Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Seekers of the Ashen Crown, Part 13

Starday, Reaping 1, 552 CY (50 AN)

Feeling reasonably prepared, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Emma, Peren, and Torinn, being led by their guide, Zorphen, set out to find the portal to Sigil.

Zorphen leads them out of Graywall’s foreign quarter, and after sneaking past patrols, the group finds its way into the sewers under the city. They walk until Zorphen rounds a corner and darts back, muttering curses and saying they’ve found a modron.

A large, metallic, polyhedral thing stands in the stream of sewer water. It holds a large mace, its two legs disappear into the murky water, and two wings emerge from its back. A series of strange lenses protrude over its eyes, and it bears various features indicative of a face, but with a clockwork flair.

Zorphen explains that they are creatures of order, and that they sometimes guard planar portals as they hope to close them. However, modrons can be reasoned with, and it may allow passage, assuming the need is great enough.

The group advances to address the modron. It acknowledges their presence, and instructs them to leave. The group then does its best to convince the creature that they must enter the gate. Bosabrieln starts by strongly stating their case, and after Emma hugs the creature and Bezaldooz restates Bosabrieln’s argument, Bosabrieln has no trouble convincing the modron that the group’s intentions are pure.

The group continues past the modron, and as they reach an archway, Zorphen explains that the portal activates when one contemplates the moment of one’s greatest fear. He closes his eyes and appears to be lost in contemplation. A moment later, the space encompassed by the archway warps and changes, revealing a similar sewer tunnel. The group continues through, and feels a sudden change. The air grows cooler, and the earthy smell of waste turns acrid, gaining an almost chemical aroma.

Zorphen quietly leads them through sewer tunnels, warning them about cranium rats and telling them how to find the portal. The group nears the manhole cover and appears to be ready to leave unmolested, the sound of rapid footsteps approaches. A man, clad in leather and with sword drawn, runs around the corner, running on the platform on the other side of the sewer tunnel. He shouts to the party, indicating that they must flee, the cranium rats come, for he has discovered their secret, that they are —

He starts to mumble and repeat his query as blood drips from his nose, his eyes, his ears. He collapses and falls into the sludgy river; he catches on some garbage and his body does not proceed further as the water rushes into a nearby drain.

A horde of rats — all gnashing teeth and beady eyes and exposed brains on their heads — rounds the corner.

Battle is joined. The creatures pummel the party with some sort of horrific ray that leaves them dazed and stumbling. A humanoid with an octopoid head — a creature that some of the group recognizes as one of the dreaded mind flayers — emerges from the darkness, fighting in tandem with the cranium rats. Soon, a contingent of humanoid rat creatures, similar to the wererat form of Kiris Hoyt, emerges from the tunnels to join the battle.

The battle is fast and brutal. The mind flayer blasts the group with psychic energy as the cranium rats pelt them with the same. The wererats rush into battle and are quickly defeated. Torinn and Peren react with their typical barrage of blades while Emma works with prayers and her mace, and Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln throw spells at the creatures. Zorphen attacks with his musket and activates a small, whirring, spherical drone that buzzes around his head. The mind flayer psychically urges Bosabrieln into the swiftly flowing river, and Bosabrieln tumbles into the water, helplessly being sucked toward the drain. Zorphen stops shooting at the mind flayer with his musket to go aid Bosabrieln. Bezaldooz kills a contingent of rats, but they briefly grab hold of his mind, forcing him to fire a magic missle at Peren. The fighters fall, but the healers keep them in the fight with healing magics and healing potions.

All told, the fight ends with the wererats and the mind flayer dead. Most of the cranium rats are killed, but a group of them runs down the tunnels and out of sight. The group uses four healing potions to keep their fighters in the battle. They do not manage to get to Zorphen in time, and he breathes his last in the sewer tunnels. Torinn grabs his musket. Peren scouts ahead and finds the ladder leading to street level. Torinn hefts Zorphen’s body across his shoulders and the group makes its way into the streets of Sigil.

