The Price of Peace

Session I Log
The Beginning

In the small trading town of Senvois, locals and travelers alike gathered to drink away their worries in the Laughing Lion Tavern. There is much laughing and drinking and singing and playing of cards and darts. Dorien, a local human Bard [Rob], stands up and sings an inspiring song and is met with praise and tips. Zion, a gnome Abjurer [Loki] of the Magic Guild, decides to join a local in a game of darts, beating him soundly. The quiet elf Rogue Daphne[Aidan], sits alone at the bar, watching the game.

Marty, Zion’s beaten opponent, storms off, minus twenty gold pieces. Xavnon, the half-orc bartender, praises Dorien’s song and mentions a job opportunity at the Blind Flame Alehouse in the capital city of Alexia, a short three days travel away. Dorien takes the offer under consideration and joins Zion at the dart board.

Marty returns with two burly companions. His friends sit down and Marty approaches Zion, desiring a rematch. Marty scrapes by with a win over the slightly tipsy gnome, and asks to raise the stakes: 50 gold. Dorian counteroffers with a team game, raising the stakes to 100 gold per team. Marty accepts and calls a friend over, while Dorian sides with his acquaintance Zion. Marty and his friend lose horribly and look quite angry, but Dorian soothes their tempers with an ale.

Everyone seems to be heading to bed, so Zion and Dorien retire to their rooms while Daphne sleeps in the bar.

The next morning, Dorien makes friends with Daphne the wanderer. He convinces her to travel with him to Alexia, and Zion desires to return home as well. Thus they depart toward Alexia with a stop in Chalice, a village along the way.

The first day on the road, they encounter a family rushing away from Chalice on a cart. The cart slows as the party approaches and the father warns, “Stay away from Chalice!” The party wonders why, so he stops the cart and explains that “terrible noises” have been coming at night and terrifying the populace. He fears that whatever monster is making the noise is going to eat his child. No children have been eaten yet, but he’s not willing to take that chance. The party promises that their stay in Chalice will be quick and bid them farewell.

Their journey requires two days’ travel to Chalice, so they spend one night camping on the road. All is quiet until the final watch by Dorian. He hears a small group trying to sneak up on them and spots four small figures near the tree line. He shouts, “Who’s there?” Three of the figures turn to the one in the center, obviously their leader. Meanwhile, Daphne and Zion wake up to the commotion. The leader hesitates for a second, then Zion hears in Goblin, “Charge!”

The three underling goblins charge the party while the leader fires at them with a bow. Zion makes quick work of two of them with a dazzling color spray, and Daphne puts two arrows in the leader’s gut. The leader turns and runs, leaving the one remaining underling to fend for himself. He doesn’t last long.

Soon, a half-elf Ranger [Malcolm] approaches the party with an unconscious goblin. The party coups de grace the two underlings and tie up the leader. When he awakes, he squirms to escape but can’t get free. Zion asks, “Are you the leader?” to which the goblin replies, “Nope, the leader’s that one,” and gestures with a nod. They continue to interrogate him and discover that there’s a small clan of goblins living in the Alexian Forest, and they were just a small scouting/looting party. They slay the goblin and continue their journey.

A little before noon, they arrive at Chalice, a farming and trading community. They make their way to the Lonely Giant Inn to wash off the stench of goblin. They stay for lunch and overhear a few conversations about the night sounds: it appears to be coming from a well, though they never see anything during the day. The party splits up to find more information.

Dorien wanders into market and the first thing he sees is a large stone fountain and statue with a plaque that reads “CHALICE, the birthplace of the Great One.” He recognizes the statue as being of Sheridyn, the founder of the Guardians, the Hero of the Last War, and the ancestor of all monarchs of Paixia since. He soon finds a blacksmith with no customers and chats him up for some information. He learns that the noise sounds very much like a baby cow, and the noises started about five days ago. The blacksmith doesn’t seem particularly concerned, but notes that some others are beginning to panic.

Dorien catches up with Zion to pass this information along, and Zion goes to the library to search the village records. He finds very little of interest; very few goblin attacks in the past year, no other reports of monsters, and perhaps most notably, no reports of missing cows recently. Zion tries to think of what could sound like a cow but not be a cow, and remembers a legend of the minotaur.

Meanwhile, Daphne investigates the wells. Some people walk about getting water from other wells, but never the suspected one. She checks the water in the well, but everything appears normal.

The sun is getting low in the sky, so they meet up back at the Lonely Giant. They meet the local Guardian, Victor, who seems more concerned with keeping the citizens calm than actually fixing the situation. They find a bar patron who tells them that they’re not the only new visitors in town; a group of four Hunters arrived about a week ago and are staying in the Stalwart Mug. They decide to check on the well again, and visit the Hunters in the morning.

As they leave the inn, they hear what seems to be a whiny mooing sound. Along the way, they meet the female half-elf Ranger Willow[Amy], who is also investigating the sound. They proceed to the well and examine the bucket to find a small crying half-man half-bull looking creature. An arrow narrowly misses Dorien and the party turns to see four people. The leader calls, “Hold! What are you doing there?” Dorian asks them what they know about this, and the leader says that they put the baby there to lure the mother out in the open in order to claim the bounty that the Hunters’ Guild placed on her. Dorien quickly realizes that this man is an idiot when he asks, “If you took the child from its home, why didn’t you set the trap in its lair?” Before he can respond, momma minotaur roars and rushes toward them. The leader demands, “Are you going to help us or not?” The party reluctantly agrees, but Dorian takes charge and orders the hunters to take the baby and slowly walk outside of the village with a knife at its throat. He does so and the minotaur follows cautiously, while the party takes up the rear.

Once outside of town, the minotaur demands in broken Common, “Give me my child!” The party, wishing to see this end without bloodshed, tell the minotaur that the child will be returned if she promises to stay away from civilized towns and that the hunters will never bother her again. They object, saying, “What about our bounty?” The minotaur snorts, and they put the baby down and slowly back off. The mother picks up the baby and runs toward the woods, cursing humans under her breath. Dorien then turns to the hunters and demands that they leave here and never return. They hesitate, and Zion uses ghost sound to create the sound of many swords being unsheathed behind them. They bolt.

The party returns to the Lonely Giant, where everyone seems happy that the noises have stopped. They explain what happened to Victor, who is extraordinarily pleased to see that the situation was resolved without any bloodshed. He tells them about the Guardians of Peace and entreats them to consider joining. He tells them to look for Captain Kega of the Alexia City Guard if they’re looking for work around the city. With that, they retire to bed.

The next morning, the blacksmith meets them to present a gift from the village: a shiny ceremonial dagger, which Zion estimates is worth about 700 gold. They continue on their way to Alexia, chatting with their new companion, Willow.

They reach a bridge over a river and by a waterfall. Below by the river banks Willow sees an old elf and a young human woman sword-fighting, clearly for practice or sport. They pause to watch, and shout a greeting. The woman invites them down to join or just chat, and they accept. They find the trail down and introduce themselves. The woman calls herself Melissa and says the elf’s name is T’Lavios, who watches intently. Willow spars with Melissa a bit until Willow yields, clearly outclassed. Melissa is impressed regardless, and T’Lavios heals them both of their nonlethal damage. They mention that they are from Alexia and should be returning, and offer to keep the party company. The trip to Alexia is a pleasant one, and they chat about the local taverns. Melissa tells them of her favorites, namely the Bronze Dragon, the Scarlet Nymph, and the Blind Flame. She gives a little story of each, including how the proprietor of the Blind Flame, Wandalynn, was once a Cleric of Sola (the Red Goddess of the trio) and an adventurer with her husband and a dwarf wizard, until a trap sprung in a dragon’s lair killed her husband and left her blind. The dwarf used all of his resources to try to save the husband, but when he failed, he disappeared, ashamed. Neither he nor the body have been seen since.

