January 19th, 2008

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Decimus' Capture

Having captured the mercenary who attacked Dalgeard, the party takes him aside for questioning.

Decimus' group was hired by a "hooded man" to capture Dalgeard, and bring the dwarf and all he carried to a certain meeting spot in the jungles outside Quno. The hooded man further agreed to provide Decimus and company with a means to take Dalgeard with less chance of intervention from the party (the magical darkness). When the mercenaries reported their failure, the hooded man revealed himself as a troglodyte, and he and his band slaughtered all but Decimus (who escaped) and Elias (who wasn't at the meeting in the first place).

Decimus leads the party to the site of his first betrayal, where they discover the gnawed bones of his companions and their rusted gear. With night drawing down, and Brutus advising that they not face troglodytes after dark, they quickly withdraw back to the city.

The Plan

Determined to catch and question these troglodytes, the party lays plans. In spite of Marcellinus' arguments (out of fear for his friend's health, of course), the badly wounded Gaius also participates.

They decide to lay an ambush for the troglodyte band, on the assumption that they are still hunting for Dalgeard. Lieutenant Thrace of the city guard (the man in charge of their own investigation of the initial attack) agrees to cooperate, and a "prisoner transport" is arranged for Decimus - one that is conveniently rushed, so as to take place at night and provide a tempting target. Gaius, Marcellinus, and Viad lay the detailed plans of the trap, but it requires one more important piece: Decimus' cooperation.

Gaius and the mercenary talk for some time (Ob 4 Persuasion test), but in the end Decimus is convinced to not only cooperate with the ambush, but to serve in the Tarsuli military under Gaius' command. In return, he and Elias are both to be pardoned.

Numerius and Decimus

On his way to pass the party's offer on to Elias, Decimus is intercepted. Numerius approaches him, offering once again to give him a way out of the city. Decimus, in turn, demands his money back instead. The argument goes nowhere in particular, until Decimus escalates matters by punching the merchant in the face. This escalates into a general brawl with several other patrons, which Numerius uses as cover to escape.

Never one to let a deal go so easily, Numerius returns to the inn with several burly sailors in tow. He waits outside until Decimus (and Elias) return, intending to continue the fight now that he has backup. Decimus reveals Numerius' treachery to his employees, and the two argue further, to no particular conclusion. But Numerius' reputation may have been permanently marred. (By vote, gains the reputation "Untrustworthy")

Light Up The Night

Decimus is temporarily turned over to the watch, and the "prisoner transport" begins. Gaius and Dalgeard stay behind; Viad in a brown cloak serves as a substitute dwarf to gain the troglodyte's attention.

It is close to midnight when the troglodytes strike, running out of the night under cover of sorcerous darkness. Atruma immediately kills several with a firestorm, but the strain of spellcasting renders her unconscious. But the trap is truly sprung when Viad's explosive fireworks go off, stunning the troglodytes with the sudden bright light.

Alcibiades, Brutus, and Elias strike while the troglodytes are off-balance, while Marcellinus takes command (at last!) of the watch contingent. Shamir cuts the traces of one of the caravan's arachs in order to charge off after the troglodyte sorcerer; his bravery outpaces his skill, however, and he tumbles off only to be ambushed by the sorcerer and his corrupting Black Rust.

When Shamir screams, Viad also charges off into the darkness to find the sorcerer. Dwarven eyes are not so easily fooled by the night; she is able to catch the troglodyte a glancing blow with her axe, enough to break his concentration and bring down his spells. After that, it's all a matter of cleanup. The troglodyte sorcerer is taken captive, and Marcellinus uses his gryphon figurine to transport the badly wounded Shamir back to aid.

Hades Ascendant

Meanwhile, Gaius and Dalgeard have a talk. Dalgeard's earlier attempt to read Gaius' future in the stars failed; he can offer no particular advice to the recovering Gaius. He brings a message to Father Octavius of the Temple of Hades, requesting that the priest come and talk.

Gaius is curious as to why Hades chose to save him, particularly because he normally worships Apollo. Octavius speculates that the god has some purpose in mind; he reveals his friendship with Xenophon (Gaius' stepfather), and asks what brings the young man to Quno. Gaius tells the story (in strict confidence) of the party's defeat in and flight from Chorach, of the imp that spied upon them, and of the summoner (Agrippa Virius) whom they encountered.

Octavius is deeply troubled by all this, particularly by the news of Virius - a name he recognizes has having once been an acolyte of Hades. Invoking the power of the Lord of Secrets, he binds Gaius and Dalgeard into secrecy, and tells them of the Cult of Hades Ascendant, an organization within the church that seeks to use, rather than contain, the power of the underworld as expressed by Pandemonium. With much to think on, Octavius is preparing to leave, when Marcellinus returns with Shamir.

Fire And Death

(Shamir took a Traumatic wound, and failed his Health test for recovery. His player opted for him to die rather than be crippled, an option made available by the fire spirit waiting for a chance at retribution.)

Convinced that the party's mission is somehow important to his god, Octavius prays and sacrifices in order to heal Shamir's wounds. He is successful, but a closer spirit than Hades takes exception to the matter. The sacrificial brazier flares and roars with indignant rage, as the mighty fire spirit pestered by Shamir takes its vengeance. The inn burns to fine ash, though everyone but Shamir is able to escape. The lizardman is destroyed without a trace; his last words to his master are a promise to return on the night of the next new moon.

The Troglodyte Shaman

When the rest of the party returns with their captive, they find the destroyed inn and a shellshocked Dalgeard. New lodgings have been acquired at Octavius' expense, where Gaius is resting again. Marcellinus leads the group there, where they attempt to question their captive.

Brutus is given the first shot at interrogating the creature, but though he bloodies the shaman up quite a bit, he gets nothing: the troglodyte will not break from mere pain.

Alcibiades then makes his own attempt at negotiating with the troglodyte. The two argue, but in the end the shaman tells what he knows in return for a promise of being freed.

In truth, he does not know much. Dalgeard was to be taken back to his tribe's high priest, who wished to sacrifice him before their unnamed Lord. The tribe's location is to the west, beneath a dark lake and in the shadowy realm of the subcanopy; the troglodyte refuses to tell, however, their numbers or strength.

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