Session 8
"Remind me why we decided to help this stupid village again?"

The PCs, unable to save Semok from the slave ship, ascertains that there is but on place the ship could be going: Great Makesh. The mysterious, cursed city has lured many an adventurer to his doom in the past couple centuries, so what’s one party more? Besides, rumor has it that Queen Samzhara herself (along with the Tassirs) has taken up residence there.

The players proceed down the caravan route, in the company of dervishes, when they reach the Oasis of Golam Fossir. There, they discover that a horrible beast is causing no end of havoc, causing normally docile animals to attack innocent villagers. They chase down this beast, following its trail to the crash site of an airship.

The ship apparently crashed about a week before the PCs showed up. The ship was one of the missing waterships (see post #1) that the Prefect was expecting. From the looks of things it had been attacked, probably by Queen Samzhara. The problem was, it crashed into the tomb of an old, cursed Horanim who had traveled here long ago. The Horanim had intended to make a tomb for himself to journey to the afterlife, but instead, he was trapped there for near-eternity… well, until a nice airship crashed down and smashed open the tomb’s doors.

Inside the tomb — yes, of course they had to go inside! — they found several very frustrating trap-rooms. There was the sloping room filled with sand, a garbage compactor, and two necrophidii, as well as the multiple-energy-beams room and the final undead-Horanim-body room. At last, the phylactery of the undead horanim was smashed, his life force allowed to go to its rest, and all the goodies belonged to the PCs.

Among the loot: several more of these spell runes, a fine diadem, and an interesting light/dark weapon belonging to the world of the Aessirs.

Next stop: Great Makesh. Fun!

Session 7
Nimzink gets his revenge... or, "Newsflash: Ability drains and DR still sucks!"

The PCs, after resting up and plotting with the wererats (and Laicing continuing to dodge the nefarious marriage proposals), headed back into the tunnels. The plan: put as many red-shirt wererats in harm’s way until the enemy runs out of magic missiles, sling stones, and enthusiasm.

The first go at the plan kind of seemed to help. Two wererats were sent across the rope bridge, whereupon they were blasted off (aaaaaiiiieeeee….) by magic missiles. This, however, gave Ren-aji a target to shoot at and he lobbed up a bottle of Alchemist’s Fire and scored as perfect a hit as he is ever likely to get for the rest of his adventuring career. Lessee… casting True Strike (+20) plus rolling a natural 20 + ranged bonus + really, really praying hard to Zotham the night before… um, yeah. He should have saved that roll for when he needed to shoot a microbe off one of Laicing’s eyelashes with a boomerang.

Speaking of Laicing, she was tied to a rope (no hook through her innards, just a rope) and sent out to lure the cloak beast out of hiding. Down it came, missing her and getting plunked full of holes as Captain Ahab.. er, Zayn, ordered his men, er, remaining wererats, to shoot it with harpoons. The harpoon trick (arrrr, matey!) worked like a charm, and the thing was finally reeled in and chopped into sushi barbarian-style. Does anyone shed a tear for the DM’s beastie? No. /cry

Meanwhile, Laicing made it to the other side of the chasm only to discover that ambushes are extremely commonplace when one walks right into a lair of bad guys who know you’re coming. Zayn and several wererats came to the rescue, but sadly, although the barbarian made it, the red-shirted rats were scorched off the rope bridge by a bucket of acid poured on them by some annoyed (and scorched) guards from up above.

From there, the fight got challenging, as the PCs battle one mini-ambush after another as they made their way toward the airship they had seen before. They developed quite an audience as Fetid and his cronies gathered on the foredeck to watch the fighting. Semok, sadly, was unconscious in the ship’s prisoner hold, and not allowed to watch the action. Popcorn was passed around.

Eventually, the PCs worked their way around to the landing dock. To no one’s surprise, the ship pulled away from the dock. Fetid could be seen on deck, calling out in his evil insectoid droning voice, “Foosh, kill them, and bring me their bodies!”