As the tragic tale ends, they see a large wooden boat with wings and propellers sail overhead toward Alexia. They approach the city gates and are quickly ushered in by the guards when they see Melissa and T’Lavios. They warn against the use of weapons or magic in the city; in case of trouble, just call the City Guard. As they enter the city, the curtain closes on this inaugural session.

Session II
Arrival at Alexia
5/6/429, Wednesday

Melissa and T’Lavios bid the party farewell and head toward the center of the city. It is early in the evening and businesses are beginning to close, so the party heads to the Brass Dragon Bar & Brewery. They drink and chat with the locals and the bartender, a jovial dwarf by the name Thomivorn. Thom tells them that things have been mostly quiet in the city, though the Spring Festival is set for next Friday. A wealthy man walks into the bar and orders a mug of the bar’s special, said to have the power of putting the drinker to sleep. A standing challenge is to finish five mugs in a single night without succumbing. The man falls asleep after one mug.

Zionysus, never the man to back down from a challenge, orders a mug of this ale. He finishes the first one easily, but falls asleep after he finishes the second mug. Meanwhile, Dorien sings to entertain the patrons.

A female halfling ranger approaches Willow, who recognizes the halfling as a fellow hunter, Janstina. Janstina tells Willow about the bounties she’s been hunting recently: a hydra and a chimera, both monsters of legend that have not been seen in centuries but were recently spotted in the Alexian Forest. Soon, Janstina sees some other old friends and takes off to catch up with them. Thom the barkeeper grumbles a bit about the Festival; he hates how businesses are forced to be closed while the Queen parades around the city. He seemed to have no real love for the monarchy. The party eventually retires for the night.

5/7/429, Thursday

When they wake up, they split up to take care of various business around the city and agree to meet at the Blind Flame Alehouse. Dorien hits the markets to acquaint himself with the city. Zion visits his office in the Magic Guild, housed in the Mage’s College of Alexia University. He notices that they have postings for odd jobs, such as returning lost items to the Guild.

Willow visits the Hunters Guild and notices the bounties Janstina mentioned, as well as a wanted poster for an elf who had been exiled to the colonies for murder but had returned to Alexia. As she turns to leave, she notices a human girl of 15 or so named Arianna entreating the guildmaster for his assistance. It seems that the mining village of Kelva has been struck by some plague. The dwarf guildmaster tells her that this isn’t really their thing and tells her to try the Temple of the Goddesses. Willow approaches her and hears her tale and thinks that her merry band might agree to help.

They all meet as agreed, and Willow has brought Arianna. She tells them that miners have been coming out ill and many have died to the fevers. To make matters worse, a band of kobolds were recently spotted taking up residence in the old abandoned part of the mine. The party agrees to do what they can to help. They stand up to head back to the Brass Dragon, and another man, seemingly intoxicated, stands up as well, announcing that Dorien is going to pay for stealing his wife. Dorien insists that he has him mistaken for someone else. The man behind the counter, next to the blind elf Wandalynn, approaches the man and asks him to leave and gets a kukri in the gut. As the man falls unconscious, patrons scream and scatter, and Wandalynn ducks.

The man then stabs Dorien, who is hurt but still standing. The man doesn’t seem to notice that he is bleeding when the party retaliates, and they soon draw the attention of the City Watch. The human paladin/sorcerer Sir Frederik [Bill] arrives on the scene and commands the lawbreaker to lay down his arms. The man ignores him, fixated on the one who “stole his wife.” Zion stuns and blinds him with a color spray and he quickly goes down. They tie him up and Fred calls for back up to haul him in.

Wandalynn checks on her assistant Jason to find him still breathing. She and Daphne move him upstairs to a bed while Dorien and Zion chat with Sir Frederik. Willow checks on Arianna, who was unharmed. They spot a small, charcoal-like stone under the table where the man was tied up; they quickly ascertain that it is evil and magical, specifically of the enchantment school, possibly responsible for the man’s loss of sanity. Using mage hand, Zion and Fred transport it to the Magic Guild, where they find Professor Zalomon, a Gnome Professor of Enchantment. Zion notes that Zalomon’s lab is not located on campus, which is not uncommon, but what is uncommon is the lack of location listed altogether. He can’t immediately identify the stone, but he promises to leave a message for Zion at his office in the Department of Abjuration when he’s studied it further. They then return to the Blind Flame.

Wandalynn has closed the bar to clean up, and patrons who are renting rooms have moved into the lounge. She informs the party that Daphne has been hired as a temporary replacement for Jason until he recovers. She chats with Dorien, who mentions their mutual friend Xavnon at Senvois. She invites him to “audition” for a job as a regular entertainer some night soon.

When Zion and Fred return, they inform the rest of the party of the situation. Wandalynn remembers her friend Captain Kega investigating a similar event three weeks ago; an otherwise nonviolent man comes home and beats his kid. The City Watch arrest him and no lasting (physical) damage is done, and the next day, the man was fully aware of what he had done but didn’t understand why he had done it.

After cleaning up the bar, they spend a night at the Blind Flame, free of charge. Wandalynn mentions to Dorien that the Temple of the Goddesses offers free healing to anyone.

5/8/429, Friday

Dorien takes Wandalynn’s advice and visits the Temple in the morning. They happily treat his wounds, and Dorien asks if they have the means to combat illnesses and disease, telling them of the situation in Kelva. The elder says that he will send a cleric with them to assist the village. Dorien returns to the Blind Flame, and after a meal, a young elf cleric enters, introducing herself as Hollynda. Wandalynn recognizes the voice and they catch up on old times while the party prepares to depart.

The trip is a short one, though the brief rainstorm threatened to slow them down. When they arrive in Kelva, Arianna takes them to her home, where her father and brother are sick and bedridden. Holly cures the family. They give more information about a cave into the mountain from whence they suspected the evil to be originating. They sent several scouts, but none have returned. The father mentions that humans have not used that cave for ten years, since they cleared out the orc tribe that inhabited it. They decide to start with this cave.

In the cave entrance, they find signs of a recent battle. They follow the trail of blood down the corridor into a chamber with two wooden carts. Sticking out from beneath one of the carts was the lower half of a human body. Sir Frederik hastily moves the cart, not noticing the string attached to the ceiling until the thunderstone went off, rendering all but Willow deaf. They head out of the cave until their hearing returned, then went back into the cave for take two.

They turn down one of the hallways and open a door into a mess hall. It was empty, though it appeared to have been recently vacated; half-empty bowls of a foul smelling stew were found on the tables. The door to the room off of the mess hall was locked; the party decides to explore the other direction first, perhaps to find a key.

The passage sloped down into a large cavern with plenty of stalagmites. An opening in the wall had cables for lifting miners dangling off of the ledge. Dorien spots a reptilian tail behind a rock in the area above. They then hear the sounds of a marching army approaching noisily behind them, but they see through the illusion easily. A volley of crossbow bolts then fly from the ledge, none of them hitting anyone. The party fires back, and Dorien casts sleep to disable a few, and when the kobold leader falls, the rest quickly retreat. The party interrogates the sleeping kobolds to find that some kind of demon has been stealing the bodies of both the humans and kobolds when they fall to the plague. The kobolds were itching to leave, but their leader felt that there were more riches to be looted here. The party also finds the secret door that the kobolds used to escape. They seal the door with a large rock and continue on.

They soon come across a chamber with a pile of human and kobold corpses. Sir Frederik sees that some of them are rather undead. He decapitates one while it was on the ground, and four more rose. They were quickly dispatched, though Dorien got scratched and contracted the plague. Looting the corpses yielded a few valuable gems.

Continuing on, they see a hulking mass carving symbols into a pillar of rock in the middle of a pool of murky water. Fred charges the figure, surprising the orc cleric with a slash wound. He turns to cast hold person, but Fred resists. The party continues to beat up on the orc, and he bellows some curses regarding the humans and reaches out to touch Fred with a hand that sparked darkness. Fred attacked before the orc could touch him and he falls. Fred decapitates him, and Dorien suddenly feels a bit better.

