Schism

Vectis Recap
Is This Going To Affect Our Property Values?

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…

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Crosstown Traffic
Deals and Duplicity

Our heroes last left off in their favourite setting. Perhaps pining for their lost compatriot Eigil, or maybe just on the lam from the law again, they found themselves in the sewers of Vectis. Who was surprised to find out it was the latter, not me.

Having captured one of the manifested devils that they had engaged with at Greyhawk HQ, Lady Joy proceeded to put him through a rigourous questioning in her Interrogation Boudoir. She managed to obtain the following statements from her captive.

1 – “I work for Vincent. As far as I know, his orders come from Gaol herself.”

2 – “The Lady does not like to be interfered with. You are enemies of Gaol, and enemies of Alexandria. We wanted to know who you were working for.”

3 – “We are the true Inquisition. We are the invisible hand that keeps the Impernium clean. We are all that keeps the Chaos at bay.”

4 – “Enemies such as you, whose corruption lies within, are best removed quietly. Few will ask after you once you are gone.”

5 – “You were to be captured not killed. Then this conversation would be going the other way, I have a feeling. We won’t stop. As long as you are a threat to Gaol and her Lady, we will hunt you.”

Believing some of what he had to say, and disbelieving the rest, the party reluctantly dispatched the poor devil, as they had no where to leave him that he would not warn his compatriots.

Realizing that at least some branch of the Inquisition was after them for real, our heroes debated what they should do. Should they flee Vectis for a time, should they stay, should they join a minor league Badgerball team under assumed names? Since the situation in the city was quite volatile still, they decided to stay, but remain in hiding for a short while. To further this goal, they made their way down to the circus to see if the Walking Shadow could hide them for a spell. He obliged them, but seemed unconvinced that they could stay hidden for long with a branch of the inquisition after them.

The party, being somewhat in the dark about the internal hierarchy of the Inquisition needed information badly, and also to put some leverage on the Inquisition to back off. Having few leads and fewer connections to the Inquisition, they decided to follow up on the suspicious encounter they had witnessed in previous escapade between an Inquisitor and a high priest of Alexandria. As you may remember the Inquisitor had summoned the high priest to chew him out over the grisly murder/sacrifice performed by the devil Dawn, implying that the Inquisitor did not like covering for the devils.

Using this knowledge, Greyhawk Investigations decided to track down the high priest at the Church of the Lady of the Nine Hells. Unfortunately, this church happened to be on the direct opposite side of the city from the Circus. Since the martial law, and the Inquisition pursuit would make it difficult to travel simply across town, the group took back alleys, and stowed away on a subway line to make it there in a reasonable amount of time.

Once there, since Arnaud was notably absent, it was up to the rest of the party to send someone in to the church to deliver a message for the high priest to come to a nearby cafe for a chat. The highly sophisitcated, and delicate selection process was concluded when Cora picked scissors to Argal’s rock, and was chosen to enter. Donning the guise of an elderly half-elf and feigning mild indifference Cora delivered the message including a copy of a page from the Infernal book she carried to intrigue the priest.

At the appointed meeting cafe, Joy and Dracaena set up a picket inside the cafe with Cora out front to signal the team, and Argal on the back patio. Argal had been chosen for this task due to his immense success in talking to the governess, and because everyone else refused.

At the appointed meeting time, the High Canian Priest showed, along with two body guards. The priest, introducing himself as Stewart, seemed unaware of the devil that had caused the issue, and was interested in dealing with Argal to get information such that he could ferret out the culprits. Despite Argal’s mistrust in Stewart upholding his end of the deal, a bargain was struck giving Stewart the name of the devil in exchange for him wielding what influence he possessed to relieve Inquisitorial pressure for the party.

Then weighing his options, Stewart decided to fulfill his end of the bargain immediately by taking Argal into custody and interrogating him to find out all he knew. Sighing, Argal was not surprised, and proceeded to whistle in the cavalry while unlimbering his shield, and loosening his flail.

Meanwhile, Cora had been minding her own business, when she was attacked! By a single small imp that attempted to tranquilize(taze) her (bro). Thankfully she dodged the attack, and managed to strike a mutual non-aggression pact with the imp. It turns out she hadn’t made as clean a getaway from the church of Alexandria as she had thought. Their pact proved to be moot, however, when Cora heard Argal’s mighty whistle. She immediately turned invisible and rushed inside.

A battle ensued on the patio between the party and Stewart and Co. After a short confrontation between the group, in which Argal ran through a table, Cora was assaulted by a spirit controlling bystanders, Joy was thrown about left and right by magical winds, and Dracaena did some serious hatchet work. Short work was made of their foes, and Stewart gained a new respect for the party, and decided that he could give them information as part of his end of the bargain.

The party showed the book to Stewart, and in exchange he again agreed to wield what minor influence he had, as well as provide the party with information. They learned about the spy arm of the Inquisition that had attacked them, and how they worked mostly in isolation. When the group had been attacked at HQ, only Vincent, the leader of the squad had escaped. It was surmised that his failure would not reflect well on him, and he would probably try to double down on capturing the group before reporting it.