Who is Foosh? An necromantic construct that has BOTH ability drains AND damage resistance! Because, by the gods, no fight is fun without them. At this point, the emphemeral spirit who guided Zayn’s actions began angrily raging about how unfair it is to have no spells left and be at half-hit points and have to face such a beastie. The emphemeral spirit who guided everyone else’s actions responded to this by having the nefarious Gerik Nikabar pop out of the shadows and pounce on the PCs.

However, just as it seemed that the outgunned PCs were toast, the last remaining wererat, Nimzink, appeared out of the shadows were he had been trailing after the PCs, and threw himself at Gerik. They tussled about while the PCs broke out every ability, trick, and desperate action to defeat the undead Foosh. Even Ting stopped whispering conspiratorily with Minor Eye #106 and helped out.

In the end, Foosh went down, and Nimzink — battered and breathless — was sitting proudly on top of a helpless Gerik. Revenge was served at last.

Session 6
Laicing plays hard to get with her sewer rat suitors...

The PCs, after a nights rest to recover from their battle with the sewer sweeper bot, once again head back into the dark beyond. They decide to search the corridors along the pipes, since they had not done that last time. Vorix, secretly an alcholoic, decides to semi-retire from adventuring and run the Poison Pot full time.

The PCs go down into the corridors along the pipe. To the north, they find a door with an sapphire (blue) key with a sign that reads: North channel pumping station, authorized personnel only. There are several suits of armor here with unusual helmets. To the east, there are a couple more doors with Sapphire keys, and one Ruby key (ooooh). Then the party heads south.

They discover a corridor to the south that has been severely damaged by some kind of cave-quake (in the distant past) — probably the Disjunction (Zayn says “they blame everything on the Disjunction in this place”). It is jumbled and slopes steeply down. There are a couple old topaz doors, one of which is damaged, the other is jammed open. The jammed door has a makeshift door over it with a sign that says “Don’t let Buddy and Rex out”. Buddy and Rex. Hmmmmm….

Buddy and Rex turn out to be oversized Chupracabras — blood sucking hounds. They are also black skinned and black furred and hide well in caves. They do battle with these guys, and poor Ren-aji is introduced to “fighting bad guys primordius style means ability drains”. Zayn is not impressed with one lousy point of constitution drain and decides to cleave buddy into two separate, bloody chunks. The chunks quiver. A bit. Then he glares at Rex, who turns into a pussy (cat) and runs away.

Moving on, they encounter a gaping pit which seems to drop out into the lower firmament. There is a rope bridge across. Zayn quotes rule #22 of D&D — crossing rope briges invites certain death, then he proceeds to cross. At the halfway point, death in the form of some kind of black, cloak-like beastie comes shooting down the pit from above, and then engulfs poor Zayn. Ren-aji channels healing like he has never channeled before (Zotham is going to start charging for this shit) keeping Zayn alive long enough to bust out, almost fall into the pit, and grab on to the rope bridge for dear life. The cloak-beast, then, shoots back up, clearing the way for… an obnoxious guard up on a ledge above who can shoot magic missiles (range 100’ + 10 per level… oh dear). It’s a race to see if Zayn can get back to the party’s side of the pit before guard-boy plunks him with one too many missiles. At least the guard wasn’t 3rd level, right? At least Laicing gave him a bit of his own medicine by freezing his nose.

Once safely back in the tunnel, out of range from the cloak-beast and the magic missile shooter, the party sees a oversized rat sitting on the rubble watching with interest. Ren-aji announces “I will parley with the rat!”… and he does! The rat turns out to be a red-shirt lacky of a pack of “Sewer Rats” who once upon a time ran the show down here under the leadership of wererat extraordinaire Gerik Nikabar. Nikabar, however, seems to have abandoned his fellows, even going so far as to betray them to his new employer, a Xanthid named Fetid.

The leader of the Sewer Rats then offered his team’s help to the PCs. If the PCs kill off Nikabar and his cronies, then the Sewer Rats will have their lair again. Plus… apparently… the Sewer Rats all seem to think that Laicing will marry whichever rat is the coolest. Yeah, good luck with that.

Session 5
Follow the rusty metal pipe, oh yes!

