The Sinister Six

#36 - Homecoming, part 3
"I'm not going in there, YOU go in there!"

After debating their available courses of action, the group decided to investigate Edwin Tolstoff‘s manor, which lay some 200 miles to the southwest in a largely uncharted part of The Darklands. After Droverson teleported the group to Auspex, the party requisitioned some horses and set out into the wilderness, making for Kael Varda’s ancestral home.

Despite being attacked by the local wildlife, including a trio of wild gnolls and a pair of hungry owlbears, the group soon arrived at Tolstoff’s manor. A small village surrounded the great manor house, but as the group approached they quickly determined it to be empty. Hitching their horses outside of a tavern, the group entered – Droverson and Darius inspected the wreckage of the tavern’s main room, while Peter von Pyrom began sampling the intact bottles behind the bar. Unfortunately, all of them contained horrible things, such as gobbets of flesh, urine, dirt and bugs, and even a bottle of liquor with a severed, decomposing hand inside. Peter, undaunted, sampled every bottle, but found himself diseased when he drank from the bottle with the hand inside.

Meanwhile, Kael heard a sound upstairs, and crept up the dilapidated staircase to the second floor to investigate. Finding a dark and battered hallway with unsettling dark stains across much of the floor, the mercenary ranger summoned Darius and Droverson up to assist him. The three of them opened one door and examined the dark room inside, and were quickly puzzled by the fact that although the room had a hole in the roof, no sunlight made its way inside – from inside the room, the day outside seemed black as night. Droverson cast light on a piece of wood and threw it up onto the roof, but it illuminated only the darkness. Peter, hearing the commotion, went outside and threw a bomb onto the roof, setting the abandoned tavern afire.

Suddenly, the group heard a terrified scream from downstairs. Rushing back down, Kael and the others encountered Peter, who was curled up in a corner gibbering with fright. The diminutive alchemist was unable to explain what had terrified him so, but the street outside was empty. However, the group’s horses were all mysteriously dead, although they remained standing at their hitching posts – their blank eyes staring at the party. Darius quickly became nervous as well, advising that the group flee, but Kael and Droverson insisted that they had to finish their investigation. Fighting back their fear, the group made their way up the hill to Tolstoff’s mansion, as the sun began to set and true night descended on the Darklands.

Approaching the darkened keep, the group opened a heavy pair of oak doors to reveal a darkened hallway swarming with insects. Droverson blasted the creatures away with a Scintillating Sphere spell, but the group quickly learned that vicious insect swarms seeped constantly out of the darkness of the keep. Using Droverson’s Storm Bolt and Darius’s Fiery Burst, the group was able to keep the swarms at bay while searching for clues and treasure. Although the group found a portrait of Kael’s grandparents as children (with a solid gold frame) as well as some salvageable gems, when they had searched nearly a quarter of the keep, they had found no new clues.

Suddenly, a horrible derghodaemon materialized from thin air, menacing the party with sharp claws and chitinous mandibles! Kael, who had been readying an action to shoot any foes that appeared, quickly got the drop on the creature and used his Arrow Mind spell to prevent it from attacking him as he filled it full of flaming arrows. The rest of the group quickly overwhelmed the creature before it could attack, burying it under a hail of Peter’s bombs before Darius blew it apart with a Searing Orb of Fire. Shrieking, the creature vanished back to its nightmare plane, leaving behind only a cloud of noxious smoke. Soon after, the party discovered a locked door with an Arcane Lock spell on it, as well as a strong mechanical lock, but Droverson was able to open the door by calling a Knock spell from the Spellpool of The College of the Arcane Order. Behind the door, the party discovered an old dining room which concealed a secret passage, but the group elected to finish exploring aboveground before descending.

Searching the rest of the keep, the party found a few more gems, as well as a long-dead stable boy’s ancient diary tucked behind a container of flour in a pantry. Although most of the diary was illegible, it revealed a few clues, such as a conversation overheard between Tolstoff and an invisible entity, which contained the phrases “Serving the Master”, “The Curse”, “Freeing the Ancient One” and " Nightstalker is on to us". Returning to the secret passage, the group discovered a solid iron door barring the way. As Kael began attempting to unlock the door, a heavy thud echoed from the other side of the door. The group recoiled in horror as something beyond began battering the door with increasing force, and the swarms began to close in behind them…

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#35 - Homecoming, part 2
"Wait, exactly how dangerous?"

