Sanguinous Imperium

The Swamp and The Abandoned Keep
Level 1 & 2

The first part of the evening was spent in the swamp, where two of our party were waylaid by Will O Wisps at the command of a mysterious undead figure in a white robe. Andrew and Ethan woke as they were unaffected by the sleep spell cast by the hooded figure, and began to follow a strange light and crying into the swamp to investigate where their other party member Lisa might have gone. What they found instead was Twil, a Will O Wisp who wanted to reunite them with a Troll she had seen them playing with earlier, or murder them, whichever came first.

Ethan and Andrew decided upon seeing the troll that the best course of action would be to set it’s face on fire and smash it’s balls simultaneously, then proceed to unceremoniously beat the troll to death. Serves it right for setting that ambush, earlier, I suppose. Ethan then mounted the troll’s burning head on his trident and used it as a torch to make it back to camp. Twil then led the party to the keep in exchange for the shiny shiny bones of anybody they happened to kill along the way.

The exit to the swamp revealed a derelict keep surrounded on both sides by a rushing river, with no way to bring down the drawbridge. Shannon thought it might be a good time to cast fly on Mike, who proceeded to cross the river and act as an anchor for others to pull themselves across.

The party then forgot Mike could fly, so they proceeded to climb the wall of the keep via a grappling hook Bryan had in his bag of tricks. At the top of the wall, they saw into a courtyard where four Owlbears lay in wait. The party quickly dispatched the Owlbears using brawn, fire, wits, Stephanie’s sniper rifle, and a Giant Centipede, and after discovering the Owlbears were actually enchanted bandits, made their way towards the main building.

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Unfortunately for the denizens of the keep, they were not skilled at combat and quickly managed to shoot one of their own instead of Mike, thereby initiating a combat that left everyone drenched in ichor and a little worse for wear.

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Inside the castle, little else waited for them but loads and loads of enchanted furniture, and a small temple to the main gods of the land. After smashing almost everything, Ethan decided to desecrate the shrines of Moridin and Veena, and Andrew decided it might be a good idea to desecrate the shrine of Pelor, and give props to Asmodeus. They both then decided to desecrate the shrine of Ioun with poop, but Ioun being the goddess of knowledge found that the opportunity to examine the fecal samples of a new breed of Outsider to be more of an offering than a desecration, and blessed the two for it.

After smashing most of the furniture, the party thought to dispel the enchantments, and made due with the leftover furniture to sleep for the night and prepare for what might lie behind the massive safe door in the Master Bedroom as well as whatever lay in wait in the dungeon.

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The Keep
The Vault and the Dungeon

After a good night’s sleep, our heroes found themselves faced with a choice: open the vault or explore the dungeon. Since the vault seemed a smaller space to explore with potentially more reward, the party went with the vault. After some time fiddling with the locks, Bryan couldn’t seem to get the magically sealed door open. Shannon of course was able to make quick work of the lock. As the door opened, the party was assaulted by a terrible stench and a pitch black room, so with the help of a spell from Andrew to light the way, Mike decided to be the first one inside.

The vault contained only two things, a pile of treasure meticulously stacked to form the partial shell of an egg, and a pile of stinking rags and leather that concealed a hidden half orc dragon shaman by the name of Taren Dragonsblood. Taren had been trapped inside the vault for five years, hiding from the effects of a spell cast by a lich enchanting everyone in the keep to turn them into furniture and ravenous animals. That lich arrived not so coincidentally, as Taren admitted that he and his men had enlisted it to help them peacefully take over the castle with a sleeping spell, but whom had turned on him at the last moment. The vault door, Taren explained, was actually a magical portal to a room in another place entirely, and the lich’s magic was only effective on people inside the castle grounds. So, with the aid of a ring of sustenance, Taren waited, locked inside the vault, for someone, or something, to find him.

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During his time in the vault, Taren used his powers as a dragon shaman to commune with his dragon spirit, a long dead and evil black dragon, to find solace. Taren explained that constant interaction with the greed and hatred filled beast only served to make him disgusted with his own choices, as he realized now there was more to life than treasure and material goods. Taren forsook his totem dragon then, and began to worship Bahamut, the King and God of good dragons, who impressed upon Taren the necessity to commit himself fully to Bahamut by becoming a dragonborn, Bahamut’s elite guard and physical manifestation of his will on earth. To do this, Taren needed to acquire enough gold and jewels to make into an egg within which he could reside for three days to catalyze his metamorphosis, but unfortunately for him, the vault did not hold enough gold to do so.

Taren offered to exchange his ring of sustenance and offer his services in defeating the lich if the party would be willing to front him 2500 gold so he could fulfill his destiny. After some deliberation, the party conceded, Taren built his egg with his newfound riches, and the team decided to post guard and wait the three days before exploring the dungeon.

While they waited, the group began to notice cats with oddly ornate collars running about the castle, and decided to capture and befriend them. It was less of an ordeal than they hoped, and one of the cats they found happened to have a small box on his collar that appeared to say “faithful” on it, but before they could begin to investigate, the egg began to hatch.

Out of the golden egg, a strange winged orc-dragon hybrid emerged, emanating power. Taren, now dragonborn, cried out loudly for vengeance and demanded they travel to the dungeon to kill the lich. The party, who’d been preparing, told him to lead the way.

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The dungeon appeared more like a sheriffs office than anything else. An orderly desk for many people, open cages, and well maintained cells lined the walls. After some investigation, the party found many dead, but also many living people, some of whom were asleep and could not be awoken. At the far end of the jail, Taren found his minions and began to free them. Others began to inspect the oddly posh oversized cell in the back wall.

The oversized cell was filled with cats, and what looked like a dead body laying against a desk in the corner. Stephanie decided to throw a rock into the cell to see if the person was alive, but the rock shot back out of the cell the moment it entered. The party soon realized that the cats were able to enter and leave the cell at will, and figured it had something to do with the gems on their collars. They soon discovered that they could wrap the gemmed collars around their wrist and push their arms through, but the bars were still iron and very close together. Taren, however, was able to come to the rescue, revealing that he had the key that would open the cell door.

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When the door was opened, the party called in, and had a strange conversation with the lich inside. He didn’t seem very evil, mostly neutral, and he was very angry at Taren for having imprisoned him. Taren was also set on confrontation with the lich, so the party, unable to decide whom to side with, decided to let them fight each other. The lich, whose specialty was sleep magic, managed to subdue most of Taren’s minions, but Taren himself seemed unstoppable. Time after time the lich attacked, and Taren regenerated all damage. It looked like the lich was going to lose…

Then Stephanie took aim and shot Taren, winging him but sealing the party’s allegiance against the dragonborn. Each of the party stepped in after to cast blow after blow against Taren, but like the lich, their attacks did nothing but annoy him. All seemed lost, until Stephanie cocked her rifle one more time and sent a bullet through the bars, around his wings and armor, and straight into the dragonborn’s heart. A one in a million shot, and the dragonborn was down.

