Session 7: In Which a Threat Is Discovered and Eliminated

Wednesday, 1st day; 9th month (Horse); year 734 (cont.)

Following the unfortunately Tarantino-esque conclusion to their assault on the Temple of Zargon, the PCs rush to repair their relationship with the Spearmaidens of Madarua. They send a small delegation – led by Spinello and specifically excluding the frightful barbarian who drove them out of the Temple – to entreat with the Spearmaidens.

The delegation emerges onto a town square that is unnaturally empty and ominously quiet. Even the ‘shroom-addled denizens of Cynidicea realize that the balance of power has been upset, and anything could happen now. The frightened citizens eye the PCs silently from windows and shops as they make their way to the Tower of Madarua.

They find the gates of the Tower compound shut tight. Spinello hails the Spearmaidens, and one of them appears on the battlements. She demands that they leave, and reminds them that their henchmen (Odgrim and Simbra-Nar) and their friend Bozev, the Telkaynie tavern keeper, are still in the Tower, convalescing. If the PCs are foolish enough to attack, their guards have orders to kill the hostages. Hoping to find a more sympathetic ear, Spinello asks if he can speak to Ilaliya, the Spearmaiden who guided them out of the Pyramid, and who Spinello had been trying unsuccessfully to woo ever since. The Spearmaiden, obviously upset by the bard’s insensitivity, informs him that Ilaliya did not survive the battle in the Temple.

Spinello is distraught. He begs the Spearmaiden to tell him if there is anything to do to make amends, so that he might be allowed to see his fallen friend and say goodbye. The Spearmaiden is moved by the bard’s pleas, his natural charm, his way with women, and his player’s ability to roll 6’s seemingly on demand. She cannot allow him in, but she brings to the wall the Veteran Spearmaiden who has assumed command while the High Spearmaiden recovers from her wounds to treat with the PCs.

The Veteran Spearmaiden demands that the PCs give them the Eye of Zargon – the fabulous jewel, paid for with the blood and toil of countless generations of Cynidiceans, that has long adorned the Fane of Zargon in the Temple – and then leave Cynidicea forever. Spinello agrees to turn over the Eye, if the Spearmaidens will agree to heal their wounded comrades, who have been stabilized, but who will recover in a day instead of a week if they receive magical healing. The Veteran Spearmaiden informs him that their powers are expended for the day, but that they might be able to assist them tomorrow, if they turn over the Eye.

They delegation returns to the Temple to retrieve the Eye and discuss events with the rest of the group. Mercedes vehemently opposes giving up the Eye, but the rest of the group agrees that it’s actually a small price to pay to restore access to the only source of magical healing left in town. Aisha is more than happy to leave this stupid cave and return to the surface, and argues that that is what they should do. Thjolstoff, however, disagrees.

“This is our cave. A year ago, I stood on the shores of Anjaheim and watched a great bear tear the heart from a mighty sea serpent. I knew that this was a sign from the Gods Above, signifying that I, Thjolstoff the Beardless, must join the Crusade, venture south, and seize a mighty kingdom. This is that kingdom. We will return to the surface, and we will find and destroy whatever dam was erected that caused the river to run dry and turn this place into a desert, and then we will lead people of this miserable city back into the light. But first, we will take this cave.”

The rest of the party shakes their heads, and reluctantly agrees to go along with the barbarian’s plans.

Later that day, the party is approached by Yosarn, the keeper of the Temple’s tavern and the head of its staff. The PCs agree to retain him in this position, and he reminds them that it is the first of the month, and that he will require 327gp to cover the Temple’s upkeep, including his wages, and that of the rest of the servants. They ask him what kind of profits they can expect from the tavern. Yosarn laughs and explains that, while he has kept losses much lower than his predecessor, the Chosen have never run their tavern so as to turn a profit. Aisha demands that he stop serving the Blackspore Brandy that caused Mercedes so much trouble when they arrived. The tavernkeeper is shocked – what else is he supposed to sell? She suggests the more sensible mushroom brew they had at Bozev’s place, but he explains that Bozev brews that himself, and only makes enough to supply his own tavern. Unless the trade routes through the Labrynth of Graal open up, he has no suppliers who can provide any other kind of drink. The PCs reluctantly agree to allow him to continue running the business as he has until they can deal with the trade situation.

Thursday, 2nd day through Wednesday, 7th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Between returning the Eye and Spinello’s charm, the party has patched things up with the Spearmaidens by the end of the next day. While there is obviously still a lot of mistrust there, the Spearmaidens are at least willing to heal the PCs at the normal cost, and to coordinate their efforts to defend the city. Of course, the High Speamaiden (who now sports a nasty hole in her right cheek through which you can see her teeth) keeps suggesting that the PCs can best help by doing things that will place them in harm’s way and/or get them out of Cynidicea for extended periods of time, such as retrieving artifacts from the Pyramid, or travelling to the Telkaynie settlement of Chevatugi to the north to see if they can get the trade route between there and Cynidicea reopened. The PCs don’t take the bait, nor do they follow up on her suggestion to try recruiting Hestmon-Zo, the leader of the small group of mercenaries that help guard the Fortress of Gorm, to use his knowledge of the manual of arms to start training a militia.

