Episode Six - Search and Rescue
Episode 6: Search and Rescue (Level 5)
In the ambassador’s suite at the palace, the group discuss their plans. Losoran asks them to find the shipwreck which may contain the missing research notes, and possibly survivors. A contract with a ship and crew will be delivered in the morning. He also goes over some maps with them, and explains that the Ambassadorial caravan will include himself (representing Telgard), but also representatives from Chayrshellech and Motta. They will pick up the Norlythin ambassador en-route to Forteth, Trentsmund. As they talk, Tobias catches a glimpse of a ghostly form pass by a mirror, but no one else can see it, and he can only see its reflection. He recognizes the man as Mathis, the mysterious specter who seems to be seeking the meteors with his friend, Anotros Ciprano. Losoran and Jennish head down to the vaults to examine the meteors, and Vash accompanies them. The vault is warded against magic portals, but, despite that, micro-tears rip open every few seconds, sending out shoots of seawater. Jennish goes to get mages from the university to help reinforce the wards, and Vash decides to spend the night in the vault in case of an incident.
He returns to tell the others, only to see them all out on the balcony, staring at a huge, glowing figure floating in the air over the pond in the palace garden. He appears to be a huge jhareth man from the waist up, an octopus from the waist down, with green-black wings, and strangely flowing hair like jellyfish tentacles. Only they seem to be able to see him, and he beckons to them. The party goes down to investigate, and has a strange encounter with Mezeliar Wroth, a powerful exarch of the mad sea-goddess Maruma’e. The gems Vash stole from the mob are cursed, just touching them has bound them to a guardian golem who is pursuing them even now. The gems represent the consolidated wealth of the Souliaydach family, earned from their casino, brothel, banking, and other businesses over the last 20 years, and are part of a bargain between Motharlech Souliaydach and the exarch. The prize, unimaginable power and immortality. The cost, 100 nubile virgins and the Bastard King’s every heir as a blood sacrifice, along with six million gp worth of gems. For his part in the sacrifice, Mezeliar has been harvesting Kithari from the freshwater lakes and rivers around Atheshoth, storing them in the golem he created for the Souliaydach. He also hints that the aberrant creatures attacking the area are his servants. They try to get more information, but he is intentionally vague, smirking and laughing outright at their questions.
He offers to show them one of the creatures, but requires “innocent blood”. When Tobias forbids him to touch Lyda, he laughs, waves a hand, and she is pulled inexorably towards him, Tobias and Ichtaca pulled along with her when they try to hold her back. With her arm engulfed in his hand, he pierces her palm with a dagger the size of a greatsword, shaking several drops into the pond. A slender, featureless man made of light and water appears, not seeming to see the exarch behind him. He kisses the wound, healing it, and tries to speak to her, in a wordless voice that sounds like rushing water. Grinning, Mezeliar touches the Kithari, and absorbs the creature into himself, taunting the party with the creature’s death. They are horrified. He is unimaginably powerful, but he is toying with them, they know it, and it’s beginning to make them angry. Tobias and Ichtaca speak boldly, angering the exarch. He turns now solely to Vash. Now that Vash holds the gems, and that the party has destroyed the Souliaydach’s scheme to raise the rest of the money needed by selling “cures” for the Némelethe, Mezeliar seems quite willing to betray Motharlech and make the same deal with the drow and his friends instead. Vash refuses, and Mezeliar leaves.
Vash settles down in the vault to keep watch over Jennish and the professors as they cast their spells. Tobias and Ichtaca, meanwhile, have both received messages. Tobias goes to speak with his family, and Ichtaca heads for the Whitestone. As they leave, they see a party going on across the gardens, and recognise Anotros Ciprano, talking and laughing with Sansochin Vitali, the Mottan ambassador. Ciprano catches Tobias’s eye, and whispers to the ambassador, pointing. Reconsidering his decision to leave Lyda at the palace, Tobias wakes her and brings her along to meet his aunt and uncle, the Lord and Lady Shoutharral.
