Schism

The Rat and Buttplug
It's a real bar.

Having learned that the Orcs were probably not responsible for the murder of the Arbonal workers, our heroes discussed how they might use this information to put an end to the gang war plaguing Dracaena’s old neighborhood. Some proposed approaching Auluaga, the head of the Sap, to ask for his assistance in cutting Char down to size and putting an end to Char’s stoking of the violence with the Democrats. Others thought to seek out a higher-up among the Democrats and ask for assistance tracking down the Orcs involved in the murder. The group set out to perform further investigative work in the hope of bolstering the case to be made to the leadership of the rival gangs.

Cora passed along a request to Cirace to cross reference the Orcish-sounding names from the List with known democrats.

Argal and Dracaena set out to the factory where the murdered women had worked. The foreman of the factory indicated that some Orcish workers had been rallying their fellow workers. The agitators left when the foreman threatened to send in the Guard.

Meanwhile, Eigil and Cora sought out the Democrat hideout. They honed in on a certain bar, guarded by Orcs who could have been friendlier. After attempting to name-drop and otherwise charm their way into the bar, the guards had issued sufficient convincing threats to make it clear that getting into this bar was not going to happen anytime soon for these adventurers.

A response was received from Cirace indicating that, of the Orcs named on the List, Guantabe and Hirito had been hauled in for their activities in associating with the Democrats. The party proceeded to question street vendors making knockoff goods of the variety produced by the factory where these Orcs had worked. Eventually, an imposing crew of Democrats approached the investigators, wanting to know why a disturbance was being caused. The Democrats were told that the accused Orcs were probably not responsible for their actions and that the purpose of the investigation was to get to the truth of what had gone down on the night of the murder. In return, the group received a name and an address.

The address turned out to correspond to a certain bar, where our Orc guard friends were perplexed at the return of those who had so recently been sent packing. However, one mention of the name “Yogo” was sufficient to change the guards’ minds, and the adventurers were granted entrance. Inside, Yogo, referred to by the Orcs as “Legget,” seemed willing to discuss terms for ending the gang conflict after learning of reasons for beleiving that the Orcs who committed the murder were possessed. Yogo provided information about where the accused Orcs were overseers at a workshop and provided a Democrat escort to assist in the investigation.

Outside the workshop, which appeared on the outside to be an innocuous apartment building, Cora took the time to create a magic circle just outside the front door. As the workers filed out of the building, two of the Orcs faintly glowed as they walked over the ring, one scratching his neck. When approached, the Orcs denied that anything out of the ordinary had transpired on the night of the murder, although Guantabe seemed less confident and forthwright than Hirito. Hirito laughed off the suggestion that they might need help to avoid being used by demons to perform future dastardly deeds. Cora reached out and pulled down Hirito’s collar, exposing a runic tattoo on his neck. Hirito claimed that the tattoo just showed his girlfriends name. The Orcs returned to their work, and the party scattered to keep a covert watch on the factory.

After a short time, the workers started streaming out of the building, long before the typical end of the work day. Hirito was spotted leaving, but as the workers made their way out of the building and into the local bar, there was no sign of Guantabe. After all of the workers left, Cora, Dracaena and Argal went to keep an eye on the bar while Eigil stayed behind to check the inside of the factory. Richard, the Democrat escort, found Eigil trying to crowbar his way into an apparent hidden space within the building. Richard relieved Eigil of the need to explore in this manner, showing Eigil a passageway to old dwarven warrens where the factory was hidden. In the factory office, Richard and Eigil encountered the corpse of Guantabe.

“Can I have the corpse?” Eigil asked.

“No,” said Richard.

Taking a closer look at the body, Eigil discovered a tattoo similar to Hirito’s on the sole of Guantabe’s foot. Clearly, Hirito had killed Guantabe to avoid the risk of Guantabe blabbing about the cult through which both had accepted possession by devils.

Richard and Eigil met up with the others at the bar. Argal negotiated with Richard to have the Democrats end the gang war in exchange for the party handling Hirito. The party continued to stake out the bar as the hordes of workers shuffled out. Cora asked a passing worker what had become of Hirito, and the worker drunkenly related that Hirito had taken a woman upstairs. After the exiting crowd dwindled down to a trickle, and then nothing, the party entered the bar. The bartender indicated the room that had been paid for by Hirito. The group’s patience for the day was pretty much all used up by that point, so Argal kicked down the door to the room. The aforementioned woman was dead on the floor. Hirito ran for the nearest window and fled. Cora spellfully grasped Hirito. The rest of the group proceeded to knock him unconscious, in accordance with protocol for preparing suspects for questioning.

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Wrath of the Gods
When someone asks if you are a god...

We took Bergstrom to Cirace for questioning, but time was limited, we
learned that the Inquisition was coming to round him up.

We learned that Bergstrom was a Sergeant in the Imperial Army, who
killed his commander, before Cirace ushered us from the room and
silenced it.

A group of inquisitors came in shortly after, and Arnauld began
spinning a long story, trying to give Cirace as much time as possible
to question Bergstrom, in the process collecting us the $900 bounty
due for turning in Bergstrom.

Finally the inquisitors grew impatient and broke down he door.
Bergstrom was clean, but had signs of recent burns.