Zion translates the glyphs he had been carving; apparently, he was giving an account of the slaughter of the orcs at the hands of the invading humans ten years prior, and his god Gruumsh has seen fit to allow him his revenge by smiting the infidels with a terrible pestilence. They return to the kobolds’ hideout and convince them to leave and never return. They then loot this room and the one that was previously locked.

They return to the village, where everyone is miraculously cured. There is a celebration at the tavern, and they again eat and sleep for free.

The next morning, the village blacksmith gives them a magical rapier in appreciation of their efforts, and the party levels up.

Session III
The Investigation of the Stones
5/9/429, Saturday

After a late night of celebrating in Kelva, the party departs, heading back to Alexia. Willow and Zion were nursing hangovers along most of the way. The cleric Hollynda remains in Kelva a bit longer to make sure the plague is over. Along the road, a halfling in a cart approaches, claiming to be “Cauchy’s Caravan of Wonderful Items,” and invites them to view his wares. Dorien Arsisen and Frederik Kuhlricht agree and end up trading a small bag of gems and a magical mace for a magical [+1] falchion and a pair of bracers of armor [+1]. Dorien also buys an old wooden flute for a small price. The halfling then offers them a ride to the capital. When they arrive, he joins a local market, saying he will be in town for a few weeks, hoping to score some customers during the Spring Festival.

They decide to pay a visit to the man who attacked them in the Blind Flame. He apologizes, not knowing what came over him—turns out he’s not even married. He reveals that he found the stone while walking in the park and held onto it, thinking of it as a good luck charm. The party visits the man in charge of this garrison: Captain Kega, a burly half-orc at a desk bent over a large stack of paperwork. Kega tells them about the investigation of the last man who had a similar stone. The man is currently being held in prison, awaiting trial. Kega recognizes them as the group who solved Chalice’s problems and commends their initiative in investigating the black stones.

Dorien and Frederik pay a visit to Professor Zalomon’s office at the Magic Guild, but he is out, apparently at his lab. They then proceed to visit the man in prison. He, like the other, regrets his actions, not quite understanding why he did them. He explains that he is a blacksmith, and a middle-aged looking blond man gave him the stone, requesting a weapon be forged from it. Four days later, he beat his son at the dinner table and was arrested.

Zion, recovered from his hangover, rejoins the party. They decide that they should go on patrol that night to look for more of these stones. Dorien visits Cauchy’s Caravan and rents a spectacles of detect evil, putting the gifted dagger up for collateral. Their first stop is the blacksmith’s shop, where everything seems in order; no signs of breaking in. They then head to the city park. Along the way, a young pickpocket succeeds in lifting Zion’s gold and spell component pouches. However, she is spotted as she tried to hide and attempts to flee. Dorien casts Tasha’s hideous laughter on the girl as she tried to climb on top of a building, and falls laughing into Frederik’s waiting arms. They reclaim the stolen goods and try to get information from her, but knows nothing of the stones or the man who gave one to the blacksmith. She notes that the Thieves’ Guild has a hideout in the park, but this hardly seem like their kind of operation. They let her go and she runs off.

Their next destination is the blacksmith’s house, where his wife answers the door. She mentions that a blond elf with a scar on his face had visited her a few days after her husband had been arrested, demanding the service of the blacksmith to be completed or to return the stone. When she tells him that he’s in prison, he leaves without another word. Frederik thanks her and heads to the local city watch garrison. He orders men to protect the blacksmith’s house in case the man returns. He also sees a line of wanted posters in the lobby, and identifies the man they are after as Belben Nightenhawk, a man exiled to the colony Ligot six years prior for murder, but spotted recently in the elven neighborhood of Alexia.

After a brief pause at the house of the man who attacked them and seeing nothing amiss, they head toward the elven neighborhood. Many elves are still about, though the hour grows late. The party asks around about Belben and find a man who lost to him in a game of darts recently at the Pale Bow Diner & Inn.

At the Pale Bow, they ask the owner about Nightenhawk. The owner is resistant and hints strongly for a bribe, though Frederik and Dorien remind him that soliciting a bribe from a member of the City Watch might not be the best of ideas. He reluctantly tells them for free that he’s staying upstairs in room 102, and asks them to keep it quiet. Almost before Dorien can assure him that they will, Frederik is upstairs kicking the door down. After a few failed attempts, the door breaks and they see Belben leaving out the window onto the fire escape. Frederik charges after him trying to grab him, but Belben eludes him and escapes to the roof. He jumps fifteen feet across the street to another rooftop, and the chase is on…

Zion summons a celestial giant bee, who stings Belben but fails to poison him. Frederik leaps after Belben, but realizes half way across that he’s not going to make it. He shrugs off the fall and continues to chase him on the street. Dorien and Zion attempt to roof hop on their side of the street, making it a few five foot jumps. Frederik is yelling, commanding Belben to stop, attracting the attention of three local city guards to pursue the fugitive. Frederik climbs a fire escape to resume the rooftop chase, leaping to the next building, but the slanted roof proves too much and the guards can’t help laughing as he ungracefully tumbles back to the ground.

Zion and Dorien drop to the ground, with a touch more grace, and pursue him on ground. Belben seems to be running toward a fence, the boundary into the park. Frederik and the city guards climb a ladder back to the rooftops, where Frederik leaps across one building, then jumps to a tree between him and Belben, and with his momentum, strength, and sheer determination and force of will, the tree bends enough for Frederik to get the drop on Belben. Belben steps aside enough to avoid being tackled, but not enough to avoid the slash. Belben draws his short sword and retaliates, dealing a powerful blow. Frederik replies in kind, and Belben is unconscious before he hits the ground [at -8!]. Frederik renders first aid to stabilize him, then he and the guards bring him to the local garrison. Dorien returns to the Pale Bow to apologize for the door, and one of the guards promises that the city will pay for the damages.

Sir Fred has some alone time with the prisoner, who rants about the conditions in the colonies to a seemingly disinterested Fred. Belben reveals that he was exiled for killing a man he believed murdered his wife. He later discovered that he had the wrong man, and after six years of laboring the mines of Ligot, he made some friends who promised to get him back into Alexia to complete his revenge and get justice if they did him a little favor: spread some of these stones to insert a little chaos in the city. He does not tell Fred the names of his friends, but mentions that he was going to see Professor Zalomon, who he heard had information that could lead to the man who truly killed his wife.

The party visit Captain Kega, still up to his elbows in paperwork and coffee. He gives them leave to continue their investigation, and tells them to visit the quartermaster to collect the bounty on Belben’s head: 160 platinum pieces.

They return to the Blind Flame and retire for the night.

5/10/429, Sunday

Dorien leaves to return the spectacles to Cauchy, who gives the dagger back. Dorien inspects the dagger and sees no harm done to it. He returns to the Blind Flame. Zion is woken by a ringing in his mind; he receives a sending from the Magic Guild’s secretary that Zalomon has completed his analysis and is awaiting them in his office. They eat breakfast, and while Zalomon studies his spellbook, Dorien and Frederik argue over the methods of the previous night. While Dorien would have preferred the subtler approach of waiting for Belben at the bar, Frederik favored the direct method. Eventually, Zion informs them that Zalomon is waiting for them.

In Zalomon’s office, he excitedly tells them that the stones are Ignomium; a corrupted form of mithral resulting from touch of idiocy and permanency spells. While they can be manufactured, these seemed to have been formed “naturally,” or as naturally as such things can be made. The current theory posits that monsters living in the walls of the mines somehow poison the ore. Zalomon can also tell them that this rock came from the mines of Ligot, which surprises no one.

They then ask Zalomon what he knows of this Nightenhawk business and the murders of six years ago. He remembers that the wife seemed to have burn marks, so he checks the ledger of loaned magic items of that period. Sure enough, a “+1 flaming dagger” had been loaned out to one Clayton Anderson, but it had been reported missing days before the murder. Zion recognizes the name; Anderson is the current Minister of Finance! While Dorien wonders what possible use this “upstanding citizen” could have for a magical dagger, the gnomes share a laugh over Zion’s joke, “Because he wasn’t proficient with a flaming longsword!” More questions arise, such as “Why haven’t they located this item before?” However, Zalomon has no answers for them, but will look into it. With that, the session closes.

