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Most of this is recap and update to cover the time between games. Session 26 was a game of solo’s. I didn’t take detailed notes of Ekikos combat against a Trikreen (although all the characters said they attended the event).
The following was written over several emails from our illustrious GM. I’ve tried to remove a lot of the one-on-one and Q&A stuff he wrote. It was (by far) the longest email conversation the game’s had to date.
The court case against the Shadowknave (Conclusion to Act IV)
The Shadowknave’s criminal trial is called to order at the Lady’s Ward City Court building by Judge Black Ogustus, a dark-skinned Ortho human Guvner who begins the proceedings by reading from his faction’s cannon. “In these hallowed halls, the wheel of law brings justice to the wrongdoer, vindication to the wronged, and order to the disordered.” It’s been three days since your group’s return from the Citadel of Fire, and you find yourselves in a small court chamber with a cluster of robed Guvner advocates, clerks and scribes along with a handful of dark-garbed Mercykiller bailiffs and a gaggle of disparate witnesses and criminals. Although proceedings seem rather confusing and chaotic to the uninitiated, its soon becomes clear that the Guvners have everything well in hand as preliminary proceedings are soon underway.
One fact which escapes you at first, but which is soon made clear is that the room is so crowded due to the fact that it contains all the personnel for three distinct criminal trials which the judge is to hear during that session. The Shadowknave’s hearing is actually the second one on the docket and so you’re all made to sit through a few hours of unrelated legal sparring before legal advocates for and against the Knave are called forth by a Guvner clerk. Three individuals respond to the summons. The advocate for the prosecution is a gnomish Guvner in a powdered wig named Vorbert Pebbletoss. The advocate for the defense is Nye; a tiefling with spiked hair, a colourful waistcoat and who is surrounded by a handful of gemstones orbiting his head. Rounding out the trio is a legal envoy from the bureaucracy of Hell; an ogre-sized humanoid devil with a dark barbed hide, huge bat wings and a snaking prehensile tail who introduces itself as Ylvirron the Cloven. Ekikos’ younger brother Kastor nearly faints at the sight of the fiend.
In brief, Vorbert lays out a series of straightforward charges against the Shadowknave including 1. participating in a criminal conspiracy against a chartered faction, 2. abduction and unlawful detainment of a citizen (Kastor Yourgos’ son), 3. assault against a citizen resulting in mutilation (Kastor Yourgos’ son), 4. magical assault (various named and anonymous victims) and 5. assault upon a city official who is acting in the line of duty (Chryseis Pallas, Notary 1). As proof, he present the Knave’s own signed confession along with the testimony from Chryseis, Kastor and a Dustman factotum speaking on his factol’s behalf.
‘Sly’ Nye on the other hand weaves a meandering tale on behalf of his client; one in which the Shadowknave is portrayed as some type of peculiar anti-hero who went about waylaying barmies in the Hive to start them on an unorthodox path of healing and redemption as newly dedicated factioneers. He calls both Eliath and the flame-haired Tyloric as witnesses in the Shadowknave’s defense and manages to draw a compelling and affirming story of sorts from them. All in all, his case is oddly compelling as he further manages to cite various court cases in which other unorthodox and possibly illegal examples of goodness and kindness have been validated by the Fraternity of Order’s adjudications.
Ylvirron the Cloven on the other hand, presents the Court with an imposing stack of legal documents. Their exact nature eludes most of you, but it appears that the detail a pre-existing case of breach-of-contract litigation which the bureaucracy of Hell wishes to level against the Shadowknave in an extradition petition. Both ‘Sly’ Nye and Vorbert argue against the petition, citing issues of jurisdiction. The devil in turn attempts to refute their claims of jurisdiction by presenting the judge with papers identifying the Shadowknave as a citizen of Hell and further pointing out that the defendant has no valid Sigilian ID and is thus a foreign expatriate in Sigil. It’s all very convoluted and in the end, Judge Ogustus calls a recess to contemplate all the presented evidence and testimony.
Two days later, Judge Ogustus reconvenes the Court to hear his decision against the knave. First off, he chooses to delay processing the infernal extradition petition until the Shadowknave has fulfilled the terms of his sentencing within Sigil. Ylvirron the Cloven seems disturbingly pleased with that decision and retires from the court; much to everyone else’s relief. Continuing along, the judge next reduces the charges of criminal conspiracy from a severe plaint to that of a serious plaint; a legal distinction which seems to please the defense since it rules out the possibility of capital punishment altogether. The rest of the assault charges stand however, and Judge Ogustus orders the Shadowknave be turned over to the Mercykiller faction for final sentencing and incarceration in the Prison.
As one of his final acts in the case, Judge Ogustus signs and seals some Harmonium paperwork which validates the awarding of the Shadowknave’s (and his accomplices’) possessions to that faction and to the group of private citizens who participated in the capture of the convicted prisoner.
Crossguard events (Intermission)
A few noteworthy things occur in Crossguard in the days following your group’s triumphant return from the Plane of Fire. The first is that, on a rainy day, Javius the potter hires Yourgos and Nestor (along with Ludvik and Ekikos if they’re interested) to move the large wooden armoire out of old Captain Nbod’s room. The armoire, being so large and unwieldy, proves rather difficult to maneuver down the stairs and out the door. All in all it takes several hours along with ropes and levers to safely load and secure the armoire onto a rented wagon. The buyer turns out to be Maribach; the same severe human Taker tax-woman in Shou finery who’d previously evaluated the room’s contents a few weeks earlier. She in turn gives Javius a hefty purse and further offers Yourgos the porter and his son Nestor a few silvers to pull the wagon halfway around the Cage to the Hall of Records in the Clerk’s Ward.
Also, a day or two after he’s called to testify in the Shadowknave’s trial, a despondent Eliath turns up at the Athenium. It turns out that, in light of his suspicious reasons for joining, his fellow Godsmen have turned the poor prime away from the Great Foundry and further kicked him out of his room at the faction boarding house on Blood Boil street. So once more Eliath finds himself homeless and without means of support in Sigil. To get by, he soon returns to doing what he’d been doing before his abduction; collecting, refurbishing and peddling junk on the streets of the Lower Ward. The revelation that his near-death experience and subsequent divine vision were staged seems to have robbed the man of his spirit however. Although he’s warmly welcomed back into the heart of the neighborhood following his absence, Eliath nonetheless seems disheartened and inconsolable. Although he’s more lucid than he ever was before his abduction, the man nonetheless falls back into the comfortable position of playing the babbling fool for the amusement of the neighborhood’s children. As he used to, Eliath spends many nights sleeping in Heinrich’s smithy when he isn’t scavenging around the Lower or Hive wards. Soon Eliath can be seen rummaging through midden piles while sporting the dark olive colours of the Bleak Cabal.
