Zg Session 19

When you get back to Headquarters, you head up to Lady Inspector Saxby's office on the 2nd floor. Inside awaits Lady Saxby, seated behind her desk, and Lord Viscount Inspector Nigel Price-Hill, standing near the front of it. There are no other chairs present.
Price-Hill: "Greetings, Constables. Congratulations on your work last month bringing down former-mayor Macbannin."
Gerald: "Thanks!"
Price-Hill: "After finding one incident of such egregious corruption, it's critical we be on watch for more. As such, my team and I will be conducting an audit of the Flint branch."
Zane: "Of course, sir."
Ernst just nods silently.
Phyllis nods. Of course, Saxby has the only chair in the entire office, presumably as a subtle nod to remind everyone who's the boss. "Thank you, sir. It's good to hear that from you, though we couldn't have done it without our senior staff's guidance."
Lady Saxby adds, "carry on with your duties for your current case and simply cooperate with any requests from the Lord Viscount's staff. Delft will be handling most of the paperwork, so it shouldn't add on top of your other duties."
Chandrasekhar wouldn't be seated even if there were chairs. It wouldn't be proper! Also, he wouldn't be able to reach for his sword if needed. Just saying.
Delft nods at this, having escorted you into the room.
Zane: "Any idea what those requests might entail?"
Phyllis: "Are you sure? I've been researching ways to increase the efficiency of our bureaucratic tasks."
Price-Hill: "Questions about associates, expenditures, that sort of thing. Making sure everything's by the book. Nothing to worry about."
Aleith|DM: Delft shakes his head slightly in Phyllis' direction.
Gerald‘ looks bored but is in fact properly standing at attention.
Phyllis: "Expenditures I understand, but what do you mean by associates?"
Gerald: "It’s important to not be a mafia mole."
Zane nods. "I would make a joke about knowing a very suspicious dwarf, but she is tall enough to hit me in the kidney."
Chandrasekhar smiles. "I'm sure Delft can reassure you as to the quality and completeness of our field reports."
Price-Hill: "Mr. Cooper has the right of it. The RHC has a reputation to uphold, and corruption can come in various kinds."
Zane: "Mm. Which brings up an interesting question I have been pondering, if I might beg a moment of your collective times."
Price-Hill: "Yes?"
Phyllis turns dour. "Ah. I don't think you have anything to fear from me, at least. Most likely the same for the others."
Zane: "While it is clearly unthinkable that the king would actually… endorse such a reckless and cruel plan as the McBannin incident, how far up are we authorized to pursue inquiries? At what point, in a nutshell, does our duty to the law become superceded by our duty to the law-makers?"
Price-Hill: "With regards to Macbannin, while some of his employees seemed to believe he was working for King Aodhan, those rumours have proven unfounded. No such construction project has been found, as the various documents from the Danoran Consulate suggested the various materials were being used for."
Price-Hill: "As for your question… If you do manage to find something on that level, I will remind you that the House of Nobles can issues a challenge to the King's authority if the majority of them can be convinced of the grievance."
Zane nods. "Thank you, sir."
Saxby coughs gently. "Lord Viscount, there are other teams of constables to meet still," she says, while glaring at Delft as if to say, 'now get them out of here'.
Phyllis: "If you do find something in your audit, what would the consequences be? Who's conducting it? Just to be clear there's not a conflict of interests."
Price-Hill: "My team and I are conducting it. The consequences depend on their severity, of course. Could be anything from a proverbial slap-on-the-wrist up to imprisonment."
Phyllis nods. "Thank you."
Delft nods to Price-Hill, then Saxby. "Thank you for your time, sir. I'll see them out."
Gerald‘ gives a nod, then slips out.
Ernst nods before following the others out.
Zane leaves as well.
Gerald` wait until the down the hall before speaking. "Man that sure was point and boring."
[OOC] Gerald: pointless^
Aleith|DM: After leading you out, he gestures to follow him into his office. Motioning to the seats, he has a seat himself.
Zane leans against the wall.
Ernst glances at Gerald. "Perhaps save the comments for after the audit."
Gerald` then plops himself into one of Delft’s chairs.
Phyllis stares at Delft, waiting for him to actually motion her out. Then, in the office, she takes her seat.
Ernst sits down.
Gerald: "There was absolutely no reason to have us stand there for three minutes looking at grouchby while they say they're doing an audit. Hell it'd probably be more effective if we didn't know." He shrugs.
Delft: "The Lord Viscount wanted to meet each of the teams."
Chandrasekhar: "I must imagine they wanted us to know."
Delft: "I don't have much to add, really, but just be careful. Best to avoid contact with people like Gale or Mr. Cippiano for the moment; if you really need to, make sure you and they have your stories straight to cover your asses."
Zane: "Of course. Now they just sit back and watch the dirty cops scramble to cover up anything they don't want found."
Delft: "Pretty much the idea. You've been pretty good-provided your reports are correct-but not arresting Gale after meeting her doesn't look all that good, for instance, even if her activism has become more subdued since then."