It turned out that Bergstrom was dealing with the cult of Lavash
diectly. In this city, the ecstatic cult has rich and bored members,
and funds the cult of Assassins.

The guard infiltrated the cult, but the infiltrating guardsman resigned.

Cora asked for information on the cult members, but none of the
members of the cult the guard is following are still members.

Cirace’s secretary brought us the case files from the last
infiltration, which we took back to the office and pored over.

A customer knocked, it was Anders, head of the Metalworkers Union.

“Well, if that was a job interview I’m impressed”.

Anders tried to sell us on taking over Bergstrom’s position, fixer for
the union, claiming that he needs to see threats coming for the safety
of his union members.

The main duty would be to work towards having no golmen working on
slave wages in the city, to keep union jobs high.

He gave us a few days to decide, and the group immediately started
arguing the issues, then deferred making a decision to continue
investigating the cult.

Old case files reference nobility, wealthy and with real power, but
the list is from too long ago for us to know any of the names.

However, the case files mentioned parties organised at irregular
intervals, so we set out to locate and enter one such party.

Arnauld led, being the most presentable in noble company, and the rest
of the group followed at a distance, as Arnauld befriended a party
chaperone (Catherine) and followed her.

Arnauld and Catherine entered a restaurant, guarded by dwarves, then
went to the service door. Arnauld felt a feeling of building
excitement, mingled with dread.

The group used a telepathy ritual to stay in contact with Arnauld.

Inside the party, groups of people were writhing on the floor, or
standing near censers throwing off thick smoke.

On the far side of the party was a child, naked and bound to a slab.

A man with long greasy hair, either a short, big human or hairless
dwarf, draws Arnauld’s attention, outwardly similar to others at the
party, something wasn’t right. As Arnauld looked, a wall of fear/dread
cut the telepathic connection.

Argal communed with the city to try to find a way into the building,
and a nearby weathervane came to life and speaks: Cats know the secret
warm spot on the roof.

The party scaled the roof and climbed inside. Just before Eigil
dropped down, a patrolling dwarven guard made eye contact, and winked.

The whole second floor of the building was gone, so the party used a
rope to descend.

The fat man was aware everyone was sneaking in.

Arnauld started to ask questions, but the fat man grasped his brain
with spectral fingers and went on a rant about mortals dying,
reminding us of something like a priest of Grin.

As the party listened, the cultists transformed from normal mortals
into horrifying undead-like creatures, which immediately charged.

We cleared up the cultists quickly, but the fat man stamped on the
floor, destroying it and dropping us all into the sewers, separated by
walls.

After fighting the fat man, thinking we were doing well, we realized
that none of our damage was persisting, and every attack of his
knocked someone through a wall, bloodying them.

We couldn’t survive the fight, so we ran, escaping onto the street.

The fat man grew, now obviously Grin, Lord of Consumption.

He moved to attack, and the dwarven guardsman from earlier stepped in
and blocked the blow, revealing himself as Warlord Khral, and
exhorting Grin to leave the mortal realm.

The goddess Dalarya emerged, and together they drove Grin out of this world.

Khral gave Eigil a crushed suit of armour, the remains of Warlord
Caine, leaving it to us to inter him in a suitable resting place.

Arnauld was able to question Dalarya, who admitted that demons came to
her high priestess, offering their services free of charge, for
innocent targets only.

She promised that the devils would not gain any aid from her church in
the future.

Khral suggested Eigil keep praying, the god of battle changes faces
often, but is the same god.

Cirace teleported, not sure what just happened, and began questioning us.

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Hounding the Railhound
and learning how to chat up Orcs

Following through on leads emerging from the information provided by the Walking Shadow, Arnauld tracked down Feldan in a cafe by the University. Arnauld gradually managed to work his way into Feldan’s confidence, and at last was able to bring up Tasia with Feldan. Feldan explained that before Tasia’s death, he had been approached while in his cups by a dwarf in a bar and was told that he needed to get his family to stop the weaver Gol-men project. The dwarf was a bold with a deep voice, and middle class, matching the description of the dwarf described by the walking shadow. The threatener was cold and professional, barely batting an eye when Feldan attempted to attack him.

Feldan never acted on the warning, and before long Tasia was found dead. The pose she was found in was a reference to a painting Feldan had created of Tasia, in which her face was concealed. Shaken by the incident, Feldan finally went to his parents and told them about the threat he had received, but Feldan’s parents were indifferent.

Feldan noted that among students, more guards were being used. As the party goes about their business, the tone of the city has changed. Tension abounds. Demand for Arbonal body guards is generally on the rise, and the Sap gang is thriving. Stormers increasingly push back against guard activity, gangs are recruiting, and fighting is rife throughout the city.

After learning what he can from Feldan, Arnauld paid a visit to Tosh’s shop, hoping for useful information for his investigation of orc mercenaries. Tosh informed Arnauld that he should talk with an orc named Hitikaga at The Jagged Knife. Always willing to help out with investigative work taking place in drinking establishments, the party gathered for an expedition to find Hitikaga.

