Ilhopa

Bartholomew Chronicles Ch. 2

The Bartholomew Chronicles Ch. 2
Bartholomew wanders for about 5 years without an events until he finds himself nearby a cave when his stone starts to glow and heat up again. Being the first time this has happened since his village was burnt he investigates down the cave and gets lost in a dwarven mine. He is found by a rude dwarf that tells him that he is trespassing and is under arrest and most follow him to the elder of the camp. Upon arriving there is a small argument in dwarven and then Bartholomew is told that for his freedom he must help the dwarf locate a lost miner. Shortly after entering the cave they find a blood trail and start to follow. It brings them to a chasm where the dwarf tells Bartholomew that he must go down into the chasm to make sure the lost miner isn’t down there dying. After a small discourse Bartholomew agrees but as soon as he grabs the rope he slips and let goes. Just before he hits the ground a new Portal open bring him safely in and the newly open portal shakes the mine and causes the dwarf to fall in.
The find themselves in a new cave filled with a few dozen bones of dwarves and there are crystals growing every, even inside the bones. Just as they get their bearings they are confronted by some creature that seems to be covered in crystals but capable of moving. The soon make quick work of the creature with the use of the stone, which caused the crystals to melt away, and the miner’s pickaxe. The further explore the cave till they reach the opening around dusk. The adventures decide that they should camp the night in the cave and search for a way out in the morning. Through the night they are accosted by to large cave scorpions. The two fights took a lot out of Bartholomew and they decide to spend the next day in the cave as well. Near the end of the dwarf’s watch he starts to notice that there is silver in this mine as well as the one they came from but the silver here isn’t forming correctly it seems like it is randomly thrown into the walls almost. He finds what he believes to be the center of this and mines all around the crucial strike zone. As he is explaining how important the next strike is to Bartholomew, Bartholomew cast’s true strike and hit’s the rock which causes a spray of silver covering the heroes as well as coating all their gear. A portal then erupts and the heroes climb through and find themselves in a mining cart full of liquid silver that is now start to harden. The heroes strip themselves and start to wipe off all the silver coating them, but the dwarf was not able to clear his beard.
As they push the cart full of silver back to camp to inform the other miner’s of what has transpire. They find the camp to have been ran sacked and attack but the some sort of beast. The dwarf dispatches a falcon to the castle informing them to send help and a transport for the silver.

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Bartholomew Chronicles Ch. 1
Bartholomew's Origin Story

