Scaled Down Scales

Visit to the Library
All the Books Are Gone

Behind the pile of rubble blocking the door to Ioun’s old library…

…the Golden Scales found scribes in search of knowledge. A search so desperate they were willing to steal it from the minds of others.

Garen Bladerun could see letters forming on the chest of the undead scribe before him…something about Fariex and Quelenna. Negotiations on a unified military command. He knew it must have happened at the Coalition meeting. But he could not remember it actually happening.

To Zumos, it almost felt like he was being picked upon. Sure, Garen was taking the brunt of it, but that was the way it was supposed to happen.

He kept trying to step back — out of the Barrages of Knowledge that left him dazed with strange and ancient thoughts. But he had to see his target to launch his own barrages — his were fiery, of course — and he could not get back out of range. Using his limited teleporting ability worked once, but it was not enough.

He was taking damage even faster than the paladin.

Grigore Goldforge had just been thinking about his dreamquest. The Lost Rangers. But now he could not remember the dream. As if someone had stolen the memories from his mind. The Bone Scribe which was attacking him! It smiled as letters appeared on its chest. The words described Grigore going to sleep and dreaming the dreams of his uncle….

Sam the Foresworn could see what the wizard’s mistake was. They were all bunched up. He should have used that teleport to get past the undead archivists, just like Maggie had done.

Well, Sam didn’t have a teleport, but he was good at hit-and-run, which was working well for Delis — dang, the elf hadn’t a scratch on her body.

So, Sam darted in and attacked. And — just as the Bone Archivist was expecting him to run back to the corridor where Zumos and Delis hid — he raced on past and got behind the creatures who had been trapped for so long in this library.

> Accessing restricted files…Magdalene felt a sense of deja vu. This had all happened to her before. The letters appearing on the skin of the creature before her were taken from her own mind, just as…awakened by a knock on the door, she saw a dragon…—ERROR——-Intrusion Detected———DISCONNECTING——

Delis Erinthal saw Zumos headed her past her, but she had some sympathy: The wizard was on his last legs. Unfortunately, a Bone Archivist got past Garen to drop another barrage of ancient lore into their minds.

Knowing this blast might drop Zumos, Delis turned into the psychic attack and stared right back into those undead eyes. She could see the archivist shaking as it raised its sharpened fingerbones to its skull. Her eyes blazed as the attack came at her.

The undead creature’s head explode and Delis could hear the sigh of relief behind her. But Sam was calling for everyone to come inside and spread out. “Right up my alley,” Delis thought. “Time for the old Cut and Run.”

Once they adopted Sam’s tactics it was easy to finish off the crazed horde. Everybody said they were glad to get their memories back as the writing on the corpses faded — something Delis didn’t really understand: Her mind had never been touched.

When they found no loot, several party members began to grouse about the lack of treasure, but Zumos was having none of that.

“No treasure?” the wild-eyed wizard shouted. “There’s treasure all around us!” Following his gestures, Delis realized what he was talking about.

All the original scrolls and books had turned to dust, but the contents of the original books had been transcribed on the walls of the library . . . somewhat. Many of the sentences are in no discernable order. As the librarians grew more insane and the walls began to fill up, they wrote sentences on top of sentences anywhere they could find room.

The result was confusing and time-consuming to comprehend. But it might be possible to do some research here.

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A Proper Tea Party
Telicanthus Has His Illegal Excavations Revealed

And They Appear to Lead to the Ancient Ruins of Augur.

Awakened by a knock on her door, Magdalene peered through the tiny hole she had drilled in the door to her room at the River Jewel. Not very surprised to see Fariex on the other side, she told the dragon (who was still using some kind of magic to appear as a human trader) that she needed a moment to freshen up.

Fariex asked her to meet him in the garden just next to the posh inn, so she soon found herself discussing the Filth King surrounded by sculptures and flowers. Seems the king of the beggars was now on the run (having betrayed his benefactor, sold out the Laughing Shadows, and run out on the Golden Scales.

Fariex says the Filth King came to him this morning, right after the Coalition Meeting broke up in rancor. Knowing of Fariex’s commercial interests the beggar king tried to sell him a very valuable set of armor. “Of course, I do not deal in pawnbrokerage, even with very valuable items,” Fariex said, “But I did direct him to a factor of mine, suggesting he might offer a good deal.”

Giving Maggie directions to a dealer in exotic armor, the copper dragon told her, “It occurred to me that such a set of Pouncing Drowmesh would be an excellent complement to your considerable skills.”

Not sure how Fariex might know about her leaping skills, Maggie thanked the dragon and asked him if she might be of assistance to him.

“Oh, I am sure the time will come,” Fariex replied as they returned to the inn.

There Maggie found Maxim explaining to the rest of the party what his plan for the tea party to which Telicanthus had invited them. It was all very complicated and involved distracting people and searching the mansion via Stealth. “I’m sure that’s a plan that will need some revisions once the battle has been joined,” Maggie thought.

Sure enough, the tour of the mansion offered small opportunity for distractions (but many opportunities to explore the mansion) and once the party itself was going, few distractions were needed.

But Stealth was at a premium. Maggie could see that Pennel, the butler who looked like an assassin to Maggie, was constantly watching everyone. Telicanthus was much more discreet about keeping an eye on people, but Maggie was convinced he was watching as well.

Valhalla had noticed the old adventurer grimacing in pain and rubbing his knee, so he went back to the ballroom and told Baranor the Black about using Elfstar, a flower which eases the suffering of older orcs whose joints cause them grief. In his gratitude, Baranor rambled on about his days as an adventurer, comparing Valhalla to his old cleric friend “Goldie.” Apparently he and Goldie had once survived the destruction of a city far to the south which was hit by an earthquake. The real information Baranor provided comes when he mentions the “earthquake” he felt a few nights back, and the few nights before that. He told Valhalla he’s complained to Lord Torrance, but neither Torrance nor anyone else has felt them. “Sometimes you can feel things when yer deaf no one else can feel, I thinks,” Baranor told Valhalla. “Back when I could hear, I ignored the first tremors of the quake in the south because I couldn’t hear anything. Goldie didn’t, though.” When Valhalla pressed him further he was able to figure out that the tremors seemed to come from behind Telicanthus’s mansion.

Sam the Foresworn saw Valhalla heading back to the large ballroom (“apparently intended for bigger parties than this,” he thought) but decided not to follow, “Baranor and Valalla seem suited to each other,” he suggested to Maggie.

Soon Maxim was executing his distraction plan. Apparently, the Hobgoblin felt that a ruckus in the Portrait Gallery would attract attention away from those attending who might have better sneaking skills. Peeking into the gallery, he saw Maxim talking loudly to General Taramin, who was casually examining Telicanthus’s family tree. Engaging in what seemed to Sam to be loud but meaningless small talk, Maxim learned that Genera Taramin was asked, as a personal favor, to leave his watch patrols away from the mansion, since their presence was “a distraction to Telicanthus’s work.”

Seeing at least one of the other guests distracted by Maxim, Sam returned to the Tea Room, where he saw Zumos spying on the archdean of the university, who was speaking to Telicanthus in an agitated conversation about food storage in the city.

“Well, Zumos’s insight should be sufficient to glean whatever can be gleaned from that.” Sure enough, later Zumos revealed that Telicanthus was surreptitiously looking around to see if anyone is paying attention to the conversation, and reassuring Archdean Grimaldi at the same time. The archdean concluded the exchange by looking pointedly at Telicanthus’s kitchen and stores before walking off, seemingly pacified.

