Tuesday, October 23, 2012

session 27 part 1

Session #27A…
{Sorry for the delay… It’s been a busy few weeks around here.   It was also a rather dialog packed session with 7 characters for large portions and I’ve tried really hard to preserve those as accurately as possible; but I’ve taken some license with the descriptions…}

{Game clock resumes with the party deep into their planning @ 10pm April 20, 3200; by 10:30 there is a frightful storm that has moved in.  The patrons of the bent wand are unaffected by the fact that the rain is occasionally falling sideways from the west; as the sides of the enclosure slowly roll themselves down to the ground and secure themselves against the wind.}

Lex; ‘Hey!  Where are we going to sleep tonight? “Ticking points off on her fingers as she speaks; “No train car, no equipment, no tents…”

Hearn, excitedly; “I’ve got a tent… though it’s only fit for two or three people.”

Wysera; “Dibs on tent space!”

Lex continues as if uninterrupted; “… anything that you clerics and wizardly types can do to help?”

Milo and Hearn pause for a moment and reflect upon the rituals and prayers they knew; then they 
both shook their heads sadly and looked out into the rain through the arched entrance on the eastern side of the bar.

Thingerlun just frowns and rather reluctantly says; “Yes, though I’ll owe my Patron Aristemis a favor for the use of the spell… Perhaps we can get lodging here at the Bent Wand?”

Passing waiter; “Sorry sir.  No lodgings here, we just provide food, drink, and the occasional troubadour if there is one passing through the area.” And he hustles off to help another table.

Thingerlun scratches the stubble on his chin and contemplates the rain; “I vaguely recall Dwight saying something about how our troop had its own plot for setting up our billet.  It should be large enough for us to use.”

Lex; “But where is it and do we want anyone to know where we are?  Maybe we should prevail upon the wizard to teleport us somewhere else?”

Thingerlun; “As I recall, the spell creates lodgings that are concealed against discovery.  The better I cast the spell the more powerful the better our concealment.  As a member of the order of Aristemis I have the use of this spell and the right to make camp here amongst my brothers and sisters of the order.  Theoretically I can make the lodgings with enough room for everyone and frankly I’m not sure I want to try teleporting us anywhere until I’ve had a good night’s rest.”

A collective shudder passes over everyone as they consider the idea of trusting their lives to a spell…none of them are keen on passing the night soaked to the skin and shivering.  Lex says; “Well, given the alternatives I guess I’ll trust you not to kill us with this spell… I’m in.”  One by one everyone else agreed and they bundled up against the rain as best they could and trekked out to find the camp of the Battle Wizards.  It didn’t take long; their camp was easy to locate by the fact of its conspicuous absence of structures.

There were several dozen encampments of wizards scattered about the ‘Wizard’s Quarter’; as it was commonly known about the base, each wizard’s wagon, tent, or mobile tower as unique as the wizard in residence.  But fully a third of the Wizard’s Quarter was, or appeared to be empty; it was eerie, and that was precisely the area to which Thingerlun was leading them.  The storm had intensified to frightening proportions and gusts of wind even carried the rain upwards, when it wasn’t battering at them from the northwest.  The footing was treacherous, but they managed to move along in the shelter of a cluster of large wagons and a couple of mobile towers that were set to form one of the ‘roads’ that crisscrossed the military base. 

The muddy road ended at what appeared to be an open field full of wild grass that was busy being pummeled flat by the rain.  On the maps of the camp that they’d seen, this clearing was several hundred meters wide and twice that in length, but it was laid out organically without much concern for anyone else in the camp.  Though they could only just make out the lights of the watch lamps wielded by the clerics of Thormyr bobbing along the perimeter of the camp; Thingerlun walked out confidently and just seemed to know where he was going.  They looked about as they followed and several of them were surprised by the sight of mounds of earth that would suddenly loom up out of the rain soaked shadows, or the occasional door standing by itself at the edge of a trail or crossroads: all of which would be gone as soon as their attention drifted away as they tried to point it out to one of their companions.