After a short while, the party was again contacted by Julius Jackalseye, who informed them that The Namer was “politely requesting” an audience with them at the Logarus. Making their way into the large, bustling building, the group was quickly escorted to a large office-like room, where their host was waiting for them. Julius revealed that the captured mage had given them a great deal of useful information, mainly affirming the existence of The Cult of the Leviathan and confirming that Enshaddon was their leader. The cult was apparently now lying low, and The Namer did not seem to believe that the same group was responsible for the worm problems the group had been seeing – however, he did believe that one of The Sinister Six had gone rogue and was behind one or both of the groups.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and two alu-fiend warcasters attempted to assassinate the namer, firing one-use rods of twinned orb of force. However, Kael and Darius Ashanti quickly dispatched one of the alu-fiends, and the other’s bolt, although it did strike the Namer, was not fatal (or even a terribly serious wound). The Namer seemed more concerned with the damage it did to his robe than to his health.

Droverson broached the possibility that Soulcrusher and Skinwalker might be working together, citing a lack of evidence of catastrophes in Kul and Villia as evidence. The Namer opined that Skinwalker was the one the group should investigating, stating that Soulcrusher did not have the ability to summon alu-fiends, but Skinwalker did.

The group then departed for The Darklands to meet with Nightstalker. After a short detour to Roscoe‘s castle due to a teleport mishap, the group returned to Nighthold and began filling the vampire lord in on recent events. During the briefing, Droverson was unable to conceal the loss of The Dagger of Milambre from Nightstalker, but the vampire lord seemed more amused than concerned. However, he did advise the group that they should try to regain the dagger from Hazerath. Additionally, in a private meeting afterward, Nightstalker and Kael discussed Kael’s efforts to become a half-vampire. Although he stated that Kael would be more useful in his current form, Nightstalker offered to help Kael achieve his goal if the mercenary ranger would consent to have a geas placed upon him, binding him to Nightstalker’s service. The vampire lord even offered to cast a spell that would transform the ranger into a half-vampire on the spot if Kael could produce 100,000 pieces of gold to cover the costs of the spell – or, if the ranger did not have the gold, Nightstalker offered to give him information which would lead to a secret location where Kael could perform the ritual on himself, although it would be very dangerous. The mercenary ranger was conflicted, unsure of how deeply he wanted to commit himself to his liege…

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#34 - Homecoming, part 1
"Well, he'd have wanted it that way"

Thinking quickly, Droverson used his Alter Self spell to take Darius‘s appearance and bluffed Jimmy Two-Toes’s representative into handing over the illicit winnings from the wagering operation. Returning to the group, he informed them of the situation before Teleporting away to find a high-level priest who could cast Raise Dead on Darius.

Meanwhile, Kael attempted to convince the medical examiner to remain silent about Darius’s death, but the man repeatedly demanded more gold for his silence. When Droverson returned with a priest in tow, the two of them were still arguing. Tired of all the hassle, Droverson wearily summoned Julius Jackalseye, who spent all of three seconds listening to the situation before blasting the medical examiner out of his boots with a bolt of arcane energy, killing the man in a shower of gore.

When the priest finished his casting, Darius was returned to life, but the priest asked a favor of the group in return – securing a better profit margin for his temple’s diamond purchases. Contemplating various options, Droverson returned to The College of the Arcane Order to study up on mineral distribution in Sor’drim, whereupon he quickly found that the majority of diamond lodes were in Kul. Meanwhile, Darius and Kael commissioned upgrades for several pieces of their equipment, including an upgrade to Kael’s bow which would allow it to strike creatures with silver or cold iron damage reduction without the need for special ammunition.

As he was doing research, Droverson was contacted by Tarterus Jones once again, who made small talk with Droverson about recent events. However, when Droverson began relating his discoveries about Kyuss and the “jods”, Tarterus quickly became agitated and asked Droverson to follow him into a secured room, deep underground beneath the college. The young sorcerer acquiesced, and quickly found himself sealed inside a secure room containing an Antimagic Field.

Thus hidden from prying eyes, the Mage-Lord cautioned Droverson to watch his words, hinting that many of the things the young sorcerer was investigating were extremely dangerous subjects of knowledge. Although he said little regarding the many things he claimed to know, the Mage-Lord did advise Droverson to think critically about the power of Wish spells, hinting that The Sinister Six may be able to control the forces behind such magics. He also stated that the recurring incidence of deleted knowledge in many libraries across the land seemed to form a “pattern of omission” that could be examined to find out what the Six did not want people to know.

