Scaled Down Scales

L'espirit de L'escalier
As Explained by Two Demons...

…to a Goblin.

Li Sun looked over the Revenant, the Minotaur, and the Elf who had joined him. The only one he knew was the elf who had brought him their mounts. An odd mix, but he was glad Amyria had sent them. Ki’sho and Sun Li were in no shape to do battle with an archmage after the fights they had with the Gnolls and their demonic friends.

Apparently one of the Mages of Saruun had gone rogue and was trying to take over. He was using the Duergar and Gnolls to accomplish some secret plan.

“Secrets,” snorted Ragnar. “With worshipers of Vecna, it’s always secrets.”

But Li Sun had the key. And the key seemed to know where it wanted to go. First it led them to the Seven-Pillared Hall, then to the Road of Lanterns, and finally to this nondescript portion of that road.

Where they found a keyhole.

Li Sun placed the key in the keyhole and a secret door opened. Revealing a long passage, which led to a room with a circle of teleportation inscribed in its center. When Drake walked up to it, the circle turned out to have some powers of summoning as well. A spectral figure, clad in thick robes of the deepest scarlet appeared in a blinding flash. It was missing its left hand. And, while an eye filled the right socket in its spectral head (really little more than a skull, from what Li Sun could see), the left socket was empty.

“The secrets of the tower come at a price. You must each pay for the right to enter this place. What can you offer to the dreaded Lord of Secrets? I seek lore, power, and your souls.”

“L’esprit de L’escalier,” Ambassador Tien told the goblin cheiftain, “is the spirit of the staircase.” Takin was thoroughly confused by this, so Tien explained. “You see, the high elves who originated the expression often held their balls high up in the forest on platforms perched in the trees or hanging from the branches. To get up to these woody ballrooms, they had to climb long, ornate staircases. And to leave the ball they had to descend the same stairs. They noticed that sometimes they did not think of the perfect retort for their rivals’ insults until they were leaving the ball when their wit did them no good. I suspect something like this is happening to the four members of the Golden Scales who failed to protect their souls from the Spirit of Vecna.”

Ragnar the Mighty avoided being blinded by the flash of light — admittedly by fleeing, but this gave him his chance…

…so he charged the thing he feared.

As Wicked Fang passed harmlessly through the apparition’s gut, the Spirit of Vecna laughed. “You cannot intimidate me because you cannot harm me!”

“So, what was it you wanted?” Ragnar asked, somewhat meekly.

“Fool! Only three things will get you into the Tower of Mysteries: lore, power or your souls.”

Li Sun tried a bit of history, but it turned out to be something the spirit already knew. And Drake whispered to the others: “It cannot be intimidated, enjoys flattery, and is susceptible to well-told lies. The lore it seeks is arcane lore, historical lore and religious lore.”

“Not natural lore?” asked Jonalith, the elf, looking a little disappointed.

“I am pretty sure such things have little interest to Vecna,” Drake told him.

Ragnar decided to try a little flattery. At first, his compliments were a little too subtle for the apparition. It thought he was trying to intimidate it again. But once it realized he was commenting on its powers, it seemed to be pleased.

Drake ran into a similar problem when he tried to compliment the spirit on its ability to pretend to be a ghost. At first, the apparition was confused more than flattered.

“I’m trying to say I’m impressed!” the blackguard raged. And eventually Ragnar thought it mollified, if not totally impressed by the compliment.

Li Sun switched to arcane lore, but the Spirit of Vecna was no more impressed by it than by the historical tidbet Ragnar tried next: “What is my true name?”

“Ragnarok!” shrieked the spirit. That was an easy one."

Alen saw that Takin was still not getting it. “Any of them coulda mentioned that the Raven Queen appears to be working with a certain Platinum Dragon. She’s been trying to keep that quiet, so there’s a good chance Vecna wouldn’t know it. And even if he knew it, he might not have shared it with all his minions. The Spirit mighta thought he could really impress his boss with dat kinda info. Any of dem adventurers who thought about it after was probably kickin’ demselves for not thinkin’ of it in time. Dat’s the Spirit of the Stairwell.”

