Sunday, Readying 2, 553 CY (51 AN)
Having arrived in Duchy Jepson late in the night, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Ekaterina, Peren, and Torinn decide to rest. Torinn recalls the shield guardian, and the Shields of the Sorrowfell find a place for Bosabrieln to cast Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion. As it has been a long day, the Shields quickly retire to bed, although Ekaterina notes her equipment is still in Khuragzar.
That night, Bosabrieln has a dream. He finds himself in the Chimeric Amphitheatre, faced by the Khan of Nightmares, no doubt summoned by some variant of the dream spell. As always, the Khan of Nightmares is pleasant, but over the course of the conversation, the thrust of his proposal runs thus: based on how their attitude when they left, the Shields clearly seem to have vague plans to seek retribution for the Khan’s treatment of them. If they are willing to cease any hostilities — whether perpetrated by themselves or others on the Shields’ behalf — he will offer them any information he has on the Hendiatris, their cut of the take (as-yet uncounted, but probably totaling a few thousand gold pieces) from the past two evenings’ festivities “for being such good sports,” and help on a future errand of their choice. He hasn’t counted the take yet but suspects their share would be in the hundreds of thousands, and while Bosabrieln is cagey about the potential future help he might accept (likely dealing with Kiaransalee), he keeps it in mind. He says he will present it to the rest of the Shields, and the Khan of Nightmares will speak with him tomorrow evening to learn what they have decided.
In the morning, Bosabrieln gathers the rest of the Shields to discuss these matters. (Torinn awoke early to fish, but learned to his regret that only Bosabrieln can open the door to Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion.) Torinn is pretty firmly against dealing with the Khan, while Peren thinks Bosie should at least try to negotiate for him to give information on the Hendiatris. (Ekaterina notes that working with the Khan of Nightmares seems to go against the Shields’ stated anti-slavery stance.) With that, it is decided that Bosabrieln will reject the Khan’s offer, but will attempt to get information regarding any surviving members of the Hendiatris.
Apart from that point of order, the general plan seems to involve talking to the Headmaster about these developments, as well as any further development of Bosabrieln’s plan to confront Kiaransalee. (Torinn still plans on fishing once the mansion is open.) At some point, they will likely return to Khuragzar to retrieve Ekaterina’s things, assuming they’re still there.
With that, the group leaves the mansion. Torinn and the shield guardian go down to the river to fish while Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Ekaterina, and Peren go to the Wizard’s Tower to speak with the Headmaster. Upon arrival, he gives greeting, pleased to see that they retrieved Ekaterina safely. He and Bosabrieln address the business at hand: while there aren’t many people here willing to assist with Bosabrieln’s errand against Kiaransalee, the Headmaster has apparently spoken with Moridal Delhig and Galothel, both of whom are willing to render aid. Additionally, the Wizard’s Tower has a few contacts in Sigil, and that led them to speak with Bosabrieln’s friend Aratha. She is willing to help, and also has a list of contacts she can recommend.
With that business complete, Peren notes some business of his own: he wants to organize a contest for the students of the Wizard’s Tower to make an airship, specifically one better than Gloomblight Spellweaver’s spelljammer. He notes that he would put up the money to commission three airships; he would retain two, the school could keep one, and there would be a cash prize involved to the teams that make the best ship. The Headmaster notes that they are ill-equipped to act as a shipyard — not even Scandshar has the space or resources to build airships — and The Pentad is the fastest ship around. Outside of an atmosphere, spelljamming speeds are among the fastest possible, and the knowledge required to make spelljamming helms has largely been lost. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, of course, merely that it would take some organization for them to figure out the logistics of such a thing. Peren asks if it would just be better to commission them to build an airship for him, and the Headmaster says yes, although they would still need to figure out the best usage of space for a shipyard. Still, hold onto that idea: the Headmaster will think about it some, as he likes the idea of a contest.
With that, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Ekaterina, and Peren take their leave. Peren goes to find Torinn, while Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln try to find a wizard who knows the teleportation circle key to return Ekaterina to Khuragzar.
Once those tasks are complete, the Shields reconvene. (During the quick jaunt to Khuragzar, Ekaterina is relieved to find that her equipment was still at the seedy, dockside inn where she left it.) It seems as though they will depart for Sigil on the morrow, and given how dangerous their current goals are, they decide Ekaterina ought not to join them. She agrees, although will likely be staying here since the vampire problem seems to have left for the moment.
