Lost Souls

In Which We Escape the Beyton Estate, Come Down With a Rare Case of Common Sense, and Add Bank-Robbing to Our Long and Illustrious List of Crimes of Humanity

When last we left (most) of our heroes, Roswyn, Carkal, and Edward were trapped in an underground near the Beyton family’s home vault. The approaching footsteps soon revealed themselves to be a mass of guards and war hounds. Our allies, the freed prisoners, attempted to bar the way but alas, it was to no avail. Trapped as we were, Roswyn began scratching away at the teleportation circle while Carkal stepped up to stall for time by using Edris’ wife as a hostage. In the midst of negotiations, Edward finished the ritual that set off our previously planted charges, and blew the Beyton estate tower to smithereens. Ah, how I love the smell of property damage in the morning.

Nevertheless, at the behest of the mage leading them, the guards chose to press their attack. The mage demanded that Roswyn stop her ritual so that negotiations for Edris’ wife could continue. Carkal demanded that they call off the war hounds first. After a tense moment, the guards acquiesce, though one wayward mutt chose to stay behind and gnaw on one of the prisoners who had injured it. The mage came closer and demanded, once again, that we cease our ritual. Carkal kept stalling while another prisoner pulls Edris out of the sack. With a final burst of effort, Roswyn finished the ritual and opened up a portal, at which point the mage ordered the guards and knights arrayed about him to attack…which triggers Carkal’s Hunger of Hadar.

While the guards were distracted by the whole “being devoured by eldritch beings from among the stars” thing, Edward helpfully used his psionic powers to slide us all through the portal—prisoners and hostages included, in an unusually altruistic gesture for the Heroes of Amarak. Then again, Edris and his wife were only kept for questioning, so perhaps not so altruistic after all. The whole lot of us land in comical array atop a heap of treasure in a darkened room.

We were met by a man named Harold who attempted to extort money from us for having the hostages transferred to the keeping of the Thieves’ Guild! Hah! Once we had disabused the poor foolish man of that laughable notion, we loaded up our gold and headed across town for the warehouse where we were to meet Ash. Once we arrived, Ash demanded the story of what had happened while we—being naturally exhausted and with no time for such silly demands—were trying to whine our way out of it when there came a mysterious knock on the door! …Turned out it was Perra, who had made his own way across Madaban to the site of our rendezvous. After this joyous reunion, Perra and Roswyn eventually capitulated to Ash’s cruel, cruel demands and told him the story of what had occurred. The hostages, meanwhile, were escorted away for fates unknown

Upon the end of our tale, Ash inquire as to the contents of the vault, and his interest was particularly piqued by the wooden box we had found. After some reluctance, we let Ash take a look inside, hoping to find some connections between the Beytons and other noble families. Ash gave the innocent-looking box a quick once-over and opened it. Inside was a small sack bulging with objects, and upon seeing them Ash shuddered and turned pale. While he had a bit of sit-down (and possibly had smelling salts waved under his nose) we checked out the box ourselves and found it full of numerous little crystals that we recognized as soul crystals…already full of souls.

Revived, Ash was determined to find out what the crystals might portend (such, as for example, an impending night of the living dead). After handing over all the papers we had pilfered from the Beytons’ desks, we divided up our loot and headed out to enjoy a few days off. The next day, however, we were met by a blond boy who had been sent by Ash and told us the location of the Beyton family’s real vault—in a bank within the Cut, Madaban’s banking district. With nothing better to do with our time, we moseyed on over to check the place out, and found it surrounded by guards in Beyton colors. Clearly we would need a subtler approach than “kill it ’til its dead” if we were to get in and examine the bank’s security.

We obtained some fancy clothes—a suit for Carkal, and childrens’ clothes for Roswyn. With a touch of Prestidigitation to take care of some cosmetic changes, Carkal and Roswyn headed in to the bank under the pretext of wanting to safely deposit something of great value in the bank’s vaults. Perra accompanied them as a bodyguard, while Edward kept an eye outside. The ruse worked, and we were treated to a tour of the bank’s vaults and their varying levels of security including some tricks we’d already encountered—triggered scrying, Cabal mages, and anti-teleportation wards oh my! We get out of the bank without further incident, change out of our disguises, and after some discussion ultimately decide against robbing the bank. No doubt Carkal’s pocketbook shed a tear at the riches we had so crassly turned away.

The rest of the day we whiled away wandering about. Roswyn did some busking, just to keep in practice and bask in appreciation for a bit. We headed back to our inn at the close of the day and settled down for peaceful rest…that was interrupted in the dead of night by a flaming torch thrown through Perra’s window. Yes, it seemed the Beytons had finally caught up with us for some good old-fashioned revenge.

The rest of the inn was quickly set on fire, and soon discovered that we were surrounded by Beyton guards on all sides, including nearby rooftops and the air. In a rare show of common sense, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and teleported to a building across the street. Roswyn made her own way through a combination of invisibility and wings. Perra was stuck in a sack. We broke out the back door and headed for a sewer entrance. Unfortunately, a mage flying overhead spotted us and tried to slow us. Fortunately, he had worse aim then a blind man aiming at a gnat.