Session IV
The Minister of Finance
5/10/429, Sunday

The party, including Willow, finish up their business with Prof. Zalomon and decide to pay a visit to Clayton Anderson, the Minister of Finance and the last known holder of the weapon involved in the murder six years ago. They arrive at his home and an older woman, presumably his maid, answers the door. She informs them that Mr. Anderson is at the Emerald Cloud Restaurant, where he usually spends his Sunday mornings. As they turn to leave, they notice a large dog staring at them from behind the maid.

They depart toward the Emerald Cloud, and along the way, they see a crowd gathered around a man on a box at a street corner. The man is bemoaning mainland and the Goddesses who don’t seem to care about the colonies. The crowd is heckling the man, shouting “Heretic!” and “Dirty colonial!” A Guardian stands nearby, watching. Sir Frederik Kuhlricht approaches the Guardian, who is happy to see another man of the law. Frederik pushes to the front of the crowd and asks the man if he is in fact from the colonies. The man proudly replies that he is from the colony of Tipalia, then resumes his diatribe. The party begins to move on, and a teen near the front of the crowd hurls a rock at the man. The Guardian catches the rock and the crowd begins to disperse. He subdues the assailants, who are escorted away by some city watchmen. The Guardian then escorts the heretic away from the angry mob.

At the Emerald Cloud, a waiter greets them. The party inform him that they are not there to dine, but to meet with Mr. Anderson. The waiter tells them that the Minister is currently having a business discussion with a Guardian, and the party waits. Twenty minutes later, the waiter informs them that Anderson is free and takes them to him. They demand answers regarding the whereabouts of the dagger, and they don’t believe his story that he lost the dagger when he was mugged. He then says that he got the dagger originally for protection from loan sharks after a run of bad luck with gambling. The dagger was then lost when his office was robbed. After many inconsistencies in his story, Anderson appears rather nervous and agitated, and asks the party to leave. They do, and he leaves shortly as well. Willow follows him to his office.

The building is empty save for the echoing footsteps of Clayton Anderson. Willow tries to silently follow, but slips. Anderson shouts, “Who’s there?” and returns to the lobby, but fails to spot Willow hiding behind a potted plant. Convinced his nerves were making him hear things, he made his way to his office and Willow sneakily tails him. She sees him rummaging through papers on his desk, then hears a low rumbling sound, a pause, then another rumbling, then silence.

Willow doesn’t see anyone in the office, so she tries the door, which happened to be locked. She kicks the door, leaving only a dent in the wood, but she tries again, ripping the door from its hinges. She spots a place where the carpet had been flattened by a foot near a bookcase. Convinced that the bookcase is a secret door, she pulls every book of the shelves, tossing them haphazardly over her shoulder. She notices a page fall out of what appeared to be a budget ledger. She picks up the page and sees a list of names, dates, and monetary entries. She recognizes the names Janstina Millbough, a halfling fellow Hunter, and Professor Zalomon. The bookcase was now empty, but it failed to move. She decides to just trash the place, and knocks over a stone bust near the bookcase. Lo and behold, the bookcase slides into the wall, revealing a secret alcove with only a glowing circle in the middle. She decides to leave and rejoin the party.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party return to the Magic College and visit the Department of Divination. They find someone to help them, and he checks the record of the item. It appeared that the item had been scryed for a few times since, but it always came up blank. Zion recalls that an abjuration spell such as obscure object could hide an item from such divination attempts. They ask the man to try again, and they are told to return in an hour. Willow meets up with them in a waiting room and tells them of Anderson’s office and the glowing circle, as well as the paper. Dorien Arsisen wonders if some of these names are related to the loan sharks Anderson owed, but they figure it is likely that this was from a business ledger. They decide to go to the office and investigate while they wait.

A city guard is near the building, talking to a passing woman who reported noises from the office building. Sir Frederik tells the guard that he is on the job and the party goes to Anderson’s office. Zion identifies the circle as being one of teleportation, though it is activated by a command word. They search the desk and find a scrap of paper that reads, “The duck quacks at noon.” Frederik says this phrase while standing in the circle and finds himself teleported to an apparently underground laboratory. A large window in the room looks over a room with large glass cylinders filled with some fluid, and one of them held what seemed to be a baby winged horse. Three men in coats with Magic College patches view the cylinders, taking notes on clipboards, not noticing Frederik. The rest of the party follows, and they check a desk in the room; many of the forms and reports mention Professor Zalomon, and they surmise that this is his hidden laboratory. They also see a fallen poster that reads, “To get home: ‘The duck quacks at midnight.’”

They venture down the hallway and enter a chamber with metal bridges, a twenty foot pit with an owlbear in it, a cage with a cable attaching it to the ceiling in the center, and a yawning man taking notes. They approach the man, who is startled to see them, asking their business there. Dorien tells him that they were sent to deliver something for Professor Zalomon, and ask if he has seen Minister Anderson today. The man directs them to leave anything on the desk in the room they were in, and that he had not seen Anderson at all that day. He mentions that Anderson visits periodically to see how the project is coming along, to make sure that the state funding is going to good use.

They return to the teleportation room, and Frederik guesses that maybe different times in the password correspond to different destinations. He tries “The duck quacks at dawn,” which does nothing. However, “The duck quacks at dusk” teleports him to another dark alcove, which turned out to be an armoire in Anderson’s home. He returns to the lab and the party takes the circle to the Magic College via the “midnight” password. They wind up in a janitors closet, and they make their way to the Department of Divination.

The scrying was completed, but it resulted in nothing. However, the man did some researching into the old case and learned that the murder apparently happened during a robbery and a jewelry box was taken. The box was later found in the possession of a thief, the man Belben Nightenhawk later killed. However, a diary was once stored in the box, but it was never found. The man tried to locate the diary as well, which turned out to be ashes in the river. The party returns to Anderson’s home.

The maid, Eliza, answers the door, and says she hadn’t seen Anderson return. They ask her to check the house anyway, and she heads upstairs. The dog watches them, and Frederik and Dorien beckon the dog closer with some jerky. The dog approaches cautiously. Frederik uses detect evil and the mastiff lights up brighter than anything he’s seen before. The dog seems to smile and wink, then wanders off toward the kitchen. Eliza returns and says that Anderson was in his study with orders not to be bothered. Frederik is initially surprised when Eliza detects as evil, but it flickers away; it seemed to have been an illusion. He tells Eliza that the dog is evil, and she says that she never liked the animal in the first place. She says that he has had the dog for as long as she has worked for him: four years, ever since he was elected Minister of Finance. Frederik tells her that she should go fetch a city guard. Now frightened, she runs off, and Willow follows.

Dorien, Frederik, and Zion find the dog in the kitchen, who was eating from a bowl while watching the door. The dog begins to bark and growl. Zion heads upstairs to find Anderson while Frederik attacks the dog. One smite evil later, the dog transforms into an imp retreats into a corner. Anderson stands at the top of the stairs and demands to know why they are in his house and draws a rapier. Frederik finishes the imp, who hisses something as he fades away back to the Hells. Dorien makes a mental note of the noises it made, wondering if the words were in some terrible language.

Anderson resists Zion’s spells, and the party entreats him to surrender. He asks if they were assassins sent by “Lady S,” which Frederik denies. He replies to Frederik with a feint followed by a sneak attack. Incidentally, Frederik’s detect evil hesitates then flickers into the affirmative. The fight continues, and a Guardian with two city watchmen enter the house. The Guardian seems puzzled for half a second then attacks Anderson, asking him politely to drop his sword. Anderson steps back, drinks a potion, and disappears. The party follow his footsteps into the adjacent room while the city guards block the main entrance. The Guardian heals Frederik, and Dorien tells the guards to watch the staircase.