After leaving the cafe, the group was silently joined by Arnaud, who was filled in on the goings on since his mysterious departure. The team quickly cobbled together a plan for trapping Vincent, and hopefully eliminating the increased pressure on them from the Inquisition. The plan was for Arnaud to retrieve the GrehawkMobile from the alley, and then pick up a tail, and lead them to the cave in Emerald Park where we had first fought the devils. The remainder of the party would go there directly and set up a trap, hoping that since Emerald park was home to the Green Lady, it would be quite unfriendly for any Inquisition interlopers.

Unexpectedly the plan worked nearly to perfection. Vincent, an Inquisitor, and a squad of troops were lured in. Most of the troops were taken by the Green Lady, and only their leaders were left to face the group down in the cave. The trap was sprung and the fight joined by all except for Cora, who seemed quite frightened of the Inquisitor. With both Dracaena and Arnaud landing punishing blows on the Inquisitor he soon fell, Vincent was knocked unconscious, and the troop leader was dropped into the swampy pit trap that had nearly caught Arnaud on their first foray here. Unfortunately, the Green Lady turned out to be less discriminating about the interlopers than the group had hoped for. She especially seemed to be enraged that Argal, as Champion of the Walking Shadow, had entered her domain without permission.

Since, killing an Inquisitor would be a bad idea, a deal was struck with the troop leader that he could take the Inquisitor and leave. Arnaud nabbed Vincent, and the group beat feet. The Green Lady in her territory was more than a match for the team, and despite pleas and protests would not give up her pursuit of Argal in particular.

It was not until Dracaena (who appeared as a dryad to the Green Lady due to her Fae Circlet) offered the Green Lady the knowledge of how she could leave her tree that the Lady stopped and let the team leave. Sheepish, and with obvious shame on her features, Dracaena removed her circlet showing that she was an Arbonal and not a dryad. The Green Lady looked more resigned than angry, and seemed disappointed that her daughters would not be able to avail themselves of this same methodology for leaving the park.

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Unwelcome Visitors
So long, HQ, it was nice while it lasted

The Dorta soiree concluded, the party piles into the Greyhawkmobile and aims for HQ. However, the group’s approach is impeded by roadblocks surrounding the Grekhawk office.

The building is lit by spotlights and appears to be surrounded by city guard. Detectives on the scene inform the party that neighbors have reported noises from inside the HQ. On cue, a growl emanates from within the building, followed by a thump that rattles the doors and windows. The guard has clearly tried to enter for further investigation, their lockpicking tools in evidence on the ground in front of the building. The guards’ efforts thus far have been unsuccessful, thanks to the fortifications of the paranoia-driven Greyhawkers.

Cora sends Melf to have a look through the windows. Melf flies away and, on his return, can only contribute that the building “smells like a volcano’s anus.”

Argal unlocks the door and swings it open, with Dracaena and Lady Joy close on his heels. Lingering outside, they see burnt paper strewn about within the entry. Argal steps inside tentatively, and hears gulping and a great belch from within the kitchen. The others follow, accompanied by the guards. Dracaena stalks toward the kitchen doorway and sees a figure that looks like an orc, with tusks and glassine black skin covered in runes. Unconcerned about Dracaena’s approach, the orc-like creature brazenly continues glugging away at what Dracaena realizes,with no small dismay, is among the better of the HQ liquor supply. The front door slams shut.

Chitin grows over the bodies of the guards with whom the partial party is now trapped inside. The intruders attack and blades fly. Cora gets the door open so that she can lend her powers to the fray. One of the detectives manages to escape. Of the other invaders, one is kept alive for interrogation, the rest killed.

The party clears the bodies from what had been their trusty base of operations, wondering where they can operate now that this place seems to be no longer safe.

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The CLOSET of TRUTH
In which that was literally a thing

Lady Gwendolyn Joy quickly inspects the assassin’s body via her detachable shadow, touching nothing herself. (However, in the spirit of her newfound candor, she shows everything on him to the rest of the group.) No equipment to speak of, but he carried a holy symbol of Dalarya – marking him one as among many apparent servants of the NE goddess of assassins – but he could easily just be a pretender, of which there are many. Someone, however, likely paid the thug to do Lord Joy in. Dalarya herself is politically aloof.

Lady Joy is quiet for a time, and defers authority to the remainder of the party as Arnauld summarily vanishes. Dracaena pointedly asks Lady Joy how exactly she knows the devils, Lady Joy looks queasy but reiterates that she serves the Impernium as an Alienist – a sort of profiler for all manner of extraplanar criminality. Any number of beings, Joy softly boasts, would like to put out her “eye” – as she is one of very few people in the city who can rumble them.

Once Joy begins disclosing, it is something of a flood – she makes it known that she is both Lord and Lady of her house, having somehow been able to, in fact, marry herself – through a bureaucratic farce involving proxies. Only a few – the Party Greyhawk now among them – know the truth, that husband and wife are the same person.