Roswyn, Carkal, and Edward soon made it down to the sewers, at which point Perra was dumped out. Not knowing where we were, we headed down the nearest passageway and traversed the stinky road for hours until we finally found a ladder up and out of the sewer. We found ourselves in a side street in a district of the city adjoining the one where we had so narrowly avoided being turned into so many party-shaped chunks of charcoal. Finding our way to the Black Horse Alehouse, our attempt to contact Ash was in vain as the innkeeper had no idea where he was.

At this point, we decided that the solution to our problems was clearly to knock over the Beytons’ bank in retaliation.

Under mass invisibility, we made our way past the token force of guards who had been left behind while the rest scoured Madaban for our presences. With Perra and Roswyn once more in the Haversack, Carkal and Edward (invisibly) teleported through a window into the bank. The four guards we encountered were quickly assassinated, and the doors were barred to prevent anyone from interrupting us mid-heist. After finding a record of each vault’s contents, we headed for the ones with the most loot, and eventually ended up in a small antechamber. A quick check of the wards in the place revealed that there was some sort of puzzle on the four doors leading out of the antechamber—when one of them is opened, the main door leading into the antechamber sealed. The stone platform in the center of room looked significant, but we didn’t know how. All four doors were warded so that they would explode when the Knock ritual was used on them.

While we were puzzling over this, Edward noticed some illusionary walls in the antechamber. Beyond each, we found some inert golems who—when attacked—attacked back. We swiftly reduced them to rubble and turned our attention back to the far more pressing problem of how were we supposed to get our mitts on all that phat loot? Eventually Edward began disabling the wards on each door, aided by Roswyn. Perra helpfully stopped the main doors from closing by the handy use of our trusty anvil. Meanwhile, Carkal discovered that the balance thing in the room was made of pure gold and tore it off to store in the sack.

While all went well at first, Edward botched the third door. “They” were alerted, and once Edward was freed from the block of ice the door had trapped him in, Roswyn began sketching out another teleportation circle in the antechamber to get us out. Ignoring the fourth door, we began frantically loaded up the circle and Haversack with treasure, but halfway through “they” appeared—Cabal mages! Naturally, fisticuffs ensued as Roswyn frantically finished of the teleportation circle.

We popped through the portal but were followed by a mage, who forced to the portal to stay open so his buddies could follow. Roswyn tried to force the portal to close. As this battle of wills ensued, we finished off the mage and his friends. Harold was naturally horrified to find us battle Cabal mages in his shop’s backroom. We gave him some gold and told him to get out of town, because the Cabal and nobles would soon be on his heels. Once Harold had scurried off, we found ourselves another inn and, deciding to fuck this shit, teleported back to Amarak for some well-deserved R&R.

Alas, the next morning we were rudely interrupted by a sending from Ash to Perra. He informed us that the Thieves’ Guild headquarters had been broke into—Edris was dead, Terik had escaped, and we were to meet him at a mysterious address. After obtaining some breakfast and handy-dandy disguises to wear over our armor, we all hopped into the Haversack and Bag of Holding. Carkal used Terik’s ring to teleport us back to Madaban. On the way to Ash’s meeting place, we saw guards in a noble family’s colors questioning a shopkeeper. Clearly the hunt was still on, and we were suddenly the world’s worst insurance risk ever.

The address led us deep into the slums of Madaban, located in the lowest part of the city near the baseof the walls that surround it. The slums, having been built up and over each other, formed a vertical district. We found a “street” that wound up the buildings to a nondescript, abandoned looking home. We found Ash inside, who reported that the situation was even more dire than he’d told us earlier: the nobles’ counterattack was larger and more organized than anticipated, and more families had gotten involved. Especially puzzling since we’d disabled the Beyton family’s leadership not more than a few nights ago.

From Terik we had learned that the families had made a series of secret alliances with each other and a secret society (!!!). Alas, before more could be gotten out of him, Edris arrived and he shut up. The attack on the Thieves’ Guild happened not long after. Ash also told us that, though he didn’t know where to send us next, close examination of the Beyton family’s ledgers showed that the family had been closely linked to trade regarding soul crystals, or something similar—they had employed a powerful local shipper to convey goods of some kind twice of year. Jakabal Lebin, Master of the Shipping Guild, was our target…though his exalted position meant we’d make a lot of enemies confronting him for information. Excellent, more to add to our collection!

Ash promised us information on when to strike within a day or two. In the meantime, we had to lay low, and were sent to the dens under the slum district as the guards lose all authority in the dens, and they know it well. Ash arranged a meeting with a scrawny Halfling and this thugs who questioned us before allowing us access to the dens under the condition that we keep trouble out—otherwise our affiliation with Ash would mean nothing. As we wandered the dens, we took in the ramshackle inns unsavory businesses, and various shops of a black market nature. While taking in a meal, we were approached by a tiefling who introduced himself as Ozymandias, a paladin of Kord, who was eager to join us and have a chance at striking out at the nobles of Madaban. After some conversation (during which he told us of his plans to resurrect the Turathi empire. …Uh.), we welcomed him to the party, reasoning that with Gragas gone it couldn’t hurt to have a replacement big armored person to take all the hits, and commenced awaiting further instructions from Ash.