Zane shrugs. "A short-term sacrifice. We'll land her another time."
Ernst grumbles something about knowing someone would bring that up at some point.
Gerald: "I mean, it was either arrest her on the spot or let the entire city go up in flames, so…" Gerald wobbles a hand in the air.
Gerald: "I was totally ready to shoot her though."
Delft: "At least her information was somewhat helpful, even if we don't have any way to substantiate the activity in the Bleak Gate yet."
Zane: "Oh yeah, she was definitely coming in if she didn't agree to back off."
Phyllis nods in agreement with Zane. "If we were to search her out and arrest her again, what are her charges looking like this time, given her cooperation?"
Chandrasekhar: "Aheh. Isn't the usual process that a crime is committed first, and then…?"
Delft: "It doesn't look like any murder charges or arson has been her fault, so at the very least there's destruction of property, trespassing, the like. Various minor transgressions as well."
Aleith|DM: There's a knock at the door. After giving permission, Dima sticks his head in. "Assistant Chief? Our team found something we'd like Ms. Lenz and the others to check out, since they've encountered a couple of golems recently."
Phyllis: "Are you also going to give us crap for not arresting Kell on-sight?"
Gerald: "A whole lot of destruction of property and being a holier than thou bitch, yeah." Gerald gives Ernst a brief look. Then pauses and looks to the door.
Phyllis: "Granted, we were vastly outnumbered."
Gerald: "Oh man more of those freaky witchoil metal golems?"
Chandrasekhar pats Phyllis' shoulder gently. "It's all there in the field reports, my dear friend."
Delft: "Kell? No, he's practically untouchable at the moment. No solid connection to him we can prove. We're working on that front the best we can."
Dima: "Something like that."
Dima: "Plus a murder."
Ernst gets out of his seat. "Where's the golem?"
Phyllis almost opens her mouth with another question, but stands up and turns to Dima. "Okay, I think that takes priority."
Zane adds drily, "And the murder."
Dima: "Basement of a steel mill out by the Lake."
Gerald: "So much for down time."
Gerald‘ slides out of his seat.
Dima: "Sorry, we figured it couldn’t wait for tomorrow."
Gerald: "Naw don't worry about it, it's the sort of thing you wanna get ahead of."
Phyllis: "Right you are."
Delft: "Just keep it quiet, wouldn't want her Lady-ship to think you're collaborating."
Zane: "What? Boss, I cant even spell that word, much less define it."
Phyllis turns back to Delft. "Duty calls."
Ernst: "Please. Why would I need witch oil golems? Mine is way better."
Gerald‘ elbows Ernst in the side. "He meant with the other investigation unit. Which we’re technically banned from."
Gerald‘ then puts a finger to his lips. Shh!
Aleith|DM: After a nearly hour-long carriage ride out to the mill, it’s early evening when Dima leads you to the basement, where Serena and Carlao are also investigating.
Ernst shrugs. "We're just investigating a murder by the lake."
Dima: "Looks like the burning steel and firegems concealed the stench of decomposition, but workers found the body just yesterday. The man had to have been dead for weeks at least. What got the case kicked over to the RHC was the presence of two strange things: a ring of rusted iron, and a slender golem which is torn to pieces."
Zane: "Torn to pieces."
Aleith|DM: Looking around the scene, everything has a fine layer of ash, which just drifts onto everything in the factory, even in the basement.
Aleith|DM: The victim's wrists were bound together by a twisted steel bar, as were his ankles.
Phyllis: "Rusted iron's been present in the last few dealings with the Bleak Gate, presumably to ward off potential possession by spirits from beyond."
Chandrasekhar: "Goddess."
Aleith|DM: Nearby is a bronze golem, torn into a hundred pieces. Its chest is “only” torn into four components,
Aleith|DM: while its face cracked apart into countless tiny pieces.
Zane whistles faintly. "No such luck."
Phyllis turns her gaze to Garrett. (( who might not be here but dang would a spirit medium be good about now ))
Zane: "Now he owes us more than just some cheese and wine."
Aleith|DM: Sadly, the man seems to be long dead.
Aleith|DM: Definitely more than a day.
Phyllis takes her gaze off of Garrett then.
Aleith|DM: Alright, Perception checks? Heal check for the body as well.
Ernst moves in to examine the body. Just how did this guy die?
Gerald: "Huh? OH the metal bending guy.
Ernst rolled d20+9 and got 3 ( Total: 12.0 )
[OOC] Ernst: Actually can't I just take 10 for 19.
Phyllis rolled d20+4 and got 3 ( Total: 7.0 ) for Perception
[OOC] Ernst: I have time to look over the body.