Shaken, Droverson left to consider the wandering wizard’s words. As the young sorcerer continued his research, the city was inundated by more extreme weather, and the walls were attacked by a roving band of remorhazes. Although the party aided in driving off the fire-worms, tensions were high as the people of the city began to fear that there would be no end to the horrors besieging them.

Returning with Kael, Droverson discussed further subjects, such as half-vampires and diamonds – Jones seemed confident he could negotiate a diamond-supply agreement on Droverson’s behalf for the priest’s church, and also advised Kael that while he personally recommended against pursuing the goal of half-vampirism, the best place to find information would be in The Darklands. Droverson and Tarterus also closely examined the pattern of natural disasters and concluded that either Kul or Villia seemeed to be suspiciously calm. Gathering up their equipment and preparing to leave, the party anxiously awaited further word from Julius Jackalseye regarding the interrogation of the captured mage…

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#33 - The Main Event, part 2
"Wait, we're just the maintenance crew!"

As Darius prepared to enter the arena, donning a magical bracelet which would protect him from death, the rest of the group made their way deeper into the sewers, determined to stop the cultists’ ritual. While scouting ahead through a rubble-filled corridor, Kael fell victim to a pit trap laced with green slime, costing the group precious minutes as Peter von Pyrom mixed up some potions to cure the ranger’s infection. Bypassing another trap which would have dropped a stone slab on them, the party continued onward and found themselves facing a large pair of double doors.

At a request from Droverson, Julius Jackalseye heaved the door open, revealing a large chamber where several stone walkways converged above a large pit of sewage. In the center of the chamber, eight cult mages had succeeded in summoning a waterveiled assassin, and a figure who resembled the description they had been given for Enshaddon appeared to be overseeing the entire event. Droverson quickly sent a blast of cold magic through the elemental at Enshaddon, but the mysterious cult leader appeared to completely absorb the spell with no harm. Enshaddon quickly dove into the pit of sewage and escaped, while the party had their hands full with the cult mages and the elemental. Kael, surrounded by his favored enemies, began shooting arrows rapid-fire all over the room, while Peter and Droverson worked together to destroy the powerful elemental. When the dust cleared, the only enemy still standing was a cult mage that had been caught in his own Charm Monster spell when Kael reflected it using his Occult Slayer powers. Julius captured the mage with a gesture, and promised to return to the party with more information after interrogating him. The mysterious warlock then disappeared with his prisoner.

Meanwhile, Darius and Marcus Hape had begun their fight. Quickly agreeing on a set of rules for the combat, the two dueled for nearly two minutes, fighting only with weapons and defensive spells. Eventually, however, Darius began preparations to throw the fight, dropping his protective spells one by one as Hape advanced menacingly. Suddenly, Hape used a Vanish spell to perform a sneak attack against Darius, impaling the dragon-blooded mercenary on his enchanted longsword. At first, Darius was sure that the enchanted bracelet would save him, but suddenly knew something was wrong as a horrible weakening feeling began to steal the life from his body. “Gotcha” Hape whispered in his ear as the darkness closed in…

When the rest of the party returned to the surface, they hurried to the arena to see the aftermath of Darius’s battle. Encountering the emissary of Jimmy Two-Toes, they learned that Darius had lost the fight as expected, and the emissary was looking for Darius to give him his winnings – however, he had been taken away to a secluded room after the fight and had not been seen since. Promising to return to the emissary momentarily, the party made their way back to Darius’s location to make a shocking discovery – the sellsword was dead, felled by an assassin’s Death Attack. The group quickly began to plan how to respond to the situation as night was beginning to fall on Primus

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#32 - The Main Event, part 1
The Jods Must Be Crazy

After careful weighing of the odds, Darius delivered a message to Jimmy Two-Toes‘s representative that he would throw the fight. Excited about the prospect of the rewards, Droverson and Kael also submitted forms to enter the tournament – Droverson planned to dominate the Copper tier, beating up farmers and peasants, while Kael intended to make a go of the Silver tier. Submitting their entry forms, they began doing preparatory work while still performing research on Marcus Hape and the plague of worms affecting Sor’drim.

