a month he has been having increasingly vivid and disturbing dreams about the party members’ deaths. Indeed, he had had a dream predicting Marielle’s death in the battle with Swarven. Recently, he had dreamed of Billy being incinerated by a fireball, Juno perishing from poison, Marielle being decapitated by a monk wielding a flaming blade, and Tegan having her head cut in two by an orog with an axe. In none of these cases was Clement able to raise them from the dead (isn’t that just like a nightmare?) Lisette theorized that Clement might be developing prophetic powers, but it seemed too early to tell. She promised to give the party a free reading over shepherd’s pie at her home that evening.

Next up: newly engaged Kara and Elaint arrived. Kara asked the ladies to be bridesmaids, and Elaint kissed Juno’s ass to a fare-thee-well, even trying to cement their friendship by giving him a pair of Kara’s panties. They were dragged into the back room. When Tegan and Marielle followed, Ulfa insulted Tegan’s tenuous connection to her noble heritage and threatened to have her arrested.

Lastly: Billy entered—covered in lipstick. The ladies of Melvaunt spent all night urgently trying to seduce him, all because of a song called “Helm of Sunrise.”

Its refrain:

Helm of Sunrise, spread thy glory
O’er the city by the ocean
Alleluia!

The song has five verses:

1)One day, six champions shall rise
Despots and Kings must hide their eyes
From the Radiance, Alleluia!
Pelor in flesh shall walk the earth
By magic helm, he takes his birth

2)Pelor’s sweet hand shall draw a ring
Ill from His kingdom banishing
Praise the Radiance, Alleluia!
In this new realm, none shed a tear
Our earthly paradise is here

3)Two brothers, helmed, shall each take turn
For these the Sunrise cannot burn
Popes and Sovereigns, Alleluia!
What greater honor can take place
Than to have Pelor wear your face?

4)Dripping in gold, the kings and queens
Four lay-folk shall provide the means
Oh, their bravery! They shall rule us!
King of the song, and king of stealth
Woods-queen, and magic queen (loves wealth)

5)Princes of coin, to rest be laid
Your feeble palaces shall fade
Six new rulers, Alleluia!
Vainly ‘gainst Pelor’s will, you rail
Murder you’ll try, but you shall fail

The party (and most of the city’s inhabitants) interpreted the song to be a prophecy that they, with the help of Clement’s twin brother Samuel, would help incarnate Pelor in the flesh and take over the city, turning it into a theocratic utopia. However, they felt that the song was suspicious – could the whole prophecy be a lie? It seemed far-fetched. When the nobles from the back room overheard this song, Pegrin spat in Tegan’s face, causing a full-on bar brawl and getting Tegan in trouble with the law. The party later learned that Ulfa and Pegrin were known associates of the Leirayghon family.

After the brawl, the party saw an octagonal mandala in graffiti on the wall for a first time.

Whew! That was a lot of exposition. End of Chapter One.

The party, showing foresight verging on precognitive, decided to contact Tomnein, Abbot of Oghma, who actually had hoped to contact THEM. There they met Bro. Samuel, sent to town for a surprise visit with his twin by their benefactor, Fr. Neil. The six adventurers were briefed by Tomnein about trouble in the Thar. Orogs seemed to be walking the surface in large numbers (and gosh, it took only three last month to cause trouble at Xul-Jarak…), and had a mysterious magic item. The orogs have taken over the town of Glister, according to Nikolai, who has not been heard from since. Tomnein hired the party to capture an orog alive, so that the Oghmans can learn more about this mysterious magic item. Meanwhile, the other tribes of surface orcs seemed to be fighting among themselves.

Tomnein had two more pieces of information to share: he felt that the prophetic song was remarkably reminiscent to the origin myth of Brestelcia’s capital, Tulk City. In it, the progenitors of the Ashmara family used a golden helm to channel Wee Jas and create a miles-wide magic ring that seemed to provide law, order, and stability. Could it be a coincidence that Tegan, an Ashmara heir, was mentioned in the modern song? Lastly, Tomnein had Sr. Rana, an art historian, examine the octagonal mandala. She said that she thought it was 2000 years old, and that it featured some iconography of submission or piety.

With that, full of Swarven’s Tears cocktails in real life, the party took a break.

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More Questions, More Obstacles
(Monday's session, part one)

On the way back to the Crow’s Nest from the Oghman temple, the party passed a street preacher carrying a sign saying: “Repent! Worship Heironeous! The End Is Near!” They also met an elderly blind woman, Estelle, who believed that touching “the messiahs” would cure her. When Br. Clement used the Necklace of Holy Aid to indeed cure her blindness, she was overjoyed and ran around the streets singing the party’s praises.

