Episode 41: the Truth, or Something Like It
With Tak securely stowed in Ara’s pack wearing the Hat of True Frog, the party returned to the Lovers' Lament to decide what to do with their prisoner, and their next steps. Levani and Keen were both of a mind to kill Tak, though Keen felt they should first interrogate him (and relieve him of his enchanted rapier). The rest of the party were hesitant to execute him, and Yuna questioned whether the provisional authority granted unto them by Bartok Brescht, the nobleman who ran Uman’s city guard, extended to summary execution.
While they debated this point, the party searched Tak’s room for anything he might have left behind. Magnus found a sturdy, well-made mahogany musical instrument case, empty save for a hand-written note demanding payment of a debt, and signed with the mark of the Skink, a criminal organization of some repute.
As the party completed their investigation, they heard a patrol of city guard arrive in the main hall of the tavern, asking after the disturbance that had recently occurred outside. The party made their way downstairs to meet the guard, except Magnus, who decided instead to jump out the window into the alleyway.
The guard captain seemed exasperated by the party’s authority (and Keen’s unabashed brandishing thereof) and came very close to arresting them again, but decided instead to take custody of Tak. Ara removed the Hat of True Frog and released him to their custody, warning the captain that Tak was a powerful spellcaster and had nearly eluded them several times.
Keen convinced the guard captain to let him keep Tak’s enchanted rapier, “Levani.”
The patrol left with Tak in their custody, and Levani, furious at having lost her chance to exact a final revenge, surreptitiously cast a psychic bolt at Tak. Her aim true the spell hit but rather than the satisfying site of Tak writhing in psychic agony, she was disappointed to see that the guard had encased Tak in some sort of anti-magic field which preventing arcane energy from passing in or out.
Tak out of the picture for now, the party returned to the task that had brought them to the Lovers' Lament in the first place: speaking with the owner, Belia, about the missing Lady Margoleth. Belia said she hadn’t heard of her, but that if you were looking for a person the place to to start would be to ask the streets.
The party made their way to the Eastfalls district of the 7th tier, one of the poorer sections of town. As they travelled, the weather turned bitterly, savagely cold, and an already tense and worried city still under the dim twilight of a dawn that never came began to turn nearly violent. Everywhere on the 7th the city’s poor were competing for shelter, a spot at a fire, anything to keep them out of the unnatural elements.
Taking Belia’s advice literally, Ara began asking the broken cobblestone streets if they had any knowledge of the whereabouts of Lady Margoleth. To his astonishment he was answered, but not by the streets – the beggar woman Kadu, whom Yuna had met recently on the 3rd tier, happened to be nearby and shared approximate directions to Margoleth residence. She also greeted each of the party by name, and even commented that Magnus seemed to be in a better place now than the last time he was on the 7th, though it didn’t seem possible that she could have known him from 400 years ago.
Indeed, much of Kadu’s peculiar responses were circular, vague or downright contradictory, leading the party to correctly surmise that she was a follower of Mimir and a member of her Temple. It was revealed that Kadu was also the Almoner of Court the Whisper King, and as she spoke to the party several raggedy and freezing children approached her, to whom she distributed small morsels of food.
Ara tentatively shook Kadu’s hand, expecting perhaps an encounter with the spirit of an Akiri Fist, but nothing untoward occurred.
Thanking Kadu for the information the party hurried towards the Stonerock Courtyards, an all-but abandoned cul-de-sac deep in the slums of the Eastfalls 7th.
As they traveled through the city, Levani repeatedly noticed they were being followed.
They found the Margoleth estate, one of a group of partially collapsed tenement homes. Tentatively Yuna entered, the rest of the party hanging back. Inside the home she found Lady Margoleth, an ancient elven woman sitted at a meagre fire in a cavernous sitting room. By her feet were four street children, quietly playing with a spinning top. The room stank of mildew and rot, of old dust, and vaguely of sulfur.
Lady Margoleth greeted Yuna warmly, and eagerly asked her to stay and visit, and invite her friends in as well. She attempted a Charm Person spell, which Yuna resisted, and as Yuna began to back away, she tried Hold Person. Yuna also resisted this, but relayed to the party that something was terribly wrong.
Ara joined Yuna in the house then, just as the four children ran up to the two of them, begging them to stay with the Lady Margoleth. Behind each of them was a thick viscous trail of white goop extending from one leg and trailing across the rotting carpet and disappearing behind the Lady Margoleth’s chair. Two of the children grappled Ara, and as Lady Margoleth began shrieking in a choir of old elven and demonic infernal, the door to the house slammed shut and the fire in the hearth burst up out of the chimney. She rose from her chair, the stench of sulfur rising as she made for Ara, long sticky strands of white goo trailing off of her, and she lashed out, her arm becoming a fleshy white tendril with sticky fronds. She connected, and Ara shriekd in agony as the tendril bludgeoned him, and the tiny fronds dug their way into his eyes, ears and nose and assaulted his mind.
The rest of the party quickly joined the battle. Yuna healed Ara as Magnus and Keen engaged the creature, Levani throwing massive spells from the hall at range. As she did so, she heard a dimension door open behind her, and a tiefling in an oxblood robe put a hand on her shoulder, whispered “Time to go, child,” and pulled her through.
Levani and her assailant vanished from house; the party could feel her presence through the residium binding link some five hundreed feet away, but could do nothing. They dispatched the horror that was Lady Margoleth and the children, and Magnus preserved some of the white goop in a vial, as evidence.
Levani found herself in a dark, freezing alleyway, surrounded by a dozen or more robed tieflings; acolytes of the cult she from which she had been running all this time: the Trazjte ur Flasch (in infernal, “Burning Truth”). She was greeted by a red-skinned tiefling man with yellow eyes, who welcomed her back to the family, and told her it was time she return to the cult. He made it clear that should she attempt to resist, it would be her friends that would suffer the consequences.
As her captor summoned a planar gate, Levani regarded him stoically, and dropped her adventuring gear in the alleyway. “Time to come home, child,” he said, indicating the portal.
Levani smiled. “I never really left,” she answered, and stepped through, disappearing from the Material Plane.
Taks Killed: 0
Whisper King Court Identified: 2/???
Oblex Horror Rating: Treacly
Ladies Margoleth Found: 0
RP Rating: Awesome!