Interlude: Revelations

September 2, 2013

Dramatis Personae

Kim as Marayna, Human Monk of the Order of Adami and Faithful of Taiia
John as Jace, Human Sorcerer, Gold Dragon Bloodline
Ryan as Morgrym, Dwarf Paladin and Forgelighter of Clan Stoneshield
Sean as Terrin, Human Cleric of Wyr, Caelwyn God of Tactics, Strategy, and Honorable Warfare

Ivy’s Tavern, Minstrels’ Ward, The New City, Vancia
Calodyrsday, Springtide 10, 1,743 Z or the 38th Day of Cleansing, 5,892 TY

Marayna’s usual habit was to wake well before the rising of the sun and this was no exception. She found Ivy’s Tavern still locked and quiet. There was no sign that either Ivy or Mirella had returned in the night. As she prepared a breakfast for herself, there was a soft knock at the back door. A dirty, disheveled gray elf street woman was looking for Ivy, but Marayna realized the woman had disguised herself. Ultimately, the woman gave a code phrase that implied that this was Inspector Andriella Firstleaf of the Vancian City Watch.

Marayna roused the rest of the party to discuss this turn of events. The party decided not to change their plans though. They had packed supplies and gold to leave in the Chamber of the Frozen Flame. Their intention was to postpone their meeting with Koreg of the Delvers, using the excuse of helping with the search for Ivy and other survivors in the Sanctuary. Then, they would search the catacombs for a route to the Chamber of the Frozen Flame and leave their supplies there.

As they prepared to go, someone else arrived at the tavern. Cambyon, Ivy’s friend, the mercenary adventurer, was coming to leave his key to the Tavern. He also had Ivy’s holy symbol of Maedwyn. He had hoped to leave those things, along with a small purse of gold for Mirella and let her know she had inherited the tavern from Ivy, but the party wouldn’t let him leave without an explanation.

The party pressed him and he finally offered a brief explanation. He and Ivy had been responsible for leading the chuul into the Sanctuary. Using the cover of the attack, Ivy ensured that Savella and those who had been closest to her (including Mirella’s sister, Misara) did not survive and then did her best to make sure that as few innocents were killed as possible. Cambyon then implied that Ivy renounced her faith in Maedwyn and took her own life for what she had done. Especially to Mirella. Cambyon implied that Mirella had been Ivy’s lover. Cambyon himself was disgusted with what he had done and blamed the city for turning him into a monster. He was leaving on a ship that day, never to return.

Cambyon didn’t stay long to visit with the party after that. He encouraged them to leave the city before they too got wrapped up in the city’s politics and asked them to tell Mirella to sell the tavern and leave Vancia with the proceeds. He also asked the party not to look for Ivy’s boody too diligently.

The party packed up their things, sent a message to the Broken Lantern for Koreg, and went down into the catacombs.

The Streets of Minstrels’ Ward, The New City, Vancia
Calodyrsday, Springtide 10, 1,743 Z or the 38th Day of Cleansing, 5,892 TY

As the party left Ivy’s Tavern, Marayna noticed the tavern was being watched by a street woman and she recognized her as the disguised Inspector, Firstleaf. Marayna approached the Inspector and called her out on her disguise. The Inspector was none too pleased and offered the party the choice of speaking to her in the privacy of the tavern or being arrested. The party complied with the first.

Ivy’s Tavern, Minstrels’ Ward, The New City
Calodyrsday, Springtide 10, 1,743 Z or the 38th Day of Cleansing, 5,892 TY

Inside the tavern, Firstleaf demonstrated herself to be business-like and stoic with an impressive memory for words and details. She was a skilled interrogator and the party struggled to keep from telling her too much and to end the conversation.

Firstleaf revealed that she suspected Ivy had had something to do with the attack on the Sanctuary because Ivy had warned her to have extra patrols in the area that day. She had been watching for Ivy, not the party, who she knew nothing about. But as the party revealed more and more of their ties with Ivy and the story of their adventures in the city, Firstleaf became more convinced the party had to be watched.

Firstleaf cornered the party and got them to admit Cambyon’s involvement in the attack and to admit he was leaving the city on a ship. She immediately left the tavern (ordering the party not to go anywhere) and, shortly thereafter, alarm bells rang through the city, the signal to close the harbor and let no ships leave.

Firstleaf returned and continued to question the party.

