Difference between revisions of "Days of Change"

From Ardrana

(Another strike: Update with events of 2019-07-28 session)
(Update with events of 2019-08-04)
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After selling a pearl they'd found along the Sandilaht Trail, Gilbert returned to the Shifting Sands while Emi and Makoto checked out [[Yanna]], whom Emi had been advised to contact by the [[Thieves' Guild of Agropthos|thieves' guild]] for a safe place to lie low. Later that afternoon, party members slowly gathered at the Shifting Sands, compared notes, then split again, with Makoto, Maialen and Solidus accompanying Emi to join Gaire for dinner while Gilbert continued to wait for his contact and the others joined Klaven and Blaven to head to the cemetery.
 
After selling a pearl they'd found along the Sandilaht Trail, Gilbert returned to the Shifting Sands while Emi and Makoto checked out [[Yanna]], whom Emi had been advised to contact by the [[Thieves' Guild of Agropthos|thieves' guild]] for a safe place to lie low. Later that afternoon, party members slowly gathered at the Shifting Sands, compared notes, then split again, with Makoto, Maialen and Solidus accompanying Emi to join Gaire for dinner while Gilbert continued to wait for his contact and the others joined Klaven and Blaven to head to the cemetery.
  
The prospective guards met with Lucretia along with [[Yves du Bernois|Yves]], whom several of them had also met in Daro. They were examined by the priestess of Nevis, who discovered that Illiger was carrying something magical. Siege reminded her of the dagger with odd markings they'd found outside the Dwarven mine, and after seeing it Lucretia asked Illiger to accompany her to the temple. Shale and Rin tagged along, and they met with the High Priest, [[Stog]]. Shale told him the whole story, including Shale's group's identity as yesterday's trespassers, and had Rin show them the skull symbol. Stog and Lucretia then explained that the symbol belonged to members of a rival cult to theirs -- "pretenders", as they called them -- whose aims and location were still somewhat murky. After promising to try and acquire one of the amulets, they were dismissed to return to the inn.
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The prospective guards met with Lucretia along with [[Yves du Bernois|Yves]], whom several of them had also met in [[Daro]]. They were examined by the priestess of Nevis, who discovered that Illiger was carrying something magical. Siege reminded her of the dagger with odd markings they'd found outside the Dwarven mine, and after seeing it Lucretia asked Illiger to accompany her to the temple. Shale and Rin tagged along, and they met with the High Priest, [[Stog]]. Shale told him the whole story, including Shale's group's identity as yesterday's trespassers, and had Rin show them the skull symbol. Stog and Lucretia then explained that the symbol belonged to members of a rival cult to theirs -- "pretenders", as they called them -- whose aims and location were still somewhat murky. After promising to try and acquire one of the amulets, they were dismissed to return to the inn.
  
 
Meanwhile, the others met Gaire and Dudex at the Eastern Palms, and adjourned to their suite for dinner and conversation. Solidus mentioned some of the creatures they encountered, which piqued the interest of the two, but dinner was otherwise uneventful. Maialen played a tune on her lyre, and an inebriated Emi attempted to dance, only to land (with a bit of trickery by the kitsune) face-first in a bowl of grapes. Gaire asked the half-Elf to come back in the morning to deliver a message to Cleo, who was staying at the estate of a friend in the city, and everyone bid each other goodnight. Back at the Shifting Sands, Solidus and Maialen found Gilbert and Rin talking to a Desert Elf named [[Gamal]], who was the bard's contact to sell Maeish's spellbook. Gilbert said he had some information that should be discussed privately, and they agreed to wait until everyone was together.
 