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The lich was extremely thankful for his rescue, and after raising Taren as an undead servant, promised explanations, gold, and resources in return for his safe release to his home castle. The party discovered a network of tunnels used by the hommunculus for various reasons, and began to fill them with kobolds. Soon, the whole castle was full of them, compliments of Pol, and the restoration of the castle began.

Over the next several weeks, couriers began to arrive with word from friends, and a mysterious cart was wheeled into the keep, c/o Magnus, the head of the Mage’s Tower. What was in it? We’ll have to see next time…

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The jobs board - slave stealers and the box
murder hobos and airships

A month had passed since the party had taken control of their new keep, new furniture was arriving, and new Kobold servants were everywhere fixing things and maintaining the castle. The butler and his newfound minions were in the process of making the castle as self sufficient as possible, and as news and couriers began to arrive regularly, the butler decided it was time to take stock and prepare his new masters for the future. As such, a jobs board was prepared.

The butler sat the adventurers down and prepared to give them the news: despite their best efforts towards self sufficiency, for the foreseeable future, it was going to cost at least 20,000 gold a year to operate. That said, the butler showed he did have some ideas. As it happened, learning that the castle by the sea was occupied once more led news and allies to flow freely from all over sanguinous imperium along with many requests for aid. Caravans were being ambushed, bounties leveled, and leads uncovered.

The arrival of a new gift from Magnus made other jobs available too. Hunters guilds needed rare venoms, and very important deliveries needed to be made.

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The party, unable to decide which job to take first, decided to take two at once. The first, investigate the mass theft of the regions slaves and inquire with lord Cothrop of Cothropton about five miles away. The second, deliver a strange box covered in abyssal runes to a Heironomous H. Topot about two days journey to the north in Sky town. So, the party took the box and prepared to depart on their journey.

The trip to Cothropton took very little time on horseback, though the road between Cothropton and the keep was not as worn as it once was. Cothropton was a sleepy little town with no walls, barely rising above the swamp, anchored between the sea where its fishing vessels darted here and there, and a massive manor house owned by Lord Cothrop himself.

The party was quickly shuffled from the manor yard and into a large open throne room containing the portly lord and about ten town guards. Lord Cothrop greeted them warmly and bade them listen to his story. A group of humans had been stealing all the kobold slaves for miles between the keep and the mages tower. They’d been bold, providing shelter and protection for them while their leader, Pol, masqueraded as some kind of messiah and spurred them to rebellion. Agriculture in the region was in shambles, and if these thieves weren’t stopped, every fief between Cothropton and the tower would starve.

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It took moments for the party to realize Lord Cothrop was talking about them, even before Pol the kobold was mentioned. The party deliberated amongst themselves, then revealed that they were the humans Cothrop was talking about. Lord Cothrop was stunned, but Andrew and Ethan were hasty to point out that they were simply associates and not the agents of Pol. Lord Cothrop then challenged the party, saying they could avoid arrest if they returned the kobolds and brought him Pol’s head on a platter. The party countered, saying that if they killed Pol, Lord Cothrop wouldn’t be able to identify him. Lord Cothrop began to get angry, but before he could say much else, Mike stood and raised his pistol, unloading it into the unsuspecting Lord. The head guard, upon seeing the handheld object pointed at his lord, guessed it was a weapon of destruction and dove for the lord, screaming “he’s got a wand!” as he did so. The guard’s actions saved the lord at the expense of his own life, but it did not last for long. Between a mighty guyt-liquefying blast of sound from Lisa’s oboe, the quick shooting of Stephanie, and a well timed gut punch from Bryan, the guards in the room were wiped out before they could scream, except for one. Where had he gotten to?

Knowing this was their only opportunity, the party began to search and loot the room and the dead guards. Not much was found, until a false wall protected by a hidden lever revealed the treasury. 150,000 gold, all in massive chests waited, bathing the party in the light of their splendor. Now, how to transport it?

Shannon suggested a gateway, but her only available spell would only transport as much gold as someone could lift The party decided on a good old fashioned horse and cart, but in order to do that, they would need a distraction. Lisa and Hershel sprung to action, and with a little performance and concert, some obscuring mist fro Shannon, and lots of showmanship, they were able to draw the crowd aside while the other men loaded the gold.

Then, the town hall bell sounded warning. The last guard had reached the town hall and was ringing the massive bell to warn the town of danger. A little bit of quick thinking on Stephanie’s part silenced that problem, though. She darted into the street, took aim, and blasted the wooden beam supporting the bell to sawdust. Though the crashing bell barely missed a bystander, the loud gong and the sound of falling rubble attracted those who weren’t already spellbound by Lisa’s bard song. allowing Mike, Bryan, and Ethan to steal away with the goods. Andrew airwalked to safety, and when they were out of sight with the cart, the rest of the party broke loose and ran. They had escaped with 150,000 gold!

The first night back had everyone exhausted, so when Stephanie was awoken by the sound of whispers and bone scraping on rocks, it was no surprise to her that she could not get Mike to stir. Raising her light, Stephanie discovered to her shock that the sound was a very apologetic skeleton sneaking his way out of her room. Once the creature got the door open, it ran, and after it ran Gary, Stehpanie’s newly acquired kitten. Stephanie followed the kitten into the dungeon where she discovered Wormwood putting on a spare set of clothing. He informed her that he had been sent by Maximus the Dead to deliver a message of parlay. He would meet the party in a place that they chose in three weeks time. Stephanie returned to her room where she told Michael what had happened, but deigned not to give any of the others news of this strange visit and message just yet.

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In the morning, Andrew sent his minion to pin a well written emancipation proclamation on the door to the town hall on behalf of Pol to cover their tracks, and the people of the town inexplicably began to see the light, turning from their old slave keeping ways. Couriers were sent from the lone guard to the keep to ask for parlay, but the group had already decided to go back to Cothropton with the entirety of Pol’s 350+ kobold army in tow. The guard met them at the gates, 25 able bodied men behind him. He demanded, strangely enough, that the party give him 30 gold for his trouble and left the town to them, saying Andrew;s words had turned the world upside down, and he hoped the kobolds burned and at the lot of those slave loving fools.

