Session #30: Gotternacht Eve

Needing rest after their ordeals, the adventurers slept on the Gotternacht Eve.   Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly,  Weddumlir  Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter,  Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, and Acindor the Human Fighter, Oberyx the Half-Elf Warlock oathbound to Fulgar, Del Erenaeth the Elf Monk,  Zook Bafflestone the Gnome Artficer, and Fil the Drow Cleric of Zephyr rested at the MOUNTAINTOP TRAM STATION. Kaid the Goliath Barbarian, David the Half-Elf Wizard, and Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin holed themselves up in the DOCKYARD TRAM STATION.

The Night of Dreams

But the gods were restless. Gotternacht Eve proved a nightof dreams and portents for many.

The Lost God

First, Fil the Cleric of Zephyr received a rare gift, confirmation of his faith. Zephyr of the Aeon had been missing since the first star fell in accordance with the Prophecy of the Starkiller. Many suspected that he had perished. but Fil still felt his divine power channeling through him. On this night, Zephyr found the opportunity to speak to his cleric. The message was faint and disjointed, but unmistakable. Zephyr was pleased and bestowed upon him a spell, the Zephyr Strike, to aid him for his faithfulness. Zephyr also aked Fil to find him, free him and to “Beware… A…on.” Fil woke from the vision wondering if this meant that Fulgar of the Aeon, Zephyr’s sister, was behind his disappearance as some suspected.

The Many-Eyed One

Meldor and Davroar found themselves upon a black pool of water. They got the impression that the waters were unfathomably deep but that they were being permitted to walk on the water’s surface. Before them appeared a peacock, which unfurled its tails to reveal its many eyes. Those eyes kept erupting from its plumage until the skies were filled with malevolent eyes of every sort imaginable.

“Do you know who I am?” a a cold and slitheringly cruel voice asked. “Because I know who you are.”

The pair felt their growing dread transforming into heart-stopping terror. 

“I am Shettebrek, Lord of fear and panic, and I thank you for your aid. Meldor Ironforge, you restored the power to my operation, and Davroar Hollysword, you who ended the reign of the Fearless’ dread champion, Zorghul the Terrible, I am in your debt.”

They listened in stunned silence as the Many-eyed One related how the Fearless had sabotaged his operations on PEACOCK ISLAND, so that he was genuinely thankful for their efforts to restore the power and drive out these saboteurs. Now that everything was back on track, His factory could ship out Sweet Dream Sally dolls all over the Seven Worlds. To thank them, he granted them a resistance to fear.

When Davroar respectfully voiced reservations about accepting a gift from someone of Shettebrek’s reputation, the deity purred that there was no need for concern.  “I am not an evil God. Fear is very necessary and greatly misunderstood.”

When Davroar again demurred Shettebrek offered to make him more susceptible to fear. Davroar’s reluctance to accept the gift of fear resistance vanished instantly.

“There,  see? Fear is a gift pulling us back from danger and anarchy. It allows us to control others and deter them from actions that aren’t in their best interests. Just as I just demonstrated.”

They were most grateful when the interview ended.

The Red Circle

Nathan Garner received an urgent message from Everly informing him that his assassin’s mark, the magical tattoo given to him by Joe Stufts, was now active. The Red Circle had a well-deserved reputation for fulfilling their contracts. To aid him in survival, his deity granted him the Lucky feat.

Baldnoggin’s Geas

Weddumlir found himself standing before the Dwarf God Baldnoggin, who looked mightily displeased.

“Did you not like the song?” Baldnoggin asked.

Thee was no question as to which song the dwarf god was refering to. Baldnoggin himself had commissioned the popular ballad, Send in the Wedd, to make sure that his chosen champion’s fame went far and wide. “I liked it very much,” Weddumlir said.

“And you’re familiar with the lyrics?”

“Wedd hesitated. “I think so.”