They soon hear a scream from the foyer as a guard falls. They follow and quickly surround him, though many of their blows failed to land. The Guardian declares that he has had quite enough of this smite evils Anderson, but he stayed standing. Looking around nervously, Anderson realized he couldn’t escape, but he’d go down swinging. He turns to Dorien, feints, and stabs at his heart. The Guardian pushes Dorien away and takes the blow in his stead. Anderson soon declares that he has had quite enough of the Guardian and attacks him, wounding him further. Soon, however, Anderson falls unconscious from repeated attacks. They heal the downed guard and Dorien thanks the Guardian.

They discuss what just happened, and the Guardian seemed gravely concerned about the appearance of the imp. He leaves the investigation to the party and hurries off to report this to the Queen. They take Anderson to the closest garrison, where the city guards are surprised to see the Minister of Finance. They find a cell for him, confiscate his equipment, and find a set of keys. They dispatch a guard to inform Captain Kega of the events and another to the Magic College to fetch a diviner and Zalomon. They return to the house and search it. In Anderson’s study, they find a letter addressed “Lady S,” care of the Brass Dragon Tavern, which vaguely talks about “his aims not lining up with hers” and a “desire to end their contract.” They also find a note, seemingly a flow chart with numbers and letters and dates. They cross-reference this with the page Willow found, and find the names Thoendithas Songslayer and Kliff Goldbeard to be recipients of funding on the dates on the note. They also locate a safe behind a painting, which they open using the numbers on the note. Within, they find a small cache of money and art, a least revelation crystal, and a flaming dagger, which bears the arcane mark of the Magic College. They also search Anderson’s bedroom and find a lockbox containing a drawing of a female elf, signed “CA” and entitled “My Beloved.”

The party decides to rest for lunch before returning to the garrison to see Anderson, and the session ends.

Session V
A Few Innocent Chats
5/10/429, Sunday

The party finish lunch at the Blind Flame and discuss the flowchart note they found in Minister Anderson’s house. They then decide to split up: Sir Frederik Kuhlricht wishes to visit Captain Kega and Belben Nightenhawk, while Dorien Arsisen and Professor Zion head to the Brass Dragon to find information on Lady S.

Frederik fills Kega in on the events concerning Clayton Anderson and suggests that Nightenhawk be sent back to the colony of Ligot soon. He then visits Nightenhawk and informs him that the murderer of his wife was Anderson and he had been apprehended. He then departs to join the party at the Brass Dragon.

Meanwhile, Dorien asks the bartender about Lady S. At the mention of her name, the other folks at the bar quietly back off, suspicious of these newcomers. The bartender points him to a table in the corner by the dartboard, where a hooded figure is talking to a halfling male and two burly men play darts. Zion decides to play with them, winning a small gold wager and overhearing a little bit of their conversation: the halfling is apparently an airship captain whom Lady S is hiring for a trip to Ligot. Zion and Dorien decide to leave and come back later when it is busier.

Rejoining Sir Frederik, they decide to visit Thoendithas Songslayer, who Frederik remembers owns a music store near the elven district. Furthermore, Zion realizes that the store is near the Scarlet Nymph Bar. Dorien enters the store while Frederik keeps watch across the street and Zion investigates the Scarlet Nymph.

Dorien talks to Thoen, noticing that one of the customers is watching him. He asks if Thoen has a more private place to talk, so he leads Dorien into a back room, where he keeps his “special” wares: longswords, lute-bows, and other equipment for the musically-inclined. Dorien asks about the money he received from Minister Anderson. Songslayer explains that Anderson paid for the instruments for the orchestra, a part of the royal Dancing Lights Ball this coming Friday evening. Dorien is a little suspicious, but generally believes him. Dorien leaves, looking over his shoulder to see if the other customer was following him and Convinces himself that he was alone.

Meanwhile, at the Scarlet Nymph, Zion orders the cheapest ale they have. He manages to resist the urge to spit it out in the bartender’s face. A middle-aged halfling seats himself next to Zion, ordering another ale and trying to pick Zion’s pocket. Zion spots him and the halfling aborts his attempt. He leans close to Zion, who can smell that he’s been drinking most of the day. He tries to whisper, “You should watch yourself, this is a front for the Thieves’ Guild,” as if Zion hadn’t already figured that out. He’s a little louder than he intended, so a human walks him away, saying, “I think you’ve had enough to drink tonight, Bank.” Zion drops a gold piece in the coin slot in the nymph and leaves.

The party meet at the Brass Dragon for dinner. It’s much busier now, so Dorien jumps on a chair and starts singing. He fascinates one of the bodyguards and the other tries to snap him out of it. Frederik and Zion use the opportunity to invite themselves to Lady S’s table. She recognizes them as the ones who took care of Anderson, and she thanks them for that. They ask her why she was working with someone allied with evil. She replies that she didn’t know of his associations until recently. Once she knew, she had Nightenhawk sent to take care of him. However, a lieutenant had him also spread the Ignomium stones, something Lady S did not approve.

Frederik asks her what her name really is. Seeing that the bar was still paying attention to the bard, she decides to remove her hood, revealing an incredibly beautiful human(-like) face and purple hair. Frederik and Zion think for a bit; the royal family, reputed to have a divine heritage, all have sky-blue hair, and the Goddesses have dazzling hair colors too. She says her name is Selenia, and they realize that she is a divine being, a fallen cousin of the Goddesses. Frederik asks if she follows the Goddesses, and she replies that she has had a few disagreements with her family.

Selenia says that she was going to return to Ligot to take care of her disobedient lieutenant, but offers them the airship ride in her place, since their answers to the Ignomium problem lie in Ligot as well; perhaps their aims don’t need to oppose each other. Frederik agrees, and Selenia tells them that the airship is set to leave next Monday, after the Spring Festival. She says that she will be in Alexia a while longer now if they need anything else.

Once they leave, they head back to the Blind Flame and head to bed.

5/11/429, Monday

In the morning, Wandalynn gives them envelopes that were dropped off by a Guardian. Inside they find invitations to the Dancing Lights Ball, with directions to RSVP with any Guardian. They go see Anderson, finding a Guardian along the way to tell them that they shall be attending.

Anderson is initially resistant, but a flaming dagger to the thigh by Dorien loosens his lips a bit. Anderson says he fears the devil he worked for would kill him, and Frederik convinces him that he can protect Anderson from the devil. Frederik learns that the devil goes by the name of Louis Candeux, a supposed baker in Alexia who hails from Tellixia. Anderson also relates his tale regarding Nightenhawk’s wife: they were having an affair at the time Candeux offered him riches and power beyond his wildest dreams in return for only his soul. Mrs. Mialee Nightenhawk was afraid when he agreed and said she would go to the Guardians. Candeux convinced Anderson that sacrifices would have to be made and she had to die.

Frederik escorts Anderson to Captain Kega and fills him in, asking him to protect Anderson. Kega is pleased to have something other than paperwork to do and has him chained up in his office. He calls for the Guardian Johann, who fills them all in on how to fight devils.

The party then spends time around the city; Zion researches spells, Frederik goes on patrol and tells the guards at the gate to inform him and the Guardians should Louis Candeux return to the city, and Dorien spends lots of time in the taverns.

5/13/429, Wednesday

Zion goes to the Mages’ College to return the flaming dagger and is given a 200 gp reward. He goes to visit Prof. Zalomon, but finds that he is not in his office, though his door is wide open. He returns to his own office to find Sir Frederik knocking on his door for lunch. They send a freshman to fetch Dorien, and together they activate the teleportation circle to Zalomon’s lab. There, they find all of the lights out or flickering. Frederik lights a torch and they venture forward, following the shouts, snarling, and scent of blood.

They find a dead human body with an ID card with the name Edward Noa. They follow the trail of blood to another small office, where they are attacked by a deinonychus, which they quickly dispatch. They find a cloth bag on a desk with no apparent bottom; Zion turns it upside down and out falls 25 gold coins, a fiery red magic crystal, and three magic ceramic-like tiles with colored lines. They quickly realize that they must be missing tiles, and the session ends.

