Clockwork

00223
In which we take the low road...

LOG

With Nemine and the Key safe for now, Vargas returns to the camp and the Kings make plans for their next move. As they need all the allies they can find, the decide the best course of action will be to raid the distant camp and free the Blue Rose elf from his Kervic captors. In true Murderhobo style, they blitz through the camp like a tornado in a trailer park, wiping out the Kervics completely in a matter of minutes.

Magnus easily revives the prisoner and Vargas sends him, Serribon, and Acadia to a secure location to speak with the elf when he recovers. Meanwhile, the wizard, with Ibram in tow, return to the camp to maintain cover. At breakfast the next morning, Faisal approaches and tries to smooth things over. Nobody buys it for a minute, but the effort is made and the tentative peace is maintained.


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00222
In which we catch up...

LOG

While the remaining gang terrorize Faisal for having the audacity to continue to be a rat-bastard, Vargas returns to the Salt Cathedral and spirits Nemine away to meet the Sigilite on some south seas paradise or other. He leaves her to play with the natives while he consults with the aged holy man about the nature of Miriam’s affliction and the party’s recent discoveries underground. Siggy is understandably perturbed at finding that not only does there appear to be a greater devil or demon at work in the world, but many of the even darker rumours he’s spent his life studying have apparently turned out to be more than mere speculation. He shares with Vargas what information he feels he safely can (due to time paradoxes and what-have-you), hints at Dire Consequences, and point V back towards Benedict for more information on the nature of demonic influence and what can be done to counter it.

Meanwhile, back at camp, Ibram and Magnus get together and drink enough ale to think going to bother Serribon about what it’s like to be possessed is an amazing idea. They soon join Serri and Acadia, who have been grousing together about the nature of Faisal’s betrayal and what they should do about it. Irritated at the intrusion, but understanding the importance of the information, he relates the circumstances of his possession and shares his thoughts on the nature of demons and what they do.

Back at the Abbey, Vargas reunites with his friend Benedict and tells what he knows about Miriam’s condition. The cleric is moved and introduces the wizard to Brother Jacob – their resident demonologist. V reiterates the story and the party’s observations, hoping for at least the seed of an idea on how to stop it. Alas, Jacob has nothing but bad news to share, and, ultimately, all he or Benedict can do is offer their prayers for Gott’s intervention on Miriam’s behalf, and suggest Vargas do the same.

Teleporting back to camp, the two teams relay their info and start to make plans on how to rescue Miriam from the hands of the Kervics.


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00221
In which we take the plunge...

LOG 1
LOG 2

<synopsis>


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00220
In which we set the stage...

LOG 1
LOG 2
LOG 3
LOG 4
LOG 5
LOG 6
LOG 7
LOG 8
LOG 9
LOG 10

In a few days’ time, the Caiman Kings set off across hundreds of miles of trackless wilderness for the northeastern forests, and the site of the treasure dive. Arriving in camp, they are ushered in to meet the mysterious expedition leader – which none of them are surprised to learn is Faisal himself. After getting a brief introduction to the site and more of his half-answers and evasions, the gang takes it upon themselves to poke around and generally be suspicious bastards. What they manage to uncover over the next several days generally leads to more questions.

The camp staff and guards all seem to be drawn from several wide-ranging and vastly different home cultures – most of which have had little contact with each other that wasn’t on one side or the other of a blade, and none have ever been in this part of the continent before. Several appear to hail from precursor cultures to the future Herzlanders. Others from the southern nations bordering the lands of the Sil elves.

As the investigations and preparations for the dive proper continue, Vargas and Magnus take turns talking with Miriam and trying to uncover the nature of the wasting sickness that has been afflicting her since the arrived in Akor. All of their standard tests and attempts at cures have proven ineffective, and none of their sources can seem to provide any answers but one: Miriam is dying and there doesn’t appear to be anything that can be done about it. Though neither is willing to give up trying.

Meanwhile, Serribon – professional suspicious bastard – spends his nights gathering intelligence by eavesdropping and peeping in tent-flaps. He discovers the name and dwelling of the female researcher and feeds the info back to Vargas so he can try and finagle some answers out of her with his nerd charms. Once his solo exploits prove too risky, he recruits Acadia to help him suss things out by scurrying in where he can’t.

For his part, unwilling to seduce a girl for the sake of the mission, Vargas instead invents moving picture theater and draws in the crowds with tales of the Kings’ past exploits, eventually hooking her despite himself. They strike up a surreptitious friendship and he helps foster her discontent with her position as lacky, rather than trusted researcher. At least, until Faisal gets wind of it and demands she cut him off.

