Episode Fourteen - Consecration
Episode Fourteen: Consecration (Level 8)
Ichtaca has been gone for 2 days now, on a spirit quest for elder Mahua, to find more information about the legendary whip of Imbakao, that twice he has seen in dreams. Quotál Bolaq, Mahua, and Cátzin accompany him, each for different reasons. Mahua has informed the prince that Ichtaca is a chosen hero of Sarnoss, who has been called on in a dream-vision meant to find this whip, but that he needs a capable warrior to watch his back. Quotál thinks he is being asked to babysit Ichtaca on a quest not destined to bring him any personal glory. He grudgingly agrees, if only for the chance to crack some heads. Catzin is the ambassador’s inclusion in the little party, specifically charged not to allow either man to incite a war. The ambassador has provided them with a document bearing the king’s seal, allowing them to get out of trouble as they explore hostile (to norlythins) territory. Mahua comes as a guide to Ichtaca. They scour the town and surrounding countryside for information, a group of Nolrythins in a city hostile to them, but protected and given free passage by a document with the king’s own seal.
The last known holder of the whip was a Jhareth warden named Uremallach Archál. Fifty years ago he passed through Forteth, in guise as a human. Clue after clue leads them outwards, into the Kings hunting preserves, a vast acreage of wild lands where only a few months ago a hidden community of Jharrics was found and destroyed. Icthaca and the others find the ruins of the town, a burnt out shell set into the side of a cliff. They Paisicha hiding there, an old man, the only survivor of the destruction, more than half mad. He tells them that Uremallach Archál came here more than fifty years ago to settle and raise a family, and was still alive when the eitharmos attacked last year. He thinks that he died defending the village, but he never found the body. The eitharmos attacked without warning. Most of the village were slaughtered, but the strong young adults were taken captive, and carried away by the eitharmos. Magic items were gathered together and taken as well. Paisicha assumes that the whip was taken with the rest. He tells them that the captives were likely taken to the prison in Forteth, that is where he recommends they look next. Although Quotál wants to kill the old man, Ichtaca intervenes, offering Paisicha food, and bringing him safely back into town. It’s difficult to tell, but he thinks this impresses Cátzin, who always seems to be watching him. After he returns his companions to the palace, Ichtaca takes Paisicha to the Avan underground, and safety.
After Carmenith helps Vash and Tobias with a second break-in into Duke-Regent Bergeth’s office, she is now being hunted by the guards as a thieving witch. The party hopes that the evidence they planted will lead the Duke to conclude that Carmenith stole the map and other items for Hochorrin Mollathe, who wishes to blackmail him with said items. Hopefully, he will believe that his plans for world domination are still under wraps, and won’t act against the king or the ambassadors prematurely.
Carmenith and Vash sneak out of the palace, into the sewers, and once again find the ever-moving base of the Avan enclave. On the way, they avoid group after group of military police with their demonic dogs, searching the sewers for the Avan “rebels.” Abbot Othemarrel, a heathfolk, and the leader of the Forteth enclave, greets them, frustrated that they once again have tracked them down without any trouble. He discusses the security of his operation with Vash, who gives him some advice on how to better conceal themselves. Vash asks Carmenith to remain with Abasi and the others, and not to attempt her plan to steal the drinking blade. She reluctantly agrees, but Vash can see that she is lying. He asks Abbot Othemarrel and Abasi to watch over Carmenith, hoping they can keep her from doing anything foolish. Vash also talks the Avans out of an assassination attempt they are planning to take place at the Consecration, telling them that it will only escalate a bad situation, making it harder to reach and rescue refugees in trouble.
