The Cabal of Eight Pt.14: The Under-City Vaults Pt.4

They stood around the smoking wreckage of the animated bronze brazier. The accursed thing had Lesser Chimerablasted them with fire missiles and slammed its metal body against them like a bludgeon. Athfonia (Played by Perla) had taken up the large flanged bronze mace (see Cabal of Eight Pt.12: The Under-City Vaults Pt.2). Fauna (Played by Jenn) and Excor (Played by Cris) had leveled lightning bolts at it but it was finally blasted to bits by Gornix’s (Played by Gil) Chrono-Missiles.  Standing around the ruined construct they realized that they all were “out of spells” and badly hurt. They needed to rest.

They contemplated the wall of force that filled the green arch in the chamber’s west wall. It was all that separated them from their quarry. A dark set of steps that angled down through the doorway in the north but they “weren’t ready for that yet”. The Dungeon Heart’s proximity was wearing on them. They considered a Mini-Portal but realized that even if the spell worked the gem was still too far away. In addition, both Excor and Gornix, the only two left with the ability to cast any spells in that vein, had already spent almost all of their K.O. points to continue casting spells beyond their limits.

Cris: “Man. If I cast another spell I’m down!”

Gil (disappointedly): “Yeah, me too.”

After quite some time they decided to go back to the chamber with the heavy table where the books on it had attacked them (see Cabal of Eight Pt.13: The Under-City Vaults Pt.3)(R12 on the map). They were going to barricade the north passage in that room using the heavy table within.

After backtracking and barricading themselves in, they set down their bedrolls and Fauna applied healing salves to both Excor and Gornix to speed healing. Athfonia used her last few spells to cast Heal Other on Fauna, Excor, and Gornix. They took watch in shifts and slept. Surprisingly they got a peaceful full ‘night’s’ rest. They choked down some trail rations, moved the heavy table aside, and continued north to the dark staircase with renewed vigor.

Fortunately, Gornix was able to discern, by jabbing it with his staff, that the first step was hinged and would give way if more than around 10 lbs. of pressure were applied to it. They continued with Gornix in the lead. He tapped every step so they proceeded somewhat slowly down the first flight. Then arriving on a landing they proceeded by the same method down the next short flight down heading east. Just before he stepped into the chamber before him, Gornix smelled the strong scent of concentrated sewer gas.

Szoosha (pushing past Gornix): “I got this!”

The naga threw flames into the chamber setting the air alight. They could hear the hiss-thump of the fire evacuating into a larger chamber beyond.

The newly singed chamber was barren with a domed ceiling where traces of paint could still be seen. The air was heavy and damp tinged with the stench of sewer water and sea brine. An empty niche lay to the east and a passage lay open to the north. The smooth stone walls were covered in perspiration and exhibited a high water mark at the waist.

They took the north passage finding themselves moving into a large cavern where the southern walls were roughly hewn as was the doorway that exited into it. On either side of the doorway were empty torch sconces still burning with illusory torchlight lending an eerie atmosphere to the natural cavern. The entire north part of the cavern sunk into water, a brackish impenetrable green and pungent mix of seawater and sewage. Before that, a trash strewn gravel beach. Across the water to the far west, they could see torchlight through a doorway atop a stone platform just above the water line.

Gornix decided to “scout out” the shoreline to try detecting any threats. Athfonia figured it a good idea to follow him. A soon as he got close to the water a large lump of blue-green slime slopped out of the water and tried to engulf him.

Athfonia, still wielding the bronze mace, struck the gelatinous thing with some effect. The creature shot out a tentacle at Athfonia but it fortunately missed. Gornix cast chrono-missile at it dealing some damage and then quickened a Ghost Form spell to protect himself. Fauna cast a lightning bolt at it dealing a little damage and Excor hit it with a bolt from his copper spike but it dealt no damage. The creature again tried to engulf Gornix but passed right through his incorporeal form. Gornix then leveled a chrono-missile at it and a lightning bolt dealing a bit of damage to it.

The sea-slime tried to engulf Athfonia but the amazon nimbly dodged it. Excor hit it with another bolt from his spike this time dealing some damage to it and Gornix finished it with another Chrono-missile. Afterwards as the slime melted into the gravel, they realized some of them would be swimming from this point over to the landing.

Gornix: “So. Who goes first?”

Szoo volunteered to swim himself and Fauna (who couldn’t swim) to the landing. He transformed into a large sea turtle, fauna put her cloak into his beak, and they were off. The others watched as they disappeared under the dirty water. It was a little while until they realized the druidess and black-scale naga were in trouble as they failed to surface.

Under the dark waters, a strong current had snatched a hold of the sea turtle and was dragging him straight down into an unknown abyss. The current might pull them out into the ocean somewhere near the harbor or it could drag them down into a deep complex of sea caves where the daylight has never and will never shine. Suddenly, Szoo felt a strong grip on his shell. He and his passenger were pulled up until they finally broke the water’s surface.

Athfonia had dove into the drink and miraculously blindly grabbed (Perla rolled a Natural 20) a hold of the sea turtle and was able to swim them to the platform. Gornix and Excor had already flown over each using the Nature’s Ability spell.

Fauna decided to lead, in part to get the furthest away from the water, and began using her staff to tap her way up the steps into flickering firelight. The steps went up and the passage bent at a landing lit with magic firelight that danced just above empty iron torch sconces. They continued around the bend arriving in an unlighted and barren chamber approximately 10 foot by 15. The painted plaster disintegrated off onto the floor from the sweaty and water-stained walls. There was only a single passage open to the south.

After Gornix searched for hidden compartments and secret doors (he found nothing), he decided to take lead. They moved into the next chamber via a short passageway. Gornix cautiously entered followed by each of the others except Excor. The young mages gathered into a group at the western end of the room leaving Excor in the hallway.

The rusted iron candle sconces around the top edge of the walls burst to light with flickering magic flames that were obviously illusory. The candle flames burned sans any candles and flickered within dense tangles of spider webs without ever setting them alight.

The chamber was startlingly dry with the floor covered in a thick layer of gray dust and cobwebs wafting and dangling from every surface. Above there was a 12 foot high vaulted ceiling and a thick round stone pillar at the west and east ends. Empty niches lined the walls each tall enough for an adult human. At the center of the room sat a large statue similar to another one they had already left behind in the other part of the dungeon. It too appeared as a crouching lion with a scorpion’s tail. However, it was larger and covered in layers of dust and cobwebs so that they couldn’t even determine from what material it had been made. On the floor around it was inscribed a magic circle glowing with uncanny blue light. Beyond that in the east wall was an archway that led into yet another chamber.

Excor curious at the mention of a magic circle moved into the room and identified the spell at a distance. Some sort of suspended animation spell. He was sure it was currently active. Therefore, desperate to check for secret compartments at the other end of the room Gornix circumnavigated the magic circle.

The others began to follow with Excor at the rear. The eerie blue light from the magic circle went out. Suddenly, the room exploded with dust blinding Excor and Gornix. The creature that stood at the center of the room appeared as an ultra-red lion but with a scorpion’s tail and a similarly armored back. Its bulging eyes burned green like fiendish emeralds each as big as a fist. The magic circle had been holding a minor chimera in suspended animation. Their trespass had awakened the guardian creature.

Fauna paralyzed and speechless with fear found her inner strength and shook it off. Excor splashed his face with his water-skin to wash out his eyes. Athfonia immediately cast Lightning Bolt at the monster singing its blood red hair black. Gornix stumbling blindly backward away from the creature splashed water from his water-skin into his eyes. Szoosha took no action, as he stood there terrified in the face of the beast. The chimera jabbed Athfonia with its tail stinger wounding and poisoning her.

Fauna swung at the creature with her staff but it bounced harmlessly from its weird hide. Gornix cast neutralize poison on Athfonia. Szoosha also found his inner strength and shook off the horror pulling his superior quality dagger. The monster raked Athfonia with its black claws tearing open a nasty and bloody wound in her side. This forced the Ferenoi to make a recovery check to prevent death. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile wounding it. The chimera snapped its powerful jaws at Fauna whom parried the bite with her staff (barely).

Fauna cast Lighting Bolt on the monster but it resisted the effects of the spell. Szoo slashed at the monster with his dagger notching its hide. Excor shot an electrical bolt from his copper spike but the creature resisted that spell as well. The monster’s deadly tail struck Szoo in the chest. The naga was able to resist the primary effects of its venom. Gornix summoned three medium sized earth elementals their stone bodies rising from the floor as if from smoke. They instantly snatched the beast in their stony grip. The young mages essentially beat it to death after with their staffs.

