The World Between

Lottery Dungeon: Session Nine
Assault on Hellad Tower, part two

Travel to Langtland

Strings and Blayloch took the camels and guards down the road to Langtland, ready for trouble. Their mysterious guide took Saedenn, Kaedo, and Crazy Bear (along with Ari and her handmaidens) and the Prince of Dust along a secret path through the mountains. The path led up a hidden ravine to a secret way into Langtland.

After getting bathed and trimmed and clad in new clothes, they went to see the king. The king was very pleased to see his son again, and the Prince of Dust related the tale of their journey and the dragonslaying.

The king offered them a great reward, in the Northron tradition: a chance for glory.

The Prince of Dust would lead an army back to Hellad Tower, and the adventurers would accompany them. When they encountered an army, the Northron warriors would fight. When they encountered monsters, they would be slain by the adventurers.

Preparing

After their audience with the king, they feasted, and Kaedo escalated the feast to a tremendous celebration that bolstered them for the troubles to come.

Afterwards Saedenn slipped off with Kaedo, the books from Hellad tower, and some Northron guards. He was led to where the arcane underground hangs out, and he met with a powerful wizard who traded his books for the Spring Grimore.

The next morning, they went to the armory. Kaedo got a set of Langtland plate, and Crazy Bear experimented to see what would happen if he transformed from human to bear form while in plate. It was extremely messy and ruined a set of plate, inflicting fairly grave injuries on the tough were-bear. Oh well! He got artisans started on his bear-sized plate.

Saedenn checked in with Ari, who promised to be fine while they were gone, then they joined the Prince of Dust. They rode down the center of the city, and met with 200 tough cavalry skirmishers, veteran elite all, who rode out under the Prince’s banner to much cheering.

The Road to the Tower

They did not encounter much resistance on the road, as a significant force. However, they saw scouts, who doubtless reported their approach to the Black Warlocks.

At one point the undead erupted up from the roadway in the middle of the cavalry. The heroes watched with interest as the Northron riders stomped them down.

Then, they heard the hydra, and saw the ambush set for them. A Black Warlock sneered at them, then battle was joined. The cavalry fought the undead with the Prince, and the adventurers attacked the hydra. After a tense battle, they managed to bring it down, and Kaedo challenged the Black Warlock to single combat. The Warlock agreed, they battled, and Kaedo crushed the Black Warlock down then beheaded him! The Black Warlock’s mount fled, but Saedenn burned it in half with acid.

After a brief rest, they continued towards the tower.

The Assault on Hellad Tower

They arrived to find battle lines drawn. Two Black Warlocks held a mass of blurbeasts in check, and a line of tough ogres in full plate armor stood before a seemingly endless mass of animated remains, punctuated by flickering phantoms.

No quarter was asked or given as the cavalry charge raced into the ogres, and past them. Meanwhile, the heroes rushed the blurbeasts, crashing into impossibly strange combat. Saedenn swathed the Black Warlocks in acid fog, intensified to impossible levels, and they died shrieking.

Then the warriors scattered on Saedenn’s command; as the blurbeasts slammed and chipped at his stony skin, he gushed acid fog around himself, burning the blurbeasts to death no matter how clever their displacement fields. He intensified the fog enough to burn himself, but he walked out steely-eyed, bloody, and victorious.

The warriors barreled into the vast melee of the battle, flinging shattered remains to the side. Kaedo slew an ogre as he leaped into the fray, and he and Crazy Bear knocked apart knots of remains menacing downed Northron warriors.

With a roar, the ogre chieftain slew with impunity, only lightly blooded by the Northron’s best efforts. Kaedo and Crazy Bear attacked the massive monster, and brought him down. With that, the last of the Black Warlock force was broken, and the Northron easily mopped up the staggering and directionless undead that remained.

Victory!

As they rested and healed, soldiers explored under the tower, finding most of the horror show had been brought out to the field of battle.

Meanwhile, four veteran riders swore fealty to Kaedo, who led a revel to celebrate the battle.

They returned to Langtland, fending off the occasional probing attack with no problem. They sent riders ahead, who notified the city, and they arrived in a parade. The King of Dust welcomed them with an honoring speech on the portico, then they were cleaned up and escorted in for a feast. The king rewarded them richly with coin, fine daggers, perfumes, and jewelry.

They had a busy week in Langtland. Kaedo gained one of Ari’s handmaidens as a follower. Crazy Bear hired a mechanic, Johan, by paying off his gambling debts. He started practicing lock picking, and he got custom bear barding. Saedenn growled at anyone who interrupted his study time with his new book, stolen from the secret mystic lore of Ulverland.

Then, with Kaedo’s new followers, and Ari and her handmaidens, they traveled back to the oasis. When they returned, they were celebrated and feasted, with the Khan’s gratitude for returning Ari.

The Khan gave Saedenn, Kaedo, and Crazy Bear platinum tokens that gave them the Khan’s permission to go into the Lottery Dungeon at will!

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Raiding Hellad Tower
Rescuing the Prince of Dust

After narrowly escaping an ambush, the travelers regrouped. Saeden, Kaedo, Strings, Crazy Bear, and Blayloch. They were with Arishakel and her two handmaidens, Senna and Lifta.

Traveling north again after a wary overnight, they passed the scene of the ambush and saw that it was all cleaned up.

They reached a guard station with a couple guards of the Dust Road, who warned them that the road north was dangerous. Black Warlocks massed an army and began harassing Langtland, and trying to use the road to the city was risky. The guards had not seen the Northrons that escaped the trap racing north where the rest of the travelers went south, so they were likely in trouble or dead.

The Mysterious Stranger

A stranger staggered up to the camp about midnight, bloody and without his mount. He was badly hurt, attacked by the Black Warlock military. He explained that he was looking for the Northrons that were supposed to be with them; at that point Ari explained that one of the Northron was the prince, heir to the Throne of Dust.

The stranger grimly surmised that the prince must be captured, and that he would probably be taken to an abandoned tower often used as a staging ground—Hellad Tower, not far away. He asked if they would help him rescue the prince. They agreed, as long as the women could be safe in a secret hideout that the stranger knew about.

The Raid

The next morning they headed out, and stealthed up to the area of the tower. The stranger was still badly hurt, so he did not go with them into the tower, but he told them of a secret underground back door. They snuck past a patrol of ogres, and found the entry.

Hacking their way past babblers, they found that the dead (animated, and reserves) were stuffed into the caves under the tower. Using blades and magic to hew through them, they explored some of the reanimating chambers and storage chambers, chopping down three undead bear owls and putting a demented undead surgeon to death.

They tore through five ogres standing guard, and freed the prince and his two surviving guards. They sidetracked slightly to kill another undead abomination, then fled the tower underground as the surviving ogres raised the alarm and overhead somewhere a hydra roared.

They made it back to the camels and retreated with the prince alive!