The gnome easily slips in among the researchers and gathers info on their project and day-to-day workings. She is eventually dispatched to see where the outgoing mail is being sent and follows the messenger to a remote camp two days’ ride from the dig. There, she witnesses a prisoner being brought in through a portal. The prisoner is questioned about the latest findings from the dig and then tied to a pole out in the yard. Not expecting to learn much more and eager to return with what she’s learned, Acadia blankets the area with fog and turns into a hawk, swooping in and making off with a medallion from around the captive’s neck.

While Acadia does the friendly woodland creature thing, Serri spends his days trying to ingratiate himself with the military conscripts guarding the camp – offering, along with Ibram, to provide pointers in the martial arts. Through fostering comradarie, they uncover more details of the political situation in the camp – where everybody’s from and why they think they’re there. Joining the guards on a routine patrol, they are ambushed by a raiding party from Sil. Though many wounds are taken, Ibram and Serri’s superior ability helps win the day – and a new prisoner to interrogate.

While they recover from their wounds, and Vargas and Magnus continue working on the problem of Miriam, Acadia returns with more intelligence and a prize – a steel badge in the shape of a rose. Added to the information gained from interrogating the elven prisoner, it becomes clear that, whatever is going on here, whatever is buried in the ruins below – Faisal and his backers can’t be allowed to have it.


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00219
In which we follow breadcrumbs...

LOG 1
LOGS MISSING
LOG 2
LOG 3

We spend the next several days trying to break the puzzle of the mysterious map. Vargas and Serribon visit the Collegium to inquire after the nature of the map they have been given, where they are led to an adminstrator named Faisal. They get a shifty vibe off of him, but can’t get anything to stick. While there, Vargas is inspired to try viewing the map with his Sight – which reveals a second, more detailed map of the city of Acer, with a marked destination.

With a phantographed copy of the hidden map and relying on Magnus’s greater familiarity with the city, they soon locate the address – a nice three-story house in one of the better parts of town. After dealing with a hulking mute manservant, they confront the owner of the house – who is utterly bemused by their tale and demands for more information. But being a good sport and a fan of mysteries, the merchant allows them to search his house – hoping, perhaps, that they may take care of the ghosts the servants believe to be haunting it.

When the physical search returns bupkis and details of the “haunting” prove to be little more than mysterious sounds and music emanating from nowhere, the gang gets the idea of looking underneath the house – venturing into the city’s sewers to see if their actual destination was in the ancient part of the city built-over by the contemporary structure of the house. This proves to be the correct course of action and after a bit of a delve, they meet Magnus’s mystery woman – a representative of the League of Shadows. There is some banter, and they get down to business, negotiating their terms for helping the League explore their treasure dig. A lucky coin-toss nets the party a 40/60 split of whatever’s left after the League claims their artifact, the special gems needed to bind Acadia and Magnus to the whump, and Magnus’s sponsorship to the Great Library. Terms in hand, they are given a few days to think it over.

The party decides to use its time further feeling out the situation they’ve gotten themselves into. Vargas, Ibram, and Serri return to the papermaker and finally get him to reveal that, as suspected, Faisal contracted for a shipment of the same paper the map was drawn upon. Suspicions in hand, Serri returns to the Collegium that night to perform some rooftop surveillance. During the stake-out, he spots another figure slinking up the side of Professor Faisal’s tower and into his window.

Ducking out of sight, he manages to eaves-drop on the end of a conversation that cements Faisal’s involvement in the League and the gang’s new job offer. When the caller leaves, she and Serri engange in a parkour chase across the city rooftops, but lets her go when it becomes impossible to follow without being spotted. A return visit to the tower reveals the professor has gone home for the night, so Serri does the same and reports his findings.

The following morning, the League representative returns to the house and the team accepts their new commission.


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00218
In which we gad about town...

LOG 1
LOG 2
LOG 3
LOG 4

Reuniting back at the rental house, the party convenes in the dining room to discuss the evening’s events and continue the debate over what to do about the mysterious woman’s request and how’re we’re dealing with the various thieves plaguing our operation.

The next morning, Acadia and Magnus head to the Magistrate’s office to report the theft of Acadia’s technique. As Vargas predicted, the city isn’t interested in the tribulations of a handful of no-good adventurers.

Meanwhile, Vargas and Serribon go to visit the gnomes themselves to see if they might be talked out of their foolishness. The shopkeeper refuses to listen to reason, though she’s clearly worried about where this course of action will lead her.

On the other side of town, Ibram is frog-marching the armor thief back to his father’s house. The old man isn’t the slightest bit inclined to be helpful and denies any knowledge of the situation. Their little play is interrupted by noises from backstage and to everyone’s surprise, Brrk emerges from a hidden closet of the shack brandishing part of the missing armor. Ibram sets her loose to dig up the remaining components while he deals with the thieves. Both fail to appreciate how lucky they’ve been so far, so he ends up beating seven shades of hell out of the both of them. After a stop off at the magistrates’ to report the theft, he heads off to the forge to finish his day’s work.

