Session 6: In Which the Party Eliminates Three of the Cynidicean Cults, and Alienates the Fourth

Monday, Elephant 29th, 734

The party retreats to the safety of the Tower of Madarua following their extremely successful, casualty-free raid on the Temple of Zargon. They spend an hour celebrating their success and telling the High Spearmaiden what they’ve done, then decide to post the head of the High Priest of Zargon (which they took with them during the raid) on a pike in the town square. Fortunately, the forces of Zargon are still in disarray following the raid, so they meet no resistance. When they return, they arrange for more advertising for recruits, requesting Light and Heavy Infantry, Crossbowmen, Bowmen, and Longbowmen, as well as Normal Men looking to become henchmen. Several members of the party also donate the majority of the proceeds of the raid to the Spearmaidens, though Mercedes holds out, intending to donate to the Magi instead, when she can contact them. Then, they retire for the day.

Tuesday, Elephant 30th, 734

The next morning, they learn from the guards that the Chosen of Zargon have announced that the high priest has been murdered by the “wicked surfacers from Ter-Bakar”, that Elicha-Ya (one of the twins of Spinello’s acquaintance) has ascended as High Priestess, and that, as part of the funary festivities, the Halls of Pleasure within the Temple of Zargon will be open to all Cynidiceans tomorrow (Horse 1st). The PCs assume that, since the sacrifice to Zargon is supposed to be made on the first of the month, this last announcement is a scheme on the part of the Chosen to collect victims. After a lengthy debate, they decide that their next move should be to disguise themselves as normal Cynidiceans and try to slip into the temple with the other revelers tomorrow and attack from within.

They also decide that they should try to recruit the other cults as allies in the attack, and that the Brothers of Gorm should be their first stop. On their way out,  the guards warn them that a gang of zargonians is watching the Tower from an alley across the street. So the PCs disguise themselves as typical Cynidiceans, slip out the back, and sneak through the back alleys of Cynidicea to the Fortress of Gorm.

The Eldest Brother of Gorm is eager to speak with them, and gladly joins their cause. He tells them that his men will watch the Temple from the alleys across the street, and, when the PCs attack, the Brothers of Gorm will join the fray on their side.

The party then attempts to sneak through the back alleys to the Stronghold of Usamigaras. On they way, they come across one of the Magi in a alley passing a small pouch of coins to a shady looking ruffian. “Hey, what are you doing?” the PCs shout, and the Magus and the carouser take off running in opposite directions. The party splits up to chase them.

Thjolstoff, Mercedes, Aisha, and their associated henchmen pursue the carouser. Leaving the slower-moving henchmen behind, they manage to catch and tackle their quarry. Though, at first, the ruffian refuses to cooperate with them, they manage to intimidate him into telling them what he is up to. He reveals that the Magi are paying him to watch the Temple of Zargon, and that he had just reported that the Chosen have sealed the Temple and posted High Zargonian archers at all the windows. The PCs then try to recruit him as a henchman, but he adamantly refuses to have anything to do with them. So they give him a gold piece for his trouble and send him on his way.

Meanwhile, Spinello and Milnos-Sim chase after the Magus. They shout after him, “Wait! It’s us! The surfacers!” At which point, the Magus stops and tells them that he knew this, of course, as the Magi of Usamigaras know all. The PCs explain that they are trying to meet with the Magus Supreme, and, again, the Magus responds that he knew this, of course, as the Magi of Usamigaras know all. He then offers to escort them to the Stronghold to see the Magus Supreme. They meet up with the rest of the party, and head to the Stronghold.

Once again, the PCs are led through a twisting maze of chambers and passages to the audience chamber of the Magus Supreme. When the party tells him of their plan to attack the Temple, the Magus Supreme explains that, of course, he knew why they they have come, and that, when the PCs attack the temple, the Magi will join the battle on their side. The PCs thank him, and head back to the Tower of Madarua. On the way out of the Stronghold, Spinello meets Dalili-Lu – a busty, 19-year-old carouser who can sing – and recruits her as a henchman.

On the way back to the Tower, the party encounters a band of laborers carrying heavy sacks of mushrooms. When they realize that the PCs are the surfacers, the laborers want nothing to do with them.

Back at the tower, the PCs meet with the High Spearmaiden, and convince her, too, to have her troops join the fray when the PCs attack the Temple.

As the party settles in to wait for tomorrow’s attack, it becomes apparent that Meldotia-Nar, the light infantrywoman that Spinello recruited last session, is not particularly pleased with her master’s latest recruit. Spinello spends the evening soothing her hurt feelings, and restoring her loyalty, by finally giving in to her advances.

