A. The Only Lasting Damage – A Broken Window.
Broc tells Athron about how he was taken at the bar in Tarrish, was questioned, and eventually woke up to find himself simply left behind. He broke free of his bonds, went to Hamal’s chapterhouse in Tarrish, and learned from Pater Aubin that Athron had headed for Halveet.
After Athron explains why the party came to Halveet, Broc leaves the chapterhouse to try to find the others and warn them about the imposter. Tracing his way back towards the dock, Broc quickly comes across Duran, sends him to the chapterhouse, and continues his search for the others.
Joy returns to report that she delivered the message Seer had entrusted to her; she asks Athron what happened to the newcomer with whom she had been speaking, and jokes about Athron “stealing” her convert and preventing her from meeting her quota.
Meanwhile, Vermillion manages to reverse the tail on his follower, the rogue Terquad. Having much better cosmic dice rolls, Vermillion blends into the crowd and instead begins tailing Terquad. When Terquad realizes he has lost his target, he strolls back to the chapterhouse. The hunters had surmised that Athron had probably stayed there on the previous visit to Halveet, and had confirmed that through discreet questioning upon their own arrival in Halveet. Thus, the chapterhouse has been a default place to return if one of the hunters loses a trail.
Cassick, who likewise has been trying to draw out the hunters through random wanderings, sees Vermillion following Terquad, and trails after himself. As Terquad takes a seat across the street from the chapterhouse to enjoy his pipe, both Cassick and Vermillion lurk in nearby shadows to watch him.
DM’s note: It was a real pain in the ass keeping straight in my own head which PC was where, much less where each bad guy was, and who had spotted whom.
Inside the chapterhouse, Smannet takes Seer by surprises and ties and gags the priest. He tells Seer that he has questions, and that if Seer makes any noise when Smannet removes his gag, Smannet will kill him. Outside in the hall, Athron has come to the door to tell the priest that Joy has returned. When Smannet pulls the gag down, Seer immediately cries out a warning to Athron, who promptly breaks the door with his mace, yells at Joy to take to arms, and bellows at the doppelganger. Smannet wisely decides not to stand toe-to-toe with the cleric, and throws himself out the window into the alleyway beyond. Athron tries to use a Hold Person spell, but Smannet is unaffected.
Terquad and by-passers in the street notice the uproar just as Duran arrives on the scene. Duran hits Smannet with an arrow as the doppelganger regains his feet, and Athron climbs out the window after him. Terquad, like Enchilios, recognizes Smannet in one of his favored forms and knows he might need to create a diversion to help his colleague escape. He attempts to rouse bystanders into outrage at Duran, to persuade them that Duran must be an unsavory character. Terquad leads some of the civilians into the alleyway, and Vermillion and Cassick both follow after him.
Athron follows the fleeing Smannet, who again shifts form, flees, pulls Duran’s arrow out, and eventually is found by Enchilios’s crow familiar to summon him to Laibrook’s shop as well. Terquad – claiming to be trying to take custody of an outlaw – strikes Duran with his sword. At the same time, Varimer steps out of the bystanders and stabs Duran with her poisoned dagger, dropping him to the ground. Before she can flee, however, Athron turns to see what happened to Duran – and this time, succeeds with his Hold Person spell, capturing the Shal woman.
Terquad has sheathed his sword, and slips back into the crowd, trying simply to walk away without drawing attention to himself. Two city guards arrive and start to question everyone about what happened. Varimer claims that she was simply trying to stop an apparent criminal – Duran – from killing an innocent civilian. She points out that she didn’t actually hurt Duran in any significant way, but simply disabled him.
The guards take Athron, Duran and Varimer all into custody. At the jail, a priestess of Otori releases Duran from the poison, heals his wounds, and then – at Athron’s suggestion – subjects them all to a Zone of Truth Spell. Though he attempts to resist the spell, Duran gives his name (confirming the name previously given for him by Athron); Varimer likewise admits that she was working with the person who attacked Ethan Seer. Duran is told he must pay a fine for his vigilante activity, and is released. Before leaving, Athron tells Varimer that if she is any further trouble to them, he will kill her – and to say the same to her employer, Antazos. Varimer looks at him in confusion, and simply says “Antazos?”
