Sunday, August 02, 2009

Episode 12: 10/11/08

The Party:

Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5

We're just finishing up with Filge's pets when suddenly we hear the elevator returning from upstairs! We scramble into a defensive formation. The doors open to reveal four more cultists. Fortunately, we have the tactical advantage. We corner them in the elevator and cut through them like a knife through butter. At the end of the skirmish, we hear horses and a commotion upstairs. Nineve and Haroldur head up to investigate and hold off any over-zealous authorities while Sarek and I examine the altar for evidence.

Using Improved Sift, I see a vision of Filge and a buxom shrouded female in the midst of what appears to be a reanimation ceremony. A loud crash (sounds like us) breaks Filge's concentration and the spell goes awry amidst much cursing and calamity. On the altar, we find diamonds and the remains of diamonds (about half are intact), along with a partially-charred scroll of Raise Dead. We net:

2100 gp in diamonds

I put everything into an evidence bag and we join Nineve and Haroldur upstairs.

Nineve has skillfully convinced the mounted city guardsmen of the truth - that we are here on business with the church of Wee Jas, and have captured the Sawfish Boys for assisting with illegal necromancy. We notice that Kinto is missing from our group of captives, but the other three are still there. The guards take our prisoners into custody and we are escorted back to the Ruby Temple with only moderate hassling. We check in with Mossad, heal up, and go straight to bed!

First thing in the morning, we're summoned to Marten's office. I'm pleasantly surprised to find my favorite uncle, Justice Ironbriar of the city guard, is also there. Unfortunately, my bright mood evaporates as it becomes clear he is not visiting, but in fact here under rather unpleasant circumstances. He inquires about our involvement in the deaths of Captain Tevlis and his two (secretly treacherous) guards, and a challenging conversation ensues.

The interview does NOT go well. We are implicated in the deaths, and Uncle Ironbriar, who could never be accused of nepotism, demands our arrest. Just when I think this can't get any worse, Marten uses his considerable political clout and refuses to allow us to be taken into custody, assuring the Justice we'll be secure in the custody of the church. Suddenly, the city jail is looking like a better option...

Uncle Ironbriar leaves and Marten lays into us, suspending our Keeper status! After a thorough dressing-down, we leave and meet with Mossad. He explains that he's still in our corner, and will try to get to the bottom of this complex situation. I hand over our bag of evidence to Mossad and thank him for his support. We go have breakfast in the mess and return to our quarters - only to find our things have been relocated to the acolytes' quarters! We trudge down to the common sleeping area and begin our new, mundane tasks as acolytes. Yay.

Our first task: The Potter's Field.
Cremation and entombment cost money that is rarely spent of the poor, Instead they are buried in the potter's field, left to decompose, and the graves are eventually re-used, over and over. However, it takes skill and careful cataloging to prevent disturbing previous graves that have not had time to rest sufficiently. We spend all day in the archives going over the complicated plans so we can find an appropriate resting place for this week's batch of deceased peasants. We give the burial orders, but a few days later we hear there were some problems with the plots we ordered for a few of our charges...

Next up: The Drowned Son
The eldest son of a well-respected family loyal to the Cabal has drowned in the river - they desperately want him raised as they feel he perished before his time. They cannot afford the Commune spell, nor the cost to raise him, but they are insistent. They have been loyal parishioners of the Cabal for years, and we are keenly aware that mishandling this situation could cost the Cabal valuable members. We almost feel like Keepers again as we make our way to the somber house. Through sensitivity and patient understanding, by the end of the afternoon we convince the family to let their son go.

Then, we're back to playing corpse-jenga with: Cataloging Catacomb 7A
As is to be expected, the catacombs of Whitewall become overcrowded from time to time. When this happens, acolytes are sent into older catacombs to catalog the remains therein and determine where there is room to inter additional remains. This week, that's us. We get to brush up on our Profession: Gravekeeper skills and spend several days carefully cataloging, reorganizing, and cleaning this section of the catacombs in preparation for future use.

During our "adventures in acolytism" in the Temple one day, we hear Marten curse and then stagger backwards through a doorway, clutching a fresh, bleeding wound in his shoulder. Naturally, we're intrigued. Resisting the urge to start chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight!", we sidle in closer for a better look. Moments later 31E hobbles into view, eyes red and weapon bloody! Marten sees us and demands we deal with our "rogue construct". 31E matter-of-factly informs Marten that he cannot give him the key-plate under any circumstances, and demands to be taken to the Exarch at the Grand Terminus immediately. It's a tense situation, but we tread carefully and manage to talk sense into both Marten and 31E. Marten reluctantly agrees to allow 31E to retain the key-plate, and 31E agrees to cooperate with Marten and the Cabal's clergy (on the condition that said cooperation will not violate his programmed directives). We all gain 1 influence point.