Before they could arrive home, they ran into Halmuth Bruil, the Lord of Keys. Halmuth explained that the noble families of Melvaunt has been in his office all day, screaming at each other over Tegan’s supposed guilt or innocence. The compromise they reached was this: her 1,000 g.p. bail would be posted by House Calaudra, but she needed to wear a magical ankle monitor which would track her whereabouts.

The whole affair made Tegan’s blood boil. All she’d wanted was the simple life of the outdoors… hadn’t she left these machinations behind when she’d escaped the courtly role that defined her youth? To soothe her nerves, she closed her eyes and cast animal friendship. Billy laughed at the comical results: a massive boar, trotting up to the gate of Melvaunt to unite with his new mistress. Tegan christened the boar Snuffles. No wait, not christened… er, obad-haied.

When the party stopped off at House Calaudra to offer their thanks and see if the wizardly family knew any more about the troubles up North, they found that Kara and her father, Lord Calaudra, had many things to share with them. Firstly, Kara told them that Ulfa and Pegrin were staying at House Leirayghon and seemed to be “outside agitators,” brought to town to defend the rights of the poor downtrodden nobility. [DM Aside: I was waiting for the right comic moment to reveal Ulfa and Pegrin’s last name, but I cannot resist. Their family name is Rove. For realz, yo.] The scions had met the couple for the first time on the morning of the bar brawl. Kalman had told the group that his father was on the warpath, and that it would be a huge favor if they would agree to meet with Ulfa and Pegrin as his father asked. Secondly, they shared that Tegan’s ankle monitor was responsive to Calaudra commands and could be secretly removed at any time. Lord Calaudra even offered to create an illusory double of Tegan, or break her out of jail if need be. Thirdly, they offered to provide Tegan with a lawyer and to put all of House Calaudra’s clout behind her politically. Lastly, they offered a room in their home to use as a “home base” for teleportation. Br. Samuel offered to stay behind in Melvaunt whenever the party went to Glister, checking in with the group each day at noon using clairaudience/clairvoyance.

Kara offered to take the party to see her fiance, Elaint Marsk. They snuck through the stately gardens behind House Marsk, and waited while Kara’s raven familiar pecked at Elaint’s window. Elaint climbed down the rose trellis, bounded over, and took Kara in his arms. As the teenage make-out session went on an awkward amount of time, Clement cleared his throat. “Oh,” Elaint managed. “Didn’t see you there….” The party interviewed Elaint about what his father, the Despot, had been doing. They learned that his father had been trying to get the Council of Iron to call up the militia to free Glister from the orogs’ hold, but that there was no consensus; many wanted to focus the militia’s energy on building up Melvaunt’s defenses. Billy rubbed his chin, pondering the political situation. “Tell your father that we have no interest in taking over Melvaunt,” he said. “And tell him that if he has to punish us for Tegan’s crimes, he should sentence us to do community service by saving Glister. It’s what we want to do anyway.”

Footsore after all this investigation, the party set off for their scheduled dinner with Lisette. Lisette was in a state, obsessed with the danger Nikolai was in. She’d used her psychic powers to discover that he was being held in a cattle pen in Glister with other frightened humans and orcs; from his bed of straw, he had watched a young human mother being roasted on a spit and then eaten by orogs. The party consoled Lisette with promises to rescue her son, and she gratefully agreed to give them a reading concerning Clement’s visions, as promised.

The first part of the reading went as planned:

“Those who would the future ken
Scry o’er puddles in a glen,
Kneel before an altar high,
Search the planes for Gruumsh’s Eye.

Hard to make the vision clear
When the mirror’s stained with fear
Hope can also baffle Man
Drunk on dreams of “Yes, We Can”

Clement, here’s a clue to trust
Take the

At this, point Lisette began to choke. Her head spun around 360 degrees, and she said the following in a guttural tone.

“SHINING SUNGOD AND THE CRONE
SING A SONG IN HARMONY
COUNTERPOINT CAN GO TO HELL
ROAR THEM DOWNTHIS SONG’S FOR ME!
ONE FOR DEATH, AND ONE FOR WORSE
I’LL DROWN PELOR’S WITH MY VERSE!!

TASTE YOUEVEN THE OTHER FOURSOON.

GRANDMA’S JUST THE APPETIZER.”

At this, Lisette grabbed her chest and collapsed, unresponsive. The party rushed her to the Temple of Pelor where they learned she was in a coma. They notified Andros immediately, also taking the opportunity to ask him if they knew who had purchased the great jewel Juno had taken from the eye socket of the statue of Gruumsh at Xul-Jarak. Andros promised to research this question and get back with the answer soon, although truth be told we all forgot to close the loop.

Before bed, the party split up to pursue a few further investigations.