Jonalith watched his friends struggle with the difficult task of coming up with things Vecna did not know. It was hard. Vecna was, after all, the Master of Secrets. Jonalith had difficulty coming up with things such a master would not know.

But he did have friends who knew many secrets. Samwise and Jerath had come to the court of Fallcrest during the time he was there. And Sam shared the secrets of a weapon that he coveted. He had told Jon about the Darkblade of Melegaunt and its origins.

“Did you know the Darkblade of Melegaunt is a dagger made of shimmering black glass?” he asked the apparition.

“Why, yes, I did,” the spirit replied. “In fact, I know that it’s tip trails shadowy tendrils as it seeks its target’s most vulnerable spots.”

“But… but did you know it was forged in a Pact with a prince of Netheril?”

“Hmm, no, I did not. Perhaps Vecna himself knows, but I will have to take this knowledge to him to find out. This is truly lore which might be of use.”

After Ragnar failed another historical lore gambit, Jonalith saw Li Sun was taking another tack while sticking to the Well of Demons theme. “I would have thought such a spirit as yourself would have known all about Maldrick Scarmaker’s death.”

“Well, yes. But now I do.” The Spirit of Vecna seemed to be impressed by the backhanded compliment, but Jon was worried the effectiveness of flattery might soon be coming to end.

“You can only do so much of that kind of thing,” he thought, "before it becomes obvious.

Takin the Scared finally thought he had it. "So dese hot-shot adventurers been goin’ around discoverin’ all dese secrets? And den dey can’t even remember ‘em when it counts? Dat’s what dis “spirit” thing is all about? Kinda like when some troll insults me in front of da boss and I don’t think to call him a snotnose until later. Even though I can see the snot when I’m standing right dere. OK, OK. I gets it. But what I don’t get is why you two keep talkin’ about the stairs. Dere aren’t any stairs in dat tower."

Drake the Enforcer was impressed when Li Sun showed the map to the Well of Demons to the spectre. So he tried another bit of lore about the well. “And the guardian of the well, a green dragon, is now dead!”

“Dead? I did not know that.”

Jonalith told a story about a new religion rising up around Amyria. At first he thought the was making something up, but as the details emerged it became clear he was talking about the worshipful attitude some of the Githzerai were taking toward the Deva paladin. And the spirit seemed genuinely impressed with this lore.

Drake noticed Ragnar was whispering to his sword. Suddenly the Minotaur looked up and shouted, “I bet you do not know the role that the Raven Queen played in creating my sword.”

“You mean the power she channeled from Drake’s curse, empowering it and giving it a life of its own?” smirked the Spirit of Vecna. “Anyone who worships Vecna could see that as soon as they saw your blade. We are not so ignorant of matters arcane and religious as you. It is obvious that you and your friends have no more to offer the Lord of Secrets. I will leave you your powers, and simply take a bit of your souls.”

As the apparition disappeared, Drake felt a small portion of his reserves dwindle. But he knew that he had some left.

And he heard the spirit’s last words in his head, “You may now enter the Tower of Mysteries. May its secrets intrigue you.”

Hearing that, Drake stepped into the circle. And was teleported into another room in a blinding flash. He was standing in the middle of a 20-foot-by-20-foot room with two exits — one north and one west. The walls of this chamber are covered with carvings that depict human faces. Each face is wearing either a blindfold or a gag.

Drake noticed that, as soon as he stepped through, all the blindfolded faces animated and began to chant. All the gagged faces seemed to animate as well, but they simply glared at the interlopers as each of his companions materialized in the circle in the middle of the room.

To the north and to the west, Drake saw pillars in the corridors beyond. These were also covered with carvings of faces, but these faces were different. No gags; no blindfolds. Each face seemed to be missing one eye.