Meanwhile, the others met Gaire and Dudex at the Eastern Palms, and adjourned to their suite for dinner and conversation. Solidus mentioned some of the creatures they encountered, which piqued the interest of the two, but dinner was otherwise uneventful. Maialen played a tune on her lyre, and an inebriated Emi attempted to dance, only to land (with a bit of trickery by the kitsune) face-first in a bowl of grapes. Gaire asked the half-Elf to come back in the morning to deliver a message to Cleo, who was staying at the estate of a friend in the city, and everyone bid each other goodnight. Back at the Shifting Sands, Solidus and Maialen found Gilbert and Rin talking to a Desert Elf named [[Gamal]], who was the bard's contact to sell Maeish's spellbook. Gilbert said he had some information that should be discussed privately, and they agreed to wait until everyone was together.
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Shale and Rakeor brought Illiger's body and the crossbow bolt that killed her to the temple of Nevis. During lunch, Bardo received her promised scroll, and the group discussed talking to Dudex about using it. While the performers took up their performances -- now guarded by Klaven and Blaven -- Shale and Bardo searched for the Carrolwood exhibit with Rakeor, Siege and Solidus. After a brief search, Dudex and Gairevander accompanied them to a nearby public house to discuss things. Among them, they connected Hades -- or Pluto -- to the temples they'd [[Carrolwood|discovered]] in the ruins of [[Senepoli]], which were dedicated to gods of the same pantheon. Dudex agreed to cast the scry spell, but refused to go to the northern ruins. The party considered seeking help from Cleo, only for her to turn up and berate Gaire for continuing to associate with the party. When pressed, she suggested that if they wanted someone to help them protect the city, they should seek Lady Sofistia and not her.
 
Shale and Rakeor brought Illiger's body and the crossbow bolt that killed her to the temple of Nevis. During lunch, Bardo received her promised scroll, and the group discussed talking to Dudex about using it. While the performers took up their performances -- now guarded by Klaven and Blaven -- Shale and Bardo searched for the Carrolwood exhibit with Rakeor, Siege and Solidus. After a brief search, Dudex and Gairevander accompanied them to a nearby public house to discuss things. Among them, they connected Hades -- or Pluto -- to the temples they'd [[Carrolwood|discovered]] in the ruins of [[Senepoli]], which were dedicated to gods of the same pantheon. Dudex agreed to cast the scry spell, but refused to go to the northern ruins. The party considered seeking help from Cleo, only for her to turn up and berate Gaire for continuing to associate with the party. When pressed, she suggested that if they wanted someone to help them protect the city, they should seek Lady Sofistia and not her.
  
Later that afternoon, Emi and Makoto went to the Barking Bunny with Rin to meet their contact. They were soon joined by a paramander of Helandra named [[Rusus]], whom Emi had previously met in [[Semmarch]]. She seemed satisfied with accompanying the group to the ruins, and they left to meet with the rest of the group...
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Later that afternoon, Emi and Makoto went to the Barking Bunny with Rin to meet their contact. They were soon joined by a paramander of Helandra named [[Rusus]], whom Emi had previously met in [[Semmarch]]. She seemed satisfied with accompanying the group to the ruins, and they left to meet with the rest of the group. Shale and Rakeor proceeded to meet with Kernaar, who agreed to send the priestess' axe to be enchanted.
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Later that afternoon, Emi and Makoto went to the Barking Bunny with Rin to meet their contact. They were soon joined by a paramander of Helandra named [[Rusus]], whom Emi had previously met in [[Semmarch]]. She seemed satisfied with accompanying the group to the ruins, and they left to meet with the rest of the group. Upon their return to Dune Trail, Solidus expressed concern about Rusus' chaotic nature, but Rin assured him of her neutrality as a paramander. After everyone else arrived, the party decided not to try and break the city curfew and instead depart at sunrise.
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While Bardo and the Dwarven brothers went to request supplies from the temple of Sedric, the other two Dwarves went back to the cemetery. They were quickly ushered to the temple, where Lucretia, Yves, and [[Toxecanthropologoschimaeranevis|Tox]], whom they'd met briefly in Daro. The [[proxy]] explained the nature of the bolt that killed Illiger -- that it drained the energy of its victim into a vessel, which could then be used in certain dark rituals. They were then provided with four amulets that would protect their wearers from such power, and tasked with retrieving -- or, if possible, destroying -- the vessel once they reached the ruins...
  
 
== Cast of characters ==
 
== Cast of characters ==

Revision as of 20:34, 8 August 2019

This page is about the adventure. For the holiday, see Day of Change.

This adventure began when Shale and her company arrived in the city of Agropthos after passing through a portal from a cave complex near the Sandilaht Trail into the city's cemetery. There, they met up with Emi, Gilbert and Rin -- who had arrived by boat three days prior -- at the Inn of the Shifting Sands. Isu was also there along with Zaikum, who along with another friend Ikuyan had been intending to attend the Day of Change festival. After catching each other up on previous events, Gilbert seemed excited at the prospect of investigating the cemetery, but only Makoto shared the feeling, so the party settled in for the evening while Zaikum escorted Solidus to the temple of Varice.