The dusky skinned Captain Vorten asks to speak with Chryseis in his office when she reports for duty at the Lower Ward Harmonium garrison the day following the Shadowknave’s trial. Having read her full report of the events that took place in the Mortuary and the Citadel of Fire, he has some observations he’d like to share with her. To begin, he expresses his and his superiors’ favorable impression as to the results produced by a newly inducted Notary; identifying and bringing down a sizable criminal conspiracy is certainly impressive by anyone’s standards. He does have a few performance criticisms to pass along however. Although the circumstances in which Chryseis found herself while pursuing her investigation were admittedly very difficult and necessitated a good deal of improvisation on her part, her choices weren’t always in keeping with Harmonium ideals. Captain Vorten has three such examples to offer his subordinate. The first is that Toranna the Grey should have been arrested and held for trial rather than handed over to the Dustmen. Likewise, the various mercenaries and personnel of the Citadel of Fire should ideally have been held for questioning and possibly criminal proceedings rather than allowed to go free. Lastly, the evidence collected in Imogen’s quarters should have been retained for Harmonium inspection rather than turned over to the Dustmen. The good Captain reiterates that such mistakes are easily overlooked when the extremely difficult circumstances and Chryseis’ own inexperience are taken into account, but advises the priestess to meditate on them if she wishes to one day become an officer in the Harmonium. Speaking of faction advancement, Captain Vorten concludes Chryseis’ performance review by telling her, with a wink, that he’s already submitted her name for a commendation and promotion.
Following in the wake of Chryseis’ initial performance review, Captain Vorten’s recommendation bears fruit for the young priestess. During the monthly recruit indoctrination ceremony held at the City Barracks, the imposing Factol Sarin calls Chryseis to the fore to accept a promotion to the rank of Notary III. Following a few more months of dutiful service along with the successful completion of additional training courses, the Factol repeats the ceremony six months later by further promoting Chryseis to the rank of Notary IV.
Death of Sophia
In an unfortunate turn of events, eight months following the group’s return from the Plane of Fire, during the month of Exaltation, the elderly priestess Sophia’s health takes a turn for the worse when she suffers apoplexy which leaves her partially paralyzed, bed-ridden and largely unable to speak. Prioress Ismene dutifully tends to her beloved mentor while the other Athenium priestesses lead the local congregation in prayer sessions. Sophia’s declining condition soon leads Ismene to summon Apollo and Hermes physicians from the Lady’s Ward temples to the Priory. They can do little more for Sophia however except to pray to their gods and seek to make the elderly priestess comfortable. Over the next few weeks, countless masses are held in the Athenium while the younger priestesses endeavor to host an assortment of distinguished visitors who’ve come to the Priory to visit with the ailing former-prioress. Fittingly perhaps, Sophia passes away in her sleep early in the morning of Mortis; a holiday dedicated to the veneration of the dead. Most of the smithies and business’ throughout Swordhold remain closed as a show of respect over the ensuing days of mourning. Three days later the late Sophia’s remains are paraded through the streets by the other Athenian priestesses, all the way to the temple of Hermes where a delegation of Hades’ priests take the body through a portal for interment on the slopes of Mount Olympus. Ismene follows along with the delegation only to return to the Athenium the following day with a reliquary containing the late Sophia’s preserved heart.
As the months slip by, life in the Cage continues. The regular rumors of The Lady Pain’s appearances makes the rounds of the Cage’s alehouses while the dabus continue their endless toil to keep the city from falling apart or drowning in a tangle of razorvine. Some months following your group’s return to the Cage, a particularly juicy bit of faction-related chant being bandied about Sigil catches Ludvik’s attention. It seems that the bombastic new prime Factol of the Fated, Duke Rowan Darkwood, has initiated a secret romantic relationship with the young driven tiefling Factol of the Mercykillers, Alisohn Nilesia. Rumors of their late-night rendezvous and supposed back-room trysts in the Hall of Speakers are soon the talk of the town. Some faction high-ups grow concerned at the possibility that this relationship heralds a new alliance between the Mercykillers and the Fated. Since they both each recently ascended to the leadership of their respective factions, a major shakeup in Sigil’s political landscape is hardly out of the question.
Three months after Sophia’s death, many of the city’s chantmongers (including Ludvik) are employed by the Mercykiller faction to spread word of a new simplified penal sentencing reform on behalf of Factol Alisohn Nilesia. In part it reads: “Henceforth, all crimes committed in Sigil fall into one of three categories, and all crimes committed in the past get reclassified according to the new structure. For all felonies (such as murder, rape, burglary, or arson), the Mercykillers’ new punishment is death. For all misdemeanors (such as assault, embezzling, jaywalking, begging, or vagrancy), the new punishment is 10 years’ hard labor in the Lower Planes. And for all other rules infractions (such as failure to pay fines, falsifying reports, and so on), the new punishment is 10 years’ incarceration in the Prison.”
This unexpected and unilateral penal reform is unprecedented in Sigilian history and causes a major uproar throughout the Cage. Nowhere are the cries of outrage louder than within Clerk’s Ward’s Hall of Speakers. Calls for the forced removal of Nilesia from the position of Factol are bandied about as the Mercykillers begin dutifully overseeing this major reorganization of the penal system. Although many Factols and Factors of various chartered factions are shocked to learn the truth, it is an inescapable fact that, according to the Fraternity of Order, the Mercykillers are well within their rights to affect sentencing reforms within the city as they see fit.
The Mercykillers contend that their Factol is not without some sense of fairness, though. For instance, a berk who’s already served more than 10 years for operating a tavern without a license is now free to go. But sods serving life sentences for previously committed felonies are now getting being shown to the leafless tree. And so begins a seemingly endless number of daily executions; most held outside the Prison in Petitioner’s’ Square for the public, but also in smaller little used venues such as the old public gallows in Hangman’s Square.
