Our heroes retired to an abandoned building so they could interrogate Vincent in some privacy. Given that their prisoner had demonstrated the ability to slip into shadow, the brave band of adventurers were forced to do some hard thinking on how to prevent this before Cora inscribed a Magic Circle against Shadow to restrain their dastardly foe. With that in place, the interrogation began.
The interrogation was not as satisfying as our heroes would have hoped. Vincent claimed to be working in the interests of Gaol and appeared to be confused by their mention of the rogue faction of devils that were plaguing Vectis. He did admit that he thought Cora was responsible for calling down the Rift Storm as she’s tripled in Power over the past year (actually, I think she’s quadrupled; do the maths, Vince) so she must be in cahoots with Z’braxian.
While all of this was going on, Argal had been up on the roof acting as a guard. From his lofty vantage point, he spotted a man on a roof across the way feeding some chickens. The man, upon seeing Argal spot him, motioned him to come over. There was something distinctly odd about this man; it was as if his face slid off of Argal’s memory. The Mystery Man shouted “Come let us talk, Argal. We have much to discuss. I am your captive’s boss, though that is a gross oversimplification.”
Argal complied and had a conversation with MM. MM had a simple proposition: Give him Vinnie and agree to have their arcane caster have an interview with one of the Inquisition (which could be done from the comfort of Greyhawk Investigations HQ) and they’d get off the group’s back. MM also mentioned that the group was protected from on high and far down below and that GI wasn’t responsible for the Rift Storm.
Argal brought word of this deal to the group in the building below and much discussion was had. Cora was very resistant to the idea of talking to the Inquisition but eventually agreed if the group’s favorite ‘Quisie and new bestie, Leif, was the one who would conduct the interview.
Dracaena, Argal, and Arnauld went out to finalize the deal with MM. Arnauld recognized the feeling of not remembering the face and believed that MM was the man the man he was following meet during the investigation into the Church of the Naked Blade. (Yes, it gets confusing.)
MM said that GI had cost him significantly, which was impressive. While he had diverted his resources to search for the group, other things had gone unnoticed. He slipped a piece of paper to Argal. The paper contained an address, where MM said they had just discovered what was happening. In two hours, there wouldn’t be a brick standing on brick. Go see what your rabble rousing has caused, he admonished the group.
Our Band of Heroes piled into the Mystery Machine and drove towards the address in question. As they got close, they found a cordon of worried and tense City Guard facing an angry Arbonal mob – the address was in Sap territory.
The address was a nice house with a Hedge Wizard’s shop in it. The place had been struck by a Rift bolt and was now chaotic. The group spotted Charr, who had an injured arm, standing guard near the door with some other Sap.
Charr greeted the group and filled them in on what he knew. A few people in the ‘hood went missing during the Rift Storm and the local Hedge Wizard pulled a Rift Lightning Bolt onto his store/house. So when things settled down, they went inside to look for the missing people and to see what was going on. Something came out of the wall at Charr, bit him on the arm, and then became fire. Very weird. They left in a hurry and now the Quisies were going to shell the place to get rid of the chaos.
Cora checked Charr’s wound but found no sign of mutation. Good thing Arbonals are very resistant to that type of thing. While this was going on, Charr described the thing a little better – make a beetle out of a skeleton, cross it with a tiger and give it tentacles and there you go.
Charr’s description of the thing was so compelling that Lady Joy had to go see for her self. She made a beeline for the front door and the rest of Greyhawk Investigations had no choice but to follow. As Argal entered it looked as though he was entering someone else’s territory and then the Walking Shadow’s power flowed back in, trying to cast this incursion into his city out. It didn’t work so the group went further in.
The place had been corrupted, that was for sure. GI cautiously looked around, trying not to get freaked out by the nature of the corruption. They headed to the back of the house, looking to get upstairs when they spotted the beetle creature, which was wearing a collar. The forces of Chaos are strong, but they were no match for our brave band, even when the tiger beetle’s pack mates joined it. After a quick rest to catch their breath, the group headed up the stairs.