The Bartholomew Chronicles
Bartholomew played by Adam
Katal played by David

Bartholomew’s family was a family of wanderers, traveling from place to place. Eventually, Bartholomew’s parents decided to join up with a tribe in the mountains. Only about 10 year’s old, Batholomew and his friend Katal are currently going through their rite of passage, hunting the local game. At first the lands seem to be unforgiving towards our heroes, but soon Bartholomew finds tracks of a hedgehog that lead towards a grove. As they enter grove they are struck with wonder on how such a lush oasis is found in their harsh mountain terrain. They decide to wait in cover to see what game may come to this grove. It does not take long before a couple of doe and a young buck enter. Katal makes use of his advantage in the tree to loose his sling at the buck, while Bartholomew jumps out of the tree and lands on the creatures back. He is immediately thrown off but lands perfectly on his feet and slashes the beast with his hunting knife, but the blade falls short. Katal lets loose another stone this time shattering the bucks skull. As they prep the buck to carry back towards town Katal bloods himself and lets out his warrior chant, while Bartholomew notice a strange green rock and decides that he will take it as his trophy.
As they enter their village they are greeted with cheers and the leaders order a feast in their honor (Deer is rare for the village). Later that night Bartholomew awakes from haunting dreams of the grove and he wakes Katal to sneak back to the grove. As the start to get closer to the grove Bartholomew starts to notice that his rock is getting hotter and hotter. They reemerge into what appears to be the same grove but now everything is alight with a bioluminescent glow. As they both marvel at the changes the notice that there is now a pond where there was none before. They go to test the water and as the liquid flows down their throats the world around them seems to morph (like a Dali painting) and then snap right back into its original self. Bartholomew can’t seem to get enough of this effect and keeps drinking, while Katal notices that Bartholomew’s body is starting to go transparent, but as soon as Bartholomew stop drinking his body goes right back be completely opaque. This is when they notice that the pond seems to be bubbling and they decide to investigate by diving into the water. Katal dives all the way to the bottom and notices that there seems to be crack in the rocks down here about the size of Bartholomew’s rock that Bartholomew has decided that he should swim with. Bartholomew’s poor choose in holding the rock and swimming makes him unable to get anywhere near the bottom of the pond before he runs out of breath. After everything Katal has seen he convince Bartholomew that they must return to the village and alert the Elder’s of there strange findings. The sneak back into town and await dawn.
As they make their way to the elder’s tent Bartholomew’s elder brother stops them and tells them that killing the beast is only the first step and that to become men they must learn how to skin the beast. He will not take no for an answer and it takes the better part of the day to tan the leather but they have now mastered the craft of tanning.
Seeing as the elders have left for the day the boys decide to sneak back out later that night as well to bring back an even better hunt. Bartholomew ignores Katal’s warning and sneaks into the Elders’ hut and steals a hunting short sword and javelin to use. The quickly find the grove as the stone begins to heat up again. As the get back into position they are soon greeted with two feral pigs. The both jump down to start the attack and while Bartholomew’s javelin Katal makes quick work of them with his short sword. The hunters are very displeased that they have been bested by teenagers and after the theft of weapons the boys are brought to the elder. After explaining all that has happened and excluding the stone from the stories they are forbidden from entering the grove till the hunter’s have had time to examine it.
That night the hunting party comes back without finding the grove and accuse the boys of making up stories. At which both them retort that either the grove does exist or that they are much better than the hunters of the village and that they are free to believe which ever they wish. They are then told that to prove themselves as telling the truth they must return back to this “grove” and catch something even bigger than they have brought back or to not to come back at all. They are armed with short bows and other weapons and as they head out Bartholomew’s elder brother brings 4 master craft arrows to help the boys on the task. The return to the grove with what they know to believe the help of the stone and await in their spot. As they await they notice the pond is starting to bubble even more than usual, and after another minute they can see a creature starting to fade into existence that they never seen before. They start to attack it with their bows and as it gets nearer Katal draws his sword and kills the beast by himself. He lets out his war chant and bloods himself, at this point Bartholomew says that Katal never give him a chance to kill an beast and to not attack the next one so he can kill it himself. Katal starts to pack up this strange creature (kangroo) while a ram comes into form on the pond. As it comes to completion it charges at Katal who nearly misses and climbs a tree so Bartholomew can attempt to kill the beast. After three arrows Bartholomew is able to slay the beast as it tries to ram and shake Bartholomew out of his tree. As Katal is about ready to leave Bartholomew decides that he must see what is at the bottom of this bond so he ties his rope around a boulder and pushes said boulder into the pond whilst still holding the other end. This causes a huge gush of water and when the boulder hits the bottom it cracks the hole even further causing a whirlpool effect. Katal quickly ties a rope to the end of a tree and throws the other end in to his friend. Bartholomew is unable to hold onto it and gets sucked through. Katal then ties of the rope and dives into the pond to try to pull his friend out.
He finds himself landing on hot desert with his rope snapping a foot off from his ankle and a portal shutting from the world they were in. As they take a minute to gather themselves they notice that they are in a harsh desert where the sky seems to be on fire and the ground seems to flow almost like lava, and the only thing they can see in any direction is a tower. Bartholomew in rage of the curse the stone has put on him breaks it open to reveal a smaller blue stone that is cool to the touch. They begain their trek towards the tower when the notice out of the top flames seem to be shooting out like comits that land nearby. The heroes go towards the landing zone and notice that it is a bunch of young boys who are all burnt to a crisp. There is only one that is alive enough to tell them that they were taken by the mayor’s wife. The mayor’s wife of Monhuch arghhhh……. The hero’s not wishing to continue on, but force to due to lack of water keep heading toward the tower. As the get near the bridge they notice two guards whom seem to be on fire and okay with that fact. The guards start to appoarch and our heroes are so scared that they are pinned to the very spot. The guards reach out their hands to touch them which sends Bartholomew into flames which then seem to be sucked away into the blue stone. This act of agression snaps the hero’s out of their daze and Bartholomew tries to touch one of the creatures with the stone. As it touches the creature the flame is completely dissipated and the creature lets of an awful how. The still lit creature hits the creature and reignites its. Katal seeing these creatures are just flesh under then flame draws his sword and makes quick work of them and only sustains minimal damage while Bartholomew tries to hit them with the stone again. After the death of these guards Bartholomew makes quick work of chopping the bodies up to make pelts with at a later time.
They get into the chamber of the tower where there are two staircases leading up and at the center is a open book on a pedestal. Katal checks the area for any approaching guards. Bartholomew goes towards the book and as he touches it a rush of energy surges around him letting out a ravging sound alerting all the guards. As the clanking continues down the corridors, a portal rips open and Bartholomew stands gapping awkwardly at it. Katal picks him up and tosses him through the portal. He then goes to follow. As Katal reaches the portal he is pulled back by a she bitch on fire and the portal closes over the grove leaving Bartholomew by himself once more.
As he regains his bearings he notices that the pond is no longer bubbling as well as the recently killed game is nowhere in sight. He racks his brain for a few hours trying to come up with a way to save his friend that gave his life to save him. He stayed the night there in desperate hope that his faithful friend would find a way to reopen the portal. In the morning Bartholomew heads back to his viliiage only to discover soot flying through the air. He breaks into a run, but arrives to late everyone lay murdered and charred. His home and the homes of all the other villagers are spewed with singe marks and the smell of burnt flesh. As he looks around at the bodies he notices that his brother is unaccounted for as well as a single set of footprints leading off into the distance. He buries his friends bodies and takes some equipment that survived the fire and heads off into the footprints he hopes leads him towards his brother.