So how does this affect the city’s gladiators? Well, there are so many executions to be held that the gnomish proprietor of the New Tyr’s Blood Pit accepts the Mercykillers’ offer of cheap condemned prisoners for execution in the arena. Although many are simply hanged, many prisoners are allowed to fight each other in lethal matches to possibly delay their own deaths for a few days. Soon enough the Pit is awash in bloody mass combats; all of which leave the independent and contracted gladiators (such as Ekikos) with no means to support themselves. The wily Felgar manages to keep the peace in New Tyr by paying off the various lanistas and their top tier gladiators.
All told, condemned prisoners of the Mercykillers are executed in the hundreds, and soon enough the toll surpasses a thousand souls with no end in sight. Reports of violent riots in the Prison make the rounds of the city’s alehouses, along with whispered rumors of a growing schism within the Mercykillers’ ranks as well as between the city’s chartered factions. Most bashers cling to the notion that the madness will soon stop once the bulk of the condemned have been executed.
The stories we tell
We saw each other, either by the happy accident of having all be home at the same time — or in passing in th travel throughout the city.
Eki worked as an instructor at the gymnasium. While the pay was decent, he regularly spent most of it on food and lodgings closer to the gymnasium. Chrysaes worked long shifts, and did much to improve her rank at the local barracks.
We trade tales when our paths cross. This first one we learned several months after it happened.
One night, while in Crossguard doing some mending work at Henrick’s forge, she saw a group of tall, cloaked strangers go to the Atrium. One went in, and a few minutes later with Merissa. She points towards Chryseis, and he walks up to.
The stranger is accompanied by a trio of Dabus. The stranger has a palatable presence. Even in the dim light of the forge, his skin seems to glow as if he’s standing in full light. He speaks in Hellenic with an elliean accent.
He recites a piece of of the Illyad to Chryseis. He names himself Ardalis, son of Hefiastos. Chryseis’ beauty inspires him to play a song on a small twinned flute. When he’s done, he asks Chryseis about her first memory. He admits to knowing two others like her, his father’s servants–the Courre Chryseis. They help Hefiastos walk, stoke the bellows, and perform various tasks around the forge.
Ardalis believes Chryseis was made by Hefiosa, but Hefiosa only made two Courre Chrysaes. He says the forge that Chrysaes described as part of her first memory sounded like one of his father’s forges near the mountain. There he made jewlery for the water nymph’s who cared for him. He also says she is … unfinished, but doesn’t ellaborate.
Using only his bare hands, he molded a decoration to Chryseis’ shield. The sheild became polished and lit with his touch, and buffed by a single breadth. He bestows a laurel leaf crown, wrought by his bare hands from a gold coin. She is invited to visit his father’s forge. He plays a song, and then departs.
Ardalis is credited with having created the flute.
Ludvik’s tale was also learned over beer at the Keg & Casket.
Ludvik was heading home one night, just after the rain stopped. He’s coming back from a night along the ale house row. He hears something quietly moving about nearby, sounding like a 4-footed beast just beyond the range of his vision.
He catches the sight of its silhouette. A large wolfhound maybe? As he tries to follow, he’s has to hurry as it begins to move faster and faster. Just as he thinks he’s lost the trail, he finds that the silhouette has paused, as if waiting for him to catch up.
He finds a tattered piece of parchment hanging on the razorvine. It’s an old wanted poster for Chaplain Earnest. The silhouette leads him a merry chase. Down alleyways, and back to the Alehouse run – in front of a fiend bar named the Styx’s Oarsman. Two men stumble out of the bar in front of Ludvik. There he sees that Earnest has grown a beard in the last year. Earnest talks to the bouncer briefly, before turning away from Ludvik and walking down the lane.
Ludvik follows, and when Earnest stumbles down a lonely lane-Ludvik gets his attention and attacks. The fight is quick, and deadly.
As Ludvik walks away, a wolf howls in the distance.
Eki’s tale is of his first fight in the arena. While short, it won his great acclaim. He regaled us with tales of the character he plays, and his plans for the future.
My own tales were slight. I’d spent the year working in various places. I saw the treasury, and spent a month or two in labour there. I helped out at a cookhouse in the Hive, and spent several months traveling the city with a slowly recovering Eliath. It was only in the later months, however, that I realized something was wrong. When I came home, I found the eye. To my surprise it moved on its own. The voice that had haunted my dreams and visions had come from the eye. Needless to say, when I left home again–the eye came with me.
5th April 2008
5th day, center rule, state of depravity, day of forgiveness
It is a very long day. Standing in the citadel of Fire, in the Plane of fire – we’re here to find out what Torrano the Grey was doing with the bodies she brought here and trying to learn who else might be involved. The factol of the Dustmen ordered us to return only with proof. At first I feared what would happen if we couldn’t find the proof. Now I fear what will happen now that we have.
Our proof consists of every piece of loose paper from the office we discovered in the Citidel of Fire and the head of a Gith Serreh named Immogen. We defeated his forces on a grand stairwell in the northern part of the Citadel, near the office and quarters we ransacked looking for our proof. We also found 3 barmies who had yet to be “treated”. Two of them are completely pacifistic in their own world, and one is crazy-violent. His name is Clarent.
We congregate in the office. We’ve closed the locks on the doors atop the grand staircase to keep the remaining soldiers out; we have no clue how many there are; but we’re pretty sure we’re outnumbered. Fortunately for us we’ve been able to pick where and when we battle, thus giving us a hefty edge thus far. Chryseis spends a moment praying to Athena, and is able ot see magic over the things we’ve gathered.
She senses a strong form of abjuration magic from the northern wall through to the south. She believes it’s protective and from the near-by church. Imogen’s sword is magical – radiating outward from the hilt, along it’s length. She believes it’s actually the hilt-wrapping that holds the magic and not the sword itself. The crystal armour is odd. It’s substance appears to ripple and be translucent. It is somehow both insubstantial and impermanent? But it is otherwise not enchanged. The horse tattoos on Eki’s arms are in motion. The tattoos surge with the pulse of his heart. It creates a conjuration effect that creates energy. Chryseis can’t quite place the effect. The two potion bottles we found are magical. They both have mild effects that are drowned out by the aura of this place. The crystal wand is also magical. The bottles Ludvik found are filled with unholy water. The talisman he found is probably equally bad. Ludvik elects to discard them all.