While Illiger went to the adjacent hookah room and opium den, the rest of the party planned their next move. Along with Gilbert and Rin, Makoto and Maialen both showed interest in performing at the festival, while Shale considered trying to hire herself out to a local smith. Zaikum returned and told the party about employment opportunities on the north side of town, including a story about a pair of Halflings trying to locate a lost pyramid in the deep desert.

Preparations

The next morning, Solidus rejoined the group at The Shifting Sands, and everyone set out for the Festival Center north of city's main thoroughfare. There, the performing members of the group -- Gilbert, Maialen, Makoto and Rin -- went inside while the others checked the nearby job postings board. After discovering that there would be an hour's wait, Gilbert came back and led the rest of the group to the Dune Trail Inn, which they had heard might be a less expensive place to stay. There, they encountered a Dwarf who appeared to be down on his luck. He introduced himself as Klaven, a Dwarf of Thorin's clan like Shale and Rakeor.

The party inquired about rooms with the barkeep, Duneshay, then learned a bit about the city's current situation from Klaven. They also asked about the Halfling pyramid hunters, whom Duneshay identified as the Waterbuck brothers, who had mounted a few failed expeditions over the past couple years. They fell to discussing another caravan guarding job instead, while Shale talked about getting work with a local blacksmith. They were approached by Akhrab, a member of the local caravan guild. Just then, Hafsa -- also a guild member -- arrived, telling Shale about the blacksmith who did business at the caravanserai, a half-ogre named Kernaar. After being introduced, she also noted the similarity of Klaven's name to that of one of her prior acquaintances, Blaven. The Dwarf claimed to be his younger brother, and Hafsa told him she thought he was staying at Gladdy's Boarding House a few blocks to the east.

While the others followed the Dwarves to the boarding house and Emi went her own way, Gilbert returned to the Festival Center. There, the performers secured a space on the grounds for four days. Gilbert and Maialen, who had broken a string on her lyre, set off to get it repaired while Rin returned to The Shifting Sands and Makoto decided to scout the area. The kitsune drew more stares than she liked, so purchased a headscarf to cover her ears. On the street, she noticed that a few people were wearing the same skull amulets that she had seen in Cardimer.

At Gladdy's, the Halfling proprietor told those present that while the Waterbucks kept a room there, they were not in town, although she expected them back for the Festival. The party went to Blaven's room, where Klaven woke him up and greeted him warmly. The elder brother told them that he'd been up all night doing a job for the temple of Nevis, guarding the cemetery after a mausoleum had been broken into earlier in the day. He wasn't sure if they still needed people, but said he'd spoken to a priestess named Lucretia. Blaven promised to bring Shale to meet the blacksmith, but not until after a visit to the nearest watering hole. The priestess was impatient, however, and set off for the smithy while the brothers carried on to the pub.

At the smithy, everyone else looked on while Shale demonstrated her abilities to the master smith. While the result was less than adequate, Kernaar invited her back that afternoon to do work that might prove more suitable. She agreed, and the group headed back to the inn. They were the last to arrive, and everyone relayed their experiences before noting that Rin was missing. Gilbert found her in the hookah den, and Maialen endeavored to guide the more-loopy-than-usual Rin upstairs. Once upstairs, Maialen tried to get Rin situated, but the Elf suddenly kissed the Lastini priestess just before passing out.

As the group finished their lunch, they were surprised at the arrival of their former comrade Gairevander. He told them he'd been tasked with spreading the word about Carrolwood, and had just arrived along with Dudex. He invited the group to have dinner with him at the Eastern Palms Inn, where the project had arranged for him to stay. After he departed, the group -- save Maialen, who remained to wait for Gilbert's contact regarding selling Maeish's spellbook -- set out into the city again, with Emi and Makoto accompanying Gilbert to sell some items while Solidus returned to his temple to inquire about the skull amulets and the rest seeking Blaven and Klaven.

Shale, Rakeor, Illiger and Siege found the Dwarven brothers at The Barking Bunny, and after trading stories agreed to meet back at Gladdy's before heading to the temple of Nevis. They all accompanied Shale to the smithy, where Shale forged several axe heads.

After selling a pearl they'd found along the Sandilaht Trail, Gilbert returned to the Shifting Sands while Emi and Makoto checked out Yanna, whom Emi had been advised to contact by the thieves' guild for a safe place to lie low. Later that afternoon, party members slowly gathered at the Shifting Sands, compared notes, then split again, with Makoto, Maialen and Solidus accompanying Emi to join Gaire for dinner while Gilbert continued to wait for his contact and the others joined Klaven and Blaven to head to the cemetery.