Eventually, the party convinced Firstleaf that they were amnesiacs and that they had been brought to the city by unknown means and left robbed and injured in the undercity. Firstleaf confessed occasional problems with slavers in the city and conceded it wasn’t impossible. But she continued to grill the party about their activities with various organizations, especially after they admitted an interest in the murder of her father 30 years ago.

But Marayna ended the interrogation fairly succinctly when she dropped a subtle threat on Firstleaf that the party, under interrogation, might be forced to reveal that Firstleaf has been working with the Redcloaks. Firstleaf allowed the party to go on their way, but said they would speak again. She also said the party was not to leave the city without first informing her and that the guards at the gate would have their descriptions very shortly.

The party then continued its plan to visit the Chamber of the Frozen Flame.

The Crumbling Halls of the Stormshore Ruins, The Undercity, Vancia
Calodyrsday, Springtide 10, 1,743 Z or the 38th Day of Cleansing, 5,892 TY

The party wandered the undercity, mapping their progress and attempting to find their way back to the dwarven statuary that hid the entrance to the tunnels that lead under the sea to the Chamber of the Frozen Flame. They fought some aberrants and had an underground adventure. Eventually, they came to an old foundry and slag pit in the dwarven ruins.

As they argued, a darkness spell enveloped the party and a telepathic voice addressed them, accusing them of invasion. The voice said they could be let to go free, but only if the voice was assured they were not dangerous. The voice asked to be allowed to root through the party’s memories. When the party admitted they had very few memories left, the voice grew intrigued and began to bargain with the party.

The voice belonged to a hive of cranium rats that had surrounded the party in the darkness and it fed its thirst for knowledge on captured explorers and adventurers. It desperately wanted to know what the party knew. When it dropped some tantalizing mentions of a strange Dreamer within the catacombs and dangers from the Realm of Madness, the party wanted to know more. The rats also suggested they might be able to unlock forgotten memories.

There was a protracted argument within the party about whether or not to agree to the mental intrusion or to leave (the rats were willing to let the party leave their lair, but warned them they would thereafter consider the party enemies and respond to further intrusions with hostility). Morgrym could feel the aura of evil surrounding the rats and knew they were powerful, but the rats didn’t seem to know how powerful the party was. The rats also didn’t want to kill the party for some reason, probably because they were more interested in eventually learning what the party knew.

Finally, Morgrym and Marayna agreed to allow the rats to penetrate their minds and, after more discussion, the party decided only Morgrym would submit.

The rats sifted through Morgrym’s mind and started to make connections of the details there. But they were unable to unlock any forgotten memories. They said the memories were just gone, as if the party had sprung into being for the first time just a few weeks ago.

Morgrym was plunged into his own memories, details being filled in by all that the rats had pulled from other memories from other adventurers through the long years…

* * *

“I have been looking for you,” said the mysterious assailent. “I have a message.” And then, the stranger attacked. You struggled in vain, your life’s blood spilling from the vicious stab wound. The agent said, “this is not the end.” In your struggles, you pulled a button or piece of jewelry from your attacker. It was marked with a the symbol of the Watchtower, Esri Fahima’s secret police force. The force had been disbanded for 26 years, since the year of your conception and birth.

* * *

It was dark. There was rhythmic noise. Rising and falling, like waves at a beach. There was no sensation of being. Numbness. No heat or cold. In the distance, a high-pitched, keening noise could be heard. A long, sustained note that would have hurt the ears of anyone hearing it. It was unrecognizable, but it was unmistakably the sound of a creature in tremendous pain.

The dwarven knight said: “This isn’t working. It doesn’t care about these small fry.” He regarded the cage full of hideous beaked and tentacled worms, gricks, that the party had brought with them. They looked odd in the pale, crystal blue light of the spun-glass flame sculpture. The halfling had an arm thrust into the cage. He was holding his blue crystal dagger against the pulpy flesh of the gricks. They hated the stuff. The dwarf wasn’t sure why. But it didn’t matter. The halfling had a sick grin on his face. He was enjoying the pain he was causing. Honestly, the dwarf understood. He’d seen too many of his own fall to those foul things. His whole clan.

There was a scuffle behind the dwarf. The gray elf had grabbed the chain from one of the mercenaries that had accompanied the party. He yanked the horrible, purple-skinned mind-flayer toward the Crystal Flame by its iron leash. It stumbled, nearly losing its fitting, and it tried to jerk its hands to protect itself from the fall, but they were bound behind its back. And the halfling laughed and scampered over. “Perhaps something a bit bigger, then?” The halfling seized the iron collar and brandished the knife as if he intended to brand the creature’s forehead with it. “Summon it,” the halfling whispered. “Summon it!” The halfling thrust the blade against the creature’s skin and it seared and crackled as if the blade was white-hot. The creature howled in agony.

