We made our daring getaway into the streets of Madaban! …In mid-day! Where any old person could see us! What do we do now.
Clearly the solution was for us to secure the loot we had totally grabbed from the bodies before leaving, before bursting into the nondescript shop from whence we had initially emerged from the Undercity. The shopkeeper protested our disheveled condition: we bonked him on the head and headed on down to the entrance! Some dice-playing thugs further attempted to halt our progress, also dubious about our disheveled and quite bloody condition, but we blew off their concerns, narrowly prevented Carkal from stealing their dice, and ran past them to the entrance. The thugs wisely decided not to further impede our progress.
Unfortunately, sans guide we quickly took a wrong turn and wound up lost. Still, after not too much wandering we found a nice secluded nook full of tables in which to sit. Perra passed some brandy around so that we could solemnly celebrate our narrow escape, while Roswyn took care of our wounds and dishevelment. Thus rested, we started looking for a dark, secluded corner in which to raise Ozymandias from the dead, which we found with ease. Alas, we soon discovered that we lacked the necessary components to raise Ozymandias and headed out of our nice dark corner to find the nearest black market. It took some asking of unsavory types for directions and a fair bit of walking, but we eventually made our way to a long hall that was periodically lit by grates leading to the streets above. It was full of stacked boxes, which in turn were covered in people wheeling and dealing for goods, including a fair number of bodyguards.
We headed for the nearest black market seller with mages for bodyguards, reasoning that he’d probably be selling the magical components that we needed. Edward decided to take a shot at bargaining rather than leave it up to his more charismatic companions, and after asking about the components we needed he informed the merchant that “We’d be willing to pay for the residuum…of course we might not actually pay, but we’d be willing to…”
Eventually Roswyn stopped laughing enough to take over talks. He drove a hard bargain, but we managed to wear him down to the market price. Components in hand, we headed for the nearest dark, secluded corner (no relation to the previous dark, secluded corner) and had Carkal call Ozymandias’ soul back from beyonnnnnd the veeeeeeil and back into his carnivorous-frog-nibbled corpse. Perra welcomed Ozymandias back to the realm of the living with the rest of the brandy, and we found a dark, secluded inn in which to stay the night.
We woke up the next day without mishap (for once), ate breakfast, and decided to go looking for Ash so we could update him about our current state of affairs. Of course, with every guard in the city out for our blood, we decided that it was time to go back to the disguise well and break out our sacrilegious acolytes of Kord set. We emerged from the Undercity into the Market district, noting that the atmosphere was rowdier than it once was, and spent some time divvying up and selling off our loot. In the process, we decided to obtain a few more explosive charges before heading to the warehouse in order to find Ash, because obviously explosions trump handler any day.
Without too much further incident (including a commotion we wisely chose to avoid), we found our way back to Gamlin, the Halfling explosives expert, who was all the way in the slums but hey, it’s not like we have a map of the city with important landmarks and plot-significant locations clearly marked for our edification or anything. We knocked on the door just as we had the first time we visited, and the boy who answered the door looked at us blankly as we informed that we were here to obtain more explosives. He told us that we were mistaken and that he lived alone with his mother. Ozymandias sighed, picked up the kid, gently set him aside, and strode confidently in. The rest of us followed him, and together we made our way back down to Gamlin’s lab.
We knocked, being polite souls, and after a few rounds managed to attract Gamlin’s attention long enough to be told to wait. We waited…and knocked again…while the grinding noise cheerfully resumed within. There was the sound of mumbling…pouring…a faint smoky odor wafting out the door…Eventually we wised up and decided to just walk in. Inside we found Gamlin preoccupied with a strange apparatus like an upside down tree, an inverted cone of branch metal rods, each one holding a vial of…stuff. We told Gamlin that we wanted another three sets of explosives like the ones he’d made for us before, and he tells us he’ll want twelve thousand gold for it and that it’d take two days. We agree with that price and tell him we’ll be back.
Now we headed for Ash in truth! Still impersonating members of the clergy, we headed back through the slums and across the city to the warehouse district. On the way, we passed by a patrol of guards from a noble family that we hadn’t yet encountered, and they passed us by without a second glance. On the way to the warehouse district, we also sang a few hymns to add a touch of verisimilitude to our disguise. At the warehouse we are ushered in without preamble and, after what is clearly a struggle to comprehend the depths (or should I say heights) of our unmitigated awesomeness, told us “Good work.”