“Were you thinking about that bit about ‘his gaze pierces the fog‘ when you were cowering behind your friends in the fog of the DOCKYARDS today? It’s bad enough that you gave the heathen a reason to blaspheme my name when you agreed to be Hero’s Champion in the Gotternacht Games. Ever since you ran into that spider in the TEMPLE MINES of CAERULEM, you’ve grown more and more timid. Do you feel that is an accurate reflection of your god?” Baldnoggin asked pointedly. “Do you feel this a proper show of gratitude for the blessings and honor I have given you?”

“I’m sorry,” Wedd said. “I didn’t let Hero bully me back into being his champion.”

“That is the only reason we’re having this conversation. I don’t want to have to choose a new Weddumlir Aleshield to go with my song.”

Weddumlir’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

“It would be exceedingly easy to find someone else to walk around in your husk,” Baldnoggin said. “I can think of many dwarves who would gladly trade you places. But I don’t want that. I saw your potential in the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION and you did not disappoint me.”

Baldnoggin heaved a weary sigh. “Therefore, I place my geas upon you. From this point forward, you will do as the song says. It will be your guide, especially where it says, “The first one in the battle, the last one that you’ll need.” No more taking a backseat. No more skulking about. You’ve developed an unfortunate habit of using Thril Wolfsbane as a ‘meat shield.’ Those days are over.”

“Got it,” Wedd said.

“I don’t think you do. Thril is dead. The Fearless’ ettin champion killed him in your absence.”

“What? But… why did you take me out like that? Why did you leave him to fight it alone. I could’ve helped.”

“But would you have?” Baldnoggin asked. “Thril died an honorable death. It was a death to be envied! He threw himself at his foe boldly and without fear. He sought only glory and the safety of his comrades. Once the thrall of B.O.B., now that foul outsider god has no hope of catching his soul. Oxenbane has taken him in her embrace and even now he enjoys the banquet of heroes, safe from the ravages and toils of his former life. Even so,” the dwarf god said, leveling his sober gaze at Weddumlir, “you are right that he did not need to die at the Fearless’ hands. You could have saved him if you were being half the dwarf chose you to be!” he turned his back to Wedd. “It’s better this way. Thril is with Oxenbane and you now have no choice but to follow his courageous example. No choice at all.”

Without another word, Baldnoggin returned him to PEACOCK ISALND, but not to the place and time he’d left.

The Dockyard Party

The Luckless Thief

Gnome Shanarock the Dwarf Thief had left the party to trail someone he’d spotted on the beach of the DOCKYARDS. This figure was dressed in the uniform of the Sisterhood of Shettebrek, an all-female league of assassins who served both Shettebrek and the Nylbogia. As the chosen Champion of the Nylbolgia in the imminent Gotternacht Games, Shanarock wanted to know why she was on PEACOCK ISLAND.

The trail was made difficult by a sudden fog which rolled in from the sea, seemingly to aid her. She eventually gave him the slip but just when he was about to give up, the fog dramatically dissipated and he spotted her once more. He was distracted at one point by the sounds of a skirmish nearby and then lost her again when a sudden, unnatural storm reduced his visibility to.nothingband forced him to take shelter under an awning.

With the building at his back, he closed his eyes and exhaled to vent his exhaustion, discomfort and frustration.  He felt a knife at his throat.

“Why are you following me?”

He licked his lips. “How much money do you have?”

She pressed the knife closer, drawing blood. “Be serious.”

“I am. I’d really like all of your money,” he said. “What’s the Sisterhood doing on this island?”

“I’m not with the Sisterhood anymore,” she said. “I was told that our purpose is to overthrow those who abuse their power, but now Shettebrek himself is planning something and… What Obscurus is doing on this island has the potential to destroy everything. If someone doesn’t stop him, we won’t need to worry about the Starkkiller Prophecy anymore,, because there won’t be anything left for Shadofar to devour.”

While she talked, Shanarock quietly worked his hand toward his dagger.

She noticed the movement of his hand. She pressed the dagger harder, using the moment of pain to also disarm him. “Nice dagger. I think I’ll keep it. In fact, I think I’ll take all the coin you have too.”

To his dismay, he felt the weight of his coin pouch vanish.

“Because I know who you are and that you are the Nylbolgia’s intended Champion, I will let you live, but this is your final warning: Stop following me and stay out of my way.”