The next day we're back at it with: The Sickly Girl
A young girl is very ill and near death. We visit the home to discuss arrangements with her family and ease their grief, but while we're there, I happen to notice that she's suffering from Red Ache, the same disease that almost claimed Tamclar's wife. I bring this to everyone's attention, and suddenly our focus shifts from easing her passage to bringing her back from the brink of death! We give her family detailed instructions on how to tend to her, and with some magical assistance and our careful ministrations, in a week or two the girl recovers and the family members all become loyal followers of Wee Jas!

A few days later we are assigned to investigate: Missing Gravediggers
We receive word that several gravediggers have gone missing in Whitewall this morning. Gravediggers vanish from time to time in the Whitewall, so this isn't terribly unusual. Occasionally, gravediggers turn to tomb-robbing and attempt to make off with their ill-gotten gains! We're sent to get to the bottom of it.

When we arrive at the scene, we quickly rule out skulduggery. It looks like the workers were digging a grave when the floor collapsed beneath them. They must have breached the vault of an old crypt, not listed in the records. It appears they may have fallen in. We tie a rope to a piton anchored to the secure part of the floor and descend into the pit. We find a shovel on the floor directly under the hole, and at the other end of the room, two dazed-looking gravediggers. They don't seem to notice us, which is odd. Just as we're trying to figure out what's wrong with them, my heightened hearing detects an incoherent babbling off in the distance. It's so distracting! I'm forced to stare off blankly into middle distance while the rest of the party addresses the gravediggers.

Luckily, I snap back to reality just in time to brutally lay into an Allep. After it is dispatched, we turn our attentions towards the skeletons which start to pour into the chamber. We've got a lot on our hands, suddenly. Honestly, it's the most excitement we've had in weeks. It becomes too much for Sarek to bear. Crackling with unspent magical energy, he fireballs the place without warning, which takes care of the skeleton problem but also immolates the hapless gravediggers, unfortunately. We climb out of the vault, seal it up temporarily, and report back to the Cabal.

That evening Mossad asks to speak with us. Marten is still very irritated with us, but Moussad hates to see our skills going to waste on mundane tasks. He recommends we leave town for a while to let Marten and the general political climate cool off a bit. We agree and make preparations to leave while Mossad works on finding a reason for us to be gone.

Meanwhile, Sarek and Haroldur have also noticed some of their inconsequential personal items are missing. We're a bit concerned when we realize that someone is stealing from us. Our thoughts turn to the usual suspect - Hezzrak. We lure him out of invisibility with a game of chess, but we quickly become convinced that he's not the one behind the thefts. Sarek cleverly convinces him to help us find the culprit.

The next day, it's back to business as usual as we're tasked with cataloging the remains found in the newly discovered crypt. We toil for days and produce a accurate and beautifully detailed record of the entire area. Around this time, Sarek receives a Sending from Lazare:

"A friend, Jakardos, may have insight that can aid you in solving the mysteries of 31E37 and the Cairn. Go to Blackwall Keep."

We relay this message to Mossad. He thinks Blackwall Keep is a perfect destination - a potentially dangerous journey, but remote enough so that the trip there and back will give things time to calm down in Istivin. He tells us he'll look into this possibility.

A few days later, Mossad approaches us with a plan! Blackwall Keep is on the frontier of orc and goblin country. Because of this, detail on the Keep is dangerous and maintaining a sufficient garrison is always a concern. In fact, garrisoning Blackwall Keep is so dangerous, violent, convicted criminals are frequently offered the option to serve at Blackwall instead of going to prison - if they are still alive at the end of a two-year tour of duty, they are freed. Some choose to stay on at Blackwall and become part of the elite group of rangers which manage and run the Keep. It happens that a group of such criminals is to be dispatched to Blakcwall Keep presently, and Mossad has arranged that we are to be their escort.

Additionally, it would seem that Tamclar, who has been studying in the Temple, is running into some difficulty. Mossad has observed that our favorite dwarf seems to be struggling to balance Our Lady's tenets with the deep-seated cultural and ideological ways of his people. Noting that Tamclar is the type that prefers deeds over words, Mossad suggests that he shoud take a break from his scholastic endeavors and accompany us on our journey to the Keep. Perhaps he can find his way more easily in a forest than in a library...

We set off the next day, with Tamclar and our company of criminal scum. They're unarmed and shackled together, but there are about 50 of them. About half an hour outside of town they make their first attempt at a mutiny. Fortunately, we're able to intimidate them into submission - for now. This will no doubt prove to be an interesting journey. I lead us through the woods and we find a place to camp for the night. Just after dinner, Zolara appears to us and offers us a reading:

The Choosing:

Sarek: the Midwife
Haroldur: the Owl
Nineve: the Mute Hag
Ashe: the Queen Mother

The Spread:

The Foreign Trader-----The Dance-----The Unicorn
The Eclipse-------------The Forge------The Keep
The Joke---------------The Midwife----The Winged Serpent


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