Tobias’s aunt has heard of his recent activities, and feels it is time to tell him about the events of his birth, and the death of his mother. He knew that his mother died in childbirth, and that his father ran off that same night, never to be seen again. He is startled to learn that when he was born, stars fell, crows cawed, frost coated the room, the doctor went mad, the midwife went blind. Strange men were seen searching the countryside, and his father vanished. Elson Naium, the pysician’s apprentice, was the only witness to most of this. He was never quite the same. He taught at Abríannach for years, but when Tobias enrolled, Naium transferred suddenly to the university in Onderrich. Melena also gives Tobias a worn silver token in the shape of a hand, and a letter from his mother. The letter is hard to understand, written in a delirious fever just before his birth. He gleans a few facts, however. His mother was a psion, and a member of the silver hand. The order warned her not to have children, as her third would take her life. In anger, she left the order, defying them and forsaking her power. Her husband, Ober, took “steps” to avert such a tragedy just before they married, but wouldn’t tell her the cost, and she worried it was too high. The steps he took had something to do with the Etholchan church, and a trip to Forteth, Trentsmund. She also worried her enemies would find her, and her letter warns him to watch for them. Shaken and conflicted, Tobias warns his family about the danger they may be in from the mafia, and they agree to hire on more guards, and quietly leave town for a while. His sister, Lhora approaches him, informing him of her secret engagement to Choler Buthe, one of the sons of Tolebesh Buthe, the Bastard King. They had planned to announce it at a ball in two weeks, and Tobias doesn’t tell her that she won’t be in town to enjoy said event. He catches another glimpse of the invisible Mathis, again only the reflection in a mirror. Concerned and trying not to appear paranoid, Tobias returns to the palace with Lyda, sleeping in the room near hers and keeping a watchful eye out for Anotros Ciprano, Mathis, mafia assassins, or aberrant exarchs.
Ichtaca meets Chaldea at the brothel. She is relieved to see him alive, and tells him she’s heard alarming news. The two mob families are on the move. Motharlech Souliaydach has confronted Alietharnesh Gumayr about the attack on his secret facility, and Gumayr has denied all responsibility for the hit. They have arranged a formal meeting, but already several items of interest have been discussed by messenger. Firstly, both families hired a promising new recruit, who are know rumored to have been seen together prior to their sudden enlistments. “The barbarian” killed a prominent Souliaydach enforcer, then was involved in an attack on their docks. “The student” was present at the casino when the vault was robbed, and then attacked their secret base with a group of friends. Both men are reported dead, but, strangely, neither has left an identifiable corpse behind. The families now suspect now that the two men were working together from the start, and are furious that their power has been challenged in such a way. Chaldea believes they have hired a spellcaster to confirm whether or not these two are truly dead. When they realize the truth, the two families may unite for the first time in centuries, at least for as long as it takes to kill both men. Assuring the concerned woman that he and his friends can handle themselves, he enjoys the night in her company.
Early in the morning, Vash and Tobias approach Magistrate Caral Viln at the cathedral, where Vash shows him a gemstone and asks if he can dispel the curse on it. Sensing divine power coming from the gem, and confused by Tobias’s continuing efforts to impersonate Daemoth in his mind, Viln declares the gemstones to be sacred artifacts of his god, and demands them in exchange for an unspecified future favor. Vash offers to sell them to him, but names a ridiculous sum. The two exchanges heated words, and things almost devolve into combat. Vash slams his hammer into the chapel floor, and Viln hastily backs down. He assures the two men that they will have plenty of time to discuss this in the future. He has received permission from the Chayrshellech Ambassador Rilaytha Miatherra to accompany the diplomatic caravan on its journey to Forteth, where he has important business.
The two men meet up with the others at the palace, finding Losoran in the garden, distraught over a letter he received. His wife’s condition is worsening. He gives them the contract for the ship he has hired for them, and wishes them luck on their search for the shipwreck. Suddenly, a huge golem made of dark crystal smashes through the palace walls, and the groups is swept up in a desperate fight for their lives. Ictaca takes the brunt of the creature’s rage, as Vash and Losoran flank it. Tobias tears at its magical life force from afar, and Lyda stands beside him, firing her pistols. With huge shards of crystal jutting out of a terrible wound in his shoulder and neck, Ichtaca strikes a mighty blow. The golem shatters, and the pieces melt into the ground like ice. As it dissolves, it releases its captive prisoners, dozens of kithari and one bedraggled Goltalamir merchant, whom Vash and Ichtaca paid in stolen gems. Being swallowed alive has unhinged the poor man, and he shouts incoherently at them until he is lead away by the guards. The Kithari gather briefly around the adventurers, healing their wounds. One gives Ichtaca a piece of itself, light and water that forms into an amulet, symbol of the goddess Iala, and then, the strange creatures leave.