Session VI
The Monster Lab
5/13/429, Wednesday

The party wipe the dinosaur blood off of their weapons. They hear the sound of someone walking on the metal bridge. It turns out to be Willow, who was sent by a City Guard to find Sir Frederik Kuhlricht. He is needed elsewhere, so he rushes off. They find another trail of blood leading down a downward-sloped hallway. At the bottom, they find a cockatrice hissing at something around the corner.

They see the flicker of a torch’s light on the wall and the grunts of a man. Working together, they slay the foul fowl and rescue Horace [Dan], a member of the expedition hired by the Thieves’ Guild to sabotage this lab. Once they turned off the defenses, however, some of the monsters broke loose and the place turned into a bloodbath. His comrades were petrified by the cockatrices. They decide to stay together.

Rounding the corner, they enter the large room with glass cylinders. Zion identifies some of the monsters inside, including a hippogriff, a cockatrice, and a minotaur. There is also a door labeled “Maintenance.” They continue down the hallway off the other side of the room.

They arrive at another room with a pit of monsters. Zion spots that the bridge to the west is weakened, so they avoid it for now. They turn to enter the office where Horace had said his comrades were. They see the dead bodies of a pair of cockatrices and three petrified men. There is also a footlocker; Horace unlocks it to find 1000 gp, a Ring of protection +1, a Scroll of lightning bolt, and three more ceramic tiles.

They enter another office to find Prof. Zalomon examining a hole in his wall. He says that it must be a tunnel to the surface, in the Alexian forest, made by the acid-spewing beetle they had. He rummages through a pile of junk and finds a Wand of break enchantment for the petrified men. Dorien Arsisen tells him that he should go to the Hunters’ Guild to post a bounty for this monster before it gets to civilization. Zalomon agrees and runs off. They then open his supply cabinet and find envelopes, paper, other office supplies, and a pair of jeweled white leather gloves. They give the gloves to Zion.

The party returns to the weakened bridge. Dorien begins singing to fascinate the creatures in the pit. Horace leaps over easily and advances toward the room down the hallway. He sees that the walls have been spattered with blood. He sees an odd creature on top of a lunch table, chewing on a body. He quickly drags one of the benches back to the weakened section. Willow leaps over, and Horace sets up the bench to act as a bridge. Zion uses this bench to walk across. Dorien remains behind.

Horace creeps up on the thing chewing on the body and stabs it in the back. It turns to him, revealing his face to be a mouth and a single large eye. Horace stabs it again. Zion and Willow run to his aid, stabbing and slinging spells at the aberration. Zion resists its flesh-rotting gaze, and Horace finishes it with a dagger to its eye. They take a few more ID cards from the bodies, find some more tiles with the janitor, and Horace pockets some gold pieces.

They go to the Maintenance room and solve the tile puzzle to reactivate the magic generator. The lights return and the auto-defenses whir to life. An alert siren sounds and a glass orb descends from the ceiling on a cable, demanding that all personnel present identification. Horace has enough to go around, so the orb scans the ID cards then returns to the ceiling.

Returning to the petrified comrades, Zion uses the wand and returns them to flesh. They all decide to climb the tunnel and take care of the beetle themselves. Willow tracks it through the forest for a while, but loses the trail. Zion finds a friendly badger and asks if it had seen a giant beetle. It gestures in a direction, and within a few minutes, Willow has found its trail again. Before long, they spot the beetle on the side of a tree. They make quick work of it, outnumbering the insect seven to one. They haul the carcass back to the lab and take the teleportation circle back to the city and head to the Hunters’ Guild to collect the bounty. The woman at the desk seemed surprised; the bounty had been posted just a few hours ago. Horace claims that it’s a complete coincidence. She shrugs and gives them a sack of coins: 1200 gp. They distribute the gold evenly.

Dorien decides to visit Captain Kega while everyone else heads to the Blind Flame for dinner. Kega, who now has a secretary (one of Zion’s undergrad students), is having fun poking at Anderson in his cage with a stick. Dorien fills Kega in on what had happened, and Kega decides to send some officers to the lab and to alert the Guardians.

At the Blind Flame, the party spot a man in flashy clothes drinking alone in the corner. Horace approaches him, and the man says that he is a traveler from Tipalia looking for fortune and love. He says his name is Flash. Horace eventually teases out of him that he is looking for his brother, who left home a year ago, wound up in the village of Jonzi, and a few months ago, he stopped contacting the family. Flash visited Jonzi and learned that his brother, Wind, had been run out of the village after he stole something of value. Horace looks at him and sees that he’s magically disguised, and there’s something about his hat, so he grabs Flash’s hat. Flash no longer looks human; his eyes look like gems and his skin is a cobalt blue metal. He reveals that he and his brothers were created by his “father,” a Dr. Otiluk Steelhand. He is afraid that Wind is intending to cause harm in Alexia and wants him found so he can be returned home. They negotiate a price, and decide on 2500 gp, with 25% delivered up front. They ponder how best to proceed, and decide that they shall act in the morning, and the session closes.

Session VII
The Missing Brother
5/14/429, Thursday

The party decides to begin their search for Flash’s brother by investigating the village of Jonzi. They book a flight on a “Hopper,” a small airship suited for transporting small groups short distances. An uneventful three hours later, the vessel is moored at Jonzi and the party disembarks.

They find the mayor, Brian LaFayette, in his office at the town hall. When asked about Wind, LaFayette says that he had been staying in the mayor’s home since three months ago, mostly kept to himself, but the day after his five year old daughter Charlone left for Alexia with her uncle, Wind stole a music jewelry box. When confronted, Wind flew straight up and left. Horace asked if Wind had ever associated with Charlone. LaFayette replies that he wouldn’t know and they should ask his wife. He asks Horace and Sir Frederik Kuhlricht to find Wind and look out for his daughter.

Meanwhile, Willow [played by Matt] sought out any Hunters’ Guild contacts and found a local man whom the mayor had approached to find Wind, which was odd, because he had told the others that he hadn’t talked to anyone.

At the mayor’s home, Elizabeth LaFayette offers Horace, Frederik, and Zion coffee and cookies. They discover that Wind had arrived in a crate from Brian’s friend, Dr. Otikul Steelhand. He stayed in their basement awhile until one night she found him with Charlone, playing with toys and dolls. She was concerned, but he seemed harmless enough. After that, he would venture outside occasionally. Things seemed fine until the fiasco, though Wind was always distant.

They check his crate and find a secret compartment with a letter for LaFayette from Steelhand. They return to the mayor, believing that he was concealing information. He tells them that he was in fact aware of Wind’s arrival; he and Steelhand were old friends, and Steelhand had asked him to give Wind a home. Wind was a faulty prototype and was sent to Jonzi as retirement. They get the uncle’s address in Alexia and return home.

Sir Frederik puts out a notice at the garrison to look out for a “metal man.” They head toward the uncle’s home. He tells them that Charlone is still in school and gives them directions. They head to her school: the Alexian Academy of Fine Arts. In the heart of the theatre district, it is no surprise that across the street is an auditorium. This one, however, is noticeably tall with a pair of stone statues on the roof. They surmise that this would be a easy place for Wind to watch the school, so Horace and Willow head to the roof of the Stonebeard Auditorium Theatre while Frederik and Zion look for Charlone.

Frederik and Zion find her in a classroom and have a short interview. They learn that she thinks fondly of Wind and would like to see him again. She thinks of the music box as hers, since her mother rarely plays with it anymore.

On the roof, Horace spots Wind near the edge. He also hears the sound the music box as he silently sneaks up to Wind. He tosses a tanglefoot bag, gluing Wind to the roof. Furious, Wind’s gem eyes glow red as he looks at Horace. Horace manages to calm him down and asks Wind about the jewels in the box. Wind seems confused, so Horace asks to see the box, promising to return it. Wind relinquishes the box, and Horace unscrews the base to reveal a space filled with glittering diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and the like. He removes the jewels and returns the box. He then convinces Wind to come with him to at least talk to Flash. Wind seems adamant that he doesn’t want to return home, but he agrees to meet his brother.