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In Which We Set a House on Fire, Prepare to Blow This Joint, and Go All Indiana Jones on the Beyton Vaults' Ass

As he awaited the guards, Perra took a moment to appreciate the fine, non-magical workmanship of the sword in the gallery. Carkal tied up Edris and his wife up before stuffing them in the Bag of Holding, while Edward took a look around their bedroom. Time thus killed, we proceeded to open our attack on the newly-arrived guards by shoving a table at them as they climbed the stairs. Once the guards were taken care of, we decided it was time to move on. After consulting our handy-dandy map, we decided to head towards the tower, making a pitstop at the library along the way in order to collect some ledgers that would (hopefully) prove important in the future.

Right before we left, though, Roswyn examined the first group of guards who had burst in on us, the group that had found Edris’ two guards in compromisingly murderous positions. Upon closer inspection, she found that their leader was in fact a man in a nightgown! A man in a nightgown bearing the Beyton family crest about his now-deceased person. Just as she grabbed the ring (and his fancy magical sword), more guards appeared! Choosing slightly-less wealthy life over slightly-wealthier death, she dropped the sword and sprinted like the very blazes, like the very blazes I say, for the rest of the party and warned them of the impending pursuit.

We headed off with all due speed, eventually finding ourselves in a book-filled room that seemed of a library-like persuasion. We killed the mage we found there, took his booby-trapped spellbook, and set off before the guards with the hounds could find us and rend us limb from limb. Perra, being the enterprising sort, spared a moment to leave some doggy treats about the book room in hopes of distracting the pursuing hounds.

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves within the famous Beyton estate tower. Heading upwards (and away from the clanking armor noises, ohoh), we selected a spot that was just over the roof of the rest of the building, a portion of the tower’s circumference that abutted the roof. With some judicious application of strong acid, we melted away the mortar, removed some wall stones, stood aside for the rubble that promptly slid out, and planted our lovely charges. With the sounds of pursuit hot on our tails, we brushed off as much rubble as we could and reinserted the stones, hoping this would be enough to disguise our work in the darkness of the tower.

With our explosive plans set in motion, we agreed that we simply couldn’t leave the Beyton estate until we’d helped ourselves to the contents of their infamous vaults. Since we couldn’t walk down the tower, we headed out over the roof in search of an alternate route. We quickly dispatched the guards we found there, but not fast enough—Perra attempted to get rid of an archer who was trying to attract attention from the guards far below, and succeeded in this endeavor…by being shoved off the roof. With time against us, we hopped down a floor to the terrace we had spotted from Terik’s room, and decided that discretion was the better part of valor in the case of tax-filled vaults. Instead of fighting our way back through the manor, we rappelled down to the ground and bravely allowed Edward to attack and teleport us all into the building.

After what I’m sure would have been a very amusing exploration montage,we found ourselves on the cusp of entering a giant antechamber that was full of guards, milling about and awaiting orders. The servants passageway we needed to get to was on the other side of the hall. As a guard approached our hiding space, Roswyn solved the problem of sneakiness the way we solve all problems of sneakiness: prestidigitation. Though her powers of illusion were strained by making herself look like a short human rather than a tall gnome, with the judicious application of purposeful walking we made it across the antechamber and down to the basement with no incident.

After walking the hallways for a bit we soon came across a guarded door. Carkal, disguised as a servant, ran into the room and tripped, sending his imp out to explore. While he endured the taunts of the guards and no doubt plotted their gruesome, rated M for Mature deaths, his imp discovered that beyond the door lay a torture chamber and tortured prisoners. The rest of us distracted the guards so Carkal could teleport in and investigate his newfound friends. While he gathered information on the vaults, the rest of us ducked into an archival room of some sort, and found an old plan of the Beyton manor that pointed us in a possible direction for the vault.

We took care of the guards, armed the prisoners, and set off for the vault with the prisoners recruited to our cause. One of them was an heir to a noble family, and promised us rich rewards for his return. Booyah!

It didn’t take long before we found ourselves at a steel bar door that we felt the vault was behind. Taking the subtle approach for once, we set Perra to picking the lock while Edward disabled some arcane traps. We investigated the room beyond the steel bar door and found a stout wooden metal-bound door that seemed to require a key to get through, as well as being arcane-locked to ensure only the right person with the right key could get through.

Through a combination of Knock (helpfully cast by Carkal after he realized asking Roswyn to learn it right there for the sole purpose of unlocking the door was a plan that might be delicately referred to as unviable due to the eight hours’ learning time) and Edward’s arcane lockpicking, we made it through the door. Beyond, we found the long-sought vault, filled with treasures of all sorts and statues perched all around the ceiling—the rumored gargoyles, no doubt. One of the prisoners who had followed us into the room was persuaded to enter the room first, and—as is the way of these dramatically appropriate things—had only a moment to sneer at our skittishness before dark tendrils drained his life force entire.