They are assaulted by the noisy, smelly city of Sigil. A light drizzle falls as they enter, and they note that they cannot see moon nor stars through the clouds. All manner of strange sights assail them — demons and other strange creatures walk alongside the more familiar men and elves and such of the Sorrowfell Plains. Based upon the look of the people, this is likely a lower-class district. The group looks around until seeing a couple of women on a street corner — prostitutes by their look. Bosabrieln speaks to her, asking if she can direct them to a temple, and he gives the woman a silver for her trouble. She takes it, and explains that she’s no tout. When he gives another silver, he indicates that she needs a bit more money than that. Ten gold pieces change hands, and she gives Bosabrieln directions to the Temple District.

The group manages to follow her directions without difficulty, and makes their way to a temple of Pelor. They enter, putting a few coins in the donation box, and approach the priestess, an eladrin by the name of Sister Miska. Bosabrieln and Emma speak to her, indicating that they would like to have their friend raised. Sister Miska says the typical donation is 1180 gold pieces, but Emma manages to talk her down to the component cost of 500 gold pieces by noting her own devotion to Pelor. Sister Miska says their friend should be restored in the morning, and that they can stay at the Silver Tankard. They should tell the innkeeper that they have spoken with Sister Miska. As they leave, a few more coins enter the collection box and Emma donates seventy-five gold pieces.

The group does that, finding the innkeeper to be Aratha, a beautiful young woman with feathery wings whom they swiftly surmise to be an angel. Bosabrieln explains the situation, and when he explains they have spoken with Sister Miska, Aratha says their rooms are on the house. Bosabrieln thanks her and says that he can play music, and Aratha says that would be lovely. A porter immediately arrives to take their bags.

Their rooms are impressive. They each have individual rooms, and a bath is drawn for each.

Bosabrieln returns downstairs to perform, while the others rest. He eventually makes his way back to his room, and all sleep.

The next morning, the group breakfasts and talks to Aratha, admittedly trying to befriend her (and in some cases, flirt with her). Most of them find the presence of an angel intimidating, but she seems fairly cordial with Bezaldooz and Emma, and particularly cordial with Bosabrieln.

They turn around to find Zorphen watching this display. Torinn returns Zorphen’s musket, and they inform him that his weird device didn’t make it. He thanks them profusely for their aid, and as they express an interest in shopping, he takes them to the Market Ward. They buy and sell a few things, although he tells Bosabrieln to avoid purchasing a copy of the Sending ritual, as he owes the party and hopes to repay them somehow.

Finally, Zorphen gives the group a brief tour of Sigil before taking them to the Lower Ward. A drawbridge sits outside the Great Foundry, apparently with no reason for being there. Zorphen bids them farewell, and as per his instructions, they loop the fingers of their left hand over each other, opening a rippling portal in the opening formed by the righthand chain on the drawbridge. Seeing a scene resembling the streets outside the Tain Foundry in Sorgforge, the group moves through the portal.

They arrive on a street outside the Tain Foundry, and find they have passed through the doorway of a public privy. A warforged stands inside, asking why humanoids use these things. Bosabrieln tells him to meet them at the Rusty Razor in two days’ time and he’ll explain it.

The group decides to go to the Citadel, hopefully allowing them to explain any issues Tikulti has raised and dealing with the problem before trouble finds them.

On their way to the Citadel, they happen across a guard patrol which has apparently been informed to bring them to the Citadel for questioning. The guards are most surprised to find these supposed criminals asking to go to the Citadel, so they escort them and lead them into Captain Kalaes’ meeting room.

Immediately, they launch into the tale. Bosabrieln explains that they wish to explain their version of events — Peren interjects that Tikulti is a traitor — and Captain Kalaes says that they have told him several disturbing things that have proven true. Before they explain everything, he asks one of his guardsmen to fetch a priest to witness their testimony. After a few minutes’ wait, the guardsman returns with a priest of Bahamut in tow. He starts a brazier of incense and when he indicates he is ready, Bosabrieln gets to work.