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session Seven
The Dragonslayers

Lanevas 14, 6,995. It was Kaedo birthday, and he celebrated to bleary unconsciousness along with Saedenn, Strings, Blayloch, and Crazy Bear. The next morning they cleaned up and fumbled towards sobriety out by the oasis pool, except Saedenn, who didn’t overindulge so much. That way he could explain to Kaedo some recent events.

In other good news, the plague threat was dealt with. Ellisandra Purelight, a Damsel of the Lady, and some inquisitors rooted it out of Calx. Their efforts were followed by scrutiny from a couple Scavenger Masters, who finished burning it out. So, the road is again open (and that’s how Blayloch found his way back to the Lottery Dungeon, in the company of five hulking Northrons.)

Meeting the Frog Khan

The Khan sent guards to collect them, focusing on Saedenn and Kaedo, with the others invited. The Khan explained that Arishakel, the madame for the brothel of the oasis (and, as an open secret, the Khan’s woman) was headed to Langtland. The Khan wanted Saedenn and Kaedo to be personally responsible for getting her there and back unharmed. They agreed to this task. The entourage would leave at noon.

Blayloch bartered the merchant down to make the price of camels more reasonable, and the party got two weeks worth of food and a camel for each of them before heading out at noon.

The five mysterious Northron warriors went with them, uncomfortable on camelback. Of the Northrons, Sven was the main spokesman, and he liked intimidation and a snooty attitude.

Arishakel and her two handmaidens, Senna and Lifta, were pleasant but a bit aloof. Arishakel rode a fancy white camel named Pug, and she cried out “yip yip!” to make him go.

The Journey Begins

They began a journey of about 250 miles across the Dust Road to Langtland, expecting the journey to take about a week. Fortunately, as a Scavenger Master Saedenn could protect them all from the dangers of mutation on the magically irradiated road.

They met some hopeful adventurers on the road headed to the Lottery Dungeon, survivors of Calx. Then they continued on, and during siesta the next day the relative peace of their journey was shattered.

Dragon Attack

As they rested, a dragon burst up from a nearby canyon, freaking out the camels (and the humans) as it lazily pounced out of the sky. Saedenn fired a nasty mystic attack at it, but it ignored him and targeted the ladies’ pavilion. Strings, Kaedo, and Crazy Bear tried to defend the ladies from the dragon.

It was magnificent; 60 feet long, with an 80 foot wingspan, and a hide like boulders of the Scavenger Lands. It swatted Strings aside, nearly killing him. Saedenn rammed acid magic into it, weakening its hide and bursting dark energies across it (even though it was magic resistant, his powers were too formidable to be denied.)

Blayloch held the struggling camels, preventing them from bolting, as the Northrons nervously stayed clumped together and out of the fight. Kaedo slashed and stabbed with his 6 foot sword taken from the corpse of a Black Warlock, stinging the dragon even after it tore at him, staining the rocks with his blood. The dragon fired a maelstrom of sandblasting gravel as a breath weapon at Saedenn, who managed to stay out of the way of the worst of it, his magical armor pummeled by the attack.

The dragon was freely bleeding by the time it pounced back up into the air, circling for another breath attack, angered and frustrated by taking actual wounds. Crazy Bear lived up to his name, in bear form, leaping at the dragon to try and prevent its escape; he was slashed down, and the dragon took to the skies. To retaliate, Crazy Bear scooped up Kaedo and—flung him at the dragon!

The throw wasn’t dead on, but Kaedo (not wishing to fall) managed to use his leverage and massive sword to gain purchase on the dragon, hacking away viciously as the dragon gusted its breath down at Saedenn.

Frothing as he clung to the dragon, Kaedo stabbed and slashed and hacked. Alarmed, the dragon flew high in the air, snapping at the berserker; but Kaedo climbed on its wing and buried the length of his 6 foot sword in its heart, slaying the dragon.

The dragon fell down and smashed a crater in the ground, and Kaedo survived but fell unconscious.

Corpse Salvage

Still shaking from the adrenaline of the clash, Saedenn hauled out his Scavenger Masters grimore to see what might be most valuable on a dragon.

Meanwhile, Crazy Bear dug out the dragon’s teeth, and salvaged as much of the claw and tail weapons as he could, jealously packing them and guarding them for himself.

Strings and Kaedo received medical attention from the fancy ladies. Blayloch had a brief awkward conversation with the Northrons, neither one mentioning that the Northrons had been seriously considering snatching the camels and making a run for it. Blayloch then went and dragged an eye out of the dragon’s deep socket; it was like a fist-sized pearly gem, onyx, reflecting the world upside-down.

Saedenn read that dragons tend to focus on threats in a fight, rather than other objectives; they do not tend to ignore danger in favor of a task. Only a few Scavenger Masters and Narlathians ever managed to turn the savage desert dragons to their will. He also read that eating some of the dragon’s heart makes dragonslayers mighty warriors.

Saedenn burrowed into the hissing and melting dragon corpse, digging down to the heart. He managed to salvage half of it, it was still the size of a basketball. It had 8 chambers, regulating time/space, magical energies, air, blood, and other dragonnish things.

Saedenn, Kaedo, Strings, and Crazy Bear all ate some of the dragon heart. Apparently the heart did not think Crazy Bear was a slayer, so as he struggled not to die, the others felt fresh power flowing in them.

Moving On

The slayers packed up their gear and moved on, not wanting to stay too close to the magical radiation of the desert dragon corpse. (Saedenn gave them refresher shields against mutation.)

That night they had a visitor; Saedenn felt a disturbance when he woke, and in looking around they found a small foot in a pointy shoe left a track, and little pock marks (possibly from ENORMOUS spiders.) Over the siesta, Blayloch was startled by a hand-sized spider scuttling out of his pack.

Mysteries and Spiders

For the evening camp, they met with a group of a dozen Narlathian pilgrims, some scarred or hunched. The pilgrims were headed to holy sites in Langtland, and were generous, offering a gift of a replacement pavilion for the tent the fancy ladies lost.

The Northrons were oddly chummy with the Narlathians, but the others were suspicious and wanted to separate their camps. The mysterious Northron the others were guarding said they’d camp together, so they did.

During Saedenn’s watch, one of the pilgrims seemed to follow something or follow some sign out of the camp. Saedenn used his honed ability for stealth to follow, but stay out of sight. He saw a hooded figure meet with the pilgrim; a feminine voice. The pilgrim knelt before the figure, and they talked briefly. The figure was a spellcaster with at least some Narlathian magic, and growing suspicious, the caster sent her fire lizard familiar to look for prying eyes; Saedenn managed to pull back to the camp.

The next morning the pilgrims needed to pray, so the travelers moved on without them.

Ambush!

They traveled into a ravine, and hails of arrows sailed down at them! Dozens of archers, and enormous pony-sized spiders rushing down to attack!