They did not seem to be animated like those in the room Drake was standing in. But every once in a while he seemed to see one animate out of the corner of his eye. As so as he looked at the one which he thought was animating, it froze again as stone.

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Ambassador Tien Gets Busy
Spreading Rumors Throughout the Former Empire...

…of the Dragonborn.

Strangely enough, though, the rumors all seem to be about the Great Gark and his interest in another ancient empire: that of the Minotaurs of Thunderspire Labyrinth.

Sun Li turned to her twin. “I think you better go investigate that noise. I am wounded, but I can still go through these papers we found on the Gnoll.” When Li Sun was gone, she examined the map, which seemed to show a secret tower built into Thunderspire itself. “Hmmm, maps are always a good thing in a Minotaur labyrinth.” The rest of the papers seemed to be letters from a wizard who was plotting against the Mages of Saruun. “He may even have infiltrated their order,” Sun Li mused. “He seems to have been quite open about his plans when writing to his Gnollish ally.”

“I have a job for one of your imps,” Amyria told Maxim Shalion, "the one who can send messages. I need him to convince some of our Dragonborn allies to go to Thunderspire Labyrinth. Then she told him the names: Lagolas and Andrea Ravn. “I believe they will play a great role in the events to come. I would prefer you not mention this task to the other members of The Golden Scales.”

“Are they within 100 miles of here?” Maxim asked, remembering the limitation on the distance he could send Ambassador Tien.

“Yes, one of them is in the mountains east of Fallcrest. That one is a sorceror who has lost his family. The other, Andrea, is a Warlord who may be able to help Li Sun with some complications she has run into.”

“Complications?”

“Belinda’s father sent Li Sun and his twin sister to clean up a slaver problem, but it has turned into a bit more than just some Duergar slave trading. I need your ambassador imp to convince them to go to The Seven-Pillared Hall in Thunderspire to meet up with Li Sun and Sun Li.”

“Gladly. If it will help The Great Gark.”

“The Great Gark — and, indeed, all of us — will profit from thwarting the plans of someone who worships Vecna. But, remember, your average Dragonborn is a strong believer in ancient honor. They may not react the way you might when a demon appears, trying to tell them what to do.”

A grin began to spread across Maxim’s face. “Then I can tell them whatever I want?”

“As long as it gets them to Thunderspire,” Amyria sighed.

And Maxim began whisper to the air about the Great Gark and his plans.

A rampaging Minotaur was the last thing Li Sun was expecting to find in the Well of Demons, but that was what she found. “I guess it was built by the creatures,” she admitted to herself. And he did seem to have a pretty impressive magic sword. She explained what was going on and they decided to join forces against Paldemar.

Andrea Ravn was not impressed with what she had seen of Lagolas so far. He came stumbling out of the mountains, raving about an attack on Andrea’s village, an attack he seemed to think had already happened. When Andrea pointed this out, he started rambling about a demon who had told him the Great Gark was attacking the village.

“You believe everything a demon tells you?” she asked the sorcerer.

“Well, no…” the interloper started. Just then he was interrupted by the sudden appearance of an imp, just like the one Lagolas had described. “That’s him!”

“Ambassador Tien, at your service,” the imp said. “Well, actually, at the service of the Great Gark and HIS servant, Maxim Shalion. They had information the two of you could help the enemies of the Great Gark and his ally.”

Andrea was puzzled. “Ally?”

“Well, the Great Gark has entered into an alliance of convenience with some minion of Vecna. Kind of a poser, if you ask me, but he serves the purposes the Great Gark has created for him.”

Seeing the demon could be drawn out with questions, Andrea asked him why he had lied about the attack on her village. And the imp laughed.

“That was just to keep you two away from Thunderspire. Now, Paldemar can take over.”

And he disappeared.

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Telicanthus Exposed
After an Epic Fight...

