The Evengate

Session 14
Crystals and Trolls

The tiny purple flame flickered and danced on its wick. The light shone out and warmed the tall crystal, magically balanced on its long point. The grim mercenaries cleaned their blades and watched the shadows cast against the wall.

“Is there some kind of pattern?” asked the half-orc.

“We’ll need some scholars here, no doubt,” muttered the dwarf.

Laden, the halfling, crept closer to the design. “These motes here, I know these,” with a tiny finger, he traced a pattern between dots, “This is the Belt of Skrim. And here, The Sleeping Beast, and The Otus Dagger. These are constellations. This is a map of the cosmos. We can use this,” the little sorcerer ran over to fiddle with the crystal’s focusing plate.

“Hey now, don’t touch it. You don’t know what it’ll… I mean,” the drunk elf leaned against a nearby desk, “That could do anything in here. This whole place is weird magic,”

Just then, a menacing scream from below.

“The hell was that!?!” the barbarian whispered as he drew steel.

“Oh that’s just the trolls downstairs,” nodded the half-orc, “It’s even weirder, trust me. You don’t want to know,”

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Session 13
The Pocket Tropic

The elf, slinking low, skirting the hedgerow, hurried back to the party. The intrepid adventurers huddled just past the gates of a large mansion.

The halfling spoke first, “Were they in there? Did you see the loot?”

“Oh they were in there,” Kellion replied, “I didn’t see any of the shit, but it was definately them,”

Augh scanned the estate grounds, plotting various entrances, “So should we just bust in? Mop ’em up?”

Kellion spit on the ground, “Well there’s a problem with that,”

“Oh yeah?”

“Maybe not a problem, just a goddamn complication. They’ve got a giant upstairs,”

Brok sneered, “Pfft, how big?”

“Big, alright. Big enough,” Kellion fished out a hip flask and took a hard pull off some cheap gin, “He was up there moping around on a bed twiddling his thumbs,”

“Did he, uhh,” the halfling thought aloud, “did he have a big, crooked nose and a few bald patches on the side of his head?”

“Yep, an’ looks stupider than dirt,”

“Oh, that’s him,” assured the halfling.

“Really? Same giant from the castle?” asked Augh.

“Gotta be,”

Augh stood up and glanced over at a second story window, “Well crap. You all wait here. I’ll go have a chat with him,”

As the orc crept off to the mansion, the little minotaur carefully watched the windows for movement, “So, when do you think we’ll have to rush in there?”

The dwarf scratched his chin, picking a few stones and clumps of mud out of his beard, “That giant’ll start kicking out walls and shouting. If the whole place doesn’t fall down, we charge in,”

“That was a joke, right?” brayed Dulan, “He was telling a joke. The building won’t collapse, right?”

From the building beyond, a great voice boomed, “OKAY NEW BEST FRIEND, LET’S GO!” Along with a loud crash and a cloud of billowing dust as the giant crashed about.

Torr tilted his helmet and started jogging to the mansion, “Dwarves don’t joke about giants, minotaur,”

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Session 12
A Plan Comes Together

“Does this hurt?”

“Not really,” the half orc watched the deva’s careful needlework, “Not compared to earlier,”

“The stitching is really just for show. The ritual should hold it on. Can you move any fingers yet?”

The orc tested his hand, flicking one digit after another. “Yeah, though no feeling yet,”

“Yeah, about that… This hand looks mostly dead. I don’t think you’ll be seeing much color in it,”

“Dead? Will it rot?”

“Hmm,” the Smile muttered, “We’ll have to see. No shortage of hands these days. If you need a new one, I’ll scare one up,”

“Alright, thanks. Do I owe you anything?”

“Oh, just a story, really. I want to hear how this happened,”

“You know that big, fat shifter who moved himself into the Baron’s castle?”

The deva chuckled, “The one with all the floating bears?”

“Yeah,” muttered Augh, “I told him what’s what,”

“You were mouthing off to a guy with a bunch of magic bears?”