When the party returned home from the Sanctum of Cyrigal, they received an unpleasant message: the Prefect had been ordered by the powers that be (just which power? The Raj? Or some other influential entity?) to no longer help them. Still, he wanted it known that although the party can no longer depend on the help of the Raj, that the Raj still believes in their cause. They also received unplesant news — that Semok had disappeared while the rest of the party had gone out scouting.

Strangely enough, a cleric of Zotham had recently come to Ferhadizzor, and sought refuge at the Poison Pot (now run by the PCs… apparently). The cleric, named Ren-aji, was a rakshasa, but otherwise looked and acted a lot like Semok (weird…). While Vorix slept off some illegal alcohol, the rest of the party (sans Semok but plus Ren-aji) decided to explore the tunnels beyond the Topaz door at the bottom of their new hideout.

The tunnel beyond the Topaz door was a very long stair that went down quite a ways, leading to a series of tunnels that ran alongside an old, but sturdy iron pipe, some six feet in diameter. They explored one end, only to find that the tunnel (and pipe) had collapsed at a cave in. Sadly, whilst examining the collapse, they were caught unawares by some kind of metal cleaning-bot that had gone haywire (aren’t any of these old magic constructs good for more than 500 years and a devastating cataclysm??). Being put into a holding tank full of green paralytic gas was not enough to slow down Zayn, who punched several holes in the thing, while Ting picked off its eyeballs with sling discs, and its cleaning days were over.

The party then did a little more exploring, finding their way into the rusty metal pipes. They followed the pipes all over under the city, finding several places where the pipes had closed access hatches or locked doors. Then the PCs found The Pipe. One branch of the pipe was broken apart, and the end stuck out over a vast, yawning, underground chasm. The PCs couldn’t see the top of the chasm, nor the bottom. The pipe stuck out 50 feet from the north wall of the chasm, so Ting was able to follow the top of the pipe back to the wall, but was not able to climb up or down.

One thing the PCs did see was a windship (classic style, not a Zeppelin) docked on the far side of the cavern (three or four hundred feet across the chasm). Humanoids too far to recognize, were milling about. The PCs decided to retire back to their home base and plot their next move.

Sacking the Sanctum
... or "Has Someone Already Been Here?"

Session 4

The PCs decided to take the pathway around the side of the mountain toward the so-called Sanctum of Cyrigal. Within its walls — in theory — is a small retreat where some of the priests can go, and the Prefect suggested that perhaps it would be a good spot to reconnoiter and discover just to what extent the Red Masks are involved in the slave trade of mancers and magi within Homeland.

The PCs discovered the body of a Red Mask acolyte who had been killed on the road outside the structure. Who would kill a Red Mask so close to their own retreat? Hmmm… He had been looted, it seemed, but he was still in possession of a Cyrigalian signet ring, which would come in handy later.

The PCs then proceeded to the Sanctum. The entrance seemed to be no more than a plain metal-sided building with a triangular obelisk within. Hand shapes were carved into the obelisk. Before the PCs could mess with the obelisk, tho, they were attacked by 3 slightly invisible, half-undead, half-construct floating eyes. These eyes used beams to make their victims sleep, or be paralyzed. Zayn wanted to be both, and Semok liked option #3 (“Dude… Those eyes are so… psychadelic… woah!!”)

They hovered, so this would be one of the few places to not use the Grease spell…

After getting splattered by evil green undead gas-sporish goo (and Semok going down to a whopping 4 constitution before he made a save) the PCs defeated the floating eyes and made it down to the next level of the Sanctum. There, a huge fight occured between Red Masks and a bunch of goons from the… Hydromancers Guild?!? Was it the Hydromancers who attacked the Red Masks? What do the HMs have to do with this?

The PCs dealt with the Vampiric Mist that was left behind (due to studly double-crit by Vorix) and found their way even further down. There, amidst more signs of fighting, was a burnt-down scroll room (where Minor-Eye #106 seems to have taken a liking to Ting) and a priest’s prayer circle.

Finally, the last battle: In the crypts below, the PCs found where the rest of the Hydromancer’s Guild goons went. They did battle with the underpriest of the Sanctum. Whoever it was who defeated the underpriest was pretty butt-kicking, and in the process turned the poor underpriest into a Wight, and left him to rot in the catacombs.