With the beast dead Gornix immediately ordered his elementals through the archway and into the eastern chamber from which they could see the glare of a familiar glow. The white light of the Dungeon Heart. Meanwhile Excor tried but failed to sever the scorpion tail from the chimera. He was distracted from his work when in the other chamber one of the elementals fell into a trap door at the center of the room.

Gil: “But the other two are fine right?”

Seeing that the other two of his elementals hadn’t triggered any traps. Gornix guided the rest of the young mages into the eastern chamber careful to take the same path.

They moved carefully into the next chamber. It was decked out in all white marble tiling. The only features of note being an empty niche in the north wall and a familiar green marble archway in the south. Through this green archway they could see their prize glittering in the green cell. Fauna used her staff to check to see if yet another Wall of Force would block their progress.

Fauna (stirring the air): “It’s CLEAR!”

To Be Continued…


The Cabal of Eight Pt.13: The Under-City Vaults Pt.3

Athfonia (played by Perla) lunged with her spear at the monster but missed. Excor (played by Cris), The vault map with each doorwhom was only about 5 feet from it, cast Spook. Fortunately the spell took hold and the creature was loath to approach much less attack him. Fauna (played by Jenn) tried to cast Sleep on the serpent but it was of no use. Gornix (played by Gil) cast Invisible to Sight on himself. Szoosha (played by Isis) summoned forth his flaming naginata and struck the serpentine creature wounding it. The serpent monster swung the spiked mace enwrapped in one of its 3 tails. Gornix parried the blow easily.

Surprised as to the ineffectiveness of his invisibility spell, Gornix drew his short-sword then cast Brighten Blade on it. Szoosha swung his flaming weapon at the monster but it parried the burning blade with its mace. The black scaled naga then took a few steps back to try to get beyond the serpent’s reach. The monster struck at Gornix with its fangs but it missed.

The young wizard replied with his gleaming sword but also missed. Then the creature struck at Szoo with its venomous fangs and sank its teeth deep into the naga’s flesh. Its poison weakened Szoo and made even the slightest movement agony. It then swung the club in another of its tails at Fauna who parried it with her dagger. It then struck at her trying to poison her as well. Fortunately for Fauna it missed.

Its third tail cracked at Athfonia like a bullwhip but the amazon knocked it aside with her spear.

The creature bit Gornix. Excor meanwhile cast Neutralize Poison on Szoo. Fauna tried to cast Throw Fire at the beast but the spell fizzled. Gornix struck despite the venom coursing through his veins hacking a bloody wound into its side. The young mage seemed unaffected by the poison (he had natural 20’d the save). Athfonia cast Neutralize Poison on Fauna. Szoosha stabbed the snake-monster wounding it again. No longer affected by Excor’s Spook spell, the monster swung its mace at him. It missed. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile at the creature injuring it. He then quickened another round of chrono-missiles blasting the man-sized snake to bits.

The strange three-tailed snake-thing and its weapons disappeared in a flash of magic light. This was when Fauna realized that she hadn’t recovered her staff. She never picked it back up after fumbling it in the fight with the spiders (see Pt.11: The Under-City Vaults Pt.1).  So she backtracked it to the gallery with Szoo in tow easily finding her weapon in a wall niche tangled in cobwebs and insect husks.

Gornix cautiously moved down the short hallway to the west to peer into the chamber to its south. The room was decked out entirely in polished white marble tiles with an archway in its south wall that presumably exited into a short hallway on the other side. Against the west wall however was a statue.

The statue was of an ancient and stern-faced aged wizard balancing on his staff and though it was just painted marble it had a life-like semblance. Tipping the black lacquered staff in its right hand was a sparkling red gem possibly a ruby. The statue’s left arm was out stretched with his left thumb pointed to the floor.

Gornix and Excor debated as to whether or not the gem or even the staff might be worth the risk of an obvious trap. While they did this Athfonia unilaterally decided to march in there and snatch the gem herself. Needless to say as soon as she got to the center of the room about 5 ft. from Gornix the floor dropped open. Beneath the surprised Ferenoi was a deep pit filled with a pungent mixture of salty seawater and wretched sewer wash. Just above the putrid brine protruded the tips of corroded and rusted iron spikes. Her quick reflexes allowed her to gain a fleeting grip with her fingertips on the edge. Gornix immediately jumped forward and grabbed her wrists helping her up from the foul mouth of the pit.

They decided the room and its potential treasures weren’t worth the risk. The majority of the group was puzzled as to how to bypass the trapdoor room when Excor simply pushed the closed bronze riddle-door open.

Excor: “It only locks from the other side man! Ha ha ha!”

It was then the druid and the naga rejoined the group.

The group backtracked through the room with the ruined bronze armor into the hall to the east of that chamber. They moved through a small square chamber (room 12 on the map) with cobwebs adorning its ceiling and dirt strewn across its floor. Continuing east they moved into a larger chamber (room 13).

As soon as Gornix, who was leading the group now, stepped across the threshold the chamber was magically lit. The chamber was fairly clean with only a marble tile floor, empty niches in the north and south wall, and an open passage continuing east. Dominating the center of the room was a large superior quality red coral statue of a roaring lion with a scorpion’s tail. In each of its eyes was set sparkling emeralds each as big as a fist.

Excor immediately tried to pry out the left eye with his dagger but found he was simply too weak to do so. Fauna was trying at the right but she too wasn’t strong enough. Pushing them both out of the way Athfonia pulling out her dagger gave a try to each but also failed.

Meanwhile Gornix looked into the eastern chamber and saw that this chamber was torchlit with an illusion from the torch sconces so that the long disintegrated tapestry and portrait frame still cast shadows on the walls. There was an open archway to the north. At the center of the room sat a superior quality carved oak table with a high backed chair behind it. Atop the table were set four thick heavy bound books.

Fauna failed twice more to pry the emeralds from the red lion’s eyes. Gornix meanwhile tempted by the massive tomes on the table moved into the eastern chamber keeping his eyes open for any obvious traps.

Gornix: “I’m staying alert and walk in but I don’t touch the books!”

Cris (to me, the GM): “Books huh? I follow Gornix!”

Fauna, taking prying at least one gem as a challenge, forced her dagger point into a near non-existent seam between the gem and the red coral. Athfonia backed away cautiously and silently, careful to leave at least 5 feet between her and Fauna. Eventually Fauna, nearly breaking her dagger, broke the right emerald free. The cold gem plopped into her palm and she was struck in the face with poisonous powder.

Fortunately the druidess suffered only some stiffness in her joints and muscles being able to resist the meaner effects of the toxin. Meanwhile in the eastern chamber Excor upon seeing the tomes on the table immediately snatched at the closest one.

Gil (face palming): “You could not resist could you?!”

Cris: “Hey man! We’re wizards! Those’re books! So sue me! Am I right!?”

Athfonia and Fauna stumbled into the room the moment Excor put his hand on a book. Seeing all of the books beginning to stir Athfonia cast a spell.

The Ferenoi cast Throw Flames at the stack of books but the fiery ray missed. Fauna also cast Throw Flames scorching the first book as it took flight. All four books took flight in the air and flapping their covers much like wings sprayed the group with pages and shards of paper as sharp as razors. Excor took some minor damage but the wounds began bleeding uncontrollably. Athfonia managed to avoid the storm of leaves. Two of the books peppered Gornix. He also took some slashes from the enchanted paper and began to gush blood all over the dusty floor.

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile blasting the second book to ashes. Szoosha readied in case anything would emerge from the north archway. The first book slammed into Excor bruising him somewhat. A third flew at Athfonia but missed her by a hair. The fourth flew at Gornix barely missing him. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile two more times each time blasting a flying book to pieces. Using his spell-slinger feat Gornix cast a final Chrono-Missile eliminating the final book.

With the immediate threat vanquished Excor tried to perform first aid to stop Gornix’s bleeding but failed. As Gornix saw that he was bleeding out fast he grudgingly cast Close Wounds on himself instantly stopping the blood.

Gil (in response to Jenn): “You know I’m just trying to preserve some spells for the rest of the dungeon.”

Gornix then cast a couple more Close Wound spells on himself as he realized how bad his wounds really were. Gornix then led them under the north archway into a short hallway that ran west for ten feet into another chamber similar in size to the previous (room 15). Again the chamber lit up magically as he stepped into it.