They instead decide that they will wait a week for Milnos-Sim to recover, and then attack the Zargonian cliff dwelling that lies across the reservoir and kill their leader, Thrak-Sha the Butcher, before he tries to lay claim to the city. According to the High Spearmaiden, Thrak-Sha is a half-zargonain warrior who is more experienced than she, but less so than the High Priest of Zargon, which would make him 4th or 5th level.

While they wait, they have the Spearmaidens heal those of their henchmen who can benefit from it. Many of them are grievously injured – Meldotia-Nar is especially distraught at being horribly disfigured by the loss of her nose, while Lunatha-Sim, whose Zargonian ancestry ensured that she has never been pretty, wears her permanent half-Joker grin stoically – but everyone remains in the PCs’ service. Even Odgrim, hobbling on a wooden leg, finally returns, though he obviously isn’t happy about it, and grumbles a lot about having nowhere else to go.

The PCs also pay the Spearmaidens to detect magic on the treasure they looted from the Temple. Dalili-Lu, now a 1st level Bard despite the injuries that hamper her singing, uses the knowledge of magical engineering that she picked up hanging around her fellow ruffians in the Magi’s Stronghold to identify as many of the party’s magic items as she can. She notes that they have a cloak of protection, a ring of x-ray vision, a powerful medallion of ESP, and the Eldest Brother’s blue dragonbone helm of telepathy. However, the wand, Aisha’s red dragonbone ring, and Thjolstoff’s black dragonbone sword remain unidentified. Their magical arsenal also includes a potion of love, a potion of dragon control, and unidentified fizzy purple potion that smells like smoke. In addition, they have a note written in a dialect of Giantish, one of the few languages that none of them are familiar with, and a map written in some sort of code.

A wave of mercenary recruits arrive in response to advertising that began before the assault on the Temple. The PCs are able hire them all: 3 light infantry, 2 crossbowmen, 1 heavy infantry, 1 bowman, and 1 longbowman. These men are added to the 4 deep dogs (hunting dogs with infravision) that the PCs found in the Temple’s kennel to form the beginning of their garrison. They decline to hire the middle-aged normal man with no useful skills who responds to their advertisement for 0-level henchmen. They continue advertising for another week, and add slingers to their list of available positions.

Finally, most of the PCs try to funnel money into their XP reserves. Spinello gives the Spearmaidens money to construct a monument to those who fell in the assault on the Temple. Mercedes and her sister give away as much untainted food as they can find to the people of Cynidicea. Aisha gives Bozev a grant to expand his brewing operation. And Thjolstoff commissions a throne.

Thursday, 8th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

Finally, Milnos-Sim and all the henchmen have recovered, and the party prepares to launch an assault on the zargonian cliff village. Before they can leave the Temple, however, their guards stop them and inform them that something is trying to bash down the spiked door in the Halls of Pleasure beyond the strange magical portal in the Fane of Zargon. The PCs arrive just in time to see a gang of ssarmesk lizard-men burst into the room beyond the locked gate.

As luck would have it, however, this turns out to be the same gang whose loot the PCs helped carry back in the Pyramid. Krothezo, the gang’s champion, is happy to see them again. He has heard that the PCs have defeated the Chosen of Zargon, and explains that, with the Chosen gone, his tribe can now safely explore this section of the Pyramid, which the cultists used to control. He then asks what the PCs are doing in the Pyramid. The PCs are horrified by they implication that the Halls of Pleasure are actually in the Pyramid.

Quickly, Milnos-Sim uses the medallion of ESP he was entrusted with to determine that the lizard-man are not trying to trick them, and are indeed honestly happy to see them again. He also determines that the ssarmesk do not yet realize that the PCs are on the other side of a magical portal that leads directly to Cynidicea. Armed with this knowledge, the Aisha tells the lizard people that they are exploring the Pyramid, too, looking for the tomb of Sabban-Ka. The unsuspecting ssarmesk don’t know where that is, but are happy to explore the Pyramid along with their human friends, and to compare notes with them. With the lizard-people’s help, the PCs are able connect their map of the Halls of Pleasure with their map of the Pyramid, and to determine that the ssarmesk’s lair is less than 200′ away, down a winding corridor with no other exits. When asked, Krothezo tells the PCs that his master, Ssikidass, was sent here by his master, Krothedus the Srakai warlord who rules the Labrynth of Graal to the north, to scout Cynidicea and its environs in preparation to conquer it.