“And his army,”

The Smile whistled, “And his army. I’m amazed that he could even find your hand to chop it off. He must’ve needed a search party to locate it in the shadow of your titanic balls,”

The orc ignored the comment, testing his new hand, plucking a dagger from his sleeve and twirling it around.

“So,” the deva continued, "What do you plan now?

“What else?” the orc flipped his knife over and over, stashing back into one of the many concealed folds in his cloak. “Revenge,” his eyes flashed with excitement at such a dangerous word.

“Hardly a rational response, given previous circumstances,” mused the Smile, “But then, if you were even remotely rational, I wouldn’t be quite so fond of you. Any thoughts on strategy?”

“We have some people on the inside. We’re going to catch him with his pants down,”

“Hmm, sounds stupid, like children boasting about murdering dragons,” the deva stood to pour two more glasses of wine. “Whatever happens, try not to die,” He offered a glass to the orc and said, “I really want to hear how this one ends,”

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Session 11
Prison Break!

Two trunks stacked in the center of the tent formed a makeshift table. The grim faced captain surveyed a stack of maps, making careful notes, drawing hard lines with a length of wrapped charcoal. A lietenant escorted a few visitors inside. The dwarf knight, the goliath savage, the tiny minotaur, and the halfling nobleman all shuffled in. Normally so proud and eager, in the presence of the captain, they squirmed uncomfortably like children in trouble.

“Yes, what is it?” barked the old soldier.

“We’ve come to discuss the invasion,” the halfling offered.

“If you have intel, spit it out already,” He glanced toward the hulking tribesman, “Your kin might be scaling the wall right now,”

“Yes, they might well be,” the goliath fumbled through his thick head for words, “Thing is, the invasion, you might want to let it happen,”

Ecklan stopped and looked up slowly. The four friends nearly turned green, hands creeping to hilts defensively.

“What he means is, uhh,” the dwarf volunteered, “Your strength would be wasted on the wall. The king would be better served with a cunning hand among the occupied peoples. A saboteur. your specialty,”

The captain watched the four of them, considering. “No, it’s foolishness,” he finhally stated.

“Please,” said Laden, the halfling, “Think of the battle ahead. Their number knows no limit. Your hundred blades would fail,”

“The pass is a narrow squeeze. My hundred would fight only ten, then ten again, then another ten. We’d tear them apart with their own bellies. The savages have no way to feed such an army, no supply lines. They plan to feed their troops on spoils. A few days trapped in the pass, and the whole horde will fall apart,”

“Oh man, he’s ri-i-ight,” worried Dulan.

“No, sir, you can’t win. I’ve seen the armies with my spirit eyes. They have monsters at their call, beasts. They’d fly above and overwhelm. Your men should hold away in the city,” spoke the goliath.

“My men know their trade. This is not my first harvest, savage. I’ve tricks for fliers and diggers alike. Ghosts too, if they send them. I’ll lob their fearsome, monsterous heads back among the barbarians and watch the fear tear their ranks asunder. We hold them here,”

“I agree-ee-ee with him. We should do what he says,” the minotaur fretted.

“But the risks, sir,” the halfling said, “Think of the gamble, keeping yourself on the line like that. Let your men hold the wall while you stay within the city, preparing the defence. Cover yourself carefully. The king would want you to live and serve Ghal best,”

“Hmm, remove a few soldiers and retreat into the city?”

“Think of it like a fallback bullwark,” the halfling’s slippery, silver tongue at work.

The captain held them there for a long moment with his steely eyes, searching them. “I’ll think on it. Good day,” he dismissed them and returned to his maps.

Meanwhile, deep beneath the city streets, in the bowels of Penny Basement, the ferocious General Redstick hung in shame and shackles against the damp earthen walls. Something was happening in the prison. The usual chorus of cowards and their wailing has been replaced. Now there is only screams of pain and rage. The stink of blood, the sound of sliced flesh. The prison was coming alive with violence.

The general was pleased, death and blood, it smelled like home.

