Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Down and Dirty

The heroes make a decision: they are going to accompany Jago and Meraud, and try to find out whether anything bad has happened to Dol Gemen Lom.

They climb down the chain to the cage where they entered the Soft World through a lacuna.  There, Meraud drops a little bombshell: by virtue of having spent time in the green air of the Soft World, they are all infected with something called "ice ash", which has two cures: remove disease, and waiting out the infection.  (The latter option results in painful death within 6-8 hours, she duly informs everyone.)  Since they do not have enough spells to cure the ice ash for everyone at once, they decide to rest again inside the cage and fix that.

Fortunately nothing happens to them while they're in there and everyone manages to get remove disease prepped.  When they advance through the lacuna, they quickly cure themselves of the ice ash infections and shortly decide that the best way to reach Dol Gemen Lom is by going back to Jeraslan and transitting Grimcatch one more time.  On the way there they are blocked by a camp of Catamese army soldiers, but they use invisibility and bluff their way through with a story about trying to find truffles at the behest of Xabier Lubo and his fickle taste buds.

They find Grimcatch still burned, the way they left it.  Everyone ties handkerchiefs around their noses and proceeds.  A series of barely-glimpsed movements and phantom sounds dogs at them as they proceed through the tomb-like lost home of the grimlock tribe.  A mysterious voice taunts Jago at one point, laughing and saying his name, and Jago responds by unleashing a torrent of small black birds which seek out the meddler.  In response, another swarm of birds mingles with his swarms, but nobody is revealed in the area.

Finally the party finds the locked iron door that they never explored, and unlocks it.

Make Like a Shepherd

Jago and Meraud bicker, then everyone decides to put their cards on the table. Meraud explains what the war of keyholes is, omitting only what she doesn't know, which is why the herons are fighting. Meraud explicitly explains that the Truss being broken means that Dol Gemen Lom might be missing, and if that's the case, all of Blue Gabbent might be at risk.

They proceed back to the broken bridge in an orderly fashion. There, they kill a few vultures and while fighting the vultures notice the black shadow of a tar orphan flying overhead.

Jago and Ellira fly across, Jago in blueling form and Ellira in white owl form. Maurice summons a hippogriff and carries first himself, and then Tiffy and Meraud across. Dev is last, and does not manage to cross before the tar orphan claws its way through and attacks.

Tiffy and Ellira rake it with lightning while Dev, finally rescued by the hippogriff, fires arrows into its back. It manages to injure the entire party with its wings, claw the hell out of Tiffy and Ellira and finally expire.

Meanwhile, however, two similar tar orphans have appeared, stealing what appears to be the entrance to a cave.  The party observes Occulke's tentacles tearing apart these thieves, off in the distance.

Secrets of the Blue Agents

[This summary was created by Nate.  Thanks Nate!]

Dev and Jago talk while Meraud and the others sleep.  The highlights:
  • Jago confirms off-handedly that he is a vampire.
  • They struggle to establish trust without disclosing any potentially damaging information.
  • Dev says outright that he doesn't trust Jago or Meraud.
  • Jago is aware that Dev is Iluvien's brother, but since he didn't trust Iluvien either, this doesn't help.
  • In a gesture of goodwill, Jago tells Dev more of Occulke and the War of Keyholes.  Apparently Clattermouth directed the tar orphans (the headless flyers) and the ghasts that were attacking us.  Occulke sent/controlled the tentacle thing.  "Occulke protects his own".  But because his argument does not build upon anything Dev already knows, it doesn't give Dev a reason to trust.  Jago could be lying, and the entire episode with the ghasts, the flyers, and the tentacles could be a ruse to drive us to Jago and Meraud.
  • Jago begs Dev to give him a reason to trust him.  Dev takes a risk and tells him about finding the heron-marked coins in the caverns below the roots.  Jago says this confirms something he had already suspected - something about "Jester" - but does not elaborate.  Apparently this is not sufficient.
  • Still searching for a path to common ground, Dev asks Jago what he needs to trust him.  Jago asks "what have you done for us recently?".  Dev mentions killing ghasts, fighting harpies and gnolls, killing grimlocks.  He mentions fighting the blue dragon, which elicits surprise and skepticism from Jago.  When Jago realizes that the fight with the dragon occurred in Olemheiden - far from the blue dragon's natural habitat - he becomes alarmed.  He asks where the dragon came from.  Dev replies that he doesn't know, but that he suspects that the dragon may have come from beneath the orulins, which further agitates Jago.
  • Finally, Jago asks what else has happened in Olemheiden recently.  When Dev mentions the earthquake, Jago starts using ALL CAPS.  HE WAKES MERAUD AND YELLS THAT THE TRUSS IS BROKEN.

Game Session, 2009.04.27

Posted to Google Docs.

Hunted & Saved

The party, depleted of its magic, attempts to rest in the maze.  This does not go as planned, however.  To give Dev a chance to rest, Crom takes a spell at the watch.  Maurice appoints the fallen babau, newly risen as a zombie, to assist with the watch at another corridor.  Almost immediately, ghasts start appearing, tearing at the zombie demon and the berserking human with no apparent care for their existence.  But soon it becomes clear that this is not an isolated series of attacks, but an assault, as more and more undead keep arriving, climbing over the walls and at the same time pushing the babau zombie back with a mass of bodies.  Crom cannot hold back the tide on his own and he wakes the rest of the party up, but it's already too late.. there are too many enemies and not enough swords, and then Crom himself falls, paralyzed by an early attack.

The party is already depleted, and there seems to be no recourse except immediate retreat, but without Crom.  As they slowly come to this realization, two dark, non-ghast-shaped figures arrive and exhort the party with loud screams to follow them.  The characters do so quickly after it becomes apparent that Crom is going to get torn apart anyway, and the babau is probably beyond saving as well.  More and more ghasts and hunting the team, and coming from every direction.  Soon, however, a keening wail from above announces more, and more deadly trouble: two tar orphans, the headless fliers of the Soft World, are flapping around overhead, apparently looking for a gap in the flood of undead to make their attack.

The characters chase headlong after the two mysterious arrivals, who lead the party to a trapdoor in the glass ground, and start pushing the heroes through it to safety.  Even as this happens, the tar orphans decide to make their move, and smash through the glass walls of the maze, sending deadly fragments flying everywhere.  But their attack is halted as two great lashing tentacles grab and crush them, sending their bodies off into oblivion.  The tentacles then begin pummeling and tossing ghasts, giving the saviors and the heroes time to get to safety.

Just before she ducks through, Tiffy tries one last-ditch effort to save Crom, and with her final magic summons a great beetle to push back the hordes and try to pull the body out of the fray.  Then they all scramble into the bolthole and latch the trapdoor behind them.

Once inside they are introduced to their saviors, a woman named Meraud and a man named Jago.  It is clear immediately that the plan to save the heroes from the ghasts was not unanimously approved, as the woman holds out a holy symbol, a disk bearing the heron symbol they have seen before, and attempts to turn the party members.  Nobody flinches, and she agrees to let them stay.

The party rests, but Dev agrees, once again, to stand watch, this time to discuss the immediate future with Jago.