While Droverson dug through ancient tomes in The Evan F Roarke Sorcery Academy’s library, he came across a battered and stained book which described the the legends surrounding Kyuss, also known as The King of Worms or The Worm that Walks. While the information in the text was brief and limited in usefulness, it referred to a thing Droverson had never heard of before – a collection of creatures called “gods”, which Droverson pronounced “jods”. Researching these “jods”, Droverson uncovered scattered and highly fragmented evidence that they were once creatures so powerful that people worshipped them, apparently able to reshape reality to their whim.

As the date of the tournament drew near, Darius managed to uncover a connection between Marcus Hape and The Cult of the Leviathan by winning a game of chance against a resourceful and well-protected informant. Passing this information along to Julius Jackalseye, the group was able to discover that the Cult had planned a ritual in the city’s sewers during the height of the upcoming tournament. Darius, since he knew his absence might spook Hape, volunteered to take disguised stand-ins to the tournament with him while the rest of the party attacked the Cult’s gathering – Julius volunteered to help fill the hole left in their roster by Darius’s absence. Droverson quickly located a suitable stand-in for everyone, while Kael withdrew his application to the tournament. However, Droverson merely had his double impersonate him, and to Darius’s amusement, the unskilled peasant won the Copper Tier, collecting a thousand gold. Meanwhile, beneath the city, the rest of the group quickly annihilated a perimeter-guard force at the edge of the cult’s territory, despite facing multiple powerful mages. The clock was ticking as the group raced against time to stop the ritual…

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#31 - Extracurricular Activities, part 3
"I chuckle."

Putting aside the ramifications of Hazerath’s departure for the moment, the group decided to Teleport to Primus in order to investigate the rumors of a match between Darius and Marcus Hape. Upon their arrive, the group again experienced difficulty getting into the city before contacting Julius Jackalseye for his assistance. The enigmatic golden-eyed man quickly took care of things for the group and brought them into the city, briefing them on several important new facts.

According to Julius, they had discovered that a group called “The Cult of the Leviathan” were behind the recent tidal waves devastating Pax. Their leader was a mysterious figure called Enshaddon, who Julius had a picture of – Julius was also suspicious that Marcus Hape might also be involved with the cult. The group agreed to look into the matter and departed, intending to meet with Marcus in a local inn called The Green Gargoyle.

Arriving at the inn, the group met with Marcus and his bodyguards, who quickly made it clear to Darius and the others that the entire thing was a huge publicity stunt – however, Marcus also clarified that he did intend for the battle between him and Darius to be very real, as the winner would take home a significantly larger share of the prize money than the loser (although the battle would not be fatal). Staging a fight to increase the local hype, the group backed out quickly, with Darius and Marcus shouting taunts at each other.

As the group was leaving, a small squirrel ran up to Droverson and handed him a note – however, the note was poorly-spelled, nearly-illegible, and smelled quite foul. When none of the party members could make sense of the message, Droverson returned to The College of the Arcane Order to seek assistance. The mages pointed him in the direction of the newly-arrived alchemist Peter von Pyrom, who quickly translated the note as a message of communication from Ivan, who was curious what had happened to Hazerath. Pleased with the alchemist’s skills, the group invited him along. After performing more research in the local library on various subjects, the group made a shocking discovery – Edwin Tolstoff was apparently Kael Varda’s maternal grandfather! The mercenary ranger revealed that he had not known any of his family other than his parents, and was shocked and stricken to learn that he was descended “not only from a damn dirty mage, but from THE damn dirty mage”. The group soon began calculating whether Darius would throw the upcoming fight, and whether they would compete in the simultaneous tournament…

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#30 - Extracurricular Activities, part 2
"Can I see that dagger, just for a second?"

As the group approached the cave, Soelma Nilaenish maneuvered her Floating Disc to one side of the entrance, apparently awaiting the all-clear from the group. Kael used his Scout’s Headband to scout out the entrance to the cave, quickly locating a pair of catapults and trip-wire that would bring up a protective wall to shield them. The cave was filled with monstrous humanoids, including hobgoblins, ogres, and a white-skinned scaly humanoid the group had never seen before. Returning to the group, they formulated a plan of attack – Darius started the combat with his new Firebrand spell, killing most of the inhabitants and setting most of the others aflame, while simultaneously destroying the catapults and providing illumination for the others to attack. Droverson blasted several foes with lightning, while Hazerath summoned shadows to steal the life force from their enemies. Combined with withering fire from Kael’s bow, the group was able to quickly kill all the creatures and secure the cave. Bringing Soelma inside, the group began searching for further information and clues, but the only item of interest was a large set of wagon tracks and a destroyed magical portal. Soelma informed the group that it looked like their quarry had fled, and that she would have to perform more magical divinations to locate him again; however, the archmage gave the party an expensive diamond as a partial payment for their work. Gathering the group close, Soelma teleported everyone back to Chain.