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Cry havok and let slip the...well, the demons

Our intrepid heroes emerge from their portal and find themselves face to face with Temnerel and a contingent of his elite guard. Roscoe told the demons to square off with them, not thinking of how this would block the view of the casters, and the battle ensued. The struggle was tense, and many of the party became gravely wounded, but slowly the guards began to fall to the demons spines. Gideon realized that if he could make his way into city hall he could restore the magic of the city and set things right. He dashed inside just as the mind controlled mob rounded the corner. Tezz was enchanted by the spell but Roscoe jams some earplugs in his ears to block the chant. The battle now hangs in the balance with the battered and bewitched party falling back towards city hall while Gideon rushes to restore himself to his rightful throne.

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Out of the frying pan, into the full-scale extra-planar invasion!

The party follows the smell of perfume towards Charmaine’s hideout. The follow it right into a net trap. Charmaine and her guard come out and trade quips with the group and cuts them down. They venture into the honeycomb hideout. The group tries to trade Tezz disguised as Mathew Sands for the scepter. Charmaine gives up the scepter and goes to hang Tezz over a pit on chains. The rest of the group goes to help him, but is distracted by all Charmaine’s things and begin stealing them. Gideon, who now knows himself to be the dwarven king, claims his throne while Elena loots jewelry boxes. Tezz slips his chains and turns invisible, easily escaping his captors. Gideon levitates the throne and flys it into the room. The guards try to pull it to the ground, and Gideon stops levitating it to help them…to help them DIE!!! The guards are crushed, and Charmaine leaps into the seat. Gideon, who was invisible, slipped out of the throne to avoid being sat upon, and the guards bristled as the rest of the group burst into the room. Tezz notices the commotion and stays to see what happens.

The guards briefly engage the group before jumping onto the chain rigging attached to the ceiling and spanning a chasm, in one of the worst tactical decisions ever made. Roscoe starts shooting them in the feet, and Tezz turns on the mechanism controlling the chains, throwing many of them to their deaths in the pit below. Charmaine swings to safety on a catwalk and is quickly subdued by Elena in hot monk-on-hooker action. They put a belt on her that makes her took sluttier, and then take it off. She takes them into another room after agreeing not to struggle, and offers them mangos. Everyone but Roscoe, who is suspicions of them, eats and is restored. They leave Charmaine in the lurch, trusting she has learned not to cross them, and load the throne onto the chains and board it to ride it down to the throne room they found near the energy pulse. They cling to the throne and make it safely to the platform. When they move the throne into place 2 portals open up. Gideon, the king, knows one goes to the star map room, but not where the other one goes. They all plow thru it and find themselves in the bank tower in front of a demon bird.

They figure that the bird is the half-son of Glitterbottom, and is totes insane. He was driven mad by the energy of the city, which was pulsing up from below. Roscoe tried to calm him down and find information about what went on here, but it was animalistic and couldnt tell much. Elena called their attention to the window and they saw a large mob gathering below around criers and mango carts. Gideon notices slots on the wall and knows them to correspond to the items of the seven sorcerers. He inserts his scepter into its slot and is activated as the dwarven sorcerer and king. The bird goes berzerk. Roscoe hears Bartholomew coming up the stairs and informs the group he’s coming. he tries to free the bird, but the shackles are magic and shock him. Not feeling up to strength to fight Bart, the group jumps back thru the portal and closes it by moving the throne. Roscoe remembers Logi telling them that the socerers moved here originally by using the stars to find a fount of extra-dimensional power and built the temple and town on it. They suspected that the portal was connected to the realm of fire. This turned out to be true. They realize the Glitterbottom’s son was Zoraida’s gateway into the world.

After a power-nap the group reopens the portals and is ready to go back to the tower when Mathew Sands steps out of the star room portal. Elena pounces on him and they tumble back thru the portal. the group follows and find Mathew has subdued Elena and is trying to explain that he stole her ring and left her at the altar because he really, really loved her. Really. Roscoe and Mathew argue about who’s the bigger douchebag between them. Mathew says that Elena and Tezz are also members of the seven sorcerers, and that they only need to reawaken their power. Eventually they all agree to go back to the tower.