Marielle went to see Halmuth Bruil, the chief of police. She melted his heart with her overpowering charisma, and he spilled all the details of the case against Tegan, including the fact that her trial would not be decided in criminal court, but by a special session of the ruling Council of Iron: Peuter Marsk, Dornig Leirayghon, Woarsten Nanther, Vanth Bruil, and three guildmasters. Marielle thanked him with a kiss, and implied they’d have to have a date sometime. Halmuth turned bright red and barely maintained his starchy exterior. The gruff sergeant’s essential innocence was awfully cute.

Clement et al. went to a private chapel in the Temple of Pelor, where he performed a divination. His question and Pelor’s answer follow.

Clem: “Mighty Pelor, our emotions boil
We don’t want to appear too hyster-
Ical. Please help us thus to foil
Our enemies at Glister.”

PELOR: “THE PARTY WILL NEED SKILL AND LUCK
TO FACE THE HORDES OF FELL SMEERDUK [DM: that’s with a circumflex accent, btw.]
HE’S MASTER OF THE ARTS OF WAR
TO DEFEAT HIM MIGHT TAKE BATTLES FOUR
THE NUMBER’S SHITE
PLAN THEN TO “HITE.”

DM: Translation of the last two lines … who knows whether it’s four battles, but it won’t be one. How will you hide in between them, lest superior forces exterminate you?

Meanwhile, Juno was going around the town with some pamphlets authored by the wily Billy. The pamphlets asked people to come and demonstrate at the Central Criminal Court—how dare the city government waste the party’s time with trifles like Tegan’s trial while Glister suffered? In each bar and brothel Juno visited, he convinced more citizens to join tomorrow’s angry mob.

Clement, Tegan, and Billy even dropped a pamphlet off in Archbishop Olmert’s office. The Pelorian archbishop agreed to come and picket the court in full regalia, even wearing his shining double miter!

Spent, the party went home to the Crow’s Nest to sleep.

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Inherit The Longwinded
(Monday's session, part two)

Most of the party awoke in the morning ready to face the day… although Clement woke up jumpy and troubled, after a vivid dream of Juno the ghoul gnawing on Copernicus’ corpse. “Never mind,” said Marielle. “What you need is a nice restorative bowl of oatmeal!”

As the party began to tuck in, Tegan screamed “Spit it out!” Luckily, she was fast enough to keep everyone but her and Juno from eating the poisoned oatmeal… but the two of them collapsed to the floor. After reviving them, they discovered that each had taken permanent Strength damage. A quick investigation showed that the kitchen wench, Velma, had had her throat slit when someone snuck in; speak with dead revealed the culprit to be Pegrin.

Sadly, there was no time to seek healing for the heroes or prosecution for Pegrin – the demonstration was starting in five minutes! Billy helped support Juno, who was weak as a kitten. [Ok, to be precise, he was as weak as a small monstrous centipede—PHB, p. 8]. As the party approached City Hall, they passed a mob of clerics, merchants, hungover alcoholics, and whores holding signs saying “No Justice, No Peace!”, “Glister Needs Xul-Jarak’s Champions!”, and oddly enough “Free Tegan AND Mumia Abu-Jamal!”

When the bailiff admitted them, they found that tout Melvaunt was there, including the genius lawyer the Calaudras had hired: their obnoxious cousin Xilaphor. The Roves’ attorney began building his case by calling Kalman to the stand. His first witness was Kalman Leirayghon, who defied his father by speaking on Tegan’s behalf. “Tegan is my friend, and she was provoked beyond reason!” Before the case could proceed (and Xilaphor could work his legal magic!), the Despot called everyone into his private chambers and hammered out a four part deal:

1) Tegan would pay Pegrin 12 g.p. in damages. [The Calaudras paid it for her.]
2) Tegan would apologize. [That was difficult. She phrased it artfully.]
3) The party would hold a press conference expressing their support for the democratically elected(ish) government of Melvaunt. Billy added that they had no idea where the “Helm of Sunrise” song had come from. Hmm, they never really did figure that out, did they?
4) The party would perform community service by doing what they could to help Glister.

Peuter Marsk preened as the council congratulated him on the brilliance of “his” idea (#4.) Billy rolled his eyes. As the party left city hall, Archbishop Olmert cured Juno and Tegan’s strength drain at no charge. A mensch in a miter, he.

Finally, they were free to get started with the quest Tomnein had given them! As their last act before leaving town, they stopped by Halmuth’s office to inform him about the poisoning. The “CSI” wizards in the lab analyzed the oatmeal and discovered that the poison in it was called velfort root. This poison was associated with Zhentarim Keep. Halmuth told them that attempting to prosecute the Roves would be fruitless—if they were under Dornig Leirayghon’s personal protection, the case would go nowhere. However, Halmuth prepared a report on the incident to keep in his private files. Perhaps it could be used as a bargaining chip in the future.

After stopping at the corner store for owlbear jerky and their favorite Ehlonnan energy drinks, the party set out for Glister.

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