Thingerlun; “That’s the camouflage effect of the spell.  There are dozens of wizards encamped here we just can’t see them except for the occasional glimpse.  The only reason we can see that much is because there are so many hovels in such close proximity.”

A few more moments pass as they follow Thingerlun as he meanders, seemingly at random, through a huge empty field until he stands still and declares that they have found the right spot.  The rain and crashing thunder haven’t let up much on their journey so they huddle around Thingerlun to shelter him as best they can and he proceeds to cast the spell that allows him to commune with his patron; for the clarity of focus that it brings.  {After bonuses and penalties applied the player still manages a good casting, but I read the description of the next highest result by accident.  I went with it and decided that Arisemis is showing her thanks to the rest of the adventurers.  Besides, I wanted them to know what might be possible…} 

Thingerlun’s mind was taken hostage.  And once again he finds himself standing upon the endless dead grey plane under an ash grey sky.  The stunningly beautiful Goddess Aristemis is standing in front of him dressed in her enchanted armor of mythril links, her hood is thrown back to let her raven colored hair cascade down past her shoulders.  The fact that she was 12ft tall just amplified the power of her presence as she smiled darkly at Thingerlun; “You owe me a favor for the use of this spell.”  The grin took on a wicked, nearly malevolent edge as she continued; “Your tactics are rash and ill thought out.”

Thingerlun, unabashed and unbowed; “I got the job done.”

Aristemis, the edge deepening at the corners of her eyes; “Your accomplishments cannot be diminished, but the tactics have cost the lives of countless soldiers and three of your brothers; do they mean nothing?  If you would have the use of this sheltering spell for tonight then you must find your lost brother and return him safely to the mundane world.”

Thingerlun furrows his brow for a moment of recollection then says; “You mean the wizard we keep seeing when we step between the planes who disappeared during the first attempt to teleport us to the temple at Blessings Be?”

Aristemis, her mood softening slightly; “Yes.  He who was lost must be returned home.”

Thingerlun, concerned; “OK, but how?  He’s stuck falling through endless nothingness; won’t he have starved or died of thirst by now?”

Aristemis; “In the space between spaces there is no time.  Seek the clerics of Asuarr they serve she who guards the place between places.”

Thingerlun gets his mind back and proceeds to direct the spell to completion.  Everyone heard bits and pieces of his side of the conversation, but they stay quiet and out of the way lest something distract the wizard while he’s casting and bring them all to ruin.

{I didn’t have a floor plan to work with for the spell, so during the game we left things fast and loose, but they did have access to the luxury depicted… part of why this post is late is due to the fact that I took the time to map it all out.  So when I started journaling the story for the blog and well, I couldn’t help myself with adding a scene, but the dialog is faithful to what happened…}

A small round piece of muddy ground near Thingerlun’s feet lifts itself up and swings over like a hatch cover to squelch wetly in the mud.  Dozens upon dozens of tiny winged humanoids begin to dart out of the dark hole and stream out into the rain; they appear to be creating a circle with a diameter of 80ft.  One of them flits over to Thingerlun and is easier to see in their murky lantern light.  It looks like an 18inch tall human with bat wings, barbed tail, sharp little horns poking out of his forehead, and he is wearing a smartly cut business suit of deep magenta that compliments his neon pink skin.  The tiny devil turned to Thingerlun and took off its lime green hard-hat and seems surprised that it is raining.  He snaps his manicured fingers and a small pocket of calm surrounds them so that they can speak to each other without shouting; “Sir, we’re Hospitality Devils and we’re here to build you temporary accommodations per your agreement with an undisclosed third party.  Per your agreement and the arcane capital invested in the project I think we can build something really fabulous!  Mind if I look over the plans?” 