While Ludvik, Eki and Chryseis go and clean themselves up in Immogen’s bedroom, I start prowling around the bookshelves. Eki noteisces Quicksilver leaking from Chryseis’s body. The silvery liquid seems familiar, but he can’t place why.
The books on the bookshelves are mostly historical treaties. Amongst them is a recessed book. After a bit of searching, I find that the book is not really a book at all – it’s just a facade. After a bit more examination, I reach out and pull it. The bookshelves divide into 3 panels and the one on the right opens up onto a narrow corridor, running about 15′ north. It dead-end into a spiral staircase.
I call out and the others join me at the entrance. I go in. Halfway along is a note. Naturally I read it – and the ink spins about on the page and attacks me! I dive out of the way and scream. It misses and seems to go away. Ludvik joins me. I’m OK, but freaked! We go to the staircase and then up.
Listening at the door we hear two men talking. They are probably not more than 5 to 10 paces away. The door mechanism will no doubt make noise when we open it, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to peak through or open the door just a crack. So we head back to the group.
As a group, we head back to the main doors. I have to wonder about the two guards across the hallway. When last we looked they were mating. We decided not to interrupt, but it did seem to be a rather odd time to perform such acts. At the main door Chryseis peeks out. There’s four guards standing there. They don’t immediately attack and we consider that to be a good sign.
Chryseis tells them that we just want to leave. If they promise to let us leave, we’ll do no more harm. The guards seem to like this plan, but ask us to wait as their captain wants to speak to us. When he arrives, he approaches the door alone; and Chryseis and him discuss how to get off the island before the Mortuary reinforcements arrive. The crystal we found has the ability to open a portal on the far side of the island. It’s a quick way to get the humans through to some random street in Sigil. We agree.
The captain orders the hobgoblins to man the balistae against the pending attack, while we made our way to this back gate. I manage (somehow) to open the gate and the humans step through; by the time the last of them go thought, the hobgoblins are starting to get curious. As the last one goes through he tosses a crystal off the island. It quickly begins to get hotter.
We hurry around back to the front, and jump through the gate that leads to the Mortuary. Once back in Sigil, we are arrested by the Mortuary guard and brought before the dustman’s factor, Komosahl Trevant (Skrall’s #2). We are closely interviewed, and he seems relatively pleased with the tale we have to tell, and we are allowed to depart with the goods we’ve collected from our adventure.
* Missing in action* When I find it –I’ll post it here.
March 1st, 2007
4th day, centure rule, state of depravity.
The combat continued.
Torrano the Grey reached for a short sword, belted at her waist. As Ekikos moved to dodge, Torrano dropped her faint and tried to jump up on the slide behind her and head for the portal of flame. Ekikos lunged forward, made a grab for her, but it was too late, she raced down the slide, presented her red marble and the portal opened. The light in the room doubled, then was significantly reduced back to its shadowy gloom as the portal closed behind her.
Ludvik and I were some distance away, trying to fend off four zombies who were determined to stop us. Torrano’s last command compelled them to attack us, even though they had neither weapons nor the necessary speed. Ludvik divided his attention among the three trying to press him towards the well in the center of the room. I, standing near his ankles, did my best to guard his back while taking pot-shots at the nearest zombie. Unfortunately what fire I could through simply burned them. Without the abilities to feel pain, their burning flesh did little other than to horrify us, and stink up the place.
Chryseis, standing closer to Ekikos, guarded his back as the Zombies lumbered towards them. Ekikos was forced to turn his attention from the fleeing Torrano to the approaching zombies and together they were able to keep the zombies back, using their spears more as poles than weapons. The spears pierced the flesh of the walking dead easily enough, but they barely reacted to the damage.
“We have to follow her! To the Portal!” cried Chryseis. We moved quickly to the portal before the remaining zombies could overwhelm us. Being the smallest, I went first and opened the portal. Ekikos was the first one through. The zombies were still pressing forward, but Chryseis and Ludvik were able to keep the few that reached them at bay. There were more zombies coming, but fortunately they moved at only a fast shuffle, and so outdistancing them was not difficult.
As Ekikos stepped out of the portal, Torrano spoke in a language Ekikos didn’t understand, and the three guards standing there to attack him. Between them was a body on a stretcher. The shelf on which they stood was at most 10′ wide, and the place was very bright and unusually warm. It was the plane of fire. The rest of us filed through, and the guards were overwhelmed.
“Kill them!” Torrano yelled, her tone growing desperate.
One guard quickly ran away, up the stairs that wound around the large outcropping that faced the portal. The outcropping was so large we could not clearly see its top, nor around it. The stone was black, shattered and faceted.
The shelf was carved out of the rock, and the portal sat atop a thin ledge that was all that stopped us from falling backwards into a sea of fire. The sky was aflame and the heat rolled towards us like the waves of the sea on Earth. One guard faced off against Ludvik, the other faced Chryseis. Ekikos tried to capture Torrano, who was already casting spells to cancel the divine blessing that Chryseis had requested for us earlier. I divided my attention between Torrano and the path of the fleeing guard. We could hear no shouting, nor any noise beyond our combat; but it seemed obvious that reinforcements were coming.
The guards fell, and Ekikos dragged Torrano back through the freshly opened portal. Chryseis and Ludvik carried the woman on the stretcher. Waiting for us on the other side of the portal were 4 dustmen guards, their pikes lowered at us they ordered us to surrender; which we did. We tried to present our case, and while it gave them pause – it did not immediately improve things. Over the next few minutes more dustmen arrived. A ghost rose up through the floor and the overvault quickly filled with zombies, guards, and the curious come to see the invaders.
The dustman guard checked the woman on the stretcher and pronouced her dead. Chryseis looked carefully and claimed she saw some form of necromantic effect on the body. She had seen this effect before and guessed that the woman was not dead. Eventually the dustmen arrested us and took all our weapons; but left us our equipment.