When they step back thru the portal, they find the tower in shambles. The Magic of the realm of fire is pouring out from the blasted tower, which is breaking apart. Everyone dashes downstairs to try and get the bank cube to awaken Tezz. Unfortunately they are caught in the crumbling building. While trying to climb down the side, Gideon, Elena, Yertle and Mathew fall. Some catching tries to happen but fails. Gideon and Roscoe fall into the magic overflow and find themselves on an alter in the realm of fire, which is having its life-force drained from it, surrounded by a demon army. When they see Roscoe they cry out and charge the portal. Gideon and Roscoe, rightly startled, stumble back thru the portal into the star room followed by the fire guys. Gideon realizes he can control the magic of the city and create and control portals at Will. He opens a portal under Mathew and Elena, saving them, and also Tezz, who nearly got caught by the mob control spell cast by the gnome workers revolt instigated by Bart. Now everyone was in the star room with all those confused demons, who were looking to Roscoe for commands, thinking him to be a general or something. He convinces them that they are to attack the arena and city hall while the party goes in to kidnap the mayor for ransom. The demons seem pumped about this, just ready in general to kick anyones ass. King Gideon II opens a portal to city hall and the troop moves thru. They are confronted by Temnerel in full battle regalia and guard in tow. Both sides square off for an epic confrontation…sunday, SUNdaym SUNDAY AT THE MOTODROME!!!

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Return of the King

Staring down the elite guard, the party deliberated. Should they take him along with them and probably get him killed, or stay true to their word and release him to do who knows what. Eventually, they decided to trust him to inform them the next time Bartholomew sent for them.

Sensing now that Bartholomew was after the seven artifacts as well, the party made a bee-line for Gideon’s parent’s house, and the cave that was marked on the map there. The party discovered the family unscathed, but Gideon’s parents reported that there had been a strange blonde fellow claiming to know the party who had made camp on the property recently. Sensing that this person could only be Bartholemew, Gideon sent his parents to the inn near Monhutch as a safety precaution, and the party headed to Gideon’s cave to investigate.

At the mouth of the cave, some simple investigation revealed that someone had been there recently, and had made efforts to hide their tracks. Leaving Yurtle behind, the party made their way over a series of tripwires into the cave below. Something had clearly happened here, and a new room had been opened up. Upon entering the cave, Elena grew anxious, and this room only worsened her reaction – she dashed back to the mouth of the cave, where Ivanoff intercepted her so the rest of the party could investigate.

In the mysterious room, they found an old jewelry box, now empty, and a smashed mirror. After mending the mirror with a spell revealed a portal similar to the ones the party had seen in the strange starlight catacombs leading to the ilhopa prison. With nowhere else to go, the party headed through the portal, though Elena passed out, and a band on her finger where her ring would sit started to burn and glow.

On the other side of the portal, the party saw that the face of the merfolk sorcerer had still not been revealed. Presumably, the sorcerer’s item must be returned to the pedestal in the temple in order to reveal their identity. Sensing that their only options were to head through the merfolk portal – which very likely opened up under water, or into the chamber of objects that the medallion came from, the party headed into the treasure room.

Inside the room, Elena came to, and the party preceded to question her about her history, only to discover that she has a huge chunk of missing memory around the time that her ring went missing. The room itself prompted much investigation (ahem), but yielded little information. The only thing of note was that, without realizing it, Tezz seemed to grow in strength while in this room.

The party opened a portcullis and, thanks to Roscoe’s dungeoneering skills, headed towards the direction of the Dwarven graveyard. Proceeding into a room with a huge chasm, the party did some math and aimed a grappling gun at the perfect spot to reach a secret chamber. Of course, none of this helped the bumbling fumbling Tezz, who couldn’t climb the rope even in animal form. He read ancient Dwarven love letters while everyone else explored further. The love letter told him that the scepter was the key to the lineage, which he filed away in his bank of things that sound important but don’t make any sense at all.

Meanwhile the rest of the party found an awesome throne with a crown and robe that Gideon donned. Suddenly, he felt much fancier, and started acting all high and mighty. Putting 2 and 2 together, the party realized that this was part of a matching set, and they needed to find the scepter in order to complete the ensemble. They headed back to the throne of the lich king, only to find that the scepter had gone missing.

Only one person knows the location of that throne room. The party takes off Gideon’s fancy new hat and cape and sets off to find Charmaigne.

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Fireballs, Falling Walls, Succubus Bitches and Guard Snitches

The smell of burning flesh fills the air as Tezzes fireball careens into a group of the guards advancing from the arena upon the group. Ivan fires on a guard advancing from the north carrying one side of a vat of oil. The musket ball shatters his shin bone, and he goes down, spilling the oil everywhere. A bolt flies from Gladus, Roscoe’s crossbow, and pins the wounded guards lifeless body to the stone floor. Wishing to end the conflict without further bloodshed of the basically innocent town guard, Elena dashes to the fore and executes a powerful kiai. The ferocity of her cry causes the remaining guards to turn tail and run.

“I didn’t sign up for this!!” The retreating guards lament.

Roscoe urges them not to go thru the alchemy room, so the group moves north after the guards. They emerge into the arena to look for Grok, but are greeted by a hail of flaming arrows. Ivan smiles at the wisdom of using scouts as he sees Roscoe, Gideon and Tezz struck by the projectiles. They quickly dart back into the hallway and proceed up to the level of the arena sky-boxes, where Grok is purportedly being held. Ivan, who knows the best way to sneak around something is to kill it, busts down the door of the nearest sky-box, startling an angelic Deva. The Deva jumps and accidentally looses a flaming arrow into the stands of the arena. This plus the bonfire of bodies combine to cause the arena to finally catch fire. Ivan charges into melee range and attemts to pound the angel into submission. His attacks, to his own surprise are rebuffed.