Lady Joy has a much better reputation than her cad of a “husband”; it is a final diplomatic shield which he / she protects carefully – and the reason why it is the Lady who can get the party close to the Governess. Eager to return to the point and generally unimpressed by arcane chicanery, Cora asks how Lady Joy’s Old Infernal is. Joy replies that she does not speak it. Even the mention of that fell tongue appears to make Lady Joy wary of Cora.

As a group, Greyhawk theorizes at length about the possible return of Asmodeus as one explanation for the massive soul-net, especially because Aal and co. were former generals of his. But the point was also made that a power-play could take place against Alexandria among those who had reason to hate her – without the need for her dead father to be actively orchestrating it.

The party concludes that the reason to seek an audience with the Governess is, again, to have martial law repealed – because although nominally about safety, this draconian policy makes revolt – if not open revolution at some point – far more likely. And the death toll in such a scenario would easily eclipse any minor increases in safety the city currently enjoys.

At this point, the group parts ways, briefly.

ARGAL

For his part, Argal talks to the dock workers, seeking more information about the strange shipment that comes into the Caliph. Ship comes under the darkened moon. The flags are fake. The ship itself is telling, as the wood is dark and patterned like fingerprints. Large, smooth curves, elegant – strange sails angled into the wind. More like a junk. Was built for shallow draft, moving from island to island. A rift storm can prevent it arriving on schedule – but always, it returns. Nobody ever sees any goods come off the boats.

When consulted, Cora determines that the ship comes from the far Iron Islands or beyond. It is believed that there’s an empire of Yuan-ti, a race of serpents (beyond the Iron Islands). The ship matches the description of Yuan-Ti ships before the rift. Something like them is rumored to have survived. They are believed to trade with the degenerate slavers of the Iron Islands.

CORA

Cora throws herself into research on the subject of gods dying and – especially – returning to “Life” via the primordial energy of Soul magic. Before the rift, there were some few mages who traveled to the far realms. There, floating in the firmament, they found “dead stars”, a.k.a. celestial bodies that float through the void of space. Far beyond the reach of mortal man, that seemed to be the husks of vast immortal creatures, now dormant. Their mortality is questionable, for their magic was still potent even as husks. The few that were found and cataloged – had bodies that dwarf the mountains, and would spill organic humours – a drop of which would spawn abominations. Setting foot upon them could turn you into something else.

The lore suggests to Cora that There Were Other Greater Gods, And They’re Dead Now. That’s not supposed to happen. Moreover, there are no records of anyone ever having seen a Greater God in the flesh, always just aspects. Which turns the whole conversation into a kind of quantum hand-wave that threatens to give the party a nosebleed. Asmodeus is still the favored theory.

DRACAENA

The quiet Arbonal looks into the dwarven Governess herself, talking to guards, etc – “Governess Vigdis Logsosen”. Related, of course, to the Emperor. Dracaena learns that she is a strong supporter of his – especially his war efforts. She is a major reason for the economic prosperity thereof – and by extension, that of the Impernium. “It is impossible to over-estimate her intelligence.” Interested in economics. Not a zealot, though – she’s into business. However, when she presides over a trial, she is as merciless & machine-like as Gaol herself.

She attends social gatherings under an “open secret” alias – it’s a courtesy not to address her directly. Cirace adds that people Vigdis would be surrounded by would be much, much more hawkish – which (really no one needs reminding) means: Inquisition.

LADY JOY

Lady Joy procures an invitation to a party being held by Clan Dorta, and it is confirmed that the Governess will be there. Kael the senior – a grand old dwarf that refuses to die – is unveiling his new manor on the outskirts of town; it has been under construction since Vectis was founded. Some new up & coming inventor who will be showing off his latest inventions therein. Hroahld Raskorg is the one who is peddling the new inventions, and being introduced to society. However, he is not the inventor.

Everyone dresses up except Cora. Lady Joy – despite her own fabulous raiment – notes this and actually seems to like her better for it.

NO MORE PARTIES

We ride a glorious and terrifying Dwarven Wonka-vator down into a huge underground chamber. The soiree is down there, but the building is a semi-miraculous open plan affair where newfangled cable-car things do a lot of walking for you. People who were there: Kael the younger, Irondride, Haughland, The Caliph’s Mistress (escorted by Irondride), she is an Ironblood Dwarf. Socially speaking, this is high drama, borderline scandalous. We roll our eyes.

At the party, we exchange brief pleasantries with Hroahld, but quickly catch sight of Sasha — the actual inventor, not of noble birth — talking to a Quicksilver Golem. These marvelous constructs were made by the emperor’s family before he was the emperor. Exclusively, in fact. The Golem is here as a line of communication (to the Emperor, probably) – the unnatural speed of its movements are but a fraction of what it can do. Adorably, it is wearing makeup and holding a drink. Its name is Servant which apparently grosses Sasha out. (She is an elf.) We overhear it conveying that Sasha’s services are about to be in extraordinary demand, there’s about to be some kind of construction boom for Vectis. For scale, The Glass Warren is brought up. This alone would be jaw-dropping if we weren’t concerned about Vectis basically eating itself.