The house grew stranger and stranger as they climbed the stairs; it became more organic and, if possible, more strange. Even the smallest uses of arcane magic lead to strange results as Cora discovered when she tried to use her Mage’s Hand to open a door.
Upstairs, Argal kicked open the door to the front room of the house where the group saw a man engaged in casting a ritual from a book in front of him. There were also a number of Arbonal and Humans tied up in a semi-circle around him. Floating inside the semi-circle were two rings and about a half-dozen gems. Energy cascaded over the gems, the book, and the wizard.
The roof of the house had been peeled back and storm clouds were gathering overhead. The wizard was changing in an unknown tongue but one name sounded the same in any language – Z’braxian
The group engaged the wizard, who manifested something that could only be called a Pain Tyrant. After an intense battle, our Heroes were victorious (capturing the hedge wizard) and grabbed the rings and gems. At that, the energy flared and died out and the book dropped to the floor. Freeing the prisoners, our brave band decided to make good their exit.
It was out through the servant’s entrance to try to avoid the security cordon, which was somewhat tighter then when they had gone into the house. Following their typical escape and evasion routine, they went down into the sewers. There, they found that the Inquisition had sunk steel plates to prevent any water from flowing from the accursed house, so they headed upstream. Emerging from the depths, they could hear the whistle of the artillery shells raining down on the house they had just vacated. The Inquisition was putting an end to that place!
Letting the rescued prisoners go their own way, our heroes took their prisoner and returned to GI HQ where Joy proceeded to interrogate the stuffing out of him. It turns out that the Pain Tyrant had appeared during the storm and offered the wizard power, tutoring him in the ways of bad magic. The hedge wizard was eager for true power and became his willing student, damn the consequences. Certainly, a major disaster had been averted, thanks to our Heroes. And no thanks to the Inquisition, who was too busy with their witch hunt to do their actual job. (That last editorial brought to you by Arnauld.)
Argal took the quite insane wizard to the Hospital of Astranos and tried to find someone who could help him. It was unlikely that more than just purifying him could be done, as he was tainted by the Big Z.
The next morning, Leif and another armored Inquisitor showed up for what was a pretty friendly interview, as those things go) with Cora. The armored Quisie dud say that the level of surveillance on Cora must be increased, which lead to various bits of banter that are, alas, lost to time.
And so a few days of peace and calm passed…
Arnauld was out at breakfast, enjoying a fine cup of coffee when MM approached him. MM was interested if GI had taken anyone out of the Chaos House with them when they left. Arnauld told him about the hedge wizard and where he could be found, but didn’t spill about the rescued prisoners.
Arnauld returned to the HQ slightly before a runner from the Governess arrived, summoning the group to Court to give their testimony in the discussion about ending the state of martial law that Vectis had (barely) been functioning under.
There was a lot of discussion and a need for Zebollah to stand down before the decree of Martial Law could be lifted. Zebollah said he could not do that without some progress. The Governess said that the Emperor and the Inquisition would discuss sentence limits for some crimes and will see what they can do about offering a wage to the Gol-men per hour, to be held in trust for them and used towards their welfare and paid to them at such time as they might be set free. Zebollah said he would see about selling his people on this and chilling things out, though it was less than he had wanted. The Governess said that if the trouble continues and the Gol-men protest again, these deals will be void and she will have the Genera conscript the protesters and send them to the Front.
In the meanwhile, the state of martial law was ended and the Governess said she’d use all available resources towards the repair of the damage caused by the Rift Storm. In additional, all restrictions on magical research at the University were lifted and the University was placed under direct Imperial control.
The Governess also appointed a clerk specifically to deal with Greyhawk Investigations. Should they find important information or new threats to the city, they should bring it to him. With that, our Heroes were dismissed.
The next morning, Ester visited GI HQ. She was intent on tracking down the source of the spell that hung heavily over Vectis and wanted to enlist Cora’s and, hopefully, Burrough’s, aid with this investigation…