The prospective guards met with Lucretia along with Yves, whom several of them had also met in Daro. They were examined by the priestess of Nevis, who discovered that Illiger was carrying something magical. Siege reminded her of the dagger with odd markings they'd found outside the Dwarven mine, and after seeing it Lucretia asked Illiger to accompany her to the temple. Shale and Rin tagged along, and they met with the High Priest, Stog. Shale told him the whole story, including Shale's group's identity as yesterday's trespassers, and had Rin show them the skull symbol. Stog and Lucretia then explained that the symbol belonged to members of a rival cult to theirs -- "pretenders", as they called them -- whose aims and location were still somewhat murky. After promising to try and acquire one of the amulets, they were dismissed to return to the inn.

Meanwhile, the others met Gaire and Dudex at the Eastern Palms, and adjourned to their suite for dinner and conversation. Solidus mentioned some of the creatures they encountered, which piqued the interest of the two, but dinner was otherwise uneventful. Maialen played a tune on her lyre, and an inebriated Emi attempted to dance, only to land (with a bit of trickery by the kitsune) face-first in a bowl of grapes. Gaire asked the half-Elf to come back in the morning to deliver a message to Cleo, who was staying at the estate of a friend in the city, and everyone bid each other goodnight. Back at the Shifting Sands, Solidus and Maialen found Gilbert and Rin talking to a Desert Elf named Gamal, who was the bard's contact to sell Maeish's spellbook. Gilbert said he had some information that should be discussed privately, and they agreed to wait until everyone was together.

After leaving the cemetery, Shale and Illiger went around to the night market, where Shale saw a dock worker wearing one of the amulets. The hengeyokai asked him where he'd gotten it, and he mentioned an Elven port to the south. They returned to the graveyard, only to find the Dwarven brothers had been dismissed as too drunk to be fit for guard duty. On the way to Gladdy's, she and Illiger filled the Dwarves in on their recent exploits. Arriving at the boarding house, Gladdy told them that the Waterbucks had returned, and were likely in the Dune Trail pub.

After meeting Makoto waiting for them outside, and Emi arriving as well, they entered to find the two Halflings talking to a pair of Humans who seemed uninterested in their tale. They seemed about to leave when Blaven introduced himself, and they were joined by the rest of those present. The two Halflings -- a holy warrior named Andy and a priest of Raskill named Paul -- told them about their quest for the pyramid. They mentioned that they originally heard the tale from their cousin Toby, and at that point Klaven realized that he had actually been part of the same adventuring party. Shale told the Waterbucks that they would discuss it with the rest of their group and get back to them in the morning.

Early the next day, Emi delivered Gaire's message, running into Makoto along the way. They arrived at the estate of Lady Sofistia, which contained a lush grove and garden that seemed to be quite out of place in the desert. They saw an Elven woman among the trees, but when they tried to approach her the trees blocked their path. They eventually got her attention and chatted with her a bit before giving her the message to pass on to Cleo.

Once everyone had assembled at the Shifting Sands, Gilbert told them about Gamal's client who wished to purchase the book. However, he also said that Gamal mentioned a shop where he might get a better price -- a shop where Gamal had seen the skull amulet available for sale. After that, the Dwarves told them of their encounter with the Waterbucks, and a concern was raised that the Halflings didn't intend to leave until after the festival. Klaven especially preferred to leave sooner, thinking that they could find the pyramid on their own. Although he couldn't remember its location, he remembered that one of his companions on that venture, a priestess of Laurent named Al Sha'in, or her friend, an assassin named Trave, might know. Thus, while Gilbert went with Illiger and Solidus to the shop, Klaven and his brother went to the temple of Laurent with Rin and Maialen, Emi and Makoto went to see if the thieves' guild might have a lead on Trave, and Shale and Rakeor went off to alert Hafsa to their revelations to the temple of Nevis and to find a place to practice.

When Shale and Rakeor arrived at the Dune Trail, the Waterbuck brothers were there. They discussed the mission a bit more, and Andy warned them they would likely need enchantments to combat any undead they found within. After finally talking to Hafsa, the Dwarves went through the marketplace and spotted an arena being erected for the festival. The coordinator, Givido, was excited to see a priest of Perasin and asked Shale to judge some of the planned events. Shale agreed, and she and Rakeor commenced sparring.