The devil moves closer to Thingerlun and fits a small crystal lens to one eye and peers into Thingerlun’s left ear.  The lens shines an odd colored beam of light into the wizard’s skull; but everything is painless and business like, and over before any protests can be launched.  The hospitality devil looks over everyone else, counting them and making some quick notes on a clip-board that seemed to materialize out of thin air; then he zooms off to coordinate the other devil’s; who are threatening a coffee break.  A few harsh curses in their own dialect quickly snap the workers back to their duties.  They are dressed as simple workmen, leather overalls, plaid cotton shirts, and lime green hard-hats.  Each of them reaches into their front pocket and pulls out shovels and picks and start to convert the 80ft diameter space between them into a dome 40ft tall at its apex; working so fast that they were naught but pink and green comets.

It takes them 10 minutes to finish the job, but it is fully stocked and furnished as if it were a 5 star hotel in a big city. When they are done the devils snap their fingers and their outfits are replaced instantly with butler’s outfits covered in magenta sequins and they rush inside the dome to take their places.  The foreman hops over to Thingerlun and hands him a card and says; “If there are any problems and complaints address them to the 12th level of hell, attention Hospitality Local 669.”  He then snaps his fingers and is wearing a lime green tuxedo with a crimson cravat and rushes over to the double doors and sweeps them open.   “Perhaps you’d like to come in out of the rain?”  They enter and the door closes behind them leaving the field wide open and empty.

The entry opens to a 15ft tunnel made up of a large set of sliding barn doors on the right and a wall on the left interrupted by a standard sized set of double doors.  The concierge had swept ahead of them to the double doors opposite them that formed the terminus of this short hall.  Through these doors there is a 10ft wide ramp with a stone railing that begins to spiral up and away to their immediate right; to the left there is a short 5ft section of wall.  They are in a 20ft diameter court yard and there is a circular stone hearth and flume hood with a pipe heading up to the ceiling at the center of the room. 

Concierge; “Behind you and to my right are the blood room and the public bathroom…”

Lex; “What’s a blood room?”

Concierge; “That’s where you go when you come home from a long day of adventuring covered in blood, ichor, or whatever; so youse can clean up a bit before trekking that crap all over the place.  Through those barn doors you'll find the smithy and stables.  In the court yard here to my right and under the veranda are the bulk storage closets.  The dome has 4 levels with four high capacity bedrooms with their conjoining bathrooms, the commissary, and the gym on the second level.  The third level has a small patio and three small apartments; each with its own bath and kitchenette.”  He turns to Thingerlun, “The master suit is the fourth level and it is a self-contained studio with a small lab and pit for your friend filled with fine grain polishing sand.  If you need anything just call out and one of the staff will see to your needs.”  The levels are connected by the ramp that lazily spins about the dome as it spirals upward, but is lost as it passes up into the ceiling of the courtyard that comprises the floor of the third level 18ft above them.  The entire space is well lighted, but there are no obvious sources.

They congregate in the commissary on the second floor and see that there is a veranda with tables and chairs that projects far out over the courtyard below.  Standing on it they can look down upon where they’d been standing a moment before.  They could hear something with far too many arms and several mouths whistling as it bustled in the kitchen behind them.  They sat down and it was Milo that broke the silence as he turned to Thingerlun; “So… are those actually devils?”  Hearn appears to be trembling with the need to suppress the urge to call down cleansing holy fire upon the place as she listens for Thingerlun’s answer.

Thingerlun; “Yep, but they are tightly bound and will return to where they came from when the spell ends; though I don’t suppose that will help either of you get any sleep tonight.”

Concierge; “Killing the staff is definitely against contract, shall I get you anything.”
They ate and arranged for temporary clothing while theirs was being cleaned, Thingerlun gets a manicure and pedicure as they discussed what to do next.  Bob mutters to everyone; “What we need is information on how to change forms and how long will the effects last.”

Milo; “So… you’re really thinking of doing this impersonation thing?  Why?”

Bob; “Well, I could send his armies all over the place, make them easier to attack.  I could order them to retreat and re-settle somewhere else…  Maybe find out what’s behind all this and then there is all the treasure they have piled up.”

Thingerlun; “I don’t have a spell that will do the trick, so the first order of business will be to find the right spell.  Is there a right spell?”