Tea_Party.jpg

Getting ready for his own excursion into the rooms of the mansion, Sam found Delis in the back hall, bouncing up and down on her feet without really jumping. The elf explained that she had noticed that, near the back of the house on the ground floor, the floor felt extra creaky, indicating something was happening near the foundation at that back portion of the property.

Zumos spotted Archdean Grimaldi in a conversation with Telicanthus. The Archdean was agitated and asking something about food storage in the city. He also noticed that Telicanthus was surreptitiously looking around to see if anyone was paying attention to the conversation, while reassuring the Archdean at the same time. The Archdean concluded the exchange by looking pointedly at Telicanthus’s kitchen and stores before walking off, seemingly pacified.

Maxim Shalion thought his plan was working out quite well. Nobody had done much searching of the mansion yet, but the distractions were flying hot and heavy. Magdalene was just beginning to work her diplomacy on Lord and Lady Torrance in the Tea Room.

She was reassuring the pair about the Golden Scales intention to keep their investigation quiet. Obviously successful in this, Lord Torrance seemed to Maxim to be assured of their capabilities. Lord Torrance gave a hint of a nod in the direction of Pennel, the butler who was openly staring Maggie down from across the room. When Lord Torrance saw Maggie notice Pennel, he gave a slight nod and moved away.

When Magdalene came up to Maxim later and suggested the butler’s rooms be search, Maxim agreed.

But it was Sam (of course who got to Pennel’s rooms first, searching the butler’s bedroom as well as a storeroom. Reporting nothing of interest in the storeroom, Sam was unable to get into the small lockbox he found in the bedroom. When he reported that failure to Maxim, Max knew just what he would do about it.

After Valahalla produced the key to Telicanthus’s office, Maxim sent Alen to get inside the box in Pennel’s room, the quasit demon ate the clothing he found inside and returned with his mouth covered in blood. He seemed to have enjoyed it.

While Pennel did not see the demon (or the blood on his lips) he did detect Maxim’s lips moving as he gave instructions to the demon telepathically. Zumos was spotted by Telicanthus trying to sneak down the hall as well.

Fresh off his success with Baranor the Black, Valhalla decided to attempt a little Thievery. Telicanthus’s butler had raised suspicions all around, so Valhalla decided to pick his pocket. Spotting Pennel (the butler who seemed strong enough to also act as a bodyguard) pocket the key to his office, he snagged the key out of Pennel’s pocket as he passed by on an errand.

Delis Erinthal knew she had find something before Telicanthus and his butler got any more suspicious, so she headed strait for Pennel’s office. It was easy to get in using the key that Valhalla had lifted off the butler.

Going through the papers there, she was able to tell that Telicanthus and his estate were going through a preposterous amount of money, but she was unable to figure out exactly where it was going. A more thoroughgoing search turned up the key to Telicanthus’s office which she passed on to Maggie.

Maggie headed off to Telicanthus’s office (trying the key in each door as she came to it), after Bluffing Pennel into thinking she was headed in a different direction. The door at the end of the hall was locked, but opened with this key.

The journal on the desk held nothing but guest lists for the parties Telicanthus was famous for throwing. Impressive lists, but nothing more. Delis did not find the secret of the room until she brought Sam and Maggie back there.

They noticed the room wasn’t wide enough, given the size of the master bedroom next door. Sam noticed that the full-length mirror was magical, but Maggie did not need that: Walking Through Shadows, she was able to teleport to the other side. Sam and Delis figured out that the touching the mirror with a pieced of stained glass caused it to allow passage for those without teleportation powers.

Once behind the wall, they found a set of stairs leading down into the undercity. Deciding they should get back to the tea party before Maxim’s distractions wore out, the trio returned and asked General Taramin if he knew about the excavations beneath the mansion. The general told them such excavations had been common in the early days of Sayre, but that they were strictly prohibited because they had caused many cave-ins and much loss of life.

The Golden Scales decided they would have to return later to find out why Telicanthus was so interested in the ruin of Augur beneath Sayre.

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The Coalition Meets
And Ends Up Still Being Called "The Coalition"

Although Amyria’s Two Most Important Goals Were Achieved

Sam the Foresworn listened intently as Amyria explained her goals for the Coalition meeting. “I have convinced them to consider all these proposals. It’s OK if you want to bring up additional items, but these are those they have agreed to put on their agenda.”

  1. Each member of the Coalition will transfer control of all military units under their command to the Coalition Council;
  2. We will choose a leader for the coalition based on a vote of all members of the Council;
  3. A vote will determine what the Council believes is the importance of Amyria’s dream and whether it warrants investigation.;
  4. The Coalition will choose a name which is more evocative than the simple name, “The Coalition”; and
  5. The Coalition will agree to investigate Telicanthus and to find the Githyanki communication hub.

“This last one is of the highest importance, although it may encounter some resistance from Lord Torrance. He has become something of a champion of Telicanthus in Sayre society and it may be embarrassing for him should the Githyanki turn out to be a fraud.”

Sam couldn’t help but agree with the Deva’s assessment, although he put an almost equal importance on the military control issue. Once they got to the meeting hall and Amyria introduced them to the Council, Sam saw that the dwarven paladin named Kalad (who was representing Overlook) agreed with him on the importance of a unified command.

Amyria had told them just before they got to the hall that Kalad already supported her on all five points. “Unfortunately for us,” Amyria admitted, “he won’t be much use in convincing the rest. They appear to discounting much of what he says as a kind of personal devotion to me.”

Didn’t take long before Sam noticed that dynamic at work.

But he was impressed at the way Maggie confronted Lord Torrance about transferring control of his military units to the coalition. “May not convince Torrance himself,” the hobbit thought to himself, “but it looks like Odos and Caliandra are listening closely.”

Seeing and opening with Odos, Sam brought up the Githzerai history with the Githyanki to convince Odos about control of military units. “I believe that history shows clearly the advantage of working together,” he offered, pleased to see the blind monk nodding sagely. Sam also noticed Garen nodding from across the table.

Kalad was glad he apologized to Amyria, but he wished he hadn’t broken down during the apology. As he rode back to Overlook, he told himself, “They proved that I’m right. Without a leader, they’re a headless, bickering bunch. At least, I can still see to the defense of the Vale.” He knew the leaders of the dwarven city would listen to his calls for unity. “With the exception of one clan.”

Garen Bladerun nodded as he saw Fariex and Quelenna were already leaning towards a unified military command. Amyria had explained before the meeting that Fariex would have few objections, since no one knew of any troops the businessman might command. Garen thought back to who Amyria had said would be attending:

  1. Most Exalted Odos of the House of Reprisal — Garen already knew him from their battles against the Githyanki at Akma’ad;
  2. Lord Divian Torrance — the ruler of Sayre, elected by a fellowship of scholars and merchants;
  3. Quelenna Entromiel — female Eladrin, who rules over the mercantile settlement of Dornaithose;
  4. Inogo Dravitch — a priest of Erathis, who traveled a long way to get here from the temple city of Sherrbyr, where Erathis’s followers have ruled over a theocracy for centuries;
  5. Kalad — a dwarven paladin who is here representing Overlook, apparently a long-time friend of Sam and Jerath;
  6. Caliandra of the Stagrunners — whose influence apparently extends beyond her own Stagrunner Tribe as she was recently named Voice of 25 tribes of Elven barbarians who live to the north and the west of Elsir Vale; and
  7. Fariex the Scalehammer — although Amyria said he would be attending “in human form,” it didn’t take Garen long to figure out he was dealing with an adult Copper Dragon (although this puzzled him, as most Copper Dragons did not have the power to adopt such forms).