The Jagged Knife turned out to be a hangout for a even mix of tough guys and broke students. The walls were festooned with weaponry, monster heads, and mercenary banners. One wall was lined with drawings of oddly tattooed bar patrons. The bartender pointed the party to a downstairs area of the bar in a collapsed catacombs. The orcs playing pool and darts in the lower level responded gruffly to Arnauld’s queries, growing aggressive as the conversation continued. Eigil broke in, challenging an orc to an arm wrestling match. Despite a solid loss in the match, Eigil managed to win the respect of the orcs with his chutzpah. As a result, the orcs let on that the bartender who had directed the party downstairs was in fact Hirikaga.

Hirikaga offered to answer the party’s questions provided that Arnauld reveal who had provided the bartender’s name. Arnauld complied, and Hirikaga told the party that the walking Shadow asked him to deliver cargo to a man going by “Railhound.” Railhound arranged with Hirikaga to hire Gol-men to use as hired goons to attack the Bailey. Hirikaga described Railhound as a well spoken, educated dwarf working in a machine shop by the river. However, Hirikaga’s informationwas limited, as Hirikaga’s own efforts to learn more about Railhound had lead to the deaths and disappearances of all the people hired to investigate.

The party discussed how to go about their own investigation of the Railhound, given the unfortunate ends previous information-seekers had met. Dracaena, Cora and Eigil checked out a dungeon below the Railhound’s shop, finding it booby trapped to the teeth. Arnauld disguised himself as a hobo and watched the shop from a distance. Arnauld came away with an impression of visitors to the shop being now what they seem. Couriers frequently arrived at the shop with packages and information for a Mr. Bergstrom.

The party entered the shop, finding an interior loaded with gunmaking tools. The Railhound escaped using a trapdoor behind the desk, in the process triggering bebes and gunpowder attached to the desk.

The party pursued the Railhound along a chamber filling with gas, finding their way to a long corridor festooned with variously sized pipes. Avoiding shooting from the far end of the corridor, the party made their way down the corridor and into a room partially covered by a pond of sewage. Fending off the party’s attacks, the Railhound ranted about the corruption of the Empire and his intention to encourage the common people of Vectis to stand against the flood of slaves entering the city. The Railhound proceeded to monologue about the murder of Tasia, explaining that he had hoped to halt the growth of clan Biviar, which was getting too big too fast. The Railhound had hired the Gol-men at the Old Bailey (and Strosson didn’t have any prior knowledge about the attacks). The party fought off the Railhound’s ongoing attacks, ultimately subduing him.

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In Hot Pursuit
Taking it to the Streets

Our intrepid heroes had their marching orders from Commander Cirace: Find the leader of the attack, find out who was responsible for it. So they immediately left the Old Bailey and hit the streets in hot pursuit of the mounted Gol-men. Their prey had a head start so the group split up, with Cora and Arnauld taking the Northern route while Dracaena and Argal head South. The group was taking it to the streets, leaving no stone unturned. Arnauld proved to be a deft hand at enlisting various members of the City Guard to help with the search, even if only briefly, nimbly using the guards’ eye for trouble to avoid an ambush. Dracaena, on the other hand, was in no mood to avoid anything, and rushed headlong into an intersection that contained no fewer than four Gol-men, laying in wait. She gave a good account of herself but was just about overwhelmed when Argal arrived to reinforce her in the nick of time. He kept up the pressure on the treacherous ambushers, forcing them to flee and buying Dracaena enough time to regain consciousness and her feet.

It was apparent that this Gol-leader had set up an elaborate plan for his retreat, almost as if he expected the attack to be driven back. Groups of Gol-men were setting up false trails and allowing themselves to been seen to try to lead off pursuit. In the end it was Argal who spotted the leader on the southern bridge, attempting to get away. The group gave chase, losing sight of their mounted target but keep enough of the trail to eventually find themselves down South, at the gate to Tidelands Amusement Park.

As the brave heroes studied the gate, Argal began to experience that now-familiar feeling of excitement, as though the very spirit of Vectis itself was breathing in his head, urging him on after the target. It was the middle of the night and the park was long closed. The lock, however, didn’t look jimmied or forced, suggesting that the Gol-men possessed a key. Our heroes were not so equipped, but they had something better and in a few seconds, the nimble hands of Arnauld had the lock open and the party continued their pursuit.

Following the keen ears of everyone (except for Arnauld who might be nimble, but apparently wasn’t terribly perceptive), the group followed the distant sounds of agitated horses to a medium-sized tent. A quick examination revealed a big main entrance and an iron gate in the back. Jamming the gate shut, the group entered the tent to find it was a freak show, with horses wearing various costumes to suggest they were exotic beasts, such as hippogriffs. The griffin proved to the real McCoy, but was fortunately both caged and weakened. Our band left the faked freak show, at a loss as to where to look next.

That’s when Argal noticed one of the posters beckoning to him and pointing in a direction to go. Argal urged the group to follow him as paintings, posters, and decorations guided the dwarven warden to the Big Top. It was as if the spirit of the Circus was guiding him.