Struggling to cope with the ambush, the travelers sent some warriors charging into the trees to deal with some of the incoming spiders as a couple of the Northron were cut down. The rest of the Northron bolted along the road to the north, leaving the rest of the travelers behind.

Teetering on the edge of being overwhelmed by the cowardly attack, the travelers pulled back and raced along the road they had come down, with Saedenn leaving an acid fog wall in their wake.

Catching their breath and patching up their wounds, they discussed next steps. Strings volunteered to take a fancy lady with him, striking out as a diversion so their attackers might think he was with Arishakel; the arrows had landed thickly all around, except around the fancy ladies.

First the dragon focusing on the women, now an ambush—what was going on? She had no magical properties. Fuming over the mystery, the travelers considered how best to deal with the dangers before them…

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session Six
Overnighting on Level Two

A plague ship got to port to the south, so for the time being, the Frog Khan’s troops are shooting at anyone trying to come in from the Dust Road and they are living off a secret stockpile of reserves.

So, few people are in the mood to risk life and limb in the Lottery Dungeon. Fortunately, some are. Saedenn, Crazy Bear, Strings, and Shaddak headed down to take a closer look at level 3. They hired a Midianite torch bearer, Eduardo.

Into the Lottery Dungeon

As the grinding ceased, they strolled through the entry chambers, then opened the doors and entered the first level. Somewhat turned around, they explored for a while before finding the way back down to the second level… but the first level was eerie and silent.

They descended to the muggy unpleasantness of the second level, with its black stone and awful smell. Saedenn remembered where the secret door to the rest of the level was, and he ordered the collectors back as he took the invaders through it. By now they changed their mission parameters, instead searching for the holy bolt-hole they once found, to safely overnight.

However, a growing feeling in the group was that there was not much need for a secret hidey-hole. They could just murder anything that messed with them. Why even go out between expeditions? Their power was grown to the point where they should be able to slay things out of hand and do as they pleased, including offing the ghoul king; his protection is a step from worthless, and they could just keep killing ghoul kings until they learned their lesson.

Interspersed with this increasing confidence was the desire to check random walls for secret passages, pressing on vague memory in a place where things look much the same. They took their time wandering the level, increasing tension between Saedenn and Shaddek, with Crazy Bear and Strings feeling casually powerful enough to take any threats.

They found the copper dish, and Strings was quick on the draw with his copper piece, gaining a blessing. They also found the room with the block of green crystal.

The Dungeon Closes

The dungeon rotated, trapping them. Energies of death from the Wailing Labyrinth flooded the level, the undead shrieked, and something big loosed a horrific cry. They retreated back through a couple secret doors to the chill pool, and decided to wait it out. Strings played his fiddle to keep up their morale.

Apparently the pool was a portal to part of the Wailing Labyrinth, some shipwreck victims wanted him to finish his song. Then they were swept away as the level kept churning through the weird energies of the land of the dead.

An ethereal scout found them, but was slain before it could go report, Shaddak’s ravenblade making short work of it. That did not protect them from the ghoul king’s ability to track their marks, however. The ghoul king brought his collectors, and also something… bigger.

The Monitor

It smashed through the secret doors to get at them. Its head was a hazy cloud, and in it they could each see the faces of people they had slain. It had shoulders broad as an ogre or minotaur. Its hands stretched into sharp scissoring claws. Its lower torso congealed into a protoplasmic sluggish form. It reared tall, and offered them death.

They fought. Saedenn’s massive orbs of energy could not hit it, but the others hacked away with gusto. Strings found his arm disabled by its biting chilly might, and their weapons were nearly destroyed by touching it; Crazy Bear swelled up and shattered walls to get at the thing, and ever slap at it wounded his paws (even with their metal supports.)

Much to its surprise, they drove it back, and chased off the ghoul king. Freshly confident, they strutted out into the heavily fogged level.

Eduardo died of terror, in his sleep.

The Ancient Soldier

They encountered a bemused ghost of what looked to be a soldier of the World Above. He told them they were outside the time stream, where he could meet them. (Indeed, time seemed to stop, and the dungeon’s damage was rebuilt before their eyes by invisible hands.) The soldier could not speak a language they understood, so resorted to telepathy, but did not tell them much. He could only meet them because of the hole in the temporal shift because of a powerful being leaving in a hurry—like the Monitor.

Surviving the Second Level

Time resumed making sense, and shortly after the level turned. They hunted for a way out, prodding through the corners of the level and facing rising frustration between those who felt escape was a priority and those who felt it was no big deal.

After a brief argument, Saedenn separated to look for the way out while the others stayed with Shaddak to search corridor walls for secret passages. Shaddak was frustrated to reach a locked door, and he rejoined the others and asked Shaddak to open it. Shaddak did, and they faced a room with six collectors eating a corpse on a table.

Shaddak pointed a VERY rude gesture at them, and they attacked, hissing! The invaders’ casual amusement at the attack shifted abruptly as they faced the paralyzing powers of the collectors. The six were still dispatched easily enough, but there were many more on the level, and the invaders reached a vague consensus that leaving might be good.

They checked a couple exits, and found that the one they entered was again synched up. They headed back up to the first level, and found themselves running. They did not, after all, know which entry synched up with the exit, and they also could sense their time running out. The random and leisurely search for secret doors cost them time that they now wanted back as they raced through the first level.

Gambling on his mystic sight synching up with the weird other-time they accidentally experienced, Saedenn tried to see where the exit was. He got a sense of direction, and they followed him, dodging traps and running through the exit—just as the rotation started! They barely made it through.

The Khan

They got out, and swaggered out before the Khan and the applause of the oasis. Saedenn asked to speak with the Khan before selling his map, an unusual move. The Khan did not want to discuss the matter in public, so Saedenn sold his almost-complete map of level 2 for 200 silver (!) and the invaders celebrated in style.

Only Shaddak had a carousing mishap; he was beaten, robbed, and left hanging upside down from a palm tree over the oasis pool—nude.

The next morning, they met with the Khan, who had much residual energy of that other timespace around him that they saw for the first time. He showed them where the secret bolthole was, and told them he would have use for them in the future…

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session Five
Detonating Statues

Shaddek had gone to Langtland to get started on some weaponized claws for Crazy Bear. He returned to the oasis to find Crazy Bear had followed a shamen out to the desert to get some enchantment (he was drunk at the time) and Melursus had sighed and followed him. Neither had yet returned, but they’re fine…

Meanwhile, Arane Sparess, a wizard, and Strings, a gladiator, arrived with a caravan. They put in their names, and they were selected (along with Kaedo, Saedenn, and Shaddek) to head into the Lottery Dungeon.

Down We Go

Saedenn was the group leader. They started in a small room, and fortunately Kaedo’s sharp reflexes saved him from a pit trap in a long, crooked hallway. They fondly remembered this hallway and its kitchen from their first foray into the dark. The veterans managed to guide the group to the trapdoor leading down.