Vindicated, Carkal let his carnivorous glowing frogs loose to wreak havoc. As they leapt from chests and bags and cubby holds, Roswyn attempted to discern the nature of the shadowy tendrils and found it to be an innervations spell that steals life force to power…something. Eventually, Perra grew impatient and decided to indulge in a spot of gargoyle-tipping, which officially woke them up and summoned the tentacles. The battle that ensued was one of attrition, as we slowly wore the gargoyles down through a combination of magical frogs and sheer stubborn-headedness. Moving to the non-warded room just outside the vault, Roswyn began sketching out the runes for the portal out while Edward prepared the blow-up-the-tower ritual. Carkal and Perra helpfully started moving bullion, jewels, and other such fiscal delights into the teleportation circle. However, Edward noticed something towards the back of the room…some intriguing flaw in the wall…

Naturally, we sent the tank to investigate. Or rather, the closest thing we had to a tank. Which is to say: Perra. Who vanished as soon as the door was opened. Through some quick telepathic communication, we found out that he was in a holding cell full of confused looking guards! The rest of us, being naturally startled by this turn of events, began investigating the door and found it to be some sort of dimension trap thingamajigger that had been triggered by the arcane lock not being triggered. Attempting to reach Perra via rope in order to pull him free met with failure as the rope bounced off the wall. The other prisoners were unable to see the source of our distress until we managed to disable the door. Once removed, we stored the door in a magical bag (clearly the most natural course of action when confronted with a dimension trap) and inspected the real secret passageway beyond.

Carkal was sent through the life-sapping passage, only to find a small room that contained a nondescript wooden box that looked completely mundane, yet was sitting in a room full of minor wards against scrying and teleportation, to say nothing of necrotic energies. Edward was sent in next once Carkal had returned, armed with the infamous skull mask. Edward finds nothing else of interest, which is just when we hear footsteps approaching…

Meanwhile, Perra confronted the knight and guards whose company he had so abruptly joined. He managed to fight his way free and found himself in the military compound below the Beyton estate. The fire we had begun with the table and the shoving had finally been put out, though not before it had done a significant amount of structural damage to the second floor, which isn’t bad for accidental arson if I do say so myself. After a quick assessment of the situation, Perra decided that high-tailing it out of there was preferable to dying on the way back to us and suited action to word. Pursued by arrows and hounds, powered by sheer barbarian rage, he climbed the estate wall! Leapt onto the roofs of adjoining townhouses! And, despite the trials and tribulations of his solo adventure, managed to keep running away into the night.

Meanwhile, Roswyn hurriedly resumed drawing the teleportation circle while Carkal and Edward began loading up more treasure…all while the footsteps came ever closer…

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In Which We Acquire Some Sexy Bob-ombs, Are Ambushed By a Wolf and His Wolf, and Begin our Midnight Assault on the Beyton Estate (and Its Tax-Packed Vaults)

Having absconded with our valuable cargo—i.e. Terik Beyton’s unconscious ass—we met up with Ash in an abandoned warehouse, where Thieves’ Guild mages kindly refreshed the anti-scrying spell that kept the Cabal from relentlessly pursuing us to the ends of the world. Once Terik had been hustled away for interrogation by methods involving we know-not-what, we found a nice low-profile inn in which to snooze and rest up for the next phase our big adventure.

Ash was waiting for us in the morning, which we found out when Roswyn was so rudely awakened by Ash’s relentless morning-person-ness. Sadly for the rest of us, he found a friend in Perra, who leapt out of bed at Ash’s suspiciously cheerful mention of “fun” and joined the obnoxiously joyful festivities. Ash informed the rest of the party that the interrogation of Terik was going well, and the Thieves’ Guild had two leads for us:

Option A was to use the ring we had taken from Terik, use the command that had been interrogated out of Terik to activate it, and to teleport ourselves into the heart of the Beyton family’s fortress in order to Teach Them a Lesson in order to make up for some bad blood between the Beytons and the Thieves’ Guild, though you’d think the Thieves’ Guild would have bad blood with everyone on account of, you know, stealing the shit out of them all. But I digress.

Option B was to get our subterfuge on by infiltrating a fancy-schmancy party being held by the Valerno family, who had been previously spotted in one of the memories we have gleaned from our Avorel estate adventure. The Thieves’ Guild wanted us to investigate the relationship between the Valernos and the Avorels, because a bunch of rough-and-tumble adventurers are always the agents of choice when it comes to blending into high society and discretely teasing out pertinent information without resorting to excessive violence. Clandestine was the key word here, sneaky and shadowy.

The Heroes of Amarak being the Heroes of Amarak—even though the vagaries of time had stripped the party of all but one of its original members—-we chose the option that involved shanking and loot. Also midnight raids and massive explosions.