Tuesday, Horse 1st, 734

The PCs wake early and disguise themselves as common Cynidiceans, hiding weapons and armor under cloaks and robes. They again slip out the back and through alleys to avoid the zargonian spies. Soon, they find themselves in line with many Cynidicean revelers, waiting for the south gates to the Temple of Zargon to open. The party huddles together as the bard gives them an inspirational speech.

Two high zargonian gangs and a pair of Acolytes of Zargon open the gates and watch the revelers as they pass into the fane, and through the magical door into the Halls of Pleasure – the casino room the PCs saw on their first foray into the Temple. The guards are fooled by the PCs’ disguises, and Milnos-Sim is able to quietly  cast sleep without being detected, incapacitating most of the guards. The rest of the PCs cut down those few zargonains who were not put to sleep, while their “normal man” henchmen cut the throats of the ones that are already down.

Thjolstoff runs to open the north gates as more acolytes and high zargonian guards pour into the room. Aisha puts the acolytes and more zargonians to sleep, while Mercedes runs upstairs to deal with the high zargonian archers that are taking position in the gallery. The more heavily armored henchmen, Lunatha-Sim and Meldotia-Nar, plug the north door to keep the advancing beastmen off of Thjolstoff while he raises the portcullises. Spinello takes cover behind the statue of Zargon, firing arrows at any enemies he can find that aren’t engaged in melee.

More acolytes and zargonians swarm in from the Halls of Pleasure. Milnos-Sim’s knee is shattered and he goes down, but his mighty henchman Sablain-Xee manages to advance and slay the acolytes before they can get off any spells. Mercedes is joined by Eva and Aisha in the gallery, but are unable to get through the heavy armor of the high zargonian champion that leads the archers. The group doing battle at the north gate is surrounded. Enthusiastic, middle-aged Ablos-Nar is cut down, spraying broken teeth as he falls. Thjolstoff drinks the potion of heroism they found on the Isle of Death. It turns out to be a potion of super-heroism and he becomes a 6th-level barbarian for a little more than an hour.

Omar, Milnos-Sim’s demonic familiar, stabilizes his master. Spinello joins the fray at the north gate, where the mighty Thjolstoff cleaves a swath of destruction through the beastmen. Mercedes, her sister, and the Atlantean finally dispatch the archers. And then the Spearmaidens join the battle, charging into the scrum at the north gate. Brothers of Gorm come through the south gate at nearly the same time, followed closely by the Magi of Usamigaras, along with a summoned hero and a dozen summoned berserkers.

With the aid of their reinforcements, the party soon dispatches all their enemies in the fane. Then they turn their attention beyond the magical gate. In the Halls of Pleasure, the forces of Zargon have overturned the casino tables and made them into a makeshift barricade, which is defended by the 9 remaining Acolytes and Chosen of Zargon, more than twice that many of their high zargonian guards, and a trio of war dogs.

The PCs’ forces quickly move out of the doorway, and have the Magi’s summoned minions charge the barricade. The PCs follow them in, along with the Brothers and the Spearmaidens. Within 30 seconds, the forces of Zargon have been slain to a man, while the PCs have only lost most of the berserkers and Lunatha-Sim and Meldotia-Nar, who both suffered nasty head wounds that will leave gruesome facial scars.

Their enemies slain, Thjolstoff starts ordering the allied cultists to secure the Temple so the PCs can loot it. The Spearmaidens and Brothers object, and an argument ensues. The Magi are unable to resist the opportunity, and begin quietly casting spells, hoping to catch the others by surprise and seize control of Cynidicea once and for all.

Fortunately, Mercedes hears their quiet magic, and shouts “Betrayal!” Unfortunately, the Spearmaidens and the Brothers each assume their most hated rivals would be the ones to betray them, and so instinctively turn on each other. The Spearmaidens have trouble penetrating the heavily armored Brothers, and fare rather poorly. The summoned hero puts down Sablain-Xee with a wound from which he will recover with no lasting effects. The summoned berserkers do massive damage to Thjolstoff but cannot take him down. He puts both of them down, but the summoned hero deflects his second cleave. The PCs in the fane are able to take down several Magi before they can cast their spells, but are still subject to various energy bolts and plumes of fire.  The Magi also manage to put most of the Brothers of Gorm to sleep, to put a wall of smoke between them and Aisha (depriving her of targets for her energy bow spell), and to cast slipperiness in the magical doorway. This last spell traps Eva in a slapstick nightmare, and leaves Aisha, Spinello, Amab-Rah, and Dalili-Lu in the fane with the Magi, while everyone else is trapped in the Halls of Pleasure with the Brothers, the Spearmaidens, and the summoned hero.