Wanting to recruit all possible allies, Bosabrieln also contacts Lord Maervik via sending, saying:
“No plan yet, but interested in the aid you offered. Meeting in Sigil tomorrow to scout other potential assistance.”
Lord Maervik responds, “I’m more than happy to send the Four Seasons your way, but ‘in Sigil’ is frustratingly vague. Do you have a more precise location?”
Bosabrieln casts another sending, saying:
“Of course, just checking availability on relatively short notice. Silver Tankard. Throughout the day. Aratha, the tavern-keeper, knows us well.”
He receives the response, “A district or even a Ward might be helpful, but I can make do with that. I’ll send the Four Seasons your way.”
That night, Bosabrieln is again contacted by the Khan of Nightmares via dream. Bosie delivers the news that they have turned down the Khan’s offer. (The Khan, unsurprisingly, does not give any information regarding the Hendiatris if the deal is off the table.) Bosabrieln hopes that they may continue to have a friendly relationship, but the Khan notes that without some manner of non-aggression pact on record, any future visit from the Shields of the Sorrowfell will be considered an act of war and will handled accordingly.
With that, Bosabrieln awakens.
The Shields all awaken on the morning of Moonday, Readying 3. Before they leave Duchy Jepson, Torinn gives the shield guardian control necklace to Ekaterina. She protests, saying she doesn’t need it, that anybody who has managed to capture her in the past couple of months has kidnapped her in her sleep, but he says it still ought to help.
The Shields then take their leave, traveling to Sorgforge by teleport, and then accessing the privy to Sigil. On the walk between the teleportation circle and the Sigil portal privy, they encounter one bit of strangeness: as they pass an alleyway, they spot the hovering Voracious Visitor as it passes on the next block.
They make their way into Sigil and then walk to The Silver Tankard. (The Shields notice that they are not followed by cranium rats. In fact, to the best of their recollection, they were not followed by cranium rats the last time they arrived in Sigil, either.) Aratha greets them warmly, and after catching up, they discuss business. She notes that Tom of Annihilation has been around, looking for Peren because of whatever errand he last requested. She also describes some of the people she might recommend for Bosabrieln’s errand (in addition to herself, of course):
- Atagone of the Lostpride. She and her mercenary band live in a tenement block in the Shattered Temple District in Sigil’s Lower Ward. They are known to hunt extraplanar creatures, and have an ancestral grudge against the gods.
- Beyanae Ssarra, the Omen-Bringer, former cleric of Kiaransalee. She runs a shop called “Not Knowledge” in the Lower Ward’s Shattered Temple District.
- Izera, a githzerai monastic who runs a monastery of gith in Goatswood just north of the Ditch in The Hive. They sometimes seek out great challenges to test themselves.
- Travok Dankil, said to be a dwarf of Guldor, the domain Kiaransalee took for her own. He’s often found in the Bar Formerly Known As The Smoldering Corpse Bar, between the Mortuary and Madhouse districts in The Hive.
The Shields decide the best course of action is to speak to Beyanae first. Then, based on their location on the map, talk to Atagone, then Izera, then Travok.
The Shields have an uneventful jaunt to the Lower Ward, and they find Not Knowledge to be a small, hole-in-the-wall shop. Entering, they find a cozy little establishment. Apart from a counter and some chairs, it is largely devoid of furnishings or merchandise, leading one to question just what it is that the proprietor sells. Behind the counter is a well-appointed dark elf. She gives greeting, but swiftly surmises that her current customers are the Shields of the Sorrowfell, and immediately grows defensive. However, when she realizes they mean her no harm, she is willing to get down to business.
When Bosabrieln explains his desire to approach the domain of Beyanae’s former master, she says there are three possible approaches. The first (and simplest) is through the Demonweb Pits. The Demonweb Pits change at the whims of their mistress, and so are only really traversable by natives. (However, those of the Shields’ stature can no doubt find a guide, or summon a demon native to the plane, or engage in some other ploy to find their way.) Deep within the Demonweb, there is a gateway to the prime world of Guldor, where Kiaransalee currently lairs. She stays in the city of Maldev, only a scant few miles away from the gate to the Demonweb Pits.
Any tout in Sigil can probably give the Shields enough information to find that route. But if they plan on doing this in a more efficient fashion, she can grant additional information.
Beyanae knows the location of a couple of hidden gates to Guldor, no doubt in the region of Sigil. One deposits travelers near the gate to the Demonweb Pits, completely bypassing Lolth’s web. However, letting that information go incurs a certain level of risk, so Beyanae is charging 1,000,000gp for it.