In a niche in the northern wall stood a bronze-wood statue of an Arborean with its hands outstretched and cupped together but with the fingers spread apart. It posed as if pleading for something. Opposite the statue was a marble font with fresh clean water in it that stood in a niche. On the edge of the font was a plain bronze goblet. At the foot of the font was a bucket of loose soil. To the west was a solid bronze door with the same strangely-stern face in relief at its center.

This face however had a right eye of brown agate and the left of sapphire. Just above the face and its jeweled eyes was inscribed the words:

I open for those that feed the beggar.

All but Fauna were puzzled. She took the goblet scooped up the water, poured it in the bucket of soil, and scooped up the mud dumping it into the hands of the statue. The door opened.

Excor immediately went to pry the sapphire from the door but failed. He got Athfonia to do his dirty work and she easily popped the sapphire from its fitting. Surprisingly, this did not trigger a trap. Excor gazed into the next room.

He saw that the room was magically lit with no apparent source and its ceiling, walls, and floor were of polished white marble. At rooms center stood a bronze brazier burning with orange flames. Around its sides were the reliefs of roaring lion heads in all eight directions of the compass. It also had four tall jointed legs that ended in leonine paws. In the south wall was an empty niche. To the north were stone steps through an archway that sank down into darkness. From that passage a pungent and damp breeze blew. To the west however was an archway of familiar green stone. Through it he could see the Dungeon Heart Shinning in its green chamber.

Excor (exhaling in relief): “Okay! I think this is it!”

Before he entered Excor tried to sense if there was any magic emanating from the brazier but his wizard’s sense failed him. He then tried to disbelieve the brazier believing it an illusion. It was real. Gornix in turn tried to sense magic on it and also failed. Feeling a bit impatient Excor just walked in. As nothing happened to him Gornix followed.

While the rest of the group shuffled carefully into the room Gornix cautiously felt out the Wall of Force filling this green arch as well. He looked into the Dungeon Heart’s cell.

Gornix: “There’s another archway we haven’t been to. In the… North.”

As soon as Szoosha, the last in line, slithered across the threshold the orange flames of the lion brazier blazed, its leg joints squealed, and it sprang to life.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.12: The Under-City Vaults Pt.2

Szoosha the black scaled Naga (played by Isis) continued to lead the group into a smaller chamber The vault map with each dooradjacent to the spider-gallery they had just survived. He burned away the cobwebs that choked this room as well to reveal a roughly 10 x 10 room, barren with a floor strewn with dirt. To the north was another stone staircase winding down.

The naga continued carefully down the steps and around a corner to come to a short hallway which turned west sharply just ahead. Excor (played by Cris) put his lit torch in the iron torch-loop set into the wall at the bottom of the steps before lighting another. There were spider webs covering the ceiling. Szoo set them on fire and after the flash fire a couple of hand sized spiders, burnt crispy, dropped to the floor.

Excor: “HEY! Let us know when you’re gonna do something like THAT!”

Shrugging, Szoosha continued ahead while the rest of the group tried to organize themselves. He saw an open archway to the north from which he could see a constant white light shining from beyond the chamber through it. He could also make out the backlit and squatting form at the center of the room ahead. As that did not move he looked to the west and saw a closed solid bronze door bearing the same strange face in relief at its center. This time the face had two opal eyes.

Having come to a fork in the road the group of young mages debated as to which way to go. The form that Szoo first saw in the other chamber was a kneeling behemoth of bronze plate-mail with a large spiked mace in one gauntlet and a standard flanged mace in the other. The mass of bronze was on one knee and was lacking a head. In place of the neck was a gaping hole rimmed with corrosion that also opened partway onto the chest.

Excor: “If we go that way that thing will get up and KILL us! It’s some kind of construct or golem or something weird. Our magic might not do anything to it!”

Gornix (played by Gil): “How do you know?”

Excor: “Because I do! I know!”

In a similar fashion, they discussed the bronze door to the west, whether to open it and/or pry loose the gems. In turns, they checked the door and trying to sense magic on it. None could get a solid read on it other than it lacked a lock. So they continued arguing about what to do for about a half an hour. Eventually a frustrated Szoo simply opened the door.

Behind the bronze door was a 5 x 5 closet with a shelved alcove in each of its three walls stocked with various vials, jars and bottles. Each sealed with a preservation spell in wax. They found a jar of Mandrake Root, a jar of 6 Blue Lotus Seeds, a jar of 3 Grey Lotus Seeds, a jar of Purple Lotus Seeds, a jar of 8 Mantrap Seeds, a packet of 3 Dragon Teeth, and 4 potions of Healing.

Finding that they had only one way left to go and perhaps emboldened by the extra healing juice they continued north. The chamber before them was about 15 feet by 15 feet with a thick round stone support pillar in each corner. To the west in this room was another bronze door with the same face save the glittering ruby eyes. In the east lay an open but dark passageway. To the north was an archway from behind which a brilliant light source blazed into their eyes. The source, a large blood-red ruby on a white marble pedestal.

Szoosha began to move past the squatting armor towards the brilliant archway. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he caught some movement from within the neck hollow. He leapt to the side. The thing that burbled and oozed from the corroded hollow appeared as a semi-gelatinous blob of blood red slime with several dark patches over it akin to scabs. It was a Red Ichor, a type of slime monster (see MMII).

Athfonia (played by Perla) readied her spear to jab at it if got close to her. Excor shot a bolt of lightning at it with the copper spike to some effect. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile dealing some damage to the strange creature. Fauna (played by Jenn) moved past the squatting armor hoping to be out of the ooze’s path. Szoo threw a blast of fire at it reducing it to a crystalized heap of granules.

Afterward, Excor looted the solid bronze maces with Szoo volunteering to carry one in his pack. Fauna wandered over to the archway. She saw runes carved into the greenish stone all around the edges. After a group-inspection they worked out a constant Wall of Force with no apparent way through filled the archway.

Through the impassible archway they could see their prize, the so-called Dungeon Heart only a few feet away. The chamber where the treasure rested was diamond shaped. Its floor, walls, and domed ceiling were constructed of a polished green marble. There were other archways possibly leading into it to the north, east, and south but in between these were large bronze reliefs of the same face with open, gaping mouths.

After some belly-aching, the group decided to inspect the bronze door in the west wall leaving the dark passage for another time. The door was the same as the previous doors save for the ruby eyes. It also visibly lacked any locking mechanisms but shut tight. It also seemed warded against any kind of magical attempts to see through it or “ghosting”. However, there was a riddle inscribed on it in Ivoran:

I consume all that I touch, without a mouth I roar, by my black touch only I may open this door.

Szoo solved it immediately and conjured some fire, touched the flame to the door, and it opened just as quickly. Szoo slithered into the dark room beyond. It instantly lit up with a magical light its source not readily apparent. The chamber walls, floor, and ceiling were covered in polished white marble tile. An empty wall niche laid to the south, to the north another bronze door, and in the west a narrow short hallway continued west with empty niches and an archway opening north lay at its end.

They inspected the bronze door recessed into the center north wall. It was solid bronze with the relief of the same face though this time with sapphire eyes. In addition, this door was also shut tight with no apparent locking mechanism. The riddle inscribed on it read thusly:

A proper guest knows how to open me.

So Gornix tried to talk to the door receiving no response. Excor used his Social Aptitude skill but to no avail. They stood there for a while trying to figure out the riddle. Still perplexed Gornix then tried to charm the door open. They were truly stumped this time.

The players sat there for a while scratching their heads until Cris excused himself from the table to go to the bathroom. Isis, Jenn, and Gil threw out a few wild guesses before falling into quiet contemplation.

Cris (on his way back to the table from the bathroom): “KNOCK on it! I KNOCK on the door!”

The door swung open after Excor’s rapping.

Cris: “Ha ha! It came to me while I was standin’ there pi$$!n’ ‘We should knock on it!’”

As a group, the young mages moved north into the newly revealed chamber. This chamber was very similar to the previous as its walls, celling, and floor were of white marble. It also lit up with magic light as they entered. To the north was a small empty niche in the wall and to the west, a short hallway that opened to the south. However, to the east was a recessed archway through which blazed a familiar white light.

As soon as the last mage in line, Excor, stepped over the threshold, the door slammed shut and a strange creature materialized at the center of the brightly lit room. This creature was a large serpent whose body split at its rear into six separate tails. Two of these were wielding a club and a spiked mace. The others were lashing the air like whips.

Isis: “What the HELL is that THING!?”

To Be Continued…


The Cabal of Eight – Pt.11: The Under-City Vaults Pt.1

The Underlings, after a confusing and circuitous route, led the young mages to the goal. They were in a large sewer tunnel on a narrow walkway above a flowing river of filth. They showed the mages a small hole bored through the slimy brick and mortar wall. Beneath was a thick oak double-door its bronze hardware severely corroded. Fortunately the ratlings had also tunneled through the moldy wood.

