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The Cabal of Eight II: Introduction

A cabal enemy the Checkered Knights
Symbol of the Checkered Knights

This campaign is the continuation of The Cabal of Eight. So, for those who did not read the first half, it takes place in the city of Ezmer at the tip of the Ezmerian headland extending into the Silverset Sea. This sphere is collectively named Ezmeria. All characters are mages and involved in a secret cabal with the mission of enriching members and gaining influence.

The Player Characters are Fauna a Druid played by Jenn, Szoosha a Black-Scale Naga fire elementalist and high-strung paranoiac played by Isis, and Excor a Mage played by Cris. Fauna is a young Southlander woman, dark-skinned, red-haired with violet eyes, and a demonstrable tendency towards hotheadedness. Excor is a young Ivoran mage but still dresses and tries to speak as a Westlander. Although he has a tendency to being a schemer and gambler, he has found the rat fights are magnetic more so than any gaming table. Above all, his secret of being of noble blood remains unknown to Fauna and Szoo.

Nearly a full month and a week and a half have passed since our fine adventurers had last had an adventure. The story thus far is Captain Nelig, the captain of the gate guard has finished his lessons in training Fauna horsemanship, Virtra Wefa and her man-servant have since drank poison in lieu of execution, and Xanto the Wasp and his pupil, Ilna of Nezorik aka Bumble, have made themselves scarce as a result of their shady actions.

In addition, Belrae the cabal “leader” and Riahm, his right hand, have become somewhat secretive with the other cabal members and have seemingly struck up some sort of business relationship with Draega Skullshine, the publican of the Red Helm Tavern and all around shady person. The Bronze Heads as well have been keeping an obvious eye on our heroes whenever they wander the Eastern District and Old Town. The gang has been deliberately obvious but has otherwise left the adventuring mages alone.

On a positive note, Jirek the secretary of the cabal maintains his friendship with our heroes and Paej, Szoo’s primary contact in the city, has managed to purchase her own ship. Apparently, she used her life savings being a successful and avid gambler as well as saloon bum. The ship is named the Angry Sea-Lion and is an 8-oar Feren Merchant with a triple rig of a Thrahssk’ Tradesman (Arvan pg.103) and an artemon foresail with a small rear cabin.

Helpful map for a wagon trip
Ezmeria

Rat fight season, winter, is 3 months away though the weekly exhibitions continue under the wall with Excor and Szoo occasionally entering a “good candidate” from their stable and watching and betting more often. So far, no real progress on the rat-fighting front. Both PCs are however looking forward to full on fighting season.

Gornix the salt lotus wizard (played by Gil) was understandably AWOL since the Black Knight (aka the White Swan, Sir Illin) was still seeking his blood. None of the cabal members has seen much less heard from him in about a month. Although Excor has seen a courier, a foreigner of Ivoran extraction, with the same salt lotus imagery on his cloak asking about town for his missing friend.

However, rumors have it that the Black Swan, the white knight (Sir Illjin), and the brotherhood of knights that they lead, the Checkered Knights, had gotten into a scrap after setting up a sting on an assassin named Ssthriss when he made an attempt to kill the head of the Gold Sashes (political party). They pursued him into the area around the Rum Palace where he evaded them. The Black Knight decided to stay and keep the heat on the assassin as well as Gornix. The white knight and his men have left Ezmer sailing north after receiving word that a Creschan ship has sailed carrying a secret weapon back called Creschan Fire back to friendly territory.

With naga bar marked
Straight from the GM notebook; Map of the City of Ezmer

Fauna, Excor, and Szoosha found themselves stumbling home from an ale-soaked dinner at the Red Helm down a narrow alley headed home. Hence, they were about half the distance home when Fauna and Excor noticed a beggar in a grey cloak following them. He ducked into a side alley as soon as they turned around. Immediately Szoo whipped around and charged in the man’s direction…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.9: Imp Attack!

Szoo (played by Isis), Gornix (played by Gil), led by Excor (played by Cris) left the Red Helm after Impbreakfast and ‘swooped’ by the Grove to ‘scoop up’ the druidess Fauna (played by Jenn). They were on their way to see Afsik the strange the antiquarian at his shop in the Harbor District.