There were warriors outside his cell. No, wait, they were not warriors. They were southerners, cowards. They smiled at him, offering freedom. They had little tools to open the shackles. He looked at their proud little smiles. The southern peoples, always so happy to give gifts to their enemies. They wrap their poison pills in gold and ribbon. They seem so sure of themselves, freeing the general. “Courtesy of the Thunderpeaks,” one has the gall to say. They use that honorable name to cloak their treachery, their greedy smiles.

The general ignores their profanity. He waits and lets them free his shackles. Hands free, he summons the spirits to his side. For a moment, he considers wiping the fools away, stomping down their simpering hopes. They can’t wait to free him from this prison to build him inside a larger one. Such is the way of the southern cowards.

But no, he smiles at them and nods, then leads his spirit army off and out to the wall and his troops beyond.

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Session 10
The Party

Sometime around three in the morning Tor, huffing and puffing, finally arrived at the brothel. He leaned against the old, crumbling wall and fought to catch his breath. His pale hands trembled against the haft of his axe, but he refused to sling it across his back. Looking over the broken cobbles of the street, he recognized Zuke standing quietly by the door, his cloak pulled tight against the bitter, morning chill, his hood drawn low over his face.

“Ho there, human. Is it safe?”

Without turning, the invoker replied, “Were you followed?”

“Had a bit of a scare, but no, drove the bastard off,” returned the dwarf.

“Then we are safe,”

Tor nodded and waved at the shadows. Two figures cautiously crept out. The Baron and his chamberlain rushed the brothel and shut themselves inside.

“Well that’s over then,” said Tor, scratching at the spittle frozen to his beard.

“Quite a night,” agreed Zuke, still looking away, down the street.

“You hear that? Squeaking or something…”

“I’m sure it’s nothing,”

The dwarf finally slung his axe, “Hope none of them rats are around. Little beasts give me shivers, always going on about sugar and such,”

Zuke said nothing. The wind picked up for a moment, ruffling his cloak.

The dwarf continued, “Long night, anyway. Crazy party,” he mused while kicking some of the clotted mud from his boots, “Not even sure what happened. D’you know if the orc went off and did what the halfling asked?”

Zuke nodded.

Tor exhaled, grinding his teeth anxiously, “Dark business there,” he hesitated with a question, not particularly wanting to know the answer, “So the, uhh, whole family then?”

“Gutted and left to burn,”

“Ach,” Tor winced. He dug through his pockets for a strip of blackroot to chew. There was something comforting about the old, bitter taste of blackroot between the teeth. The dwarf wiped at his runny nose and thought for a moment, “How did the priest take the news?”

“Not well,” was Zuke’s simple reply.

“Not well, eh? What does that mean? Where is he now?” the dwarf prodded.

Zuke said nothing.

“Yeah. I can see that. Dark business it was. Dark,” the words did little to ease his troubled mind, but the silence made Tor just as uncomfortable. He spoke up again, “So what about you then, anything happen after the party?”

“It’s been a busy night. I’ve been busy down in the tunnels,”

“Oh yeah? Have fun with the rats?”

“I’ve seen quite a many strange things tonight. About myself. About the world,”

“Ha! You’re getting all cryptic. You’ve been hanging out with that Smile fellow?”

Zuke turned to his companion, “Tonight, Zuke the man has died. In his flesh now rises Zuke the god,”

The cowl falls away, and the dwarf looks into the empty cave where eyes should lie. Tor staggers away and fumbles his weapon into his hands. “By Moradin’s steady hand, your eyes!”

“I no longer need them. I see things farther and faster. I see the true face of this city,” he speaks calmly, almost lyrically, “The nights will grow even darker, my friend, and we’ll be busy indeed,”

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Session 9
Welcome to the Machine

The dust stung his eyes, but he knew it could not be dust. The blazing sun, the cracked clay earth, it wasn’t real exactly. The minotaur bent down and touched the ground, rubbing the soil bbetween his fingers. It certainly felt real. If there were seams in the disguise, holes in the tapestry, Dulan couldn’t see them. He was walking inside the mind of a stranger and planning to face off against an enemy more ancient and powerful than anything he’d ever understand.