Gerald‘ rolled d20+10 and got 8 ( Total: 18 ) for oh right my wis isn’t poop
[OOC] Aleith|DM: I'm checking to see if you guys learn more than taking 10, yeah
Ernst rolled d20+9 and got 2 ( Total: 11.0 ) for Perception
Zane rolled d20+7 and got 20 ( Total: 27 ) for Perception
[OOC] Zane: *720 aerial chaos dunking motion*
Aleith|DM: The victim has been dead for a while, and the remains are greatly deteriorated, you can determine the date of death was some time early in the Summer. The apparent cause of death is a shattered skull, and the size of the wound matches the fist of the damaged golem in the corner. A cursory look determines the man was a human in his fifties or sixties. He has an old gunshot wound in his leg.
Aleith|DM: He had some sort of necklace, because links remain near his body, but most of it is missing. The chain matches the amulets used at Macbannin’s manor to slip partially into the Bleak Gate.
Aleith|DM: Probing the victim's throat reveals nearly a pint of witchoil, some of which the victim swallowed. However there is no soul energy trapped in the oil; if the man had died while the oil was anywhere nearby, his soul should have been sucked in.
Aleith|DM: Zane, roll a history check.
Zane rolled d20+7 and got 3 ( Total: 10 ) for History
[OOC] Zane: yeah I saw that coming
Aleith|DM: The victim had 5 platinum pieces and twenty gold pieces in his pocket, as well as a bundle of papers with ship schedules, berth numbers, and mentions that passengers were welcome, all of which were set to depart between the 5th and 15th of Summer. All of them were bound for Elfaivar. His socks have the initials 'A.G.' stitched into them.
Aleith|DM: As for the golem, the main bulk of its 'skull' looks intact, though, and it feels quite heavy, which suggests a finely-crafted internal structure appropriate for containing an advanced intelligence.
Aleith|DM: The body is unimposing. Before it was smashed to bits it probably stood about 5-foot–6, slender, mostly bronze. But again its internal structure is of the finest quality, with minuscule gears in the hands that would
Aleith|DM: have allowed nuanced movements. The face, shattered though it is now, could once have displayed fantastic expressions. Even Ernst has never seen such wondrous craftsmanship. It looks too fragile to use as a warrior, though.
Aleith|DM: There are a few chain links amid the golem's wreckage that match the necklace the victim was wearing.
Aleith|DM: Oddly it looks like the golem wasn’t hit by an object; it was torn apart, almost like it exploded along every major seam and joint. The head of the golem still possesses an aura of magic, suggesting the thing might still be conscious, just blind and mute.
Ernst: "To be honest given how long ago this happened I'm surprised nobody bothered to clean up the mess. Why leave it?"
Gerald‘ picks up one of the nearby chain links, tilts his head and stares at it a bit. "Why does this look familiar…?"
Zane: "Bleak Gate key."
Gerald: "Uh I’d guess the old dude was the owner, and whoever the deed passed on to didn't care enough to cover the cost of cleaning the place up - aha!"
Aleith|DM: Nearby the rusted ring, several inches torn fabric can be found. It's several layers stitched together of cotton and dyed silk. The threads have residual magic on them, which given how long they've been removed from the garment suggests the enchantment was very powerful to begin with.
Chandrasekhar: "Hm."
Aleith|DM: A few ingots of iron stored on nearby shelves have fallen onto the ground, and a few are below the victim's body. The ingots were shaken free, probably during the earthquake in the summer, but there’s no sign of ash on top of them, which suggests the victim died very soon after the quake.
Zane: "Hm."
Chandrasekhar: "Any way we can trace any of these enchantments? What was he trying to accomplish, here?"
Gerald: "This clockwork golem is crazy fancy too."
Carlao: "No idea why the body was left here. It wasn't discovered for, what, a month? So maybe they figured nobody would find it."
Zane: "Why… are the links of his necklace in the golem."
Phyllis: "Ernst, do you think if you reattached this golem's head to a proper body, it'd be able to speak again? And I'll about the fabric."
Chandrasekhar: "Could the golem have had an identical necklace?"
Ernst: "If you want me to spend the time on that, I could find out."
Aleith|DM: Ernst: Maybe, but it would take a lot of work. Days, weeks, months? Hard to tell, the technology is more advanced than you've worked with before.
Zane: "Maybe…"
Gerald: "There was an amulet attached to the necklace, right? I Reckon the golem ripped it off. Scattered the links."
Serena: "We'll see if we can reassemble the golem and get it working again. You can help if you'd like."
Ernst: "We're talking at least a week here though. Not something I'd consider unless we were completely dead on leads."
Zane: "I'm not sure the golem ripped the amulet off him, Gerald."
Chandrasekhar: "Well, we can start work on that, and in the meantime… what do we know about this man? We've got… initials, travel plans, place of residence. Next of kin?"
Gerald: "Maybe he ripped it off the golem?" Gerald shrugs. "Or they both had one, and a third party was involved which stole two amulets."
Zane: "I have a contact in the port, I can see what ships left for Elfaivar on those dates."
Carlao: "We don't have the place of residence or his name, sadly. We'll have the body buried, but we're unsure of any next of kin."