The dustmen led us down the winding stairwell to a square room behind a heavily locked door. The walls of the room were lined with burial niches. In the center of the room is a sarcophagus. There are 4 or 5 feral creatures, each slightly larger than I. The guards order them to leave us alone, but they are curious and obviously hungry. The room is nearly filled by the 12-15 zombies who are just standing there. They move begrudgingly away from the guards and give us just enough room to stand near the sarcophagus. Even the shadows of the room seem alive as they flit from wall to wall, niche to niche. The lantern that the guards left provides the only light. We are mostly quiet as we wait, beneath the oppressive watchfulness of all the unliving things in the room.
I jump up onto Chryseis’ shoulder to keep away from the feral ones, who over time, grow more and more bolder. The zombies in the room stared, but did not move. Their lack of movement towards us gave us no comfort. And the shadows that moved without light kept us awake and watchful. Still, we came to no harm and it gave Ekikos time to bind Ludvik’s wounds. We all jumped when the lantern sputtered, but it kept burning. We sat back to back, with me near the middle. Chryseis prayed and we tried to join in. Her prayers seemed the only thing that kept the ferrals at bay.
It was an eternity of waiting. For the longest time, nothing changed. We were prisoners in a room full of undead, shadows that moved by themselves and feral animals that were impatient for their dinner. Then, it got colder. The room was far from warm to begin with, but suddenly, we could see our breath on the still air. Ekikos saw the cloth first. It billowed and slowly coalesced into a solid form wearing dustman’s robes. The form sunk to the ground as it gained solidity. When he turned we saw that he was a young man with spiky black hair and sunken eyes that were rimmed with black.
“Are you ready to embrace our final deaths?” He asked. His voice echoed, as if from far away. I gasped, it was Skall–factol of the dead.
“Yes!” said Ekikos proudly, taking his question as a challenge. Chryseis put out her arm, stood and spoke for us. Over the next few minutes Skall tells us what he learned from Toranno the Grey. We didn’t ask how he learned the information, but could not doubt its veracity. He names the fortress the Citadel of Fire. The barmies were to be agents int heir factions. At a later point they’d be contacted and used to subvert the factions in a Grand conspiracy.
Skall accuses us of breaking into the faction headquarters, misleading the guards and causing havoc in his halls. He hears our tale and learns our intentions, but it does not seem to move him. He tells us that our punishment is to go to the citadel of Fire and return with further proof of this conspiracy. Only with further proof will he forgive our trespasses. He becomes transparent and goes through the closed door.
After he passes through it, the bolt unlocks. Ekikos cautiously extends an arm and pushes the door open. The zombies slowly depart and we leave as quickly as our dignity will allow. Guards, living guards that is, guide us to a dark room. It’s best feature is that it has no undead! There we are allowed to rest and eat.
I could not count the passage of time exactly, but I believe the day changed while we were in that room. Chryseis’ prayers are a solid way of counting the passing of days, if not the hours. Still, at that time – she was praying a lot and we often joined in. The ritual was comforting.
When we were ready, the guards led us back to the portal room. There we saw Torrano scrubbing the floor. She was dead. Her mouth was sewn up and a number was engraved into her forehead. Her state didn’t really surprise us, nor did her presence here for the dustmen never waste a corpse if they can help it. She stood, gave Ekikos a red marble, and then stood aside. I kept looking back at Torrano. It was her, but it wasn’t. She was now just a tool. The fire, the life within her was completely gone. I admit, zombies give me the creeps, but seeing her like this was just sad.
We stepped through the portal and came out on the ledge facing four goblinoid guards and a commander (he was better dressed than the others). Ekikos, Ludvik and Chryseis launched themselves at the goblinoids. My attempt to bring forth cold sputtered and died, turning to water before it could even hit its target. While briefly refreshing, it did not help the situation.
Ludivk attacked a guard with a brutal thrust of his shortsword, and struck him solidly. At the same time the Captain struck at Ludvik with a long green sword. He hit and Ludvik stumbled slightly. The blade came away from Ludvik now more red than green. The guard tried to regain his footing and press back, but Ludvik’s second attack brought the guard to his knees. The Captain tried to attack Ludvik again, but this time Ludvik was ready for him, he dodged the blow and then ducked beneath the captain’s guard to drive his sword into the Captain’s abdomen. The captain frantically moved away, striking Ludvik repeatedly until he dropped from his wounds.
Chryseis and Ekikos fought sided by side, pressing the guards up against the wall. The fight was in close quarters and my friends were forced to dodge the arrows that fell upon them from arrow slits half way up the wall. It was some time before I could gather myself enough to assist. At last I was able to gather fire around me and hurl it at Chryseis’ opponent. The guard fell to the ground a burning heap. His armour and hair were immediately consumed by the fire. Ekikos was able to first stun, then kill his opponent with a flurry of blows. He took a step over the burning body and attacked his second opponent, dropping him almost as quickly while dodging almost all the blows rallied against him.
Chryseis moved quickly to Ludvik’s side and called for Athena’s healing to staunch his wounds and bring him back to us. Ekikos threw his javelin at the captain, but it missed. It struck the wall and clattered to the ground. Ekikos moved quickly and grabbed the captain before he could escape up the nearby stairs. They grappled for a time before Ekikos finally gained the upper hand and was able to punch the Captain in the throat, knocking him senseless.
We were forced to remain within the shadow of the wall, a thin strip wherein the archers above could not shoot us. Chryseis brought both Ekikos and Ludvik back to full health. Ludvik claimed the captain’s green sword while Ekikos climbed up the wall with a rope tied to his waiste. Ludivk watched the stairs with his bow drawn.
When Ekikos returned, we started to plan what to do next. We found 20 gold, 33 silver and 18 copper on the guards, and pocketed the money. Ekikos told us that the citadel has a rounded slope, and he found a drainage shoot that seems to lead to a grate in the kitchen’s floor. We assume there are guards watching the stairs, indeed Ludvik’s seen at least one guard peer down the stairs at him. Ekikos proposes we go up the wall rather than the stairs and choose our own entry point into the citadel of fire.
February 16, 2008
3rd night, central rule, state of Depravity, Night of greed
We decide to risk it and hoof it back to crossguard. Eki and Chryseis take the two surviving prisoners (the thug and the mage), while Ludvik carries the loot. I fetch a light-boy. It costs us 15 copper rings to get back to Crossguard. Along the way, we gather attention of those we pass. We see street toughs with clubs watching us hungrily as we pass, the curious watching us from half-shuttered or darkened windows. Conversations hush when we go by. It helps that we’re fairly well armed, walking with a member of the Harmonium, and carrying prisoners. But the attention makes us warry.