…Which Left Grigore and Valhalla Near Death…

…Delis was able to lead Lord Torrance to the true location of the Tower of Auglos.

Zumos was a little annoyed with Valhalla for charging right into the other side of the stained-glass globe and attacking the figures performing a ritual in there.

“I thought the plan was for me to light up the inside of the device while we still had surprise.”

Fortunately Zumos was able to let loose an area-of-effect spell that did not include the half-orc. Not that he wouldn’t have minded a little collateral damage as punishment for messing up the carefully laid plans.

As soon as he attacked the group inside, he found his spell damaging the interior of the device.

And it retaliated. First at Zumos himself. Then at everybody, including the robed ritualists. Those Githyanki seemed almost relieved to be doing something besides the ritual which had consumed their lives for the past few months.

They turned on Valhalla and attacked him with considerable success.

Remembering that Garen had mentioned two friends who lived near Thunderspire Labyrinth, Amyria tried to think how she could get a message to the swamps and mountains of the ancient Dragonborn Empire. She wasn’t sure Belinda had a portal there (and her father might not approve, especially if Garen’s story about treacherous paladins was true). Then she thought of Maxim.

Valhalla kept forgetting to use his Power Strike, but it didn’t seem to matter. Every enemy he hit went down in a single blow of his executioner’s axe.

“Must be because everybody else is bloodying them before I get to them.”

Seeking out Maxim Shalion at the River Jewel, Amyria explained the situation to him. “We need to get a message to two dragonborn. They are less than 100 miles away, and they are close to Thunderspire Labyrinth. I need you to send a message to them. Their names are Lagolas and Andrea.”

Grigore Goldforge shook his head as he watched Valhalla charging all over the place, cursing everyone in sight.

He found his healing powers being taxed to the limits by the enormous amount of damage being dealt out by the globe itself. “What was it the ritualists had called it? ‘The Bitter Glass,’ or something?”

He concentrated his attacks on the glass itself, discovering he could even hit it from outside the sphere by reaching his longspear through the door and driving it downward into the curve of the sphere beneath the glass platform which stretched across the inside.

When the Bitter Glass finally shattered, a surge of psychic energy made one final attack on his mind. He felt it seize some of his memories and spirit them off to the Astral Sea.

“A place I’ve only been once,” he thought. “But somehow I can tell that’s where they went.”

As soon as it was gone, the doors crashed open. “I guess Garen’s makeshift blockade didn’t work.” There stood Kle’th, Telicanthus and his butler, along with another Githyanki warrior.

As the new opponents advanced toward the Golden Scales, saw Valhalla charge the enemy one more time. And collapse in a heap as the psychic damage from the Githyanki rained down upon him.

One more time. But, as Grigore prepared to heal the half-orc, he found himself the target of the psychic attacks. And he went unconscious.

As he struggled back to the land of the living, vaguely aware of how close he had come to death, he saw Sam pouring a potion down Valhalla’s throat.

“I better play dead until I can get up and do something constructive.” But Valhalla was doing no such thing. As soon as he was conscious, he began spewing threat and curses at Telicanthus.

Valhalla got one last shot in. This time he remembered to use his Power Strike. It took down Telicanthus. But the other enemies poured their attacks onto Valhalla and he went down a third time.

Sam turned to Grigore and shrugged his shoulders, "I figure that potion protected me from all those attacks.

“What’s so important about Andrea and Lagolas?” Maxim asked Amyria. She told him that they both lived near Thunderspire Labyrinth. “What’s so important about Thunderspire?” he asked. And she told him the story of Paine, and the strange twins, Li Sun and Sun Li.

Delis Erinthal knew the battle was going badly. “Our healer is down, and Valhalla is down. But the important thing is that Telicanthus has been exposed.”

Apparently, the Githyanki diplomat had been here all along to rebuild the giant stained-glass globe they just destroyed. Once it was gone, he gave up all pretense and his true nature came out.