“Join our party they said. Punch to the right they said. I’d rather be treasure hunting!” He mutters under his breath.

The Deva, not having noticed the rest of the group, is attacked and subdued ultimately by Yertle.

“Do you yield?” Gideon asks the planar being, who he knows to typically be aligned with good. The deva casts a sympathetic gaze at Roscoe, then pulls out his mace and with a terrifying savagery and ferocity drives it into it’s own head. It’s skull shatters with a bone-chilling crack. All who witness it are shocked at the sight they have just beheld. Roscoe, puzzling at the creatures last look at him, feels drawn to take one of it’s morning stars with him.

The group manages to avoid the other devas detection as they make their way to the center box where they see Grok and a winged figure. The Arena below them burns. Roscoe recognizes this to be Zoraida, his mother, in her true succubus form. She regards the group then looks at Grok, who is bound with his neck in a noose hung from a gallow. She laughs and kicks him from the platform. Lightning quick the group reacts. Gideon levitates Grok to stop hi fall, while Roscoe pulls off a miraculous shot and severs the noose. Gideon settles him safely in the box, and Roscoe moves to untie him. Yertle charges in, shoving Ivan aside, and tries to knock Zoraida to the ground to disrupt the spell she begins to cast. Failing this, the full force of the spell is unleashed. Roscoe manages to twist out of the way of the blast, but a hellish fireball scorches Ivan, Yertle, and Grok.

“The choice it yours.” She says to Roscoe, and takes to the air.

“It doesn’t have to be this way!” He calls back.

“Yes it does!” Ivan retorts. “You burn me, I break you…bitch!”

Beams crack and the building rocks as the fire surrounding them begin to degrade the integrity of the building. Pulling Grok to his feet the party dashes across the suspended bridges joining the sky-boxes. Elena and Grok’s feet find a weak spot in the floor and they fall, dangling over the flame. Ivan, made large by Tezz’s magic, turns back and takes one of them in each hand, hoisting them back to safety. Tezz himself runs ahead, to find a clear path. He warns the rest about a tongue of fire licking thru the wall, and all make it thru the room. Just as they near the exit some beams fall from the ceiling, separating Ivan, Grok, and Gideon from The rest of the group. Elena runs to prepare the boat for their escape, while Roscoe searches the exterior for another exit for the companions. He finds one and calls out to them. Ivan’s keen ears make out his cry over the cacophony around him, and leads the group towards it. But as they run to the exit the stairs around them give way. With preternatural speed Gideon casts a spell to strengthen the stairs beneath their feet and keep them from harm, but the way ahead is impassable. Roscoe circles the building and quickly finds an alternate route, and once again Ivan zeros in on his voice with ease. But as he ushers the others towards the new path, a support column breaks away from the wall and topples towards him. Gideon sees this and tried yanking him to safety. Ivan is more than a little singed, but still standing. Grok is staggering, barely able to stand, and Gideon is himself limping as they try to navigate the final smoke-filled tunnel to freedom. Ivan and Gideon emerge, but Grok stumbles and loses his way. Roscoe grits his teeth, and charges new horns first into the breech to find Grok. The acrid smoke fills his newly awakened sent glands, but he hears Grok hacking in the fumes. Pulling him to his feet and slinging Groks arm over his shoulder, Roscoe guides him out of danger. They all stumble into the boat and Elena begins to row them to safety.

Gideon recommends that, since the city will no doubt be even more hot for their capture now, that they venture to his native swamps to hide and regroup. They manage to avoid detection by the patrolling guards, but are seen by many merfolk, who seem curious about the party and the demolition of the arena. Not being able to communicate better, Gideon pantomimes that ‘the arena blew up and we’re running away.’ Truer words were never gestured.

Once in the swamp, Gideon navigated them to a group of healers. There they all spent a few days healing Grok and recuperating themselves, before heading back towards Ilhopa. They did not, however, think to question their friend Grok, whom they had gone to great lengths to rescue, about the nature of his capture or what else he might have known. * trumpet ’whaa-whaa-whaa" sounds *