Yes, we decided that this time—this time we would not be thwarted! We were going to take the Beyton estate, introduce it to some explosives, and let them enjoy some quality time over the skies of Madaban while we high-fived on the ground below! Upon learning of our intentions, nay, aspirations, Ash took us to meet a halfling explosives expert because clearly he is a filthy enabler of our pyromaniac tendencies. It is a sad day when one cannot even depend upon one’s employer to save oneself from oneself’s nascent addictions.

In any case, we were led through some skeevy passageway that led to some underground chambers. In one of them, we found the halfling explosives expert in question, Gamlin, as he was in the middle of some strange and mysterious experiment involve metal thingies on his head and a big damn magnifying class. Alas, his experiment failed, whereupon we politely made our presence known. Perra informed the old man of our intentions; with Ash’s go-ahead, we informed him that we intended to take down the Beyton estate or rather, to be more specific, the giant tower that graced its premises. The prospect of rampant property damage excited the old fellow, leaving him pacing back and forth and muttering to himself while we looked on in bemusement.

While Gamlin did his thing, Ash filled us in on further details of the Beyton job: the Thieves’ Guild wanted the Beyton bigshots (which is to say, Terik’s brothers) dead, as well as any other lieutenants or officers we could find. We were also supposed to gather any information we could find. Just, you know, pick up those hugely important papers off the ground where they had oh-so-casually fallen, maybe flip through some top-secret ledgers if it so took our fancy, squirrel away from top secret correspondence if we were so inclined, that sort of thing.

Once Gamlin was done, we hatched ourselves a Plan with his sage input: we would use acid to eat through the tower’s inner walls at the foundations, allowing us to stick our precious little explosives INSIDE THE WALL ITSELF. The explosives would be attached to some crystalline thingy that, when shaken, would act as a fuse and allow us one or two minutes to escape. Dissatisfied with this, Carkal challenged the old halfling to make us a fuse that’d set off the charges without need for the unstable crystal…timer thingy…and he bit the bait. We didn’t even need a Diplomacy check. Those mad genius types, always so predictable. I bet if you challenged one to invent the cure for cancer we’d never have to worry about tumors again. But what do they invent instead? Death rays! What use is a death ray to your average person off the street, I ask you. Cancer cure are where it’s at.

In any case, Carkal also decided that what the group really needed was four charges, because who knows when you’ll have to explode your way through a nigh-impregnable fortress? Meanwhile, Roswyn applied her keen intellect to the idea of how the fuck are we supposed to get out of the castle before the charges went off, and asked Ash to arrange a portal for them to use when it was time for the Heroes of Amarak to wave bye-bye to the impending carnage. Edward offered to set off the charges remotely through his telekinesis though, which helped alleviate fears of joining our victims in the unglamorous afterlife.

While the charges were brewing, we decided to head out into town. Ash went his own way, promising to look up people who could tell us where to put the charges for MAXIMUM BLOWING-UP-NESS. We enchanted our pet bear traps to bite of their own accord and reset themselves once a day, and Roswyn decided to earn a little coin back (what, you thought Carkal paid for those enchantments out of his own pocket?) by busking on the street. Some creeper stared at her through the crowd before vanishing into a dark alleyway; none of the rest of the party recognized him.

Eventually we met back up and began taking a leisurely stroll through the streets of Madaban at dusk, when we were AMBUSHED! …Actually no, Edward spotted him first. Suck on that, mysterious attackers! The main dude seemed to be a man with a black cape, graying hair, two swords, and little obsidian wolf statue that could transform into a magical wolf. We fought our mysterious attacker and his hired thugs off, naturally emerging victorious despite the fact that Perra nearly went down on not one, not two, but three separate occasions. We headed back to Gamlin to pick up our precious bombs, and rested up before beginning our assault on the Beyton estate. Being an amoral hero-for-hire is hard work, you know!

Along the way, Ash gave us some information about the Beyton estate’s layout, including some rough sketches of its inner sanctums. He also told us that our failed ambusher was a famous assassin rather imaginatively named Wolf, presumably after his magical canine buddy (which was now our magical canine buddy. Dog may be man’s best friend, but clearly the vice versa is far from true). He tried to warn us about the Beyton estate’s security, but mentioned that the Beytons also collected taxes and kept them in vaults inside their main estate, which, well. You can guess where our minds went after that. The gutter. No, not that gutter, the other gutter. The one flowing with tax money extorted from of the hard-probably-working citizens of fair Madaban. Yeah, that one.

Once rested, we wasted no time in heading off on our grand adventure. As Terik’s ring could only transport one person at a time, and Carkal had called dibs, the rest of us were forced to suffer the indignity of being carried into the estate in the Handy Haversack (Perra) and Bag of Holding (Roswyn and Edward). Carkal ended up in a darkened, windowless, but lushly appointed room and spent some time poking around while the rest of the party understandably tried to tell him to let them out so they could stretch their legs and maybe, like, breathe or something. Unhappy about his refusal to do so, Roswyn retaliated by telepathically starting a rousing rendition of that tavern classic, “99 Mugs of Mead on the Wall” (alas, Lady Gaga does not exist in the world of Lost Souls, or else Carkal might have been treated instead to a rousing rendition of “Poker Face” and then perhaps some “Bad Romance” as an encore) while the other two joined in. Carkal shoved his imp into the Bag of Holding because that is clearly the reasonable response in this case.