Having defeated the town’s defenses without even trying, the party set to arranging the town’s day to day. Hershel was named lord of the town, now called Burden, taxes were lowered, and new farming methods were devised to get everyone on the right track. Almost all of their money, minus a small 40,000 gold portion, to keep the keep running for two years, and a little extra, went back into the town to bolster the economy, buy food, placate the townsfolk, and bolster the town guard, who now had to defend against invasion by other lords as well as the usual horrors of the swamp.

So, having gained and lost a considerable sum so quickly, the party set forth to visit their next job, delivering a box they’d had on the back burner for several days, having Ethan’s men playing hot potato with it to keep the urge to open it at bay. On their way out, kobolds stopped them to show that they’d killed and subdued two strange little creatures, who Andrew discovered through ghostly communication were Dretches, out to steal the box for a Vrok. The party decided to set out post haste, but soon found themselves surrounded on all sides by these vicious chirping yelping little demons. Each yelp brought one more dretch into being, and each new being added a yelp to the cacophony of screams surrounding the party. Shannon blew some apart as they rode with a well placed fireball, and the group fled on horseback.

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It wasn’t long after they lost them that the party realized the dretch were attracted to the box wherever they were. the woods filled with the sound of countless hordes of dretch converging on their position. Mike drew up a battle plan and set out physical traps with Hershel, Bryan, and Stephanie’s help. Shannon surrounded the traps with explosive runes, designed to kill if any of the dretch were to glance up at the trees where the party waited to strike.

The trap worked just as the party had hoped. Droves of dretches converged on the camp and the trapped box, getting stuck on vines and other traps, blown to pieces by explosive runes, and generally torn asunder, but more came, and with each passing second, the party realized they would be over run if they stayed. They waited for the next lull, and bolted for the horses.

Hours passed and horses exhausted, the party arrived at Skytown almost a day ahead of schedule. But where Skytown was supposed to be, there was instead a massive chain reaching up to the clouds. Ethan, still fresh from the fight, decided to climb the chain, while Mike found a sign that read “Ferry up at 12 and 6 AM and PM.” Knowing the dretch were at most a few hours behind, Stephanie asked Shannon to cast fly on her, and she heaved Hershel slowly into the air with her towards the end of the chain high above her.

Ethan, in the mean time, had scampered up the chain, fearless as a monkey, and was now face to face with a goblin behind a small portcullis. Ethan told the goblin of the dretch and their plight, and the goblin lowered the large basketlike ferry where the exhausted Stephanie dumped Hershel and descended, then reascended with the rest of the party. Before the ferry broke the cloud barrier, a little green and red form could be seen running out of the woods, where it released a disgruntled yelp.

Once the ferry docked, the party reunited with Ethan, and they were promptly surrounded by goblin guards. The goblins poked and prodded the adventurers, asking questions, when someone from the party mentioned the name Heironomous H. Topot. A massive hulk emerged from the mists and roared.

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“You have my package!” A larger than life hippopotamus shaped man creature bellowed as he pushed past the confused goblins. the hippopotamus man, heretofore known as a Giff, shooed away the goblin guards and invited the party to his home. They were then taken out of the ferry station and into open air, where they saw why Skytown was called Skytown. Massive conglomerations of floating boulders, known as lodestones, were chained together to form the most confusing and dangerous looking landmass of cobbled together houses and shops possible. In between each were ropes, which slowly guided balloon speckled gondolas of all sizes between them. Only a few bridges, however, stood between the adventurers and the giff’s own massive balloon-suspended home.

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Heironomous invited the party inside to see what he’d been working on while he got their money for them. Once inside, they were led to the garage, where three massive airships were anchored, each easily large enough to sport an entire seagoing crew. Then, the giff took the box and, after explaining it’s origins as a demon’s heart, shoved it into the back end of one of the airships. The propellers on it’s sides began to spin, and the giff had to quickly pull a lever before the ship broke it’s moorings and flew off.

“This,” he exclaimed, “is the next wave of transportation, and if you’re willing and able, you can have a 150,000 gold discount on the first one IF you let me keep the 100,000 gold I was going to reward you for the box. That would mean, of course, you could be the proud owner of one of these babies for as little as, say, 50,000 gold?”

The party was intrigued. They looked to their ledgers. 25,000 gold left.

Then the giff gingerly cleared his throat, saying softly “Of course, that’s just for this prototype. Wait until you see what else I have to offer!”

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The Truth about Airships and Mimics
or, how I procrastinated by shooting at things in a hole in the ground

When we last left our adventurers, they had just decided on the cheaper of the two available airship models, seeing as they didn’t quite have the money for the second, and Mr. Topot had mentioned the balloon-less ship would need a little more prodding before being set out, and with that in mind, he decided to make another offer. If the group were to find him three more Vrok hearts, he would use two of them to power the ship and let them trade up to the faster, shinier, sleeker model, if they let him keep the third heart for experimentation. The group readily agreed, and Mr. Topot mentioned they might be able to find someone to summon the demons for them at the local temple, if they asked for Clarence.

The group moved swiftly down the road and across a balloon ferry to get to the temple, and when they arrived, two people sporting dimensional eggs were already there, one of whom was dressed in peculiar clothing, even for this world. Shannon recognized her two classmates at once, and introduced them to the group. It was Ben and Elaina, whom had inexplicably fallen in a different place and had their plummeting luckily broken by hot air balloons and the quick-grabbing hands of a goblin crew. The local temple had in turn given them a place to stay while they adjusted to the new world, and taught them the skills they would need to survive. Elaina had chosen wizardry like Shannon, and Ben had chosen the profession of Artificer, or maker of magical things, much to the delight of their goblin benefactors.

The group explained to Ben and Elaina that they were getting ready to summon some Vrok to fight, which tweaked a memory in Ben’s mind, but before he got to say much, Clarence, the local cleric, had come out to greet them. Clarence, being the pragmatic sort, supposed it was serendipity that brought the egg wielders together, and when he found out that the favor was for Mr. Topot, explained that yes, it was possible, but this would erase his debt to Topot once and for all. The group, though they didn’t really have any authority to do so, agreed, and began preparations for a summoning.

Just before they began, the thing that had been nagging Ben at the back of his mind came to fruition: if Vroks are anything like the ones he’d read about, they would be infinitely more powerful in cohorts of three than individually, and it would be near suicidal to summon them all at once. Bryan inquired with Clarence if it would be possible to summon one at a time, to which he agreed, and the group decided to do a little thinking about their actual strategy before beginning again.