Six images floated nearby, spirit servants summoned as companions and guardians. Each in turn spoke its name and pledged its service. There was:

-Brother Snake the hypnotist, the charlatan, the liar. Poisonous smile, poisonous eyes, poisonous mind. He can trick even himself, bending backwards to attack his own tail.
-Brother Bear, sullen protector, great guardian. Overbearing, Overpowering, Overprotective.
-Brother Vulture, blood drunk. Bloated war-glutton, herald of death, he is the first to bring new life to the killing fields.
-Brother Tiger the brilliant. He carefully calculates and hunts with single minded purpose. He likes to toy with his dinners.
-Brother Beetle in his blackened shell. He is cautious, guarded, paranoid, but attacks with blinding speed and strength.
-Brother Broken the no-mind, the identity of no identity. His is the name of the void, a swirl of darkness around a white mask.

And before them spun a great cyclone, a vortex of sand and dust at the center of the wasteland. Phantoms images gathered before the wind’s fury to enact some old tribal minotaur rite of passage. They gathered children to throw into the cyclone. Hulking beast-men painted in sky-blue chalk hurled their children into the storm. They were taken at once, their skin stripped away, vanishing into the tornado.

Dulan rushed to save the children, but his hands passed straight through them. This was a memory, an old routine playing out in the mind of Abra, the strange shaman who has promised to help Dulan sever his connection to Baphomet, demonic father of all minotaurs. And yet, there was something hiding behind the memory, a vision of chains and bone. A poisonous claw lashed out from the illusions to strike the spirits. The spirits rallied and struck back.

Brother Bear threw himself forward first to protect the children, despite their illusory nature. Brother Vulture threw himself screaming to the winds, to speed by and dive in a blood-curdling attack. Brother Snake wove around the distant fields, casting his nefarious magicks. Brother Beetle lumbered to the center to snap at the chains connecting all the hidden claws. Brother Tiger directed the battle, rallying his friends while Brother Broken, ignoring him, lunged directly into the heart of the storm.

The soul of the storm emerged, a construct like a dragon made of twisted chains and cattle bones, dripping with poison, covered in obsidian shards like scales of black glass. It screamed and charged, attempting to drive away the interlopers. Dulan called upon his ancestors who rose like a thousand mouths from the ground to snap at the beast. So distracted, Brother Vulture could fall from the sky to drive his hammer into the dragon’s face.

Howling, the creature split into a thousand prehensile strands of chain, fleeing back into the cyclone. Dulan gave chase, fighting against the brutal, blinding winds to the center.

The dragon slipped into a cave at the eye of the storm. As they approached the cave, the spirits noticed the rocks becoming a giant skull, and the cave, an eye socket. They were standing inside a vast hourglass with the sand running out beneath their feet. They hurried inside.

They chased the dragon into the twisting halls beyond. The cave was now a pathway of glass suspended in some kind of astral vacuum. They were no longer in Abra’s mind, but traveling along a pathway linking him to that great demon, the progenitor Baphomet.

They could see the whole of the network, the psychic pipes binding every minotaur to Baphomet’s heart. They could see deaths like flashes of light; energy pulsing down the length of the construct, feeding the demon. As they neared, they could see the reality of the creature and his very nature. Baphomet, the monster, blood-hungry war-bringer, was no more than a machine, like a calculator. His labyrinths of madness were no more than circuit paths, his vast design and every function powered by violence, fear, and death. He was a computer, built at the dawn of time to perform a single task, to answer a single question, and he has labored with single-minded determination ever since.

There, finally, at his heart did they find that missing piece of Abra, the connection to Baphomet, arcane perfection, the astral computer. Bound in silk and hovering over a pit of cracking energy, a shadow of a young boy minotaur hung. Over him crawled the dragon, licking its wounds. Milky grey flesh plumped over the broken links of his chain-body as it slithered forward to devour the spirits.