The ghostly visage of Thob shows up standing right next to Thingerlun “Yes, there is a spell that can alter the form of one creature into that of another.  One.”

Wysera; “Who’s that and what does he mean… ‘one’.”

Thingerlun; “That’s just Thob; he’s a long dead wizard that shows up to give me advice and answer 
questions.  Byproduct of my Summon Patron spell, he must be here because I didn’t specify anything else when I cast the spell; he will only answer a specific number of questions during the time he’s here… that was apparently my first question.  The problem is that I don’t know how many I have.”

Thob looks at Thingerlun quizzically and Thingerlun says; “NO, that’s not a question… I’ll take my chances.”

Thingerlun; “What is the spell that will change my form to that of another?”

Thob; “Polymorph.  Two.”

Milo to Bob; “Even if this spell works, how are you going to pretend to be the Ogre Mage?  You don’t know anything about him or magic.”

Lex; “Yah, and what about his floating hand?  I suppose you’ll need me to hold onto it and fly it around?”

Bob; “I’m sure the spell will take care of that, Right?” Looks at Thob… who looks at Thingerlun.

Thingerlun, frustrated; “Yes!  That’s a question I need answered!”

Thob; “The Polymorph spell, if cast with sufficient power will truly turn the caster into the form desired: with all of that form’s powers and abilities. Three.”

Hearn to Thob; “How long does this effect last?”

Thingerlun nods his approval of the question and Thob answers; “It depends on the strength of the caster, it can be made to function for 24hours, but if cast with too much power… the effect is permanent.  Four.”

Bob turns pale; for the first time he his starting to have second thoughts about his idea.

Wysera; “How many questions do we have?”

Thingerlun pauses for a moment then nods approval and Thob replies (trying not to grin); “10 remaining after this one. Five.”

Lex; “Is Thob always like this?”

Thingerlun waives of Thob from answering; “No.  It’s just because I didn’t cast the spell with much force.  He can actually be rather conversational and even casts spells for me if I’ve put enough power into the spell.”  Thingerlun turns to Thob, “Is the Polymorph spell beyond the abilities of the Ogre Mage or myself to cast?”

Thob; “He’s dead. And Yes.  Seven.”

Thingerlun, muttering to himself; “Well, I have his spell book and it seems that the information in it is consistent with my own level of power, so I doubt that Bob as the Ogre Mage Tarkan will be able to cast the spell on his own.”  To Thob he asks; “Can this spell be made into an item or potion?”

Thob; “Yes. Yes.  Nine.”

Thingerlun; “Are there any special ingredients needed?”

Thob; “Yes, casting the spell or making a magic item or potion requires that you have a small amount of blood, hair, or other physical component from the creature you are trying to emulate.  Ten.”

Bob; “Well, So much for that idea…  besides, even if we had that I’m not sure I want to keep drinking a potion made from bits of a dead Ogre Mage Demonologist.  Probably not too good for my health and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as a one handed ogre.”

Lex, holding out a small jar full of crystals of an evil red hue; “Actually… we do have a few bits.  It’s not hair or blood, but it seems to be the distilled essence of Tarkan.”

Milo; “How’d you get that!”

Lex; “Scooped some up right before you tried to sanctify his remains.  I figured I’d need it to confirm his death so I can get paid, but our testimony in front of Justica was witnessed and proved sufficient so I didn’t need it.”

Thingerlun; “No.  I don’t think this is viable, especially since I’ll have to search for the spell in the first place.”

Milo; “So we can get back to our quest to stop Skullshank?  Where going to have to figure out how to find him and deal with him before he follows through with his plans.  Whatever they are.”

Lex; “Agreed, but I think we’re going to need more information before we can figure this out.”

Bob; “We need to talk to someone who is an expert in court intrigue as well considering we just accused the regent of committing treason.  I suspect we could’ve found all the evidence we needed if we could’a pulled of the impersonation attempt.”

Hearn; “We need a bard…”  They we’re quiet for a moment of reflection.