He takes a few minutes to explain their sojourn from Sorgforge to Graywall and back, focusing on Tikulti’s betrayal and his apparent cooperation with Lady Dannae — better known as Demise among the proper circles. Similarly, he implicates them with involvement in the Broken Chain, though the level of involvement is unknown.

After detailing his tale, the priest says that Bosabrieln speaks truthfully. Captain Kalaes admits that he is uncertain whether he can be unbiased, as he does not wish to think Tikulti is guilty. As such, he tells the party to find Tikulti and return him to the Citadel alive. Peren asks what the punishment would be for his crimes, and Captain Kalaes explains that if the claims of treason are true, Tikulti will likely be executed. He similarly asks that they return Demise alive so that she may also face justice.

The group agrees.

Captain Kalaes gives them a letter of marque in case any guards stop them before he has the opportunity to inform everyone that they are no longer wanted for questioning.

The group steps outside and uses the Sending Stone to contact Tikulti. They instead find Demise, and when Bosabrieln suggests they meet, she indicates that they should know where to find her; in a Wordbearer ritual spot with several corpses strewn about.

The group surmises that she means Ashurta’s Tomb. Bezaldooz leaves Wilson behind at the Citadel and the group goes to the goblin slums.

They descend into the basement of the crumbling tenement, leaving their light sources behind. As they approach the entry chamber of Ashurta’s Tomb, they hear the sound of talking — some person talking to another about ritual preparations. The name Jaenus is mentioned, which the group recognizes as the elf traveling with Demise when they met her at Professor Nephret’s house.

The group moves into the room to see Jaenus, the very same robed elf with a skull facial tattoo whom they met at the Professor’s house, along with two humans in plate armor and bearing the sigil of the Broken Chain on their tabards. A group of five zombified kruthiks stands nearby.

Justice is swift. Kruthik zombies are slain, and Jaenus falls quickly. The fanatical cultists die last.

Secure in the knowledge that the area is clear, the group moves forward, through the hallway to the puzzle room with the devil statue obscuring a secret doorway. They attempt to move quietly, but they are much too loud. However, they notice people hidden in the alcoves in this room — two armored cultists astride the lowered devil statue; a tiefling woman with a flame-shaped short sword; a floating skull covered in dancing shadows; and a wizened creature, presumably a doppelganger, wearing Tikulti’s armor and bearing his rapier.

Aware that everyone has noticed everyone else, battle is joined. Peren rushes the tiefling, followed by Torinn. The armored cultists begin to move into position, but Bezaldooz fires rays of cold that freeze the cultists’s legs to the floor. Tikulti rushes behind Peren to flank him, but his attack is too hasty to hit home. The skull begins firing rays of energy from its mouth.

Tikulti does well at first, dodging blows and mocking the group with his banter. He is struck a few times, but only with glancing blows as he proves reasonably accurate with his rapier.

The tiefling falls first, but the battle quickly turns nasty. One cultist falls quickly, but when Bezaldooz starts slinging spells at the skull from the safety of an alcove, the other cultist pins him down and starts attacking. Both Peren and Torinn are brought low by Tikulti’s onslaught, and just as it appears that he will turn on the casters, Bosabrieln and Emma revive Peren and Torinn, and Emma manages to defeat the last cultist attacking Bezaldooz. The tide of battle turned, the floating skull and Tikulti are quickly defeated.

Though the others have been slain, the group was careful to only knock Tikulti unconscious. Bosabrieln ties him up as the group rests and attempts to determine the next course of action.

Comments

Next week on the season finale of Crux of Eternity…

OMG SO MUCH EXCITEMENT

I think I said before that another session had been my favourite. I may have lied and/or changed my mind, because I think it is this one now.

PsychicMayhem

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.