She hit him on the back of the head with the pommel of her dagger. He saw stars for a moment. When he was able to shake off the pain, she was already gone. Setting his jaw, he was about to follow her again anyway when he beheld a strange sight.

A New Adventurer Drops In

Having awakened, Kaid, Kudac and David stepped out of the TRAM STATION and got their bearings. The DOCKYARDS were busy. Automatons ran to and fro about their programmed business, hurrying to get the Peacock Island Shipping Company back on schedule. The robots didn’t seem to care about the trio of adventurers at all.

That’s when they heard singing from somewhere above them. Craning their necks, they covered their eyes and scanned the heavens. A fox-like figure was descending from the skies, singing a merry tune and she guided her parachute on its perilous descent. The parachute looked like it was patched together from materials that weren’t particularly suited for the task. High above the figure, a skyship sailed past the island. They thought thety could make out someone shouting, “And don’t come back!”

The parachutist landed with a flourish, disconnecting her parachute and somersaulting to break her fall and then springing to her feet. “Behold, I am Sionna the Bard!” she declared with a quick bow.  Sionna the Simic Hybrid Bard looked at them expectantly. 

The others looked at each other uncertainly and then back at her. Realizing they were almost the only living souls in the area besides the robots, they made a quick introductions. Afterward, they realized they wanted to head up the mountain after all, but they couldn’t figure out how to bring the TRAM back down. Nor did there seem to be anyone to ask. Remembering that the other adventurers had mentioned that the only other living soul in the DOCKYARDS inhabited the metal tower that stood five stories over everything and about two blocks to the south, they decided to make their way there in the hopes that he could tell them what to do.

Rogue Interview

The dramatic landing had also attracted the attention of Gnome Shanarock, who chose to introduce himself a bit differently. “How much money do you guys have?” he asked.

David politely asked his name. Kudac’s glare managed to intimidate the thief enough to make Shanarock decide that maybe he wouldn’t rob him immediately. Maybe second, but not first. Kaid’s threat to do him massive bodily harm if he even so much as looked at his coin made Shanarock adjust his assessment. Kaid would be last. Kudac would be next-to-last.

Since he joined them much against their better judgment, when they reached the tower,  decided to send Shanarock up. At first, the thief sought a bribe for his efforts, but Kaid managed to motivate him with a few choice threats to go up anyway.

When his dwarven boots first touched the metal walkways, Shanarock realized he needed to ditch the footwear. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to look where he tossed them when he pitched them over the rail to the ground.  They hit half of the party below. Kudac was so annoyed that he ate one of Shanarock’s offending boots.

At the top of the tower, he was accosted by a hooded figure. “What are you doing up here?” the other asked. His hand rested at ready on a switch.

“I don’t know,” the thief realized aloud. “They never told me why I needed to come up here.”

The tower sentry scoffed. “You don’t know why you’re here?”

Shanarock shrugged. “How much coin do you have?”

“You’re barefoot,” the sentry said. “Do you like my boots?” They were nice thick rubber boots.

“Those seem nice but I’d rather have your coin.” Shanarock said.

The sentry threw the switch. Shanarock felt pain as electricity coursed through his veins from the metal floor.

“I ask you again: why are you up here?” the sentry asked, disarming the electrical trap.

“Guys! What was I supposed to ask this guy?” Shanarock yelled.

They quickly told him about the TRAM.

The sentry scoffed. “You just pay the fair for a ticket and the TRAM will return eventually to take you up. You came to ask me that? Are you new?”

“Very new,” Shanarock said. “Just got in yesterday.”

“Of course!” the sentry said. “How silly of me? I should have realized. You’re one of Obscurus’ new servants. In that case, you don’t need a ticket at all. Just tell the robot at the desk that you’re one of the new servants and they’ll take you up.”

Shanarock thanked him and asked his name.

“Don’t worry about it,” the sentry said, pulling back his hood to reveal that he was a Cuervos. “I’m Nobody.”