Despite being invisible during his explorations, Carkal still made noise—enough to attract the attention of a refined-looking woman in a nightgown who peered timorously into the room, looking for Terik. As soon as she was in the room, Carkal knocked her out and let Roswyn out. Roswyn tied the lady up with and used her familiar to fly her to a nearby couch. Carkal did the classy thing and stole the lady’s wedding ring. In a nearby bedroom, presumably the lady and Terik’s nuptial chamber, we found a maid who was also knocked out and tied up. However, this time she got rolled under the bed. Carkal finally let Perra and Edward out of the sacks and started searching for some secret passageways while Perra and Edward assisted Roswyn in interrogating our captives.

With her two bad cops in tow, Roswyn used the amulet to communicate with Terik’s wife without having to remove her gag. Using Terik’s teleportation ring as proof of Terik’s capture, she cajoled and coaxed the lady into telling us everything she knew about the Beyton estate and its layout, in the process learning an interesting tidbit about the gargoyles who guarded the Beyton vaults and their gold. We also learned about Terik’s two brothers, Jeral and Edris, and learned that Edris was the eldest and the one with the key to the vaults. Once Terik’s wife had been squeezed dry of relevant info, she was knocked back out so Roswyn could steal back her wedding ring and use that in order to convince the maid to cooperate, lest her mistress be subjected to whatever vague threats Roswyn came up with. We knock the maid back out afterwards and steal her keys, as well as all the papers we found on Terik’s desk. Then we headed out into the dark, terrible wilds of the Beyton estate’s top floor.

Peeping out of the bedroom, we noted the locations of the bedrooms of Terik’s brothers—the nearest being that of Edris, his wife, and the two suckers stuck with standing duty outside it. Ignoring that room, we tried to head down another passage in search of the library and some juicy ledgers, but decided to shelve that plan in favor of distracting the guards to Edris’ room. Roswyn and Edward discussed some awesome possibilities like scaring the crap out of them with combined use of their powers, only to have Carkal be all wet-blanket-y and point out that if they needed a distraction, they could just, like, knock a painting off a wall. Uncultured plebe! Where is the drama!? Where is the ROMANCE!? WHERE IS THE GRATUITOUS OVERUSE OF PRESTIDIGITATION!?

…In any case, we explored a bit and swiped some important-looking papers from a upper-story meeting room before turning back to the problem of getting into Edris’ rooms. Bowing to the force of Carkal’s common sense (PSHAW!), we knocked a painting off a wall, luring one of the guards over to get unceremoniously knocked out. The second guard, displaying his B. S. in How to Get Killed While on Guard Duty, came to check things out rather than oh, say, running for reinforcements. He too was given a swift kick to the land of artificial slumber. Perra and Roswyn stayed behind to make the bodies look like they killed each other while Carkal and Edward go after Edris.

More guards were summoned, and when Edris opened the door to his bedroom he found himself blasted back in courtesy of Carkal, Edward and a surprise round. Perra and Roswyn, meanwhile, hid themselves and wait for the guards coming from their direction to arrive. They were taken care of in short order, as was Edris and his wife. Perra and Roswyn barricaded the main staircase leading to their location while Carkal and Edward busied themselves with something that I’m sure was very useful and relevant to the plot. That done, we settled down to wait for the first wave of guards to arrive.

GM-added notes and details

  • The guards that imprisoned the Heroes of Amarak when they tried to sneak into the city were under the command of the Beyton family. The prison they were taken to was not the dungeons of the family’s estate, however.
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In Which We Escape the Avorel Estate, Officially Meet Our Fifth Member, and Add Kidnapping to Our Long and Illustrious List of Crimes Against Humanity

As a result of our failed attempt at subterfuge, we were attacked by mages in the main hall of the Avorel estate. However, being the Heroes of Amarak and thus STONE COLD AWESOME, we managed to escape no more scathed than we had been before, fleeing back into the basements to try and find some alternate way out of the manor. We found our way to a storeroom and began discussing our options for escape, including drawing a teleportation circle to take us to Amarak, where we might rest and recoup before sneaking back into Madaban. During the discussion, Perra and Roswyn wisely took the opportunity to recharge with some jerky, because why not. Balthus should know better than to leave food lying around in storerooms within his own home where anyone could walk in and eat it.

Carkal was disappointed by the teleportation plan as it lacked gratuitous arson. As such, we decided to venture back out of our hidey-hole to leave the rest of the Avorel family (or at least its lackeys) a calling card they would never forget. Perra, in his infinite genius, created the WORLD’S FIRST MOLOTOV COCKTAIL (though one presumes that he called them something else) and tossed it into the main hall. Alas, all he managed to set on fire was some draperies. The token guards who had been left there to keep an eye out were not very impressed. However, their lack of impression was our boon as we high-tailed it back to the storeroom, which we believed led to the wine cellar where we had previously locked the kitchen servants (rather than shanking them all where they stood, so good job us).