The Spearmaidens finish off the Brothers of Gorm, but not before four of their number, including the High Spearmaiden, are taken down. Thjolstoff takes down the summoned hero. Spinello and Dalili-Lu cut down more Magi, but the ones still standing put a dagger in the carouser’s lung, ending her singing career. Amab-Rah wrestles with another Magus. The archers take down more of the Magi, but are hampered by the fact that so many of them are now in melee.

The Magus breaks out of Amab-Rah’s wrestling hold and stabs the siege engineer, taking him down with a wound from which he will recover with no lasting effects. Thjolstoff climbs around the doorframe to get past the slippery patch, then charges in to take down the last of the Magi.

The battle ended, the various healers in the group tend to the wounded. Two of the fallen Spearmaidens are dead, but the High Spearmaiden will recover. The PCs claim the Temple and everything in it for themselves. The Spearmaidens demand their fair share of the plunder. Thjolstoff intimidates them into leaving, but they swear that this isn’t over. Once they are gone, the PCs close all the portcullises, sealing the temple.

The PCs decide to investigate the Halls of Pleasure before Thjolstoff’s potion wears off. Two of the three doors out of the casino room lead to other large chambers full of wakedreaming Cynidiciean revelers, while the 3rd leads to a dark hallway. The PCs usher the revelers out of the Temple, then grab torches off the walls and explore the hallway.

They haven’t gone far when Mercedes’ 10′ pole triggers a pressure plate that sends a large section of the right-hand wall smashing into the left-hand wall, snapping the pole in half. The PCs avoid the pressure plate and continue on.

The corridor winds on, with no doors or side passages visible. Eventually, the PCs encounter a band of creepy, naked Cynidiceans in vulture masks who have painted their bodies black and are carrying hammers, nails, and bundles of wooden planks. When the PCs ask who they are, they simply respond, “Vultures.”

In speaking with the “vultures”, the PCs learn that this corridor leads to the temple of the Old Gods – Gorm, Madarua, and Usamigaras, but that sarmesk – the lizard-people – dwell there now. The PCs decide to retreat back to the casino room and spike the door. When they get there, the “vultures” grab one of the corpses in the room and start nailing planks together. The PCs panic, and and try to stop them from doing…well, whatever it is they are doing. Thjolstoff socks one of them in the jaw, knocking him unconscious. The PCs usher the naked creeps out of the Temple.

They then search the whole temple and gather all the loot they can find. Between the Eye of Zargon, the money in the casino, the personal belongings of the cultists who lived here, and the zargonian warbands’ hordes, it’s quite a haul. They also find the servants’ quarters and offer to keep them on at their usual 3gp/month salary. The servants tell them that the library is locked because something poisonous lives in there, so the PCs avoid it.

The PCs wrap up their day by putting adding the heads of the Eldest Brother of Gorm and the Magus Supreme of Usamigaras to that of the High Priest of Zargon on pikes in the town square. The session ends with the PCs dreaming of ruling Cynidicea from their new 65,400gp stronghold. That may prove more difficult than they think.

The Party at the End of the Session:
PC1: Milnos-Sim (M Lv1 Atlantean Tycoon; 2175/2900xp) (damaged knee)
PC1 Hench: Sablain-Xee (M Lv1 Fighter; 837/2000xp)
PC1 Hench: Amab-Rah (M Lv1 Fighter; 468/2000xp)
PC2: Thjolstoff Darkskull (M Lv1 Barbarian; 2361/2600xp) (lamed leg & gruesome scars)
PC3: Mercedes di Portia (F Lv2 Assassin; 2338/3400xp) (damaged knee)
PC3 Hench: Eva di Portia (F Lv1 Explorer; 938/2000xp)
PC4: Aisha Alendi (F Lv1 Atlantean Stormtrooper; 2146/3675xp)
PC4 Hench: Lunatha-Sim (F Lv1 Fighter; 752/2000xp) (gruesome scars)
PC5: Spinello di Lombabasso (M Lv2 Bard; 2338/2800xp) (1 minor scar)
PC5 Hench: Odgrim Silverbeast (M Lv0 Light Infantry; -20/0xp) (severed leg)
PC5 Hench: Simbra-Nar (M Lv1 Atlantean Swordsmage; 111/3850xp) (damaged eye & severed tongue)
PC5 Hench: Meldotia-Nar (F Lv1 Fighter; 752/2000xp) (gruesome scars)
PC5 Hench: Dalili-Lu (F Lv1 Thief, Assassin, or Bard; 468/?xp) (lung damage)
PC5 Hench: Ablos-Nar (M Lv1 Fighter; 468/2000xp) (missing 5 teeth)

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