Shanarock’s eyes widened with realization. He knew about the Cuervos from his travels. He also knew from the lore surrounding the recent doings in SMUGGLER SPEAK that a Cuervos who called himself Nobody or wouldn’t give his name was probably a member of the Cult of Nobody, the villains responsible for the curse of corruption that had nearly overthrown SMUGGLER SPEAK.

Seeing the change in his demanor, “Mr. Nobody asked, “Everything alright?”

“It’s just been a weird night,” he said.

“That so? Do you need to take a seat?” Nobody asked.

Shanarock stared at the proffered chair and wondered if it was a mimic in disguise. The Cuervos were overly fond of mimics. He shook his head. “i’m fine.”

“Good,” Nobody said. “Then you have 30 seconds to get off my tower.” He placed his hand on the electrical switch meaningfully.

Shanrock scurried down the ladders and walkways as fast as he could go, but he knew he wasn’t going to make it without getting another shock. On the third landing, he tried to tie arope to the railing but got fumbled up. Abandoning the effort, he tried to leap down to the next walkway level. Unfortunately, he overshot the landing and fell the entire three stories.

Bloodied and broken at the bottom of the tower, he managed to down both of the healing potions he’d been given at the ROSE COLISEUM and was able to restore himself back to health. He quickly let the others in on what he’d learned. Kaid gave him a coin for his efforts.

At the TRAM STATION, they dutifully informed the robot that they were part of the new servant staff. To their surprise, they were immediately surrounded by several large iron golem. Their dread grew when they were escorted away from the side of the STATION the previous party had used to go up the mountain. The TRAM on the other side of the STATION, the SERVANT’S TRAM, was an iron barred cage.

Feeling they had no choice but to  play along for now, they entered the cage.

The Mansion Party

The party who’d slept at the MOUNTAINTOP TRAM STATION awoke to find that Del Erenaeth, Oberon, and Zook Bafflestone were missing. While searching about to determine whether they’d left of their own volition or not, they noticed that fish bodies littered the mountaintop.

A few of them seemed to vaguely recall a strange noise in the middle of the night, a rumbling roar that reminded them of a waterfall, and wondered if the fish and the noise were connected. But almost immediately such ruminations had to be abandoned, for they heard strange cries and the sound of beating wings on the wind. Creatures that appeared to be a cross between a giant eagle and a sharp-toothed stag began approaching from the mountain aeries.

Kobolds in the Courtyard

The adventurers hurried to find an entrance to the MANSION. They had no time or means to scale the wall, so they were forced to use the main entrance.

The main gate featured two guard booths. Both were manned by small, reptilian creatures that the party almost instantly recognized as kobolds. It seemed odd to several of them that kobolds would be out in the early morning light, given their noted preference for darkness. These kobolds each bore a symbol on their armor: a dot with a circle around it, a symbol that looked very much like an eye and gave Acindor especial misgivings. Could these creatures be in league with B.O.B?

The kobold guards were belligerent and reluctant to let them enter, despite the growing threat of the fish-eating monsters flying toward all of them. Without warning, the gates opened, seemingly of their own accord. The adventurers took another quick look at the heavens and darted through.

The open air courtyard on the other side was covered in fish. The road led to a roundabout with a fountain at the center. The roundabout led to a BARN at right or the steps to the MANSION at the north. Unfortunately, the alarm had been sounded and kobolds surrounded themm in short order.

“Wait!” one of the kobolds said, holding up a clawed hand. “Could it be? Are these the ones Percivius saw as he scried yesterday, the heroes who fought off the Fearless?” He turned to Davroar. “Are you indeed Davroar Hollysword?” He glanced behind Davroar to the dwarf wizard. “And Meldor Ironforge the Firebringer? The Beast be praised! It is them indeed! Quickly, escort them within before those foul, fish-breathed perytons are upon us!”

Inside the MANSION LOBBY was dimly lit. The cat-like eyes of kobolds were evident everywhere. The place had been ransacked. Furniture and suits of armor had been knocked over and used to barricade a door to the north. Twin stairwells curved up to a balcony level, where a more sophisticated kobold sat atop a heap of yet more furniture. A large rug – or perhaps it was a tapestry – had been roughly slung over the main floor. The LOBBY was now clearly the kobold equivalent of a throne room. The chief kobold glared down at them with suspicious eyes. The party noted many archers with their bows trained upon them.