Ready for battle, the spirits threw themselves at the monster. Hidden in the wyrm’s tongue was a dripping fang loaded with a terrible poison. Brother Vulture, taken with a sting, fought to hild his very midn together as the venom worked its way. It was Brother Broken, smiling, who took the beast unawares. Moving like a whisper, he cleanly swapped his mind for that of the beast.

Screaming in hatred, the beast now controlling the Broken spirit attacked Dulan. Brother Broken steered the dragon into the pit, bracing the beasts horrid face into the burning light. Held there, the party rained pain and fury down, pressing the creature further and further towards death.

But it was Dulan who made his peace with the universe. Seeing time and space, and his place in it; he connected to the vastness, calling out. He realized his place in the puzzle, and yet, a piece that carried the whole of the puzzle with him. He shattered his spirit-self into a thousand pieces, each burning like a star, forming into swirling constellations. The whole of creation, filled plump like a womb opening into the birth of time itself. The light and heat burned forward, searing the beast, driving the flesh from bone, breaking the chains, burning the sticky silk. And from the supernova he stepped, reborn.

The spirit of Abra, now freed from Baphomet, floated forward. Teered flooded his ghostly face as he thanked Dulan. A moment of horror then, and confusion. Dulan asked the matter, but Abra replied cryptically with, “When it comes your time to be free, you will be given a choice. You must not hesitate. Promise me that! You must not hesitate!”

And when he awoke from his trance, the shaman was gone…

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Session 8
Pickup Styx

After a week of wild hallucinations, Brokthul finally awoke from his coma. Troubled by visions of the ring of burning eyes, the field of infinite fire, the red blaze surrounded by six wings, Brok sought out a local moonsister for answers. She, instead, had questions for him.

Her ancestor spirit, The Great Wheel, had not been answering her pleas. A great war threatens the city and she needs to hear from the spirit. A group of barbarian generals awaited her prophecies. Brok agreed. The moonsister came around to the player’s inn later that evening.

Drawing a chalk outline on the floor, she opened a door to the Feywild. The evening opened out into a dark, green field leading to the two great mountains to the north. The players followed the path, leading deep into the mad wild of the land. Crazed, bearded creatures swarmed out of the living mountains to swarm over the players. Named Korreds, they threw themselves onto the PCs wrapping ropes around their necks. A female danced on stilts, shouting to her brothers through a fierce, clay mask. Her cries of ‘Booga Gebooga Boog’ stirred the Korreds to mad brutality. Battered and bloody, they drove the creatures back into their mountain homes.

Beyond the pass north, a lake of ink with wide lilypads that glowed like campfires. A stone altar lifted the party up into the sky where the great spinning spirit confronted the group, delivering it’s dire warnings of the coming invasion of Northallow. The spirit showed them the eruption underneath the ground that would someday become Northallow. A thousand beholders spilling out from a great egg met in battle by a great Turathi legion. Blood and carnage. A legacy of violence.

Returning to the real world, armed with such knowledge, the party split to contact their different sources. Tor went to speak with the secretive ‘Watchers at the Door’, Brok went to consult with the savages, Wilson ran to deliver the dire warnings to the Baron. Little did the humble cleric know that the villain Slantwise was setting a trap in Castle Amshire.

A devious trick by Slantwise sent the castle guards to chase Wilson from the castle. Now a wanted fugitive, he ran through the back roads and alleys, trying to lose pursuit. The Sheriff’s men were too persistent, eventually finding him hidden behind a pile of trash. Shackled, they lead the cleric hobbling through the streets to Penny Basement.

Rafto sent some men to intercept the prisoner, staging a small riot to extract Wilson and hide him among the houses. Free again, but a wanted man, Wilson skulked back to his inn licking his wounds. As the party consulted with each other and shared notes, they decided to meet with The Smile the next morning and pool resources.

With a rare display of caution, the party decided to sneak through town via the rat warrens. With the friendly rat Collective as their guides, they could safely access any part of the city. Passing through the great center of the collective, they could see a hugee, fleshy mass dangling from the ceiling on lengths of gooey mucous and tendons. Was this some new stage of evolution for the rats, or perhaps they were growing their own god.