B. Converging on Laibrook’s Shop.
Terquad spends some time simply playing at being casual. He fails – repeatedly – to notice either Vermillion or Cassick. Indeed, at first Vermillion himself does not realize that Cassickk has followed him. Eventually, Vermillion and Cassick both notice Terquad stop and cock his head as if listening to something. Cassick notices, within about 100 yards of the bald Terquad, the mage described to him as being at the barn back in Tarrish. The mage, who has sent his crow to seek out Varimer (a futile task, since she is in custody) while he finds Terquad, wears three silver earrings in his left year (a ruse by Enchilios to seem more intimidating to people, as he is not that highly ranked a wizard).
After that, Terquad walks more quickly and with greater purpose on one side of the street, while Enchilios goes in the same direction on the other side. Vermillion realizes soon that they are both heading to the street where Laibrook’s shop is located. Vermillion notices Cassick, but fails to understand Cassick’s signs that the mage is present. He understands only when they both see Terquad and Enchilios go into Laibrook’s shop where, unknown to them, Dorath Kir and Smannet are now guarding two already battered captives in the back office.
Meanwhile, back at the chapterhouse (again) … Broc and Boeden both return, having heard on the street that there had been some type of attack upon the priest of Hamal. A very upset Joy gives them a confused account of what happened, including the news that Duran was hurt and that both he and Athron were taken to the local branch of the jail to be questioned. When Broc refuses to do what Boeden tells him, the Jotunn pulls the barbarian into the front hall. The confrontation further upsets Joy, who bursts into tears, yells at them for their behavior, and tells them to go away. Seer walks in and demands to know what the two of them did to upset Joy.
DM’s note: Both Mike (Boeden’s player) and Chris (Broc’s player) run their characters as very protective of the innocent. I knew that having Joy be upset (after all, wouldn’t she be, with her teacher nearly being killed) would leave the characters embarrassed.
Athron and Duran arrive, interrupting the scene before Boeden and Broc can explain. They decide they should go to Laibrook’s shop, to make sure that the hunters have not discovered that link to Maeva.
C. Another Broken Window and a Lot of Broken Bodies.
Vermillion and Cassick are the only PCs already at the shop. After watching Enchilios and Terquad enter, they split up to find separate ways into the shop. Cassick goes first, using a potion of spiderclimb to go up one wall on an alley, because the windows on the second floor lack the bars on the first-floor windows. He peeks in to see a storage room, then breaks the window to unlock it. Unknown to Cassick, this sets off a magical alarm that alerts Laibrook, elsewhere in the city, about an unauthorized intrusion.
As Cassick gains entry from the second floor and starts to sneak down the stairs, Vermillion picks the locks on the front door and steps into the front room. (DM’s note: AJ later remarks that he didn’t stop to think how odd this would look to passers-by, to have someone crouched in front of the door, during the middle of the day, picking the lock.) He finds that Terquad is alone in the front room, crouched behind the receptionist’s heavy wooden desk and armed with a light crossbow. Terquad’s bad luck continues – he misses his shot on Vermillion, and then finds himself stuck in place by Vermillion’s tanglefoot bag.
Hearing Terquad call out, those in the back room prepare to either flee or fight. Smannet throws open the door between the front and back rooms to take on Vermillion – who is soon joined by the arriving Athron, Boeden and Broc:. Duran, outside, goes around the building to make sure the rear entrance is covered. Terquad quickly finds himself, despite some successful crossbow shots, turned into a pile of blood and broken bone by Boeden. Smannet backs up into the rear room and tries to use the receptionist for cover – he threatens to kill her if the PCs move further into the room. Cassick does substantial damage to Enchilios, who has moved to unlock the back door in the hopes of escaping.
Dorath guards the door while Enchilios goes out, taking damage from Vermillion and others. Enchilios manages to slip past Duran’s spear attack in the rear and runs, pursued by the archer. Inside, Smannet slits the receptionist’s throat despite Athron casting Sanctuary on her – and is bashed and slashed apart by the PCs for his trouble. The PCs also undo his last vile act, managing to heal the receptionist before she turns from mostly dead to all dead.
Dorath makes it out the back door, but only a few steps from the building before being cut down. (Right now, he’s only mostly dead.) Enchilios, with Duran on his heels, hits the archer with a lightning bolt, but dies in the public street with an arrow through his throat. Overhead, the mage’s crow familiar, no longer under the mage’s aegis, wonders how the hell he ended up in a port city far from his forest home.
DM’s Notes: Chris ran both Broc and Smannet for this fight. His handling of Smannet demonstrated how he at times likes to have his characters to vile things and get away with them. This time, though, Smannet was unable to flee, and got his comeuppance in the end.
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