The priest had on him a list of targets for kidnapping, which included Semok (uh, oh). Also, there was a linked tablet with a mysterious message). There was also, incidentally, a Topaz key to the undercity!

Introduction to Chapter 2
Hunting down the slavers...

The Prefect is upset.

Clearly agitated, he paces back and forth. “The Red Masks have maintained their presence in the City for generations,” he says, “True, they’ve never supported the use of magic, but they’ve always obeyed the law. It is shocking to think that one of the pillars of our theology is acting directly against the Raj and the well being of his people. It’s outrageous!”

“We must get to the bottom of this, and soon. What good will a few extra days of Dust be if all of our Mancers disappear?”

“There must be some way to find the slaver your contacts spoke of! If he is hidden in the undercity… There are so many doors, so many keys… And he may be hiding under the hood of the Red Masks themselves.”

He pauses, deep in thought. “We cannot act against Cyrigal’s priesthood directly. There is too much at stake. We don’t know the extent of their involvement in this plot, and it would never do to have Rajanate soldiers storm their grounds. Your group would have even worse difficulties… The main Temple is well guarded, and they don’t take well to interlopers.”

A cunning light rises in the Prefect’s eyes. He quickly sits down, moving in close, whispering conspiratorially. “There is,” he begins, then clears his throat. “There is a Sanctum of Cyrigal on the east side of the mountain. It is not too far, but it is remote due to the difficult terrain. It is a retreat of sorts for the Red Masks, strictly off-limits to everyone else. You could… enter it. Do what needs to be done. Find out if the Red Masks are involved, and to what extent.”

”Slavery was outlawed by the Raj over a hundred years ago!” says the Prefect emphatically. “Water crisis or no, we cannot allow the City to plunge into the clutches of such barbarism again!”

Session 3
Feliban goes down, PC's level up

When we last saw the PCs they were planning on jumping into the illusion-covered pit and ambushing the enemies that had run in there to put out the fire that had engulfed the tentacle beast. Zayn led off by skewering one of the rogues before it even knew what hit him. Two more bad guys were taken out in short order before the whole party made it down there.

Then Feliban — the “cook” from upstairs — and several of his tougher cronies attacked. Zayn was taken out by a double-fisted cause light wounds attack. The other warrior was similarly taken down by one too many hits from the bugbear. Then the casters got to work, shooting one 2 point firebolt and forcebolt after another, mixed in with a dagger attack or two. Zayn and the other warrior were brought back with potions and hero points.

After the battle was won, the PCs found themselves in the lair belonging to the wererat leader of the group named Gerik, who was nowhere to be found. The lair has a door to the undercity leading to the east, with a Topaz key. There is also some kind of Old Machine in the form of a elevated brass circle with runes and a control panel. Finally there is a fairly extensive distillery within.

Chained up within the lair was a young dervish girl named Kahika, who says that she saw what happened to Alteia. The latter was brought downstairs, already wounded from strange burn marks on her body and a deep cut across her knee. Gerik, it seems, wanted to sell both of them to Red Mask slavers, but Alteia was so desperately injured that he did not think she was going to survive. So, instead, they “took care of her”, and Kahika never saw her again.

The PCs found several items of note: a magic mace called “Eyebiter”, a magic scimitar called “Aledon’s End”, a suit of fine leather armor, two unusual coins with the Red Masks emblem on them, and the Helmstone. Also there is a well-equipped alchemy lab within.

In the end the PCs made good progress, but also still did not know where Gerik may have gotten off to, or what he is going to do next. They turned in the helmstone, and in so doing, reached the next level. There was much rejoicing.

With Gerik gone and Mubink the Halfling AWOL, it would appear that the PCs now “own” the Poison Pot above, as well.

Session 2
Players meet the Poison Pot...

The heroes, getting a tip from a local dervish in the Jalil’i’wan shanty, investigated a tavern called “The Poison Pot”. No sooner did they get there than the barkeep, a halfling named Mubink, and Alteia’s supposed uncle Feliban, suggested that they go out into the back alley to investigate a message that Alteia apparently wrote on the wall. When Zayn the barbarian suddenly tumbled through a illusionary floor into a pit, the heroes realized they’d been duped.