Along the way Ludvik hears something, so I drop back. Sure enough it’s a thug, dressed like those that attacked us, trying to follow our light. He can’t see well in the dark and keeps tripping on stuff in the streets. I wander forward and tell Ludivk while staying out of the light-boy’s light. Ludvik drops back and the three of us have a discussion after Ludvik stops the thug by placing his sword beneath the thug’s adams apple. I use my new-found powers to remove the thug’s weapon’s belt – and his courage breaks.
The thug was hired bu the wizard to stand outside and wait for us. His job was to stop us if we tried to get away. He’s following us because we have one of his friends. He was contracted to the job by a family member. The wizard’s been hiring crews for the last little while – using a different crew every few days. The thugs hold the barmies and bubbers down and the wizard casts his spell.
We let him go and rejoin the group. As we cross the bridge we are stopped by a brace of hardheads. Never has a group looked so good to my eyes. They help us with our load and escort Chryseis to the local garrison. Chryseis checks the prisoners into the garrison along with all their stuff. Ludvik and I gett to see the interrogation while Eki goes to the Black Sails to chat up Salja.
Captain Drexis is quite pleased with Chryseis’ arrest.
In the cells we learn the mage calls himself the Shadow Nave. He claims to be a prime without papers. He works for a factor in teh dustman, specifically Skall’s number-2 man, Komosahl Trevant. The Shadow Nave admits to casting necromantic magic (it’s a spell of his own design) on people in the Hive. He claims the spell doesn’t kill anyone. They’re taken to the mortuary when the collector’s find them, but the Shadow Nave doesn’t know anything about what happens next.
He confirms that his magic spell gives the body the semblance of death. He’s never met with Komosahl Trevant, instead he works with messengers. And for this he was well paid. The not-so-subtile attempt to bribe either the Captain or Chryseis fails miserably. The Shadow Nave admits to organizing the event that resulted in Cestor’s finger being cut off.
He was sent after us because we were poking around. He was to take us alive to the mortuary tonight. He claims to know Darioch Dysarl only through our association with her.
After the interview, Ludvik and I believe he’s not telling all the truth while the Captain believes the Shadow Nave is telling us all lies.
We meet up with Eki at the Black Sail and, while sitting in a booth, update him on what happened at the Garrison. It’s drizzling when we go home.
It’s still drizzling.
Chryseis reports to Ismine. Priestess Ismine finds the whole report interesting. While she admits that the Dustmen highups may be involved in politics, but then again politics really isn’t their thing.
I speak to Priestess Ismene about killing the thugs. Then I go pray to Niki for our success.
We gather together and then make our way to the Mortuary. We find the back door and knock twice until a human opens the door. Eki does the talking. We get up to the overvault just as Torrana is about to dump a body into a flaming portal. Why Chryseis calls out, she turns and looks frightened! She calls on the zombies to attack and other dustmen go to get help.
3rd day, center rule, State of Depravity, 127 year of factol Hashorn’s reign, day of charity
The Harmonium caught 8 rogue scribes copying the Factol’s manifesto. Over 3-score copies were made. There are rumors that bills of sale were also found. On the 1st there was a parade in the Lady’s ward of officers, guards and recruits leading a cart containing the books. They were brought to petitioner’s square where the books were burned.
Today there’s just a light haze in the cage. Visibility is up to about a mile. Eki’s been working in the Hive with Journos and his stable. On the way home, he stops at a portal key shop in the Bazar to buy a red marble.
Hynrik is putting the final touches on Chryseis’s spear. We talk for a bit, gather up our stuff, and take the long trek to Zeroes in the Hive.
Along the way we stop at the temple of Hermes (god of Skullduggery & travels) to pay our respects. Chryseis draws attention. Lyris, an alcolyte of the temple, greets us. I give Lyris Nabod’s deck of cards frp, Earth as a gift to Hermes. We are then introduced to Belaus who offers us the blessing of Hermes. Feeling better about our adventure, we continue on.
In the Bazzar, we see a giant floating cinnamon bun that smells like cinnamon. Below it is a stand, around which is a bunch of minstrel’s singling “Highland pastries are the best.” Every block seems to have a minstrel holding a sign pointing to Highland’s bakery. We avoid temptation (and the large crowd) gathered near the bakery, and continue on our way.
Eventually we got to Zeros and waited around until Derioch arrived. We speak to her for a bit and try to bring her up-to-date. We ask about Tarrana the Grey. She knows the name from the collectors, but does not know the woman personally. After she spoke to us the last time the mysterious deaths seem to conme to an end. She noticed a new body 2 days ago. She stopped the collectors and examined the body. She discovered a necromantic aura–as Chryseis described previously. Except, it was not lingering. It was ongoing.
Chryseis summarizes that the aura mimics death, paralyzing hte body and trapping the soul. We talk for a bit then we get directions to a Bleaker flop house. The proprietess’s name is Nina. Eki asks for facotl member names; Darioch tells us of a scribe named Dol.
The flop house is simple and fairly clean. It costs us 7 silver rings. Chryseis pays and we kip while she settles in to pray.
Late in the night two stout Hellenic thugs enter the room. They seem to be wearing chain mail and they are carrying saps. Chryseis stands and calls us to arms, and battle ensues. In total there were 5 thugs and a mage. The mage hung to the back, and turned invisible at the end of the fight. I was able to track him down and Ludvik brought him down with an arrow. The fight awakens the other patrons of the flop house. Foruntately for us Chryseis simply identifies herself as a Harmonium member and takes control of the scene. We find Nina asleep at the door. Eki wakes her up gently and tries to explain what happened.
We strip the bodies of the following goods:
4 x longs words
4 x small metal shields
4 x chain mail shirts
46 gold rings (12 + 11 + 5 + 18)
81 silver rings (28 + 22 + 24 + 7)
63 copper rings (19 + 10 + 16 + 18)
A silk shirt as strong as leather
A magical cloak
A platinum gauntlet
The equipment seems to come from the central district in the lower ward. One thug has a tattoo of the Garialanus family (a Hellenic family who runs the central district).
Session XX – 4th night
A haze hangs over the city. It’s early evening and Chryseis comes out of seclusion from weaving. We chat briefly, then go to bed.