That done, Vash returns to the palace, and the party prepares themselves to attend the masquerade ball. Ambassador Anelathem has hired a tailor to make them each costumes. Despite his resolution to leave her with the Avans, Vash has gone to get Carmenith and brought her along as his translator. The ball glitters with nobility, wealth, and power; people who may be sources of valuable information. The heroes mingle with the crowd incognito, dancing, drinking, conversing, and flirting. Ichtaca approaches the exotic Cátzin, stealing her away from her charge for a dance, but is distracted when he notices a nobleman leading a young woman into a curtained alcove. The man walks with a predatory air, and Ichtaca steers himself and his partner towards the nook, in time to witness a vampire draining blood from his prey. Remembering Cátzin’s absolute loathing for vampires, he points out the scenario, and invites her to help him intervene. They sneak up behind the noble, and Cátzin garrotes him while Ichtaca pulls the curtains, sets aside the dazed victim, and tries to question the man. He is uncooperative and threatening, so they kill him, severing his head. It’s barely ten minutes after their arrival at the ball, they are trapped in a small area with a profusely bleeding corpse, and dozens of dancers, musicians and guards stand in the way of all routes to the nearest exits.
Vash and Carmenith, meanwhile, dance around, Vash directing them towards couples who may be conversing about topics of interest, and Carmenith quietly translating for him. When he sees Anotros Ciprano and Ambassador Sansochin Vitali stepping into an alcove for a quiet conversation, Vash and Carmenith slip into the alcove nearby, eavesdropping. The two silphenites argue over their continued loyalty to Mathis. Vitali urges Ciprano to restrain himself, to wait patiently, but the Anotros claims that Mathis has no intention of ever rewarding him, and that both of them are disposable tools to the ghostly Chorrom. He is bored and angry, unable to preach in the streets or seek his own pleasure, while Dythan has not bothered to give them instruction in days. Vitali, dispassionate as ever, tries to calm Ciprano down, assuring him that if Dythan is otherwise occupied, Vitali has use for Ciprano’s skills. He invites the Anotros to join him the following night after sunset in some work he will find enjoyable.
As that is going on, Tobias and Lyda dance together, maneuvering towards the drink table and General Leith Weller. After impressing the General with his savvy conversation, and encouraging the already inebriated man to drink more, Tobias learns that although the Duke-Regent has gained control of the army through rewarding rank to men he controls, there are many who still remain fiercely loyal to the royal family, and who might fracture away as a separate faction if there were ever a schism between the Duke-Regent. From what Tobias can figure out, those loyal to the king over the organization and the duke are a minority, but a substantial one.
Ichtaca and Cátzin move rugs and pillows to block the blood from oozing out onto the dance floor as they debate what to do. Cátzin seems to be struggling with intense revulsion towards the bleeding corpse, unusual for the hardened warrior she has demonstrated herself to be. Icthaca, familiar now with the signs, realizes that she is a vampire, and confronts her. She is horrified, admitting the truth, but declaring that she hates vampire-kind, and is determined to find a cure for what was forced on her. Meanwhile, the victim, a young noblewoman, stares vacantly at the wall as if in a trance. Ichtaca leaves Cátzin with her and goes to get Vash and Tobias. Neither is pleased with their barbarian friend, and Tobias even less so when Lyda suggests a way they could create a distraction. The king hasn’t danced yet. If she can draw him out, the oil lamps around the room’s edges will be lowered for effect, all light and eyes in the room focused on the king and his first partner of the evening.
Reluctantly, Tobias watches as Lyda turns on the charm and flirts with the young ruler of Trentsmund, dazzling him. King Halden takes the bait, and the three men move into the alcove. They are greeted by the sight of Cátzin, biting into the neck of the woman, exactly the behavior she just killed the other man for doing. Ichtaca helps her calm down and clean up, treating her with compassion, but moving fast. They wrap the corpse up in a rug and smuggle it out a balcony, dumping the body into the gardens below, as everyone in the ballroom watches Lyda’s dance with the King. The heroes are all back in position, doing their best to look innocent. Tobias approaches the king as he finishes his dance, putting his arm around Lyda and chatting with him long enough to realize that there’s no use warning him about the Duke without proof in hand; Halden completely trusts his uncle. A few minutes later. The body is discovered. The murder of a member of the King’s cabinet ends the ball prematurely, but no one is arrested and the heroes escape unscathed.
