November 22 - December 3, 2016
Saturday October 28
A Grimbor, and Harpies, and (Zombie) Bearmen, Oh My!
Hraglagh the Grimbor has seen better days. In the battle with the Zombie Bearmen, he rushed to the aid of his new friend Valinya and tried to incapacitate one of the beasts only to have his abdomen split open by a vicious axe blow from one of the zombies. Once Valinya healed him, he re-entered the fray by grabbing that Bearman’s leg only to have his massive hand chopped clean off for his trouble.
|Let's give Hrag a hand, everyone!|
The only sound in the room is the quiet whimpering of Hrag as he curls himself into a large ball in the corner, cradling his severed hand like a baby in the crook of his arm. Everyone stands around, catching their breath in stunned silence. The bodies of the rotting Bearmen lay in mangled heaps, cheap great axes nearby.
A single, wooden, iron-bound door sits in the southern corner of the east wall.
Fortis surveys the situation, saddened by the extensive damage to the surprisingly friendly Grimbor. I'm sorry my magic isn't puissant enough to restore such an incapacitating injury. I wish there were something I could do for him but maybe Val can pull another surprise out of her songbook to help with that severed hand… poor crippled grimbor.
If not, maybe we can figure something out when we resurface… we can find someone who can put the limb right, let him help Red with the reconstruction heavy lifting until the manor is also restored and then offer him a position as a gate guard? I wonder how well and how quickly he could learn to speak Eastern Man passably. Breaking himself away from a progression of thoughts likely to lead nowhere for the moment Fortis refocuses on the current situation. “Well, there seems to be a single way forward… I am certainly willing to rest and prepare a few surprises for whoever is on the opposite side of that, hopefully final, door. I expect our musical sister would welcome a respite as well, but if you are determined to push on without delay I will attempt to keep her spells from overwhelming you while the inevitable violence plays out. So, who wants to go through the door first? I don’t see any traps on it, at least not on this side.”
Seeing the pitiful creature cradling its hand tugs at Seeker’s soul. We should keep pressing on - no telling when the Sea Harpies will catch up to us. We know they weren’t willing to just walk away when they returned to SHOOT ME IN THE BACK! Seeker shudders, then continues his train of thought. We could finish this soon. Or we could just be starting this slog - don’t know how much more we have to chew through. He glances again at Valinya and Hrag. And he would come in handy…
Seeker roots around in his satchel for his first-aid kit. “Okay, Val, here’s the deal. We don’t know how much farther we have to go or how much more opposition we have ahead of us. We also have Harpies coming up on our rear. We don’t know how many or when. We can patch Hrag up and keep moving, or stop for longer if you have something magical you want to try. So, to help us figure out what to do next we need some information. What do you need to take care of your new friend here, and how long will it take?”
Floating over to the crippled Grimbor Valinya brings her face down to his level. Using her Gift of Tongues she points to the severed hand and says, “No worry. I try to fix - make new. Promise. Soon … but not now. Very tired. Enemies coming. Must defeat Lady first. And thank you - you save my life” She waits for his reaction and response. before doing anything.Hrag just looks up at Valinya for a moment with wet, sad eyes, then goes back to looking at his hand. He nods to her, though, to show understanding.
|Valinya hopes to console her new friend|
After waiting a few moments for Valiny to respond to Seeker’s question Fortis asks her a quick question before he tries to coordinate tactics with the giant Wolfen. “Hey Valinya, do you think Hraglagh knows anything about the room beyond this door? Or the people in it?” He then flies over to hover near Seeker’s muzzle and speaks softly in Wolfen “If we do decide to rest here for a substantial amount of time, say fifteen minutes or so, then I can build a mist to give us a distinct combat advantage in this room. To be effective we might have to draw our opponents into it, but since we should be able to project maces, sunbolts, et cetera into the room beyond that door it may be a viable path to take. At the very least it potentially gives us a place to retreat if we feel the need to do so. If we are extremely fortunate the door will open towards us and we might even be able to control access in and out. What do you think?”