Gilbert, Illiger and Solidus went to the shop recommended by Gamal, which turned out to be a disreputable-looking tent filled with all sorts of miscellany called Safi's Mirage Arcana. Safi, the proprietor, told them he'd been sold the amulets cheaply by an unknown man. Solidus acquired three of them, while Gilbert accepted two hundred gold pieces for the spellbook and Illiger purchased a trinket.

At the temple of Laurent, the group spotted Isu and another woman in line to take a turn at one of the Wheels of Fate. While the others talked with Al Sha'in, with Klaven and the priestess reminiscing about past adventures and companions, Maialen approached Isu and her friend, who introduced herself as Ikuyan. Isu mentioned that she had been reading the future using cards, which told her that something ominous was afoot in the city. After Maialen received a vague fortune, Isu offered to perform a reading of her own, and would join the party for dinner. Maialen was rejoined by the others, who said Al Sha'in had been little help, except to mention that she hadn't seen Trave in over a year. Klaven and Blaven then departed for the Dune Trail to get some ale while everyone else met at The Shifting Sands.

The party discussed their findings, and shares of the spellbook money were doled out. Concerns about the amulets increased, and everyone went out to gather more information. Gilbert went with Maialen and Makoto to see if they could talk to Lady Cragganmore, while Illiger went off to look for trouble. Rakeor, Shale and Siege headed back to the temple of Nevis with an amulet while Solidus returned to his temple with another.

At the temple of Varice, Solidus tried to meet with High Priest Nerym, but had to settle for turning the amulet over to one of his underlings. Upon telling him where he'd gotten the amulet, the underling grew disturbed, warning Solidus to avoid Safi due to his extremely chaotic nature, and said research on it would be of the highest priority.

Meanwhile, after leaving the amulet with Yves, Shale, Siege and Rakeor went back to visit Kernaar's smithy. On the way, they stopped at Dune Trail, where they met with Klaven and Blaven. The brothers accompanied them to the smithy, where Shale asked the half-ogre about getting their weapons enchanted. Kernaar told them he knew someone who could do the job, but it would take a week. Disappointed, the group did a little sparring before returning to the Shifting Sands.

Gilbert, Maialen and Makoto went to Sofistia's estate, and after Makoto briefly spoke to a couple of her dogs they were invited inside by a servant. Asking about the greenery, she told them she was a druid, and went to find Lady Cragganmore. The mage arrived in her typical foul mood, and after seeing the drawing of the amulet claimed to have seen it in her travels to Greece, where she believed it to be connected to Hades, their god of death. They pondered the implications of this before returning to the Shifting Sands.

An invitation

Illiger headed into the southwestern part of town, where she happened upon two men beating up a third. While considering whether she should insert herself into the melee, she was approached from behind by a hooded figure. The figure said that he -- or, rather, "we" -- had the mysterious dagger in their possession, and offered to return it to Illiger that evening if she joined his group. He said that he was part of a sect that rejected the teachings of Nevis as weak, and that death should be feared, not simply accepted. She agreed to meet with them at midnight, and went off to find Rin. On the way, she encountered Isu and her friends, and asked her to accompany her. The mage agreed to consider it, and would discuss the matter further at dinner. Zaikum directed Illiger to where he'd seen Rin and Emi, and the three discussed the matter further before heading back.

Once everyone had gathered at the Shifting Sands, they adjourned to Gilbert and Siege's room, leaving Solidus to watch for Isu. Illiger described her encounter, and Gilbert suggested that the death god of the sect might also be the infamous Voidbringer. It was decided that Emi and Makoto would check out the area in disguise before the scheduled meeting. When the party returned they found that Isu, Zaikum and Ikuyan had arrived. After dinner, the Dwarves headed back to Dune Trail while Isu performed her divinations on Illiger, Solidus and Maialen. None of them were particularly encouraging, which Isu noted followed the recent pattern.

Emi and Makoto tried to gather information, but spent more time combating the harassment of the locals than finding anything of note. At Dune Trail, word came that Rakeor and Siege -- but not Blaven and Klaven -- had been invited back for guard duty. Eventually everyone but the two guards gathered there, and the night's plan was formed: Illiger, Emi, Rin and Isu would go to the meeting while the rest waited outside for their signal, with Makoto acting as a go-between.