Entering the tent, the brave party found themselves under the stands, surrounded by strange machinery. From above them, they could hear voices. They were close! After a quick whispered plan, the party split into two pairs and climbed access ladders to surprise their prey. Thus it was ironic that they themselves were surprised by a shadow extended a helping hand to them even as it said something like “The noted heroes, straight from the pages of Mr. Carter’s latest novel, here for YOUR entertainment, we have a demonstration of Greyhawk Investigations’ combat prowess,” and then went on to introduce the group, referring to Argal as “Warden of the City.”

As the party stood there, nonplussed, the Ringmaster continued, saying that he assumed the group was here for the Gol-man and offered them a deal: put on a good show and he’d tell them what he knew about the Gol-man. Unfortunately, the group would not get their hands on the leader of the cowardly attack, as the Ringmaster had a deal with him, which included his safe passage out of the City.

The Ringmaster spoke with Argal in a voice that only the brave dwarf heard, offering him a side deal. Soon, the Wild would come for Argal to make him its own, said the shadowy figure. Wardens serve the Wild and the Wild would come to force him into that service. But Argal hears the spirit of the City and the Ringmaster could arrange for the spirit of the Wild to appear now, in the ring. If Argal could defeat it, he would be free of its call and free to follow the call of Vectis. Argal agreed.

The group was lead down through the stands, which were filled with the monied upper middle-class of the city and down to the ring, where the Ringmaster summoned the spirit of the Wild in the form of a Twigme and some minions and the fight was on! Let us not forget that the ring was filled with traps to make things even more interesting and let us not forget that these circus people are dicks for putting the traps in there. It was a mighty fight, during which Argal abandoned his call of the Wild and instead manifested as a true Warden of the City.

The conclusion was forgone – who are the heroes here anyway? That’s right, Greyhawk Investigations, who emerged victorious and were proclaimed the winners. After much cheering by the crowd, the two dimensional shadow of the Ringmaster led the group back down to under the Big Top, where it revealed itself as the shadow of a halfing. There were more halfing carnies down there as well. The Ringmaster gave the group the information dump he had promised. He had been hired to bring in the Gol-man leader into the city and to see that he made his exit again when his work was done. He was also hired to procure a certain asset – the Gol-ogre – for the leader’s use. The leader spent some time gathering his attack force and setting up for the evening’s festivities.

The Ringmaster’s client was a well-dressed and well-spoken dwarf, very businesslike, very powerful, and dressed like a rich, non-noble dwarf would dress. He never gave the Ringmaster his name.

The Ringmaster was concerned about something causing Chaos in the City, the wrong kind of Chaos. He would see the City grow, not burst with the tension. The City cannot grow if it is tearing itself apart and while the Ringmaster is obligated to keep to his contacts, the contract was written loosely enough that he could help us by giving us information.

With some information in hand, the group made to leave. The Ringmaster had some parting gifts for Argal, telling him that he was a Warden of the City now and that the gates of the park would always be open to him.

As the group made its way back towards where they could report in, they saw many signs of unrest, from posters with warnings about Gol-men uprisings to groups of guards looking for signs of Gol-men trouble. They even spotted a few Inquisitors out and about, looking for Gol-men to suppress. The City was a powder keg, only awaiting the appropriate spark to ignite the tensions and blow the place apart.

Making their way to a guard bar near the Guard HQ, the band found Commander Cirace and reported their activities. Cirace said that the nobles are clamoring and there was talk about a ban of Gol-men in the City. Were that to happen, the farmers from the countryside would flock to Vectis to find work, as there would be need of many, many, more workers. That would leave the farms abandoned, and almost certainly the Empire would move in and claim the farms and start to work them with Gol-labor. Not a desirable outcome.

After they left, the party bandied about many more conspiracy theories, including one where Mr. Strosson or Mr. Andor might well be the ones responsible for the attack in an attempt to get the Gol-men banned and increase the power of the Smith’s Guild. And there we left it, with our heroes being paid, reminded they should buy some healing potions, and wondering which direction their investigations will lead them next.

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Return To Vectis
What a Ball!

Our heroes returned via train to Vectis in all it’s industrial glory.
Recovering from their hair-raising adventures and some R&R might be on the mind of a lesser group of individuals, but the safety of the city would, nay, could not wait.

Cora and Arnaud set about continuing investigations into the book, and it’s mysteries, while the rest of the group maintained the day-to-day operations of their organization. It wasn’t long before Strossen stopped by with more work. He, representing the Steelworkers Guild, had been hired to provide security for this year’s City Guard Ball. Having remembered our martial prowess, and genuine ingenuity, he approached Argal in the “office”, whom agreed to represent Strossen for a modest sum. His attempts at negotiation were deftly brushed aside. Greyhawk Investigations would oversee a small group of mercenaries in securing the tower against any people that might attempt to disrupt the party, most likely inebriated party-goers, or riff-raff trying to gain entrance above their station. A total milk-run we were assured.

The ball was being held in the Old Bailey tower, that had once been on the outskirts of the city, but in the recent expansions, was now in a fancier part of town, and had been retrofitted for events.

Our heroes, being prudent adventurers, cased the joint before the party, and found the ground floor to be frought with numerous entrances, too many to have a proper guard stationed at all of them. They also investigated the neighbourhood, the caterers and entertainment, and all seemed in order.