Seeker closes his eyes and draws a deep breath, then opens them and looks at Fortis. It’s just data - don’t consider the source, just use it. The magical mists have been useful in the past. Hmm…
He growls back in Wolfen, “I don’t know that we have fifteen minutes. However, your idea, with some modification, has some merit.” He finds himself dropping into the overly verbose conversation style of the minute mage. “Placing it in here based on speculation of the terrain on the other side of the door seems potentially likely to waste your energies. The nature of the mists, based on what I’ve seen in the past, is that they don’t work well as an offensive tool. However, they make great defense. Can you place the mists as an obstacle to slow our pursuers, just outside the door to this room, back the way we came? I can give you five minutes, while I tend to Hrag here and Val catches her breath.” He turns to Moonscar. “Brother, can you assist Fortis? Be part of the spell when it is cast, then keep the door mostly closed and watch our rear. It seems likely that they will probe our misty defense with arrows or those nasty little pots. Be ready to close the door if they do.”
He looks at Valinya and Hrag. “Val, rest. Can I work on your friend’s hand? Just enough to staunch the bleeding? We’ll need to get moving soon.”
The Kankoran nods, replying, “Sounds, er, sound. Yeah. I have 3 pots - don’t know if they’re tar or flame, and 2 bags of naughty tentacles, plus the flash, smoke, and caltrop tricks already in my gear, so I should be able to at least buy the time for reinforcement if they come in hard at the rear. . .”
Valinya nods. “Thank you. I won’t be any help without magic. I’m not strong like you. And I’ll let Hrag know you will help him.” Turning back to the pitiful Grimbor Valinya grunts in his language that Seeker will help fix his arm, stopping the bleeding for now. Then she stops maintaining her dark vision spell while keeping up her Body of Air and translation spells. That taken care of she closes her eyes and meditates to restore her energy.
After waiting to see if Moonscar accepts the rearguard task Fortis proceeds to the rearward door and assesses its value as a choke point. Once the Kankoran is comfortably seated inside the area Fortis begins his one hundred fifty second long casting, calling up protective mists to enshrouds the area to three yards across, ending just through the door in an opalescent fog nearly opaque to everyone except the Druid and Fortis himself. Once completed he whispers to Moonscar “I hope you can guide Cruncher if he returns through here, and I'm not just referring to traversing this mist.”
While Fortis and Moonscar complete the Magical Mist in the hallway, Seeker works on bandaging Hrag’s bloody stump up. Silver, Arn and Valinya get in a bit of rest, while keeping an eye on the door.
As Fortis returns to the group, a knocking sound breaks the silence. Someone is knocking loudly on the other side of the door. A muffled, male voice can be heard, “Hey, you all out there. The Lady is ready to talk. Peaceful like. Do you accept parley?”
Once the preparations are complete the druid continues taking down the map, keeping a wary eye and ear out for approaching enemies.
The Kankoran druid takes his time carefully removing the map from the wall. Fortunately it is in several sections but removing all the little colored pin-flags takes some time and he has to climb up on a chair for at least half of the pins due to his short stature.
Arn looks over at his companions. He had nodded in agreement with Seeker that they only had 5 minutes at best, though he wanted to just bust the door down and keep moving. Arn was able to keep his impetuousness in check for once while his companions got some much needed rest.
“Oh so now they want to talk do they? Be wary of any tricks. I’ll have no problem caving her head in with my mace if we need.”
Wary of deceit Fortis moves into a far corner and shifts his illusion disguise to another bit of masonry, preparing to act as lie detector, spell warder or sniper, as the needs of the situation and circumstances dictate.
Hearing Arn’s words and seeing no objection, Seeker clears his throat and says “We will hear her out.” So, what do we want? What are we willing to settle for? What will she want and what will she settle for? He takes a moment to reflect before moving. The Sea Harpies gone? The Lady Lotus behind bars or exiled? Lavinia’s wealth restored and her brother turned over to us? Treasure? Power? He opens the door to show that he is as harmless as he can be. “Lead on.”
|Shefton Rosk proposes a meeting|
Pulling the door open reveals a solitary male, either Elvish or more likely Human with Elvish heritage. He holds a small lantern up over his head to get a better view of the party. His eyes go wide at the heavily armed Dwarf in front of him and he takes a step back when he sees Silver peeking over his shoulder. His jaw drops as the light falls over Seeker’s face, leaning down from above the top of the door jamb. “Damn, you are a big one,” he mutters, taking a step back. “I’m Shefton. Shefton Rosk. Lady Lotus wants to speak to you but no funny business. No fighting, no spells, no, um, Dragon breath. She promises the same. Agreed? Just you four here? Oh, and I see you have brought the Grimbor along. He’s gotta stay here, no room for him in the Lady’s chambers anyway.”