Once they headed down to the second level, they tried to intimidate a room full of collectors, zombies, and skeletons by showing their favor with the current ghoul king. The collectors were not respectful, but they did not attack. Continuing to explore, the invaders found a room with brass statues facing off in combat.

Shaddek remembered there was a pressure plate between them, and he shivved it. He examined the eye gems, not seeing marks of where they were removed last time; he removed them again, unknowingly picking up two curses, one per set.

As soon as he said what the gems were worth, he shrieked and writhed in pain for a minute; Arane tried to counterspell the effect, and recognized a curse. Recovering, Shaddak noted that the pain sucked; he shrieked and writhed for another minute.

He remained speechless for the rest of the adventure. Having discovered the edges of the accessible terrain, and haunted by vague memories of a secret door, they hunted and searched, then gave up and withdrew. They sold their map to the khan’s men and headed for the temple.

Breaking the Curses

They went to the temple of the Laughing Frog, and the priest there took half the gems in exchange for breaking the two curses on Shaddak; he warned them that if they continued to rob those gods, he would not help them again.

They threw a grand party (Saedenn was drunk, standing on the gate, throwing balls to knock things off partiers’ heads.)

Still, they put in for more tickets, and the next day their names were drawn again.

Once More Into the Dark

Saedenn was the group leader. The veterans showed off to the new members by identifying a couple secret doors and how to move through them, closing in on the trap door on the other side of the level with ease.

Much to their frustration, they realized they had gone down one of the two entrances to the limited area they found the day before. As they wondered what to do next, Arane produced a lizard her spider had poisoned. Saedenn managed to bribe a collector to show them the secret door, in exchange for fresh meat.

The collector led them to the room full of collectors, zombies, and skeletons. At the back was a door to a closet with a chest. They left the chest alone, under the watchful eyes of the collectors, and Shaddak found the secret door in the back of the closet.

Continuing their explorations, they found another ghastly dining room, then they found the massive chamber where they had faced the Black Warlock. Without tampering with anything there, they continued looking around.

They discovered a room for discarded bone, where much of the bone had been powdered as the Black Warlock pulled incorporeal undead from it. They also found a closet that was a trapdoor, and only quick reflexes saved them from a nasty spill.

Across the hall, they discovered a closet with a statue of the frog god tipped over face down in a corner. They righted it, and felt a strange blessing from the frog god suffuse them.

Shaddak dug through the grode and gore on a lock, popping it open, and they found a strange altar made of ribs trickling blood into a pool. Rather than interfere with that gruesome object, they withdrew, and continued their exploration.

They found the central ring corridor, and remembered that the trapdoor was in it. Then, they were on their way to the third level.

Motion. Less.

Unnerved by the well-lit third level, they were not pleased that no matter where they stood they were in arm’s reach of a weird statue. Some of the statues held torches. Wary, they continued down the hall.

They discovered a tiled room with a scorpion statue, silver for eyes. They examined the floor for traps, and were very methodical—until Kaedo walked over and touched it. The statue came alive, snapping at the wizard and his ball of flame. Saedenn blew it up. Shaddak pocketed the eyes.

Feeling better about things, they continued exploring, but found themselves in a very limited area. One room they discovered was full of chipped and broken statues, with some furniture and an urn; they had a bad feeling about it, and left that room alone. As they searched more intently for a way out of the area, Kaedo relieved himself on the wall, and discovered a secret passage there.

He also managed to avoid falling into the pit trap that was full of the arms of statues pointing up, fingers spread. They continued into the next area, finding another tiled room, this one with a bull.

Ready, Saedenn blew it up; it took two shots. Shaddack pocketed the eyes, gold this time. Finding their options for exploring run out after poking into a few uninteresting rooms, they withdrew back up and out.

Now with plenty of silver from selling the eyes, they threw a massive party.

Bulette Barbeque

The sand nomads had killed a bulette, and the party pooled their funds and bought it, selling off meat to the locals for booze and favors. They played games with the head, and stuffed themselves and besotted themselves beyond reason, celebrating their victory down in the dungeon.

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session Four
Against the Black Warlock

For six days, adventurers went into the Lottery Dungeon—and none came back out. The Khan even authorized more adventurers the last day, and still nothing. An ominous pall gathered over the assembled hopefuls, and desire to enter the dungeon began to wane.

The Frog Khan used his pretty bodyguards to lure two newcomers to the oasis into his audience hall: Blaylock, a Northron fighter, and Zang, a monk from Shamhat. He also invited Saedenn, Kaedo, and Crazy Bear (who was drunk and had to be carried.)

The Khan suspected a conspiracy or disaster was afoot, so he gathered brand-new adventurers who had no time to make local connections, and some tested delvers. He promised them riches, showing them a tray with coins, a jeweled pitcher and cups, pearls, and other assorted wealth—all theirs if they solved the problem and reported back.

They enjoyed wine and dancing girls for the rest of the evening, but they were not allowed to leave the Khan’s rooms until morning after a sponge bath and clear-eyed preparation.

Into the Lottery Dungeon

In an unusual move, the High Priest of the Laughing Frog drew the lottery tiles out of a special box that only had the pre-selected adventurers’ names in it. They faced the dungeon entrance, and headed down as the levels were still grinding below.

They quickly navigated the first level, with only one misstep. Their new Northron warrior, Blaylock, got to haul at the doors, and built up his delving muscles. They had also hired Farouk, a lock’n’trapper, who was nervous but handled the doors for them. Crazy Bear bolstered his nerve by lending him a hammer and a fancy hat.

They saw a phantom, and the terrified Farouk identified him as an adventurer who had come down some months ago. When they tracked down the entry to the lower level, the door was caked with ectoplasmic ice or something like it; paying no heed, Kaedo flung it open, and they descended into the depths of the second level.

Ghostly Ambush

They were baffled by a floor trap, and then corridors that led nowhere. Then Saedenn and Kaedo remembered they had been here before; they opened one secret door and found a pool of water, then opened another to get out past the basin of copper coins (Kaedo made a donation) and out into the wider level.

In a long hallway, they were ambushed by four incorporeal spirits. A combination of ferocity, luck, and skill (along with the assistance of the monk) allowed Kaedo to hack two of them down with his axe; more were coming, so they retreated, finding a door to the central hub as Saedenn coated himself in stone then swirled acid mist around his form.

The undead shrieked and melted in the mystical acid, as Saedenn’s mystical protections shielded him. They headed into the central hub, and found that the phantoms were herding them. They allowed themselves to be herded, and ended up in a nightmare chamber of certain death.

Confrontation with the Black Warlock

The chamber had ten bronze statues, two pools of blood, and a pit with a glowing green block of crystal. In the back, stairs led up to double doors—this was a way out.