The night of the gala arrived, the heroes arriving early, to set up their meager backup of 10 mercenary arbonals. With some covering the roof, and some on patrol duty, the heroes split up to cover the party. Dracaena out front with the mercenary captain Char. Cora alternately on door duty (to check against names from the book), and then on party duty. Eigel on observation on the second floor, also keeping tabs on the stairway up to the private 3rd floor. Arnaud, working the floor with his panache, and Argal keeping the kitchen entrance secure, out of sight.

The party started off according to plan. Notable guests included Cirace Captain of the Guard, an efreet Caliph Gadiel, Feldan of clan Biviar, and his doting mother, a couple of other clan heads, Livianus from the university, and the famous author Carter.

Arnaud managed to chat up, and start a budding friendship with Feldan, discovering that he was very into rebelling against his parents.

It was several hours before Carter made a very drunken exit, Argal swearing that Burroughs made off with most of the top shelf liquor at the time.

Part way through the evening, Dracaena noticed a suspicious looking carriage across the street. As she went to investigate, the party was rocked by a massive explosion from one of the houses abutting the Old Bailey. Golmen flooded into the library, quickly confronted and decimated by Cora’s magic.

Meanwhile out front, additional Golmen established a firing line on the outer wall, shouting for vengeance and assaulted the front gate. Dracaena, Eigil and Char held off the first wave, but they unfortunately were pressed back under a now burning awning. Under Siross’ request, the efreet, took the fire, and Siross used it to barricade the guests on the top floor. Just as things were going our way a massive Gol-Ogre was released from the carriage with instructions from the Gol-man leader to knock down the tower.

Dracaena and Eigil confronted the beast, while Cora and Argal circled around to surprise the gunline from behind. Arnaud kept the remaining Gol-men from pushing to far into the tower, with some well placed garroting. As the Gol-Ogre finally fell, the 2nd wave that was preparing outside the walls along with the leader turned and fled.

With the party guests saftey assured, Cirace was furious, and ordered our heroes into immediate pursuit! Who was behind the attack, and whyever would they attack the city guard?

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Prisons within Prisons
Burroughs is the man! (That is, the dwarf!)

As the party entered the cage-lined room, a gate came crashing down, leaving a flaming wall where the entrance had been. Arnaud, who had stayed a step behind to guard the door, was cut off from the group. A tall wall created an interior perimeter within the vast prison.

Exploring the chamber, the group observed chains connected to rails running along the floors and up the walls of the chamber. An open collar connected to one chain lay on the ground.
Using light to get a better view of the space attracted the attention of something at the end of a chain. That something turned out to be a non-human creature, a skeleton around which darkness did not dissipate. The light was extinguished to avoid attracting the attention of the creature and whatever friends it might have lurking about.

Argal scaled the wall to get a view of the core of the room. Above columns in each corner of the room were locks having similar mechanisms to the locks the group had dealt with to gain entrance to the prison. The group made their way into the interior area within the chamber. Argal, Eigil, Burroughs and Carter each headed for one of the columns. Before Argal and Eigil could reach the columns, wraiths attacked the adventurers. As Cora, Eigil and Dracaena fended up the wraiths, Argal ascended the wall to reach a platform. Eigil and Dracaena followed with wraiths on their tails. Eigil managed to land a grappling hook at the top of the column. Dracaena climbed the rope and defeated the devil at the top of the column to gain access to the lock. Burroughs and Carter prepared to handle the locks at the tops of their respective columns. Burroughs summoned an imp to manage the unmanned column and the imp exploded near the lock, causing the final lock to open.

The unlocked doors slid into the floor, from which light came pouring out. The wraiths vanished, and as the group adjusted to the onslaught of light, six figures chained to a wheel became visible. The creatures were angels wearing collars with spiked interior surfaces. As the wheel turned, the angels were forced to walk in endless circles, bleeding silver light from their wounds. Eigil recognized a sigil created by the trail of blood from the angels as a rune of binding, and gained a binding power as the rune seared into his brain.

The largest angel in the center hovered, head down, and spoke the word “sinners.” Cora and Burroughs spoke to the angels, trying to convince them of their intent to free them, but the angels only retaliated, battering Cora with their pain. In response to Cora’s effort to heal some of the angels, the angels forged spears from their chains.

Burroughs told the group that if they could keep the angels still, he could free them. The angels fought back as the adventurers tried to subdue them, the blood of the injured mingling with the blood in the sigil. One by one, the angels were released. Angels that could be incapacitated had their chains severed by Burroughs’ infernal jackhammer. One by one, the angels’ collars were turned to slag as the angels disappeared in fire. Angels that were killed ascended, freed from their chains, and disappeared.

An old man walked out of the opening where the sigil used to be. He uttered advice to run from the coming war, warning that the world is doomed to burn and that the four devils written of in the book cannot be stopped. The old man’s shape changed, revealing the form of an enormous red dragon. As the dragon opened the door to allow group to exit the prison, Arnaud appears in the doorway, having assembled a team to help him work at opening the door with a cleverly rigged system of pulleys.

The group surfaced and headed for the train. As the group began the journey back to Vectis, the freed dragon took flight and disappeared beyond the horizon.

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The Later Adventures of Carter Gelborg
Not named after his dog.