So he hasn’t noticed Fortis or Moonscar. That’s probably good. They make good aces-in-the-hole. But I don’t want to lie to this fellow if I don’t have to. Maybe best to be honest but vague. Give him something to think about. Seeker nods, “Four of us will come. There are others about that may join later.” He motions with a huge paw. “After you, sir.”
While the knocking and what not go on, Valinya continues to keep her focus on being unfocused, meditating and feeling the energy slowly soak into her dry and parched anima. But once Seeker gives the indication movement is afoot - she smiled at her punny thought - Valinya opened her eyes and said to Hrag, “We talk Lady. Stay here. Wait. Yell if anything happens. I come then.” After waiting for Hrag’s nod of affirmation she gives him a gentle windy brush of her hand along his broad shoulder then floats to follow Seeker.
Arn looks back at the others. He nods his head, as if he knows he is supposed to go along, and lowers his mace, but does not put it away. He walks into the next chamber following Seeker and Valinya.
The Half-Elf, Shefton Rosk, looks at Arn and the others with narrow eyes. “This is a parley. A peaceful meeting. Your show of weapons indicates you are looking for something else. The Lady has not requested that weapons be left behind, but you should at least put them away.” Without waiting to see if Arn complies, he turns and heads north along another brick lined tunnel. Seeker again has to duck to maneuver this passageway.
The passage heads north for about 20 feet then turns to the right into another north and south intersection. Shefton steps to the side and indicates that the party is to proceed through an open doorway around the corner to the right. Another short hallway continues north from this intersection ending with a door to the left. Light can be seen coming from the room to the south where Rosk is leading the group.
The smell of candles and incense can be detected by even the most untrained nose as this next chamber is approached. Thick purple carpet lines the floor of the room ahead. Shefton says, “Please enter, the Lady awaits you.”
A quiet but jealous grumble can be heard from Valinya that sounds something like “Maybe I should insist on being called ‘The Lady’ - probably more ladylike than her.”
Fortis stealthily follows the group, staying up in the shadows near the apex of the arched ceiling and well behind the half elven guide. I hope they leave the door open so I can hear from back here… I don’t want to reveal myself unless things go poorly. Hopefully the room isn’t big enough and SIlver can leave her tail out or something.
I should listen, and make any eventual intervention a game changer… maybe something lethal, but perhaps something else...Perhaps a phantasm of Commander Vilasek? I wonder if I could pull off the language correctly to take her into custody until I can turn her over to the real watch. Or maybe the double Arn trick, No matter what, I need to be ready to pull a trick of our own if they try anything.
Arn reluctantly harnesses his enchanted mace. Thankfully the dwarf thinks to himself, he has a harness built that he can fast-draw his weapon if needed, but hell, he IS a weapon. He always has Lefty by his side in any regard. Arn continues but keeps his eyes open for any sign of treachery or sneaky assassin types in the shadows. Arn feels that they are being led into a trap and is preparing himself mentally to fight out of it. He keeps his focus on beer and ale and fighting, just hoping to maintain his wits if the Lady attempts any type of mind-magics once they enter.
The Lady's Chamber
The opulence of this chamber’s decor is a bit jarring. The smooth plaster walls are painted violet. Delicately crafted silver lanterns flicker softly on the wall. A shelf to the north holds several books, statuettes, stuffed animals, a crystal ball with a smoky red light at its core, and two coffers; one of darkwood and one of iron decorated with tiny jade bats. A five-foot-wide landscape of the city of Essanos hangs on the eastern wall, yet all of the ships in the harbor fly flags depicting the Sea Harpy symbol. A pair of overstuffed chairs sits beside a low table heaped with fruit and bottles of wine. To the south stands a lone wooden cupboard. The floor itself is adorned with a thick, deep purple carpet. An partially open door leads to another room to the south.
|The Lady Lotus and her pet|
Seeker takes a deep breath and moves on into the room. He sees a woman who he assumes is Lady Lotus, a man he recognizes from a dark alley, and a lizard. He steps off to the right, making room for his team, and waits until Arn, the Lady Valinya, and Silver have entered. While he waits he tries to see if he can catch the scent of any others about, particularly Vanthus. When the rest of the party has entered, he stands at parade rest and clears his throat, “Miss Lotus, Mister Wulda. You called this meeting. What’s on your mind?”
Floating along behind Seeker, Valinya cautiously enters the room.