The mages also noticed a bricked up archway in the same sewer wall about 5 feet over. Shrugging all climbed through the ratlings’ hole. Beyond was a 10 ft. wide hall. It was damp and smelled of a strange mixture of foul sewer gas and a dry mustiness. Offset from each other and along either of the western and eastern walls were verdigris covered bronze faces with gaping mouths from which orifices dangled spider-webs and streams of slime dripped.

The bronze faces were a stylized representation of a human (the mages hoped) with a strangely blank, stony expression. Ahead of the group at the other end of the hallway was a set of bronze double-doors scaly with green corrosion and each with the same strange face on it though the mouths closed into a straight stern line and fist-sized diamonds set in the eye sockets. However, the face on the left door was missing one of its precious eyes. The damage on the old bronze was obviously new. As a result of the mages noticing this, the ratling leader felt the need to speak.

Dusk (the ratling gang-leader): “One of ours did that. He tried to pry the gem. It’s just cut glass filled with acid. It broke and destroyed one of his arms. Leave the gems alone.”

Excor (to Dusk): “You SURE there’s no traps here?”

Dusk: “Oh yeah, don’t touch the door, a lightning bolt killed another of ours.”

Cris (Excor’s Player)(in a mocking tone directed at me the GM): “Oh yeah, huh? Forgot to tell us about THAT huh!? Yeah I bet damned little ratling.”

So, the mages carefully studied the doors. They were airtight, and shut-tight with no evidence of any locking mechanism. However, they did find an inscription on each of the doors that read:

Often silent, sometimes gentle, and others a hurricane, cities fall to me and only I can open these doors.

Of course, they easily solved the riddle. Athfonia (played by Perla) cast Wind Rush blowing the doors open. It was as the group began to move over the threshold that Excor remembered that he was still badly wounded from the previous two skirmishes. Consequently, he took the center position within their group formation.

Gornix (played by Gil): “Well that was easy.”

Cris: “It was supposed to be. Just keep a lookout. You never know what could happen!”

Szoosha the Black Scael Naga Fire Elementalist (played by Isis) conjured a flame into his palm for light since Excor had lit a torch. They moved into a small 10 by 10 chamber with an empty alcove in the north and eastern walls. In the west was narrow archway opening onto stone steps going down. The floor was a thick layer of dirt and dust possibly over stone. The room choked with dusty cobwebs that dangled from the domed ceiling.

Cris: “Spider webs huh? So there’s giant spiders down here huh?”

Gil: “How do you know?”

Cris: “There’s always spiders.”

The noses and eyes of all of the mages began to burn due to the swamp gas that had collected in the small room possibly over centuries. Suddenly, Szoo’s flame and Excor’s torch exploded with a blinding blast of flame.

Fortunately, no one was injured perhaps though slightly singed. They waited for a few seconds and sniffed at the air before relighting their lights. Meanwhile Gornix lit the crystal on his staff (the crystal being enchanted with the Torch Light cantrip) ‘just in case’. They elected Szoo to lead them for the time being. The naga’s Detection skill was the highest of the group, which wasn’t saying much. Needless to say Szoo was a bit reluctant.

Szoo: “Me!? What about the ratlings!?”

Dusk (waving from the hallway): “Ha! Yer on yer own. We’ll wait for ya here for a couple a’ days before leaving!”

Isis: “What!? They’ll just leave us here!”

Cris: “No. If we don’t come back they’ll assume we’re dead and they won’t come down and check.”

Isis: “Oh. That makes sense.”

After some prodding Szoo reluctantly began to lead the group down the long case of stone steps that sank down into darkness. The room that dimly unfolded before him had a 12 ft. high vaulted ceiling and four thick stone columns standing along its center. There were multiple empty wall niches and a thick netting of dirty spiders’ webs strewn over the whole drastically obscuring his vision. The room also stank strongly of sewer gas.

Isis (Szoo’s player)(referring to the spider webs): “I set them on FIRE! I like to BURN things!”

So of course Szoo threw fire at the cobwebs and not only did most of the webs in the room burst into intense blindingly bright flames but a pocket of sewer gas exploded as well. Szoo was slightly injured by the blast. Webs continued to veil the vaulted ceiling and the far corners of the room however.

The other mages moved into the room one at a time until all of them gathered at one end of the gallery. They slowly began to move forward to the other when Gornix spotted something and alerted the others. It was a large spider’s egg suspended and pulsating between the second and third pillars at about the center of the room.

Excor: “$#!t! BURN it! BURN it now!”

Excor glanced at the niches in the walls nervously. All the while something in the webs above crept over them. Suddenly, a giant black spider dropped onto Szoo’s shoulders sinking its fangs into the naga mage’s scaly flesh. The spider’s venom paralyzed Szoosha as well injuring him.

Szoo: “Um. Guys? I’m a little HURT here!”

Gornix cast Illuminate lighting up most of the room and revealing two more giant black spiders scuttling on the ceiling towards them. Athfonia cast Neutralize Poison on Szoosha in time to negate both the paralysis and the damaging effects of the venom. The third spider leapt at Gornix biting him injecting its paralyzing toxin into his bloodstream. The second spider leapt at Excor but failed critically falling to the floor injuring itself. Excor blasted the second spider with his copper spike further injuring it. The first spider grappled with Szoosha. Szoo tried to shape-shift out of the grapple but failed. Fauna cast Neutralize Poison on Gornix.

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile at number three. It tried to dodge but got hit anyway suffering moderate injury. The second spider flipped over and sank its black verminous fangs into Excor paralyzing him. The first spider maintained its grip on Szoo and tried to bite him but missed by a hair’s breadth. After that scare, Szoo was able, just barely, to break the grapple and throw the thing off of him.

Gornix let loose more chrono-missiles at number three horribly wounding it. In response, the creature spat webbing at the salt-lotus mage but missed. The second spider crawled onto Excor’s boneless body and number one spat webs at Szoo fortunately also missing its target.

Gornix (using his Spell Slinger feat) cast more chrono-missiles at the third spider. Its verminous body bursting splattering custard-colored crud everywhere as a result.  Its black legs curled and it crumpled into a hideous black ball.

Gornix then cast Neutralize Poison on Excor. Fauna dropped her lantern and whipped her staff at the nearest spider. The staff flying from her hands to clatter into a niche. Spider number two grappled Excor as he tried to move. Spider number one tried to grapple with Szoo but failed to gain a grip. Szoo called forth his flaming naginata. Athfonia pierced the first spider’s abdomen with her spear. Excor tried desperately to break spider number two’s grip.

Cris: “Man, if that thing bites me one more time I’m dust!”

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile on number-two wounding it badly and drew his scimitar. Spider number-two tried to gain a grip in order to try to bite but failed (N1) and fell from Excor. Spider number-one bit Szoo after the naga failed to dodge paralyzing him with its venom his fire weapon fluttering out of existence. This caused Szoo to make a recovery roll to prevent from being killed by the damaging effects of the spider’s poison.

Finally Gornix stepped into the fray and slashed at the second spider hacking the already badly wounded spider in two with his sword. Athfonia lunged at the last spider with her spear impaling it through its abdomen killing it. She pulled her viscera greased spear from its still twitching corpse.

With the battle over Excor cast Neutralize Poison on Szoo and Close Wounds on himself. Athfonia cast Heal Other on both Excor and Szoosha. After first aid, their attentions turned towards the pulsating giant spiders’ egg still in the room. Surprisingly it hadn’t burst during the commotion of the fight. Apparently, it was not yet ready to hatch and release its swarm of deadly young spiders.

Szoo: “I should set it on FIRE!”

The rest of the group (collectively): “NO!”

Therefore, they left the egg unmolested and continued on with a somewhat disappointed Szoosha in the lead. The rest kept their eyes glued to the ceiling as they proceeded.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.10: Tunnel Rats

In front of the heavy just shut door of the Pesters’ Guild, Gornix (played by Gil) introduced Doubab the ratter to the group. After a short time he agreed to guide them into the rat fights underneath the Ruined Wall. It would be in a few hours at sundown that evening. As they departed their guide on their way to kill the last remaining few hours at the Red Helm Fauna (played by Jenn) pulled a bundle of rat-tails from her cloak.