As they near the edge of a clearing close to the river of oil, Ivan sees a group of figures pouring a mysterious substance into it. He alerts the team of this, and that a weaselly man with blond hair and mage’s robes. Tess recognizes this as the description of Bartholomew and bursts out of the brush. Bart sees that their jig is up and beings to repudiate his lackeys, pushing one into the oil they were treating. The guard plunges into the flow and begins to disintegrate. Bart and his group retreat to their mule drawn carriage and try to flee the scene, but the party breaks into a run to give chase. Tezz leaps into the air in mid stride and transforms into a hawk, taking wing and darting ahead of the carriage, hoping to set an ambush. But as he is setting caltrops in the road and congratulating himself on his cleverness, Ivan has sprinted ahead of his quarry and forded the river, and slaughters their mule. He then somersaults onto the carriage top with the four remaining guards and calls a shout of challenge to them all. They attempt to attack him, but he parries them expertly, while one drops his weapon in the confusion. Roscoe takes a few shots and then fords the river to lend aid, but he notices something in the reeds scurrying off. he tries to track it down, but to no avail. Gideon and Yertle levitate and swim across respectively and run to the fray. Gideon enlarges Yertle, who moves around the cart and drives it towards the tainted river of oil. Elena, who was the slowest to react, managed to jump onto the carriage, looking for Bart and seeing a chest instead. She dives thru, nabbing the chest before the cart sinks into the sludge. Ivan manages to deliver a parting shot to a guard before he back-flips off the cart, landing neatly in the reeds. Two of the guards leap clear, but one catches his hand trying to claim his weapon and loses his life, melted in the toxic oil. The weaker of the remaining guards is dispatched, and the last is subdued by Ivan, Roscoe and Elena just as Tezz returns, panting and wondering why his clever ambush was ruined!

“What were you doing to the river?” Roscoe barks.

“Nothing!” cries a flustered Tezz.

“Not you!” Roscoe grimaces. Tezz flicks his tail up to him indignantly, and and turns, eyeing the new chest they have acquired. As the others are interrogating their captive, he deftly pops the lock and opens the chest, seeing a delicately carved statue of a merfolk.

Roscoe grills the captured guard about his orders. He says he is a member of the elite guard for Bartholomew and they were trying to break the protection of the city to allow them to attack the merfolk by poisoning the rivers. He tells them that his orders arrive by pidgeon at 2am in their homes. He lies and tries to convince the group that the message only comes if he lives, but Roscoe’s goggles of sense motive show this to be false. The house lights fade on the group, puzzling over their next move…

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Chapter 10: Wherein Nothing is Exactly as it Seems

Regrouping in their room at the Morning Star Tavern, the party begins planning their infiltration into the bank tower. They reason that if they have more of the magic items that diffuse the power of the city then they will be able to beat the magical protection of the vault. Gideon, being the only member of the party not currently wanted for mass-murder, ventures into the bar to glean more information about the catacombs or whereabouts of the other items. He learns that Grok has purportedly been captured and set for execution at noon tomorrow. The bartender feels it is a trap. He also directs Gideons attention to another traveler seeking fortune. This is how he meets Ivan, a half-orc treasure hunter, who is also following rumor and intuition about the powerful magical items. They agree to share information with eachother, and Ivan is brought back to the suite.

When Gideon tells the group of what he learned, they agree that trap or not, they are not willing to let their former compatriot be killed for a crime he didnt commit. Also they dont want Temnerel and Bartholomew to see completion of their plans. They decide to forestall their bank heist plans in lue of performing a jail break. They decide that the most expedient way to get out of the city undetected is to go thru the magic jail and the starry holding cell of the city for those who attack protected races. They stand in a circle and punch to the right.

When they are teleported to the starry field, they see that things are different. The halfling face is no longer laughing, and in fact no longer has a face! He is marred by acid burns, and there is a portal underneath the constellation. The group discerns that the stars represent a map of the city with Ivans help, and take time to create a map of both the constellations and of the city itself. They also reason that, since stars to not usually connote to terrestrial locations, that there must be powerful planar magic involved. Not wanting to risk being transported to some unfamiliar place, they drop on the southern end of town as planned.

They go to the fishery with the hopes of finding transportation to the Arena where Grok is being held. When they reach the piers they see a shadowy group moving cargo out of a dingy. Tezz hails them and they run off. Some of the group gives chase, but the runners deploy a smoke bomb to cover their escape into the dwarven graveyard. Abandoning pursuit, the group looks to see what they were carrying. It is a merfolk, badly injured. They get him to the water and dress his wounds, and tho they dont speak the same language the convey their need to get to the Arena. The merman obliges, and leads them to a secret entrance in the back. They enter the sewers, getting the general layout of the arena, and decide to send Tezz, under cover of invisiblity, to scout the area. He gets the lay of the land, sniaking past 2 sleeping guards, and investigates the building. he finds on one side of the arena a guard station and empty holding cells for combatants. On the other side he hears the sounds of someone doing alchemical work. Not wanting to get too close before his spell wears off he returns to the group, who then decide to let Roscoe sneak up and get a better look. As he approaches the alchemy room he puts on his glasses of sense motive. He sees a woman whose alignment is chaotic/evil. She instantly notices him and regards him with a smile.

“Welcome, son!’