Ash had apparently come by looking for us but we’d missed him and were to be sent to his quarters. On our way to his lodgings in Old Town, Perra was nearly pickpocketed. Fortunately, he caught the young rapscallion and delivered unto him a mighty lecture…and while Edward was laughing, his pocket was picked. Given how greedy we are you’d think we’d keep better track of our stuff. Oh well!
In Old Town, we get pointed to a vaguely guild-ish sort of place. Once we mention Ash to someone inside the building, though, that someone says he recognizes us due to being told to keep an eye out for persons matching our illustrious descriptions. We follow him into a back room that leads to another smaller room with a table in it and stairs leading deeper into the dark depths of the city. Our guide leads us down, down, down, into a series of hallways that branches into a bunch of other hallways. It’s full of shady-looking people (not that we care) but no one bothers us. At the end of an anonymous hallway we finally meet: Ash!
Ash invited us into his rooms and asked to hear all about our adventures. We give him a brief summary of what we’ve done so far, and hand over all the miscellaneous papers we snagged from the Roberre estate. He looked them over in delight, and then told us that he couldn’t give us further orders until he’d spoken to our superiors. We arranged for him to contact us via magical sending, philosophically shrugged our shoulders, and headed back out into the sunlight to figure out what to do with our newly-earned down time. We veto recreational bank-robbing in favor of a big of R&R—Roswyn gets a snazzy new vest-jacket thing made out of the gown she stole, while Perra gets to work on his new beanbag chair. We take a break from all this resting to pick up our explosives.
After a few days, we are summoned to the warehouse by Ash, who greets us alongside several other people and a map of the city that’s been spread out on a table. It’s now time for a plot-significant infodump, courtesy of the various ledgers and things we’d stolen from the Roberres!
It seems the nobles of Madaban had been part of a secret society that governed the city from the shadows, with Roberre leading them and Roberre’s tower serving as their base of operations. The thieves had obtained a comprehensive list of all those involved, noble or otherwise, and managed to piece together a brief picture of what-all had been happening. It seems that the group ruling the city—the Felsworn—had been very selective in its recruiting, only approaching individuals with the prospect of membership in their little club after much observation. The terms of the deal they offered were simple: members of the Felsworn were to pledge their souls and loyalty to this mysterious Damokos, and upon their deaths their souls would be transferred to him. In the meantime, they were unable to betray him as long as he held their souls in thrall. In exchange, all members of the group were given connections to significant alliances, power, magic, political positions…It seemed that many upsets in the city for the past…as far as the logs go…could be attributed to the machinations of this group.
And the Felsworn completely ran the city. Oh, the noble families had their own private little rivalries, which made it hard to spot connections from the outside; interests didn’t always seem to align on the surface, and the secret society’s alliances were, of course, secret. The Felsworn had apparently been gathering souls in order to power their master’s ascendance—in addition to their own, they acquired souls through deals, torture, rituals, political prisoners, anyone they could get their hands on. Lebin had been raised to the position of shipping master in order to aid the society in shipping souls out of the city to some unnamed place, though given Jalrayna’s involvement the drow were obviously implicated. The Cabal had been allied with the Felsworn, but not sworn to Damokos themselves (except for a few individual, such as that Sylvia Beren person who’d tried to have us killed when we first arrived…ah, memories.).
Damokos was also known to have visited Madaban regularly in order to check up on his subordinates, and had in fact done so not too long ago. His last orders: to finish us off for all the trouble we’d caused, ohoho. He’d left a few of his personal bodyguard behind—presumably the fiends—before departing on business further south. A few of the noble families had also been known to visit places in the south, suggesting there was something of interest awaiting us down there…
In the meantime, Ash gave us a list of other noble families that had been involved in this own shebang, familes who needed to be knocked off in order to ensure the Thieves’ Guild’s ascendance in a city now thrown into chaos as we slowly knocked off the major political powers one by one. We recommended the Azzurius family, who had fallen on hard times when the empire fell, but regained their position by investing in various unscrupulous—for a noble value of unscrupulous-enterprises and, annoyingly, managing to outclass the old money elite in the process with their fa~abulous parties.
We’ve never been a group to say no to a bit of rampant murder and mayhem, so once we’d gotten the scrying ritual renewed we set off with a pair of Thieves’ Guild burglars for the Azzurius estate post-haste, some of Perra’s patented poisoned dog treats in hand. According to Ash, a guild thief had managed to break in some time ago but never made it back, so they have no intel on the Azzurius estate’s defenses. Not that walking in blind’s ever stopped us from a task before, of course.