Lady Joy, seemingly very much in her element, rubs elbows and discovers that Lady Justine is the Governess’s alias. Amusing. And that she’s on the uppermost mezzanine.

Joy’s shadow, interjects to subtly point out the second daughter of one of the Dorta Cousins – at first glance, no one of consequence. In turn, Lady Joy points this spy out to Cora, telepathically – after concluding that it is infernal. With some further investigation, the two determine that the young lass bears a tattoo in Old Infernal which reads “Entry”.

Ominously, it turns out there are multiple of these infernal “sleepers” around the place, at least a dozen. However, they are dormant – they are not currently possessed, but someone may be watching through them. A plan is hatched to draw a magic circle in a CLOSET, in case the party need to trap something. Cora splits off to do that, while Argal ascends – having chatted up Sasha – to the same mezzanine where the Governess supposedly is.

Cora locks the door to the CLOSET in question and begins work on the circle. More on that later.

Arbonal, Dwarves, and a bit of errant geometry which turns out to be a Modron – accompany the governess when Argal arrives in her area. – The Modron is a gold trapezoidal prism “with, occasionally, arms.” – and, crucially, a festive hat. It expresses to Argal how quickly “his species” has mastered – thus far – the workings of machines. It states Gaol’s preference for machines over their “inventors”. The Modron was at least three tiers up in the Modron hierarchy.

Lady Joy, temporarily delayed by some Modron hijinks with the Elevator – also discovers that one of the dwarves escorting the Governess is an infernal spy. She does not disclose this to Argal, or anyone else in the party – at least, not yet. Male dwarf, heavily built bodyguard, has a warhammer. Underneath his finery, glimpses of armor. His name, they say, is “Kail”.

Argal notes that when the Modron misbehaves, the Governess feels compelled to intervene. When Lady Joy asks him, mentally — which he already doesn’t love — if he can handle the conversation with the governess if Joy provides an opportunity, he grudgingly comes through:
Lady Joy engages the infernal sleeper bodyguard with a story about her husband is being hunted by something unnatural, multiple shadowy devils, “who can tell?”, etc – which can be corroborated by anyone who saw the aftermath of the fight. She pretends she is desperate, drunk, and trying to retain his services as a bodyguard.

Argal just straight-up asks the Modron to get the governess’s attention. Naively helpful, It teleports him over to her. Confronted with her sudden scrutiny and feeling very out of place, Argal reveals Cora and Esther’s names. The Governess expressed concern that she was out of the loop, and had heard of both names before. Argal recovers quickly and lures her downstairs to talk to Cora. The Modron, and two servants come along. As Argal passes a mural of Art Deco looking dwarven women, one of the images does a facepalm as The City observes Argal escorting the governess back to the CLOSET before Cora can even complete the circle. Around this time, to extricate herself, Lady Joy begins to seed her story with details that make it clear that the Dark Forces she suspects murdered her “husband” were just Dalaria, and of course everyone knows that means it could be anyone with a grudge.

Now in the CLOSET, the governess is extremely skeptical, once Cora – also deeply uncomfortable with deception – swiftly and candidly updates her on the going theory about the Rift Storm and the Soul Net, including the infernal spies. One of the servants strongly objects, stating that Alexandria is an ally of Gaol, harumph and how-dare-you. They also identify that Cora is touched by chaos. The Governess is not super impressed by this naysaying, and snubs her obvious-inquisitor escort with a curtness that Lady Joy would find delicious, if she had been there to hear it.

Cora makes the point that the devils may not be servants of Alexandria, they were banished before she took reign. Inquisitor counters that she took over the nine hells. Governess finally shuts him up. Servant appears, rendering the word “suddenly” obsolete. Vigdis tells it to go to Gelborg, rouse one of the researchers – a rift expert, but an assistant, nobody connected to “Him.” An academic, not a politician. The golem nods and vanishes.

The group determines that they need to let beleaguered Cora complete her Magic Freaking Circle already and trap one of these spies.

Voxus the Modron stops time, having invoked the Word of Gaol. This “taps” it for the day. It’s a Zone of Truth. Nobody can lie or deceive in this here CLOSET. One of the Gubernatorial aides looks no different. The other looks like living armor, super duper inquisitorial. Vigdis herself is made sterner, she seems larger, her aspect swells. Argal looks like a City Elemental. It’s creepy. He is instructed to leave the CLOSET and bring one of the infernal agents. Lady Joy helps him find one of them.

His name is Loafie. Argal tells the hapless dwarf about his magical flail, taps him weirdly on the shoulder, creeping him out – but thank the Gods, Loafie recognizes that Argal’s the champion. So… despite Argal’s best efforts, Loafie accompanies him. Lady Joy would blow her cover if she came anywhere near the group – so again, she remains outside, actually fairly impressed with Argal the Uncomfortable.