Thingerlun; “Yah, but most of them are part of the courtly structure and probably can’t be trusted.”

Lex, getting up and heading for the exit; “Leave that to me.  I’m pretty sure I can find someone who can help with the right motivation.”

Wysera; “But will we be able to trust them?”

Lex; “It’s all in how you motivate them.” And she disappears.

Wysera; “I think I should head out to the temple of Gorhan, I haven’t tithed recently, and I have some family business to tend to as well.”  She heads out of the hovel and heads to the temple at the center of camp.  In the rain it takes a while, and she is drenched by the time she gets there.  The temple is an impressive conglomeration of heavily fortified train cars that have been moved to create a heptagon shaped enclosure as a defensive barrier and barracks.  At its center was a large engine that had been heavily fortified with stone work and was covered in frescos depicting Gorhan and Justica and their struggles against chaos and injustice.  Wysera approached the main entrance to the nave and was allowed to enter when she told the cleric on watch that she wished to worship within. 

She stopped at the collection box and offered her tithe then sat for a few moments collecting her thoughts.  She was in a real bind.  When she had left home last year she had been disobeying her family, but she had followed her brothers nearly all the way to Silverton before they’d found her.  They were all hot on the trail of the killer who’d murdered their parents and couldn’t spare the time to take her back, so they let her tag along.  Wysera took her vow of vengeance seriously.  In Silverton they discovered that the assassin they were looking for was based out of the Free City of Soulgrave, and they had pressed on; signing up with a caravan as guards so that they could get passage out of Silverton.  She and her brother’s Darren and Tristan had found lodgings and continued their search, but in the process Darren had been captured by slavers and Tristan had sent Wysera to get help while he worked on a plan to free their brother.

It was late in the year and travelling in the mountains was a risky prospect, but she had managed to get passage on the last train of the season.  Hoping that she’d be able to continue on when she got back down to Silverton; but she’d gotten trapped in that town nearly as soon as she’d arrived.  First the blizzard of the century forced her to overwinter there; with little money this would prove difficult, but not nearly so bad as having gotten caught up in that whole ‘rat’ business.  She still only vaguely recalled the events that occurred in the following weeks.  She remembered starving along with the rest of the townsfolk after that Gannu fella took over the town.  She remembered following along with them as they all decided that working for Gannu in his mines was better than freezing or starving to death.  With a chill she remembered that she’d been wrong about that…

Gannu had promised them that if they worked they’d not have to worry about food and shelter; he failed to mention the part where he was killing the townsfolk and reanimating their skeletons to be the work force.  She and several others had managed to break loose from the mob; even in their weakened state their captors were goblins after all.  That is when Gannu had started to play a spine tingling melody on a strange set of pipes.  Wysera remembered the horror and the pain of her body being altered and reshaped into a tiny rat.  She didn’t remember anything after that.

In her next set of memories Wysera found herself standing in the middle of the ruins of the town of Silverton.  She hadn’t known how long she’d been a rat and she could tell that it wasn’t winter anymore; though it was still quite cold, especially since she and the rest of the townsfolk who’d also recovered from their crisis of form were completely naked.  Wysera had just started to wander along with the dozens of others she met poking through the rubble like the rest until she could find enough scraps of clothing to cover up; that is when Hearn had found her and took her and everyone else that could be found to the temple of Elyr.  Wysera had decided to leave with the Hearn and her companions; Wysera still had to contact her family, and at least these folks were going in the right direction.

But now she had been drafted, and if what she’s been hearing is the truth then the fate of the world is at stake.  It had been months since she left Soulgrave… her brothers might be dead by now and she’d failed in her mission to get help.

Cleric of Gorhan; “You seem troubled.  Is there anything you need?”

Wysera; “Yah, I really need to get a letter to my family, but more than anything: I need to get to the Free City of Soulgrave to find out if my brothers are alive.  If so, I need to rescue my second oldest brother Darren from the slavers who captured him.”  She looked up and saw that this was the junior cleric of the two they’d spoken with earlier.