She tells Roscoe, among other things, that she is a being of the Plane of Fire. She also tells him that he is the first of her progeny with beings of this plane, and that she plans on invading this plane and conquer it in retaliation against the seven sorcerers for using the power of their plane to fuel their magic. She tells him that McDonnel is in fact the daughter of Logi that Roscoe is seeking, and tries to persuade Roscoe to join her. Unable to overcome his resentment towards her for abandoning him, and feeling stronger connections to the memory of his father and the lands that have supported him, Roscoe tells her to sit on it and spin. She warns him that opposing her with incur her wrath, but agrees not to impede him now. She tells Roscoe that Grok is being held at the top of the tower in the arena. Roscoe bids her adieu, and returns to the group.

The group reacts strongly to the fact that Roscoe has turned into a Tiefling. He reassures the group that his intentions have not changed, tho he now has huge horns and glowing red eyes. They emerge from the sewer and promptly woke up the sleeping guards and began combat. They seal off some of the chambers to stem the tide of guards, and Tezz roasts a group carrying boiling oil, meant to be the end of the party. They find themselves in the heat of battle…

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Escape via Rhino
In which the heroes learn of secret groves and return to Ilhopa
Rescued by Logi Gicalsci, the heroes are taken to Logi’s secret grove, unfindable by any he does not wish to grant access to. The heroes are allowed to sleep and rest up, and then Logi informs the heroes that he feels his daughter is actually within Ilhopa. Roscoe, of course, is drawn to go to Ilhopa and discover her whereabouts. Tezz dreams of revenge against Bartholomew. Gideon is visited by his Eidelon and is told to visit the bank tower. Elena, well, she doesn’t comment much. But for dinner, everyone eats an apple from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and everyone gains a knowledge skill check.

The rest of the party reasons that returning to Ilhopa might help them recover the egg of the Azata, thus securing her aid in the temple of the Seven Sorcerers, (and also restoring the purity of the water in the River of Life, which is currently still badly tainted).
Logi gives the party members each a potion of Disguise Self, and rides with them via Rhino back to Ilhopa. On the way, Gideon passes his parents and dutifully waves. Logi drops the heroes off near the south gate to the city, and disappears with his giant rhino.
The party disguises themselves by various means and manages to sneak in undetected. They visit the North Star Pub and haggle with the bartender to give them a safe place to stay. The bartender wishes to see the amulet that killed Cotton Goodbody, and wishes to destroy the amulet. The heroes convince him otherwise. Tezz negotiates the exchange of a single ruby for one week’s stay for the party. The bartender removes an in coitus couple from the master suite, and gives the party the room. He warns the heroes that anything they say in the room might possibly be overheard, and secrets travel fast in a brothel.
Upon investigation of their room, the heroes discover that there are three secret compartments in the room, as well as access to an attic area that connects all of the bedrooms. In the chamber beneath the floor, the heroes discover a shredded note in Dwarven, but are unable to interpret it more than “Silver Hand.”
Roscoe disguises himself as a noble cousin of Polo Osborne and goes to the bar to see if he can gain information on the bank tower. Wearing the sword of Polo Osborne seems to help a lot, and some local bank workers agree to give Roscoe a tour of the bank in a few hours.
Meanwhile, Tezz visits some magic shops to procure ingredients for future disguise attempts, only to run into Bartholomew, who is very upset that some of his orders are not there in time. It seems he needs materials to do some things with an egg. A few attempts are made to tail Bartholomew, but to no avail.
Roscoe visits the bank and successfully gains access to Polo Osborne’s account. He discovers that Polo Osborne’s security stone is actually embedded into his sword, and if he can endure the pain screaming in his ears, he can always access the account. He withdraws 5,000 gp for the party to use. But he discovers that access to the tower is guarded with much magical security, which would surely see through his disguise.
Gideon and Elena visit the Monastery to talk to the father of the late Fumbles and bear the bad news. Dribbles is devastated, but tells Gideon what he can about the Bank tower. Romirac Glitterbottom was a known philanderer, and at the time was guardian of the King’s Treasury, which is now the bank. The Tengu have guarded over that location since the founding of the city. One night, Romirac took a lover in the tower. There was a gigantic explosion and Romirac was very wounded. Shorty after, Romirac had an illegitimate child that seemed to be very mentally unstable, and never left the tower. Also shortly afterwards, the monarchy fell. Somehow, Romirac was not brought down with the fall of the monarchy, but the new mayor appointed him head of Ilhopa Bank, which he has served as ever since.
Lastly, Dribbles revealed that the magic that protects the tower is the magic that protects the city.
The heroes then resolved to find the other six amulets, so they might have power over the city.

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Dungeons...er, Hedgemazes and Dragons!

The party investigates the fountain room south of the Azata’s chamber and discovers it to be a healing fountain (resembling a baptismal font). Elena realizes what she thought was her ring on Mathew’s arm was a fake. They drink and take a few vials, then return to the swamp, with the intent to explore the temple a bit more before they leave to find the egg. Returning to the swamp Roscoe decides to investigate the huts. He and Gideon cross without incident. They find silk cocoons left by the ants, and when they open them they find the Osborne noble family from before, Polo Osborn minus one arm. As Tezz tried to edge around the room on vines he falls into the water with a splash. This rouses an aboleth, and battle ensues. The beast is slain, but Tezz is affected by its poison and begins to turn into a fish. He bolts for the healing waters of the fountain, which restore his birdliness. Since the swamp is safe the nobles are brought across the water and restored in the fountain. The daughter is the first to wake and runs screaming into the hedgemaze, with NO provocation from ANY member of the party… Norman and Norma-Gene argue about where they are, whose fault it is, and what to do about their missing daughter. The party leaves them and returns to the swamp chamber to explore more.