“Don’t worry – it’s not what you think, it’s much worse, and I’m sorry,” Argal says as he shoves the young dwarf inside the room. Lady Joy, listening via her shadow, has to suppress a laugh. In response to Dracaena’s look about his relative lack of subtlety upon entry, Argal says, with a city’s gravity: “No. More. Parties.”

The dwarf lad reveals that the infernal mark is one of Alexandria’s favor. It’s supposed to bring fortune & dominion. They ask where he got it. At first, he says “not a cult”, but his tooth cracks in Gaol’s vise of light – and he says “I believe it to be a cult.”

Now defeated, he says “The high priest told me that (the mark) would (bring favor.) The High Priest’s voice would change almost every time I went there, though – he was always in robes, man height, man build. There was an imp. There was the correct iconography. Symbols of hell.”

“I have been more confident. And free of doubt. I have (probably) been fooled.”

“The group moved around.” He lists a bunch of addresses, all temporary and likely meaningless. He gives names of people who were there. Nobody important. He does not list Kail the bodyguard’s name, not that anyone in the CLOSET would know it.

Loafie was approached at a service to Alexandria. That’s why he thought the Cult were related. He shows the tattoo. It’d Old Infernal, and it is the Rune of Entry. Worked through with the ritual for the glyph ofHolding. The Inquisitor says, truthfully: “That sigil is of a language that I do not comprehend but I recognize. Mixture of runic language and old infernal. I do not know what it says.”

Cora – who wants to reduce the death toll anyway – blurts out, “Entry.”

Inquisitor shoots back, “Their claims could be true. Or any other entity in the multiverse could have put the tattoo on him.”

Cora just gives the Governess the book. The inquisitor literally grabs it from her. “There is absolutely no telling what is in that thing.” He throws it to the ground. Vigdis asks if it can hurt her. Cora responds that the book could harm her, and explains how. The governess says they’ll investigate it, and that Cora will be contacted shortly. Cora. She asks if Cora is in touch with those who are protesting / rioting. What are their demands? Cora explains their demands, which are mostly Gol Men rights.

Vigdis warns that she will fact-check everything Cora has told her. Cora had better hope that the facts match. Cora: “Oh, I do.”

Vigdis also sort of offhandedly mentions that although she respects Argal, their interests don’t fully overlap, she is loyal to more than just Vectis.

“I will contact you very soon” she says, and departs to go confer with Wizards Aplenty. She asks the party to wait here for 10 minutes, then leave directly. She wants people not to know why we were here. They leave via the elevator. Lady Joy, now alone, makes a loudly maudlin, apparently drunken spectacle of herself – until she is gently ejected from the premises.

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The Rescue of Gwendolyn
Leaping before we Look

In the wake of the Rift storm, Vectis is left with strange alterations wherever lightning struck.

Fearing another tempest should violence erupt again, we meet with the storm-battered members of the Cabal to discuss options for curtailing the protests. We agree to approach Cirace to enlist the support of the City Guard in reigning in the disorder.

Meanwhile, Argal consults with the Shadow in an effort to determine what caused the storm. The magic behind the storm is unknown to the Shadow: arcane, divine, of another realm. Although the Shadow has searched the city for the source of the magic, this magic is unusually invisible and powerful.

Cora and Dracaena meet with Cirace to share their perspective on recent events and to request Guard assistance. Cirace believes that sweeping measures will be necessary.

Martial law is enacted in Vectis. Large public gatherings are prohibited, and movement in public is severely restricted. However, the heavy handed approach only intensifies the uprisings in the city.

Meeting again with the Cabal, Carter indicates that he thinks the storm is the work of a god. We discuss the deteriorating situation in Vectis, and Carter believes that we will need to share our information with the Governor, who will have more power at hand to quell the violence. Carter has taken the liberty of setting up a meeting with a contact who can help us get through to the Governor.

We arrive at the appointed drinking establishment at the appointed hour to find Carter and Burroughs arguing about what happened the last time they trusted Lord Joy. We settle in with our drinks. Lord Joy, accompanied by a servant, approaches our table. He is frail, with half-lidded eyes and a faded tongue-colored frock coat, and carries a sliver walking stick topped with opera glasses. As Joy sits down, he only seems to see Carter. Joy places an order for absurdly good food, and, when the food arrives, instructs his servant Pitts to immolate the food and then eat it.

The eating concludes and Joy is ready to discuss business. Joy explains to Carter that only Gwendolyn receives invitations to see the Governor. Unfortunately, Gwendolyn is being held by a Hochi gang at the moment. Upon questioning about how exactly Gwendolyn came to be in this situation, Joy divulges that he exchanged her for goods procurable from the Hochi. Joy wants to know what need we have of seeing the Governor, and Carter explains our recent encounters with Devils. At the mention of Devils, Joy begins to acknowledge that there are others beside Carter at the table. Joy has read the (absolutely unexaggerated) novelized recountings of our exploits, and it dawns on him who we are.