And then a breeze passed through the chamber. Something invisible, almost intangible, was in there. The dark-skinned Alqadan warrior, resplendant in her crimson and breeches and robe, moved to the Crystal Flame. “Taaia, forgive me. I give up the next realm to save this one.”

* * *

There was a horrible tearing sensation, as if something had planted a harpoon in your chest and yanked you into the Flame. The glittering blue cage closed around you. And ahead, a glittering blue cage. It was rushing at you so fast and yet it seemed to take forever. Through it, you could just see… just hear…

* * *

The gray elf soldier walked to the dark-skinned human women in the salmon gown. “The captain tells me the last couple is off the ship. The… mothers… are in the tower. All is ready.” His skin was silvery blue in the pale glow of the Frozen Flame. The woman’s features looked muddy and strange in the light. And the white-robed man standing behind her looked awestruck and terrified. Near the Flame, they had drawn a circle of powdered silver on the ground. It had six brilliant clear, flawless diamonds in it, along with other strange reagents. Burning incense, strange rune-carved stones, a vial of thick red-black fluid. Powdered chalk. Or bone.

Esri Fahima nodded to the necromancer from the Brotherhood of Akmenos. The two wordlessly moved into position on either side of the circle and began invoking a complex spell. The diamonds glowed brilliant white, the other components burst into crimson flame.

The halfling burst out out of the Flame ahead of you, his naked body thrown limp onto the cold stone floor. A corpse. The corpse slid to a stop next to the magical circle, or what was left of it. Most of it the magical agents had been vaporized. Esri Fahima looked down at the corpse. “Something is wrong.” She sounded calm, cool, and collected. But there was a strange sensation on her face. Like someone about throw up.

The Flame seemed brighter now. It flared brilliant blue-white. Another corpse went before you. The necromancer turned and fled the room. The soldiers looked around for orders.

Esri clutched her chest and seemed to compose herself once more. We need to get everyone out of here,” she said to Firstleaf. “Get to the surface. Get them out. Out of the city. Tonight. They must disappear.” Firstleaf ran, hot on the heals of the necromancer.

As the Flame filled your field of vision and you were thrown out of it, you saw your body fall to the ground under you. But you weren’t with it. You were going up. Drifting more slowly, still with that pulling sensation. You felt… nothing. Your body landed atop the last smoldering remains of the ritual circle, naked, pristine, like new.

Esri bent down and gathered up one of the corpses. She was surprisingly strong and hefted it over her shoulders. She was a sculptor as well as a mage, and years of moving heavy stone had given her a great deal of strength. “Gather to me,” she said to the soldiers. One of the soldiers moved toward another corpse. Six now, in the room. “No time,” she said curtly, “hurry. One will have to do to figure out what…” She shuddered again, as a tremor passed through her. “No time.” As the rock closed around you, as warmth and darkness closed around you, you saw her begin an incantation. And flame enveloped her and the corpse she had tried to rescue. You didn’t see the end result. You didn’t see anything further for a long time.

* * *

The Librarians of Caleborn have been searching for ancient dwarven clan symbol they had a vision about. Zama Fimir dreamed of Marayna’s symbol. He had to find it. You dreamed of Nasri’s symbol, now Adriano’s. You had to find it and destroy it. Ivy dreamed of a symbol too. That is what Marayna said. There is a Dreamer from the Realm of Madness deep within the catacombs beneath the city. He dreams of symbols and destruction.

* * *

The rat man still speaks to the Golden Wyvern. He still passes information along. He is dangerous. An enemy.

* * *

The Realm of Madness is on the other side of all the mirrors in the world. It is, itself, a mirror of the world, twisted by strange alien beings. The Rats, the Gricks, Mind-Flayers, they all seek to escape the Realm of Madness and remake our world in its image. The Dreamer is a thing of Madness.

* * *

After the wave of memories subsided, the party moved on. It took Morgrym some time to recover before he could share with the party everything he had learned. He also learned the complete layout of the dwarven catacombs and a few other odds and ends of minor importance. The Rats allowed the party to leave. Morgrym knew the Rats had learned everything that he, himself, knew or had seen. And they had filled in details from their own knowledge.

The party made its way back to the Chamber of the Frozen Flame…

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