They go to the door on the northern side of the swamp and force it open. Inside are busts representing each of the protected races in Ilhopa. Fumbles takes an amulet from the halfling statue. Suddenly the building trembles, and the party decides to cheese it! In the swamp room again they see that a dragon looms above. They try to take refuge in the ant tunnels, but find that the vines have grown over it and they cant pass. So they beat feet back to the Azata chamber, where she tells the group that the dragon is the guardian of the river of oil and the observatory. She says he has been corrupted in some way, and the manticore in the aviary over the river of salt has been subdued somehow. She knows little more. The party regroups in the fountain room. Some water breathing potions are made from the mucus of the aboleth and Roscoe and Gideon drink some and travel thru a trap door in the bottom of the fountain. They find a strong current drags them under.

Below they find themselves in a huge aquarium tank, with hatches and glass walls, with an observation walkway wrapping around. Swimming to the east they make their way into another aquarium tank adjacent to yet another tank. The adjacent tank seems to be full of activity and life, and at least one aboleth. They reason that this is directly below the Azata’s chamber. Not wanting to delve too deep or leave the party behind, they decide to return to the fountain. Gideon manages to beat the current, but roscoe is trapped and must be dragged out with rope. Once he is rescued, the party decides to search for Bartholomew and the egg. They proceed out of the temple towards the hedge.

Outside they are greeted by the Osborns, still arguing. They offer to pay the group to rescue their daughter, and after the group surveys the hedgemaze to determine both the path thru and the location of the girl, they venture forth. Before long they encounter a group of hellhounds. The beasts prove no match for the group, however and are dispatched and one is cleaned and skinned by Roscoe. They continue on to where the girl was and find her pacing in front of a great tree. Roscoe instantly falls into a trance and cobras descend from the branches, moving to attack the group. The snakes disappear into the grass and proceed to stealth out the team who thrash the weeds to find them. Tezz attacks the tree itself and it emits a piercing blue light into the heavens. A great stirring is felt. Then Tezz eats one of the apples and discovers it to be a tree of knowledge of good and evil. The party continues to fight the snakes, Tezz finds a pair of goggles in a chest nearby, and the Dragon appears on the horizon. just as the dragon swoops down to the group, Logi “I’m A Jerk-Face But I’ll Save Your Bacon” Gicalsci crashes thru the verge on a giant Fuck-Off rhino and shouts at the party to get on. Fumbles is swept up in a moment of overwhelming courage and sacrifice and begins to sing to the great wurm in an attempt to charm it and buy the group time. All but him move to mount the rhino as the dragon dispatches with the snakes and slams Fumbles into the tree with a single swipe. It moves in for the kill, taking Fumbles up in its mighty jaws With his last breath Fumbles shouts “Catch!” (in terran) and tosses the magic amulet to his compatriots. They catch it and retreat from the horror astride the rhino, Fumbles Dirge still resounding in their ears.

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swamp ants

The party gets away from the vines (for the most part) and scatters the ants in the center of the room. Rather than clearing the entirety of the plants, they continue through the center hallway, escaping.

Following the map, they come to a clearing with a swamp in the middle, and some recently abandoned buildings on the other side. Gideon levitates fumbles across the swamp to see what is over there, but fumbles critically fails his perception check, and reports that there is nothing over there.

Just as the party is about to move on, Roscoe notices a hand emerging from the swamp. Closer inspection reveals that the hand is that of Matthew Sands, and that a magic ring sits on his finger. With the help of a fishing line and a magic spell, they get the ring off of the finger. After some squabbling over possession, the party agrees to let Elena hold it for the time being. The ring seems to have some sort of charisma enhancing abilities.

the characters find two locked doors on the left side of the chamber and find a way to get through the southern door, where they see an Azata – a snake looking lady. While the party is trying to decide what to do, Tezz yells out a cheerful greeting to the beast, who analyzes us all to find out why we are there.

Gideon and Tezz are interested in the tainted river, so the Azata agrees to talk to them, while Fumbles intentions are less honorable, and Roscoe and Elena are interested in the mystery of the disappearing girl.

The Azata reveals that her temple has recently been raided, and her eggs stolen. In addition, there seems to be some sort of problem in the other towers, lorded over by a draconic beast and a manticore. The draconic creature at least seems to be tainted in some way.

The Azata agrees to help the party in exchange for their aid in retrieving the egg. She also reveals that she does not trust Roscoe due to his “tainted blood.” She knows nothing about the sorcerers or the disappearance of the girl.

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