Phyllis pulls out her ritual book and goes off in a corner to quietly perform Detect Planar Energy. Given that we're dealing with the Bleak Gate again, just … just good to be sure.
Aleith|DM: There's traces of Bleak Gate energy around the ring, but it's really faded after all this time. That's about all you can pick up.
Aleith|DM: Dima nods to Zane. "Thank you. We'll see if we can track down the captains or their crew and see if they met anyone that looked like the victim."
Zane: "No problem."
Carlao: "Thanks for coming to take a look." Glancing at Ernst, he states, "the insight about the golem was definitely helpful. Not exactly our area of expertise."
Dima: "We'll let you know if we find anything else out."
Zane shrugs. "Honestly? I'm not here to catch criminals for the prestige. If you think I can be of assistance again, bang on my door. As long as the job gets done, I dont care who gets the spotlight."
Ernst nods before gathering his things. "Where to, now?"
Phyllis nods. "Yeah. You probably want me for the more historical, traditional kinds of magical expertise, but the kid's into the more cutting-edge stuff."
Aleith|DM: It's getting late. Unless there's anything else you plan on doing tonight, it might be best to leave it for tomorrow.
Gerald‘ remembers to ont leave a crime scene with evidence and tosses Dima the chain lins he was inspecting.
Aleith|DM: Probably a good idea.
Zane: "Alright. I’m done for the day. Entirely too much crap to process, and I am owed some extra sleep from this morning. I'll see you all in the morning."
Gerald: "I got nothin'."
Phyllis has half a mind to speak with the prisoner that witnessed events again, but … not on anything solid. Just a feeling like she's missing something.
Phyllis: "Hopefully no one wakes us up again. I need to edit my spellbook in the morning."
Aleith|DM: Thankfully, the next morning is uninterrupted. You can make your way to the office at your leisure.
Phyllis makes said edits! [Lv 2 Utility: Switching out Glib Tongue for Shield, and Lv. 5 Daily: switching out Tasha's Forcible Conscription for Visions of Avarice]
Phyllis: "I think our best bet right now is looking into the guy funding the expeditions. Either that, or I take to a safe place and cast random spells through the staff from the dig."
Chandrasekhar: "I'm not sure there's a safe enough spot for that in all Risur."
Zane nods. "Follow the money."
Gerald: "That's pretty much where I'm at too, we can't really do much with what we found in the cell, so."
Gerald: "We could probably take a field trip out to the dig site too but that seems like it might be kinda pointless since they looted the stuff they wanted anyway…? So yeah, just lookin' into money bags."
Phyllis nods. "Paper trail and all that."
Phyllis: "Actually, even if they looted the things of value to them…"
Zane: "Hm. The dig might not be entirely a dead end. Even if they made off with the s-"
Zane grins at Phyllis.
Chandrasekhar chuckles.
Chandrasekhar: "Great minds think alike."
Zane: "Carvings, at the very least."
Phyllis: "Orcish mummies."
Zane: "I can do that, just need my hat…"
Phyllis: "Seeing them for more than a second or two in a vision that takes an hour-long ritual to see would be great."
Zane nods. "I'm interested in seeing what the First People had to say, yeah."
Gerald: "I mean if you wanna it's not like have anything better to do…" Gerald shrugs.
Zane nods. "I'll need to get in touch with Klim later, for a different paper trail. But my morning is clear."
Chandrasekhar: "I'd like to see it with my own eyes, I think."
Phyllis: "We can multitask. Probably pull in a favor and get someone to look up files on Caius while we're out."
Phyllis: "Well, delegate."
Gerald: "Grouchby did say Delft was in charge of paperwork for now…"
Gerald: "…And I guess the RCP would be paying for the field trip too…"
Gerald: "…Yeah okay I can get down with this idea."
Aleith|DM: Well, the module says the trips costs you 50 gp each, but let's just file that under billable expenses.
Aleith|DM: Delft will have some people see if they can track down Cauis Bergeron while you're gone.
Phyllis: "Need to make a quick requisition before we go. But it's our strongest lead at the moment, if not our last. The others just strike me as tenuous."
Aleith|DM: Even with a bit of a late start, you can still make it by train to Bole by nightfall.
Aleith|DM: The streets of Bole weave confusingly through a tangle of rolling hills, neighborhoods, and old thickets. The city center lies in the lowlands where most of the trees have been cleared to make way for riverside factories, lumber mills, and the last large station of the Risur railroad.
Aleith|DM: Bole is an old, relaxed city in contrast to the booming speed of Flint. The local RHC headquarters don’t have much crime to worry about, and mostly serve to resolve disputes between loggers and the forest fey.
Aleith|DM: Leaving the next morning, it's a one-day trek through the hills to the small town of Agate.
Aleith|DM: A town of barely two hundred people, Agate sits at the where the foothills of the Anthras Mountains meet the marshlands of the High Bayou. It mostly serves as a nexus for gem miners in the hills, as well as silk trappers who collect threads from huge spider nests in the swamp. A small cadre of veteran monster hunters guard the town from giant spiders and the eerie alligators that crawl from stream to stream amid the web-shrouded hills.