It was the bunch that the pickpocket (see The Cabal of Eight Pt. 6: Gold Devil) had dropped when Fauna caught him trying to pick the golden bee. The bunch tied with a broad yellow ribbon. As she handed it to Doubab, “for your troubles” Excor (played by Cris) and Athfonia (played by Perla) saw a slight change pass over his already pinched features. They walked back across the city to the Red Helm tavern to wait until near sundown.

Later, as they stumbled out of the Helm’s door into the street they realized something. They were still wounded from their fight with the red imps. Gornix tucked a dusty carved-glass bottle of whiskey he had bought from the bartender for 8 gp into his robes. He cast Close Wounds on Szoosha (played by Isis). Excor followed suit casting Close Wounds on Fauna who had just chugged a full tankard before hitting the door.

They tried to avoid the main streets deciding to weave through the alleyways as they headed east towards their appointment. This was due to their fearing that jumping one of the city’s criminals might have dire consequences. They reached a fairly wide, round mini-plaza as the building dwarfing aqueducts worked their way north to a public fountain across from the Old Amphitheater. The place was quiet, dark, and deserted save for the small clumps of garbage that lay everywhere. Some of the lighter bits of the detritus stirred and slid across the old paving in a chill evening breeze.

It was when they neared a massive arch that three thugs stepped from behind the wall. One armed with a pair of knives, one in each hand, another with a crude wooden cudgel and the apparent leader was armed with a quarter staff. All were wearing scavenged soft leather armor reinforced with a maddening number of studs and rivets.

Staff-Bearing Thug: “So what do we have here? Y’know we followed you guys for quite a while. You remember what you Did! You robbed a Bronzehead, now’s yer gonna give us back his dagger and suffer the consequences!”

Athfonia immediately tried to cast Call Lightning but failed. Excor drew his copper spike and zapped the Cudgel bearing thug hurting him. Gornix tried to summon an earth elemental but failed. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor (Fire) on himself. Fauna cast Sleep on the Pole-Fighter but to no effect. The Pole-Fighter ran up critically striking Fauna with one end of his staff. Fortunately Fauna parried the other with her dagger. The knife-fighter slashed at Szoosha but was unable to penetrate the Naga’s fiery armor. The cudgel-thug attacked Excor but missed with a clumsy swing.

Gornix cast Summon Elemental IV summoning two medium sized earth elementals which erupted from the ground right next to two of the young thugs. The first humanoid rock creature snatched up the pole-fighter in an unbreakable grip. The second monster body slammed the knife-fighter wounding him badly after the mugger failed his dodge. Szoo summoned forth his fire naginata and slashed at the cudgel thug opening his belly killing him. Meanwhile the thug-leader, the pole-fighter, strained desperately trying to break the stony grip that held him fast. Gornix cast Chrono-Missile on the knife-fighter wounding him horribly.

On Gornix’s orders one of the elementals squeezed the pole-fighter. The thug-leader screamed at a high pitch and they could hear some of his ribs crack as blood ran from his nose and mouth. The second elemental slammed into the already wounded knife-fighter. His corpse reduced to a wad of blood-soaked rags flew about 20 feet through the air ultimately splattering all over the wall of a nearby building. The pole-fighter began pathetically begging for his life and crying that he “didn’t want to die”.

After a brief interrogation Gornix got the name of the Bronzehead whose knife they took when they tried to capture him (see The Cabal of Eight Pt. 7: A Red Rat). It was “Drazra”. These three were just wannabe’s that Drazra had recruited to get his dagger back and teach the four mages that accosted him a lesson. After a brief speech on the perils of street life by Gornix, they let the beaten and bleeding pole-fighter limp away into the shadows of the darkening city. After Excor and Szoo looted the corpses they continued on their way to the Rat Fights.

They eventually met Doubab in a small building-locked plaza in front of the ragged end of the Ruined Wall. The old archer galleries served as an enclosed and self-governed town within the city. There was a long line of people representative of all of the social strata of Ezmer. They were waiting their turn to walk under makeshift stone archway. It seemed to lead through a flickering firelight to a stair down under the open face of the Ruined Wall. A pair of chain-shirted Bronzehead thugs were acting as security and charging a door fee.

Doubab the ratter shuffled them into line and eventually down into the excavated pits in and below the foundation of the old wall. Of course, after they each paid the 1 silver piece cover charge. They walked down into a large rectangular chamber with a terraced floor at four different levels. The rats were unleashed on each other in a small depression packed with cages and trainers at the deepest level over which all the other levels looked over.

There were several open archways some undoubtedly led into the sewer system underneath the city. A few had doors which perhaps led to the upper levels of the Ruined Wall. Each guarded by an armored Bronzehead.  On the top tier floor were the betting tables with a visible and small force of well-armed thugs. The golden light of torches, braziers, and oil lamps permeated the place as did the overpowering scent of strong incense leaking from large brass censers hovering like a thick fog over the slight moist stench of the city sewers.

Fauna spotted a fat merchant in blue robes running a table that she recognized from the Druid Cult (see The Cabal of Eight Pt.2: Wagon Ho!) by his golden necklace, a jeweled dragonfly. She leaned in and eventually clued him in on how she recognized him. He referred to her as “little sister” and warned her not to be too public about their “thing”. She walked away and they both nodded as she departed.

Szoo (to Fauna): “What the hell was THAT?!”

Fauna (with a sly smile): “Oh nothing.”

Cris (Excor’s Player)(sarcastically): “Oh yeah, nothing! Right. It’s her little stupid cult thing! Yeah, nothing. Don’t get mixed up in that s#!*!”

The young mages gathered about the edge of the second from the bottom tier to watch the sport.

Fauna (after the first match): “This is DISGUSTING guys! I refuse to watch this!”

Excor: “Why? You knew what this was. It’s called the rat fights! The RAT FIGHTS!”

At about the third match, the match announced to pit the Pesters’ Guild Rat named ‘Old Man’ against ‘a promising newcomer’ named ‘Gnaw-Skull’ owned by the Underlings. The Old Man was a rather large rat missing large patches of hair and its body a scorecard in scars of its brutal career. While the Underlings’ rat was a slightly smaller black rat with long yellow teeth. The Old Man was fat and calm as the cages were held and paraded for the benefit of the gamblers. In contrast Gnaw-Skull was hostile to its handler through the woven wood bars of its cage.

Hence Excor and Szoo rushed to the tables to place their bets on the ‘Old Man’ whom the odds favored by a mile. Predictably the Old Man tore Gnaw-Skull apart in record time. As a result, the Underlings, a group of sketchy looking and filthy ratlings wearing crude leather armor and armed with fairly nice daggers and short-swords, were in an uproar. Excor and Szoo won 1 silver piece each.

The Underlings were preparing to cut their losses and leave when the mages decided to approach the one that appeared to be their leader. As a result of Excor dropping Afsik’s name their leader, a ratling with an eye-patch and whitening gray fur, approached from a dark corner of the pits. He lit his pipe while appraising the young mages one at a time with his blood-shot eye.

Dusk: “I’m Dusk, the ratling yer lookin’ fer. Afsik’s got faith enough in ya to send you ta us then I guess we’ll take you. Now. Follow us magelings.”

Gornix was going to say goodbye to Doubab but his contact to the Pesters’ Guild seemed utterly consumed in the sport of the rat-fights. So he decided to simply leave with the rest of the cabal mages. They were led down into one of the large lower archways and continued around a bend until the air signaled that they had left the fighting pits.

At first it was a relief from the pungent scented smoke until the cool air became even more pungent with the metallic smell of fresh, wet sewage. The only light came from Fauna’s lantern which she had lit as they disembarked and the glowing crystal on top of Gornix’s staff.

Dusk: “Oh yeah, if ya see a fog creepin’ over the waters or clingin’ to the ceiling don’t stick yer face in it.”

Szoo: “Why?”

Dusk: “Its sewer gas and it’ll kill ya. It’s flammable too.”

Fauna: “Great.”

To Be Continued…


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…


The Cabal of Eight Pt.8: A Second Meeting

The cabal’s newest member had just made his mark on the contract. Ilna (aka Bumble) jerkily leaned Nezorik Family Seal (Bumble)over the octagonal meeting table to shake Szoosha’s scaly hand knocking over her own ale. In a clumsy effort at a greeting Bumble also casually mentioned that her ‘father has two Naga slaves’. She stopped suddenly when she realized what she was coming out of her mouth.

Isis (Szoosha’s Player): “Oh gee, that’s GREAT!”

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “Aww, don’t hold it against her.”

Excor (Played by Cris) raised a toast to new members noting that the Ferenoi, Athfonia (played by Perla), was strangely absent. All raised their cups in Szoo’s honor and drank up.