Carter and Burroughs beg off, and the rest of us set off in the Greyhawkmobile, accompanied by Lord Joy, to the place where Gwendolyn is being held. Arnauld and Argal explore the perimeter of the building, which turns out to be a heavily guarded pawnshop. Lord Joy is somewhat withholding of information about how to identify Gwendolyn. Arnauld enters the shop for a casual browse, which reveals that the area of the room is clearly smaller than the footprint of the building. Arnauld unsuccessfully attempts to buy Spike off of the shop owner, and departs.

Cora takes a magic look at the rest of the building, and is able to discern the location of the rooms within. Arnauld magically enters the building, and finds a belt with a bill of sale from Lady Joy Gwendolyn. Arnauld picks the lock and takes the belt.

As we head back to the Greyhawkmobile, our path is blocked by a cloaked figure who seems to have a history with Joy. When Joy is attacked, we take on the assassin, only to find that our efforts merely result in the shadowy figure breaking into multiple smaller parts. We realize that we must fight the assassin in the shadow realm, and ultimately defeat him.

After the battle, Arnauld presents Joy with the recovered belt. Joy takes the belt, and as he puts on the belt, his figure begins to alter.

“Seldom, I find, does fact exceed fiction,” gushes Joy, in a newly feminine form. “But in your case… in all your cases, I’m thrilled to have erred. I realize that we differed as to methods, and if you require further detail, I shall withhold no more. You clearly know more than I about the precise nature of the infernal activity in Vectis…”

She clears her throat.

“But the rub of the matter is – you saved my skin just there. That unsavory pool of former cutthroat was certainly not on your dance card, nor among our contract’s parameters. Yet you did for him handily. When our association began, I thought of you as mere hands in my employ. Now, with apologies, I consider it quite the reverse. If that means a non-lethal proviso, I will of course defer to your judgment.

Whatever your decision, after the audience with the Governor – I thank you all."

She starts to bow, less theatrically than you’d expect – and then curtsies instead, a little stiffly, as if it has been a long damn time.

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A dwarf parts with his cask of liquid gold
and other somewhat important happenings

Having successfully weakened both Clan Petra and Clan Biviar, we meet again with the cabal. Ester has successfully tracked the Caliph – finding that once a month on the night of the full moon he heads to the naval fortress at the fangs, where he meets a ship under Haugland’s colors. The ship unloads a wooden object of exotic design and leaves, returning riftward. We decide that our best chances are avoiding the caliph for now and instead following the ship – but unfortunately the full moon is several weeks off.

In the meeting, we also find that Zebollah is planning one of the largest protests ever – blockading the Crucible of Gaol where scientists learned the secrets of creating gol-men, at sunset when the scientists are leaving.

Simultaneously, Eigol gets a sending from Leffnir, “I have found a group of the faithful and am being recalled into the underdark. I will enter the city on the cover of darkness”.

As Leffnir needs a distraction and we need help with the protest, we ask Leffnir to meet us in the square, with Ester, Carter, and Burroughs. We arrange for a subway train to stand at the station so we can get most of the gol-men out, while several carts get pulled up in case we need to get Zebollah out.

The protest begins. Zebollah gives another rousing speech, this time aimed at the scientist, encouraging them to feel remorse for the outcome of their research. After about 20 minutes, one of the counterprotests starts moving in – we warn one of Zebollah’s lieutenants, who dismisses them as jackasses with signs.

Arnauld infiltrates some of the more organized pockets of the counterprotest, and finds that they are church groups of Alexandria. One of the members raises his hand aggressively, which Arnauld deflects, but he can’t deflect the second, which forces one of the gol-men to start firing his rivit gun, grazing a member of the guard.

At that point, chaos breaks out and fights start happening on both sides. Arnald tries to run distractions, Leffnir tries casting a spell, and Argal and Cora try to get the majority of the gol-men to the subway station, but the storm that had been brewing turns into a rift storm – fueled by magic that is ripping the dead from the riot towards the devil’s work. As the storm and riots worsen, Ester comes up with a plan to use some of her research to get it under control – needing a well of arcane power and an abberation. Leffnir volunteers as the well, and we sending the Wise one to help us. Meeting at the university, we head to the university but the funicular is halted by icing over with frost – the devil Beezil is finishing an agreement with a Niogi and his construct – “the payment is complete., yes? we will pay you double what they’re worth to bring them back alive”
.

Defeating the Niogi’s construct, he is about to plea for a bargain when he is destroyed by a fireball – which turns out to be a woman possessed by the devil Aal. Defeating her too, we head to the observatory where Ester, her assistants, Leffnir, and the Wise One are frantically working the controls. Eigol helps Leffnir with his runes, and Cora jumps in when Ester is no longer able to handle the spell. As the observatory crashes in itself, the spell completes, bringing all the rift energy into a tight ball of chaos. Ester at this point is passed out, and Leffnir is nothing but his phylactery. The Wise One, greatly drained, takes the ball and says he’ll have to return it to his plane, which can only be accessed by the deepest parts of the underdark. Eigol agrees to join him, leading Leffnir’s army and taking the phylactery.