The party returns to the tavern where Flash was waiting. He pays Horace the remainder of the reward, and as Horace leaves, Wind sits and they begin chatting. Sir Frederik interrupts a short time later to tell Flash to keep in mind that Charlone would also like to see Wind. The mechanical siblings sit in silence, thinking, as Frederik leaves.

Horace and Sir Frederik make another air trip to Jonzi to return the gems. The mayor appreciates the peaceful resolution and gives Horace a sparkling diamond as a reward. The wife seems saddened to lose her music box, but her husband assures her that it is replaceable. The two return to Alexia, arriving late at night, so they soon head to bed. Meanwhile, Zion falls asleep in the Brass Dragon one and a half mugs into the Valignale Challenge.

5/15/429, Friday

In the morning, Zion appraises the diamond to be worth about 2000 gp. Willow shows off the gown she procured for this evening’s Dancing Lights Ball. They chat until they hear a scream from outside! They rush to the rescue and find a pair of gargoyles diving toward a woman. The party dispatch one of them quickly, and a few seconds later, two city guards arrive on the scene. The last gargoyle is surrounded, so knowing it can’t escape, it mauls one of the guards. They finish off the gargoyle and stabilize the guard.

Session VIII
Gargoyles and the Dancing Lights Ball
5/15/429, Friday

After destroying the gargoyles in the street, they return to the tavern. Soon, an elf woman with a Guardian’s tabard enters and approaches Wandalynn to ask her a question. She replies by pointing toward the party’s usual table. The Guardian introduces herself as Leah and states that she had been investigating a gargoyle infestation and learned of their recent encounter. She believes their nest to be an abandoned house. She explains that she has obligations at the palace for the Ball, but would like to see the place cleared out before the parade tomorrow. Horace inquires about payment, and Leah says that the house was occupied by an adventurer and the party would be welcome to any items they find. They accept.

The party first goes shopping briefly, trading gems for enchanted weapons. Once they finish, they proceed to the house. The place is a mess: torn up furniture, toppled cabinets, the stench of gargoyles and vermin. They sneak up on a gargoyle and some spiders in the kitchen and take them down with ease. In the pantry, they find a door to the cellar, where they find barrels of ale and a wand of cure light wounds.

They creep up the stairs and find a trio of gargoyles playing with the punching bags the adventurer had set up in a training room. The party take down two of them and the third dives out the window and flies toward the roof. Horace quaffs an invisibility potion and pursues out the window. He spots another gargoyle on the roof, this one wearing a shiny necklace. They hear him approach and fly around the house, searching for him. They give up after a minute and enter the house, crashing through the balcony window into the bedroom. The rest of the party hears and Sir Frederik kicks the door down. This triggers the tripwire trap and a large axe swings down inside the room harmlessly. The party slaughter the two gargoyles and take the necklace, which turns out to be a Periapt of Wisdom +2. Searching the room, they find the adventurer’s journal. It chronicles his many adventures, detailing the treasure he’d found and where. The last page says that after hearing Wandalynn’s tragic tale, he went to search the dragon ruins himself to claim the treasure. This was dated over a year ago.

Approaching the last room, Horace fails to notice the trap and is poisoned by a needle when he reaches for the handle. Frederik breaks the door down and they find an equipment closet. Amongst the daggers and short swords, they find a magical +1 dagger and an Artificer’s Monocle, which Zion happily snatches up and uses to identify his unidentified items.

Having cleared the house of monsters, Frederik declares that the house is being repossessed by the City Watch and they open a barrel of ale. They fetch Dorien from the Blind Flame and celebrate.

Dorien and Horace go clothes shopping for the ball while Zion, Horace, and Willow clean up the house.

They eventually head to the royal palace to attend the Dancing Lights Ball. As guests arrive, Leah finds the party and thanks them. They mingle and socialize until a bell rings to announce the beginning the banquet. Once the guests are seated, a Guardian in pristine white robes enters, followed by Queen Amélie II in a ball gown. She offers a toast to Alexia, the Goddesses, and eternal peace, and a bountiful feast begins.

After the banquet, everyone moves back to the ballroom, where Horace and his friends in the Thieves’ Guild impress the entire party with an impressive dance routine. A halfling admirer named Annabelle approaches Zion; she’s impressed with his dart skills and other tavern exploits and asks him to dance. Dorien and Frederik spot the Queen and Leah sitting at a table chatting. They start to head in their direction, but a tap-dancing Horace beats them to the Queen and impresses her with his charm into dancing with him. Frederik asks Leah to dance and she accepts. Meanwhile, the leader of the Guardians introduces himself as Weiss to Willow and asks her to dance.

Amélie invites Frederik and the party to an informal dessert after the dance. She also reveals to Dorien that she was, in fact, the Melissa they met on their way to Alexia from Senvois.

At the dessert, the Queen gives a speech about current events and legends, such as how Minister Anderson was controlled by a devil, which she believes portends the return of the ancient evil that her ancestor Sheridyn defeated over 400 years ago. She is also concerned about the rumors of a revolution. The invitees to the dessert are all adventurers, tavern owners, and the like; she asks them to consider hunting for the legendary items:

  • The Golden Star, the sword that Sheridyn used to vanquish the evil, was taken as a prize by the Tellixians when Sheridyn fell in battle during the Last War.
  • The Silver Star, sister sword of the Golden Star, once broke the curse of a devil a raised a sunken island to the sky, is now itself lost to the depths of the ocean.
  • The Imperial Medallion, a pendant whose whereabouts are unknown, is said to greatly enhance the magical abilities of the user while weakening the magic of his opponents.

Horace is quick to assure the Queen that they will recover these artifacts for Paixia. She thanks them all and retires for the night, and the guests soon leave as well. The party returns home and turn in for the night.

Session IX
A Trip to the Colony Ligot
5/16/429, Saturday

The party relaxes in their new home. Frederik patrols the neighborhood while Horace cooks bacon and the rest sleep in. The elf Guardian Leah knocks at their door, declining an offer of bacon.

Leah reminds Horace that the royal parade is this afternoon, and the City Watch is a little short-handed. She entreats the party assist in parade security, acting as scouts for any trouble. She offers to pay them 250 gp each and Horace agrees. Once everyone is awake, he tells them of their latest job.

In preparation, they purchase a few potions of jump and feather fall, since they planned on watching from the rooftops. They then proceed to the Royal Palace, where the marching band is tuning up.

They set out to walk a few minutes ahead of the parade, Horace and Frederik on the rooftops while Dorien, Zion, and Willow follow on the ground. Soon, they spot a lone dark cloud in the sky, only a few hundred feet high. They look closer and see that it seems to be following a flying man. They soon hear the roar of thunder and see a line of lightning shoot out of the cloud, and the flying man tumbles toward the ground. Frederik downs a potion of feather fall and runs to catch him, successfully easing the man’s fall. He quickly recognizes the man as Wind, one of the metallic brothers.

The cloud descends to finish the fight. They recognize it as a storm elemental and Zion attempts to cast dispel magic on it, to no avail. The party asks Wind what he did to anger it, and he insists that he did nothing, he was merely flying for the sake of flying. He apparently tried talking to it in Auran with no success.

Sir Frederik attempts to emote that Wind is under their protection and it should leave them alone, but the elemental ignores him. Not long into the combat, Dorien casts tongues and asks in Auran why it was mad at Wind. The elemental replies in a low rumble, “Because he was in my sky!” Dorien promises that it won’t see Wind in the sky again, and the elemental seems to buy it. It leaves without another word. Meanwhile, Dorien remembers the words of the dying imp, suddenly comprehending: “You will all bow to the will of mighty Taqualik!”

Wind heals himself and thanks the party for rescuing him. He goes on to thank Frederik in particular for helping convince his brother Flash to allow him to stay in Alexia. They then part ways and continue their job, though the rest of the route was uneventful. They return to Leah and she delivers the promised payment. They drink the rest of the night away in the Blind Flame and then return home.