Belrae (the cabal leader): “I suppose all of you know it’s been declared a Dragon Summer this season?”

The cabal leader continued to explain after Excor and Gornix’s inquiries as to exactly what is a Dragon Summer. Basically, the summer is unusually hot and humid with frequent thunderstorms occurring just off shore. It occurs every 8 years or so, the cycle is not consistent. It’s also dragon mating season when the Whers of the Southland tend to congregate on and around Ezmeria especially the Ezmerian Headland.

Cris and Gil’s heads bobbed vacuously acknowledging the info-dump as probably did their characters. Cris consulted his notes.

Excor (to Belrae): “Hey, isn’t this an election year? So what’s going on with that?”

The political body of Ezmeria is housed entirely within the city walls save for the administrators of the Breadbasket and the surrounding terrain. The body politic is composed of the Electorate (citizens with the power to cast votes), a small body of representatives from the Breadbasket, and two of what can be called Political Parties.

These parties are the Gold Sashes and the Oaks. The Gold Sashes, supported by the Golden Devil West Company, represent business interests and rich merchants. The Oaks pander to the majority landowners but money and contributions tend to direct their politics. As the Oaks are concerned with placating the poor with bread, they typically have the support of the Breadbasket.

Excor: “So whose side are WE on?”

Belrae (somewhat sternly): “Neither. Stay out of politics.”

Belrae went on to mention that a Blackship of the Deadlands is at port in the Slavers’ Castle. Aboard is a gladiator of renown, Skullbash, and his manager. It was obvious that he and Riahm were curious about the Deadlander manager and even half-jokingly mentioned something about ‘purchasing a couple of zombies’. However, their joke fell flat.

Gornix (Played by Gil): “So, um, anyone hear about this Ssthris guy? No? Oh, ok.”

Gornix also mentioned his run-in with Wensaer the Obsidian Guild alchemist and asked about the Sapphire guild. Belrae and the rest agreed that a guild contact would be great but the Sapphire guild, which is typically restricted to nobility or the like, has a traditional and tight grip on the city.

Smalltalk ensued as no one else seemed to have any information of note until Excor, Gornix, and Fauna began complaining of being broke and looking for a job. Belrae told them that he knew of one Afsik the strange, an antiquarian in the Harbor District, who was looking for some mages to hire. But for what he didn’t know. Although, he had it on good authority that Afsik paid well. He gave the three mages the antiquarian’s address.

As the meeting began to wind down Belrae stood and made an announcement that he and Riahm will be absent the next meeting (the meeting of the 21st of Early Summer) and possibly the next as they are joining the College Expedition into the Red Waste beyond the Southern Grasslands to investigate some ruins. Belrae adjourns the meeting.

Before the cabal’s young leader and his compatriot can even rise to leave Excor & Gornix get Riahm to exchange some spells from his grimoire. The plucky pair traded the bard/sorcerer Summon Elemental IV for Invisibility I. He gave them Appraise & Far Hand for Magic Globe & Clairvoyance. When Belrae noticed, he acquired the Lightning Bolt spell in exchange for Potion Formula: Slumber.

Meanwhile, Fauna asked Bumble to join her at the bar. Ilna bounced in her seat and snorted in excitement. Downstairs, Szoo joined Bumble and Fauna as they bellied up to the board. Fauna asked after Bumble’s master as the ale was served. Ilna happily told Fauna his name, ’Xanto some people call him the Wasp I guess’. He had apparently found himself in some sort of trouble somewhere far northeast of the city in a town called Skullhead. Her father was sheltering him on condition of her apprenticeship.

Jenn: “Aww man! It IS him! The WASP!”

Cris: “OF COURSE it is! You didn’t think her master was anyone else did you?”

Later, after copying spells, and as Jirek was packing his secretarial kit away, Excor invited the young scribe to drinks. After getting a table in the theater and getting a ‘decent but not expensive’ bottle of wine Excor led Jirek into a conversation. A minstrel was on stage singing a fine rendition of the Ballad of Redtooth. It was a very prosaic song prolific throughout the Westlands and Southlands.

In the course of their conversation, Excor found out about Jirek’s lack of family and his inheritance, which consisted of a completely empty storehouse at the far eastern section of the Harbor District. Excor began chatting him up about getting access to the college library his original intention behind the invitation. One successful Charm roll later and Jirek said to get a hold of him in a few days and maybe he can see about doing something for him.

Excor (to Jirek while preemptively refilling his cup): “Have some more wine my friend.”

Meanwhile at the bar, Fauna and Szoo continued to chat up Bumble who volunteered that her father had a substantial collection of books in his library. It wasn’t long after that, by coincidence or not, that Gornix strolled up. Bumble began to clumsily flirt with the young Ivoran wizard, he flirted back (using his +5 Bea and CHA to his advantage) and the tipsy girl was smitten.

It was not long before he seduced her into taking all three of them back to her family’s place and into her father’s library. Outside of the tavern she hailed a coach to the other mages’ elation and they rode ‘in style’ to the Western Cliffs District past the security gate and wall up to a large stone block manor complete with footmen awaiting her arrival.

Less than an hour later in the private library of the Nezorik family manor the young mages were already eyeballing the spines of the books that crowded the packed shelves of the lone bookcase as Bumble lighted the candelabras.  Fauna sensed a magic tome and pointed it out to Gornix.

Jenn: “I’m not touching it.”

Gornix lifted the hefty leather-bound book from its bowed shelf.  He cracked open the large book and tried to decipher the markings, which were in magic script on the first page but failed. Fauna was able to make out an enchanted signature next to a sigil, which read Vordan the Magnificent.

Bumble had been telling them that her father couldn’t read but enjoyed having the luxury of books. He enjoyed showing off the illustrations and illuminated texts to his guests. When she realized nobody was listening she turned from the tapers. She saw her friends were hunched over a select tome.

She squeezed between them and said, “I haven’t seen this one before”. Before those words had even completely passed her lips, she poked the magic sigil on the very first page with her plump finger.  Immediately a bolt of blue energy struck her in the head and she collapsed to the floor.

Isis: “Oh GAWD! We killed her!”

To Be Continued…

Arvan: Land of Dragons RELEASED!

Arvan: The Land of Dragons, the new campaign setting for Dice & Glory. It centers on the Age of Adventure and a burgeoning international trade and era of conquest. As well as the reclamation of territory from the supernatural forces that have dominated it for so long. This resulting from an extended Dark Age of Mad Mage-Lords and Dark Warlords. In addition, in the East an ancient empire struggles to slow its disintegration into smaller feudal princedoms. While its central theocracy seizes power for itself by focusing the chaos on the empires’ former Western colonies. Power is up for grabs for those willing to seize it.

The world’s technology level hovers between the late Iron Age and the High Middle Ages. No “Tolkienesque” classical player races exist with Arboreans (tree-men), Amazons, Fauns, Ratlings, Naga, unicorns, and Hill-Giants instead. Of course, there are still human beings. The world of Eu, the planet on which the setting of Arvan exists, has a healthy dose of dark mystery along with a patina of medieval grit. It has realistic underpinnings established for the fantasy of the world to exist on. Inspirations include ancient Rome, Greece, the ancient Americas, as well as Warring States Era China, with some influence from ancient Africa and the Celtic lore and history of Europe not to mention Ancient Greece.

The setting focuses on an “Age of Adventure” wherein the players and their characters can explore and engage the world. Players have a chance of making a mark on the world of Eu. The focus of the setting is adventure be it raiding and pillage, thievery, monster hunting, dragon-slaying, establishing trade routes, exploration, or conquest.

This setting was nearly 10 years in the writing and evolved after several years of role-play. The history of Eu and its cultures were constructed to provide a deep background for fantasy games that may stay as standard and shallow as they please or take a deep dive into the people and places of the fantasy world.

The PDF is available right now at and!

The print edition will be available sooner than expected from but more on that later.

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The Cabal of Eight Pt.7: A Red Rat

The thug was nervously waving his dagger as he slowly backed away from the table while the group of The Bronzeheads red rat worn by the thugyoung mages tried to tighten the noose they had him in. Gornix (played by Gil) had already moved around to the opposite side of the thug between him and the door. Excor was keeping his distance but was approaching in a position angled just from where Fauna (played by Jenn) was standing trying to cut off a path to behind the bar.

Fauna was trying to “talk him down” but only accomplished in him pointing the tip of his blade at her. However, the druidess was able to discern the mark of the Bronzeheads on his chain-shirt; a fading painted red rat across his chest. In the meantime, Szoosha (played by Isis) was still at a nearby table eating.