Dozens of zombies and skeletons lined the walls, and a mass of collectors uneasily shifted at the back of the room. Then, rising from a pool of blood, the Black Warlock intoned that it was time for them to provide reinforcements.

Battle! Kaedo, Crazy Bear, and Blaylock assaulted the Black Warlock as undead descended on them from all sides. Saedenn melted masses of them with acidic fog as Zang protected him. The Black Warlock’s spell toughened the undead around him, and all seemed lost. Yet they fought on!

Farouk fled in terror, but he didn’t make it very far before the phantoms slew him.

Crazy Bear hammered the Black Warlock down to the floor, and Kaedo pounced on him in a fury in the storm of undead assault. Saedenn swarmed acidic mist all over the collectors, who were hanging back until their troops softened up the targets; many died shrieking. Blaylock struck the Black Warlock’s head from his shoulders.

Long Live the King

The undead paused, and protected themselves. The party continued their assault, focusing on one of the collectors that was bloating out. The newly corpulent collector was the new king, and he warned them against further attack; they paused to listen.

The king explained that this level needed its undead, and were they to slay them all, something…else would come. Saedenn considered his knowledge of lore, and admitted that it was possible. This was something like a zoo, and it was possible that the energy ecosystem could be fatally disrupted by wiping out all of the level’s guardians.

The party agreed to let the new collector king live, and in exchange they could travel through his level for the rest of their lives. The king amended the deal, to the rest of HIS life; subsequent kings would have their own obligations. They agreed.

Saeden, Kaedo, Blaylock, and Crazy Bear allowed the king to mark them with a necromatic scratch. Zang actually came here to slay the Black Warlock, so he did not plan to return, and did not need a mark.

The party retreated warily, carrying the Black Warlock’s gear and corpse (including the head.) They also collected Crazy Bear’s hat and hammer from Farouk’s corpse.

Victorious Partying

The crowd was delighted to see them emerge into sunlight about two hours after they headed down. They went to the khan’s chamber and dropped off the corpse, but they kept a magic protective ring, and the weapons. The khan rewarded them richly, with 150 gold pieces worth of wealth.

They gave the paired daggers to the High Priest of the Laughing Frog, he explained the blades would shatter if used by the living. However, Kaedo kept the sweet sword, and shared the ring with Saedenn.

Then they partied. Crazy Bear was named the BEAARon of the Oasis, and he spent a lot of time as a bear rug for the wiggly dancing girls. He was also mugged at one point, but he doesn’t clearly remember the details. Young Zang (only 15, poor lad) blasphemed against the Laughing Frog and was cursed with insatiable hunger for a whole week.

Blaylock invested in moving the bar out to the oasis for a night of partying, and the big spenders had a magnificent grand party that thrilled all who attended.

In the sticky, bleary aftermath a few days later, Saedenn and Kaedo began to plan for a visit to a city to look for magic.

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session Three
Kicking Ass on Level Two

Saedenn, a Scavenger Master wizard, led a motley crew into the Lottery Dungeon. He took Kaedo, the bersker, and Shaddek, the mechanic, as they had worked well together before. The party added Melursus and Crazy Bear, a couple pagans (who could turn into bears.) Finally, they took Poesworth, a zealot eager to smash infidels and abominations.

The Lottery Dungeon had been closed for a week due to the Camel Foot Festival, with half price prostitution and randy sermons in the Temple of the Frog God. After the hiatus, the Frog Khan allowed bigger parties to head down into the Lottery Dungeon.

Unexpected Unfamiliarity

Saedenn and Kaedo were confident they knew their way around level one, but they ended up exploring some areas they were not familiar with. They carefully tread the quiet halls, past the snake statue and the iron garden, through the open chamber and a room where an adventuring party finally fell to the custodians—and their summoned monster too.

As Shaddek scouted ahead, he fell in a pit trap. They hauled him out, and checked out a nearby room with a stone sarcophagus that looked like monster jaws. Inside, they smashed a skeleton, and took the keen elven dagger. Then smashed the skeleton some more, and left.

They found a room with four goblets and four pools, and they tried them out after Saedenn researched in his book. Experiencing benefits, they didn’t push their luck, but they kept exploring.

They began to wonder if the cleaners were no longer functioning as they found another area that did not seem as tidy as they would expect. Finally they found the central round, and backtracked over some territory they covered in previous excursions (like the trophy room and the kitchen.)

Kaedo was strong enough to not worry about the doors, and others tried to increase their strength by pushing the doors open. Shaddek continued to find traps and unlock the doors.

They headed down a crooked corridor, and found the room with the statue of the woman looking at the door, and the trap door leading down. Finally!

Second Level Scuffle

They came out in a dusty stairwell, and followed a corridor leading away from it. They nailed a door guard that was a nattily dressed dead Northron, then burst into a room with a pile of skeletons and zombies, and some of the collectors, and their gruesome king!

A massive fight broke out, with bears and zealots and undead and berserking and balls of acidic magic and lashing tongues and filthy necrotic claws. Shaddek wielded his Ravenblade, offending the undead with its presence, as the zealot chanted prayers and the wizard hurled magic.

They tore through the king’s entourage, and the bloated king was obliterated by a huge blast of magic from Saedenn. Panting and victorious, they felt the pressure of time.

And, the king had been calling for help. As they retreated, they saw the approaching figure of a Black Warlock! Some were torn between standing and fighting, and running, but when most of the party ran they ran too.

Dashing through the cleverly mapped compound, they managed to reach the exit just before the dungeon ground out of position.

All’s Well That Ends Well

They threw a massive party when they came out alive, burning through hundreds of silver for a few days of decadence. Fortune smiled on them, and they continued to process their experiences and mature as powerful characters, their awesomeness shining through in the partying they did.

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session Two
Foray to the second level.

Kaedo and Saeden were discussing how best to arrange to overnight, possibly by locking themselves in somewhere. This attracted the attention of a newcomer to the oasis, Shadek, a mechanic. The trio decided to try their luck together if possible, and they arranged to hire a torch bearing porter named Paco.

The First Foray

The next morning, the three of them were called up, as well as a Black Warlock that came in with Shadek’s caravan. They headed down into the darkness with Paco bearing the torch, and the warlock split from them early on. Now familiar with the layout, Saeden guided them more or less directly to the entry to the second level. On the way, they encountered an undead thing in a neat suit, but they dispatched it with little effort. Finding the entry to the second level, they heaved the trapdoor out of the way and descended into the darkness.

Finding only a small area, they suspiciously checked the walls until they found a secret door leading out. They saw a bowl of coppers on a plinth, and were greatly reluctant to steal from it; Kaedo tossed in a copper, and felt blessed.

They continued in the black labyrinth, stylized with frescoes of skulls and death, and archways carved into the black stone. Shadek saved them from a couple pit traps, and they found a room with a balcony over a pool of blood with meat floating in it. The others wanted to pull back, but Shadek was curious; curious long enough for a great eel-like thing to slither forth from the pool, silver scales glistening. It reared up to attack, and Saeden blew its head off with his powerful magic.

