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In which the party searches for a fallen Paladin, and is recruited by the Inquisitor for their troubles. NB: trigger warnings for content.

Gearing Up and Getting Ready

The first thing to be dealt with was disposing of the loot[1]. Menander kept the Ring of Ferocious Action, and upgraded his equipment to a Mithril Chain Shirt & a Darkwood Composite Longbow. After trading in the old gear he even doubled his net cash[2]. The rest of the party spent a few days doing similar things, and this included Treffen beginning to create enchanted items[3].

Meanwhile in Sirith there are rumours of the Inquisitor heading Sirith, which has many people unnerved. Apparently the Inquisitor sometimes goes to extremes[4]. Menander also receives a message from the Cavaliers’ Order of the Shield[5] that a unit has been sent to tackle the incursion reported previously.

Given their success in the forest the party was able to ask the Sirith council for a more general briefing. The key points being:

  1. The current pattern of events is similar to those that preceded other major incursions or sieges. Right now the Sirith council are terrified.
  2. Elyse asks that wounded be sent to her, and teaches Menander how to make more of the Runestones that will restore the Faery Circles. Good to know.
  3. Rax the Kitsune has a singed tail(s), and reported an encounter with Hellhounds on the road to Karinith.
  4. Rasa warned the party that they have captured the attentions of higher councils, implies that not all within the councils are opposed to the rule of the King of Hell[6], and has heard a rumour of a Tiefling that wasn’t executed on sight.

Rasa appears to have been terrified by the recent visit of another high ranking councillor, possibly the Big Bad.

The tracking device from the Faery Circle is extraplanar obsidian with runes carved into it. It is also a Teleport Waypoint which makes it a fairly nervewracking thing to be carrying around.

Heading Out and Hassles with HellHounds

The signs were pointing to Saella either being in a bad way, or possibly dead already, so the party hustled to the north east on the rescue mission.

Along the way it turns out that the Big Bad can telepathically talk to whoever is holding the tracking device, and this rather unnerves Clora. It also turns out that the stone can hear everything said in its presence, including directional speech such as the Message spell. This rather unnerved Menander, and inspired Treffen to cast Erase on the stone.

That worked but cued the arrival of three hellhounds and a Cerberus. That was an interesting, and reasonably challenging, fight. Apparently Yangrit is fully combat functional on 1 hit point.

Moving on it was Treffen’s turn to be telepathically mocked by the next challenge, an Adhukait Asura. This occurred as the party arrived at a cave entrance that was the site of a major battle.

Bodies everywhere, and the commander was tortured by hundreds of shallow cuts before leaving a message in blood: “Asura, send paladins”[7].

The party has one paladin, Kalmar, so that will have to do.

Acquiring an Ally and Assaulting an Asura

Entering the cave the party discovers it is occupied by permanent columns of flame, and appears much like an old, abandoned battlefield. Meanwhile the black homunculus is observing the party from the cave mouth.

Advancing cautiously the party finds an unconscious female spellcaster, identified as a tiefling[8], and surprisingly to Natura identified as lawful good. The tiefling has been tortured in ways that mark her has having betrayed the devils.

Menander’s Celestial heritage provides some healing to the Tiefling who Treffen names Desi. Apparently Tieflings only have numbers in this society, which isn’t to either Treffen’s or Menander’s liking.

Desi was working with Saella when she was captured, and is reasonably well equipped (which the party leaves with her).

Advancing further into the cave, the party encounters an Adhukait that Yangrit manages to drive off with some heavy hits. Saella is bound at the back of the cave, and the party retreats with her as another Adhukait appears but doesn’t attack for some reason.

Saella has an evil, mythic, mark branded into her chest, but is not yet evil (nor is she of good alignment anymore). Saella is possibly suicidal at this point.

A fallen paladin indeed, but perhaps one that can still be redeemed and not one that the party was willing to give up on yet.

Regrouping and Returning

Outside the cave Ferus spots a fifth homunculus: a fine sized purple one that looks like a pixie.

It sits on Menander’s shoulder briefly and provides a scroll with Saella’s “confession” written in blood in Infernal. This is disposed of by the party as it is quite likely that Saella was under the effect of a Dominate Person spell and is still redeemable, and something like that in the hands of the Inquisitor would not be good.

The pixie steals some of Menander’s hair which is then eaten by the black homunculus. The ensuing discussion on bloodlines and backgrounds is disconcerting to several characters.

Desi provides a reasonable amount of information on the homunculi:

  1. The fine (size) is used for surveillance, and has a variety of forms
  2. The three tiny ones are primarily couriers
  3. The medium black one is the heavy hitter, more of a familiar to the Big Bad than a homunculus per se. It is likely that the Big Bad can cast spells through the familiar.

The rest of the party ends up having to convince Kalmar and Yangrit that antagonising the homunculus too much, particularly by insulting the Big Bad, would be dangerous if not instantly deadly[9].

Arriving outside of Sirith there are signs of a siege that has just been broken.

It looks like the siege was broken by one man: the Inquisitor

In an attempt to keep things low key the party disguises both Desi and Saella as prisoners to get them into town. This gets past most of the population.

The Inquisitor? Not so much.

Reporting and Recruiting

It turns out that the Inquisitor is a Fetchling and the Head Inquisitor. His ability to simply identify most of the party’s secrets by sight is a little disturbing[10].

The party is summoned by the Inquisitor to report within the shielded room previously used by Saella. Getting there requires walking past a captured Shadow Angel that the Inquisitor plans to interrogate later.

After giving the report, particularly about the homunculi, the Inquisitor checks the party’s alignments before introducing himself as Lord Darien. He then offers the party a job as a special unit that can’t be traced back to him, but with his full support behind the scenes.

Incidentally it appears that many of the survivors of the battle when the devils arrived may have become mythic heroes, and immortal, as a result. Certainly there are rumours that Darien has been around since before then.

The fifth session ended with the party more or less agreeing to sign up, although this was another set of interactions where persuading Kalmar to play nicely was something of an issue.

Commentary

Two good sessions with interesting story elements. I think we surprised Caitlin slightly by retreating so smartly from the 2nd Adhukait. However the mission was to rescue Saella, and once that was done there was little reason to hang around.

I am a little intrigued as to why the 2nd Adhukait simply let us go. I suspect that trying to fight it would have been monumentally stupid, especially as the party was essentially drained of spells and special abilities by that point.

The party has levelled up, and here’s the usual link to the updated character sheet for Menander.

I’m looking forward to the next session on Wednesday.

[1] The running gag in the group is that adventurers are essentially armed hobos who may carry a King’s ransom in magical gear (and then some) but still have to sleep in a ditch.

[2] Currently Menander’s Gear-to-Cash ratio is about 100-1. See previous footnote re armed hobos. I told you this was a running gag.

[3] Over the long term having an enchanter in the party is going to be enormously useful.

[4] Really? Inquisitors that go to extremes? How… unsurprising.

[5] As opposed to Iomedae’s version for Paladins.

[6] Given that the party already knows that the Big Bad is on the Holy Council this isn’t a big surprise.

[7] I suspect that this was the Order of the Shield contingent that Menander received a message about.

[8] Probably the one that Rasa had heard about. The GM is doing a nice job of foreshadowing these things, we really should be paying more attention to that.

[9] The GM asked Treffen’s player to design the Big Bad using the Eldritch Godling rules. Apparently the “ling” part is now somewhat… debateable.

[10] Hopefully not too many people heard him label Menander as an Aasimar, as that could make Menander rather more popular than he really wants to be.