Chandrasekhar: "You know, we could always just retire here."
Phyllis shudders at the world. "I'll retire when I'm dead."
Zane: "I'm still holding out for one of those repossessed mansions."
Gerald: "But."
Phyllis: "I hear one on Cauldron Hill is undergoing renovations…"
Gerald: "There's no city here."
Chandrasekhar: "Now what did we say about hastening the end times?"
Gerald: "It's just… lot of… trees and swamp. And smelly old people."
Zane: "Yeah, I bet I can get that one real cheap…"
Chandrasekhar: "Dickering with wood-fae! Resolving generations-old family disputes! It'd be the life, we'd never have to see witchoil again."
Phyllis is visibly trying not to strangle Gerald right about now. A [Mage Hand] might flicker in and out of existence behind his head.
Chandrasekhar: "…and when the news came that Risur had gone up in shadowy flames, I suppose we could drink ourselves into a lifeless stupor?"
Chandrasekhar sounds WAY too cheerful about all this.
Gerald: "But the bars here aren't even open twenty four hours, Chandra!"
Gerald: "How do people live like this?"
Zane: "Simply."
Phyllis: "See it as a business opportunity, Gerald."
Gerald: "Ugh."
Chandrasekhar: "Extensive liquor cabinets."
Chandrasekhar: "Or am I thinking of Ber?"
Phyllis: "You're thinking of Drakr."
Gerald: "I can't even think of the last time we passed by a taxi carriage…"
Aleith|DM: Back in Bole.
Dr. Xambria Meredith provided a detailed map and directions. In the town of Agate you acquire pole-boats and set out into the High Bayou, a landscape unlike anywhere else in the world.
Phyllis: "And take to mind that life was like this for a long while, as our kings of old conquered and paid tribute to keep the titans pacified and asleep. Much of what you're used to rose out of necessity in Danor, and industry's influence spread from there to here, especially with the wars."
Though trees and other plant-life poke out of the slow waters, the land beneath is not coastline but rolling hills. Streams from the Anthras Mountains snake down to the bayou, but instead of flowing freely they are trapped by berms of massive spider webs. The giant ground spiders of the High Bayou have coated huge swaths of terrain with their nests, made of silk much like beavers craft dams of wood.
Gerald: "So what you're telling me…"
Gerald: "Is that the past super sucked and time travel would be pointless? Good to know."
You have to travel slowly to avoid the dangers of the swamp. Swarms of biting insects flock to the scent of blood, and pale crocodiles blend into the white, silkcoated hillocks that peek out of the waters. Cypress trees shelter you from the sun, but you have to navigate carefully to avoid drifting into titanic walls of web, as large as a hundred feet across, stretched between trees.
And the rain. Always the rain. It cuts visibility, soaks everything, and dulls your ears to the movements of predators. Sometimes, through the calls of birds and croaks of toads, you imagine you can hear a slithering whisper, indecipherable beneath the drone of the rain.
Zane: "I like this place."
Phyllis opens her mouth to reply, but thinks better of it. This line of conversation seems all too familiar.
Gerald: "Also we should really invest in some kind of carriage or boat or something that can fly." Gerald gives a meaningful look to Ernst.
Linlea: "If I were to build something like that, it'd likely only support me."
Gerald: "Well yeah always start with a prototype then increase scale."
Aleith|DM: Who's navigating the swamp via map? Phyllis?
Gerald: "And like,"
Gerald: "I bet you only like this watery hell hole because there's a thousand places you could hide and kill a man from without them even knowing, Zane."
Phyllis: Possibly. Maybe even with a free [Mage Hand] to hold the map and still keep her hands free.
Aleith|DM: 3 Nature checks, please
Chandrasekhar: "That's probably one reason."
Phyllis rolled 3#d20+9(1) and got 20 ( Total: 29.0 )
Also rolled 3#d20+9(2) and got 3 [Total: 12.0 (Low), Avg: 3.00]
Also rolled 3#d20+9(3) and got 6 [Total: 15.0 (Low), Avg: 6.00]
Total: 56.0, Avg: 9.67
Chandrasekhar: "Another would be the natural splendour! I think you have spiderweb in your hair."
Gerald: "I'll be honest I didn't even know this many different kinds of bugs existed around here until yesterday. Guah." Gerald paws at his hair, trying to brush whatever's in it out.
Aleith|DM: Alright, I'm gonna say that the 20 was good enough to make up for lost time for the 12. It takes you about 12 hours to make your way to the ruins.
Aleith|DM: Everyone make an Endurance check.
Gerald‘ rolled d20+7 and got 3 ( Total: 10 )
Zane rolled d20+7 and got 12 ( Total: 19 )
Ernst rolled d20+6 and got 6 ( Total: 12.0 )
Chandrasekhar wound up singing to keep people’s spirits up, but even that got old after a while.