Argal, noting that there are few taverns where Eigol is going, gives him his cask of liquid gold and we bid Eigol farewell.

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Steam Night
Why we don't get invited to many parties

Meeting again with the cabal, we discuss the next clan to strike
- Dorta’s power is split between vectis and the military shipyards at the mouth of the smoking bay, but general consensus is that it’s going to be a harder target
- The weak point of Haugland seems to be the Caliph. Ester and Robur start looking into the Caliph’s movements
- Dr. Listbeth Vinda is familiar with Petra’s factory, but they guard their secrets jealously. Carter says they’re having an event soon – the unveiling of a new prototype. Dr. Vinda arranges for an invite for us and Carter

At the party, we scope out a bit. Carter and Dracaena meet the clan head, Hedda, and Dr Reddot, their cheif specialist researcher (and a hochi). D.r Reddot takes Carter, Dracaena, and Cora on a tour, and learn that they’re using spirits to power thier machinery. Now past the guards, Carter knocks out the doctor, and we make our way down

Meanwhile, Arnauld and Argal sneak in, and we meet up and search for a way down. Narrowly ducking away from a procession including a guard in giant steam armor we find the elevator.

We past the first floor – we see doors, not very big
The second floor – barracks
The third and fourth floor – locked down with guards and bars – likely for the gol-man laborers
The fifth floor, the bottom – huge steel doors. Inside is a huge stone building converted for industrial use – made at least in part of much older ruins.

Killing the guards, we head to the right where we find a church of stannis, an ammo room, a wizard’s summoning circle, and finally a R&D area. We lack time to properly search the R&D lab, so we grab some books and head back to the manufacturing area

in the manufacturing area, there are assembly line machines running on both steam and some sort of liquid metal. Following to the source, we find a huge steel prison door, heavily warded against magic. Inside is a seated black stone figure – a trapped elemental. Cora speaks to it in Primordial and come to an agreement that if we let it go, it will give us time to escape and leave the city alone. In return, it will get to destroy the factory and kill the summoning wizards.

Breaching the cell, the machinery grinds to a halt. Not having much time before the room comes down on us, we rush to the elevator, grabbing gol-men laboreres with us as we go. Going up the elevator, it begins accelerating as the factory comes down and we blast through the top – leaving the party in ruins and in the chaos we manage to escape.

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Death in the Afternoon
A siege and a dinner party.

Much as with any afternoon, Greyhawk Investigations was sitting around, contemplating their next move. There were a number of actions they could take, including:

  • Striking against Clan Petra’s Steam Factory
  • Destroy their means of production
  • Recover their research from their R&D lab
  • Make the strike look like an accident
  • Set the Cabal to investigate why the Caliph is working with Clan Haugland. What’s the deal there and is it something we can mess with to remove the Caliph from the political playing field?
  • Get the ball rolling on starting the Mercenaries’ Guild

Our stalwart heroes began to do some legwork on Clan Petra and found some potentially useful information:

  • There are certain parts of the steam engines, namely the valve controls, that are only built in the main factory. Next step would be to try to figure out where in the factory this takes place so we can shut it down.

It was a scant week later when a breathless messenger burst into Greyhawk Investigation’s headquarters with an urgent missive. Nicolas, another of the Biviar cousins, was carrying a message from Feldan, to wit: “The Bitch has no sense of humor and is taking it worse than we thought. I think we may have underestimated her. She’s got mercs and I think an assassin. Please come to my assistance at once. After recovering his breath, Nicolas was ready to escort the brave heroes to the Biviar Compound.

Cora used her arcane prowess to send a message to Feldan to let him know that help was on the way. He informed her that he had locked himself in his quarters after watching one of his bodyguards killed right in front of him. He believed there was an assassin loose in the house with one target: him.

Our heroes jumped into the Greyhawkmobile (trademark pending) and raced off to the rescue! As they approached the compound, they could hear a high-pitched whine, which Arnauld’s ears identified as the sound of a steam-driven Gatling gun. Ah, those sweet memories of the war. They approached a little cautiously so they could get an idea of what was going on. The main gate was firing on a group of orcs and some trolls who were from the Blackspire Mercenary Company. It appeared that there would be no entry through that gate.

Fortunately, Nicolas, when asked, knew of a side gate. The heroes arrived there to see a group of orcs and a troll approaching it and the Gatling gun not yet powered up to fire. Moving quickly, the group took care of the troll and most of the orcs. Young Nicolas was able to get them access to the compound, which they entered as the gate’s Gatling gun spun up and started to suppress the attacking mercs.

Quickly assessing the situation, the group knew they’d have to split their forces to succeed. Arnauld, Cora, and Eigil took to the walls to beat back the merc attack while Argal and Dracaena entered Feldan’s residence to find the assassin and save their friend and ally.