Garen turned his Insight from the metallic dragon to Lord Torrance’s concerns about military control. He could see the ruler’s uneasiness was shared by many at the table, so Garen decided to change the subject to another of the agenda items, one that would not bring up so much conflict.

This effort was forestalled when Kalad banged his fist noisily on the table and called for a vote on transferring control. Fortunately, it passed: As Garen had expected, only Lord Torrance and Inogo held out with nay votes.

“Probably make it harder to convince Lord Torrance on the other issues,” Garen mused.

When Maggie brought up the communication devices, Garen was impressed that Grigore showed one to Lord Torrance, changing the subject much more deftly than Garen could have managed. Maggie suggested her research indicated the glasswork might have come from Telicanthus and even the ruler of Sayre, where Telicanthus was quite popular, had to admit it warranted investigation.

Out of nowhere, Valhalla proposed a name for the Coalition: Dragonfang. Garen could tell Amyria liked the name, which she readily admitted. She said she was thinking of another dragon-themed name: Heaven’s Fang. Sensing from Caliandra’s reaction that she might be more amenable to a nature oriented name, Grigore suggested a third: Wolf Pack Brotherhood.

Garen was partial to the draconic names himself, but he saw that Grigore had swayed Caliandra’s vote.

Caliandra could not believe the “Coalition” could not even agree to so simple a task as coming up with a name. Amyria seemed favor the suggestion of the half-orc, and Caliandra liked the ardent’s offering. But they weren’t insisting their ideas be accepted. Any name would do. The debate showed the Coalition would never reach consensus. “Easier to convince 25 tribes of free-spirited elves to work together than to get that group to accomplish the simplest of jobs,” she said to herself as she headed towards the wilds of the badlands on the far side of Borodin’s Watch.

Maxim Shalion pulled himself from the table and started to pace while recounting the history of Nachtur to try and convince Inogo the high priest of a town to the north of Sayre to vote for an investigation of Telicanthus.

“It is common knowledge that understanding one’s enemy leads to the victory for one’s people. Less than 20 years ago Nachtur cam under attack by large groups of kobolds and green dragonborn. investigating this we discovered a hobgoblin in the court of the very city the Great Gark ruled from had aligned himself with a green dragon. We managed to stop the dragon however.” Maxim finished before retaking his seat.

“The Great Gark?” Inogo snorted, and Maxim could see that others at the table were similarly biased against the goblin king. “Caliandra and Quelenna, in particular,” he thought to himself

Magdalene took a more diplomatic approach and convinced Fariex to support the idea that the Coalition should adopt a more significant name. Then she watched as Maxim attempted an elaborate bluff to get Inogo involved in the vote on the investigation of Telicanthus, but the old priest was not fooled.

Maggie’s bluff on Fariex was more successful, winning his vote on the Telecanthus investigation. She couldn’t tell if the crafty trader was fooled or whether he was simply entertained by the effort. Seemed like that kind of guy…

…or that kind of dragon. Whatever. Maggie saw Garen casually flipping a copper coin. “Casual” not being the best card in the dragonborn’s deck, Magdalene was convinced that no one who had not already noticed Fariex was a dragon would figure the clue.

Like it was important the merchant was a particular kind of dragon.

Grigore Weatherbie Goldforge swore the failure to get the Coalition Council to endorse the investigation into Amyria‘s dream would not stop him from the effort as he lay down in The River Jewel’s best bed. But he was soon locked into his own dream. He found himself once more being congratulated by an obsequious governor, eager to tell him about some missing rangers. The Lost Rangers was the name of the quest. Journeying north to find them, he eventually found their camp in the ruins of a nameless village. That’s how he got even more quests: House of Death, Rescuing the Elder Heroes, Fiendish Trophies, and The Record of Iniquity.

Delis Erinthal was glad when Garen’s diplomacy on the Telicanthus investigation succeeded and Kalad immediately called for a vote. Odos joined Kalad to vote yea with Fariex, Torrance and Quelenna.

Inogo and the traditional naysayer were the only no votes. Delis began to think the old elf would only support an idea if she herself came up with it. “Of course,” Delis thought wryly, “once she criticizes someone else’s idea, she just may bring it up again a few minutes later. Thinking it is her own and perfectly willing to declare it sound once it has been pronounced by her own mouth.”

Delis tried to convince Lord Torrance he should offer his interpretation of the dream but he shook the suggestion off as too arcane. Maggie immediately jumped in and asked Odos for his religious perspective on Amyria’s dream. Delis suspected Magdalene was exaggerating her own knowledge of religion, but Odos humored her and offered up some insights.

Sam tried to gain some insight into Odos’s reasons for accepting the investigation of the dream, but misinterpreted the clues and the meeting blew up with Kalad storming out. Before he left, the paladin offered a tearful apology to Amyria, insisting he would come back when the Council “pulled its heads out of the sand.”

Caliandra also pulled out of the Council, suggesting that diplomacy among barbarians was easier than convincing the Coalition to do something as simple as adopting a name.

As they traipsed back to the River Jewel, Delis was struck by the contrast: Kalad and Caliandra were furious; Fariex seemed complaisant; and The Golden Scales were all depressed.

But Amyria was exultant.

Then Delis realized what had happened. Amyria had accomplished both of the goals she had placed the most weight upon. None of the Council members (except Kalad, who was already there) had come over to Amyria’s “side,” but perhaps that was not what was important to the Deva.

She had even got Lord Torrance to agree to the investigation of Telicanthus. Delis suspected the old politician had agreed only to make sure he could put his limits on the inquiry. But the Council had put its stamp of approval on it, despite Torrance’s misgivings.

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The Dreamer Wakes
Grigore Finally Gets a Good Night's Rest...

…And Oversleeps.

Garen Bladerun was no longer able to Lay On Hands. He had called on Bahamut one too many times this night. Every time he tried it, his hands shook and his faith failed. He was really looking forward to a brief rest.

And looking forward to a long sleep even more.

When he saw Maxim reaching for the treasure, he screamed, “Noooo!” Surely a pile of coins that large — and donated to a dark goddess like Tiamat — was cursed.

The shout did nothing to stop the Hobgoblin. Who was soon unconscious. As soon as his red hand touched the first coin, all of the treasure began sliding and shifting. In a frightening short period of time, it formed itself in to a gigantic Treasure Golem.

Which looked remarkably like a Gold Dragon. And easily batted Maxim into unconsciousness.

“This cannot be tolerated!” Garen screamed. That Tiamat’s treasure would form itself to look like an ally of Bahamut was a blasphemy that could not stand. As he prepared to charge, the golem obliged by lumbering across the pit and Garen noticed the Filth King was even more aghast than he.

He could tell the king of the beggars was concerned about a different kind of blasphemy: He was perfectly willing to betray the shrouded agent who had hired him — the guy in the cloak had hardly warned heroes of this mettle would be coming after him and the Laughing Shadows.

But betraying the Queen of Treachery? Stealing the offerings put before Her statue?

Garen could see that the king was really worried. Worried enough to attack even before Garen could charge. The Filth King cast some strange illusion that made it look like the Coin Golem had left some treasure behind. The golem rushed back across the pit.