Popping up in Gilded Hill, The Smile was pleased to see them. He quickly drafted some forms to grant official pardons for any of the party members. Discussing how exactly to spread their warnings, the party decided to throw a great party using The Smile’s connections. All the power players in town would be there. All their hated enemies, all their most powerful potential allies, all in one place. The temptation to poison the punchbowl is overwhelming.

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Session 7
Friends in Low Places

The Army of Rats

The public works project around the old sewers had not been going well. People had been vanishing. Just a few at first, then dozens. Everything had ceased pending further investigation. The players were called in. The city council offered a generous fee with bonuses if the threat from below could be neutralized. The players quickly agreed.

Down in the tunnels, strange phenomena assaulted their senses. Walls freezing solid, unexplained visions, the sound of a massive heart beating so loud the walls shake. Then the rats struck.

Guardsmen with their heads nearly gnawed off piloted by mad rats crawling along the ceiling lunging down with blades drawn. Piles of rats spilling from grates, overwhelming the heroes, almost drowing them in the filth. Something was controlling or connecting the rats. Some kind of greater power.

After the brutal fight, an explosion shook the halls. The players were trapped. Poison cannisters clanked and rolled down. The sewers were filling with a deadly poison. As they fled deeper into the tunnels, they discovered a ghost chasing them in the walls. One of Groat’s lieutenants, a revenant named Slantwise, tormented the players, lashing out from the shadows with powerful psychic attacks.

Past the sewers and the old siege tunnels, the players found an ancient excavation. Even Slantwise feared to follow any deeper. Wall markings and odd coins found in the deep heralded an ancient time, stone first dug around the days of the Dawn War. These tunnels as ancient as the world itself.

Rats floated by, swollen like balloons of brain matter. They were the collective, an abberrant psychic mass of mutated rats dwelling in a great egg-shaped cavern in the hollow core of Gilded Hill. The beasts swarmed and huddled over a strange black pool of oily fluid. The players entertained ideas of poisoning the verminous swarm, but instead negotiated with the swelling sentience. The Collective agreed to free all their captives and refrain from attacking any more workers while the party agreed to arrange for trash to be dumped into the tunnels for the collective to feast upon.

The players crept out of the sewers later that day with yet another strange ally and a dozen stranger questions about the nature of the city and their place in its immediate destiny

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Session 6
The Wickerville Ghost

The Wickerville Ghost

Wandering idly through the markets out in Wickerville, the players were confronted with a mad, babbling elf. She might have just been any old, crazy bum, save for her very peculiar words.

Red eyes in the cliff
Red eyes down the mountain
Dark windows speak silver riddles
Puddles of floating bones grow up
They flood up in amber
When you took the red eyes down the mountain

Augh recognized her babbling. She was referring to that blasted idol. The party knew that they couldn’t just walk away. Asking around, they learned the mad elf’s name and her home. Escorting the poor creature to her keepers, the PCs discovered the apparent source of her anguish: Children have been vanishing.

Red shadows in thick mist every night come and claim a few children. No one knows how long this has been going on, mostly the urchins and orphans went first. Rafto Budgewagon has been organizing a sort of neighborhood watch. He has a great deal of resentment for adventurers, and refuses to help the PCs unless they are willing to scratch his back first. Such a seemingly simple request: Find employment for some of his people. How difficult could that be?

A meeting with the Baron proved difficult indeed. A number of other petitioners waited for an audience as well. Pacing back and forth in the main hall, the PCs met Captain Ecklan and the boisterous lawyer, Dantarion Beepe. The Baron rarely keeps his own appointments and the petitioners held little hope that they would be seen. Altering tactics, the PCs went looking elsewhere.

Down in Penny Basement, Sheriff Groat was interested in hiring on extra seasonable help, but he asked a steep price: Poison a hundred of Ecklan’s horses. THe PCs left the Basement with Groat’s bitter hissing ringing in their ears. After some debate, they settled that they couldn’t work with Groat. They betrayed him to Ecklan, thus earning a ruthless enemy.