They found a room with two huge statues of reapers, and stairs leading up and out—currently blocked. Shadek examined the statues and found that there was a pit trap in front of one—and he was tall enough to reach up and prize out its ruby eyes! The other had eyes of glass.

As the third torch was now burning low, they felt they’d pushed their luck far enough, and they withdrew. They got out about three and a half hours after they went in, and the dungeon rotated at four hours, trapping the Black Warlock below.

Carousing!

Flush with coin from selling off the rubies from the reaper’s eye sockets, the adventurers celebrated. In the wake of their epic party, they have dim memories of some of the best parts. Kaedo became the Lottery Sultan, with a turban of women’s underpants; at one point he climbed up on the entry arch to the Temple of the Frog God and rode the statue, whipping it with a quirt and calling out amusing slurred slogans.

Shadek became the Duke of the Oasis, regaling the tipsy crowd with what may or may not be stories of his homeland. Saeden mostly sipped his drink and watched, but he had his share of fun in a relatively discreet way.

Second Venture

Heads pounding and eyes bleary, they climbed into their gear and awaited the drawing of names before the entry to the Lottery Dungeon the next day. They were called up, as well as a pair of duelists. Again, they all headed down, then split up, the duelists going down the rigged stairwell and the others making a beeline for the next level’s trapdoor.

Reaching the second level without incident, they began their methodical exploration. They found another stairwell up to blank stone, but more importantly, a secret door to a shrine of the Lady of the White Way! Delighted to discover a possible place to spend the night in safety surrounded by danger, they continued on emboldened.

They discovered a room with statues of two cosmic beings, a flayed woman and a reaper with a two handed sword, facing off. Shadek found the pressure plate between them, and shivved it so he could pry out their glittering green eye-gems. Further delighted by their score, they headed down the hall and poked around in some closets, finding a distressingly mobile patch of slime in one—they slammed the door, locking it in.

They returned to a door they had passed, opening it and heading into a room with a faintly luminescent green table. There they saw the horrific sight of four undead in suits, stripping the flesh from zombies to make skeletons. Battle was joined!

The skeletons closed in first, zombies at their heels, as the suits sauntered towards their prey. As Shadek’s smoking Ravenblade slew a skeleton and a zombie, Kaedo tore through five of the skeletons in a matter of seconds. Saeden conjured a globe of flame and hurled it, incinerating a couple of the suits. Then there was a general charge, mowing down the last of the suits (though they did make a valiant effort to tear at Kaedo, they could not get past his shield, armor, and frothing berserk disregard for damage.)

At the back of the room, they found a treasure closet with a chest. Opening it, they found incredible riches! Delighted at their luck, they hefted the box (and saw the key to unlock it, which had been hidden under the chest.) Kaedo carried it out, and they headed for the exit, running through most of the first level. The door ground shut as they were heading past the frog statue—a close shave, it was only open two hours! (The duelists left earlier, and were having a spat in the open courtyard, to the amusement of the crowd.)

Carousing

Wild celebration followed. First Saeden bought a much better staff, and they decided to keep some of the gems to cut down on the coinage they had to lug around. They also rented a strongbox in the Inn, to keep some of their valuables safe.

Then the partying. The Duke shone in his own right, with many slurred pronouncements and promotions among the revelers. The Sultan invented a new game, of snatching random revelers, heaving them over his head, and flinging them at the wall of the Last Chance Saloon. The stain on the wall is about torso sized, called the Sultan’s Spot.

As their reputation grows, and their knowledge of the Lottery Dungeon increases, the adventurers are not yet finished with their exploration of the darkness below.

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The Lottery Dungeon: Session One
Looting Level One

Going Down Now

A sandstorm blew for three days at the Laughing Frog Oasis. The last two days, adventurers went down but didn’t come back up. By day three, the only ones still willing to head down were a big Northron, Kaedo, and a tattooed Scavenger Master wizard, Saeden. They won the lottery, their names were drawn, and they were allowed to enter the Lottery Dungeon.

Steeling their courage, they headed down into the darkness of the dungeon as the final grinding of the shifting levels halted. Past the leering sandstone statue of the Laughing Frog, through the corridors, to the double stone doors into the Lottery Dungeon itself.

Saeden had a tome of lore on the Focusanir (the more correct name for the Lottery Dungeon according to scholars) and so he had a sense of the purpose of the facility, and its history.

Darkness Below

They found the gentle curvature of everything in the stone edifice unnerving. Finding a kitchen, they were attacked by a spider with an abdomen the size of a human head! Saeden rapidly smashed it, and Kaedo poked around in the stove, finding a ring and a gem (that loot alone made the expedition worthwhile.)

Kaedo’s muscle was equal to the task of hauling open the heavy stone doors, but they had no plan for dealing with locked doors. Kaedo hammered at one, and managed to unlatch it.

They found a curving corridor, and a torture chamber, and several closets. The quiet was eerie and oppressive, and everything smelled like disinfectant and oil.

They discovered a secret door, and Saeden consulted his tome to get clues to figure out how to open it—they succeeded. Through what looked like a dining room, they passed a locked door, and figured out how to get through another secret door to find another possible entrance. It was not aligned, but they could see how the door would line up with the exit. They also quickly figured out the handle in the pool that opened and closed the secret door from this side.

They continued exploring, leaping back as a trap landing snapped up to block off some stairs, and moving around it. They found a third entrance chamber; pleased, they withdrew and continued exploring.

Heaving a closet open, they were assaulted by another spider. They dispatched it quickly, and as Kaedo held flame to the web, withering it, Saeden found the precious bits lost up in the spider’s web, increasing the profitability of the venture.

They found a large room with a statue of a hooded worshiper of the Lady of the White Way, and a strange tarry pool that radiated deep, ancient magic millennium old. Leaving that alone, they headed down a side passage and triggered a pit trap—but leaped back and did not fall. The door beyond was locked, so they explored elsewhere.

As they inspected a grotesque statue of a cackling frog at the end of a corridor, they realized it fired darts down the hallway—and they had been lucky not to activate the pressure pad!

Victory!

Feeling the press of time, they decided not to push their luck further. They withdrew, and the grinding stone echoed behind them. They had cut it unexpectedly close! They were greeted with cheers by the small crowd as they exited, and they sold their map to the Khan’s men as was the expected custom.

Some merchants came in later in the day, as well as more adventurers to try their luck.

They sold the gems and jewelry, did some shopping, and hired a couple henchmen for the next day’s expedition. Then they caroused, having a fantastic time celebrating their survival.

The Second Trip

The Laughing Frog high priest drew Kaedo and Saeden’s names, as well as a Midish cleric of the Lady and his Northron guide. Each lottery winner could take a single henchman, so Kaedo took Jacques, a strong but dim Scarabaen porter/torch holder, and Saeden took Vellis, a Shamhatian lock’n’trapper expert.