The party left Dune Trail in staggered fashion, but Solidus -- who hadn't been informed of the plan due to his lawful nature and the warning of the cult member -- spotted them leaving and followed. After some paranoia over something in a tree that might have been either a spy or an owl, Maialen noticed the tail, and after more confusion with Klaven and Blaven spilling the beans, Illiger insisted that Solidus return to Dune Trail. Blaven accompanied him back while the rest continued toward the meeting place. Those not involved in the infiltration proceeded to a nearby bar, where they noticed a Dark Elf sitting in the shadows. Shale learned that he won the weapons tournament last year -- the same one she was judging the next day.

When they arrived, the door opened to reveal two hooded figures. They guided the four party members into the basement, where they locked them in. A skull symbol on the wall glowed briefly, and a twisted-looking demon appeared. Battle ensued, and Illiger was able to yell loudly enough for Makoto to hear. The kitsune dashed to the nearby pub where the rest of the group waited, and they charged down the street to find the two hooded figures outside. Klaven burst through the front door while the others tangled with the cult members, while Isu shrunk the basement door to allow herself and the other three to escape. The demon vanished, and a magic mouth appeared, telling those present that the building was about to explode. A few moments later, a fireball erupted, injuring several party members. As they gathered on the street, an archer began firing at them from a nearby rooftop, forcing the group to flee the area, although they had been able to secure an unconscious cult member whom Klaven carried along.

The party stopped long enough to do some healing, then set off to bring their captive back to the temple of Nevis. However, they soon found the city guards breathing down their necks, so they headed quickly toward the harbor, where they spotted a few boats anchored off a small island just offshore. Illiger and Makoto investigated, finding two blue-robed men sitting on the shore across from the island. After telling them of their situation, one of the men recited an incantation and a magical bridge of sea-foam rose from the water. Illiger went across with him, and they were introduced to the boatmaster, Harran. The boatmaster sent a message via a small wave across the harbor to the temple to verify their story, and upon receiving the answer invited everyone aboard. As they traveled, Harran told them he was employed by the School of the Sea, which was technically outside the city and thus not subject to curfew.

The party arrived the temple via a sluice gate that was used for burials at sea. They told their story to Yves, and Klaven arranged to stay at the temple in order to be present for the questioning of the prisoner while the rest of the party returned to their accommodations. When the group staying at the Shifting Sands told Blaven what happened, he grew concerned about his brother. He headed back to the temple with Illiger, and after speaking to Klaven they decided they should check on the prisoner. Siege and Rakeor came to a similar conclusion, and when they arrived at his holding cell, their fears were proven true: the prisoner was dead. Upon examination, it was determined that he had been poisoned. Those present returned to their accommodations, with Illiger vowing to have a talk with the Dark Elf from the bar.

The festival

The next morning, everyone compared notes from the previous night, then left for the festival -- except Siege, who decided to rest until noon. Solidus was assigned by his temple to deliver supplies to those working at the festival, while the performers went to their space and the Dwarves went to the arena. Shale had a brief run-in with the man who had been assigned as head judge, who happened to be a member of the Justice League named Al'Mocaro. Rakeor joined the Waterbuck brothers in the stands, having been too late to register. Illiger arrived a bit later, and spotted the Dark Elf -- named Alton Coboral -- just as he was introduced to open the tournament.

Meanwhile, Klaven thought he spotted a familiar face in the stands as well. However, it turned out to be not his old friend Svenyka but her younger sister, Zdeneka, who was also a wizard. He came over to speak with her and Rakeor briefly while his brother fought and won his match. At the same time, Illiger made her way over to Alton, who she asked about the dagger. The Dark Elf claimed not to know anything, but agreed to meet her that night back at the pub to pass on information.

The following match began, and all concerned noted one of the competitors wearing a skull amulet. As the Dwarves discussed it, Andy mentioned that he had seen a flag bearing that symbol on a set of ruins north of the city, which had once been used by the Servants of Kuraliskar. Zdeneka -- who suggested she be called Bardo, given the difficulty of her name -- also recognized it, having seen it in her homeland of Thrace, and confirmed it as being bad news.

The cult makes its move

A short time later, Klaven began his match against a local named El'Varia. It soon became apparent that the woman was legitimately trying to kill Klaven, and almost succeeded before the guards seized her and hauled her away. Shale gave her fellow Dwarf a healing potion while Illiger followed the guards toward the city's prison. Klaven chose to drop out of the tournament, heading to the marketplace to get healed by Rin before being led to the prison himself by a local guide. Along the way, he met Solidus, who had been looking for him after hearing about the attack.