Cleric; “Perhaps you should start at the beginning…”

Wysera told him the story of how she and her brothers were trying to track down the assassin who’d killed their parents.  How the assassin had tried to kill all of them, but she and her 6 brothers and her brothers-in-law had turned the tables and driven the killer off.  It had nearly cost the lives of two of her brothers.  “What do I do?  What is the honorable choice?”

Cleric; “A true crisis of honor indeed. Trapped between your duty to the state and your pledge to find the guilty and bring your parents killer to justice.  Doctrine teaches us that honoring the most current commitments is the proper path.  Perhaps the Gods plan will bring to you that which you need.  I can, however, help you more directly.  If you wish I can include a letter with the next dispatch of communications.  It may take a while but I can assure you that it will get to your farm.”  He hands her a few sheets of fine linen paper, a quill and ink; “You can write? Or shall I scribe for you…”

Wysera; “I’ll manage.  Thank you.”  She starts scribbling and when she is finished she folds it up, addresses it, and hands it to him.

The cleric dribbles some wax to seal it closed; “Put your thumb print on the wax if you’ve no other seal.  One last thing, I fear for you and your companions.  These are troubled times for the Empire and the Nobles are no longer content to let the verdicts of our Lady of Justice stand unchallenged.  Count Aglinius commands this camp and I think he may move to arrest you and your companions anyway.  No one yet knows of the accusations against Lady Moritannia, but the Count insists upon a tribunal to bring justice for the dead and injured from the train wreck.  They will come for you and your companions at dawn.”

Wysera thanks him and accepts his blessing and then steps out into the storm.


Lex had made it to the Bent Wand and set herself up at the bar, nursing a drink and straining her ears to find any mention of she, her companions, or the general opinions of the camp towards them.  She was hoping that an out of the way tavern like this one would be the likely place to find a bard of questionable loyalties, and no one spreads rumors faster than a Bard.  To be thorough, she’d used the secret language of thieves to signal the local underground that she needed to do some business and she was halfway through her ale when the Pig Farmer sat down next to her.
Pig Farmer; “What is it now?  Going to impersonate the God Molgrim and swindle the hob goblins next?”

Lex; “Funny, but no.  I need to find a knowledgeable bard with questionable loyalties.  Hopefully someone who’s good with history and the intrigues of Courtly life as well.”

Pig Farmer, sarcastically; “Oh, is that all?  Where’m I supposed to find someone like that out here?”

Lex; “I figure if they exist they’d be in a camp like this one or something like it, a sage or troubadour might work, but a bard is best.”

The Pig Farmer melted back into the crowd and she went back to nursing her ale, which was on the verge of going flat from having sat to long untended.  The rumors of her and her compatriots were unpleasant; most were derogatory and angry over the train wreck, but in general they were thought of unkindly for having delivered false hope.  Most folks seemed to link the general failure of the Empire to crush the Scourge with the heroes of Silverton’s failure to kill Tarkan Khurzog. The news about the death of Tarkan Khurzog hadn’t begun to circulate yet and the train wreck hadn’t helped.  After about an hour the Pig Farmer showed up again and demanded payment, and when accounts were settled he moved off and then came back with a tall bearded man dressed in faded silk shirt and leather pants.  The man has a wide, stiff brimmed hat that was a slightly different blue than the rest of his outfit.  He bowed and swept his hat off and Lex saw that it has a modest white plume sticking out of it.

Bard; “Kemryn Bristlethwaite, ma’am.  I’m told that you’re looking to hire?”

Lex; “Sit down and tell me what you know of politics in the Empire.”

Kemryn; “Delicate at best being that it’s a fledgling Emperor not yet a man and the Regent is an evil bitch.”  He said it nonchalantly and sipped his ale.

Lex, unperturbed; “What of current events, the war, the state of things?”

Kemryn, shrugging his shoulders theatrically; “Well, the Empire is a large place and thanks to the Scourge it’s getting smaller all the time, because we’re losing.”

Lex, “Anything else, and what do you know of ancient history?”

