DM When last we left our heroes, they had brought about the end of the grimlocks terrorizing the city’s slums. What remains for them to do now? What has their bear been up to? No doubt terrorizing school children, but read on and find out!
Julian Julian leaves Kryss and several guardsmen in charge of the grisly scene of the grimlock lair. There is other investigative work to do. He heads for Chatterstreet Market.
DM The pair follow up on endless leads all day, asking people who saw the captain, knew the captain, might have seen the captain with anyone suspicious. At the end of the day, they have confirmed that he was investigating some protection racketeering, but that trail turns up cold when it leads back to the wererat gang they decimated.
Julian Discouraged after a day’s work coming up empty, Julian turns to Shael. “Well, there’s one more lead to follow up on. This one they call The Blessed. Not sure where to find her, but I think checking out the rest of that cursed bookstore might not be a bad start.”
Shael Shael agrees. “I agree.” Shael’s steps begin to lead the duo towards the Shrine of Serra, “We should check on these two then Ember and the others – it’d be a good idea to give me time to, ah, reset as well… get ready for some more aggresive combat.”
Julian “All right. You want to bring any help? Sounds like she’s one of the most dangerous. If not THE most dangerous. Which could cut both ways with help.”
Shael “Who, Ember?” Shael inquires. “Oh, oh, um…” his expression sours mournfully and he shakes his head quickly, “Nah, we’ll fine.” he says uncertainly.
Julian “All right.” Julian on the other hand seems relieved.
DM The shrine comes into view.
Shael Shael’s tension eases slightly when he sees the shrine appearing unmolested, he enters and searches for the paladin pair.
DM Their dead and dessicated bodies lie in a heap over the alter. No wait, that fades. Was it a glimpse of the future? The pair are found in the rear chambers, Tolea ministering to Alein.
Shael His gaze lingers on the alter a moment longer. “Tolea, good you’re both allright.” Shael says, relieved. “How is Alein? Any better?”
Tolea Tolea nods. “She still cries out in her sleep, but the dreams seem to be fading.”
Shael Glancing back to the main antechamber he asserts, “Is there anywhere else the two of you can stay? I have… some concern about the security.” he pointedly does not look at Julian and also does not admit he may have been right.
Julian Julian is gracious enough to say nothing.
Tolea “We could go to Alein’s apartment. We don’t usually live at the shrine. But what concerns you? Surely Serra will protect us.”
Shael “Sometime a warning is all the protection the gods can spare…” he says, still not elaborating overmuch. “…we’ll help you, if you like? To get there.” he clarifies.
Tolea “Oh…right now?” Tolea looks around. “Um, I guess so…”
Shael Shael nods and looks over to Julian to provide one of the secret signs they haven’t invented yet expressing urgency. “What all will we need to bring?” he wonders while moving to assist Tolea.
Tolea “Um…just her clothes and armor and sword. Belongings and stuff.”
Julian Julian pitches in to help move.
Shael While gathering everything and moving the two to Alein’s apartment, Shael mentions, “The Blessed is some kind of traveler, I expect some aspect of Alein is the key to the a portal she is trying to open in the city…”
Julian “So it’s best to lay low.”
Shael Shael nods, “…we’re trying to sort things out, but I wanted to make sure you were both safe, first.”
Tolea “Well thank you. Serra’s blessing on you both.”
Shael Shael nods his appreciation, “I just wish there was more we could do.” Once the duo are situated, Shael quickly appraises the area to see if he can make it any more secure before he and Julian head towards Ember’s group and the bookstore OF DOOM! While closing in, his bond with Ojo strengthens enough that they can communicate again and he sends an update request.
DM When the pair approaches the bookstore, Ember and her group are nowhere to be seen. They recall that Lieutenant Shella mentioned that she sent a team of guards to check out the place and they’d found nothing left that was unusual there. Perhaps the trio has left to explore more exciting things in Brindinford.
Ojo Ojo puts a stop to that line of thought. They went inside. They haven’t come out. The guards went inside as well, but they did come out. The trio went in after.
Shael “They’re inside.” Shael says without preamble and breaks into a sprint.
Julian “Damn place cheats.” Julian mutters as he hurries afterwards. “Normal one minute, all fucked up the next…”
Shael Shael doesn’t stop until he’s standing inside the bookstore.