The gang started cleaning the Under Nomads water source, found a more
permanent home for the Golmen with the Scrappers.

They returned to the surface world and claimed the reward for the
factory job, got scolded for not killing the Golmen, but were let off
the hook on condition they never resurfaced.

Returning to the university looking for help translating the book
written in Infernal, Cora and Arnauld (accompanied somewhat
unhelpfully by the unworldly dwarves and a more helpful tree), got the
runaround from the department heads, including:
- Prof Livianus, head of history (the Dwarfiest Eladrin we’d ever seen!)
- Prof Galacius, university head
- Prof Halvana, head of natural sciences

Eventually they gained an hearing to attempt to gain access to the
archives, with the three professors and one new addition, Francois.
Arnauld, in typically eloquent fashion, managed to talk the professors
into granting access, at which point the professors examined the book,
with varying opinions as to its nature, including an encoded text and
writings in an outer planar language.

However, access to the archives was suddenly and almost violently
denied by the Inquisitor (of indeterminate sex and race, hidden in a
suit of armor with no apparent personality, with a magical mask
matching lip movement and an asexual voice).

Francois seemed particularly outraged at Greyhawk Investigations being
denied access to knowledge, and nodded assent when Eigil asked him to
meet the group later that night.

Later, at the Coal Heap, Francois showed up, and complained at length
about the Inquisition. Later, surprisingly, the rest of the professors
joined him, and Livianus gave back the book.

Becoming more secretive, the professors asked Francois to leave, and
offered to give over more information if the group was ok with their
memories being wiped afterwards.

Information the group gained, but then forgot:
- the book is in Old Infernal
- just by reading, a person can become susceptible to control by the book
- the book can’t really be translated, the text is imbued with the
intent of the creator, which doesn’t translate
- the Inquisition cannot stop what’s coming

All that remained was a name, Howard Carter, a famous author of pulp
adventure novels, and an item to give him, a pipe.

Turning up at Carter’s door, they were greeted by Burroughs,
apparently his dwarf Golman sidekick, and were led to Carter.

Carter had a very strong reaction to being shown the text, and
immediately thought of someone who could help with the translation.

ROAD TRIP!!

We caught a train from Vectis Grand Central to an archaeological dig
in an ancient, buried city unearthed by the Rift, to visit a “sage” of
Carter’s acquaintance, Hordair.

On arriving, we switched to a horse and cart and made the rest of the
trip to the dig. Before entering, Carter cautioned us: If anyone asks
I technically own Burroughs (Golmen not being permitted to be free).

The ruined city is carved deep into the living granite, and is
totallly dark. Horned figures are engraved on the walls, in disturbing
poses, culminating in a scene with a familiar figure seated on a
throne before a blasted landscape, kneeling at his feet is Alexandra,
current queen of Hell.

We know Alexandra killed her father, Asmodeus, so these carvings and
the city are incredibly old.

Carter intoned: Oh wise sage, please grant us access to your wisdom.

An old man in a carving opened his eyes, cursed Carter out, but seemed
amiable and asked to look at the text.

Hordair explained that in order to understand the text, we would have
to experience it. Cora and Eigil volunteered, Draecena holding the
text (a tree won’t get tired standing in one position for hours),
while Carter showed Argol and Arnauld the rest of the ruins.

Cora and Eigil saw a place of black rock, hearing millions of
creatures outside, man screams.
Overriding all else, a feeling of loss, abandonment.
More images, blue, insectlike imps, lightning, shadows, a woman of
horrible beauty.
The ravings of an angry devil.
Runes in the language of the gods.
Devils awaiting figures cloaked in all black.
Impressions of a black ice blade killing.

Hordair stopped here, clearly scared, demanding a price for completing
the learning process and revealing the nature of the coming doom: his
freedom.

Stepping aside, Cora and Eigil grilled Carter on Hordair’s nature -
Carter thought he was a construct or a spirit, but clearly he is
unspeakably ancient and powerful, to survive imprisonment like this.

Regardless, the coming doom seemed more threatening than Hordair, so
they agreed, and began following the instructions for freeing him.

The group descended deep into the ruins, and found the doors Hordair
spoke of, 30 feet wide, locks filled with flame, and magical, 200lb
keys.

The fiendish locks meant both keys had to be turned at once, but using
one key (found embedded in the nearby rock and freed by Burroughs’
jackhammer hand) to turn the other (burning hot) key in its lock and
simultaneously jamming the mechanism to stop it slamming, the dwarves
(with some assistance, and by amplifying their strength with the
ancient dwarf ritual of fistbumping), managed to get the locks working
in unison, opening into a vast room lined with cages, chains running
into each one.

One of the chains began to rustle.

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The Scar Plague Source
In which a Doctors stability is questioned

- Already deep in the tunnels beneath the city, we continued down a
shaft down into another hallway, that led to a hastily made tunnel, to
another room, to another tunnel. The roof was collapsing in places.

- As we entered the second room, runes on the wall began glowing with
glyphs of healing and repair. Rubble started flying through the air to
repair the walls and block off the tunnels. Argol tried to force the
tunnel open while Cora, Arnauld, and Eigol disabled the runes. We
managed to do so before the last tunnel sealed shut.