Delis moved into position and fired some quick shots into the golem. But that position left the Unselie Agent vulnerable to the golem’s next attack. After it crossed back over the pit, it showed how much it could do with its Gleamshards. Bouncing them off the walls it was able to slide its enemies closer. And attacking straight ahead it could knock almost anyone prone.

And then it exploded.

Clarity. It all made sense to Grigore now. Carl Johan Goldforge, his uncle had always been a beacon of calm, mature clarity in young Grigore’s life. Not just the wild adventurer his mother had always seen, but a calm presence in the midst of chaos. Maybe the halberd had been the key to that calm. He felt somehow more mature as he turned to the old man muttering to himself in the rocking chair. “I should never have listened,” the old man said when Grigore finally convinced him to talk more loudly. “My fiance was as beautiful as sunset over the sea. I had everything I wanted, until that other woman convinced me to leave my love. I tried so hard to resist, but how can you escape the one you’ve dreamed of all your life? I told Bethany before the wedding that I had met the girl I had always dreamed of.” Although the old man was not really talking to Grigore, his words were clearer now. “We argued. I told Bethany to leave, and to throw her ring into the river. She stole my carriage and fled north. I never saw her again. I never saw the other woman again, either. I drank my sorrows away till my health failed. Been here almost 40 years now — 40 lonely years.” With this Ring

Delis Erinthal was not prepared for the explosion.

The strange golem split into its component treasures which exploded into several members of the Golden Scales before diffusing into a swirling mass of glitter. She could see the cloud of treasure was sufficiently insubstantial that Sam and Garen were having difficulty doing much damage to it.

Sam had been worrying that the golem might be healing the earlier wounds that Delis had inflicted, but Delis could tell her arrows would do even less. So she took the opportunity to get out of the range of the golem’s swirl.

Just in time to see Grigore materialize. As if out of nowhere.

Grigore hurried to The Sword’s Point. He knew his uncle’s friends were there. They had sent him to rescue Dern, who had warned them about some alchemist named Taergan. Dern was convinced that Taergan was trying to lure his old friends — a dwarf and a thief — into the Verduran Forest. But the innkeeper told him they were gone. “Bought horses and lit out fast,” he said. But it took some cajoling from Grigore before the innkeeper remembered they told him to let the ardent into their rooms. “You really an ardent?” the innkeeper asked. In the room, Grigore found 11 magickal arrows, which convinced him Igneus and Branda were not aware of the trap they were walking into. They also left a scroll and a note: “Grigore: We received word Taergan is being held against his will in the Verduran Forest north of here. We have set out to find him at a place called Tristeza House. Please bring what you need and meet us as soon as you can. Bring word of Dern’s safety with you. — Branda Tulles.” Finding the Path

Magdalene had seen Grigore use his Wormhole Plunge to great effect before. “But it is an awfully powerful spell to use to get past a couple of minions,” she thought to herself.

Grigore didn’t seem to be worrying too much about using his powers. He went straight to work healing those who needed it.

“No shortage of those,” Maggie mused, as the golem reformed itself out of the swarm and demonstrated it could do it all over again.

The Filth King had gone down in the initial explosiion, and Maggie saw Sam rush over and try to heal him.

As Grigore emerged from The Sword’s Point, he noticed a crowd beginning to form. People were beginning to hear about the haunts he was putting to rest and good he had done in Hope’s Hollow. Even the Governor was there. “People have been talking about what you’re doing here in the city — slaying ghosts and rescuing people. We need more folks like you. In fact, we have a few of Casomir’s finest missing in the woods up north. When you’re finished with the work you’re doing now, I’d like you to go after a band of rangers we sent north to scout the forest. The druids are concerned for them, which worries us. And, of course, good people going missing isn’t something we can let stand.” Grigore got the governor to direct him to Brother Zaganos who gave him two more quests: Child of the Wildwood and Finding Strange Beasts. Then Grigore realized he was still in a dream and woke up. To find he was late. He had to use Delis’s Map to catch up with the rest of the Golden Scales.

Sam the Foresworn could tell the Filth King was well and truly dead as soon as he tried to stabilize the ragged beggar. “I hope we got all the information we could out of him before he died,” he told Grigore as he explained that healing spells would be wasted on the body unless they performed a Raise Dead ritual first.

Sam turned to the golem and soon figured out that his backstabs did, indeed, do a lot of damage.

“As long as I don’t try them when he’s insubstantial.”

When the battle was over and the Coin Golem was dead, Sam was as surprised as anyone that the body of the Filth King was no longer there. Grigore accused him of letting the beggar get away with playing possum, Sam insisted he was sure the guy was dead. “Maybe his henchmen slipped in and made off with the body,” he thought to himself, even though he saw no evidence that anyone had sneaked past him.

“But, at last, we have a treasure worthy of my skills,” Sam announced as they divided up the enormous pile and Delis claimed the Eyes of the Eagle, apparently a trinket she had been searching for.

Sam could hardly see the lenses once Delis rested them on her eyes, but the elf insisted they improved her vision, especially at a distance.

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The Eve of Destruction
Maxim Takes it to the Limit...

…One More Time

Chance Runner awoke to find himself alone in the room at the posh hotel where Telicanthus had set them up. The River Jewel or some such.

“I guess they went on ahead without me,” he thought. “I’d better hurry and catch up.”

Luckily, he had paid attention earlier when Delis had explained how to get into the secret lair of the beggars. Beneath the city in Riverdown as he recalled. Just the other side of the Low Bridge to the University district.

He headed down that way, gave a gold piece to a very happy beggar kid named Whoolayo and found the first trap door propped open. He dropped another coin into the slot by the second trap door and made his way down to the lower level — supposedly part of an ancient city, buried beneath Sayre.

“Hmmm, I thought Delis said there was a Gluttonous Cube here,” he said. “I guess that explains all the acid on the floor. I wonder who set off the ambush.”

Once he got through the door he found the rest of the Golden Scales preparing to raid a temple. Chance could tell it was once dedicated to Ioun, but the symbols of that Goddess had all been stripped away. Inside the vestibule, it became apparent the temple had been re-dedicated to Tiamat. Which seemed to enrage Maxim for some reason.

The pews inside were filled with beggars, all facing Garen who volunteered to go through the door first. A filthy and bedraggled priest across the room stood before the altar. “Get them!” he hissed.

The Filth King was just starting his sermon when Whoolayo rang the bell. He sent some of the Laughing Shadows to set up the ambush with the Gluttonous Cube. “Don’t forget to pull all the planks off the upper floors,” he reminded them.

The battle was already joined by the time Valhalla roused himself from bed and made his way to the temple.

“I better start handing out the slaying,” the half-orc decided as he concentrated on the Beggar King. Maggie had already laid down some serious damage on the raggedy priest, but some groveling no-account was convincing the fake beggars (the ones with chainmail under their rags) to mark the other members of the party.

He had never fully realized the value of his executioner’s axe before, but it was clearly the perfect weapon for a slayer like himself. It didn’t take long before the Filth King was bloodied and looking to switch sides.

“Your boss doesn’t pay me enough for this,” the priest told the groveler and he started to attack the false beggars.

“Your boss doesn’t pay me enough for this!” the king of the beggars snarled at the Laughing Shadows. The intruders were targeting him before he switched sides, but they quickly decided the Groveler was the real boss. They quickly finished off the Shadows, making the Beggar King especially glad he had switched to the winning side. “At least I still have my insurance policy,” he thought to himself.