DM He does however, pause momentarily outside the bookstore. The door appears to be locked. One might even go as far as to call it…arcanely locked.
Julian “I’ll check the back.” Julian does.
DM It’s also locked. Possibly…arcanely locked.
Julian Julian conveys this finding to Shael.
Shael Shael hesitates before joining Julian. At the back door, before the resouding sound of a pounding knock, the only other noise is Shael growling. He tries the door again.
DM The door is now normal locked, thanks to the magical tricks of our heroes. Still, an impassable barrier.
Shael With a deep, long breath in and out Shael removes his lockpicks. “Patience…patience…patience…” he reminds himself.
DM No doubt Ember is thinking the same. Wherever she is. The lock clicks open with just a little bit of effort on Shael’s part. Within the bookstore, the creepy sensation lurks over them once more.
Julian Julian quickly seeks to get his bearings, aided by Shael’s magic.
DM Shael has seen Julian’s path, and refuses to allow it to be one of skulking unease at this horrific assault on the mind’s senses. Both of our heroes fight back the lurking horrors at the edge of sanity.
Shael “Now, remember…” Shael says, “…%&$((#& (^#@ !!@$…” the complex explanation of how to counteract the affects of the bookstore don’t deserve reproduction here. They mostly sound like beeps and boops and bopps once inside the bookstore anyways. Shael appraises their surroundings and shuts the door firmly behind them.
DM It’s the same creepy bookstore. Which leaves two likely possibilities for the guards. They ran and reported nothing wrong, or they came in…and got mentally ambushed by the foul denizens here. Which…leads to some disturbing possibilities for what they are up to even now.
Julian Julian glances at Shael as they have the same thought at likely roughly the same time. “Nothing for it for now. First things first.” he mutters.
Shael “I suppose it’s possible the bookstore stopped being weird just for them… they’re all mundane and such. Find the up.” he suggests and heaves to.
DM The pair wander around, aimlessly for what might be minutes or hours before realizing they’ve been in this same hallway before.
Shael “We’ve been in this hallway before.” Shael says, his frustration evident. He walks back in forth in the hallway several times as if to prove they’ve been here more than once.
Julian “Well, NOW we’ve been through it more than once. Since you keep walking back through it.”
Shael “Why are you following me?”
Julian “Because I don’t even know which parts of this place I’ve been through ONCE.”
DM Walking back and forth proves impossible. They find themselves in a sealed off room, which is also impossible, since they just entered, but the doorway is nowhere to be seen now. What is to be seen is a monster with a million mouths, burbling at them in the tongue of madness.
Shael He finally cracks a bit of a grin before opening the nearest door, “Well, this door is sure to get us someplace we’ve never been before.” turning around he freezes. “Fuck.”
DM The creature spits and hisses, but fails to harm them.
Julian Julian leaps to engage the beast.
Shael Shael darts around to flank the beast, Orcshy flashing and mirrored – two blades strike at the creature.
DM Julian’s blade cuts into the squamous mass, while Shael’s attacks are even more devastating. The creature babbles and finally overwhelms the paladin’s sanity with its mental assault.
Julian Julian rushes the wall. “Quick, Shael, this way!”
Shael Shael parries and tosses up a magical shield in defense while the illuminated magical weapon continues to hack and Orcshy continues to slice through the creature.
DM More slimy flesh is severed from the core. The damage is beginning to toll on the mouther, who mutters about the quick brown fox and starts to back off. It flails at Shael as it backs away. Nearly dead, it tries to pour itself into the wall. “RAMONA!” it cries out.
Julian “Hey, you bastard, that was my idea!” Lightbringer puts a stop to that.
DM They find an escape tunnel after slaying the mouther and move through it to find…a pool of mouthers. The creatures lurch up, no doubt holding the precise knowledge that our heroes lack to move without barrier through this house of horror. But how to impart that knowledge? Perhaps eating the mouther corpses would do the trick.
Julian This time Julian is ready for them. Seeing the numbers, he lashes out with a spell.
Shael Shael wades into the midst of them, interposing himself firmly between the monsters and his pal(adin). With each step another image of him steps away from the original until the number of Shaels matches the number of mouthers. One of the images swings an image of Orcshy at the nearest creature.