Kemryn; “Ancient history?  Don’t get much call for that these days, what with Lady Moritannia’s zeal to get everyone dreaming of a Grand Imperial future and all that stuff.  Specialized field now, unfortunately they tend to get hired by adventurers and have a shorter than average career.”  Sips his ale, “There’s that train wreck the other day, but I suppose you were in camp for that?  No.  Well they say the folks that caused it are trying to save the world, or some such nonsense.  I wouldn’t want to be with them… Count Aglinius wants someone’s head for that!”

Lex; “It isn’t nonsense. Their claim was attested before clerics of Justica, I was there.”

Kemryn; coughs and chokes a bit on his ale as he puts all the pieces together, he starts to get up saying; “I’m not sure I want to hear anymore and I can’t afford to be associated with you… could be bad for my career.”

Lex; “Sit Down.” Sips her ale, “By now you’ve probably already been seen with me, so you are already associated with us.”  Kemryn sits and quaffs the rest of his ale and orders another as she continues; “If you know anything at all about the history of this Empire and the others before it then we need you and you’ll probably get paid well if you live long enough.”

Kemryn; “Well, I do know a fair bit about old Nimoria and Kothia, some great ballads came out of the endless warring between the two of them, and that’s to say nothing of the fall of Erheim.”
Lex gets up and says; “It’s getting late, I should take you to meet everyone.  We can work out the details there… or you can wait here and see how long it takes the Imperial spy network to find you and take you in for questioning.”  She then starts to mosey on towards the exit.
Kemryn sits there for a moment and then ducks out before getting billed for the ales mumbling to himself; “This’ll teach me to play at dice.” As he followed Lex Anne back to the hovel.


Meanwhile, at the hovel…

Everyone had gone to bed hours ago and Lex was the last one to come back, so she sent the Concierge to wake up Milo and Bob to introduce them to Kemryn and they tell her and the Bard to get as much sleep as they can.  Wysera had informed them of the impending arrest and the general assessment was that they all wanted to be out of the camp before dawn; to that effect, a wake-up call had been left with the Concierge for an hour and a half before dawn.  Lex and Kemryn have only had about 4 hours of sleep when breakfast is served, and everyone is a bit groggy when Wysera says; “I know I’m newly raised to the ranks here, but… well, before I got caught up in all of this I was on a sort of quest of my own.  I was trying to get help to save my brother Darren from slaves and trying to capture the man who killed my parents.”

Hearn; “I think we need to hear more about this.”

Over breakfast Wysera told them the quick version of the journey that led her to the point where she’d been in Silverton during the Winter of the Rats, as it was starting to be known.  Bob; “So we’re out to save the world and you want us to go to the Free City of Soulgrave for a family vendetta?”

Wysera; “I know I’m asking a lot, but he was taken by slavers and he might know something about the identity of the one who killed our parents.”

Thingerlun; “What do we know about the Free City of Soulgrave?” Everyone turns to Kemryn who is busy eating and attempting to mind his own business.
Kemryn, swallowing rather too much at once as he stands up; “Oh, um. The Soulgrave.  Right.  It was built by the Druid Kings in the time before the Empires of Men.  It was their solution to the problem of the restless dead.  I’ve read that it is a gigantic Necropolis in the Fang Mountains that acts as a lure to the undead.  It is said that the Druids built the place with the help of Earth elementals and Daenkelder and it has been promised to the restless dead as a place of refuge.  Those dead who have grown weary of wandering the world go there to be reincarnated or to exist without fear of persecution.  But they may not leave once they enter though they may petition the Druids for reincarnation: if you believe in that sort of thing.  Because the Druids own it and the Empire fears it, there has always been a 3 mile free zone about the place and so it technically isn’t part of the Empire.  The Free City of Soulgrave has built up near the crypt as a result of the fact that many of the dead have business interests that they operate from their mausoleums and have the occasional need for masons and other craftsmen for repairs.  And then there’s the ability to escape from Imperial Justice by living there that makes it popular for pirates, mercenaries, and such.” {this one is my version of the Soulgrave and differs from DCC#35 version...}

Milo; “It’s not like we have anywhere else to go right now and maybe we can find information about Skullshank?”