The next day, the consecration of the new Chorrom is a packed event at the grand cathedral. Sacrifices have been going all day, mostly of volunteers guaranteed a place of glory in the Abyssal Throne, but also including slaves and prisoners. The old chorrom, and elderly, dying man, presides in a throne atop tiered stage, surrounded by favored priests and high-ranking members of the eitharmos. Arch-Chancellor Baledessar Galen speaks for him, as he is too ill to rise on his own. The eitharmos are evident at key positions in the cathedral, very much in favor with the old Chorrom, although few here truly know who they are.The ceremony is long and formal, involving more ritual sacrifices, the drinking of human blood from communal goblets, and the reading of prophetic scripture. The heroes position themselves around the chamber, watching the people they know. Finally, the candidates step forward on to the tiered stage, and an exarch materializes over the main altar. Vash, Tobias, Ichtaca and Lyda recognize him as Mezeliar Wroth, disguised as an exarch of Daemoth. Time seems to freeze, and he speaks telepathically to each of them, taunting them, telling them how much he has enjoyed watching t heir explotes. He demonstrates a careless disregard towards the daemothites now worshipping him, and his attitude borders on gleeful insanity. He releases the heroes from t heir slowed-time conversation, and then proceeds with the ceremony. Wroth looks into the soul of each candidate, slaughtering many of them over the altars with his massive sword. Some he spares, as worthy leaders, but Magistrate Viln, he spares on a whim, amused by his interactions with the mortals he has been watching. As Chorrom, he chooses the Arrochulean Arch-Chancellor Ramadhani Banesal. Whispers break out across the cathedral at this choice. Chorrom Banesal steps forward, sacrificing the old Chorrom on the altar. The man’s soul rises up in a cloud of dark glory, taken by the exarch into heaven in a haze of shadow and fire. Chorrom Banesal strips naked and bathes in blood, then dons his new robes of office. Tobias sees the spectral form of Dythan Mathis, dressed in his full Chorrom’s regalia of the previous century, watching the ceremony bitterly from the stage, and the two exchange bitter words telepathically.
As most eyes in the cathedral are on the exarch, Vash, Tobias, and Ichtaca notice a familiar figure above in an unused choir loft. It’s Abasi, with Carmenith, securing ropes and preparing for a daring move. Abasi takes advantage of the distraction, swinging down from the top of the cathedral and bear-hugging a high ranking member of the eitharmos off of the stage. He has attacked an Oulethiri, one of the five leaders of the eithalim. Jodram Zabir Oulethiri, the holder of the legendary Drinking Blade. The blade, supposedly a dagger, proves to be a greatsword, but Abasi isn’t fazed. He catches the man off-guard, in a moment of religious euphoria, knocking him from the stage and into a wall, wrenching the sword from him, and heaving him into the crowd below. Abasi throws the sword towards Carmenith, and misses. The blade arcs, spinning end over end, and skewers an etholchan priest in a balcony halfway up the other side of the room. Although most eyes are still on the fading glory hanging in the air over the main altar, cries of alarm are starting to ring out. A hated Avan, one dressed in the scarlet rags of the Ravari, has desecrated the ceremony in open defiance of all that these people hold sacred. Abasi grins, dodging the eitharmos, and Ichtaca runs, leaps, and climbs up the wall beside him. Carmenith is casting a rope towards Abasi and Icthaca, trying to reach them. Vash casts a spell, lighting fire to several tapestries along the walls, and a human stampede begins.
Continuing to win the Avan’s trust – 50 xp
Spirit-Quest Skill Challenge – 700 xp
Rescuing Paisichi – 50 xp
Masquerade Ball Skill Challenge – 700 xp
Discovering Cátzin is a vampire – 50 xp
Listening in on Vitali and Ciprano – 50 xp
Role-play with Cátzin, King Halden, Mezeliar Wroth, Dythan Mathis and other key NPC’s – 200 xp
Stealing the Drinking Blade – 100 xp
Total XP: 1,900 divided by 4 PC’s, so 475 each. Current individual cumulative total was 16,220, and is now 16,695. Welcome to level 9!
The Drinking Blade