Szoo, Gornix, and Fauna related the previous night’s shenanigans to Excor. Bumble was fine the stun bolt to the head had just knocked her out. They had ‘confiscated’ the book ‘for her safety’. Excor couldn’t wait to ‘dig through that book’ when he got the chance.

Excor: “Vordan‘s tome huh?” Cris scratched the name into his notebook.

It was not long before they were walking into the tiny shop stuffed with every kind of knickknack, odd-and-end, and curious object. All of it was obviously very old and most was not very well cared for. Some however, did appear to be some sort of plunder. All was covered in dust, cobwebs, and all the iron was rusty and the bronze covered in verdigris.

The dark shop was damp and smelled strongly of a salty must that collects in derelict buildings close to the sea. A sudden disembodied exclamation from the piles of junk surprised the young mages, “What’re ya here for?”

Excor: “Belrae sent us; we were told there’s a job here?”

Afsik: “Oh yeah. Ya look like mages, yes. Okay. Sure you don’t wanna buy nuthin’, no? No. Okay, well then…”

They heard a couple of unseen objects fall to the floor. Glimpses of the shadowy figure of a rat leapt back and forth through the tangle of junk. A ratling, landed with a light thud on top of an old trunk before them. His light brown fur tinged with white especially that on his face. He was also a bit more rotund than most other ratlings that they had heretofore seen.

Afsik: “I do have some work. It is dangerous and requires you to go below the city to the sewers.”

Excor: “What does it pay?”

Afsik: “500 gold pieces each. I’ll pay half upfront. Yes?”

Excor (looking back at the rest): “Sounds good to me.”

They had accepted Afsik’s job, they were to seek out something called the “Dungeon Heart”, a red gem that shone with white light, and bring it back to the ratling antiquarian. They were to contact the Underlings, a ratling gang with control of the Ezmer sewers who would guide them to its location. Their Underling contact was one named ‘Dusk’. They were going to have to go to the rat fights held under the Ruined Wall in the demesne of the Bronzeheads to meet the ratlings.

They decided to seek out Gornix’s contact, Doubab of the Pesters’ Guild. The guild was a frequent participant in the rat fights that occurred every other week under the old wall. As the group left the small, dusty shop the tall figure of a young woman jogged towards them from the east. It was Athfonia (played by Perla). She had been sleeping on the beach near the lumber mill essentially ‘bumming it’ around the Harbor District of Ezmer.

So Gornix, Excor, Fauna, Szoo, and Athfonia together at last, began their long walk to the Pesters’ Guild House to see Doubab, Excor’s contact. Hopefully he could guide them to the rat fights helping to avoid any potential fatal pitfalls.

They wended their way along the foot of the beach cliff that stood between the Harbor District and the city proper. They walked up the ramp towards and then through the Four Gate Tower at the top along with an increasing flow of foot and light wagon traffic. Their path took them along the Outer Rung, a wide avenue that ran straight over the face of the Slavers’ Quarter. One side of the wide street lined with pens, pits and slave-marts, the other, shops and other common places of business.

They continued through the increasing press of traffic until they reached a public fountain that lay along their road. They turned off into the small circular paved plaza that surrounded it to refresh themselves. The plaza was mildly crowded with several folks sitting along the high stone curbing of the massive fountain. Some were dipping their buckets or jacks others were wetting rags and wiping themselves down.

A short distance across from the fountain some carriages had stopped in front of a large multistory shop of some sort. Painted on the sides of three of these carriages was an orange escutcheon bearing a barrel and a grain sack as charges with oak leaves and an acorn at helm. A family motto scrawled in Hyvalian characters along the bottom. The young mages saw a man in his late forties with a cruel expression stamped deep into his sunbaked features make his way to the central carriage dressed in finery of the most current fashion. Several armed footmen also in fine threads and arming doublets the orange shield emblazoned on their chests accompanied him.

Gornix: “Wow. Who is this guy?”

Excor: “According to the motto, the family Nezorik?”

Fauna: “Why does that sound familiar?”

As they gawked, a sturdy but short girl dressed in a fine silk and lace gown followed her elder. The girl turned and seeming to recognize them shouted “Hey Guys” and proceeded to jog clumsily to them waving her arm as if they couldn’t already see her. She tripped a few times but the pair of footmen accompanying her were able to prevent her from eating the age-worn paving.