I dream of the connection between Toranna the Grey and the Barmy killer.
The forest is still monoliths of stone, covered in ash and sparking bark. I follow the sound of chiseling stone into a labyrinth of marble and grave stones – all marked with the names of deceased and their adornments. The voice that guided me in the past warns me and I dodge the shambling numbered dead that approach.
I see one dead without skin – darkly enshrouded and floating, his toe bones barely dragging over the marble floor. I move from shadow to shadow, hidy-hole to hidy-hole, dodging the dead as they walk on their patrols, and moving as silently as possible.
At the end of one very long corridor, I come to a dead-end. Ahead kneels a creature in a long black robe with a hood. They are carving something into a marble grave stone. I cannot see their face, but a bright purple light lays slightly beyond them.
I hide and use my abilities to toss a stone as far down the corridor as I can. The creature turns toward the source of the noise as I hide in the arms of a marble statue of an angel. The strange is a human skeleton, their skull is surrounded by a purple fire. It stops its work on the grave stone to turn and look, and in that instant I realize the name they were chiseling was my own.
I awake and it’s hailing outside.
Ekikos awoke and checks in with Master Finash about the chalk. He learns from Araleius that Derioch send a brief reply. She didn’t recognize the names, but would look into them. She was glad to hear back from Ekikos as it has been several days.
Chryseis is in the temple. She offers Ekikos the weaving she’s done. She’s unwove the chaos of the hair of the Hag’s head and woven it into a belt of strength. Ekikos puts it on and feels the strength pour into him (+2 strength).
Ekikos says his goodbyes and jogs to his work in the Hive.
Chryseis and I buy a loaf of bread from Master Finash, then visit Javius. We worry about who the chest will go to when Javius finds new tenants. He’s thinking of remodeling the apartment, maybe dividing the attic into a separate apartment and renting it out.
In the Blood pit Ekikos finds Journos and a few members of his stable. Their cleaning out the “veins” (tunnels) beneath the pit. It’s not pleasant work, but it does have to be done. Ekikos joins in.
Da, Chryseis, and I go to visit Kalen. We see seals on the beach. Kaylen was in his hut – poisoned by Nabod’s rum. Chryseis is able to use a prayer to communicate with Kalen, and we spend a few hours cleaning up the place, looking after his animals and tending to his garden. When we leave he’s feeling a lot better.
Once we’re home we tell Wingar Finash about the rum; he asks for a refund on his sale and promises to look into informing the person who bought it.
After the mass that afternoon, I corner Marm and try again to tell her I’m a wilder. Da helps. It’s a long and fretful conversation, but I think she’s starting to accept it.
While on duty Chryseis meets a man named Tyleric. He’s not native to Sigil but he really wants to join the Harmonium. Chryseis gave him a law book and he read law all night.
Today it’s drizzling.
When Ekikos learns about Nabod’s poisoned rum, he finds Ludvik’s bottle and throws it out.
I learn that necromantic magic is purple, when you can see it.
We went wandering around rag picker’s square, but the compass keeps pointing to me. We watch the collectors get into an argument over the bodies, and then head home.
2nd day, Rule of Depravity, Day of Temperance.
Today it rained.
Eki got a return message from Journos via Aurelius. And now Eki wants to go to the Gymnasium. We all go our separate ways for a time. Chryseis has a religious experience with a loom. Ludvik goes off in search of Eliath, and Eki and I spend time with our families.
Night of Gluttony.
It stops raining sometime in the night
3rd day, Rule of Depravity, Day of Charity
Euge asks to come with us. A mild haze covers the city. Eki takes Euge and I go with Chryseis. The first stop is the Tower of the Prophet’s eye in the Temple district of the Ladies ward. The tower is carved from white alabaster stone that’s darked to a bone color thanks to the city’s polution. A large stained glass representation of an eye emits light from within. That plus the shiny metal casing around the window makes for a very bright building on a hazy day.
There are seven steps up to the door. To either side stands an incredibly tall, perfectly formed, winged humanoid male angelic guard. Chryseis believes the guards are part of a chir of angles that embody goodness and law. They let us pass without problem.
Inside, the temple is awash with light coming from the altar tripod. A braisier sits atop the tripod and gives out pure, white light without shadow. There are three bear-like humanoids wearing engraved late armor in the center of the room. The plate is engraved with prayers, and each bear-man stand 10 feet tall. Their head fur is all white and they have huge jaws and black onyx eyes. One of the bear-men addresses Chryseis, introducing himself as Humbart.
Others in the temple appear to be asimar. Some come to Chryseis for her blessing. The bears are kneeling i prayer while the third stands at some mechanical aperatus. When Chryseis asks about the Hag’s eye he says it is a lesser item and not divine. It is neither good nor evil. Chryseis spends some time gathering up the offerings, and cleaning the statue of Athena.
We all spend some time praying before the statue of Athena.
In each of the corners of the temple is a statue. There are statusesto Osiris, Tye (a one-handed nordic figure), Bahamut (a golden dragon), and Athena (a white ivry statue with a golden helmet. Niki is in one hand and an Ageius is in the other. Beyond the Athena statue is a set of stairs leading up to a bell tower.
We then move on to the Clerk’s ward. In the giant Bazaar I pick up two pounds of T’klak’ from an giant insectoid named ‘Thaka. He says he’ll be here until mating season. Ekikos manages to crowd surf for a time, further proving his devotion to his faction.
When we get to the great Gymnasium Euge leaves us and hires a porter to get him to his job. We say our goodbyes as Ekikos enters the gymnasium to find Journos. Chryseis and I go back to take a look at the mural. The skree is that the chaositechs descended upon the wall and painted the mural in just one night.
Ekikos and Journos talk and have some fun in the pool. Journos reminds Ekikos to just be ready and things will unfold as they should … or something like that. He also tells Ekikos that he’ll be protected no matter what.
We have to hussle to get home.
That evening Chryseis meets up with Ludvik when he finally gets home. Eliath works the evening shift (4 to midnight). Then he and some friends go to teh Ascension pub on Greystream path in the Foundry district. Ludvik found that he’s staying at a faction run hovel on Blood boil street. They discuss tactics while the rest of us sleep.
3rd night, 1st rule, state of Depravity
Rain starts anew in the night. From a drizzle, it increases to a torrent of rain.