“A particularly arrogant nature, if you ask me,” Delis thought. “He seems unaware of the possibility he might lose this fight. And he might be right.”

Delis was convinced of the most important thing: “We must get to Lord Torrance and see that he sees this. That is more important than making sure we all survive. The knowledge must survive.” So she turned invisible and made her way to the nearest town guard.

The guard was only too willing to take her to the mansion of the ruler of Sayre. (The only other option she offered was to break into the mansion of one of the city’s leading citizens and enter an illegal excavation to “see for yourself.”) Lord Torrance seemed almost relieved by the news of Telicanthus’s treachery. They gathered a group of four guards to accompany them to the scene of the treason.

When they got to Telicanthus’s mansion, the front door was unlocked (as Delis had left it) and they were able to make their way to the underground excavation. As soon as he saw the illegal digging operation, Delis could tell he was buying her story.

“Auglos apparently had a secret project he was building underneath his tower. It may even have had something to do with the destruction of Auglos itself,” she told Torrance. “Telicanthus has rebuilt the project as a kind of communications device, which he has been using to coordinate the Githyanki attacks all over this plane of existence.”

As they sifted through the treasure they found on the bodies, Delis wondered if they had found enough gold to buy the armor for Maggie to which Fariex the Scalehammer had directed them.

Andor and Toris Scrollstone, two dwarven mapmakers Lord Torrance had summoned, were able to confirm this was the true location of the Tower of Auglos. They immediately fell to arguing with the half-elf about relocating the plaque commemorating the location of the tower.

Apparently this has been annoying the dwarves for many years.

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The Golden Scales Surprise the Githyanki
At their Leisure...

…But Kle’th Escapes to Warn Telecanthus

Once the element of surprise was gone, Delis Erinthal found herself on the far side of the Tower of Auglos, near a foul-smelling latrine. Maxim had managed to trap a couple on her side of his globe of blackness and silver-winged death, but she was having her way with them, avoiding them to her stealth and speed while she plinked away at them with her magickal arrows.

They concentrated their fire through Maxim’s conjuration, even though it hampered them somewhat.

The Minotaur listened to Amyria as she explained her dilemma, “I am about hold a meeting with the Coalition to discuss all manner of delicate issues. The rest of the Golden Scales will be there to help me, so I cannot send them. But there are other elements of ”/wikis/the-order-of-the-black-feather" class=“wiki-page-link”> The Order of the Black Feather who can help Bejam. Go to Elyas in Overlook and ask him to find them. That way Lord Torrance’s jealousy will not interfere with the need to help Nefalus."

Maxim Shalion kept up his Hunger of Hadar even once the area around the table he centered it on was evacuated. The globe was serving his purposes even after it no longer dealt damage.

His own melee attack wasn’t much use. He just wasn’t very good at hitting things up close. And he had to hit first to unleash his Demonic Frenzy. “What good is being a Demon if you can’t unleash your frenzy every now and then?” he asked himself.

Alen was certainly enjoying being a demon, turning invisible and appearing where he could bite the Githyanki. If only Maxim could figure out why Ambassador Tien was not returning with a response from the Great Gark.

“Maybe Alen could be used more effectively,” he thought.

Elyas told Ragnar that the name of his contact in the Order was Blackguard’s Bane, “He should be able to send you to wherever Li Sun and Sun Li are currently hanging out. He has ways. Last I heard they were in a place called The Horned Hold.”

The healing powers of Grigore Goldforge were being put to the test. With the Githyanki warriors leaping about attacking almost everyone, there was always someone in trouble. Especially when they had been immobilized first.

Garen seemed to be particularly vulnerable to this, and Grigore was glad his spear-thrusts were hitting. That allowed him to get some extra healing in.

