Session 22 Expanded
11th – 13th Day of Patchwall CY 621
Location: Chathold – World Map
Map Tab Color: Pink
After returning from their audience with Lord Aurelius, the party put their heads together as to their immediate plans to find Master Gilnaeus. The party split into groups of two and headed out into the city to gather information. Only Kordane felt confident enough to brave the city alone, heading to the innocently named “Happy Spoon” tavern.
Drake Steele and Ellifane Featherfoot set out for the “Song and Stew”, set within the 4th ward of Chathold and among the human refuse that litter the lowest dregs of a society. Needless to say, they stood out among the detritus of beings, especially after Drake Steele dropped his name and money freely. The bartender said he would put word out that they were looking for Master Gilnaeus and Nertilla and the left to return to the Stout Dwarf.
Dracioletto Machiovella and Durass Brawnanvil also headed out, finding themselves at the Popper Inn, a working class bar. They soon learned that the proprietor, like many in Chathold, took advantage of indentured servitude earning the ire of the dwarf priest. As the bartender also ruffled Dracioletto Machiovella feathers – he and the dwarf maintained their calm for the moment but marked him for a fitting justice. They also spoke with a man who ran bets for the nightly Arena at the Coliseum in Chathold. After a small bribe, he too claimed he would put out word in certain shared circles, that they were looking for Nertilla.
Kagan and Ramona, the Eidolon, found themselves at the Angry Wench in the 4th ward of Chathold and spoke with the bar’s namesake (and angry she was, indeed) and bartendress. Kagan refused to be easily gathered into the money-for-information game but eventually agreed to provide the Wench with a ring for her assistance putting out word to help find Nertilla. ‘Nertie’ was a known customer of the bar/brothel and so hanging their hopes on the cantankerous caretaker, they too returned to the Stout Dwarf.
Back at the ‘Dwarf’, the party rested for the evening and when morning came, they soon found themselves missing a companion – Kordane had not returned to the inn the previous night. As they were also short on manpower, the party recruited a massive looking powerful warrior to accompany them and hit things, Ethan. They also noticed an increased guard presence on the streets and after overhearing their plight, they were swiftly taken into protective custody. It was revealed that Kordane had been murdered the previous night, mangled and crushed by a creature so foul that its very taint was recognizable as being that of the Unknown force that earlier terrorized the city and destroyed the Stone Hands. Lord Aurelius granted the party leave to investigate their fallen companion’s death and would pass the word out among the guard as such, but would not have them officially associated with the guard. After investigating the alley behind the Happy (not so happy now!) Spoon, they learned several important things about whatever had befallen Kordane.
- The creature left a necromantic taint so powerfully evil that it could be felt for weeks after and befouled divination spells.
- This unknown thing was powerful enough to twist and rend a man in armor like a tin can.
- It had left a single webbed footprint, embedded into the stone pavement and nothing else, no other trace.
- When it killed, it ate/absorbed the spririt of its victims such that they could not be contacted or raised.
- Finally, the party realized that they did not want this to befall them and became more resolved to stick together rather than wandering off alone.
Inquiring inside with an unhappy waitress named Kretella and after tracking down an eye-witness, Varteg, the party began to piece together the events of the previous night. Kordane had wandered into the bar and had attempted to stand up for her as she was rudely groped by a marine mercenary. The marine, Varteg, took umbrage at Kordane’s presumptuousness, as did his buddies who jumped the lone warrior and eventually threw him out of the bar. Shortly thereafter, a hideous life-ending, blood-curdling scream was heard from the alley out back. The city watch arrived eventually to find the ghastly sight of the warrior’s twisted and broken remains and tightened down harder on martial law at the evidence of the return of the unknown force.
After leaving the Sea Dragon, aboard which Varteg was serving and spoke face to face with the party, they swung by the ‘Dwarf’ to check in case any messages were left from or about Nertilla. A scroll was passed to them by the bartender that read only, “23:00 PM – You and your people meet at the Brewing Mug Inn in the Merchants Quarter”. On the way to this meeting, Drake Steele led the party to the Coliseum where he signed himself up for that evening’s deathmatch, several hours after the meeting. Then they continued to the Brewing Mug Inn and were directed upstairs to meet face to face with Nertilla the halfing! their surprise and delight soon turned sours as she told them the most horrible story, in which the party was already deeply invested.
The dark story begins when a cockroach of thief named Mcgregor began slandering the good name of the Stonehands, blaming them for his misdeeds and crimes. Agents of the guild managed to track him down to Bonewood Forest, deep within a ruined temple to a dark god. There, he escaped by using leylines, an ancient form of magic predating the well-known Teleport spell. These mystic lines transported him far away to the Bright Desert but the Stonehands reach was far and they again managed to track him down in Kunik. Again Mcgregor disappeared into an ancient buried temple but instead of capturing the villain, only one agent managed to escape alive, his body swiftly succumbing to entropy. His form finally collapsed and disintegrated but not before the memory of Mcgregor standing before an evil altar and reading from a black Book were passed on. Mcgregor, depite eluding the Stonehand at first, was not unscathed, his mind shattered by whatever vile forces he unleased.
A second group of Stonehand agents recovered his gibbering, insane form and extracted him to a Pelorian temple in Mithrat in hopes of curing his mental malady and learning what had happened. Mcgregor, it seemed, had brought the book back out of the temple with him and some extraplanar entity of ancient age, some handmaiden or servant of a Dark God wants it back. This is the force that attacked the Stonehand Guild and Chathold, and it seems to be after Nertilla and Master Gilnaeus – the two last in possession of the book. Master Gilnaeus, Nertilla said, had fled with the book – removing it from Chathold and hopefully preventing further attacks on the city. And until recently, such a plan seems to have worked – the unknown force had not made its presence known again in the city until recently. For three times or three people have died with such gruesome deaths as to be connected with the creature, each after having asked after Master Gilnaeus or Nertilla. It is thought, that by speaking their names (or even Mcgregor) that whatever dark force or creature that guides it can home in on the speaker; such name-dropping targets them for death, as befell poor Kordane.
Nertilla and Master Gilnaeus, however, seem to be the primary targets and while successful so far in hiding, she is desperate to find a solution and survive this dark assassin. She is, in fact, so out of options that she is willing to hire the party to discreetly go to the Duxchan Islands to meet with a contact of hers there. This contact, Drexella, is quite skilled with elixers and may be able to concoct one to cure Mcgregor insanity, enabling him to answer what manner of unholy beast he set upon the world. What seemed to cross everyone’s minds, is that this might also be the only hope the party has of survival – for had not almost all of them spoken either Master Gilnaeus or Nertilla name as well that day? Worried and not just a little scared for their future, the party agreed to set sail on the same “Sea Dragon” they visited previously on the morrow. In the meantime, they had a deathmatch to attend.
Drake Steele confidentally stepped into the arena and his opponents were announced – Gorgantor the Ogre and a wild bear. After a near battle, Drake Steele managed to best them and true to his word, gave an advertising plug for the Stout Dwarf bar.