Back at the arena, Emi arrived with a poster related to last night's events. Shale brought it over to the Waterbucks, but it was Bardo who translated it, telling them that the local guards were looking for two Dwarves and several Humans for questioning about the explosion. Emi ran off to tell Klaven, while Rakeor went to the festival grounds to tell the others.

Illiger continued to follow El'Varia's guards. After a bit, the woman slumped over, then seemed to awaken confused about her situation. Illiger, taking this to mean she had been brainwashed by the cult, attempted to help her escape several times, but the woman failed to take advantage. Eventually Illiger gave up and headed to the jail herself. There, she met up with Emi, and eventually with Klaven and Solidus as well. Before Klaven can cause a ruckus, Illiger and Emi guide him and the Halfling to the Barking Bunny, where Illiger tells everyone her suspicions. Solidus returns to the jail to find out if El'Varia was carrying anything, but was told she was not. Klaven realizes that her possessions would be back at the arena, so heads back there with Illiger.

Once there, Klaven went to the preparation area to retrieve his pack, bringing Illiger with him to search the other items stored there. The Hengeyokai got into a brief tussle with a cat over one particular bag, and once one of the staff members chased it off she found a skull amulet hanging out of the bag. She and Klaven quickly brought it over to where the party was sitting. Bardo cast read magic upon it, and discovered a rune on the back representing Hades. However, a spanner was thrown into the works when it turned out that the bag belonged not to El'Varia, but to another combatant, a visitor from Odiferous. Illiger returned the bag, but Bardo pocketed the amulet, which the Odiferan had bought as a souvenir for his sister. After Shale mollified him by promising to replace it with something better, order was restored. Illiger was still suspicious, however, and decided to go off and do some information gathering herself. She explored the burned-out building, but found only crates of oil lamps before being rousted out by the guards, so she decided to settle in and wait for Alton.

Between rounds of the tournament, Shale struck up a conversation with Al'Mocaro, who professed that he believed the skull amulets to be a worthless scam. Solidus then returned, and after being filled in went to ask the man guarding the prep room about El'Varia's pack. He told the Halfling that being from the city she had brought no pack. The tournament proceeded, with Blaven losing in the quarterfinals and Alton Coboral losing in the finals to another visitor, and everyone -- including Bardo and the Waterbuck brothers -- eventually met once more at the Dune Trail.

Another strike

Outside the pub where she was to meet Alton, Illiger was hit by a crossbow bolt with a note attached. It read "You are already too late -- the ritual has begun." Once Alton arrived, he mentioned that he knew El'Varia, and her act was out of character. He mentioned that she was likely to be executed for her crime, and that Illiger was now on the radar of the local authorities as well. Alton went on to mention that he'd heard through contacts that a low-level house of the Dark Elves had been doing business with the cult in order to finance an attempt to rise in the ranks. He mused about how they might be coming to the surface via the Red Dragon Inn in the UnderWorld, which caught Illiger's attention. He then pointed out that the hengeyokai's wound appeared to be worsening, noting the possibility of poison. Illiger quickly left, bound for the Dune Trail.

At the inn, talk eventually turned to how the party might deal with the Hades cult, since it seemed as though they were out for the party's blood. Andy reminded everyone of the ruins bearing their flag, but the party was reluctant to attack without more information. Emi brought up the idea of scrying on the ruins, and Bardo agreed to ask if her school had a crystal ball. Before doing so, however, she and several other party members set out for the temple of Nevis to pass on their information. There, Yves suggested contacting the temple of Helandra to scry on the ruins, although Emi added that the price would be valuable information.

Bardo then went back to the School of the Sea with Rakeor and Klaven while Solidus went to his temple with Siege and the others set off back to the Dune Trail. The mage met with Allagaeira, her mentor at the school, but was told the school had no crystal ball at its disposal. The teacher did promise to prepare a scry scroll for Bardo, but that it would only work under certain conditions. Bardo thanked Allagaeira and went to her room.

Back at the inn, Illiger told her story to those who were still there. Rin attempted to close her wound, but could not. Hafsa, who was nearby, offered some healing herbs, and suggested the temples of Laurent or Sedric for aid. Emi and Makoto soon arrived, and Makoto tried to identify the poison with no success. Once everyone had returned and heard Illiger's story, several of them decided to go to the temple of Helandra to try and trade their info for an antidote. They were accosted by a Justice League member, and Klaven prevented Siege from revealing their destination. Blaven was able to talk his way past the man, and everyone met up outside the temple.