“The Horned Hold?” Blackguard’s Bane asked when the Minotaur barbarian found him at the Order’s headquarters. “No, I think they’ve gone deeper into The Thunderspire Labyrinth. Belinda Markelhay should be able to take you there. But I suggest you ask her father first. He’s Lord Warden of Fallcrest. You might need to help them finish that work before you can get them on a boat to Nefalus.”

Zumos saw the leader of the Githyanki heading for the exits and knew he was trying to alert Lord Telicanthus and the butler.

He moved quickly to block the way, but the other Githyanki seemed to sense the need to get reinforcements. They pointed their fingers at Kle’th and telekinetically aided their leader in his escape.

When the battle was over and the bodies quickly searched, Elyas told them all to rest up quickly. “We only have a short time before Lord Telicanthus gets here. He has surely been alerted.”

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Sneaking into the Tunnel Complex
Beneath the Mansion of Lord Telicanthus...

…Excavations Have Exhausted the Excavators…

…a group of Githyanki, working in shifts, sleeping in their armor, and complaining about the rituals they must constantly keep chanting.

Sam the Foresworn found three other members of the Golden Scales fighting over strategy. Valhalla was forcefully arguing for a burn-them-all strategy; Zumos was in favor of freeze-them-to-the-ground, then burn-them-all.

Which to Sam’s way of thinking was a little more strategically oriented. They all explained there were two groups of Githyanki (at least) in the tunnels beneath Telicanthus’s mansion. The first group (apparently trying to get some rest) were camped in a major intersection of the tunnels. The next group were getting ready for work a little farther in. The tactical puzzle was how to finish off the first group without letting them sound an alarm or retreat back to where their reinforcements were waiting.

Garen was advocating another way to keep the two crews of Githyanki separated: He wanted to get between the two groups and force them away from each other. But that sounded to Zumos a lot like getting too close to the group they were trying to get away from.

“Why don’t we have a stealthy individual sneak into the middle of the room where they’re sleeping, suddenly appear, express surprise, and then run,” he suggested.

“Yeah,” said the paladin, “you can lure them back down this narrow corridor and we can fight them there.”

Sam noticed Garen was assuming the “stealthy individual” would be Sam himself. Which was what he was hoping.

“Who says it has to be the passage back to the surface?” he asked. “What if I lead them off down one of these other corridors? Then you can come in behind them and seal them off from their friends.”

“Yeah, that makes sense,” agreed Zumos.

“I still say we just burn them all,” Valhalla said.

Sam modified the plan once he was facing a roomful of enemies. He stopped at the doorway and asked directions. The Githyanki didn’t answer, but got up to attack him. Sam attacked first with a backstab and then dodged around to one of the side tunnels he had noticed on the map provided by Maggie and Delis.

The Githyanki surrounded him there. But he used an Escape Artist’s Trick to get away and then ran down one of the branching tunnels. He made sure they saw where he went before he hid at the end of the tunnel.

The guard at the gate behind the mansion thought he heard something. “Sounds almost like breaking twigs,” he said to himself. “Better check the perimeter.” He started walking along the hedge.

Sam’s plan was working too well, by Zumos’s way of thinking. Sure, he got off his first fireball in a way that caught all four of the Githyanki in its blast. But after that his area-of-effect spells were hard to use.

Once Sam used his Escape Artist’s Trick to get away from the Githyanki who had surrounded him in a side tunnel, the little halfling ran very visibly down the side tunnel. The Githyanki all saw him run down the “wrong” tunnel: They all knew it was a dead end, and they thought they had him cornered.

Apparently he had hidden so well they came out bickering about who had “lost” the hobbit and split up to find him down another dead-end tunnel. This allowed the Golden Scales to concentrate on one opponent at a time.

“Good tactics, but sub-optimal for a pyromancer who specializes in area-of-effect bursts and blasts,” he thought to himself as he readied another Arc Lightning bolt.

But the Githyanki Mindslicers were pretty well able to stop his big spells anyway, even in their exhausted state. Their Psychic Barrages addled his brain sufficiently to prevent anything more complicated than Arc Lightning.