Magdalene made sure the Filth King did not sneak off when the battle was over. She wanted to know more about whoever it was who wasn’t paying him enough.

The king of the beggars readily identified the guys in chainmail as Laughing Shadows, a band of mercenaries. He swore he did not have enough money to hire them himself.

“A few weeks back, I was approached by a stranger in a cloak. I did not see his face, but he offered to pay substantially if my beggars would harass the Githzerai at every opportunity. Now I knew no Gith would be easy marks and I told him so.”

Maggie could see the problem and told him so.

“That’s when he offered me the services of some mercenaries he had in his employ. Turned out to be these Laughing Shadows guys. But they did not protect me as well as I expected. But they did allow me to collect some of the bounties he offered.”

Maggie assumed this meant the bounties on the Githzerai. And it sounded like the Filth King was telling the truth.

“Yeah, he was not just willing to pay for harassment. He actually paid us a bounty for dead Githzerai. Even when it was his own men doing most of the killing.”

Just then, Maxim jumped to the other side of a pit which protected a pile of treasure beneath a statue of Tiamat. When the treasure turned into a golem — shaped like a dragon — Maggie knew they were in trouble.

“Not even time for a short rest,” she thought as the Treasure Golem reared up over Maxim.

After the fight, the ninja girl started interrogating him. He told her all he knew, even though she seemed more gullible than the rest of the intruders. When he saw the hobgoblin messing with the pile of tribute, he shouted, “Don’t touch the tribute. You don’t want to try to betray the Queen of Treachery!” But the hobgoblin went ahead and grabbed for the gold. King Filth watched in horror as the mound of treasure began to shift of its own accord.

“Where are you guys?” asked Grigore Goldforge as he found himself once again on the lawn outside the Mother’s Care Home for Invalids. The old man in in the wheelchair was still there, but he saw no sign of the rest of the Golden Scales.

“Oh, yeah,” he realized that this was a new dream. He was once again his uncle. The rest of the Golden Scales were lost in their own dreams. Jerath had given them a quick rest this time, not a rest together. For the rest together did not refresh.

“I guess in order to ‘knit the raveled sleeve of care’ I have to face a dream alone,” he said — a little embarrassed he was quoting Jerath. And he turned to talk to the old man and see what he said about his fiance.

As he turned, he realized he was now wearing the scimitar which Garen had found in a previous dream. He thought remembered Garen Bladerun calling it “Clarity.”

“That’s crazy,” he said to himself as he drew the blade. “In this dream, I am my uncle. And he would never carry a scimitar.”

But he felt a calm presence as he pulled it from its sheath, almost as if Clarity was a living being of extreme empathy.

Trying to reassure him.

He remembered his uncle telling him that he always believed his halberd was sentient, just unable to to speak, communicating only through an empathetic connection with him which grew stronger the more bravely he fought against evil.

“That’s what he called it!” he said, startling the old man in the wheelchair. “Clarity. My uncle called his halberd ‘Clarity’!”

As he looked down at the scimitar in amazement, he realized it was no longer a scimitar, but a polearm. His uncle’s halberd.

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Covet House Infiltration
WWABD (What Would a Beggar Do?)

Give and you shall be given to

Delis Erinthal carefully pointed out the beggar-child after she told the rest of them about the warehouse and sign — Give and you shall be given to.

She was convinced this kid (or another like him) was always posted outside the abandoned warehouse. Delis was explaining this as the boy wandered over and asked for coins. She promptly gave the beggar a copper piece.

Maxim followed suit, but Sam and Garen refused. The beggar looked a little confused, but wandered away.

A little irked at the failure to understand her suggestions, Delis walked over to the boarded-up doorway. “Ridolfi and Sons, Spice Merchants,” the faded sign over it said. Telling herself to be more careful the next time she gave instructions to the other Golden Scales, Delis undid the latch which allowed the boards to swing out with the door.

Inside it was dark. The light which had filtered in during the day was no longer there. Soon, her eyes were glowing and her darkvision was fully active. The Unselie agent made her way easily over to the trap door. It was trapped. She had forgotten that from her earlier visit. Delis decided to wait.

Once Maxim was inside, she saw that waiting was a good idea. With no darkvision power, Maxim was having difficulty seeing the path through the debris. He was trying to feel his way, but not making good progress. As Delis made her way over to help him, she decided to wait there until everyone was inside. Then Sam could disarm the trapped trap door.

Garen came through next and then Sam arrived, breathless. “I think we’ve been spotted!” the hobbit said. “The alarm has been sounded. I think we should expect trouble.”

Whoolayo saw the four dressed in rags before they saw him. Beggars, surely, but no one he recognized. These were the kind of people he was supposed to check out: Probably Covet House material, but not necessarily cleared to enter yet.

Cursing the narrow passageway they found themselves in, Garen Bladerun, was crawling on his hands and knees. As were the rest of them, except the halfling. After Sam had removed the trap on the trap door, he had gone down and pronounced the passage under the warehouse to be “fine.”

“Fine for a halfling, maybe,” thought Garen. But he was pretty sure it was too small for him to unfurl his wings and fly. At the end of the passage, they found another trap door, leading further down.

He recognized this trap door as the one Delis had told them about. A crudely carved sign said, “Give and you shall be given to.” Delis said it could be opened easily by slipping a coin into the slot next to it.

When they opened it, they quickly spotted the ambush that had been set there. Delis told them she got past the Gluttonous Cube here with no problem, but she did not mention anything about an ambush. As they sat there in line before the trap door, debating tactics, shurikens began flying out of the opening. So the others began leaping in.

When his turn came, Garen decided to unfurl his wings. What better venue for gliding wings than a three-story drop into the undercity. Delis had blocked the opening with one of her globes of darkness, but he was pretty sure he could get past that before he hit the floor three stories down.

Sure enough, when he got past the region of darkness, he was able to see a groundfloor lurker who could be pinned against the wall. Unable to maintain his hover and fly away without a reposte from the Streetfighter (obviously one of the gang who were posing as beggars by wearing rags over their chainmail). So he dropped to the floor and pinned the fighter against the wall.

The cube had retreated to block the door which seemed the only way out. But, as soon as it saw him on its level, it slammed into him and immobilized him. The Streetfighter’s follow-up might have slowed him, but being immobilized was all the paladin could manage at one time.

Once he was mobile again, the cube tried another slam that the cube began to vibrate badly. Obviously frustrated by this failure, the cube kept on trying. But all it got for its efforts was a shaking so violent it split itself in two. While this made each cube easier to kill, the resulting blobs were able to gang up on him.

First one would immobilize him, then the other would engulf him. He spent much of the rest of the battle fighting his way out from inside ever-diminished cubelets.

Whoolayo walked over to the small group of beggars and asked them for a coin. That was the secret. Give and you shall be given to. If these beggars had already been recruited, they would know about the passcoin. The elf-woman quickly gave him a coin and so did the hobgoblin. But the halfling kept his money, and so did the dragon-guy. Strange, maybe the others don’t trust them yet.

Maxim Shalion was in the perfect position: The floors had long since rotted out of this three-story buried building, but the remnants of the floors (basically boards sticking out of the walls every 10 feet or so), offered the perfect perch for a ranged attacker like himself or Delis.

Even Sam did some ranged fighting before leaping to the “ground” level to help Garen battle the cubes. But Maxim could fight just fine from up on the ledges. And he had the perfect spell to be-devil the cubes. When he placed a Hunger of Hadar in the middle of the bottom story, the cubes could not fit in the space around the edges without leaving some portion of their blobbiness. inside the globe of darkness, hungry shadows were constantly nibbling at their very life energies.