Emi, Rin and Illiger went inside, but found that much of the information was already known to the temple. They settled on a price, which Rin and Emi paid, and Illiger downed the antidote. However, it soon became apparent that it had had no effect. After returning to the Dune Trail to confer with the others, Illiger went to the House of the Ever-Turning Wheel with the Dwarven brothers and Siege, hoping to convince Al'Shain to aid them. The Elven priestess appeared, bringing with her another priest to attempt to remove the poison. The second priest found no poison, but Al'Shain found there to be necromantic magic at work. Dispelling the necromancy had no effect, so Al'Shain led them to the temple of Sedric to make another attempt.

At Sedric's temple, the priest had no more luck, and Illiger was now feeling quite weak. The others had to carry the hengeyokai back to the Dune Trail, during which time she drew a map on a chalkboard she'd been carrying. She made them promise to save her daughter, who had been petrified by a basilisk, if she died. Once back at the inn, both Shale and Rin attempted to stop the spread of the magic, but neither succeeded, and Illiger died. To everyone's horror, she soon awoke as a zombie, attacking Rin, but the zombie-armadillo was quickly defeated, and the body was placed in a box.

Preparing to counterattack

The next morning, everyone was informed of Illiger's death. The party decided they needed to step up their efforts to get information about the cult, and also to strengthen themselves for the expected fight against them. To that end, they split up to see who might be willing to aid them. Klaven and Siege went back to Sedric's temple, where they were offered supplies if they went out to the ruins to drive the cult away. Blaven accompanied Solidus to the temple of Varice, where they acquired a vial of holy oil. Shale, Rakeor and Bardo went to the cemetery, where Lucretia promised to bring their request to the High Priest. She also asked to examine Illiger's body to see how she had died. The two bards and Rin went to Laurent's temple, where Maialen spoke to Alton before going inside. The priest to whom they spoke was somewhat dismissive, but promised to tell Al'Shain they wished to speak with her. Finally, Emi and Makoto went to the Thieves' Guild, where they were told the Guild was interested in the cult's doings, and that there might be someone suitable they could send along.

Shale and Rakeor brought Illiger's body and the crossbow bolt that killed her to the temple of Nevis. During lunch, Bardo received her promised scroll, and the group discussed talking to Dudex about using it. While the performers took up their performances -- now guarded by Klaven and Blaven -- Shale and Bardo searched for the Carrolwood exhibit with Rakeor, Siege and Solidus. After a brief search, Dudex and Gairevander accompanied them to a nearby public house to discuss things. Among them, they connected Hades -- or Pluto -- to the temples they'd discovered in the ruins of Senepoli, which were dedicated to gods of the same pantheon. Dudex agreed to cast the scry spell, but refused to go to the northern ruins. The party considered seeking help from Cleo, only for her to turn up and berate Gaire for continuing to associate with the party. When pressed, she suggested that if they wanted someone to help them protect the city, they should seek Lady Sofistia and not her.

Later that afternoon, Emi and Makoto went to the Barking Bunny with Rin to meet their contact. They were soon joined by a paramander of Helandra named Rusus, whom Emi had previously met in Semmarch. She seemed satisfied with accompanying the group to the ruins, and they left to meet with the rest of the group. Shale and Rakeor proceeded to meet with Kernaar, who agreed to send the priestess' axe to be enchanted.

Later that afternoon, Emi and Makoto went to the Barking Bunny with Rin to meet their contact. They were soon joined by a paramander of Helandra named Rusus, whom Emi had previously met in Semmarch. She seemed satisfied with accompanying the group to the ruins, and they left to meet with the rest of the group. Upon their return to Dune Trail, Solidus expressed concern about Rusus' chaotic nature, but Rin assured him of her neutrality as a paramander. After everyone else arrived, the party decided not to try and break the city curfew and instead depart at sunrise.

While Bardo and the Dwarven brothers went to request supplies from the temple of Sedric, the other two Dwarves went back to the cemetery. They were quickly ushered to the temple, where Lucretia, Yves, and Tox, whom they'd met briefly in Daro. The proxy explained the nature of the bolt that killed Illiger -- that it drained the energy of its victim into a vessel, which could then be used in certain dark rituals. They were then provided with four amulets that would protect their wearers from such power, and tasked with retrieving -- or, if possible, destroying -- the vessel once they reached the ruins...

Cast of characters

This adventure is being run by John Proulx. Below is a list of characters who have been involved at one point or another:

Adventure timeline

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