Mike was the first to speak, pointing out that Vrok were demons, and thus subject to considerably negative effects as a result of contact with cold iron, and wondered if it were possible to create a net out of cold iron chains. The group decided to explore the idea, and went to a nearby smith to inquire about the possibility. The smith, a dwarf, and one of the few non goblin residents of the islands of Skytown, was intrigued by the possibility, and stated even if they paid double at 600g, it would still take about 6 days to get things finished. The group paid for the net, and left, deciding to head back home and check out the jobs board for something to do in the mean time.

The trip back to the keep took just about as long as the initial journey due to the group’s inexperience with airships and lack of a proper crew, but they managed to avoid, and even piss on (thereby also pissing off) a small group of bandits who were set to ambush travelers on the road back. Their trip also took them over some interesting looking ruins, and Lisa made a note to explore them at a later time.

When they arrived home, the group decided to take an evening or two of rest before setting out again, this time to investigate the ruins Lisa had carefully marked on her map. Mike and Stephanie decided to use this time to have their clandestine meeting with the enemy.

Mike and Stephanie, as promised, arrived at a clearing in Twil’s swamp where they were set to meet with the enemy. After some time, out of the shadows of the forest a cloaked figure emerged, looming over them at what seemed like 15 feet tall. Then, in most surprising fashion, the cloaked figure reduced to about 6 feet tall, and stepped out from under the cloak wearing a too-well tailored Brooks Brothers suit. With blonde hair, blue eyes, and straight white teeth, this was not at all the great lich usurper Wilamena had told them about. In fact, this man looked very much like a game show host, THE game show host, The Mysterious Mr. M.

Maximus the Dead, as he was called in Sanguinous Imperium, stepped forward and explained that he was glad to see the group had made it safely to Sanguinous. Something about the radio waves on Earth interfered with magical travel, and it was a crapshoot as to whether or not the people he brought from the Tri Cities would actually have survived the trip. They could have been five feet off the ground, a mile up, materialized inside a wall, or even underground. It was unfortunate, but it had to be done, and now, Maximus was going to explain why.

Maximus spoke to Mike and Stephanie about his father, a careless and weak man who had allowed the country of Sanguinous Imperium to shatter into independent fiefdoms and sheer chaos, encouraging all in his kingdom to ignore law and do good as they saw fit. He watched his mother pardon vicious criminals with good acting skills and sob stories, and chide merchants for demanding payment from those who stole their wares, simply because they were poor. Maximus saw his sister, a princess, take up with a raucous group of robinhood-like thieves, and he suffered as his father remanded him to the dungeon for weeks because he had begun to take the law into his own hands, gathering criminals and executing them as they should have been. But the prisons were not well watched, and Maximus escaped. Maximus traveled the countryside, finding like-minded companionship in various orders and sects, cults, and even necromancers, whose followers stood stock still and listened, then did EXACTLY as they were told. Maximus took his newfound friends and attempted to breach the castle walls, nearly succeeding to achieve the throne, the Dragon Throne. The throne which would make him absolute ruler, and influence each and every citizen to finally seek order and law. But his father intervened, sacrificing himself and his own manservant to create a lich from the soul of his own son, Maximus, completing the ritual by sliding a sword deep into his son’s chest as if it were nothing. A loving father he had been, not wanting to truly end his son’s existence, but he was a fool to think preventing him from sitting the throne would stop him from overtaking the Granite Citadel, killing his parents, and taking control the good, or evil, but definitely old fashioned way, through force.

Maximus sent out hordes of undead to cull the dissenters and remaining family members and bring the rest of his people back into his flock, but the individual kingdoms of Sanguinous were too used to being independent, and his law flowed over them and disappeared like sand over fingers. Even his sister Wilamena evaded him. He had to sit the throne, or nothing else mattered. Maximus had to find out how to become human again, without truly dying first, and the only place with that information was only accessible by Outsiders.

So, Maximus found a plane of outsiders, a plane without magic, a plane with reasonable ingenuitive people. He found the smart ones, and used these devices both to bring them to this world and to keep them safe in it. Sure, you had to break a few eggs in the process, but that’s the price of a good omelet.

Maximus then explained that he needed them to go to the Valley of Nox, where the Codex of Night resides in the Library of all Knowledge, and ask it a simple question: how do you bring a lich back to life without destroying it’s phylactery? The codex would answer one question per person, so they were free to do with the other questions what they willed. If they just brought back that information, they would be handsomely rewarded. Four tonnes of gold per person to bring back to their plane, or a high and powerful office and a fiefdom of their own if they chose to remain.

Mike and Stephanie acknowledged what the lich said, but had some questions of their own: Why not Wilamena as queen? Why kobolds as slaves? to which the Lich replied his sister was too chaotic like his parents and that the kobold slaves were essentially the lesser of two evils, slavery being necessary and kobolds being a better alternative to humans, and Mike and Stephanie told the lich they would consider his offer. Maximus agreed, saying that for now he would withdraw his forces and make sure no controlled undead would seek to harm them, and faded back into the forest, where the shadow foretold a host of undead had gathered.

Mike and Stephanie returned home quickly, understanding the knife edge they now stood on, but Twil, having been sent by Ethan to spy on Mike and Stephanie as they disappeared into the woods, returned to Ethan far ahead of them, spreading vague news about a happy meeting between Ethan’s friends and the really big scary king lich guy, who unfortunately didn’t kill anybody at all. As Twil wrapped up her side of the story, Mike and Stephanie appeared over a hill, prompting Ethan to run back to the keep and sound an alarm.

When Mike and Stephanie returned, they were met in the courtyard by the assemblage of their team, and spells of truth-telling were cast. Mike and Stephanie relayed the message given by the lich, and the group decided to mull over the decision while they blew off some steam, and blew apart some bad guys.

The team assembled a group of kobolds, led by Phteven, to crew the ship, and made their way to the ruins. After some searching, they found a large hole in the ground that appeared from above to lead into a treasure room, complete with chests brimming with treasure. Ethan tied a rope around himself and handed it to Mike, who tied it around himself, and Ethan jumped down into the room. Ethan reached down to unlock a chest and found that not only had his hand gotten stuck, the chest opened up rather sharply to display not treasure, but rows of teeth. Stephanie shot the creature immediately in an attempt to help Ethan, but the force of the blow took the mimic back fifteen feet, and Ethan went along with it, unfortunately pulling Mike into the pit via the rope attached to Ethan. Around this time, Bryan disappeared, and the rest of the group began to help either by jumping into the pit to do battle with the beasts, or by providing support from above. Shannon and Elaina blasted away with fire, Stephanie with her rifle, Lisa buffing the group extensively through song, and Ben by whipping out a badass laser pistol and a freaking turret! In the end, the team prevailed, eliminating the mimics and dispersing the oozes which pretended to be walls behind them. Andrew and Ethan had lost armor, and the famous codpiece was destroyed, but everyone was ok, and the penny fortune of a very poor country was discovered, mostly in coppers and silvers, hidden behind the false ooze walls.