Zumos was glad he had got the big Fireball off before they started messing his mind.

Pennel heard someone clanking along in armor. “Must be coming from outside. I’d better go check it out. The guard better have heard that!”

Valhalla didn’t need any advanced techniques. Battle Wrath was as basic as basic could be. As long as he kept swinging his executioners axe, his basic attack was all he needed.

Of course, in the moments when his brain wasn’t addled by the Githyanki, he could always throw in a Power Strike if he hit. With his executioner’s axe that always knocked ’em down.

But knocking someone down was not as effective when they had telekinetic powers which allowed them to leap back to their feet while flying across the room. Fortunately, they were too busy looking for the halfling. As each one gave up the search, they came out of the side tunnels one at a time.

And Valhalla was glad to knock them down. One at a time.

Sure enough, the gate guard was already checking out a hole in the hedge when Pennel came to tell him about the noise and damage he had found in the hedge himself. “I heard these sticks breaking.” When Pennel asked him about the clanking sound, the guard insisted he heard nothing like the sound of heavy plate armor banging together. When he told the guard to accompany him to Telicanthus’s office, Pennel reached into his pocket and discovered the key was missing.

Garen Bladerun was worried about the last Githyanki. His job was making sure the warrior did not alert his allies in the next room. But he did not see how he could do that when the Githyanki all seemed to have the power to perform telekinetic leaps.

Then he saw his chance. The Githyanki leaped in front of a side tunnel and Garen charged him, driving him back into the narrow passage. Valhalla seized the opportunity and missed. Zumos damaged him with Arc Lightning and Sam almost killed him.

That left the paladin with a chance to finish him off. A single Holy Strike brought the Gith down. And Garen was glad to feel the soul of the slaver being sucked into his helm.

Searching the bodies, they were all disappointed to find no treasure.

“I guess when you’re working underground for months at a time, unable to show your green faces in the city above, you don’t need any money,” Garen thought to himself. “Maybe I should use this guy’s soul to kill his boss. That’s where the treasure will be found.”

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Writings on the Walls
The Contents of the Books...

…Which Once Made Up the Library Below the Temple of Ioun…

…in the ancient city of Augur had been haphazardly inscribed by insane librarians on the walls of their accidental tomb.

“A matrix of blown glass can be formed into a mathematically perfect sounding chamber, then used to amplify magical resonance. In theory, disconnected sheets of a similar substance can be attuned to the master. This would allow communication at unlimited distance. The question is: How can one handle the planar boundary? When I began this research in Nefelus, I never expected that this would be a concern…”
—from the diaries of Auglos of Nefelus

Brother Pinnot was not sure he liked his latest assignment. The Abbot had been very convincing: “You’re to record every word. Graiden Brackenhaus is the oracular guest of Seer Auglos. The Seer is an oracle in his own right, but he is trying to make Augur the greatest font of prophecy ever seen. The Temple of Ioun is honored to be a part of this historic effort.”

But the young monk found it hard to believe Brackenhaus’s ravings were anything but the rant of a madman. Take what he was writing down now: “You’re watching me. I can see you, but you don’t know that. You’re listening to my words even though I’m long dead." He tried to explain to Graiden that he was listening. He was even writing everything down, as fast as he could. And, obviously, the oracular guest himself was not dead.

“A problem has developed. I need some method for shunting away the psychic residue cast off during communication. This seems to be quite toxic. I believe that I can redirect it into the Astral Sea, where it should do no harm to anyone…”
—from the diaries of Auglos of Nefelus

Graiden Brackenhaus grew impatient with the scribe who had been assigned to him. “No, not you! Idiot.” Didn’t the monk understand what prophesying was all about? “You’re just writing down my words because you were told to by the old man with a beard and a magic glass. I’m talking to the other people, the ones reading this on the wall. They know I’m dead. Oh yes, dead, mud in my mouth, river arisen! I sing of a ship that sails the air, that brings swords and fire. You’ve fought it, too, but it’s worse for you. We’re just going to die.”