After a few minutes, the Bronzehead seemed to resign himself to the situation. Taking a deep breath, he sheathed his dagger. He calmly wiped back his greasy hair from his face and then immediately lunged at Fauna. She sidestepped as he ran past her and around the corner past Szoo’s table. Excor, instead of running behind the bar to try to cut him off turned to pursue, as did Gornix pushing past Fauna. The thug stumbled drunkenly past the curtained booths and towards the door that led to the rear hallway. He threw it open and dashed in well ahead of his pursuers. However, he immediately smashed into a waiter with a tray full of food and beer who was standing just behind the threshold.

Bouncing off the unfortunate waiter the thug flew back, hit the floor, knocking himself out. The young mages caught up and helping the waiter to his feet gave him a small “tip” while excusing their “drunken friend”.  Gornix “helped” the unconscious thug to a chair pulled from the nearby-unoccupied table. He also took the “precaution” of searching him confiscating 50 gold devils, 8 gold pieces, and 7 silver pieces in the process.

Afterwards, the trio, plus Szoosha as he slithered up in mid conversation, began to argue about exactly what constituted “interrogation”.

Gornix: “I mean, … we gotta torture him, right? To get him to talk.”

Excor: “No. I mean … well I’m not gonna do it.”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “I’m good I can’t torture anybody! Hey wait … YOUR good too!”

Szoosha: “Yeah, yeah, let’s cut his fingers off!”

Fauna: “Guys? We’re in the middle of the tavern.”

Gornix: “Let’s take him to the cabal room!”

Excor: “We can’t torture him!”

Szoosha: “I’ll do it, he probably deserves it!”

Gornix: “See, Szoosha will do it.”

Excor (Pointing at Szoo): “NO! First of all I don’t want to bring somebody up there we don’t know! And we can’t torture him IN the room!”

After a short while the thug stirred in his seat as he began to come to. As a result, Fauna ducked around the corner into the rear hallway. Gornix readied his staff and Excor was going to try to “play it off”.

Excor (addressing the newly conscious thug): “Ah my friend you’re awake! We found you …”

Without a word, the thug erupted from his seat lunging towards the open doorway and pulling his dagger in a single fluid action. Excor leaped back and out of the way.

Excor (to Gornix): “You stole his money but forgot his dagger!?”

Cris: “You know that money goes to group right.”

Meanwhile, the Bronzehead was through the door and into the rear hallway heading for the backdoor into the alleyway. Fauna cast Invisible to Sight on herself and moved around the corner. Excor cast Blinding Flash not only blinding his target but also Gornix and Szoo. Gornix tried to blindly chase after the thug but wound up crashing into a wall and falling on his butt. Of course, Szoosha repeated that mistake and bounced off the doorjamb falling across the hallway floor. His tail tumbling underneath the feet of the fleeing thug tripping him up.

The fleeing Bronzehead slammed into the floor with a crash and the creak of over-stressed wood. His fine dagger flew from his grip clattering into a corner as his face met the floorboards.  Gornix, still blinded, got to his feet. Szoo, still blinded as well, also rose.

Though Fauna remained where she was should Excor let anymore spells fly. Gornix cast Invisibility I on himself disappearing from sight. Leaping over Szoo’s tail Excor ran past the thug on the ground and leapt onto the stairs (for some reason). Szoo cast Eternal Flame holding the bright red fire in his hand (for some reason). So, the thug jumped to his feet positioning himself to leap through the backdoor and out of the tavern.

Gornix regaining most of his sight rushed over to where the thug dropped the dagger and picked up the knife. Szoosha dismissing the crimson flame tried to press the thug into a wall with his scaly bulk but tripped over his own coils and face planted. Then the panicked thug jumped through the door smashing it open with his body and running out into the darkness.

Cris (to Jenn): “WELL! Track ‘em Druid, don’t you have tracking!”

Excor and Szoosha stayed behind and talked as Fauna ran after the Bronzehead hot on his trail with Gornix following behind her. So, the pursuing pair dashed through narrow alleys choked with piles of trash and filth. Their heavy steps splashed through dirty puddles and the salt in the warm summer night air set their lungs on fire. They passed under a massive white aqueduct arch that towered well over the surrounding three and four story buildings. Even the ghostly layer of smog visible in the moonlight hovered below its massive curve. Fauna shot around a corner with Gornix biting at her heels.

Suddenly she stopped. As a result Gornix slammed into her back forcing her face first into a filthy puddle and into a lot of what was hopefully mud. Fauna got up and collected her senses but found she had lost the rogue’s trail. Gornix remembering that he had the fugitive’s dagger cast Clairvoyance on it. But he didn’t get much, it was brand new and of superior quality. Although he did notice a maker’s mark stamped into its ricasso. It was a tiny acorn with a stylized Hyvalian character at center.

A little while after but still hot (and soiled) from the chase, Gornix and Fauna rejoined their companions at the Red Helm Tavern. They found Excor and Szoo at the bar talking with Draega Skullshine. They had the skinny on the red rat (the symbol of the Bronzeheads) and some semi-new information on Ssthris. The Bronzeheads were most probably protecting him for some reason or another somewhere within the old eastern wall or in the ruined tower. The red rat signified the rat fights that the Ezmerian mob oversaw.

Fauna: “That’s DIS-gusting! Poor little rats. Rat fights that’s horrible.”

Excor: “Rats pfft! I hope they all die! Disease carrying VERMIN! … Wait.”

Cris (to Gil): “Dude! Don’t you have a contact for that!”

Gil: “Um what? Oh yeah, um, Doubab? From the Pester’s Guild?”

Cris: “When’s the next cabal meeting? We should go talk to that guy after next meeting.”

The group of young, somewhat exhausted, and slightly sore mages decided to call it a night. As a result Excor left heading straight for his apartment to the southeast and Szoo headed back to the attic room he was staying in at the harbor across from the Rondel (a very successful seaside brothel in a reclaimed stone tower). Gornix accompanied Fauna to the central grove (basically Ezmer’s Central Park). Shortly, the pair ran across the groundskeeper who was familiar to Fauna.

So, she “scored” some yellow lotus from Anishi the groundskeeper and declared to the other two: “We’re communing with nature my friends.”

They were sitting near the center of the old menhir circle at the head of the park within sight of the city scaffolds. Anishi passed out the bumps and shortly after snorting the drug Fauna fell unconscious caught in a lotus dream. However, Gornix entered into a strange hypnotic state. As he leaned back and closed his eyes, he suffered weird visions.

His mind’s eye swirled into confusion and chaos and after what seemed forever, form began to emerge from the liquid darkness. There was blazing firelight without source in his eyes and faint rhythmic chanting rose in his ears. He could see a deep pit, a grave surrounded by a dozen blue-cloaked figures lowering another bound as a mummy in knotted cloth. Bronze masks detailed with curled locks, headbands, and smooth youthful faces covered all of their heads. The squirming mummy being lowered into the pit also bore a golden crown on his head, a king of old! His wide eyes glaring in horror from the eyeholes in his mask. The other figures were burying him alive! Gornix’s mind reeled and shot up into the air the strange blue druidic figures fading away replaced by the menhir circle under moonlight.

He could see his own body as well as that of Fauna sleeping on the grass. Without warning, his vision was propelled at tremendous speed southward over the tree tops of the grove to stop and sink into the darkness of the old amphitheater at the foot of the park. Among its shadows stood the dark outline of a wizard with a long beard, a sword at his side. Before that comparably imposing figure was a young boy, a street urchin with the impression of a pickpocket.

Gil: “Whhait!”

Me (the GM): “What?”

Gil: “Is this the guy we’re after?”

Me: “Nope. This isn’t Ssthris, the figure you see is humanoid not a naga.”

Gil: “Oh, okay.”

In silhouette, the wizard slapped the pickpocket after he presented both of his small hands as empty. Then a bright hot golden-white light began to sting his eyes. The next thing that Gornix could recall was sitting straight up dazzled by the late morning sun.  Gornix shot up and went looking for an alchemist’s shop. He had wasted valuable time. Eventually he found himself at a small out of the way shop after finding the dominant Sapphire-guilded alchemy shop too expensive.

The proprietor of this shop was a squat friendly and somewhat cheerful old man with a long white beard wearing plain brown robes fastened at the waist with a black cord. Gornix instantly recognized the proprietor as the old man who had referred him to this place just outside of the guild shop. Gornix was there to purchase some alchemist kits but the old man tried to recruit him for the Obsidian Guild. That mages’ guild was trying to get a foothold in Ezmer where the Star-Sapphire Confraternity dominated. Gornix tossed his gold devils and gold pieces onto the counter and turned to leave for his apartment.