It took several moments for the particulars about their new guests to make their way to the kobold chief. When he was finally informed who his guests were he extended a clawed hand in their direction.

“We are honored by your visit to our humble domain, good heroes,” their chief intoned. “I am Nuldo the Unwise, foe of Wanjo, Scion of the 7th clutch of Purgatorius, he who survived the 5th Emanation of the Feast of Legumes Infame, the Truth of the Spork, thrall of the Ips–“

Another kobold burst into view. This one wore a powdered wig and a belted waistcoat.”Davroar Hollysword! I am Percivius, seer and bard of the Clutch of Purgatorius.” He turned to Chief Nuldo, who looked very annoyed to be interrupted. “Begging the pardon of my liege, but it is fate that has brought this hero to us. He must be celebrated. It is he who must be honored this day!”

“The song!” the kobolds chanted. Nuldo gave his leave with a bored wave of his claws.

Before the party could properly appreciate what was happening, Percivius burst into song.

The Vengeance of Davroar

Hark! Hear my story
I swear is true word
An uncommon champion
Davroar Hollysword

Barbarian orcs
Who called themselves Fearless
Set out to slay Davroar
Who just was not impressed

For this hero proud
All hail Moriarty
He stood without fear
And spoiled their party

His warriors brave
Nathan and Meldor
And also there were
Thril and Acindor

And nobody else
Twas these heroes four
Who standing by Davroar
The power restored

For this hero proud
All hail Moriarty
With comrades stood true
And spoiled their party

The Fearless’ Champion
A brute with two heads
With his mighty weapons
Killed Thril Wolfsbane dead

From two stories high
Davroar leapt insane
With a shout to his god
Cut the ettin in twain

For this Hero proud
All hail, Moriarty
Brought chaos and vengeance
And spoiled their party

And became
The Champion
     The mighty defender

The Hero of Shettebrek!
Of Shettebrek!
He is the Hero
Of Shettebrek!

Big thanks from Shettebrek!
From Shettebrek!
All hail Moriarty
For the Hero
Of Shettebrek!

The Way Up

Stunned by the sudden tribute, they could do little but nod and stare as Percivius explained that he had witnessed the battle with the Fearless while scrying. He was so smitten with their heroics, especially Davroar’s finishing stroke, that he immediately penned a ballad in the Cleric of Moriarty’s honor.

Chief  Nuldo insisted on knowing how he could help them with their present business. When Davroar mentioned Obscurus’ tower, he heard murmuring amongst the kobolds. “The tower of the stars.” Unfortunately, they were advised that the usual way through, through the DINING HALL, was barricaded on purpose. The kobolds refused to name the horror that prevented them from going further into the MANSION.

As Chief Nuldo spoke, Nathan Garney took note of a particular kobold who was making rounds amongst his kin. The Cleric of Everly’s eyes narrowed when he began to hear more than one kobold mutter reservations about the heroes they’d just celebrated. “They look strong,” he heard the instigating kobold say. “Many of us are going to die. Me not want to be one. do you?”

Before he could bring this matter to the attention of the others, the kobold chief seemed to come up with a solution. “There is another way,” he said. “The way up is down. Yes.”

“What does that mean?” Davroar asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow.

“All will become evident,” Nuldo said. “Come closer.”

As they cautiously approached, Acindor took special note of the large carpet in the center of the room. To his horror, he realized that the floor seemed to dip down in the center of the room. “Wait, guys,” he said, holding up a hand. To confirm his suspicions, he walked over to a suit of armor while keeping carefully off the rug. Before anyone could react, he picked up the armor, display stand and all and tossed it into the center of the carpet. The weight of the metal revealed the pit trap.

Even before the rug had been fully dragged into the hole by the armor’s weight, the adventurers had their hands on their weapons. “What’s going on here?” Davroar demanded. “That was a trap!”