Later that evening, Vargas goes back to the gnome’s shop with Magnus in tow to give them one more chance to make things right. For whatever reason, Magnus is a much better goon than Serribon, and coupled with Vargas’s business acumen, they manage to work out a deal with the gnomes to get Acadia the money back for her sample tattoo. Heading back to the house, Vargas thinks he spots a tail up on the roofline, but nothing comes of it. They meet up with Ibram on the way, and make their way home for the evening.

Social liabilities that they are, Serribon and Acadia decided to stay home and chat a while in the parlor. Serri’s spider-sense gets to tingling and he notices someone skittering across the roofline of the building across the street, so he proposes Acadia shift into a hyena and help him check the house for intruders. They perform a room-by-room search of the house and surrounding area, but find nothing but the external expressions of everyone’s neuroses.

The following day, there is no sign of the woman in red. Everyone is disappointed – even moreso when she fails to show for the rest of the week. On the morning of the sixth day, a mysterious package appears on the front step: a scroll case containing only a simple map.


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00217
In which we play to our strengths...

LOG

While Serribon and Vargas relax in the study, Magnus has a roundabout conversation with the ninja he found hiding in his bedroom. She offers the team a mission and grants us two days to come up with a decision. Magnus heads downstairs to relay this information, but the tale is interrupted when Acadia bursts through the front door in a state of high dudgeon – furious over being double-crossed by the “civilized” gnomes she has been working with. She wants to exact bloody, firery vengeance, but most of the group counsel against it and head back downstairs to continue their discussion. But the conversation is interrupted yet again when a messenger arrives bearing word of Ibram’s losses at the forge.

As nightfall approaches, the team splits to get some work done.

Vargas and Magnus head out to the smithy to help Ibram apprehend whoever stole his work-in-progress. They collaborate on a magical boobytrap that will alert them to another attempted theft and hold the burglar for questioning and set up the stakeout. In the wee hours, their vigilance is rewarded when one of the smithy apprentices attempts to sneak inside to help himself to more of Ibram’s hard work. The team gets the drop on him and puts him to the Question – determining to pay a visit to his father in the morning.

Meanwhile, Serribon and Acadia make their way across the city rooftops towards the gnome’s magic shop. The duo case the joint for a while and Serri decides their best course of action will be to turn the city law against the copyright pirates. Acadia takes the form of a tiny gecko and slips inside the shuttered storefront to plant some of her highly-distinctive tattooing inks among the gnomes’ supplies. In a day or so, they plan to report the theft to the city magistrates, in hopes that the “missing” inks and signs of the gnomes’ derivative works-in-progress will prove enough to have action taken.


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00216
In which we tie up some loose ends...

LOG

Now that we have a cleric in tow, Vargas decides its time to go back and visit the Kerangas gnomes to see if we can patch up any of the wounded who were beyond our abilities before. He, Magnus, and Serribon tele-hop back across half the continent to catch up.

Back in Akor, Miriam spends most of the day sleeping while the rest of the party gets to work. Or at least tries to. Ibram and Acadia both learn an important lesson about business.


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00215
In which Magnus gets a workout...

LOG

A local hooligan shows up at the Kings’ doorstep with Brrk in tow, looking for gold. Instead, he finds Magnus.


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00214
In which we put some salt in the wounds...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Several days after defeating the final barghest, the gang returns to the creatures’ basement lair to explore the caverns they learned about from the resident xorn. A quick shifting of the flagstones reveals an antique well leading deep into the earth. Lowering themselves down by hook and by crook, they descend into a huge terraced salt cavern.

Their initial probings disturb a wing of gargoyle bandits, their half-fiend leader, and the enormous earth elemental that shares their home. The Caiman Kings put the bandits to death or flight and force the elemental to retreat, leaving the way open for more spelunking.

Dropping down another abyss, they arrive in an even larger cave – home to a collapsed ruin that must have fallen from the upper world ages ago. Inside the warren of collapsed halls, they find a tribe of degenerate morlocks worshipping a large quicksilver sphere half sunken into the floor.

The sphere proves impervious to everything the party throws at it and beyond even Vargas’s ability to puzzle out. When Magnus petitions his goddess for advice, the sphere briefly resolves itself into an enormous silvery eye and focuses on the party. This apparently upsets the locals, who oblige the party to exterminate them all.

Giving the whole thing up as a lark, the Kings continue their exploration of the ruins-turned-tomb and find little more than hints of a Tauli presence sometime in antiquity and yet another steel rose badge.


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