Fortis hovers listening intently for a reply. That is an excellent question. What could she possibly have in mind? Surrender seems unlikely. Subversion is just asking for a rebuff. I'm not even certain Seeker would be willing to let a gang leader pack up shop and go corrupt a different city. Is there any kind of peaceful solution each side would be willing to accept? And how would such a deal be enforced? If she were inclined to parlay, why wait so long to deliver an invitation to do so? Why not start talking in the manta cavern? I suppose it could be a lack of imagination on my part, but it seems most likely that she is just stalling for time; but time to do what? Fortis takes a quick peek back over his shoulder the way they came and ensures they are not being flanked before returning his visual focus to the negotiation, still pregnant with the unanswered question. What does she have in mind?
Fortis finds himself about 6 feet from the door to the Lady’s chamber. He can just barely see Seeker and Valinya in the room, though the little Ellyl has a good view of Silver’s backside still sticking halfway out of the door. He also sees Shefton Rosk standing just behind Silver in the hallway, watching in Fortis’s direction, occasionally looking into the room where the parley is about to begin. Fortis feels that he is in a good, camouflaged position, but fears that if he moves too much with Rosk so close and watching that direction, he might be spotted.
|Wulda the mercenary|
Inside the room, the Lady Lotus and a broad shouldered man, Wulda, sit in the comfortable looking chairs. Wulda takes a large orange fruit and takes a loud, wet bite out of it. The Lady smiles, “Can I interest you in some wine? A bite to eat?” Wulda keeps his attention on his fruit, not paying too much mind to the companions. The colorful dragon like creature in the north part of the room prowls back and forth in front of the bookshelf, occasionally passing in front of the Lady for a gentle caress.
Arn enters the room right along with Seeker. The dwarf looks around at everyone and then bellows out to the woman. “You called the talk lady….good thing too or I’d have to bash down more of yer doors. We can make this simple and sweet….we gladly will accept your surrender. Any tricks, and you can all become bait for yer hungry sting rays out in the harbor”.
Valinya decides to let the boys take the lead, waiting until she feels a need to either add some input or rescue the situation diplomatically if things start to spiral. Meanwhile she watches the lady carefully, trying to get a read on her.
Valinya studies the woman known as the Lady Lotus and gets the impression that she is a capable young woman who feels confident and in charge of the situation. A more visual impression shows that she is ready for action. She wears stylish clothing and well tailored leather armor. An ornate, narrow blade hangs from her belt. Her bare skin shows numerous tattoos and she sports valuable looking jewelry. A loaded hand crossbow sits on the table next to her. A few wands hang from a belt of pouches and compartments. Some hold potions or other small objects.
She smiles wryly at Arn’s comments. “Well, well. Aren’t you the impetuous one? It did occur to me that YOU came to my house, so I assumed you had something to speak to me about. I will be honest, I was not looking to entertain visitors today, but here you are nonetheless. What can I do for Lavinia’s flunkies?”
Across the table, Wulda burps and looks up. “Oh, hey. I remember you, Wolfen. I almost peed on you! Haha.”
The Lady gives him a sharp look and he pays her no mind as he draws a knife and begins picking at his dirty fingernails. The Lady Lotus looks back at Seeker, Valinya, Arn and Silver. “A Dragon, ehh? Interesting. I’ve always wanted a real Dragon,” she muses. The colorful reptilian beast looks up at her and snorts loudly at her comment and emits a low rumbling growl from deep in his chest. She lets out a forced laugh, “Oh, Guttugger, I’m so sorry. Yes, of course, you are a REAL Dragon too. I meant I always wanted a silver one too. You are my favorite Dragon, always. Guttugger smiles a toothy grin and whips his tail out, nearly knocking some books off the nearby shelf.
The Lady continues, “Well, I’m sure you are here to kill me or bring me to justice or, hells, probably just here to rob me, but I’ve got a proposition for you. Instead of all those things, why don’t you join me. Clearly you all are capable folk with little to no problem with doing what it takes to get results. I am already in position to take control of all shipping in Essanos, both legitimate and otherwise, with your help, we could expand that control to other areas as well.”
Cast of Characters:
+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a teenage Wolfen Warlord
+Mike Biancone plays Arn, a surly Dwarven Warrior
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid
+Daniel White plays Silver, a young and curious Dragon
+Mike Williams plays Gorgukk Torgnaz, an Ogre sailor and mauler
and +Jason GURPS as the GM
+Mike Williams plays Gorgukk Torgnaz, an Ogre sailor and mauler
and +Jason GURPS as the GM