“Yes,” Nuldo said, raising his hands in a calming gesture, “but no. This is the way down”

“Down where?”

“The cellar. From there you can find a way up that does not risk what walks the BALLROOM.”

The adventurers assembled around the edge of the pit, surveying the room below. They could see that it was big and that it indeed seemed to be a cellar. Even from this height they could see that it contained many shelves of food stuffs, kitchen stores and other items. As they tried to determine the best way down, the conspicuous kobold Nathan Garney had spied earlier whisper something to the kobolds behind them. “Let’s show these big heroes how its done.”

Before he could discern their intent, the kobold shouted, “Show no fear!” Chanting the phrase back, the other kobolds gave the adventurers a big shove!

The Cellar

None of the party was injured too badly by the fall, but neither were they as appreciative as the kobolds clearly thought they should be if their gormless grins were any indication. Thanking them anyway, the adventurers too a better look at the CELLAR from ground zero. They noticed that spell components and lab materials were mixed in with the food stores and kitchen equipment. Remembering his deal with Fizwick’s Fantasticals, Acindor picked up a stack of  parchments, after checking with Meldor to see if they were suitable.

Three pools of light showed the way to three exits. To the north was a tunnel carved into the CELLAR wall. It was illuminated by the soft glow of a torch a few feet beyond the entrance. Small reptilian footprints around the hole made it evident that this was the kobolds’ means of entering the MANSION.

Davroar cast detect magic and immediately noted pools of liquid identical to that which floated on the waters of the DOCKYARD WAREHOUSE. The mutagenic liquid was coming from barrels near the entrance to the KOBOLD TUNNEL. To his horror, he noted tracks on the floor that ran through the substance. They were small, probably belonging to a rat. As they veered through and then away from the barrels, the footprints grew larger and much more numerous as they made their way toward the exit to the east.

After he warned the others that the foul liquid was nearby and had likely created an abomination, they reasoned that Obscurus’ spell to create lesser abominations had evidently been used to create this new substance.

A door to the west was illuminated with a paler light. A quick peak through that door revealed a chamber lit with electric lights. The walls were lined with serving carts bearing platters, goblets, knives, and silverware. The walls themselves were carved with eyes and hexagons. A metal table surrounded by chairs dominated the center of the room. There was another door to the north. They noted that the center of the table bore a depression and a drain spout. Reasoning that this was a sacrificial feast table of some sort, they decided to use the CELLAR exit to the east.

Taking the door, they emerged into the sunlight. A ramp led up to the ground level. At the top of the ramp, they realized they were in an alley between the MANSION and the BARN.

Before they could decide on a course of action, the BARN doors opened and they were greeted by familiar faces.

The Servant’s Tram

In short order, the SERVANT’S TRAM began ascending the mountain. Kaid, Kudac, David, Sionna and Gnome Shanarock surveyed the dense forests and jagged mountain peaks on their way up to Obscurus’ MANSION.  To their dismay, the cage doors didn’t open at the top. Instead, iron golem placed the entire cage on the bed of a horseless carriage. The motor carriage took them to the entrance of the MANSION. Entering the COURTYARD, the carriage veered right toward the BARN.

The trapped adventurers noticed that their entrance had garnered the attention of a band of kobolds in the courtyard, many of whom began following them.

The BARN doors opened of their own accord and the carriage stopped within. As the BARN doors closed, the cage doors opened. There was no one to receive them. They could see several animal stalls, a ladder up to the loft and work station. There was no sign of a living soul and the only robots they saw were packed in crates stuffed with straw. The whole thing was curious.

Realizing that the kobolds outside probably didn’t intend anything good for them, they made their way to another large BARN door to the north.

Both parties of adventurers were surprised to meet the other on a small cobbled roadway outside between the MANSION and the BARN. The road lead to a wide area that might have once been used as an exercise yard for the barn animals; however, now it was dominated by a large tent that reminded them of a circus tent.

While most of the fish had been already eaten, they scanned the skies for more predators as they continued onward, feeling very exposed in the open air.

Next: The Vengeance of Davroar (Ballad)