Even once the cubes were whittled down — or divided down (one of them split in two when one of his Eldritch Blasts did some major curse damage on it) — far enough to fit on the edges, they could still be forced into the globe of shadowy knives. Engulfing the engulfers, what better way to fight fire with fire? Sure he could only use this spell once a day, but Maxim knew he was unlikely to have a more perfect place to use it.

Garen seemed to dislike being engulfed so often, but Delis kept telling him he was doing his job by keeping them busy. Maxim guessed that he paladin just did like having acidic goop all over his shiny armor.

Whoolayo decided he better keep a close eye on the beggars. The elf went over to the warehouse and walked inside, acting every bit like she knew what she was doing. The hobgoblin likewise showed that he knew what the Covet House protocols were all about. Whoolayo lost track of the hobbit. But when the dragonborn went to the “Ridolfi and Sons” and through the boarded up doorway. The lookout decided this was the kind of thing he was supposed be on the lookout for: suspicious intruders. Maybe the dragonborn was legit, but that was not Whoolayo’s call to make. The young beggar quickly made his way over to a rope hidden by the foundation of a nearby building and gave it three quick pulls. If the dragon man was a new recruit, he could explain it to the welcoming committee…. Whoolayo chuckled, “From the inside of a gluttonous cube.”

Sam the Foresworn was able to help Garen with his Gluttonous Cube problem, once all the Streetfighters were finished off. Even with both Delis and Maggie working on the Scrabblers, the minions lasted much longer than Sam would have preferred.

Before the battle was over, even Sam was able to enjoy the view from inside of a cube, but he was finally able finish off the last cube.

Which was engulfing Garen in a last-ditch effort.

“How do you carve a statue of a dragonborn paladin?” asked the hobbit, flourishing the dagger he just bought. “You just cut off everything that doesn’t look like Garen.”

A fruitless search for loot later, Sam came up with another riddle: How do find the pockets on a Gluttonous Cube of semi-gelled acid?

When it came time to explore the rest of the Covet House underground complex, he volunteered. He found a partially-dug-out street, complete with palettes and sleeping gear for the beggars who made their home down here. But the street was obviously a remnant of the city of Augur, which had apparently been buried here in ages past.

Sam had heard from some of the historian in the party that was some kind of punishment for wizardly wrongdoings, but what else can you expect from wizards? “Sooner or later, they get too powerful for their own good.”

He also found an abandoned building from the ancient city, but no own had ever bothered to clear it out.

Across the “street,” however, was a temple which had obviously been restored. The original decorations (maybe commemorating Ioun or some such god) had been torn down, but not replaced.

Sam decided it was time to return to the others and tell them what he had found.

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Pandemonium III
This time with real daemons...

…even if they’re only in someone’s head.

Maxim Shalion was the first to notice it: Not everybody seemed to have the same idea as to who the enemy was.

Mind-control and doppelgangers. Keeping track of who was who not longer seemed totally possible inside Grigore’s dream.

Maxim figured out a simple rule: If it attacked the demons, it must be a friend; if it attacked a friend, it was suspect and its advice could safely be ignored.

pan·de·mo·ni·um wild uproar or unrestrained disorder
“This time it was the daemons’ goal: create confusion and disorder.”
— Ambassador TIen

Valhalla was really in his element. Not only could he hack and slash with his axe inside this dream, but he could let his mind run free as he debated the existential meaning of identity within a dream with Magdalene.

Let the daemons figure out his deepest desires and use them to trick him into attacking the others. He saw it happen to Sam. He saw it happen to Maxim.

They were in a dream. His favorite dream. A dream of slaying where a friend could turn and attack at any moment.

Perfect place for an executioner’s axe. And Valhalla had the best.

pan·de·mo·ni·um tumult or chaos
“Yeah. Can’t blame it on the Golden Scales this time. The daemons were trying for utter chaos. This time it was the daemons. In his head.”
— Alen the Quasit

Chance Runner was pretty sure letting the Dark Slayers suck the life out of the patients in this nursing home was a bad idea as soon as Delis suggested it. And his book confirmed it: As soon they had sucked the last life out of a victim, these demons would become more powerful.

That was the way Delis seemed to think. Chance figured that was why she became an archer. But Valhalla and Maxim seemed to have other ideas. They were dealing damage at a ferocious rate. And Sam and Maggie were living up to their usual standards.

Thinking that his best powers could not be used up in someone else’s dream, Chance turned himself into a spark and tried to match the damage the others were laying down.

When the fight was over and all the Dark Slayers dead, Grigore led the Golden Scales to a room where an elderly cleric lay. Chance could tell that Grigore already knew where this room was. He even seemed to know who the priest was. And he wanted to get him to speak.

But the man on the bed was unable to talk until Maggie identified the Indigo Dreams poison the Dark Slayers had been administering to him in the guise of nursing-home administrators. Once identified, Grigore was able to heal the cleric enough that he could speak.

The cleric sputtered for a few seconds, working his dry mouth and choking out a rasping cough.

“There’s no time,” he said in a hoarse whisper. “Taergan Flinn keeps me here. He plans to murder Crandel and Tulles. Don’t let them go into the woods. Fiends and nightmares lurk there.”

pan·de·mo·ni·um a place or scene of riotous uproar or utter chaos
“All inside his head. Dreams. That guy’s got some weird stuff going on in there.”
— Ambassador Tien

The elderly priest then began to struggle visibly, as if forcing memories to the surface of his mind. His eyes widened momentarily.

“A house in the Hollow.” Grigore Goldforge was sure that his uncle’s friend was referring to the town of Hope’s Hollow. “My strong box. My old treasures, and my piece of the watch. Take them to Tulles. She will know you speak for me.” He breathed heavily for a few seconds, struggling find strength in his weakened body, then continued:

“Find Flinn. Make him confess. And tell the town about this place so these families can save their own.”

Dern Fosimuth closed his eyes, exhausted by the effort. His breathing slowed, but Grigore could tell that it was even.

After the Golden Scales told the townspeople about the evil that Taergan Flinn had arranged in the Mother’s Care Home for Invalids, they explained where Dern’s house could be found.

In the strong box, they found a talking scimitar which took an immediate liking to Garen, whose name seemed to be Garen Deve in the dream. Or maybe Ged. Grigore wasn’t sure. They also found scroll of consecrate. Dern’s fragment of the Weirding Watch was found, mounted on a copper bracelet.

Grigore awoke, surrounded by those who had participated in the ritual with him. He had one thing on his mind: What were the names of the people he was supposed warn?

It was a question which had haunted him in the dream, even before he woke up. But it was not the question Jerath asked him.

“You wanted me do do another ritual?” the bard wanted to know. “Was that the Song of Restfulness?”

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Welcome to My Hope's Hollow
A small town in the Shadowfell...

…where Grigore’s family…

…would visit when he was a child. Later his mother set her hopes on the idea that he would settle down there as a healer and cleric.

But, no…

…he had not go out and try to become some hotshot adventurer, like his uncle: his dead uncle.

It was a dark and stormy night. A vague and inchoate idea strikes down the weak.
Chance Runner

Once he had helped some of his teammates to divvy up the loot and make a few purchases, Grigore Goldforge decided to concentrate on getting some ritual books for Rinoa. The sorceress had recently begun to see her ritual studies pay off, but she was definitely short of rituals she knew well enough to perform. Since they were in a town renowned for its magickal markets and flush with cash, the ardent decided now would be a good time to pick us some rituals.