Chandrasekhar rolled d20+7 and got 4 ( Total: 11 )
Phyllis rolled d20+6 and got 18 ( Total: 24.0 )
Aleith|DM: Gerald, Ernst, and Chandrasekhar loses one healing surge from insect bites and fatigue.
Chandrasekhar ain't even mad.
Gerald: "Seriously, fuck these bugs. Also this 'fresh air' stuff is complete bullshit."
Ernst: "I never did understand why people enjoyed this stuff."
Chandrasekhar: "To be fair this wouldn't really be my go-to when it comes to 'fresh air'. Maybe when we get back we can go on a hike through the mountains?"
Zane is probably telling stories from his war college days. "… So the Dean walks in, and there's our grappling instructor, pants around his knees, with this shaved sheep on his desk. And he just goes 'Lets face it, this is hardly the most awkward conversation start we've ever had.'"
Ernst glances at Chandra. "… I was about to follow up saying that I didn't understand why people liked hiking or camping either."
Gerald‘ opens his mouth in response to Chandrasekhar, stops, turns to Zane. "No way."
Zane just grins.
Chandrasekhar grins at Ernst before giggling… exactly appropriately, really. He’s probably heard the story before but it's still funny as heck???
Aleith|DM: Phyllis, as you get close, you notice that small animals are acting a bit oddly.
Ernst: "I'm almost wondering if I missed out on some vital experience from going to a proper school."
Phyllis: How so?
Zane: "Hey now, the war college is a proper school."
Aleith|DM: Good question.
Gerald: "Yeah there's classes and everything."
Zane: "We study the three Rs just like everyone else. Rending, Raiding, and Wringing necks."
Aleith|DM: You're not quite sure, but they seem…off.
Chandrasekhar deadpans: "Zane, I don't think… About that third one, I…"
Phyllis: Well, maybe she can ask. She did pack Speak With Nature in her ritual book…
Zane: "I know, it starts with a 'w'. Pisses me off to no end."
Chandrasekhar: "Must be frustrating."
Ernst: "Primordial, tricky isn't it?"
Zane: "All I'm saying is when someone declares himself emperor and unifies the world, silent letters will be the first thing to go from the new alphabet."
A golden strip of fabric flutters in the rainy breeze. Woven around the trunk of a tree, it marks the first clear sign you’re getting close to Xambria’s dig site. Beyond in the distance you spy another golden marker, and far past it, hidden in the drizzle, perhaps a third.
A patch of land cleared of webs near the tree also sports a hitching post of sorts for your boats. You tie them up, then follow the trail a few hundred feet up a slight grade. The sparse trees of the swamp thicken to a tangle of greenery, studded with golden markers to show that civilization was once here.
Phyllis: Or she could have trouble getting close enough to one in the first place. That is odd.
Ernst: "I take it your native tongue doesn't have these setbacks?"
Then before you the wall of trees open onto a vast flooded plain. A large stone ziggurat looms at the edge of your rain-obscured vision. Three tiers of aged stone, their ancient carvings all but dissolved by time, rise up out of the forest to a sixty-foot high peak.
[OOC] Aleith|DM: http://imgur.com/a/qxWi9
Chandrasekhar: "I've been telling you for a while the Eladrin writing system has an orthography for- aha, we must be getting close finally."
Zane: "Oh no, it has a whole different set of rules that make no sense. But at least it sounds pretty while it does it."
Or is it farther? Sudden vertigo strikes you all, and for a moment you can't tell which is closer—the top tier of the ziggurat, or your own hand. But when you look back down the sensation passes. You spot the remains of a camp site ahead, right beside the ruin’s entrance. Three limp humanoid figures lie amid toppled tents and archaeological supplies.
Zane: "… Oh boy, this again."
Just beyond the camp and the remains of the dead, a fifteen foot high mouth yawns open in the stone side of the ziggurat’s first tier. Vines that once hid it have been hacked away, and somewhere inside the ancient ruin, faint light glows.
Gerald: "Ugh."
Gerald: "Did anyone else just have deja vu from the island again?"
Chandrasekhar: "Ei vero- what was that?"
Chandrasekhar: "Something like it."
Gerald: "Uh."
Zane: "More planar weirdness."
Aleith|DM rolled 5#d20+9(1) and got 20 ( Total: 29.0 ) for vs Will
Also rolled 5#d20+9(2) and got 6 [Total: 15.0 (Low), Avg: 6.00]
Also rolled 5#d20+9(3) and got 19 [Total: 28.0 (High), Avg: 19.00]
Also rolled 5#d20+9(4) and got 1 [Total: 10.0 (Min), Avg: 1.00]
Also rolled 5#d20+9(5) and got 17 [Total: 26.0 (High), Avg: 17.00]
Gerald: "Is the pillar … mouthing?"
Total: 108.0, Avg: 12.60
Ernst: "Ominous."
Phyllis: "No, this seems different."
Phyllis: "Remember that there was a seal for Apet here, the plane of distance. So … that just now."