Luckily, the team had a whole crew of kobolds at their disposal, and an airship with which to bring the treasure back home! But the team had a different idea: why not return to Skytown, pay Topot the 50,000g, and get the shiny new airship ahead of schedule!? Sure, it would be a little slow until they could find two more Vrok hearts to power it, but at least it was pretty!

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The Ovologist and the Priest

Having returned home with their new ship, the team took a little down time to see to personal projects and plan for their encounter with the vroks.

Bryan, Elaina, and Ben went to Ben’s lab to reconnect Bryan’s arm, while Stephanie, Mike, and Shannon went to see about selling Shannon’s dagger and resupply for the mission. Andrew and Lisa were gone helping Pol liberate some Kobold slaves, but Andrew returned in time to help Ethan scheme to bring Twil onto the ship with them by turning part of it into a swamp. While the other’s plans went off without a hitch, Shannon and the others ran into a little trouble with a traveling merchant, who sought to make off with Shannon’s dagger, and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Though he got away with the dagger, he left behind his things, which included several handy haversacks, some magic swords, and a magically sealed lock box.

When everyone had arrived back at the keep, the butler decided to inquire after the man who’d been sleeping in the chicken coop for upwards of a month, if the party would finally deign to see him, or if he should just turn the man away. Despite warnings regarding his smell, some members of the team agreed to see the man, who refused to bathe prior to the meeting on religious grounds, and asked him why he was there. The man explained he was a priest at an abbey in the desert to the south, but that his main occupation was ovology, the study of eggs, and he had come to see the eggs so often described were carried by the party. He claimed he could improve them if given a few hours with them, and after some deliberation the party agreed to allow him access a few at a time. The man returned with the improved eggs and told the party everything they did with them would influence what would happen when the eggs hatched, but didn’t go into any further detail about it. Pleased that the man was able to improve the power of the eggs, the party decided to leave it at that and set out to the north to summon the vroks.

The party first stopped at the smithy to pick up their net, and Ben discovered the dwarves of Sky Town wore an amulet that eliminated phobias to deal with their fear of heights. A few of the party decided to buy some amulets, and the group made their way to the temple. Clarence the goblin cleric was ready for the group when they arrived, newly forged net and amulets in hand, and agreed to the holy water distribution modifications and traps the party wanted to set up. The first vrok fell into the trap, wrapped in steel, and was dispatched without much effort, with Stephanie expertly removing the heart and Clarence successfully banishing the vrok back to the planesquare of hell. The second vrok, however, was a whole new set of problems.

The real fight began when the vrok was able to avoid the net, but the team was able to get in quite a few hits before the vrok could act. When it did, however, it went big. The vrok disappeared, and three more appeared in its place. One quick blast from Ben’s laser pistol was able to determine the three vroks were actually an illusion, but the team had no idea where the other vrok had gone. It didn’t take long to notice it hanging outside the window though, and the party went to work breaking out the windows to fire at the beast.

Knowing they had to knock the vrok out without killing it, Ethan set about lassoing the creature with help from Andrew, but thought they were successful, the final blow resulted in a 500 pound dead weight jerking Ethan out the window. Feather fall was cast on the vrok, but Ethan was left dangling from a rope at the end of him. Fly was then cast on most everyone, and Ben ran back to get the airship. Stephanie was forced to try mid air surgery, using Mike as a table, and though he was barely alive, she was able to keep him together through the ordeal.

After getting the vrok back to Skytown, Clarence then attempted and nearly failed to banish the vrok,nalmost allowing a massive creature to break through, and decided the favor was just too big. He refused to summon a third, unless… Unless maybe the group could find him a wife.

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The Lady or the Bird-Demon?

Feeling time was of the essence, the party got to work on finding Clarence a female friend post haste. Clarence guided them down to the local tavern where they all sat at the bar for some drinks. The tavern was busy that night. Groups of drunken goblins and dwarves sat throwing insults at one another, surrounded by groups of less rowdy patrons, and there was even another party of adventurers present.

Clarence wasted no time in pointing out his quarry, either. Gwinny, the lovely goblin maiden sat having some ales with her friends in the corner. Failing to adhere to common goblin social code, Mike intervened with a quick switch “Haaaaaave you met Clarence?” followed shortly thereafter by an interjection by Ethan to improve Clarence’s social standing. Strangely enough, this momentary buffing of Clarence’s reputation and charisma had the intended effect. It turned out Gwinny was attracted by the bad boys, and a bad boy cleric who had just summoned some demons and was planning to do so again was just what she was looking for. It didn’t take much cajoling for Clarence to convince Gwinny she really ought to come to his “workshop” and see his “tools,” so the group was left with a successful wingman mission and no particular plans for the evening.

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Luckily, the girls had been listening in on the conversations around them. The usual trade disputes between the goblins and dwarves weren’t really interesting, but apparently the other adventuring party was having some issue with an object of power they were trying to destroy. The party: a dwarf, an elf, four hobbits, and three humans (one a ranger, one a fighter, and a wizard dressed up all in gray robes) were arguing about being able to make it to a volcano deep in the orc territory to the west so that they might destroy the artifact. Having heard their plight, the girls alerted Ben, who was an expert at destroying magical artifacts. Ben casually approached the table and proffered his services to the party, who were understandably skeptical, but offered him the ring and a very short haircut should he choose to abscond with it. Ben quickly and efficiently reduced the ring to spare parts, and ended the fellowship the others had only just started. The wizard was dumbfounded, but offered his sincerest thanks, and bade his own party to disperse. The fellowship, having made serious concessions and ventured such a long way only to have their quest rendered unnecessary so quickly, felt more than a little frustrated as they set back out for their homeland.

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Andrew, who happened to witness what was going on before him, approached the dwarf, who said his name was Gimli, and asked if he would like to join Andrew’s “wrestling federation” since he no longer had a quest. Gimli agreed, but only if there was good wrestling to be had. He wouldn’t go adventuring with a group he’d only just met, but he liked to wrestle. So, Andrew and Gimli decided to test out their newfound alliance and set up an elaborate ruse, in which Gimli would take on a “wimpy” looking Andrew as a partner in exchange for double prize money if both of them succeeded, then set themselves upon the local dwarf band. Gimli handily won, and Andrew himself was no pushover as they wiped the floor with their opponents. Fun had, the party retired to the ship, and prepared for the final Vrok fight the next morning.