University District near where they were staying seemed a logical place to shop. Sure enough, they found a street which seemed to be dedicated to selling scrolls and rituals. Grigore wasn’t sure why competitors would all set up shop in such close proximity to those they were competing against, but it seemed to be the rule in many cities, even in the Shadowfell.

It certainly made it easier to shop.

They soon found three shops which piqued their interest:

  • The Demon’s Binding, which seemed to use a bound demon for advertising (or maybe it was a “sign”) as well as for security;
  • Nature’s Way, which specialized in rituals connected with nature, and was run by (of all people) a half-orc priest; and
  • unNatural Rites, which turned out to be another nature specialist, despite the assumptions of necromancy which the party started out with.

But it was from a professor at the university they bought most of their rituals for Rinoa. Although they later learned he had shop called The Heart of the Matter they found him at his office.

A psychic vampire, another vague and inchoate idea that strikes down the weak.
Sam the Foresworn

Garen was concerned about Grigore. The leader of the Golden Scales was sleeping only fitfully the past few nights. Some he seemed to get some rest; others were so dream-wracked that Grigore actually seemed less rested in the morning than when he had collapsed into his bedroll.

Garen doubted that even the posh accommodations at the River Jewel would break the cycle of bad dreams. Then he had an idea: ritual healing.

When he came back from the dead, Raven told him it was like waking from a good night’s sleep. The shaman said he felt completely refreshed. He took the proposal to Grigore.

“You want to kill me so you can resurrect me?” the healer exploded. "I’m not willing to undergo death just so I can feel rested.

But Garen was undetered. If Grigore was dead, he couldn’t very well complain that they were using a ritual to return him to life. And Garen was convinced that, if they kept fighting with Grigore this tired, sooner or later someone was going to have to resurrect him.

Jerath had a ritual book. Perhaps he could teach the resurrect ritual to Rinoa and she could use it on Grigore…

…should Grigore happen to die.

So, Garen went back to the River Jewel and found Jerath, who gladly loaned the paladin his ritual book.

Garen was disappointed to find this book was mostly bardic rituals, to be performed at taverns and misty camps in the hope that they might turn up some useful information or prepare a cast for a particularly difficult performance.

No Resurrection rituals. No back-from-the-dead rituals. Not even re-incarnation.

Song of Restfulness sounded promising, but when he took the idea to Grigore the ardent shot down the idea. “It doesn’t say you don’t dream,” he pointed out. “But we could use this tonight to get a good rest and still have time to hit the Covet House in the middle of the night. That might get us the advantage of surprise.”

As Garen and Grigore continued to peruse the book, they found several other useful rituals: Apparently Jerath did a lot of historical research for his plays; he seemed to favor rituals which would help him glean interesting facts, like Chorus of Truth, Aria of Revelation, History Revealed, Consult Mystic Sages, and Spirit Idol.

Then it hit him.

Garen found a ritual called Dream Concordance. Not what he was looking for, but it might be just the thing to help his friend.

If he was reading this right, the Dream Concordance allowed other people to enter Grigore’s bad dreams. And help him. Help him defeat whatever it was that was sapping his energies there.

When he explained this to Grigore, Garen saw Sam nodding intently.

A pseudodragon, a temptation for the weak.
Garen Bladerun

As Jerath began his ritual, he asked them all to concentrate on what they wanted find in the dream. At first Sam could not imagine what he should look for. Then he had a sudden inspiration. What was pursuing Grigore in his dreams? Almost a mental version of the thing which the ardent feared most.

A psychic vampire.

So that was what Sam concentrated on: A vampire which preyed upon the fears and desires of those around it. He wasn’t sure what that meant, but he wanted to hunt it down in Grigore’s dream. Then he found himself in that very dream. On a dark and stormy night, the Golden Scales were all there, including Jerath, on a winding road. Up ahead, a graffitied signpost pointed the way to Hope’s Hollow.

The small town was laid out before them in regular squares as they looked down into the valley where it lay. To Sam it almost seemed like a chessboard. Grigore led them to a nursing home: “Mother’s Care Home for Invalids” reads the sign outside, but the Golden Scales ignored the pleading of a woman outside and entered anyway.

Inside, they followed Grigore to a room where bloodstains transformed into a strange haunt which admitted to patricide. “I fell in love with a beautiful woman, but she was betrothed to another. She said that unless I could repay the dowry given by her suitor, we could never be together. I asked my father for the money, but he said it would deplete my inheritance. Then I got really angry. He said, ‘Why don’t you just kill me then?’ I don’t know what came over me. All I could think about was my love. She was perfect for me — everything I ever dreamed about, and almost more perfect than I could bear.”

“Welcome to my nightmare,” Grigore told them then. “I think you’re gonna like it,” he said with a trace of irony. Garen stabbed and burned the bloody bedclothes. Then the whole group returned to the entry and social hall so they could explore the main office.

In that office, they found two middle-aged administrators, a man and a woman.

The man stood, looking down his nose at the adventurers, and said nothing.

Ar’jun, the grandmaster who trained me, who would never strike down the weak.
Duilin Silverfang

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Pandemonium II
...Another Round...

…with Tein and Alen still denying any involvement.

Maxim Shalion was confused about Grigore’s leadership.

Everything seemed to be going fine: The paladin had revived one of their attackers, and Grigore had asked Maxim to help him with the interrogation. Maxim was going to play the “good cop” in what Grigore called a good-cop-bad-cop system, which he gathered was something like the good-drow-bad-goblin routine sometimes employed where he came from. Standard torturer’s tactics in the Great Gark’s dungeons.

He started with his bad-goblin routine, and Grigore took over with the good-cop stuff. When Grigore’s stuff got a little weak, it looked like a good time to alternate back into the bad-goblin part. So Maxim started to threaten some serious mayhem, like feeding the gangster’s brains to his demons or something like that.

At first, he thought Grigore was playing along with the script: The good-drow was supposed to pretend he was having trouble restraining the bad-goblin. But when Grigore told him not to interfere, it was the ardent who seemed to be losing control. Maybe the good-cop-bad-cop routine was different, but in the good-drow-bad-goblin technique it was the bad goblin who was supposed to seem out of control.

First, Grigore hit him. Didn’t hurt much and Maxim guessed it could be taken as a crude form of restraint. But, when Maxim tried to continue the charade, Grigore ordered Garen to punch him. Instead of scaring the prisoner, this seemed to please the gangster. Then Grigore stabbed Maxim and removed all doubt from Maxim’s mind.

Grigore wasn’t just acting it. He really was out of control.

As they pinned him to the ground, Maxim whispered some quick words to the air.

pandemonium, n. wild and noisy disorder or confusion; uproar. “I’ve been thinking about doing comedy by that name,” Jerath admitted. “But that doesn’t go with the elvish theme.”

Garen Bladerun realized that his leader had displayed some very un-leader-like qualities this day. But at least they had talked to Jerath and gone through his Ritual Book.