The six adventurers headed down into the Lottery Dungeon, and came to the round room with the pool. Kaedo and Saeden knew how to open the secret door, but the Midish cleric had done some research, and he knew too. They all went in together, then parted ways as Saeden and Kaedo put Vellis to work on unlocking a door.

The door had a distressing laugh behind it. They opened the door to find a frog the size of a horse crammed into the small egg-shaped closet! It leaped to the attack, and as Kaedo fended it off, Saeden pounded it with magic until it was knocked out. As the henchmen wavered, on the edge of leaving, Kaedo shouted at them and inspired them to stay.

Kaedo struck the killing blow on the unconscious frog-thing. Not feeling overly greedy, they did not probe through the frog-muck of the closet.

They caught up to the other adventurers, who were in the dead end of the dining room (not knowing about the secret door.) Kaedo and Saeden moved through it, and the other adventurers followed.

To cultivate goodwill, Kaedo and Saeden told the Midish cleric about the holy pool and the statue, and the Northron and cleric took their leave.

Further Explorations

Kaedo and Saeden continued to the curving corridor, into a new area of the dungeon. They found another set of double doors, so they withdrew and explored elsewhere. They found a creepy stone and wrought iron garden with corpses in it, and they pulled back instead of looking further.

After poking around a bit more, they returned to the large chamber with the statue overlooking the pool. They found the Northron and cleric there, and after a terse assurance that nobody was out to do anybody else harm, they went around them and headed for the locked room at the end of that corridor.

Trapped

Then the stone juddered and shook, grinding and turning! Horror set in as they realized they were being trapped. What do do? The grinding made the surface of the oil dance, and they realized they would likely be right next to the formation of creatures in a matter of moments. They ran for it, leaving the cleric and Northron in the chamber.

Kaedo led them past the trapped landing, to an entrance, as a defensible location. Vellis panicked, as there was not even a door there. He tried to take his leave of them, but Saeden talked him into staying with them. They headed for the closets, an split into two groups, hunching in the dark closed closet and holding very still. It was going to be a long day and night.

Found

Some time later, something opened the closet with Vellis and Saeden in it. Saeden knew there was no hiding, so he lit his staff—they saw amorphous black tarry humanoids about 5 feet tall, armed with cudgels, hemming them in.

Saeden leaped out past them, and raced to the other closet, hauling it open. Kaedo sprang at the tarry creatures, heaving his axe at them and managing to knock them down without getting his weapon stuck. He held them off as Saeden ran to the dining room, and as Kaedo caught up, they closed the door. The tarry things kept opening it, and the adventurers kept closing it.

Kaedo ran to the other door and opened it, and saw some scavenging massive rats; he chopped two of the three down, clearing the way, and everyone ran to the filthy frog closet. They locked themselves in with Vellis’s skill, and waited breathlessly in the stench and crusted vileness. The tarry things gave up and went away.

While they waited, they found an adventurer’s pack; it had broken useless gear, but also a Griffon Dagger, very expensive and paying for their expedition and more! (Including paying for another day of henchmen assistance.)

Hours later, they heard something rub against the walls in passing, once and then again.

Finally the stone shook and rumbled, and they knew their exit was waiting for them somewhere!

Escape

When they got out of the closet, they saw the hall had been cleaned. The frog corpse, the rat corpses—all gone. Not even a trace of blood.

Of course, escape would not be too easy. They checked three of the entrances they had found, finding them all closed (but having a chance to clean off some of the filth using water from the pool in the room they used to enter yesterday.)

They found a store room, and Saeden’s magic sight led him to find a blessed Staff of the Lady, shaped like a mast, as a staff of healing for the faithful. Delighted at the find, they kept looking for the way out.

They did discover the double doors leading to what they thought was another exit actually held the trapdoor to go lower—and a huge snake corpse was a tasty treat to some fire beetles. They backed out slowly.

Feeling their desperation mount as sand slid through the hourglass, and not wanting to be trapped another day and night, they were relieved to find another adventurer who came in to the Lottery Dungeon on a new day. Aleah, a nomad adventurer, took pity on them and led them through the creepy stone and iron garden to the exit room, with a snake statue and skin casting.

Laughing with delight, they ran out into the sunlight and happily sold their map to the Khan’s men, to the scattered applause of bystanders who were pleased to see them alive.

Wrap-Up

They not only paid double for their henchmen, but tipped Vellis with a whole other day’s wages. They sold the dagger and the staff, got some more supplies, and then threw a great party (including lots of rounds of drinks for Aleah, who helped them get out.)

Two expeditions into the Lottery Dungeon, both profitable, with no deaths. And they survived an overnight stint—not too shabby!

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Setine, Session 3
Return of Adal De Morcey

Hamvas 15, 6995

Burning Down the House

On their way out of the city, Tyr, Galen, and Gnaeus were accosted by a beautiful red-headed woman who slapped Galen. He assured them he had to take care of something, and disappeared with her. The other two continued on towards Gnaeus’s house, which turned out to be a still-burning ruin.

Tyr called out to Lily, who howled. Gnaeus and Tyr found Lily in the woods, with Yuli and Geneva, holding off a pair of orcs. Gnaeus shot one, Lily brought the other one down. The orcs were the survivors of the warband that got wiped out the night before, and they took their revenge by burning down Gnaeus’s house on their way back to town. Gnaeus seethed in impotent rage as he realized he already killed their employer, so there was no one to insure against his loss.

Loading Geneva into the cart, the dispirited band headed back to Setine.

Ups and Downs

Annika was overcome by her mysterious malady, and required bed rest. Meanwhile, after a night of drinking, wandering, and watching bare-knuckle boxing, (and pickpocketing) Kurt showed up to see how things were going.

He arrived in time to see Adal De Morcey returned to the Aril house, with a bundle of 4 paintings and Nosse’s mask. Adal and Dakri went to talk to Nosse.

Kail went out to Ryvan estate to collect his weapons and armor, then returned to the Aril house.

They met Nosse Aril, elegant in his silver mask. Nosse offered to hire Kail as his agent, getting a permit to carry heavy weapons and armor in the city. Dakri took the necessary 10 silver from Kail, and went out to get the permit. However, he lost the money in a mysterious circumstance, so Kail said he’d go along the next day and make sure they got it taken care of.

Tyr and Gnaeus arrived with Yuli (and Geneva in the cart.) Lily had to stay in the woods. They had lunch together, meeting the soft-spoken coughing Adal.

What Happened to Adal?