The other location, a secret backdoor into Kiaransalee’s stronghold, is a different matter. As it stands, Beyanae defected from the dark elves, so they don’t like her, but she’s not important enough to hunt. Sure, she gets the occasional dark elf with something to prove, but no sustained pogrom. If she gave that information, however, she would have to leave her business and her current residence for somewhere where she would never be found. Her public life would be over, and she would have to find someplace to retire.
That will cost them 5,000,000gp.
Beyanae also notes that she does not recall these paths herself, as she had the memories removed and placed elsewhere for safekeeping. Just in case they get the bright idea to drink her heartsblood or devour her memories or some such.
Bosabrieln drops a handful of gold on her for her assistance, but that the Shields will need to discuss their best course of action. They will return when they have decided.
They make their way a block or two over, where they find a couple of leonine humanoids guarding a tenement building. Bosabrieln speaks with them briefly and manages to negotiate for a meeting with Atagone of the Lostpride. They are left waiting for a handful of minutes before she will see them, beckoning them to enter. Peren stays outside, hidden and keeping watch, while Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Torinn accompany her into the building.
Once upstairs — and it appears she and her pride number roughly two dozen from what the Shields are seeing — they discuss business. She listens to Bosabrieln’s desired goals, and notes that while they specialize in extraplanar threats, they have certainly never faced an incarnate deity before. Still, she is interested. She would either take shares, or if there is no treasure to be had, some manner of flat fee. She will likely need some time to determine what her rates might be, however, as she and her pride have never done something like this before. Bosabrieln says the Shields will be in touch.
Once they leave and reunite with Peren, they travel to the Bar Formerly Known As The Smoldering Corpse Bar. When they inquire with the barkeep about Travok Dankil, they are directed to a hooded dwarf drinking in the corner. Bosabrieln again initiates conversation and explains his desire. Travok notes that he escaped from the mines beneath Guldor, making his way through the Demonweb Pits before finding his way to Sigil. He is more than willing to help in Bosabrieln’s quest, but he has some terms. There are still some living dwarves held as slaves in Guldor, and he would want them to be safe. Likewise, the treasures of the dwarf kingdoms of Guldor are still likely intact. As such, he wants them to remain unmolested: no looting. (He acknowledges that he makes his living as a thief, so that seems odd, but those are his terms. Let the treasures of his ancestors rest.)
He does note that there is possibly another way: the last heir of the Truegard Empire, Regthor Longbeard, is still being held in Guldor. He would be interested in saving him, as the drow and their demonic servitors are using him as leverage to keep the rest of the enslaved workers in line. If he could be saved, he could no doubt gather allies and support to help retake Guldor, and he would likely be willing to issue treasure as reward.
The main downside is the added risk of sneaking in and out of the Demonweb Pits an additional time, and the fact that they will lose the element of surprise. Then again, returning to Guldor with an army of dwarves potentially outweighs the loss of stealth. In any case, Travok wishes to be apprised of what they will do, and wishes to help.
With those negotiations complete, the Shields travel around the Ditch into the chaotic warzone of southern Goatswood. They make their way to the walled compound which they presume to be Izera’s monastery. When they ring the bell, they are greeted by a githzerai monk who grants one of them entry. (Bosabrieln enters.) He is led to a room where a githzerai woman is meditating, floating above the ground in lotus position. The monk leaves and she addresses Bosabrieln, asking about his business and attempting to ascertain his devotion to his cause. When he explains his purpose, she questions why he should seek to do something so foolish as this and disrupt the natural order of the living and the dead. However, Bosabrieln notes that it is something he must do, a guilt he must exorcise from himself. Izera seems to accept this, and says she would be willing to assist the Shields’ mission as a training exercise for her monks.
When Bosabrieln reunites with the rest of the Shields of the Sorrowfell, they begin making their way back to The Silver Tankard. Along the way, they come to the conclusion that they may wish to revise their plan. Originally, they hoped to take a moderately-sized team into Kiaransalee’s domain, hoping to have the benefit of surprise. But given what they have learned today, they can probably assemble Beyanae’s million gold piece price and learn of a way to enter Guldor while bypassing the Demonweb Pits. If they take the old Truegard Empire mines by stealth to rescue Regthor Longbeard, use his influence to raise an army of dwarves, and then use the Sigil portal to Guldor with an army in tow, they feel better about their chances.
It seems the Shields will be very busy in the coming days.