That Object Reading ritual (which some of them said they had seen before, when Elyas had used it to see General Zithiruun riding his dragon) sure worked out well. When the drow bard used it on the jewel which Grigore had seized from one of the mercenaries who had disguised themselves as beggars and attacked them in the Plaza of Vision, it revealed five images:

  • A room filled with books. Lord Telecanthus is handing the jewel to a filthy beggar.
  • The same beggar in a tall, narrow room. He is handing the gem to a well-dressed mercenary who stands beside a Gluttonous Cube. Partway up the inside of the room’s walls, Jerath showed Garen the remnants of rotted floors, as if this was once a multi-storied building. Now boards have been placed across the room between the remnants, but it really doesn’t form a complete floor. The mercenary is wearing chainmail and doesn’t seem to have disguised himself as a beggar yet, but it could well be the gang-member who held the gem during the ambush.
  • A section of street serving as a sleeping place and shelter to beggars. Stopped up by silt and soil on either end, this 50-foot-long section of roadway is lined with ancient cobblestones and filled with sleeping pallets and the meager possessions of dozens of people.
  • An old temple. Garen could tell it was once sacred to Ioun, but those days are long past. The pews are filled with beggars, all with their backs to you, and a filthy and bedraggled priest across the room stands before an altar. Behind the altar is a pile of treasure.
  • Another view of the treasure behind the altar. A gap is apparent between the altar and the treasure and the gem sits on the altar, separated from the treasure. From this angle, it is clear the priest is the same filthy beggar who took the jewel from Lord Telecanthus and gave it to the mercenary.

pandemonium, n. a condition or scene of noisy confusion. “Maybe you should call it ‘A Midsummer Night’s Party’ or something like that,” Belinda suggested after Jerath explained what the play would be about.

Delis Erinthal was a little annoyed at Garen’s clumsy attempt to follow her. “Just like a paladin: trying to stalk someone while wearing full plate armor,” she thought. When she got to the Market District, she ducked down a alley, found some shadows, and turned herself invisible. The dragonborn clanked in after her desperately searching for some secret passage that she might have disappeared into.

As she quietly exited the alley, Delis heard him threatening to go get the fairy to search out her passage.

Delis quickly determined that the beggars in this area were acting quite differently than they had been around Low Bridge, so she headed for that section of Riverdown, where she quickly found some beggars acting out of character. She disguised herself as one of them and began to mimic their behavior.

It didn’t take long to notice some of them head toward a building marked “Ridolfi and Sons, Spice Merchants.” She followed one of them in and found a trail leading to a trap door with a message carved into it: “Give, and you will be given to.” Hiding in the shadows, Delis watched another beggar enter the abandoned spice house, make their way to the trap door and slip a coin into the slot next to the door.

Once the beggar had disappeared down the hole beneath the trap door, Delis followed and slipped her own coins into the slot. It didn’t take much to notice the sound of a daggerspring trap being deactivated.

Peering down into the darkness, Delis saw a narrow passageway. Lowering herself down into the shadows, the unseelie agent made her way along narrow tunnel which ended in another trap door, going further down. Opening the trapdoor, she found herself looking down into the room with the Gluttonous Cube.

The room that Jerath had revealed with his Object Reading ritual.

“Hmm,” thought the ranger. “I had rather imagined such a tall building somewhere above ground, not hidden beneath the earth.”

She lowered herself down onto the planks that made it possible to stand above the Cube and made sure she climbed down from there a safe distance from the almost-invisible creature. Then she hid in the shadows while another beggar made her way down to the bottom level and passed through a door on the other side of the room.

At this point Delis decided to report her findings back to the rest of the Golden Scales rather than exploring further on her own.

pandemonium, n. the Windswept Depths of Pandemonium are one of the Outer planes. “Well, yeah. I’ve been planning a raid there. Some kind of spoiling action. It’s not good to let any evil think they have a sanctuary,” Storm Johnson said, glancing at Tein.

Chance Runner found little to interest him in the bickering of his teammates so he headed off to do a little more research into the activities of Lord Telecanthus. Scouting the area where the Telecanthus mansion was located, he found little hint of the lord’s activities at the local bars and taverns.

In fact, the Githyanki seemed to be very visible when he was out in public, but almost invisible the rest of the time. Chance even noticed that the area around the mansion was curiously devoid of patrols, even though the rest of Prospect Hill was teeming with security.

A brief interview with the butler at the mansion turned up no clues, so the Revenant decided to sneak around the back of the house. A hedge blocked much of that approach to the grounds, but Chance was able to worm his way in to find that two out-buildings stood apart from the main house, almost up against the hedge itself:

  • A stable which held Telicanthus’s carriages and horses.

and

  • A single building which appeared to actually be two houses shoved up against each other to provide shared lodging for the mansion’s staff. Between cooks, maids, and butlers, Telicanthus employs eight servants.

But Chance’s heightened hearing was able to detect one thing more: The sound of digging, which seemed to emanate from below the servants’ quarters.

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Beggars Wearing Chainmail
An Ambush in the Plaza of Vision...

…Reveals Some of the Beggars in Sayre…

…are only pretending to be poor.

Maxim Shalion saw his chance as soon as the beggars got the jump on the Golden Scales. Pouring out of nearby alleyways, the ambushers crowded into the opening, blocking the way to the plaza.

And that was what Maxim was looking for: a place to fill with a black void of shadowy death.

Pretty soon Delis and Maggie were up on the rooftops, followed by Sam and Jett and Rinoa.

Down here in the alley, there was little to do but blast away at the ambushers trying to push their way out of the blackness to fight Garen Bladerun. It gave Grigore plenty to complain about, since nobody needed healing back here in the alley.

Eventually, he took down the zone of shadow and let Grigore out to do some healing.

Elyas was pleased to Amyria show up at the Temple of Erathis. His collaboration with Magdalene to get the young deva onto the High Council was going well. “They want to test me first,” Amyria told her. “They are sending me out to round up support for a Coalition to fight back against the Githyanki.”

Rinoa realized her mistake as soon as the beggars came running out of the blackness.

Facepalm: “If only I had block them in with Ice Stalagmites,” she told herself. “They would have been trapped in there, taking damage from the shadows as well as the cold.”

Rinoa resolved to coordinate better with Maxim next time. This time, she had tried to use her Dragonfrost to set up another spell. By the time she realized her mistake, she had been pulled down into the plaza by some mysterious gem being held up by one of the ambushers.

Several of the Golden Scales spellcasters had been lured by the gem’s pull. Sam was battling in a nearby alley, but it took a while to get the paladin and the healer into the part of the fight where they were needed.

Amyria told Elyas her mission was a mixed success. “Almost everybody is anxious to fight back,” she said. “But they are all weakened. The attacks came at the worst possible moment for each of them. Only Sayre and Overlook have been spared. And I have been having disturbing dreams about Sayre.”

Grigore Goldforge tried to rescue the mysterious gem which had dragged him into the Plaza of Vision, but it crumbled in his fingers.

The only thing he got out of staring into the gem’s interior was a brief vision: A pile of garbage with a crown on top.

After Amyria told Elyas that she was arranging a meeting of the Coalition in Sayre, Elyas remembered someone else who was going to Sayre. Jerath had a road company whose play, Roland and Juliette, was a big hit in the university town. He told Amyria to seek out the bard and make the journey to Sayre with the company that Jerath was sending there.

Chance Runner was disappointed by the loot. Sure they got a lot of swords and chainmail off the corpses of the mercenaries who were posing as beggars. But there were no magickal items at all. It was almost as if the attackers were so intent on appearing poor that they had no items of value at all.

They even went so far as to rub mud into the rags they used to cover their armor.

Mud! That gave Chance an idea. He inspected the mud more closely and recognized it as looking like the mud near the Low Bridge that connected Riverdown with the University District.

A clue: That might be more useful than a magic item.

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