The streets we take to the Azzurius estate are significantly less patrolled than they were before, and the guards we see don’t belong to any of the families on our hit-list. Nonetheless, ee reach the High Ward before long. The Azzurius estate is at the end of a long boulevard, consisting of a fancy, tasteful mansion done in full Gothic style. No folly and no gazebo but there are at least seven gables (I wonder if there’s a probably-haunted painting in there as well?). The lawn around the mansion is surrounded by a sturdy masonry wall, the top of which is decorated by arches and ornaments and oh yes row upon row of cast irons pikes. Avoiding the boulevard, we follow the burglars through the side streets, taking a route that hides us as much as possible from the line of sight of the watch towers. The plan: one thief hides in shadows to watch the guards, then opens window and signals the other, who will instruct us on how to follow.
Things are quiet for the next twenty minutes as the plan is put into motion…then, without us having noted anything, the thief next to us points up towards the building where we can see a hand sticking out from a ridge in the building, waving a handkerchief. We head in, making our way over the wall in our various little ways—Roswyn flies, Perra scrambles over old school, and everyone else does some good old-fashioned teleporting. We hide so a guard can pass us by, before being signaled by the thieves to get to the roof of the kennels. We duck low and move fast, Roswyn riding Perra up the ladders. Darting across the roof, we make it to a gap between the kennel and the mansion itself, with a dangling rope that leads to the window the first thief had opened for us. We all make it with ease—even the paladin in full plate armor…somehow…and we find ourselves in a small hallway adjoining a sitting room.
The thief gestures us into the sitting room as the a guard passes by. We briefly discuss our plan of action—basically find ALL THE PEOPLE and hope we kill our targets in the process, and ascertain that the burglars are there as extra eyes, not extra fighters. With that all sorted out, we head out! The nearest door seems to have magical thingamabobs on the other side, so we kick it in. Beyond the door is a gallery of sorts, full of open bookshelves that are lined with knick-knacks and a little fireplace at one end, as well as more doors. In the corners are the source of the magic—little bird-shaped constructs that are currently inactive.
Curious, Perra reached up for one to try and take it down—and he came to life, snapping at his fingers. Perra tried to slip it into a Bag of Holding, but it just kept thrashing and struggling inside. We transfer it to another bag—which is rips a hole in with his beak—and Perra finally knocks it against the wall and stomps on it repeatedly. By accident. As we were indulging in construct abuse, the rest of the bird constructs started fluttering to life, possibly planning our untimely demise in dark, baleful whispers, when we decide to go to another room. On the way out, Ozymandias snags the phoenix-construct to carry out as his pet. The phoenix is none-too-pleased about this and releases a gout of flame…but Ozymandias, tiefling that he is, refuses to let go (IT BURNS ME OUT OF LOVE!!).
The next room is an antechamber sort of thing, with a bearskin rug on the floor and statues in the corners, depicting a man and woman in the holy garb of Pelor. Perra snags the rug for the totally sweet bachelor pad he’s planning for a Handy Haversack, and we decide to head through the door out of this room that has people behind it. It starts to creak as we open it…so we grease the hinges with some oil we’d found in a closet, and Perra kicks the door in. Naturally, a soldier notices us and starts to draw his blade!
We’re at the bottom of a tower, and we begin making short work of the guards, hoping to kill them before they escape and warn the other guards. Ozymandias’ phoenix paramour is sadly lost during the battle, and we head up a floor to keep exploring, stumbling into a meeting room of sorts. One of the men in there is covered in jewelry and wearing a nice hat; the other is an older, grizzled-looking mage. The last Azzurius guard begs us for mercy, telling us where the lord of the house is (visiting the Valernos). We tell him we’ll only let him go when we’ve ascertained that his information is worthy and start forcing him into the (non-sweet-bachelor-pad) Haversack. He panics and offers to tell us more—the mage we’d just killed was one of the Lord Azzurius’ advisors, and when he’s entertained at the house he brings stuff which is then given to the old priest…?
We thank the guard for his help, and then betray his trust and stick him in a soul gem (if only Calon could see us now…). In the priest’s room, we do indeed find a fancy little box—a fancy little box full of soul gems. WHAT COULD IT MEAN? Stay tuned, true believers!