Needless to say, our heroes were triumphant in their attempts. The Blackspire attack was broken and the assassin was found and eliminated. Carin Biviar’s ill-guided attempt on her own son’s life set her own downfall in motion; the Clan was very upset with her blatant attack and preference for mercenaries over good, loyal, more expensive (and frankly less competent), clan guards. Feldan expressed his gratitude towards Greyhawk Investigation and lavished them with rewards and the promise to return the favor in the future, should it be needed.

Our brave heroes boarded the Greyhawkmobile and returned to their headquarters, flush with the feeling of a good victory.

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Breaking the Strikebreakers
Not a good day for trolling protesters

As Gol-Men protests still rage throughout Vectis, a young visitor bursts into Greyhawk headquarters. The dwarf, dressed in Clan Biviar livery, has a message from Felden: Felden’s mother has finally crossed the line, having hired troll mercenaries to attack the Gol-Men protests at a factory where a strike is ongoing. Felden wants us to intercept the trolls before chaos ensues at the factory where the Gol-Men are agitating.

We make our way to the factory, where Gol-Men workers are trying to get other workers to join them. Meanwhile, signs warning of Gol-Men coming after factory jobs are also being brandished at the site.

Before long, the trolls are approaching along an avenue leading to the factory, accompanied by a wagon. The driver of the wagon turns out to be mercenary guild leader Rial, an air elemental who disappears once it becomes clear we will be able to put up a decent fight. We make short work of the troll strikebreakers. After the bout, Rial reappears. As he gathers up pieces of troll, he mentions that he can give us work if we want it.

We meet with Felden to discuss the results of our encounter with the strikebreakers, and he presents us with some particularly useful gloves in thanks.

Later, we visit Carter to meet the members of the cabal he has assembled and to discuss plans for helping the Gol-Men cause. We are introduced to Esther, a department head at the University; Robur, the University Head; Mr. Andor, the leader of the metalworking union; and Lisbeth, one of the top surgeons at a Hospital of Astranos in Vectis.

We proceed to discuss our goals for the cabal.

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An entirely uneventful protest
In which the party again inexplicably avoids combat

We arrange to meet with Zebollah the day before to lay out our plan.

- Cora will stay in the sewers to wait for the signal from the twinned flames. She will then use the whistle to get Zebollah out of the station. Arnauld will cover the magic with a smoke flare. Krazzat and the undernomads will stay down with Cora to help escort him out
- The Wise One will stay aboveground to help influence the crowd
- Dracaena will watch the perimeter in case the military shows up
- Eigol, Argal, and Arnauld will stay with Zebollah

The morning of the walkout we approach via the streets, and it is clear something has already happening – the City Guard is setting up a perimeter, and keeping people from going in or out. Arnauld manages to spot the right time to get us in, and Zebollah makes his way to the top of a sausage cart and starts his speech.

He first calls out to his fellow gol-men and supporters of his cause, and apologizes to others for any inconvenience. He gives a passionate speech telling about his service in the military, how he ultimately deserted, and his sentence was to be turned into a gol-man, and about how all the gol-men want are just the most basic of human rights – how they want to serve their sentence, and have the freedom to work.

Meanwhile, the plants in the audience are doing their thing – they are listening and nodding along, and the passerbys are finding themselves listening almost despite themselves.
As Zebollah gets to the end, an inquisitor speaks up and says “All gol-men should be on shift at this point. You are in violation of your parole. Return to your places of work, or we will round you up and assign you to less mobile posts”

Arnauld disguises himself a half elf of one of the clans, and approaches the inquisitor, and says he owns the gol-men, and they are there under his permission. Eigol asks the Wise One to influence the guards near him, and eventually they inquisitor, rather than escalating, sends a runner to the hall of records to fetch the paperwork, and tells Arnauld to stay put

As Zebollah finishes and the crowd cheers, someone in the crowd shrieks and the shout of “Mutant” goes up – they have spotted the Wise One. Eigol gets Zebollah away and sends a runner to Cora to get the Wise One out. Arnauld gets away from the inquisitor, drops his disguise, and uses his potions to stage a distraction and go for the Wise One. After using a smoke bomb, they move away and Argal uses the power of the Shadow to declare that the Inquisitor has defeated the mutant and that everyone should celebrate but to remember the plight of the gol-men. The crowd cheers, but the inquisitor says the mutant has not been killed and continues to search

Meanwhile, Arnauld keeps trying to get the Wise One away, whose pride is severely wounded and is lashing out at passerbys until Cora manages to whistle him down, at which point he mindblasts her
Eventually we get everyone out and the crowd disperses – shockingly nonviolently. Zebollah thanks us and says we have exceeded his expectations, even if he is clearly somewhat disappointed that it did not end up with a fight. He shows us to our payment – a secret storage that the military uses that he still has the code for, in which we take a few items

Over the next few days, the golem rights movement starts picking up steam. A few more smaller protests and walkhouts happen, and while there is a few deaths there is no open violence. The inquisition becomes a more common sight on the streets searching for mutants

Later, having lunch with Carter and Burrows, they invite us to join their secret crew whose purpose is to work further towards gol-men rights, and that their plan is to weaken the clans and that their first meeting is soon…

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