The party set up for the Vrok fight almost as they had before, but this time, the ship would be waiting outside with a full compliment of kobolds on cannons and ballistas, just in case the party moved outside again. Clarence, being both exhausted and hung over, near immediately failed the summoning, making the portal slightly wider and more accessible than before. Now, instead of one netted vrok, there were two completely free vroks to deal with.

To make a long story short, and because I don’t want to fudge the details, the fight resulted in the loss of several kobolds and the near loss of Twil due to spore attacks. One of the vroks was chopped in half, and most of the temple was destroyed, but the team did get their final heart, and Andrew was finally able to create an undead zombie ally: a vrok, complete with a kobold body peg leg. The portal, however, remained open, and even though it was the size of a softball, it wasn’t good to leave such a thing unguarded. After the party couldn’t decide on a course of action regarding the portal, Bryan dropped a cannon ball half way into it to seal it up for the time being. No way that could bite them in the ass later on, right? Anyway, the party brought the heart to Mr. Topot and headed on their way, a job well done. Except maybe the demolished church, and the portal to hell, and all the dead kobolds. Well, can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs…

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Finally, Dungeons AND Dragons

Having arrived home with a new ship, the party deliberated on their next move. Should they finally proceed to the valley of nox, or should they seek to prepare themselves more? Mike and Steph, unfortunately, had been injured during the Vrok fight, and would need some time for recuperation. The rest of the party would have to go without them for a while.

After some discussion, Ben leaned forward and presented an idea. What was one thing every party needed? Healing. Abundant healing. And for that, he said, he had an amazing little device in mind. However, there was no way around it, he needed a fresh Red Dragon’s heart. But the party HAD just defeated some very powerful denizens of HELL. What problem would a dragon be? He didn’t even need a fully adult dragon’s heart. He just needed an adolescent heart, and Pol had mentioned he might know where to find an hatchery.

The team deliberated again. Could they just BUY one? No, the mage’s college didn’t have any fresh, and the things they suggested were going to cost upwards of 75,000 gold, and they didn’t really know where else they could find something like that. Then Pol stepped forward.

Pol had aged somewhat, or at least looked more mature now that he had a wispy beard and wore robes gathered around him like some ancient priest. He counseled the group, telling them about a red dragon hatchery at the edge of the desert to the west, close enough now that they had their ship. It was in an out of the way place, sparsely guarded by a group of heretic dragon worshiping kobolds who did not know or refused to speak common, but despite what the party had experienced before, these kobolds were ruthless. If the party ventured into their lair, they would be set upon by devilish traps and mechanisms, all designed to kill. It wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but Pol knew that they could make it, and offered them a wonder to behold if they brought him the eye of a dragon.

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The party spent some time figuring out what supplies they needed, then headed out. It wasn’t hard to find the place Pol had marked on the map. Dragons didn’t tend to hide themselves much anymore, and the charred slopes and gaping cavern trailing smoke were a good indication of what lay within, not to mention the plumes of flame that burst from the mouth of the cavern when the ship flew too close. The group set down a ways off, and Ethan ordered the ship to make continuous passes looking for them to exit. He didn’t want the party getting stuck without a quick getaway if need be.

The entrance to the cave was more guarded than the previous kobold sanctuary the group had seen. This entrance boasted a portcullis, and a murder hole through which the kobolds could watch the party approach. Fearing what might be inside, Andrew instructed his undead Vrok to enter first, shortly after blocking the murder hole with a large rock.

As suspected, the Vrok was accosted from various murder holes inside the entrance, and quickly backed out having noticed nothing but a narrow door some farther distance inside. Bryan and Ethan elected to enter next, since they were both nearly invisible in shadow. Bryan headed for the door to see if the lock could be picked, and Ethan decided to see if he could make one of the murder holes slightly larger with his egg-hammer. Both failed their first attempt. Ethan’s knockback reverberated off the walls and sent him flying into the rock behind him, and Bryan lost track of his tools in the commotion. The rest of the party then entered, invisible, to see if they could help, but not long after the group entered, the trap was triggered.

Without warning, the portcullis slammed down behind the party, and the wall opposite the murder holes erupted in flame, igniting the oil slicks on the floor beneath them. The party was engulfed in fire, and Bryan failed another lock picking attempt. They were trapped in a burning room.

Luckily, Elaina had exactly what was needed for the situation. She quickly cast grease on the area under her feet, and again to catch most of the rest of the party. Bryan succeeded his next lockpick, which resulted in his and Ethan’s bursting into the following room and rolling on the floor to puth themselves out. The group behind had to struggle to stay on their feet, but at least they weren’t on fire anymore. Ethan then stormed the door leading to the room where the kobolds hid on the other side of their murder holes, and the kobolds quickly escaped down a well. Not wanting them to resurface behind them, Ethan used some spears to block off the entrance, and the party went on their way. Lisa smartly marked the wall with chalk as they went, making sure they could make a quick escape if need be, and cast detect secret doors, which led her to believe there were more than a few secret places around the area. Shannon cast detect magic to help the effort, and took notice of some distant magical remnants as well.

The next room the party approached had some waiting kobolds in it. They sneak attacked the party, then fled, leaving behind what looked like a break room for the guards, and a book which after some reintegration seemed to be about the rites and rituals associated with dragon hatching.

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Bryan took the opportunity to explore further on ahead, since he didn’t need any light. He passed one hallway on his right, and after some time, took his second right. He quickly realized it was wise to check for traps before rounding corners, and spent the next several minutes picking what looked like porcupine quills out of his skin while waiting for the rest of his party to arrive. Ben met with similar misadventure. Having taken the right which Bryan had ignored, Ben had the pleasure of meeting a small kobold barrel bomb, more known for blowing off eyebrows and leaving nasty splinters and a singed smell than for killing, but painful nonetheless.

Lisa marked both trapped corners while Andrew surged forward, reaching yet another room containing kobolds who were preparing some traps. He managed to grapple one of the kobolds before it made it’s way into the well, and Andrew and Ethan attempted to interrogate it. Despite a successful intimidation check, neither Andrew nor Ethan actually spoke draconic, so most of what was said went to waste until comprehend languages was cast. Even then, the two decided that the kobold’s information was worthless, and decided to do some experimentation with Andrew’s chest piece. Ethan swung the kobold around like a bat, struck Andrew’s chestplate, and promptly exploded the creature’s innards across the both of them. Somehow, this would actually prove fortunate for them later on.