Roswyn used her magical powers to disguise everyone as servants (again), and Perra busted through the door, whereupon we threw the servants into a panic by telling them that the house was on fire. Obviously there was some low grade panicking due to the locked cellar door (because NPCs cannot bust through doors, you see), but Perra saved all our skins by pretending to use a huge object to bludgeon through the locked cellar doors that led out of the house. I say pretend because he was trying not to draw attention to his MONSTROUS HERO STRENGTH in an attempt to stay as in cognito as possible.

We stampeded out into the garden with the servants, cleverly hidden in their midst. Gragas set the cellar on fire behind as we left because it’s not a proper dungeon run if we don’t leave blazing mayhem in our wake. The guards ignored the panicking servants, and while the legitimate servants gathered worriedly around the garden door, the rest of us high-tailed it into the dark streets of Madaban. We made our battered way to the Black Horse Alehouse, where we met our Thieves’ Guild contact, Ash. He bought us a meal while we relayed our adventures to him (carefully editing the stupid parts because they make us look, well, stupid). Having eaten our fill, we headed off to find some inn rooms in which to chillax and sell stuff.

The next day we were approached by Ash with our second task for the Thieves’ Guild, which was to kidnap Terik, the second son of a prominent militaristic family in Madaban. As he was surrounded by many bodyguards—including a psion—and had a ring that allowed him to teleport away at the first sign of danger, preparations were obviously required. Ash provided gauntlets to take care of the ring, but we were forced to approach the psionic guilds in order to find a psion of our own. At the guild (called the Eye of Terun), we spoke with one of the officials but were later approached by a younger psion who suggested we should look into hiring a friend of his who had recently left the guild. As he seemed like a good fit for our party’s needs (i.e. money-grubbing sociopath—I kid, I kid. Not all of us are in it for the cash.) we left the official type hanging and went off to find where this recommended psion, Edward, where he had last been seen—-at the Stormcrows mercenary guild.

After bribing the guard to get a look at the guild’s inner sanctum, we found out that Edward had in fact been sent off to deal with a band of smugglers all by himself. In exchange for information about him, we agreed to see what had happened to him and help finish the job. Hiring horses, we rode out into the foothills where we followed signs of battle until found him holed up in a cave opposite the cave where the smugglers were hidden. After a meet-n-greet, we scoped out the smugglers’ caves and engaged in fisticuffs. We stole their lives by the cunning use of MOTHERFUCKING CARNIVOROUS FROGS.

Edward was of course delighted by our utter sociopathy and agreed to aid us in kidnapping Terik. Ash gave us information on Terik’s future movements, and we attempted to plan our attack as a three-pronged maneuver-—three to distract, one to disable the ring, one to teleport Terik into the air, and one to catch him and (hopefully) stuff the bastard into a sack for ease of transport. Leeroy Jenkins jokes were made. Out of character death threats were made. These things are not mutually exclusive. In any case, despite our careful planning things did not go as we had hoped and we were eventually forced to hit Terik repeatedly with a wide variety of blunt objects and/or spells until he went down for the count. Meanwhile, Perra, Edward, and Gragas occupied themselves with cheerfully shuffling Terik’s guard off this mortal coil.

Eventually we prevailed and, with Terik’s unconscious body slung between us, got the fuck out of Dodge to where Ash was presumably waiting for the results of our mission. On the way out, Perra got in the last word by dousing what remained of our pursuers in blue paint, courtesy of a bucket we had foresightedly set up before the altercation began.

GM-added notes and details
These additions describe minor details mentioned during the session that may or may not be of some significance later on.

  • The smugglers Edward was hunting were smuggling tunics and emblems bearing the insignia of the Ehrand Family. The Stormcrows had mentioned that some noble family had hired them to catch the smugglers.
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The Avorel Estate, part II

Pursuit of Balthus took us into the Avorel Estate‘s undercroft, a large, dimly lit hall with many doors. Picking one of the open ones led us yet further into the earth, into a shrine that marked the beginnings of a catacomb, and we weren’t alone. Undead creatures blocked our path, including a pair of Boneclaws, which must have been created by a skilled necromancer. We made short work of them, but in our beleaguered state, each battle we faced would make it harder to continue. A wizened creature, bent and shrunk, had led the group, and despite Perra’s eagerness to stick a blade in him, he passed on a few words, something about “the father” that Balthus had returned to. Our trusty old anvil shut him up for good.

The room itself had once been used to consecrate the dead before they were interred, and symbols of the Raven Queen and Pelor lined the walls. Covered in dust, of course, but all the same, odd. A few more surprises still awaited us as we continued deeper into the catacombs. A reinforced and sealed door caught our attention, and upon examination, we found it not only heavily warded, but rigged to open very soon. Gragas favored flight, but the rest of us set up an ambush, pulling out every trap in the bag. We were right to prepare—it was fiends that burst forth, hungry for blood, but we got the upper hand of them and slew them all. Inside was a summoning room of some sort, with a circle scribed in the stone and sacrifice pits for animals and who knows what else in the back. We even saved a pig!