“The final Glass is more beautiful than I could have hoped. My apprentices have outdone themselves. A full 30 feet in diameter, it has anchored itself into the very nature of our plane, and hangs in space. Our ritual went flawlessly and it has taken on a life of its own; as thoughts travel from one external pane to another, the Glass shimmers like the night sky. It is quite beautiful. It seems to be invulnerable from the outside, as I intended, but the same protections have not transferred into the interior. This worries me.”
—from the diaries of Auglos of Nefelus

Seeing that was what the crazy prophet wanted, Brother Pinnot returned to his scribing: “They’ll kill us all because of what the bearded man does, talking through the mirror. They’ll just flood the room, and that will solve their problem until he finds it again.” The monk noticed the emphasis on that word — “he” — and decided it might mean someone other than the “bearded man,” but he had no way to indicate that in his transcription. This was hardly the time to be thinking about the limitations of Amanuensis.

“The interior of the Glass becomes a psychic maelstrom if the information flow is not redirected. I have succeeded in rerouting the rogue energies to the Astral Sea. So long as no one is bothered by them, I see no risk; and in such a plane, what are the chances that they will be discovered? So small as to be infinitesimal…”
—from the diaries of Auglos of Nefelus

Graiden was deep into his prophecy now, directly addressing the people he could see reading his words: “He’s been looking for it a long time. You think he likes you but it’s a lie. There was digging, you see, and cleaning, and many false leads. He’ll use it to conquer you all, but no one will believe you. You’ll have to prove him a liar.”

Now he was beginning to feel hungry. People don’t seem to understand that these visions were hard work. But he continued anyway, addressing the readers only he could see: "They can talk through it, you see. They’ve managed to do it, and the armies whisper through the blue darkness in a way that no one else can hear. You’re dead if you don’t stop it. Even now they are discussing you. ‘Distract them,’ he is told, ‘this is too important to ruin.’ But you can.

The hunger was too much: “Boy! Boy, I demand a goose! Pluck it and ruin it and save yourself if you find the right spot.” The fool kept on writing, but eventually took the hint and brought him a goose. Couldn’t save himself in time, Graiden thought.

So he continued the prophecy: "Look for the old tower when no one expects you. It isn’t where they think it is. Ask the dwarves if you like, the brothers who dream of maps. Because in the days to come SHE will spread herself, and none will be safe from HER reach, so you may wish to trust the speech of the Bladed Girl. Trust, trust her if no one else. If her people do not come together, they will certainly be ripped apart. Like my goose? I am so very hungry. I could use some tea. Boy!”

“I am making only a few select panes linked to the glass, but it would be just as simple to make many. I expect that selling these to far-flung allies could make me a rich man indeed. I will need to consider it.”
—from the diaries of Auglos of Nefelus

After they had gleaned all they could from the walls of the library, Delis Erinthal and Maggie infiltrated the mansion of Telicanthus. Grigore insisted on providing a distraction by pretending he was late for the tea party. (Well, he was, but that was another story.)

By the time Delis had forced her way through the hedge, Magdalene had already unlocked the back door and was balanced on the door frame. Above the door and hugging the wall. They made their way inside and found Telicanthus’s office was empty. Maggie used her oval-shaped piece of glass to open the secret mirror-door and they descended to the tunnels which Telicanthus and his minions had dug beneath the city.

They found several abandoned tunnels and some exhausted workers. The tired Githyanki complained about their isolation, wondering when their work would be done. Maggie turned herself into a Githyanki and trudged past with similar remarks.

When she came back, she had finished their map:

Tower_of_Auglos.JPG

Well, almost finished it, anyway. They were pretty sure the last tunnel was another dead end.

So, they returned to the surface. Without incident.

View
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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