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Unable to properly block off the well, Ethan asked Shannon to freeze the water for him, after dropping a disembodied kobold head down it in an attempt to strike fear into the kobolds. The group moved forward.

Bryan, aided by his darkvision, was able to relay to the group that something looked wrong in the floor ahead, and successfully triggered a floor trap that lead to a spiked pit below, before disappearing again down the hallway. Ben successfully disarmed a crossbow trap, and Andrew slipped on some charnel dripping from his armor, resulting in his falling into the open spike trap. Luckily for him, however, Andrew was able to notice that the spike trap continued on for some way, and that jumping over it would have just resulted in even more damage to the next person to attempt it. He called out his finding to Ethan, who proceeded down the hallway to the right and avoiding the spike trap altogether. However, he and the party came to an abrupt end, where a message spread itself across the wall as either Ethan or Andrew approached. When examined closely, it was found to read “speak, blood of the dragon, and pass.” It was determined to be both a secret door and magical in origin, but nothing was opening it.

It took a short while for Bryan to come back from his further exploration of the cave system, and when he did, the group was stuck against the secret door, attempting to open it. Someone made mention of speaking draconic, to which Bryan replied “Draconic? I speak draconic!” in draconic, immediately revealing the path before them. The combination of someone with kobold blood and the speech of the dragons had allowed them to pass, but the group was feeling tired and had endured a great deal of punishment, so they decided to hole themselves up in the previous room. Shannon cast Leomund’s Secure Shelter, and the party rested, their first night in the caverns completed.

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Finally Fighting a Dragon

Despite waking up refreshed thanks to the secure shelter spell, the party was soon to learn that the dungeon would only become more treacherous from here on out. Several party members had disappeared in the night, split off from the others.

The kobolds had made their lair well, as both parties soon learned. At every wrong turn lay a trap, and every room held kobolds ready to attack and then disappear down their traveling wells, but the cave-like dungeon held just as many treasures and wonders as it did traps and pitfalls, and now that there were two traveling parties, they were bound to find twice the treasure… and twice the trouble.

Each party eventually found themselves in large rooms of swirling water adorned with three large sapphires on the wall. One party chose to sack their room and steal the sapphires, and the other chose to experiment. The latter party soon found they could use temperature to activate the sapphires and travel through the swirling vortexes to other locations in the cave. By and large they decided this was too useful a mechanic for the kobolds, and proceded to remove the gems. Both parties ran into some nearly impassable traps, but thanks to a little musical intervention one party was able to circumvent theirs with a little fiery fluting. The other, well, left pinned to a wall but otherwise unharmed.

The party, battered and bruised after a hard second day of dungeoneering, for some reason decided it would be an excellent idea to take refuge in a secure shelter on top of a slippery landing in front of a long staircase which ended in a long drop into a spike pit, and decided to do a bit of light reading before going to sleep.

What they found in the book they had recovered was more than just rituals of dragon raising, it was the history of the kobolds, dragons, and humans in Sanguinous Imperium. Within the pages, they discovered that long ago, an object of great power had been fought over by all the races of the realm, above and below ground. The fighting became so bad that the Outsiders, aliens to the realm and with no stake in the outcome, retreated to the Valley of Nox where they walled themselves up in magic to avoid fallout. In their rabid quest to take control of the object, the drow had summoned the wrath of an ancient evil to wipe all life off of the surface of the earth. They thought that with all of the upper races dealt with, it would be easier to fight their meager opposition in the underdark and take the object for themselves. The dragons, having sensed the oncoming storm, took the kobolds who served them and retreated deep underground, but all other sentient life above ground was lost. All that was left of humanity, elves, and any other sentient above ground species, lay hidden in cellars or entrapped in dungeons. A young wizard by the name of Wolfschild survived the onslaught by chance, and worked together with the dragons to reunite the savage remnants of his country under his banner. Together, they constructed a throne of power which would grant unrivaled power to the man who sat in it, and used it along with a blessing from the deity Pelor to destroy the object of power, returning a semblance of order to the world. Wolfschild became DePelorgras, and cogs that worked to wheel together the events of today fell into place and were set in motion.

Luckily for them, large boulders are very loud objects, because as soon as the group left the shelter to investigate the sound which had woken them, the large boulder originally designed to chase them down the hallway, onto the slippery landing, and into the spike pit smashed into their shelter, and crushed it down into the spike pit under it’s massive weight. Having succeeded at surviving their flattening fate, the party investigated the top of the staircase and found two ravens in gilded cages atop a hill of gold and gems. The Ravens, a speaking duo of telepathically connected trash talking cowards, swore themselves to Mike and Andrew for a year and a day should they release them, and so they did.

The party moved onward to fight through several more obstacles, labyrinths of murder holes, trapped boxes, crushing columns, and even the ghost of a once powerful kobold paladin, when they finally appeared in a large, well lit cave where Andrew’s Vrok waited, traumatizing a score of kobold younglings while their keepers endeavored to fight the beast back. The reunited parties were able to retake control of the Vrok and allow the younglings to escape, whereafter they disposed of their caretakers quickly and moved on into the charred black sanctum of the dragon.

The dragon they found in the poorly lit chamber was larger than they’d hoped for, bright red with intelligent eyes, and very angry. The small gouts of flame that escaped its maw as it breathed flickered light across the room behind, and hinted at piles and piles of gold, gems, and other precious items, but the team just didn’t have the time to focus on anything but the dragon. Ben’s quick thinking may have saved everyone, because as the dragon was able to fire off a massive cone of flame, Ben was able to blast the dragon with an extra powerful dose of magically produced liquid nitrogen that effectively prevented it from moving or doing much more than its cursory attacks. Once that took effect, the team was able to wail on the dragon with little fear of reproach, and the dragon which had possibly been the greatest enemy they faced so far was laid low in a matter of minutes by the careful precision of the group.

Having gathered a hoard of gold and a plethora of magical items, the group searched around and found a secret door leading out of the base, but were dismayed to find that some kobolds had escaped, and the local constabulary were more than displeased to find they had broken the peace between men and dragons in the area. As the group stepped up to fight this army of new foes, an even larger dragon stepped out from the shadows of the forest, demanding to know who had destroyed her lair.