Adal said he had a row with Nosse, then went to a pagan party with his girlfriend, Calim Deskru (a family name Tyr recognized, part of the Bestia clan around Setine’s outskirts.) Anyway, the Hammers raided the party, and Adal tried to hold them off while the pagans fled. He was captured, and taken to Stonepit, and interrogated. The Hammers sent to Lord Shenwhe to verify Adal’s identity (Adal swore he was not a pagan) but in the days it took to deliver the message, his interrogation permanently damaged his chest.

When Lord Shenwhe arrived, he took Adal home to Tailwind Heights, in the city, to nurse him back to health. Adal was uncomfortable, and said he did not trust his fevered memory of what happened. But he escaped the house, and went to the Rubble District, where he subsisted until he was captured by Vash’s creditor agents and used against Nosse. They kept him imprisoned in a house in the Rubble District. Then, this morning, they freed him and sent him back with some art and a mask.

Checking the Story

By now it was late enough that the weary adventurers needed sleep, even after their afternoon naps. (Busy couple days.) Not Kurt! He found Tailwind Height, and scoped the place out to see if it matched Adal’s fevered memory of an attack.

The single bored city guard proved no obstacle as Kurt slipped in and looked around. A huge hole was knocked through the wall, there were signs of blood and struggle, and some huge clawed thing moving through the house angry and killing. The house had been emptied out, the city guard was there to keep out vandals and squatters.

Kurt reported his findings over breakfast.

Adal was shocked; Lord Shenwhe had one of the best curated collections of pre-fall Setinian art in the world. It should not fall into the wrong hands.

Tyr shared that he was a shaman (and Yuli explained what that meant). The adventurers decided to return to Tailwind Height and see what else they might learn there. Kurt ushered them past two guards, and they cautiously explored the empty house.

Kail and Tyr immediately agreed this was the work of a troll. They found several spots in the house that were indifferently cleaned, where people clearly met their end. Tyr summoned up the ghost of Lord Shenwhe, finding out that Shenwhe’s brother was a Hammer and would inherit all, and Shenwhe was not aware of any enemies. Pulling out, they ruminated on their next move. (Later, Tyr realized and shared that the timing of the attack lines up with Summer Solstice, a time when summoning things from the Other Side is easier.)

Kurt approached a local tavern frequented by domestics, the Dread Star, with Gnaeus. He gossiped around until he found people who told him about the troll attack. It was too fast for the response to be effective, then the troll disappeared. 10 people died.

The adventurers asked Nosse to use his contacts to find out where the collection might be. Nosse went to an elegant dinner with some of his sources, an when he returned he told them that the best guess of his very informed friends would be that the art collection was stored in the old Shennai Chapel, a small church built by Shenwhe’s family before Setine’s fall. (He did not know where that chapel would be.) Chances are it would be lightly guarded, as its location is unknown, relying on secrecy for security. And it would be auctioned off to Caligarian collectors, the proceeds going to the Hammer coffers.

Adal nearly panicked upon hearing this. He struggled to impress upon them the importance of that art collection, its quality and its cultural meaning for Setine. To see why the Caligarians should not get it, he urged the adventurers to visit the Graf Museum. He proposed that if they stole it, he could set up a discreet auction to sell it to Masks and maybe even the Golden Prince, to keep that cultural treasure in Setine. And, of course, it would make them incredibly wealthy; he pitched a number of over 100,000 silver at black market prices (since the collection was priceless, and worth at least millions.)

That kind of serious payday means serious danger.

The Graf Museum

On a lark, the adventurers crossed into the Garden District and approached the ostentatious display of wealth and roses that was the mansion museum. They paid to enter, and viewed the many paintings and displays showing how really Caligari was at the root of Setinian success. Everything from a jewel-crusted musket (the first sold to Setine, that brought it prosperity) to a jewel-crusted gilded dragon skull to massive wall size paintings. They left impressed with a sense of the grandeur the Caligarians felt on their own behalf.

Kurt lightened some pockets of Caligarian coin.

Next Moves

They earnestly discussed whether or not to get involved in an investigation culminating in a heist. As Kail argued against it, in the interests of survival, Kurt’s monkey peed on him. Kurt offered to buy him a new shirt, so they headed to the Gray Market to take care of that. Shopping completed, they wandered the Market, leaving after the monkey pranced around over the beer garden fouling drinks and clothes unnoticed.

Kurt lightened some pockets just for fun and profit.

They agreed that Annika could help them with networking and research, and Galen would be useful for navigating some channels of the city’s practical networks.

Scattering to the Winds

Everyone pursued different goals and pastimes.

  • Kurt sat in a seedy tavern contemplating petty larceny and looking to make friends among domestics in the neighborhood of the Aril House. He saw a pretty girl crying, and the bartender told him about her stalker. Kurt told her he would take care of it, and he ambushed the fellow (who had a wooden arm, a scar, and a lot of money.) Kurt knocked him out, tied him up, and threatened him to stay away from the girl. The stalker was intimidated, and Kurt left him tied up. He returned to drinking and petty larceny.
  • Tyr spent the evening drinking with Gnaeus, and the next day he bound a moss spirit to his spear.
  • Gnaeus figured he’d connect with some of his noble contacts, see if anyone needed work done. He connected with Harmon Manaskri, an important Mask on the council. Manaskri’s middle daughter had a current fixation on a zoological garden, and they were having trouble building an enclosure for the rust monster. Gnaeus worked up a design, gave it to the craftsmen, and drank the evening away with Tyr.

The next day, he finalized the work. Lord Manaskri paid him 10 gold for the consult, and dressed him up to serve as a guest. Manaskri had to visit his grandmother, who could not abide useless people, and he wanted to take Gnaeus along to distract her. Gnaeus agreed, in exchange for the contract to work on the enclosure for the out-of-town portion of the zoological garden that contained the hydra.

The carriage ride took them 30 miles out of Setine, to the Manaskri House and Lady Dara Manaskri. While the Lady was vicious as only the wealthy and elderly can be towards her grandson, she was fond in her questioning and discussion with Gnaeus.

She told him that there were dwarves poking around the Erdea Pit near the estate, and she did not want them to set up a colony and their digging and building near her home. She asked Gnaeus, as someone who understood engineering and stone work, to tell them to go away. He agreed, and she said when he next came out she’d host him after he talked to the dwarves.

Gnaeus and Lord Manaskri returned to Setine the next morning.

  • Kail took in the art and culture of the city. He was captivated by the beautiful singing of a sad red-head from Scarabae, far from home. He met with her backstage, to find that her name was Collette, and she was fleeing the fey. Her parents promised dwarves they could cut her hair when it was long enough, but her hair was tied to the life of her sister; if it was cut, her sister would die, leaving behind a husband and two children. Due to a shipwreck, she made it as far as Setine.

Kail fell for her, and after a long night of talking they consummated their love. The next day, as he was meeting some of her artist friends, he saw a redcap skulking after them. He confronted and slew it. She gushed that he gave her the courage to keep going, and after a lengthy full-body good night kiss she packed her things and headed for Caligari.

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