- We continued on to a large steel door to an abandoned foundry. The
door slammed shut, and we heard muffled shouting – “Damn your maggoty
hide, shore up those doors before the mercenaries show up”

- We forced open the door that was being held up by a giant
Frankenstein dwarf and into the smelting room

- The wizard, a Dr. Conlon wearing tattered robes of Astranos tries to
tell us to stop – saying that he knows he is harming the undernomads,
but he is trying to create a vaccine for mutation. He had tested on
animals, tried on himself, but still could not find someone that could
provably resist the illness. He claimed he needed more time.

- We deliberated for some time, but ultimately decided since he was
crazy and the undernomads were at risk, that we had no choice.

- We made it through a difficult fight that involved fighting the
giant dwarf, mutated insect swarms, and the doctor himself. Arnauld
managed to get him in a garrote and quickly finished him off.

- We searched his room for the journal and found the following:
Reading through the various texts of the Mad Doctor Conlon, you are
able to piece together what he was trying here.

He had been a Doctor at the Astranos Hospital on the Island. He was a
learned man, and a practitioner of the Arcane Arts.

He would often accompany mercy groups into the Riftward reaches of the
Empire. He was more then capable of lending a bit of punch to an
otherwise peaceful outing. There he was faced with mutation every day.
He became convinced that the reason the divine magic of the Clerics
and Priests was ineffective was that the curse was Arcane in nature,
coming, as it did, from Zbraxian.

To that end, he created a wand that would meld the two worlds of magic
together. His hope was that this would allow him to treat the mutated.
Sadly, as is often the case, this novel act of magic brought down the
power of Zbraxian on his works. He was mutated, his eyes gone wrong.
The small creatures around him, the bugs in his laboratory, were
mutated into those swarms you fought.

He tried to go about his business in the hospital, hiding him
mutations behind thick goggles and bulky robes.

His wand was not enough, tainted as it was by the touch of Zbraxian.

And so he began to search for a way to build up a resistance to the
mutation. He distilled crushed creatures from the swarm into a very
dilute form of tainted energy. He then fed this to his most critical
patients. Perversely, the mutations seemed to often keep them alive.
Alive long enough, at the least, to start raising questions. It wasn’t
long before he had to flee to the sewers to avoid the Inquisition
being called down on his head.

Using the notes he has given, you know what to expect from the disease
rampaging through the Under Nomads. You are sure that, with treatment,
you can keep anyone from dying. You will have to find them a new
source of water though. And, it is totally unknown if they will end up
mutating or not. The Doctors research had never found anything that
would reliably halt mutation. He was mostly working on the theory that
the energies of the rift would work like any other toxin.

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Back in the Sewers
No, seriously, they suck.

We led the Gol-Men through the sewers away from the factory and towards the dubious safety of Eigil and his Under-Nomad friends. Our hope was that Eigil might be able to make a contact with some of the Scarpers and find a safe haven for our freed prisoners. We traveled for some time, getting lost and re-finding our way before locating the Under-Nomads in a collapsed portion of Old Vectis.

As Eigil led us into his territory, he warned us that his friends had been suffering from some terrible, contagious disease and that we should keep our distance. The Under Nomads lived in what looked like an old collapsed temple area that they had excavated out. There were maybe 30 of them living in that area, mostly dwarves and drow.

There had been an initial wave of infection two or three weeks ago, which make its victims sick with a cough and boils before it subsided. Now, another wave was starting back up. No one had yet died from the disease, but it was unpleasant and sapped energy from those who could ill afford to lose it.

We decided to do a little investigation into this mysterious disease. Cora did a cautious analysis of one of the sufferers and found there were Rift energies involved. It was almost like an early form of mutation was her conclusion. As she did her study, a robed old man (who seemed to be ageless, raceless, and almost genderless) approached her and said “It’s not natural.”
As it turned out, Hertha, an old human woman who was the teacher of the children, was the first victim of this disease. We thought maybe it might have been carried to her by one of her charges and did some asking around. Eventually, we located Moises, one of the “kids” (at 33, this drow was older than most of our party.)

Dracaena skillfully questioned the young drow about the sickness and his explorations. Moises is a little evasive about if he had seen anything about the time he started to feel sick. Eigil pressed him (he makes a great authority figure) and Moises told us the story. He had been a couple of levels us when he saw a figure he thought was the Wise One (the robed figure who spoke to Cora.) The figure was standing in front of a pool of water fiddling with some vials. It turned out not to be the Wise One, but instead a figure dressed in some leathery robe, so Moises snuck up behind him and lifted a wand from his belt. Moises showed us the wand, which turned out to be odd combination of arcane and divine magics. We negotiated the purchase of this Wand of Divine Light for Cora for the sum of 50 gold pieces.

We got some rest and set out the next “morning” to find the pool of which Moises spoke. We located it – a flaw or collapse in the ruins had caused a large pool of fresh water to gather. This pool was directly over the little pool from which the Under Nomads got their water and was likely the sources for it. Dracaena spotted what Cora identified as a scrying eye, set so some arcane caster could monitor the area. It didn’t seem to be active.