Aleith|DM: Chandrasekhar, Gerald, and Zane are all struck with Distant Madness. Gain vulnerable 5 psychic.
Aleith|DM: 'When you reach out, you aren’t sure whether what you see is close enough to touch, or as distant as the stars in the night sky.' Welcome to diseases :D
Zane closes one eye. And then the other. "This… is going to bollock my archery right up."
Gerald: "No I'm pretty sure it just opened a mouth and bit my head."
Gerald‘ squints.
Chandrasekhar blinks, repeatedly, reaches forward a few times, experimentally; eyes go all woogly. "What fucking mohya-"
Zane: "So. I still like this place in general. Just… not this place in particular."
Gerald: "You’re loonie."
Ernst: "I'll take it half of you are on an acid trip of some sort."
Zane lets a dagger fall into his hand from… somewhere… and advances into the camp.
Gerald: "Uh."
Gerald: "Yeah that's a good way to explain it."
Gerald‘ pulls out a thin hand roll cigarette and lights it up. Should make focusing a little easier.
Phyllis: "Of course, given my years of substance abuse, I’m not affected as much as these lightweights."
Chandrasekhar snorts.
Phyllis: "But really, planar influence. Or lack thereof. Remember?"
Gerald: "Not a fan."
Zane: "I could do without, yeah."
Aleith|DM: Three bodies—two men, one woman, all humans—lie dead in the camp outside the ziggurat. They died while sitting, eating, and working near the campfire and a small folding table.
Zane looks the bodies over for obvious signs of death. Wounds? Poison?
Ernst: "Thankfully I seem to be myself. So I'm going to examine these bodies."
Aleith|DM: Heal check?
Ernst rolled d20+10 and got 3 ( Total: 13.0 )
Aleith|DM: The bodies are well decomposed, but your examination reveals no signs of wounds or trauma.
Zane rolled d20+3 and got 11 ( Total: 14 )
[OOC] Zane: one day I will have training in that. today is not that day
Zane: "Hm. Hard to tell, they've been processing too long."
Aleith|DM: More noteworthy, however, is that the bodies have already been examined. You can tell that they were previously shifted about, and that their clothes were rifled through.
Aleith|DM: The camp site has a good amount of mundane gear, including rope, climbing kits, sunrods, and thieves' tools. There are also several journals, logs, and other notebooks, most of them carelessly tossed onto the ground.
Gerald‘ starts to leave through one of the books, decides trying to read like this is a fucking terrible idea in short order and hands it to Phyllis instead.
Phyllis: "Oh well hi thank you - hm."
Phyllis thumbs through them.
Aleith|DM: Skimming through these doesn’t yield any useful information, sadly. Nothing you haven't already heard from Professor Weber or Dr. Meredith.
Zane spends a few minutes hurling his daggers at convenient trees. "Its like you know your perspective is screwed, so you just have to let your hands work the motions as if you were straight."
Phyllis keeps them for a more thorough investigation later, at least. No stone unturned.
Aleith|DM: Garrett: When you enter the campsite, you see a quick vision of three researchers clasping their heads as if in pain, and then collapsing. The spirits are not around to communicate with, but it seems the traumatic nature of their deaths left an impression on the area.
Aleith|DM rolled d20+9 and got 17 ( Total: 26 ) for vs Will
Aleith|DM: Garrett also has Distant Madness
Garrett‘ rolled d20+2 and got 10 ( Total: 12 ) for vs Endurance
Phyllis sighs. "Unto the breach, then?"
Aleith|DM: Garrett also loses a healing surge.
Chandrasekhar: "It would seem so."
Gerald: "Definitely not thrilled at the idea of walking into the Ziggurat’s mouth."
A pattern of seven concentric rings surrounding a central white stone is prominent above the entrance to the ziggurat. A dot lies on the sixth ring from the interior.
Zane nods at the rings. "Planets?"
Chandrasekhar: "It won't bite unless you ask politely. Maybe." He seems… super unsteady on his feet.
Aleith|DM: Religion check?
Zane rolled d20+3 and got 9 ( Total: 12 )
Phyllis rolled d20+11 and got 13 ( Total: 24.0 )
Aleith|DM: It matches up with the star system. The sixth ring would correspond with Apet.
Chandrasekhar rolled d20+8 and got 15 ( Total: 23 )
Chandrasekhar: "Hey Phyllis. Hey."
Phyllis: "What."
Chandrasekhar nudges Phyllis, points in the extremely vague direction of the pattern. "Think they built temples to the stars, way back when? Either way, bet you're right."
You have to marvel at the Ancients who built this place. While the ziggurat rose sixty feet above the ground, you descend what feels like fifty feet down rough stone stairs, to a room forty feet across, with a twenty foot ceiling adorned carvings. Stone amulets on golden chains hang from the carved mouths of jaguars and dragons all along the ceiling.