However, he told the old man, named Wensaer, that he would consider his proposal to join the Obsidian Brotherhood. It wasn’t long before Fauna also stumbled into the very same shop also to purchase some alchemist kits.

Meanwhile, Excor had sequestered himself in his rooms and was busy crafting the copper spike. He was creating a Rod of Lightning Bolts, though with a Creator Level of 1. Gornix had intended to start formulating a new spell. Nevertheless, he would have to take a break in the middle of his research and experimentation. This was due to the cabal meeting being on the very next day.

The next day the cabal of seven, soon to be eight, convened in the clubroom at the east corner of the second floor of the Red Helm Tavern. Szoosha was present to put his mark on the group charter. Athfonia however, was conspicuously absent though when Belrae brought up her name our three (soon to be four or maybe five) heroes mentioned they had met her. Just before the meeting was to begin in earnest, Fauna thrust the Amber Bee into Bumble’s hand.

Fauna: “HERE! Take it! That thing’s trouble you should be careful and give back to your master.”

Jenn (to me, the GM): “We’re going to make sure after the meeting that she takes the bee to the Wasp. I want her to be safe.”

Fauna (to Bumble): “You know some pickpocket tried to snatch it from me on the way here? I put him to sleep though.”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “You had SLEEP this entire TIME!”

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “Well. Yeah. Why?”

Cris: “The sleep spell!? This … You could’ve, the guy. We could’ve captured him! He wouldn’t have got away!”

Jenn: “I just forgot I had that spell.”

Cris just sighed in exasperation and throwing up his arms said, “Whatever.” Then he mumbled a little bit more under his breath.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.6: Gold Devil

It was still in the wee hours of the morning and dark outside of the Red Helm Tavern. The trio had

rat tails tied with a gold ribbon against a gray escutcheon
High Pesters’ Guild Heraldry straight from the GM’s Notebook.

already been introduced to a tall Ferenoi (Feren Amazon) named Athfonia (Played by Perla) by Draega. Apparently a new arrival to the cabal that their leader, Belrae had failed to mention.

Eager to talk business and naturally distrustful of the “new member” Excor urged her exemption (unnecessarily). This, as Draega guided them to the cellar. Immediately after the gold exchanged hands Excor was off to his apartment in the South Market District. His two companions and the newbie stayed at the invitation of publican Draega.

It wasn’t long before the drowsy bar-back allowed another into the quiet confines of the deserted tavern. It was the man famed as “Golden Devil”, a Lord of the Golden Devil Company. He was wearing a suit of leather armor under a gold carapace alive with flames and flying grimacing demon heads. At his hip on his wide gold studded black belt hung a coiled gold bull-whip. On his head was gold skull-cap with a top-spike and a brim of black fur. He wore a gold mask, an emerald eyed demon-face baring an expression of pure rage. A frozen rage that seemed to seep into his very frame and the carriage of his bulk.

With every heavy step the floorboards creaked under the devil’s weight. Immediately and without a word Draega led the supreme slave-master of Ezmer to the basement. Presumably to exchange the dagger of Dag-Athar for his reward. The three young mages rubbernecked with widened eyes as the devil walked by. As soon as the cellar door shut and the latch thrown, Gornix immediately ran up to it. He put his ear to the wood.

He could hear nothing and as he ran clumsily by, the bartender just shook his head. It wasn’t long before Gornix rejoined the other two. He could hear nothing. Fauna and Gornix entered into conversation with their (apparently) new companion.

Athfonia was a shaman from a semi-civilized part of the continent known as Fuglotia, a barbaric peninsula in the far north partially conquered and re-conquered by the Feren Queendoms. The amazon was dressed in furs with a grey fur-fringed cloak which billowed from her 6 foot 7 inch wide-shouldered frame whenever she turned to snatch and guzzle her drink from the bar. Under that she wore a grayish toga of thick wool trimmed in black and gold. On her feet a pair of wolf-skin boots secured with leather wraps. She had set her broad-tipped short spear to lean against the bar.

Later that day, by late afternoon, Excor was perusing the stalls in the massive bazaar until he found what he was looking for, a copper spike. After making his purchase the young mage headed to his main contact’s apothecary shop. The shop was located in a small box of a building at the crossing of two circumspect roads in the Old Market District with a direct view across a plaza of the Bazaar.

Babia (Sská in Split-Tongue) the shop-keeper was a slight woman in her later years. She wore a heavy white robe secured at the waist with a thick blue-felt band. She also wore a loose turban that also draped around her face in an effort to conceal the greenish scaling around her ears, on her cheeks, and along her jawline which in her later years has become increasingly prominent as well as her lack of ears. Of course, it only took a glance at her slit-pupil yellow eyes to reveal her half-Naga nature.

The atmosphere was pungent with the mixed scents of a plethora of exotic and fragrant herbs. Herbs which hung drying from the rafters of the shop like an upside down thicket in late spring. The potent umbrage almost completely obscured shelves upon shelves of jars and several multi-drawer apothecary chests. Excor was looking for some Yellow Lotus.

He was informed that someone came along and bought all of it up yesterday. So the young mage settled for 2 silver-pieces worth of shop-mix smoking herbs. Afterwards he left to meet up with Gornix at the Red Helm.

Gornix meanwhile was tracking down his contact, a ratter named Doubab in the un-policed Eastern District. The ratter who by chance was just walking back to the High Pesters’ Guild guild-house with a stave hung with at least a dozen dead rats. The experienced ratter had no news of any kind other than a bit of advice to not trust any “filthy” ratlings. However, when prodded a little more he did mention that there was a bounty of 1,500 gold pieces for a mage and assassin named Ssthris. The Bronzeheads were probably sheltering him but he wanted no part in that.

The Bronzeheads were the lords of street crime in Ezmer essentially the Ezmerian mob. A tattoo of a red rat was their mark. They have carte blanch within the ruined wall and tower in the Eastern District. Within the wall was a city within the city. Gornix high-tailed it to the Red Helm armed with new information.

Fauna at the same time was walking back to the Red Helm form the Bazaar where she ordered some “stylish” green robes from one Andras, tailor extraordinaire. She passed a bill-plastered wall and stopped to read a wanted poster that caught her attention due to its still-fresh glue. It listed one Ssthris, a half-naga sorcerer wanted for a series of assassinations in the Old Market District and one in the Bazaar. The reward was 1,500 gp. Suddenly, she felt a hand under robes.

She snatched the street urchin’s dirt encrusted little claw and saw that he had hold of Bumble’s “paperweight”, the fist-sized piece of amber with a golden bee at its center. She snatched the amber piece back and the kid ran for his life disappearing into the street traffic. The young druidess tried to follow only to find a bundle of rat-tails bound with a yellow ribbon that urchin had dropped.

That evening at the Helm, Excor and Gornix were already upstairs sequestered in the cabal room exchanging spells with each other. Fauna hit the front door at the same time as Draega was making his entrance to the establishment. He immediately comped her a jack of ale and began dishing about another new member to their “little club upstairs”.

Draega Skullshine: “Rumor has it he’s a black-scale Naga!”

It wasn’t long before the titular ninth member made his appearance slithering through the door and up to the bar to inquire upon the whereabouts of one Belrae Crokosa. Draega immediately glided up to the black-scaled Naga and introduced himself and Fauna. Szoosha was his name. He was apparently gifted when it came to fire.

Szoo (Played by Isis, Jenn’s sister): “I like to burn things.”

Szoosha had the ability to conjure a naginata of pure flame in his hands, the ability that marked him as a black-scale in the first place as well as being a Fire Elementalist. However, Szoosha was visibly uncomfortable with complete strangers suddenly knowing his name. Not long after Gornix and Excor wandered down and decided to buy food.

The group of four mages took up a table near the window across from the taproom. A bowl of boiled onions, a wood platter of bittles (honey drenched balls of ale-soaked bread), and for Gornix turtle soup in the shell. By the by, Fauna was busy scanning the crowded taproom and through the haze of pipe-smoke she saw a suspicious looking character at the end of the long table nearest the window.

She had caught him eyeballing the group and saw by chance (Natural 20) that he had a tattoo of a red rat on the side of his left hand. So, putting together what Gornix had told her of the Bronzeheads and their possibly sheltering the wanted sorcerer she decided to approach him and “charm him”.

She walked up to him and at the mention of Ssthris he shot to his feet and pulled his dagger. Excor and Gornix jumped to their feet but Szoosha was busy stuffing his face with handfuls of sticky bittles.

To Be Continued…