Vash encounters prejudice at every turn, but manages to find maps and useful information about the hazards of the local seas from locals at a seedy tavern. Tobias speaks with the local law enforcement, but finds them corrupt and unhelpful, members of the Gumayr family mafia. Trying another tactic, he approaches a guard at the docks, catching him in the act of accepting a bribe, and threatens the man. The guard, terrified that his “associates” will find out he’s been skimming the profits, gives Tobias half of the “taxes” he just collected, and warns him about local pirate activity. Ichtaca encounters an Avan monk from Arrochule, one Abasi Dhambizao. Abasi is friendly and charismatic, but has made several local enemies with his recent activities. He has sworn the oath of the Ravari, and must dress in scarlet rags and act as a force for good in the world until he has purified his sins. He cannot refuse any goodly request for help, and is currently thwarting the interests of pirates, the mob and the Etholchan church in Rue. A foreigner and a man of action himself, Abasi takes an immediate liking to the burly barbarian, buys him a drink, and tells him the latest local stories, including several legends of the Stormbringer, a mysterious ship made of bone and solid gold. The legendary ship is both feared and loved, as is is said to sail these waters in search of great sea monsters to battle, but also that it heralds disaster and ill fortune with its arrival. Among Abasi’s rambling stories, Ichtaca learns what he seeks to learn: the rumored vicinity of a shipwreck of interest, the Sweet Vanity.
With a general idea of where they need to look, the party sets sail aboard the Coral Rose. It’s an exhausting voyage. The ship must sail carefully to avoid known pirate haunts, and they are constantly attacked by aberrant sea creatures. After five days, they break out of a heavy fog bank into an eerie kelp forest broken up by craggy islands. They finally see the shipwreck, being torn to pieces by a huge kraken. The monster is twisted with aberrant power, with too many eyes and tentacles. The heroes catch it off guard, attacking from behind, and it turns to face them with devastating efficiency. It wraps itself around the Coral Rose, crushing and tearing at the hull. Tentacles snatch men from the decks and crush them or slam them together, while others lash the sea up in to a deadly froth of writhing limbs. Waves wash over the deck, sweeping sailors into the churning sea. The group faces the most difficult battle of their short adventuring careers, and they very nearly all die. While the crew struggle to free the ship and fire the cannon, each of the adventurers is seized and flung around by the tentacles. The Coral Rose groans under the cruel pressure of the constricting limbs. Ichtaca is drawn towards a gaping beak, but smashes into it with his axe, fighting his way clear. Vash slams his hammer into a huge eye, only to find that the kraken’s aberrant physiology makes it impossible to predict which parts are duplicate, and which are vital. A tentacle grabs Lyda, breaking some of her ribs, then she is tossed into the air, but Tobias dives to her rescue, dangling from a tentacle and grabbing her wrist in the nick of time. The creature shakes the dangling pair, striking them against the hull of the boat, and Lyda falls into the churning water, dazed and unable to swim. She sinks out of view. Tobias lashes out at the creature, seeking and destroying one of its brains, and it snatches him up by the arm, shaking him like a rag doll and shattering his arm and shoulder. Finally, Vash manages to leap down onto the creature, smashing through it with his hammer and slaying it. It drops Tobias and Ichtaca. Tobias dives into the water where he last saw Lyda, reaches out to her with his mind, and pulls her to him. He flies them out of the water and onto the deck, and, though his arm dangles uselessly, he is able to revive her.
As the crew retrieves the missing cargo from the wreckage of the Sweet Vanity, Ichtaca sees two men waving for help, down beneath the water’s surface. It’s the missing researchers, trapped in bonds of kelp, deep underwater, but somehow still alive.
Exarch of Maruma’e skill challenge: 175 xp
Turning down Exarch Mezeliar Wroth’s offer: 50 xp
Garden Attack combat encounter: 875 xp
Find the Shipwreck skill challenge: 1,000 xp
Kraken combat encounter: 1,250 xp
Tobias learning about his past: 50 xp
Roleplay with multiple key NPC’s: 100 xp
Quest Completed – Recover the Missing Research Notes: 100 xp
Total XP: 3600, divided by three players, is 1200 each. Cumulative individual total was at 6902, and is now 8102. Please level up to 6!
A Kithari gave Ichtaca a silver amulet in the shape of a half-risen sun (+1 amulet of life.)
Tobias “collected” 200 gp from a Gumayr dock enforcer in Rue.
Retrieved from the Sweet Vanity: 13 volumes of waterlogged research notes, a crate of rare books, and trading goods worth 300 gp, after the crew takes their contracted share.
Among the rare books is one of special interest: Into the Darkplane, by Professor Tethaylaer of Terratorumme University