By this point we were quite close to Balthus, and though the catacombs were labyrinthine, we found no further trouble on our way. The man’s voice betrayed him long before we set eyes on him. Balthus was preparing to fight, and had gathered some of his men and who knows what else—one of them was even looking forward to eating us. Still, when we barged in, he was cornered, and there was nothing left for it but a bloody fight. Turns out it was another fiend that had wanted to eat us.

Balthus chose to make his final stand in a cramped, dead-end room finished more recently than the rest of the catacombs. A single sarcophagus on a pedestal distinguished the room, lit by a magical light. After we slew Balthus, we still had to deal with the remaining resident of the room, an imp-like creature that had watched the battle hidden in a corner perch. It wasn’t hard to intimidate, and made it clear it had no like for Balthus, but it certainly wasn’t an imp. One of us recognized the creature as a berbalang, and we set to question it.

The berbalang had been captured and brought to these tombs many years ago by Balthus to examine his father’s memories. It revealed that the sarcophagus held Balthus’ father, the man who had brought the Avorel family to power. In exchange for a few simple favors, the berbalang offered to reveal some of the memories it had uncovered. Despite our offers, however, it refused to accompany us, despite the potential value in questioning prisoners.

First Memory

After devouring Balthus, The berbalang told us of a memory both father and son had shared. Balthus had stood in a long, dark hall filled with the musty scent of old nobility, between two rows of figures robed in black. But a young adult, Balthus knew barely a few spells, yet here he stood among men of power. A swell of pride, accomplishment, and nervousness filled his throat as an imposing, black-robed figure exuding power descended toward him from the far end of the hall. The figure had Balthus swear an oath to serve and obey, to fight for him and be bound to his service. Eagerly Balthus swore the oath, and a few of the other robed figures gathered around to begin a ritual. Blackness. When Balthus awoke, drained and covered in a cold sweat, the others extended hands to help him to his feet and welcomed him into their ranks.

Second Memory

Balthus’ father sat in a warm, lushly furnished old masonry room, a great fire blazing in the hearth as he gathered around a table with two well-dressed gentlemen. All dressed in the garb of nobility, they discussed in cold, practical terms the troubles posed by a local entertainer’s guild that spoke too freely of their master’s recent clandestine actions. The guild was to be killed, sold off to slavery, made an example of, and then business could continue as usual. They sipped tea as the spoke, and Balthus’ father glanced out the tower window to a vista of Madaban beyond. Returning to their deliberations, his attention lingered for a moment on the hand of the most impeccably dressed noble, bearing an signet ring.

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The Avorel Estate, part I

With Ash’s help, we were able to sneak into the Avorel Estate unnoticed by the guards and begin searching for Balthus from the wine cellar.

The kitchen servants, in the process of preparing Balthus’ meal, were the first to notice us, but weren’t able to raise the alarm. Intimidated by Carkal, they were shepherded into the basement and locked in. The servants told us that Balthus takes his meals in a dining room on the second floor.

Proceeding through servant’s passages, we were able to explore the service wing and lounge area, including a little-used sitting room and music room, before finding the stairs to the second story guest wing. Balthus wasn’t found in the described dining room, and evading guards forced us into a room filled with trinkets both mundane and magical, including an elaborate stained glass clock.

Stumbling about the guest ward, we barged unknowingly into the room of an important-looking couple dressed in evening clothes. After a scuffle in which Carkal knocked out the lady, the man said that he was a retainer of the Carryl Family, working part time as a researcher in The Cabal. The lady’s scream had alerted the estate guards, however, and with our stealth blown, our search turned into a full scale battle.

Fighting our way through the guest ward, we emerged into the great hall and battled our way up the grand stairs to the top floor. Balthus’ private battle mages were waiting for us at the top, and only after we fought through those did we find the man we were searching for.

In a short preamble, Balthus called us the aggressors for killing his brother during our escape from The Cabal. Couldn’t even remember the guy, really, but it’s of little consequence. Balthus was a tough fighter, with the ability to teleport at will, which made him infuriatingly difficult to pin down. After we had finished off his minions, he fled, keeping ahead of us down the stairs back the way we had come.

Pursuing Balthus into the great hall, we found a new contingent of guards ready to intercept, but we weren’t about to let Balthus get away. It was a good thing we had thought to bar the main door, or we’d be swimming in guards by now. Rather than take the stairs, Perra and Gragas leaped from the balcony, swung halfway across the hall on a chandelier, and landed among the guards as the precious crystal shattered behind them. After a short fight, Balthus escaped into the basement, and we killed enough of the guards to scare the remainder off.

Battered and beaten, but not about to give up, we gave chase, following our quarry into the basement and hoping there was still time to track him down.

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