DM The power of Tal causes the mouthers to splash their bodies all over the wall. Shael’s attack cuts in on them as well. The mouthers swarm all over Shael, gnawing with gum filled mouthes. They do nothing more than destroy one of his illusory copies.
Shael With a wary insight into the future, Shael takes one hand from his sword and lets a shield spring from the ring on his hand. A blessing falls upon him and Julian as he calls out for it while another image continues to lay into the Mouthers.
DM The Voice of Tal condemns the mouthers to Limbo, while Shael’s bladework does Kly proud. The mouthers gnaw futilely at Shael, then break off to blind Julian.
Julian As the knot breaks up Julian moves from spell to blade, moving to Shael’s assistance.
DM One of the mouthers dies. Er…almost.
Shael In a puff of smoke, Shael vanishes from his precarious position and switches from blade to spell – effortlessly showing off the teamwork they’ve been practicing. Another arrow of caustic terror flies towards the sturdiest of the bunch while a sole image left behind continues to slice and dice.
DM The mouthers lurch forward as a single mass once again, spitting and snapping.
Julian Julian steps out of the converging pocket as the team’s maneuvering draws the mouthers back together, the Voice of Tal on his lips.
DM The mouthers disintegrate as it passes through them. A flash of Orcshy and it’s all over.
Shael Shael wretches and tries to whipe the gunk from his eyes and face while his magic finishes the fight for him.
Julian “Right. We need a new strategy besides wandering around this… maze.”
Shael Shael growls, “This isn’t getting us anywhere…” he approaches and kicks one of the mouthers. Hesitating he says, “Look, I could try something… but, it might be dangerous.”
Julian “Can I help?”
Shael “I’m… honestly not sure.” he explains his idea. Shael begins first by meditating while Julian sets up a temporary camp to rest for the evening; he gets an impression of his immediete surroundings and tries to extend his mystical senses further and further. Once he understands the basics of the ley lines, he uses leftover bits of Mouther – their blood, guts, viscera – to begin drawing a massive arcane sigil that takes up almost the entire
Shael room. By the time Julian has finished resting, he seems ready. “Just… keep an eye out. I honestly have no idea what is going to happen…”
Julian Not reassuring coming from Shael. Nor, honestly, is the giant sigil made of mouther parts. Julian keeps watch uneasily.
DM With Tal’s guidance, Shael plunges into the mindscape of the Reality Wrinkle. He touches a consciousness there, and probes it. It wakens to his touch, and probes back. Tal’s guidance is countered by…an elven taint, wrapping thorns of green around the white. The house begins to shake. In the mind’s eye, Shael appears dominant, but suddenly a reversal of fortune lends the master of the house more power… Still, it is not enough. Backed by his companion, Shael throws the master from his place atop the tower of iron will, and takes the throne. The Reality Wrinkle yields.
Shael Shael collapses backwards, his energy nearly exhausted. “It is done…” he says at length, “…we were successful.” He reaches an arm out to have Julian help him up.
DM With his victory, the Blessed will be coming for them. There is not much time now.
Julian The paladin pulls Shael to his feet with one strong hand, Lightbringer in the other. “Can you warn us when they’re coming?”
Shael “What do you mean? We’re going to them… that’s why you rested, eh?” He grins lightheartedly, “We got this, now I understand how we win.”
Julian “All right. Kryss, watch our backs.” The party moves out.
DM The next floor of the building contains tiny bedrooms with simple bedrolls and threadbare blankets spread on the floor, a kitchen with cupboards and counters, a table with six chairs and a privy. It appears deserted, until Shael’s connection with the Reality Wrinkle shatters the mental camouflage, revealing two cultists and their new guards…Ember and Lidda.
Ember “Don’t fight, friends. Come, experience Farness.”
Shael Shael narrows his eyes at the cultists. “Hey, friends… been a little while, how you doing?” He asks Ember and Lidda.
Julian “And where’s Devis?”
Ember “Devis serves the Blessed Mistress. We have found the Speaker, Friends, and the Speaker speaks through us.”
Lidda “Will you submit to the Union of Minds?”
Julian “NOT… really interested in hearing what the Speaker has to say.”
Shael “Been rather dominating in that area, doncha think? You sure you want me in that big thinker tinkering around?” Shael whips out a wand and preempts the inevitable – is he quick enough?!