Once they were back in the city, Hazerath continued preparations to pursue Urien Bole – however, it wasn’t long before a magical Sending from Quentin Ostermann informed Hazerath that Bole was apparently dead. Now aware that all of his prior enemies were out of the picture, Hazerath asked to borrow The Dagger of Milambre from Droverson to perform more divinations. However, as soon as Hazerath touched the dagger, it exploded into light, and Hazerath found himself face-to-face with a magical image of himself. Forced to do battle with his evil self for control of his body (and the dagger), Hazerath struggled for many rounds as the group cheered him on – Droverson on the side of the “good” Hazerath, while Kael cheered for the “evil” Hazerath (Darius remaining neutral). Finally, just as it looked like the evil side might prevail, Droverson used his Touch of Destiny power to turn the battle, and Hazerath absorbed his evil self. Announcing to the party that he would use the dagger to “destroy evil” and “fix this world”, the shadowy cleric suddenly departed, leaving the party agape….

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#29 - Extracurricular Activities, part 1
"He's not gonna take a dive in a deathmatch!"

Droverson cautiously met with Jimmy Two-Toes, who offered his sympathy for the position that he and Darius had found themselves in. Offering Droverson a choice between helping the merchant who had sold Darius the magical belt or letting him lose his business, Droverson carefully began the process of investigating the situation without committing himself. Jimmy offered Droverson a few options – including unpleasant ones such as handing over the money in cash or returning the magical belt – as well as more lucrative ones, including performing some tasks for the local merchants. One of these tasks involved manipulating wagers on the upcoming fight between Darius and Marcus Hape, while another required investigating the source of missing caravans to Kul.

After discussing their options, the group decided to find out more information regarding the upcoming fight in Primus. Jimmy offered Droverson the chance to speed up the process by doing research himself, but Droverson declined, causing the process to take an additional two weeks. Meanwhile, Droverson sought out Soelma Nilaenish, wanting to follow up on the task she had mentioned previously. It turned out that her task involved investigating the same mysterious disappearances Jimmy had mentioned, but Soelma’s motives were different – she was concerned that the source behind the disappearances might also have copies of dangerous magical texts, possibly including another copy of The Zoretha Scrolls. The archmage promised to pay Droverson handsomely for his assistance, and stated that she would be ready to travel in three days’ time. Meanwhile, Hazerath’s plan to disguise his combat abilities further came to fruition, and the shadowy cleric sold off his dagger in return for a powerfully-enchanted version of a Gauntlet of Infinite Blades.

After three more days of preparation, the group gathered for a Teleport to the southern border of Gulark. Crossing into Kul, the party began to make their way south across the rocky terrain, with Soelma accompanying them upon a Floating Disk. Midway to their destination, the party was again attacked by remorhazes, who were becoming more common. Droverson, Darius, and Kael easily dispatched two of the three worms, while the third was heavily wounded. However, the worm suddenly swerved and lunged at Soelma, who was reading a book with utter disregard for the combat going on around her. Just as it seemed certain that the worm would crush and devour her, the great beast was bashed aside by a field of powerful force, wounding it badly. With a flick of his wrist, Hazerath produced a magical dagger and flung it into the polar worm’s eye with a perfect throw, slaying it.

Journeying onward, the group arrived at their destination – a cave that Soelma had said her Scrying had revealed. The daylight was waning as the group prepared to enter…

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#28 - Public Disturbances, part 4
"Obviously, we're dealing with someone stupid"

The party escorted Trellan to a nearby grotto, where the mage performed inscribed a Magic Circle Against Evil and prepared to capture a spirit. The group made preparations to ambush the mage, but the plan never came together and the group opted to let the opportunity slip away. Back in town, Hazerath continued his work to try to lure out Quentin Ostermann, and Droverson was approached by an agent of Jimmy Two-Toes. The agent passed on the information that Jimmy was upset over a recent purchase Darius had made – it seemed that a friendly merchant named Toronnan had mistakenly sold a magic belt to Darius for half its normal price, resulting in a sizable monetary loss for Jimmy. Darius reacted with indifference, while Droverson went to speak to Toronnan – the merchant, terrified and in tears, begged Droverson to smooth out the incident with Jimmy.