Though Spinello is reluctant to turn on Krothezo and his gang, who have never wronged them in any way, they party agrees that they cannot risk the ssarmesk finding this back door into the city they are planning to conquer. Aisha tells Krothezo that the party wants to show them the area that they have explored before they head further into the Pyramid. She leads them through the gate, into the Fane of Zargon, where the PCs garrison is waiting in ambush.

The ssarmesk are taken completely by surprise. The PCs waste no spells, but are still able to slay them quickly. The lizard-men are able to take down one of the light infantrymen, but he is quickly revived and survives with only some notable scars, which Aisha and Mercedes assure him only serve to make him look more manly. Unfortunately, he will be out of the action for the rest of the day.

The PCs then form a plan to deal with the rest of the ssarmesk warband. While most of the party waits in ambush in the Fane, Mercedes and Thjolstoff follow the map to the large temple chamber that the ssarmesk are using as a lair. When confronted by the lizard-man chief and two of his gangs, Mercedes uses the helm of telepathy to explain that their party and Krothezo’s gang were ambushed and sent them to get reinforcements.

The chief buys their story, and decides to help. Lamenting that the rest of gangs are guarding other areas of the Pyramid, he leaves the smaller gang to guard the lair while he and the 9-man gang follow the PCs into an ambush. This time, Aisha and Milnos-Sim both unload sleep spells on their surprised victims, but are only able to disable the chief, the champion, and one of the ssarmesk warriors. The rest of the party, with the aid of their mercs (including the viciously effective dogs and a brutal spear charge on the part of the remaining light infantry), manages to take down the rest of the lizard-men without taking any casualties. Thjolstoff, however, is stabbed and bitten down to 2hp.

The party heads to the ssarmesk lair, leaving behind the mercenaries, who refuse to go into a dungeon, but taking the 4 dogs. They try to fool the remaining gang with a ruse about needing more reinforcements, but the lizard-people don’t fall for it. The PCs seize the initiative and manage to slay the outnumbered beastmen, but not before they sever Odgrim’s remaining leg! Milnos-Sim manages to convince his familiar, Omar, to act to save the unfortunate henchman’s life by pointing out how funny it would be if the man survived with no legs.

Before they can take Odgrim back to the Cynidicea, another group of ssarmesk come to investigate the commotion. They PCs are able to quickly dispatch them, and then move their wounded man to safety.

The PCs decide to make one last foray, heading past the ssarmesk lair to a room that Krothezo had indicated was being guarded by his people. When they reach the room, Mercedes uses the ring of x-ray vision to determine that (a) there are no traps on the door, and (b) the lizard men are not being very attentive guards, but are just lounging about the room. The PCs form ranks in the corridor outside, kick in the door, and dispatch the surprised beastmen.

With that, the PCs decide that they have pushed their luck enough. They return to the ssarmesk lair and inventory the treasure – a chest full of silver coins, lots of heavy trade goods, and a tasteless pale blue potion that gives off white smoke that smells of chemicals, which someone recognizes as a potion of flying.

Several trips later, the treasure has all been transferred into their stronghold. The PCs head into the city to commission an iron door to secure the Halls of Pleasure, and Odgrim finally abandons the group forever, cursing the day he met them as he crawls back to the Tower of Madarua.

PC1: Milnos-Sim – Lv 1 Atlantean Tycoon; 2675/2900 xp; Damaged Knee
PC1: Sablain-Xee – Lv 1 Fighter; 1088/2000 xp
PC1: Amab-Rah – Lv 1 Fighter;  696/2000 xp
PC2: Thjolstoff – Lv 2 Barbarian; 2861/5200 xp; Lamed Leg & Gruesome Scars
PC3: Mercedes di Portia – Lv 2 Assassin; 2838/3400 xp; Damaged Knee
PC3: Eva di Portia – Lv 1 Explorer; 1166/2000 xp
PC4: Aisha Alendi – Lv 1 Atlantean Stormtrooper; 2601/3675 xp 
PC4: Lunatha-Sim – Lv 1 Fighter; 980/2000 xp: Gruesome Scars
PC5: Spinello di Lombabasso – Lv 3 Bard; 2838/5600; Minor Scar
PC5: Simbra-Nar – Lv 1 Atlantean Swordsmage; 111/3850 xp; Damaged Eye & Severed Tongue
PC5: Meldotia-Nar – Lv 1 Fighter; 980/2000 xp; Gruesome Scars
PC5: Dalili-Lu – Lv 1 Bard; 696/1400 xp; Heart & Lung Damage
PC5: Ablos-Nar – Lv 1 Fighter; 696/2000; Lost 5 teeth

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