DM One of the cultists, an old lady who looks remarkably like one of those already slain, laughs. “You think you have the power? Behold, the power of fiddly bonusi!”
Julian Julian hefts Lightbringer, the overt threat covering for and distracting from Shael’s more subtle movements. “And I guess she left you to slow us down. Raw deal for you, friends.”
Shael “She’s less then a day, the hourglass is emptying.”
DM The foes seem to shrink as the distance between you grows vastly.
Julian The paladin scowls, but goes for a spear instead. The first target is the old lady who should be dead.
DM It strikes the old crone, drawing blood. She wails.
Shael As Julian advances, Shael casts a spell of entanglement upon friends and foes alike.
DM “My arm! You’ve pierced my arm!” Two bolts, one of fire and one of ice, lance out at the heroes.
Lidda Lidda rushes out and slices at Julian’s waist with her blades. “Please submit, Julian. We can be short together.”
Kryss Kryss rumbles into action to protect his small friend, not to mention his source of good luck and inspiration.
Julian Julian winces, but shakes his head. “Sorry, Lidda.”
DM The nimble warrior fails to avoid Kryss entirely, but does duck out of his way. This leaves her unfortunately open to Julian’s counter attack.
Julian Lightbringer is not a gentle weapon, even when it is not wielded to kill.
DM She crumples to the ground, unconscious.
Shael Shael paces around his friends to get a clear shot, “I’m sorry Ember. I’m sure you’ll understand when you’re back in your right mind…” a lance of ice lashes out towards her legs to hinder her movement if she gets free of the entangling brush.
DM The cultists, disregarding their minion’s safety, bear down on the heroes with their sorcerous and psionic power.
Julian Kryss just growls as one of the cultists tries to enspell him, moving to cut the fool down.
DM The short cultist squeals like a little girl as the blade cuts in.
Julian Julian follows up with thrown javelins.
DM They pin the cultist to the wall.
Shael Shael judges the distance between Ember and his allies, with a snap decision he switches to blasting the cultist behind her with fire.
DM She screams at him, scratching at his eyes from across the room.
DM Ember slips free from her bondage and runs to engage Julian.
Kryss It would be a mistake to focus on Julian over Kryss. The towering warrior moves around Ember’s flank to teach her that lesson. Then again, it would be a mistake to focus on Kryss over Julian.
Ember Ember’s fists are a blur as they snap blocks and wrist locks to avoid the lethal attacks, but in the end, she is a well trained monk and they are dragon slay…fighting heroes. She crumples in a heap as the flat of Lightbringer cracks against her skull.
Julian Julian closes in on the final foe.
DM “Surely I have something around here for spells that restrict movement…” the old lady mumbles.
Shael Shael taps his fingers against his thighs impatiently. “Um… so, this is definitely a thing.” he tries to peer about, testing the limits of the spell inhibiting him. “Nope, pitch as black. Dark, too.”
Shael “You guys need me to be all urgent or summat? Or… I could just loiter about?” He hollars.
Julian “We’ve got it.”
Shael He circles forefinger and thumb, “Splendiferous.” he asserts and rocks back and forth on his heels waiting for the spell to end.
DM “Meet the Speaker,” the old lady commands, her eyes causing a swirling vertigo inducing effect upon those around her. She looks puzzled when they fail to fall. “I said go the fuck to sleep!”
Shael “You gotta center the effect on the weaker one… and, you know… that’s probably me, eh? They’re pretty hardy boys… eat their grains and all. You guys still doing okay?” He pats around in his pockets until he rummages out what he thinks is a trail biscuit and takes a bite.
DM There are chopping sounds. It sounds…messy.
Julian “Ouch.” Shael hears from Julian. It doesn’t sound pained, though.
DM In fact, Shael is quite confident that Kryss did not bother to use the flat of his blade here. A splatter on his cheek. Is it raining in here?
Shael Shael looks at Julian curiously once his vision clears, “Fibber.” he asserts blandly as he lets the entanglement spell fade.
Julian Julian checks for anything of use.
DM In the chunks of cultist, they find a wand, ring and belt that might produce some magical power once identified. And then it is on to defeat the Blessed, True Believers! Will they pull it off, or die trying? Find out next week!