Two more bodies lie sprawled on the floor of this entry room, a man and a halfling woman. A toppled wooden tripod leans against one wall near the base of the stairs, and a cracked amber lantern on top of it emits dim but endless magical light. The light gleams off metal in alcoves along the walls, and a second glance reveals three tusked humanoid faces, their eyes closed, blindly watching all who enter.
Gerald: "So it is just me or did that staircase basically go on forever? Honestly can't tell at the moment."
When you glance back, you realize the stairs you came down were only ten feet long.
Zane: "… I hate this place."
Chandrasekhar: "I… probably… yes?"
Phyllis looks up at the tusked faces. Hello, again.
Aleith|DM: The tusked faces belong to a trio of mummified orcs. Ropes lash their bodies to the stone, golden bracelets hanging from their rists.
[OOC] Aleith|DM: *wrists
Zane: "Well, there you have it Phyllis."
Phyllis: "So the staff, the sword, and the amulet were probably from here…"
Chandrasekhar: "We need… to figure out that trick… and use it when we get that mansion rustled up." He looks around, curiously- inclining his head in respect to the long- and recently-dead. "…what a legacy -they- left, buried out here in the goddessforsaken spider swamps."
Gerald‘ scratches his head.
Aleith|DM: Close examination reveals that the hands of one mummy appeared to have been holding a sword, now missing. Another held a staff crossed over its chest. The third wore a necklace.
Aleith|DM: A note nailed to the wall reads, ’The mummies are worth more than all your tuition. Don't touch them.'
Chandrasekhar: "Hah!" And then, sadder, "Heh."
Aleith|DM: The two bodies here, by the way, show actual physical wounds of claws and necrotic burns.
Zane was about to ask that, yeah.
Zane looks at the mummies, at the dead bodies. "Hm."
Gerald: "So uh…"
Gerald: "What's the deal with the tied up orcs?"
Phyllis: "You … you were at the museum with us yesterday, right?"
Zane: "Mummified remains of the First People. Not sure why they are tied up though."
Chandrasekhar: "…If I had to guess? Sacrifices, set to guard the temple for all eternity."
Aleith|DM: The ropes look fairly new.
Chandrasekhar: "I'm no archaeologist, though."
Gerald: "Aha."
Chandrasekhar: "And those ropes look new, so… disregard that entirely, I'm high as the moon."
Gerald: "…Why would a sacrifice guard something though?"
Zane: "That rope is definitely new yeah."
Gerald: "Oh."
Chandrasekhar: "I've heard stories, though. Walling a sacrifice up in a temple as you're building it, or as you're sealing the door behind you forever."
Chandrasekhar: "Cheerful thought."
Phyllis: "I think you're a bit higher than that, Chandra. By a few planets."
Zane: "Wall the builders into the tomb, that way they can't tell anybody else about the secret passages."
Chandrasekhar: "Technicalities."
Gerald: "That at least makes sense."
Zane looks down the corridor to the east and west. Cracks a couple of sunrods from the camp outside and hurls one each direction.
Aleith|DM: The corridor to the left extends down a bit, then turns a corner. Seems to be a door past it.
Zane: "Door, or to the right?
Aleith|DM: To the right, the hallway extends farther, with a couple of branches off the side. A pattern of several concentric rings lies just before the first branch.
Phyllis: "Hm. Door, but only because you mentioned it first."
Gerald: "Anyone else at all gets to make decisions on how to move in three dimensional space."
Gerald: "Other than me, I mean." \
Chandrasekhar: "One twelve seven not it."
Zane: "Guess that's me then."
Zane heads left and looks the door for traps before opening it.
Aleith|DM: Perception?
Zane rolled d20+8 and got 13 ( Total: 21 )
Aleith|DM: Seems fine to you.
Zane opens it then!
A leathery curtain blocks your view of the next room, but a slowly shifting spectrum of light peeks through on the floor.
Within, most of the vast room before you has no floor. A brief plateau of stone stretches fifteen feet before dropping away perilously. A chasm in the center of the chamber separates you from several other plateaus around the room’s edge. On the far side you spot a doorway out, but the path is blocked by seven dull veils of colored light.
Two wooden stands on the entrance plateau hold a pair of large white stones, marked with paint, one blue and one orange. The paint is recent, covering a faded symbol of seven concentric circles. You can spot two similar stands and stones on other lateaus.
If you look down, a rough sea of stone spikes stare back at you from the floor, thirty feet down.
Gerald: "Is there… actually a giant hole in the middle of the room?"
The base of the pit has flooded with marsh water, and something moves down there. The horrid things might once have been centipedes, but now their flesh fades in and out, from solid to translucent.
A new light flares from one of the far plateaus, and a pair of flashing orbs begin to float toward you, their light screaming through all of your senses. Below you, the centipedes begin to crawl upward.
Phyllis: "Yup."
Zane: "Great…"
Chandrasekhar: "…what in Srasama's unforgotten name…"
Gerald: "Who?"
Aleith|DM: -
Aleith|DM: Level 6, stipend increases by 3,760 gp.

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