Combat ensued, between Mubink and Feliban and the heroes, as well as Zayn and a horrid tentacled thing at the bottom of the pit that wanted to eat him up. The halfling proved to be a slimy self-serving wimp, but Feliban wound up being a tougher nut to crack. Apparently he was some kind of priest of Cyrigal, hinting that perhaps the Red Masks are involved in this scheme. Zayn barely managed to escape being dragged into the maw of the tentacle beast, and only a greasy handle on Feliban’s warhammer prevented the heroes from getting their skulls bashed in. They retreated and regrouped.

After resting up, they attacked the Poison Pot in the dead of night, finding a not-so-unexpected ambush waiting for them. The bad guys chose lackeys for the ambush, however, so this fight did not take quite a toll. The lackeys told the heroes that the head of the thieves group was named Gerik, and that there were rumors that he was a wererat.

As the session ended, the heroes set the tentacle beast on fire (take that, beast!) which drew out some of the henchmen. The heroes prepared to jump down into the pit and take out the henchmen.

Session 1
It starts...

The party was engaged to track down the missing Dust from the Morning’s Daughter. Employing the help of a local priest of Abadosh, the party spoke with both Verik Ironsides, the captain, and Alteia, the helmsman. Verik was cranky about the interrogation, saying only that he’d worked for the Queen in life. Alteia, however, said that she buried the Dust, and that she was killed by “Poison Pot”

After a fight with a ornery Skettercrab — featuring a human bull-rushing a 250-lb crab off a ledge, the party discovered the hidden Dust. They returned the Dust to the Prefect, who rewarded them with some potions.

The Prefect assured them that the Dust would keep the Nereid Device working for the next week — assuming something else doesn’t go wrong. He handed it over to the Hydromancer’s Guild immediately. Next step is to figure out what happened to the Daughter’s helmstone, and who is behind the attacks on this ship. Perhaps it will be a first step in figuring out how to stop the Pirate Queen once and for all.

Chapter One Introduction
We need that Dust!!

A map is unfolded on the expensive wooden table.

The Prefect points to the document, showing a general layout of the city. “Yesterday,” he says, “The Morning’s Daughter arrived. She is a scout ship – one of the very last we have – and she drifted home late after an attack by the Dreadnaught. She is in the shipyard now… she was scheduled to be fitted as a Watership, small though she may be, but now she’ll have to be repaired first.”

“The Captain of the _Daughter _was due to be debriefed, and to deliver what Dust the ship had collected, as soon as it arrived. Under normal circumstances, the safe return of one of our ships is always an occasion of some celebration. On this occasion, however…”

“The Dreadnaught made messy work of Morning’s Daughter. Her hull is badly damaged, much of the aft cabin destroyed. But those things can be repaired. It is her crew that we shall miss. They are gone, to a man. It is said that the Dreadnaught takes captives, and so it must have been, for almost none of the crew were on board.”

The Prefect sighs and sits back. “I say almost. The Captain of the Daughter, Verik Ironsides, was found slain in the fore cabin, an Amythine dagger buried in his chest. We assumed yet another victory for the Queen, and set about assessing the damage.”

“However, there has been a disturbing development this morning. The Daughter’s helmsman, a dervish named Alteia, was found outside the city walls by one of the smaller shanties. Dead. Witnesses at Stormrider’s Dock said that after Alteia guided the Daughter into port, she fled the scene before Rajanate authorities could arrive. She appeared wounded, and was carrying something.”

“The situation has grown more complicated. Was this a typical attack by the Queen, or something else? Why did Alteia flee? She was a newly promoted Helmsman, one of the best to come out of the Guild in years, and Verik’s ship was her very first assignment. Was she trying to steal the Dust?“

The Prefect stands up, taking in a deep breath, and rests his hand on the hilt of his scimitar. “There is much work to be done if we are to preserve the rule of the Raj and prevent the city from falling into chaos. But this must be done first: We need that Dust!”


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