They weren’t able to secure the work until making another tour of the city and pulling some strings to finally gain an audience with the Baron. They lined up a few dozen jobs renovating sewer tunnels beneath Gilded Hill. Rafto was pleased. That night, they went out hunting.

Sure enough, the ghosts were out. Red, sickly pillars of flame leading zombie kidnappers. A brutal skirmish in the streets lead the PCs to a basement where their old friend, Gakpra was tied to an altar, imprisoned in dangerous magicks.

After freeing the little kobold, he described the strange spirits inhabiting the ruby idol and how a number of worshippers of Jubliex had tracked him down and stolen its power. They were the ones behind the kidnapping, feeding the children directly to their mad god’s oozing belly.

A frantic race through the city’s mist lead to a heated scuffle around a portal to another world. The maw of Jubilex waited, almost claining a few savory meals. Finally, the mangled worshippers were felled and the portal sealed. In doing so, the players won a powerful, albeit reluctant ally in the dwarf, Rafto.

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Session 5
Ssstrange Bedfellows

Billy Blue called the PCs to his little restaurant. He paced around his back room. He was pissed but, for once, the players were not the cause. A corpse on a table, a pile of jewels, and two ratty looking cutpurses all huddled together, waiting Billy’s verdict. They painted quite a story.

‘It was just a hold up. We weren’t gunna kill him,’

‘He started hissing and pulling out this knife. We was just defendin ourselves. It was an accident,’

The thieves were operating outside their assigned neighborhood. That offense was normally enough to warrant a quick, messy death. There was a complication, however. As the PCs approached the body, they could see the corpse’s light-green scales, the flat-slitted nostrils, the nictating eyelids turning dry and milky. They’ve accidently killed a yuan-ti. If Billy didn’t move quickly and decisively, the whole town could turn on him, that is, if the snakes didn’t get him first.

The players scooped up the pile of jewels as payment for their investigation. Careful inspection of the corpses clothes lead them to the cobbled heights of Gilded Hill. The yuan-ti had been impersonating a local lawyer working with a court surveyor. Documents lifted from his apartment lead the PCs to a run-down shop out in Pott’s Field.

There, they met a rather friendly, talkative Yuan-ti mastermind already packing up. Whatever reason originally lead the snake-worshippers to set up shop in Northallow, they’ve decided to relocate somewhere warmer. The leader, named Yrss, made a bargain with the players: let the snakes walk free and the players can have full access to the cult’s treasury in town. The only caveat, Yrss is a genius trapmaker, a true artiste, and the treasures are guarded with some of his most nefarious traps.

Eager for great reward and piqued by the promise of danger, the players accepted the deal. They didn’t want to just let the trapmaker walk, so at sword point, they lead him toward his own devices.

In front of a run-down warehouse along a shady road in The Old Post, the party stopped to cautiously approach, checking locks, poking around windows. Yrss giggled and clapped as the players guessed and second guessed each of their actions. They spent an agonizing half hour skirting around the circumference of the warehouse. They foiled a few simple needle traps, an odd clockwork mouse, and a false chest in a crate.

Finally, after dusting off an old riddle in the middle of the floor, a room opened under their feet. Shelves rolled back and folded up as the true trap-puzzle rolled out. An altar filled with arcane switches, a set of panels with divine runes arranged with vague symbols, and a set of snake statues curled up all quietly waiting for a few intrepid adventurers to test their mettle.

As they climbed inside, a net of necrotic energy trapped them within the puzzle-room and slowly lowered, threatening to crush them under it’s crackling darkness. The statues animated and circled, tossing players onto springboards, launching them into the life-draining net. After a great deal of frantic button-pressing, the net fizzzled and failed, freeing the players. A grate opened leading the players to the snake’s secret armory.

Pleased with the demonstration of his machinations, Yrss divulged a special password, “Darkness Overcomes” and vanished, shedding his skin in the process.

The password deactivated the final trap, one which would have destroyed the treasure itself, and the players were pleased to find a great fortune in piled gold, as well as a number of exotic and powerful magical trinkets.

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