We went back to the Under Nomad camp and consulted with the weird fish-like humanoid who lived in their spring. It said the waters of the pool tasted more like the place he was born, the deep dark places of the Earth, in the Stygian Sea, watched over by the Mad Gods of his people. Wonderful.

So, pretty sure this pool is the source of the disease, we decided to go back and stake it out to look for this figure. As we approached the pool, we heard the sounds of splashing, like someone sprinting away, so we followed in hot pursuit. It was quite the running chase; we finally caught glimpse of the figure, who really knew his way around. We followed him for long distance, out of the sewers into the old warrens.

Eventually, we turned a corner and there he was, waiting in ambush. He apologized to us, but said no one was allowed to interfere with his work, not now. He cast a couple of spells at us – a Sleep spell at Arnauld and some kind of immobilize effect at Draceana. Though we shot at him and knocked him down, he was wily, fast, and had an action point which he used to disengage.

(I should mention that stubby little dwarf legs had trouble keeping us with the taller members of the band, but that would be mean.) Off we went again, and caught glimpse of him going through a door, which he sealed with some type of arcane lock. Arnauld was able to defeat the locking mechanism (and in pretty good time) and we entered into what looked like old workers’ barracks in the old industrial district.

We started to explore the corridors quickly, looking for the fleeing figure. We came to a room that seemed empty but had some concealed monsterious figures in it – a fight started with some eye guys, ceiling crabs, and a large mutated turtle. We managed to defeat them and pressed onward a bit. We found some newly excavated tunnels through more of the collapsed workers’ barracks and, finally, a hole in the ground from which a chemical smell wafted upwards. A ladder lead down…

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Greyhawk Investigations, Inc
Grand Opening Sale

As our cover, we form and register ourselves as a mercenary company,
Greyhawk Investigations. We set up a drop schedule with Cirace to meet
him or an agent once a month at City College. Before we can get the
kind of jobs that would allow us to find out more about what the
devils are doing, we need to build up a reputation first.

Our First Job

Argal is again having a drink in the Coal Heap when he is approached
by a former coworker, the Civilian Dockmaster, Mr Strossen, along with
his two bodyguards. Strossen lets Argal know that if he is looking for
a more active role in the protection of the city, he may have some
work. Argal tentatively agrees and they arrange to have a meeting with
the whole group at a more private restaurant.

Strossen informs us that the Empire is trying to bring in a new model
of gol-man, and as a union man he doesn’t like it – the Gol-men take
away work, and he wants to avoid riots, as well as the Inquisition
doing another round-up to supply criminals for the conversion.

This new model of gol-man is housed in a textile factory upriver that
is producing exceptional amounts of high quality cloth, and that we
need to sabotage it somehow to provide a setback to the new model.
Arnauld negotiates our salary – $200 upfront, and $600 if we return uncaptured.

The Stakeout

We head to the factory – a large building with fortified walls, a
gatehouse, and ramparts manned with arbonal guards, most of whom are
from the Sap gang.

We get more information as Arnauld disguises himself as a worker and
scales one of the nearby factory – he spots imperial guards manning a
large factory building inside the walls with a boiler, as well as a
warehouse, a dormitory, and a sewer grate in the courtyards. As it
becomes dark and the shift ends, the boiler winds down and the
Imperial guardsmen escort out a column of women, hunched over, with
mechanical arms coming out and tubes trailing behind them –
apparently this new model still required an external power source.

Dracaena scopes out the sewer route and encounters a horde of rats,
and something possibly much bigger.
Meanwhile, Argal hangs out by the food trucks for more intel,
encounters two regular gol-men from the factory, and a number of
dwarves with clan Biviar livery.

The Plan

  • During the nights, Arnauld sneaks into the factory to leave a
    magic-mouth message prepared by Cora for the gol-men. The message is
    triggered when a construct comes near but no humans or dwarves (the
    imperial guardsmen) are nearby. The message reads that we are going to
    arrange for their escape – there will be a distraction at shift end,
    and that they should head to the sewer grate, and that we will get
    them away from the Impernium and to a better life.
  • Also that night, Dracaena would sneak into the warehouse and set up
    a timed incendiary device fashioned by Arnauld, along with an
    acetylene tank obtained by Argal. The device would be placed in the
    cotton piles, setting the warehouse on fire, and then triggering from
    the tank a secondary explosion. This would be our distraction
  • We would be going through the sewer, removing the bricked up grate,
    along with a spot welder to seal the grate back up after we had gone
    through and preventing pursuit.

The Fight

Through the sewer we encounter and have to fight an ooze. We wait for
the explosion – only to have it go off early, right before the gol-men
had exited the factory. We leave the sewer to see the imperial guards
holding shut a door and the gol-men trying to escape, while the
Arbonal guards are frantically trying to put out the fire in the
warehouse. A female guard captain commands them to ignore the fire,
and prevent the gol-men from escaping with their lives.

We fight them, killing the captain, several of the guardsmen, leaving
a badly injured guard alive as well as a second guard that was trying
to join the battle but stuck putting on armor.

We lead the gol-men into the sewer, for which they express gratitude
for getting them out of there. We lead them to the sewer for a handoff
to the gol-men liberation group that Eigil has contact with.

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