Meanwhile, Hazerath set up a trap for Trellan, placing a Symbol of Sleep at a predetermined meeting place and telling the mage that Egon the Bastard had set up a meeting there to put the matter to rest. Trellan seemed suspicious, but accompanied the party anyway. Unfortunately, the mage made his save against Hazerath’s spell, and became increasingly forewarned – when Hazerath tried to use a Dispel Magic to remove some of Trellan’s protective spells, the mage quickly teleported away, apparently wise to the group’s plot. Droverson used a Teleport spell to take the group quickly back to The College of Moil, but Trellan was able to slip past the group using an Invisibility spell and gain the safety of the tower. Sending a messenger down to the front guards, the necromancer informed the group that their employment was terminated, and that they were not allowed into the tower as a group.

Tempers escalated, and before long the two front guards of the tower were unconscious or incapacitated – the group made their way inside, but were quickly stalled by another set of guards who summoned undead to block the group’s path. Darius made an attempt to disguise himself as one of the unconscious guards, but was foiled by his inability to disguise his voice. Eventually, after much deliberating, the group agreed to let Droverson and Hazerath up to see the headmaster.

Climbing up several flights of stairs before taking a Tenser’s Floating Disk up to the top level of the tower, the two were quickly ushered in to see the headmaster. Hazerath and Droverson began to spin a tale of Trellan imperiling the entire school by attracting the warmages’ ire, but they soon learned that Trellan was actually the son of the headmaster, and was quite thoroughly protected. The headmaster swiftly informed them in no uncertain terms that the warmages could do whatever they liked, but Trellan would continue to be protected.

Hazerath became irritated and began insulting the headmaster, who in turn locked the doors to his study and began appearing to ready himself for violence. After a moment’s pause, however, the necromancer decided to let the pair off with a warning, ejecting Hazerath from the college permanently. The floating disc down from the tower also disappeared, dropping Droverson and Hazerath into a fatal fall, but the young sorcerer was able to save them both with a Feather Fall spell called from the Spellpool. The group regrouped downstairs, and decided to go inform Egon of the latest events.

At The Duhamel Academy of War, the old warmage reacted with frustration and anger to the news of the plan’s failure. After blowing off some steam by destroying a small building, the warmage informed the group that their services were no longer needed. Droverson, however, floated the idea that they might be able to bring the warmage’s daughter back to life – although Egon was skeptical, he agreed to let the group try. Unfortunately, the warmage thought it likely that the only way to retrieve his daughter’s reanimated corpse was to agree to give up their vendetta against Trellan.

Darius was sent back to the College of Moil with a letter explaining the warmage’s offer. Droverson attempted to accompany him, but the Boneclaws now posted as doorguards were substantially less tractable than their predecessors, and Darius was forced to go on alone. Meeting with the headmaster again, the necromancer reacted with satisfaction, agreeing to the warmages’ proposal (although he did toy with the idea of contracting the group to assassinate Egon). Collecting the reanimated body of the girl, the group returned once again to the Duhamel Academy of War.

Using the same spells and rituals they had invoked in Primus, Droverson called forth the power of The Dagger of Milambre and restored the girl to life, much to Egon’s joy. Declining a monetary reward, the group departed, and was later informed that Egon had rewarded them instead by smoothing over relations with the College of Moil, hopefully forestalling any further trouble with Trellan and his father. As the group prepared to depart for Pax, they received two notes at their inn – a reminder from Jimmy Two-Toes for Droverson, and a mysterious message for “Karl Sparker” asking if he needed help, signed “Q”. Hazerath quickly informed the party that this was a man he had been hunting, and the group cautiously proceeded to a rendezvous in a nearby park. Speaking with a projected image of Quentin Ostermann, Hazerath learned to his surprise that the cultist had apparently repented his ways, although the mysterious cultist refused to trust Hazerath and remained deeply suspicious of him. In a move that he freely admitted was self-serving, Ostermann betrayed the location of the last member of the cult, Urien Bole, to Hazerath, telling him that the cultist had fled to the city of Ix. Agreeing to a truce for now, Hazerath departed to digest this information, while Droverson hurried to a meeting with Jimmy Two-Toes…