5/17/429, Sunday

Horace again makes bacon, and again there is a knock at the door. This time, Selenia enters, accepting a bacon sandwich. She reminds them that they are to leave for Ligot the next day and gives them more details: if they still seek the source of ignomium, they should look in the mine, and she suspects her lieutenant Marcelius Lannan to be responsible for ordering the spread of the rock in Alexia. She tells them to deal with him as they please, though they should be careful; he is the owner of the only tavern in the colony, and thus their major social release valve. She gives the docking platform location for their airship, piloted by a Captain Galenka. The ship leaves at noon, and the ride is 18 hours long (over 1000 miles). Finally, she tells them that if they ever find any of the legendary items the Queen asked for, they should consider giving them to her instead.

They pass the day preparing and relaxing.

5/18/429, Monday

They arrive at the airship tower and make their way to Captain Galenka’s vessel, a Hopper. They voyage is nice: a lovely view of the countryside until around sunset when they crossed the shoreline and got their first look at the ocean. That night, a trio of arrowhawks attack the ship with their electric rays and the party go to the deck to assist in the defense. Horace operated a turret of scorching ray and incinerated one of them while the others fought with bows and when necessary blades. Successful, they return to bed.

5/19/429, Tuesday

The party lands in Ligot just after sunrise. Galenka informs them that the ship is at their disposal and will wait for them until they are ready to return to Alexia. They are greeted by customs agents, who inform the party of any items that are not allowed in their colony, such as alcohol. Horace gets a receipt for his jug of wine and they enter the town after passing a group of people in black leather armor and white shoulder pauldrons adorned with an “I” performing drills and combat exercises.

The town is quiet; nearly everyone is working. They find their way to the tavern, called the Golden Opportunity, which is closed until nightfall. They ask around and find that Marcelius operates a fruit cart during the day, so they go to the market and find him. Horace convinces him that he’s a revolutionary agent, and they agree to meet at his tavern in half an hour.

At the tavern, Marcelius expresses his disdain for the mainlanders and reveals that he indeed ordered the ignomium shipments with the aim of spreading chaos in Alexia to weaken them. The party convinces him to cease the shipments and give diplomacy and peace a chance. Satisfied, they find an inn and discuss what to do next. They decide that they should venture into the mine and take care of the source of ignomium and spend the rest of the day gathering information.

Session X
Into the Mines
5/19/429, Tuesday

The party sets out to gather information before delving into the mine. Frederik learns a bit about the background of Ligot: the citizens in general are disenchanted with the Goddesses, who they feel do not watch over the colonies; colonial exports are not given a fair price, resulting in an economy where the colonies are poor and the mainland lives in comfort; and as a result of this, the colonies cannot afford the magical tools the mainland mines use. He learns that the people in black armor are the “Colonial Irregulars,” a militia of mercenaries and draftees that serve as a police force and protection against invading goblins, orcs, and lizardfolk.

Meanwhile, Dorien sees an old church of the Goddesses in the center of town that has fallen into disuse and disrepair, likely built back when the colony was first founded. He hears a man talk about sending a shipment to Louis Candeux in Tellixia. He discovers that the foreman of the mine is a dwarf named Alexandr Stonefire.

They turn in for the night.

5/20/429, Wednesday

They head to the mine, while Horace stays on the airship to play with the scorching ray turret. The party finds Stonefire in the supply cavern near the entrance. He does not seem to know anything about ignomium, but he says that very few miners go deep into shaft E; monsters have made conditions rather unsafe. He tells them to head down shaft C and follow the tracks to reach E.

Down shaft C, a handful of miners run toward them in a panic as two large and one huge monstrous spiders chase them. Frederik gets entangled by one of their webs and Dorien lights one on fire with oil and a torch. Willow stays at a distance and shoots her bow at them. Zion takes one out and hurts another with a lightning bolt, and later tries to charge one to finish it off, getting a bite and strength damage from its poison for his efforts. They finish the spiders and Frederik treats Zion’s poison before the secondary damage has a chance to potentially kill him.

They continue to follow the tracks and get to another supply room. They hear miners working nearby and see a winch operated lift labeled “E.” They descend and continue to follow the cart rail tracks into a tunnel. It passes over a crevice, the tracks acting as a bridge. Below they can see spiders and other monsters. They continue and get to another crevice. Below they see a ladder that had been knocked over, but no monsters. They decide to continue onward and reach yet another crevice, though the tracks are broken and are impassable.

They return to the previous drop, and Frederik ties a rope to a crowbar, hooks the ladder, and hauls it up. They use the ladder to descend and continue down the tunnel. It opens into a larger cavern, where a grey-ish ooze is apparently hugging the wall. Frederik’s detect evil sees the walls glow; this creature is apparently corrupting the mithral into ignomium! The party attacks.

Frederik and Willow attack in melee, and the ooze responds by moving on top of them. They both forfeit a chance to dodge to attack the ooze, and they are engulfed. Frederik resists the mindrot’s touch, but Willow takes damage to intelligence and wisdom. Frederik manages to free himself from ooze, but Willow cannot. Soon, a pair of carrion crawlers climb down the walls. They finish the ooze off, then attack the crawlers. Dorien and Willow become paralyzed by its tentacles, but Zion distracts it before it can eat either of them. Zion and Frederik finish the crawlers and the paralyzed teammates soon recover.

Zion casts dispel magic on the walls of the cavern, but just fails to dispel the ignomium. Across the cavern they see the track bridge leading into another cavern. They also spot some treasure among some skeletons: 100 platinum pieces, a small green emerald, and a least fiendslayer weapon crystal. They bring the ladder over and climb up.

The walls are almost exclusively ignomium here. They see three mine carts; one is filled with ignomium and the other two seem to be filled with alchemist’s fire and explosives! Dorien mage hand’s a flask out of a cart and tries to set the cart of ignomium on fire. However, the mineral fails to burn. Deciding to destroy the ignomium here, Frederik uses mage hand to trigger the mechanisms in the cart. The resulting blast triggers a cave-in, and the party withdraw as the ceiling crumbles. Zion is hit in the head with a rock, but no one is buried or seriously harmed by the falling rubble.

They ascend to the top level, where miners wonder what happened below. Frederik informs them that their ignomium problem has been solved. Stonefire gives them a stern look, but says nothing. As they leave, they are confronted by seven Irregulars.

The leader declares that they are under arrest for actions against the colony, such as destroying the lower mine shaft and murdering Marcelius Lannan! The party deny the charges and Frederik launches into a diatribe, stating that they were not responsible for his death and they did the colony a favor in the mines. Dorien tries to convince the captain that they are innocent, and the captain tells them that the court will decide that. He motions for his men to encircle the party and apprehend them. The party decides not to go peacefully, and they draw swords. Zion immediately casts shatter on one of their longswords, which falls apart in his hands.

Zion also dispels the magic armor and weapon used by the captain and subsequently shatters his sword as well. The soldier missing a sword tries to grapple Zion, but the gnome evades capture. They fight, and one soldier is killed by Frederik. Willow dual-wields her rapier and short sword and stab them repeatedly, but she is the first to fall. Zion becomes invisible and shoots the captain with his crossbow, almost dropping him. The captain returns fire, but misses. The soldier missing a sword sees the gnome become visible and charges him; he grapples Zion and begins choking him. Frederik is flanked and eventually falls. Dorien withdraws and drinks a potion of invisibility. The captain orders his men to stabilize Willow and Frederik and begin to carry them away. Zion falls unconscious and is also dragged away. Dorien casts cure light wounds to heal and awaken Frederik and Willow. Frederik frightens his carrier into dropping him, and he picks up his falchion, sheaths it, and surrenders. Willow likewise surrenders. The captain orders the two free soldiers to find the invisible one and hauls Willow, Frederik, and Zion to jail. Dorien books it back toward the airship.


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