Rather than risk an all out firefight on open ground with a dragon, Ethan used his newfound powers to summon a Portal to the Shadow Realm, and the party, yes, they turned about, and gallantly, they chickened out. Swiftly taking to their feet, they beat a very brave retreat. Brave, brave, brave, brave team skullFUUUUUUCK. But seriously, it was probably for the best because they would have likely died or have been captured had they stayed.

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Journey to the Shadow Plane

Upon exiting the portal to the Shadow Realm, the party found themselves thrust into a perpetual twilight, a dark and twisted version of the world back home. The same forest stood in front of them, but gray and dead and uninviting. The mountainside cave lay behind them as well, but something black and scaly replaced the red dragons that lay within.

Having seen them exit their portal carrying eggs of stone, the old Shadow Dragon recognized in the party the fulfillment of an old prophecy, and beckoned them to him. He told them he would not hurt them if they followed him, that he had foreseen their coming, and that they would be welcome inside where the winds of smoke and the denizens of the shadows would not follow.

When the party re-entered the cave, what they found was similar in size and shape, but wholly and completely different otherwise. The once smoke blackened stone of the interior was now shiny and sharp volcanic glass, and the interior of the cavern was lit with colorful magical auras. The air smelled of sulfur and hot metal, and the tall creatures which almost slithered with silent purpose across the floor in dark flowing robes were not kobolds, but Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers. Mind Flayers, unlike any creature the party had encountered before, were creatures of unparalleled intelligence, tall and bipedal, with slimy green and purple skin, Cthulu-esque beards of tentacles hanging from their squidlike beaks, some tied together with strips of leather. A group of them stood casting magic into a cauldron filled with magma, and only a few of them took more notice of them than one would a stray cat. By comparison in both size and intelligence, the party may as well have been just that, a small herd of cats.

Soon, a retainer appeared. An Illithid in slightly more human lookign clothing introduced himself and said that the Shadow Dragon had instructed him to bring you further into the cavern, to the dragon’s grotto. Waiting in the grotto were several more opulently dressed Illithids, who seemed to teem with excitement at the sight of them, unlike the others in the outer caverns. They were soon approached by a group of these, who turned out to be priests of the great intelligence, and who related the prophecy that had been given to them so long ago. A group of men and women, bearing eggs, would appear to lead the Illithids back to their rightful home, and help them place the rightful king, whom they had raised themselves, back onto his throne.

A grand feast ensued, with music and games of intellectual (and telekinetic) skill, and introductions to the young Prince Volfkinder, a quiet and intelligent lad with a neutral demeanor and a wild head of black hair. The party was given leave to explore the temple home of the Illithids at their leisure, though they were warned not to go lower than the highest level, as the lower levels were much more dangerous due to their lack of influence over the normalcy of the realm beyond the reach of their magical auras. Even Illithids who ventured into the lower levels came back… different, changed, and not in a good way. Surprisingly, the group acquiesced, and kept to the upper levels, choosing to explore, converse, and shop, rather than explore the dungeon below.

Lisa, in an effort to gain some leeway with the Illithids, introduced them to some of the greatest composers and sheet music of our time, and the Illithids, in exchange, promised her discounts, and a very special gift later on. Ethan and Andrew took part in games of chance, in turn gaming the Illithid running the games by preventing him from reading their minds and actually making the rigged game a true game of chance, which they lucked out and won. Others took the time to converse with Prince Volfkinder, finding out that he was the illegitimate son of the now-lich lord Maximus DePelorgras, and therefore, one of the true heirs to the Kingdom of Sanguinous Imperium.

After spending some weeks preparing, Ethan brokered a deal with the Illithids to bring them back to their home, and when the Illithids were safely through, parted ways with them to return to the party’s keep. Prince Volfkinder elected to remain with the party, which was accepted, and the group made their way back to the keep where they would prepare to rescue Ethan’s captured Airship.

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The Three Emissaries and the Drunken Naval Rescue

When the party finally returned to their castle home, Herschel and a group of three emissaries were there to meet them. While their kobold servants unpacked their wealth, the group elected to meet with the emissaries and see what they needed.

The first emissary, obviously a Vampire by the sight of him, came to warn them that their deal for safety with Maximus the Dead was wearing thin, and he expected them to begin their journey to the Valley of Nox within the month, or there would be dire consequences. With much cajoling, the group was able to assuage his distrust of their motives somewhat, and Ethan’s promise to meet him later that evening for a potential turning persuaded him to leave for now.

The second, Tessa the Tactless, member of the resistance group which had first rescued the party and set them on their way to the Valley of Nox to find a way to defeat Maximus, was nonplussed by the discovery that they had also made a deal with Maximus, but encouraged them to backstab Maximus at their earliest opportunity. She mentioned that she, too, had been sent to check on their progress, as though words of their misdeeds had traveled across the land, it didn’t seem to be leading them anywhere closer to the valley. Tessa decided she would stay with the group until such a time as they decided to actually begin their quest, and left to go make herself at home.

The third emissary, a scared man who came down with Herschel from Burden, came to relay an urgent request to the group. The Brotherhood of Weejas, whose mission was to preserve balance between good and evil in the world, had noticed that far too many evil undead had been raised, and far too many good people killed. They endeavored, therefore, to bring a sacked down of 100,000 people back to true life, but they needed the skill of two necromancers and the protection of Team Skullfuck to succeed in their task. The team agreed to meet two days henceforth, and the man hurriedly left to bring his information back to the brotherhood.

In the meantime, the party decided to celebrate their recent fortune with a good round of getting completely shit-faced.

During the proceeding shots, shots, and more shots, Ethan proceeded to slink out of the castle and to his clandestine meeting with the Vampire Emissary of Maximus the Dead. The Vampire was more than happy to discuss the process of becoming a Vampire, especially the part where he would be draining Ethan of blood, but Ethan interrupted the Vampire with a request that he accompany him to the Shadow Realm, where it was dark all the time, and no sun shone to hamper a Vampire’s good fun. The Vampire thought it was a great idea, and upon arrival on the Shadow Plane, Ethan promptly waved goodbye to the Vampire and abandoned him there on the spot, never to be seen again.

That dealt with, Ethan returned to relay the good news, and mentioned that he felt good enough to go rescue his ship, which was only a short three hour boat ride from their home. The rest of the party happily agreed… to go wake up Ben, and drag him down to the boatyard where they proceeded to happily and drunkenly lay waste to anything and everything that stood between them and their precious airship. Many men lost their lives that day, and not a one of them really understood why a group of angry drunks was beating the hell out of them and trashing their workplace in the process of doing it. But, they did manage to rescue their ship and its crew of kobolds in the process.

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