At the gates of the foundry, Ludvik caught sight of Eliath’s familiar blue eys and was able to follow him. Eliath and his three fellow godsmen abstain from the taverns along Alehouse row. Instead they go to the Asension. Ludvik found a quiet vantage point outside to wait. Several hours later another group of Godsmen walked in. Then Eliath came out. The lower ward was thick with thieflings and other potential dangers. Ludvik donned his goggles to remain anonymous and followed Eliath to Blood boil street, where Eliath entered a Godsmen boarding house for the night. Ludvik then headed home.
After all that rain, the visibility is incredible today. We can see almost a mile up around the curve of the city. I am awakened by Marm after a powerful dream. Unfortunately Marm sees the Hag’s eye glowing a few inches away from me and is certain that either it or the apartment may be possessed. She drags me to the Athenium to speak to the Prioress.
Ekikos visits the temple in the morning to discuss Castor’s future with the Priestesses. After some discussion, Ekikos orders 4 pieces of colored chalk from Wingar Finash for his brother.
Ludvik gets up late and breaks his fast with his father. Hynrik is finishing off the silver sling bullets for me. Hynrik worries that his son’s friends have a sudden interest in silver weapons.
After speaking briefly with Prioress Ismine and Marm, I try to tell Marm that I’m a wilder. But either she just isn’t listening, or I’m being too vague.
Ludvik, Ekikos, and I went to visit Eliath’s new home. Ludvik inquired after Eliath with the land lady of the Godsmen’s boarding house. She explains he’s not home yet. The land lady, Eltiva, invites Ludvik and I (as Ludvik’s pet) into her house for a cup of tea and a chat. Eventually Eliath arrives at his apartment; I try to get his attention (by dancing happily around his feet) but he studiously ignores me.
His friends call him Eliath and he replies with a cleaner accent and more stuttering. He use to stutter whenever he was nervous. I sneak in the next time the door opens, but Eliath insists I leave. I do and come back with Ludvik.
During the conversations we learn that Eliath believes he’s been given a second chance by the morning lord Lathander. He’s not supposed to seek out any of his previous associates. He’s not supposed to speak to use either. He was told that when he came to Sigil, he lost his way. He was certainly barmy. He was attacked in the Hive and passed beyond the immortal boundary. The Morning lord gave him a second chance, but he had to give up his previous life. Lathander told him to join the Godmen. It’s hard work, but he believes he’s been called by his god.
Meet back up with Ekikos, and talk things over before returning to the Athenium where we speak to Linni, telling her what we know. We ask about the three names I got from my dream: Tylanic stormwing, Alvin and Clarent. She’ll ask at the Foundry and at the Godsmen faction. Check back tonight.
Ekikos writes Derioc a letter asking about these names. Aurillius delivers it for us.
Later that night we meet up with Linni at the Keg and Cask. After checking those names with the Foundry, Linni tells us that they’re not formally enrolled a the foundry.
Act IV – Session XVII
Come the morn we are all sick. Time slips by in our fevered state.
2nd day, 1st rule, State of Depravity, 157 FHR
I awake in Nabod’s room feeling much better. Acolyte Media has looked after us these past few days. Prioress Ismine drops by and gives us leave to depart our sickbeds.
Chryseis brings the note she found in the rat room to Priestess Sophia, and sure enough Priestess Sophia recognizes the writings upon it. She says it reads:
Our king demands a tribute of 3 ratlings to be delivered before the end of constraint. Those who do not deliver the ratlings will be considered parahia.Track.
Hynrik has a new client; a green-skinned gargoyle. They seem to be setting a price.
Back at home I learn that Da’s doing guard duty while an estate is surveyed. In the temple Tripicas is teaching a class about the Prime material plane today. I visit the temple then Hynrik’s place. Once the group is gathered we head off to visit the Friendly Fiend.
The Friendly Fiend has a shop in the Lady’s ward. It’s in the strata just below the street, and so you have to go down a sharp set of stairs to get to it. The shop has a simple front. Inside the shop smells like a berry-herbal tee. Wind chimes sound as we enter. It’s a 20′ square room piled high with shelves and wooden bins. All of it is trinkets, wooden toys, paperweights, carved statuettes, whistles, and so on. There’s a cabinet of decorative swords and knivs. It’s a cluttered curio ship with strange paraphernalia. Seems he sells magic components, portal keys and probably magic items too.
A tan-brown jackal-headed fiend comes out to greet us. He’s got pointy ears with tuffs of fur sticking out of each. He wears a lot of bangles, crystals, rings and beads. His name is Akin, and he is the friendly fiend. He’s very … friendly. He recognizes that we’re cross-guardians by our accent.
After the pleasantries, wherein he proves he knows most of our families) he tests the black powder we found in Nabod’s treasure. It’s a imaging powder – a powdered form of creation. With it you could create anything non-magical. He creates an arrow head from it, using only a tiny amount.
In his very friendly way he inquires after us. Chryseis asks about her helmet and bracers. He says that the gems in them are waiting to be set with magic. We depart after telling some tales to apease his curiosity. Ludivik is very cold to him and Eki not very talkative. He seems to collect information along with curios. He tries to feed us, offering us tea and cakes (to Chryseis he offers mercury, but realizes quickly that he can’t offer it to her warmed as he intended because mercury fumes are fatal to mortals). And when we leave he gives us a marvelous gift – a spinning top that never stops spinning. As it spins you see a “galaxy” float above it – pinpricks of light of various sizes and colors across a dark expanse. It’s beautiful.
We then walk to the end of gear run to the Hands of Time. It’s a 3-story metal building. Sadam Hasan ibid Arvalos bids us welcome. The Gnomes are quite taken with Chryseis. We follow as she is taken aside and offered a membership to their guild; Gnomes seem quite eager to fix her, work with her and even work on her. One happily fixes the compass box for her. She offers to consider membership and we depart. When we do we see a gnoman woman come out and activate a portal in front of the building and then step through.
Back in Crossguard we learn that Manioc (the fated who evaluated Nabod’s room) is making an offer on the wardrobe. Ludvik agrees to act as courier and negotiator on the deal.
Linni tells us that Eliath works the main shift at hte foundry; stoking the main furnace. He comes off shift six hours past peak. Most folk coming off shift stop along ale house row for a time.