The Players (pretty much all at once): “Bumble!?”

Of course, she was wondering what they were up to and was begging to come along. Excor was extra charming as he chatted her up finding out the older gentleman was her father. Baerox was his name. They were there to bid at one of the slave-marts. However, that ‘was sooo boring’.

Bumble: “Father wants a real fighter. He wants to get into the games.”

The group eventually decided to take her along. Of course, they had to allow her footmen to accompany them due to her father’s distant orders. Bumble had one of her footmen act as the back and forth messenger. They were on their way again just before high noon.

As they continued, Bumble and her men began to lag behind, the footmen duty bound to keep pace with Ilna. They had just made it about a block past the city offices and turned onto a narrow street that took them into the East District.

Isis (Szoo’s player; looking at the group copy of the city map): “You can sure tell this is the POOR district!”

Suddenly Bumble screamed and her guards shouted as they surrounded her. There were four red bat-winged imps snatching with their horny claws at bumble’s dress.

Fauna: “CRAP! I gave her the BEE back!”

Jenn: “She didn’t give it back to her father?”

The GM (me): “Apparently not.”

Fauna cast Wind Rush sending the nearest imp careening into Bumble knocking her to the ground and the imp out. Imp number four reared and blew its fiery breath at the young mages. Szoosha making a simultaneous attack diverted the flames with his elemental power. Excor pulled his copper spike, a level one rod of Lightning Bolts, from under his robes and blasted the grounded imp hurting it. Athfonia cast Throw Flames but to no effect. The imps were fire imps. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile at the grounded imp hurting it badly. Imp number two burst into flames and clawed at Gornix narrowly missing. Number three also burst into flames and raked Excor with its claws wounding him.

Bumble’s footmen had already dragged her from the fray and were running away as fast as they could whilst dragging their burden. Imp number four cast a curse in Gornix’s direction but he was able to resist. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor on Excor. The flames engulfed his body before hardening into a glowing glass-like material. He was wounded more than he had at first realized. Gornix attempted to cast Chrono-Missile yet again but the magic went out of his control. The resulting explosion blasted them horribly injuring all and killing Imp number four. The hideous hoof-footed creature screamed as it disappeared in a puff of flame and fetid sulfurous smoke.

Fauna, Szoo, and Athfonia were stunned by the blast (making Recovery checks to keep from dying). Gornix moved to Fauna and cast Close Wounds. Imp number one came to; he had completely avoided the magic explosion by a razor thin margin, and snatched something up as he snickered maniacally. Excor tried to blast number one with his spike but the creature was completely unharmed. The remaining two other imps leapt up from the ground to which they had been thrown. Gornix let loose more chrono-missiles at number one but did no damage. So Szoo summoned up his fire naginata and stabbed number one killing it instantly. As a result, Gornix jumped to where it had been laying and snatched up the gold bee trapped in amber stuffing it in his robes.

Gornix then cast Ghost Form on himself. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor on Fauna to protect her. Fauna tried to cast Lightning Bolt at number three but the magic got out of her control and instead healed the creature slightly. Athfonia applied her Heal Other spell to Szoo. Number three surged at the black scaled Naga and scratched him. Number two followed suit and also scratched Szoo with its claws. Excor leveled his copper spike at Number two and blasted it away back to whatever fiery hell it came from. Gornix unleashed a Lightning Bolt at the last remaining imp blasting away most of the flesh from its chest. Immediately Szoo slashed at the creature cutting it. The little monster backed off and disappeared in a puff of acrid yellow smoke. Finally, Gornix cast Close Wounds on himself.

Afterwards they assessed the situation and finding the battle done decided to carry on. Bumble and her footmen were long gone.

Fauna: “Aww man. We got the BEE again.”

Excor: “We better keep it. Something wants it bad so it’s some weird artifact or something.”

Szoo: “Those things were tough!”

Excor: “Yeah, whatever summoned ‘em is probably tougher!”

Fauna: “Well, here YOU take it.”

Excor: “What are you kidding!? I don’t want that THING!”

They double timed it to the guild house and were soon playing a game of door tag with the unseen doorman through a shudder-slit in a heavy oak and iron door.

Isis: “Y’know I don’t think we’re in the MOOD for THIS!”

To Be Continued…