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#27 - Public Disturbances, part 3
"Touching the Dagger is not advised"

Scattering to the four winds, the party dispersed throughout the city, seeking to commission new magic items. Kael went to a reputable armorcrafter to put in a special order for a suit of Celestial Chainmail, while Hazerath purchased a set of Gauntlets of Infinite Blades, selling his magical dagger. Darius worked with Droverson to broker a deal for a Belt of Physical Perfection, but didn’t quite have enough money to meet the merchant’s price. The merchant, however, had a proposition for the dragon-blooded sell-sword…

Meanwhile, Droverson continued to perform research on Edwin Tolstoff, and brought his concerns to Soelma Nilaenish. At first, the archmage seemed disinterested, but eventually agreed to help Droverson investigate. Teleporting the both of them to The Evan F Roarke Sorcery Academy, the pair were confronted with another onslaught of fog and worms. Droverson, having seen this before, quickly informed Nilaenish that Tolstoff had probably attacked the school. The pair ventured within, but Nilaenish’s spells quickly dispersed the fog and they were only challenged by a few shadows, which the archmage quickly destroyed. Within the school, they found a large group of survivors taking refuge behind a Prismatic Wall, and a thoroughly-ransacked artifact room. Droverson aided the wizards of the school in cleaning up the mess and cataloguing the missing items, and soon learned that the most powerful artifact stolen had been a Talisman of the Sphere.

Meanwhile, the merchant had a deal for Darius – his sister’s reputation had been besmirched by a local thug, and the merchant wanted Darius to make sure that the miscreant would never bother his sister again. Darius, followed by Kael, went to his target’s favorite bar using a magical disguise. Quickly making friends with his mark, the sell-sword managed to trick the drunkard into the alley behind the bar, where he quickly pummeled the dock-worker into submission. Althoug his foe lay helpless beneath his claws, Darius fought against his instincts to kill his victim, feeling uncomfortable with more unnecessary bloodshed. Delivering a thoroughly intimidating warning, Darius and Kael knocked the man unconscious and threw him back into the bar, then returned to the merchant to collect Darius’s new belt.

Now completely broke, Darius looked up his old contacts for an interim job while waiting for Kael’s armor to be completed. One of his old friends had a job for the entire party, protecting a mage who was looking to hire bodyguards. Making their way to their contact at The College of Moil, the group was unexpectedly attacked by three imps who were looking to kill their new employer. However, the party easily banished the creatures back to their infernal plane, and were given the job on the spot. Their new boss, a necromancer named Trellan, confessed that he had earned the enmity of a high-ranking member of The Duhamel Academy of War after unwittingly zombifying a powerful warmage’s daughter. The group arranged a rotating schedule for the necromancer’s protection, negotiating a solid sum of 500 gold per day for each of them, plus an additional 5,000 gold reward if they could end the threat from the War Mages. During all the comings-and-goings from the College, Droverson’s Dagger repeatedly dispelled a Wall of Evil across the entrance of the school, increasingly inconveniencing (and irritating) a high-ranking mage.

Meanwhile, Hazerath quickly became disgusted with Trellan’s lack of morality and callous behavior, and made contact with the angry war mage, Egon the Bastard. Promised a princely reward if Trellan were delivered to Egon alive, the shadowy cleric also used his errands about town to drop hints and clues that “Karl Sparker” was in town, hoping to attract the attention of his quarry Quentin Ostermann.

On the third day, the necromancer gathered his bodyguards and announced that he needed to journey to an underground cave outside the city, to perform a magical ritual for one of his assignments. Hazerath, drawing the group members aside one at a time, began to inform the others of his plan to ambush and capture Trellan and deliver him to Egon. As the group escorted the necromancer out of the College, Droverson’s dagger dispelled the Wall of Evil yet again, finally angering the gatekeeper sufficiently to cause a commotion. Droverson handed over his dagger to the mage when he demanded it, and with a brilliant flash of light, the necromancer was suddenly overwhelmed with remorse as his alignment was magically changed. As the necromancer buried his face in his hands and began sobbing, the group looked on, unsurprised. Hazerath directed the man to a nearby temple of goodly virtues, and the group set out for the caves…

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