Thingerlun has a far off look, and is unconsciously rubbing his fingers over a leather pouch on his belt.  He hadn’t heard anything beyond the word Reincarnation.  “Sounds like a good enough place to start.”

Bob; “It’s not like I don’t need a reason to run to a place where the Empire can’t get me; what about you Lex?”

Lex shrugs; “I see no profit in this endeavor, but I could use a break from being in the army.”

Concierge; “Ladies and gentleman you have 30 minutes until dawn… and there is someone knocking at the door.”

Thingerlun snaps out of his reverie about Grubb and his head whips about to stare at the devil; “What?!  I was assured that this hovel couldn’t be found!”

Concierge; “Yes sir, but there is still the matter of the fact that someone is knocking.  Shall I open the door?”

Thingerlun; “No!  I’ll go have a look, we should get going anyway.”  A few moments later everyone was gathered at the front door and waiting to leave.  They all distinctly hear knocking and Thingerlun looks out the peep hole but sees no one.  “That’s odd.  There’s no on there.”

Concierge; “Try the lower spy hole.”

Thingerlun is rather old, but he manages to stoop and peer through a glass hole in the door to see Archie standing there; at this range his tiny form fills the field of view.  Excitedly, Thingerlun throws open the door; “Wow am I glad to see you!” 

Behind Archie they all see Hank and a strange mechanical sheep; at least they surmise that it must be, because it has a cross bow mounted partially within it skull and it is making faint whirring and clicking noises as it stands there placidly munching the mud and grass at its feet.  Archie is carrying a red sack tied to the other end of the staff slung over his left shoulder.  He looks tired and irritable; “If you guys are going to avoid that Cleric of Ormazdd that is on his way with a platoon of soldier to arrest Bob ad bring the rest of you in as material witnesses, then we’d best be off.”

They all look around for Archie’s Engine, but it isn’t there.  Milo says; “Cleric of Ormazdd?!”

Bob says; “Where’s your train?”

Archie’s face darkens; “I’ve been demoted to sheppard!  Yes, a cleric of Ormazdd, and he’s been ranting all over camp about how Milo’s a Heretic and you guys are the working for the Scourge.  Now we really should get going!”

Lex searches about and sees that column of soldiers.  It is easy to spot them because there is a nimbus of golden light leading the double column of battle hardened soldiers… about 30 or 40 of them.  About 20 minutes for them to weave their way out hear through all the other hovels, and they were about 15 minutes from the edge of camp because they had to weave their way as well.  At least her companions would have to… She informs them of the time frames.  It has stopped raining but the ground is horribly churned up and muddy and Thingerlun moves a few feet away from everyone and starts to trace out the circle for walking the planes.

Hearn; “What are you doing, do we have time for that?”

Thingerlun; “NO, we don’t have time for the whole ritual, but if I can get the circle drawn they might think that we’ve vanished; maybe it’ll buy us some time.  You guys run ahead and I’ll have Sythrixis fly me out to meet up with you.”

Lex; “I’ll scout ahead.” She disappears and they hear the sound of her coat rustling up into the air.

{Game clock suspended at about 45min before dawn on the 21st… I’ll post the rest of this session and the write up from the session from last Saturday as soon as I can; but we’re going out of town for a few days.  Thanx for reading along  :) }

BTW: Here's the rough sketches of the hovel interior... these are representational, but I'm pretty sure it will all fit.  Because domes are cool... just like bow ties.  ;)

First floor: 80ft diameter and 8ft ceiling; the cross section is foreshortened a bit and its POV is from the opposite side of the entrance hall:

Second floor; aprox. 60ft diameter w/ 8ft ceiling:

Third floor; aprox. 50ft diameter and 8ft ceiling:

Fourth Floor aprox. 40ft diameter and aprox. 10ft ceiling at center:

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