L2: The Assassin’s Knot
Dean (Thic Duc), Chris (Tiberium), Matt (Barron), Mariel (Leah), Coby (Warin), Jeff (Amathar), and Sherrie (Mirabelle) are returning cast members.
We left the Band of Misfits investigating a murder in Garrotten. We rejoin the Band of Misfits at the House of Abraham.
The party began by discussing options, and decided to face down loose ends by investigating the third major clue (or perhaps false lead): the ruby that allegedly matched those on Harper’s preferred holy symbol. Thic Duc and Warrin approached the local jeweler and moneychanger, a woman named Ohlatta. Asking pointed questions about the ruby, she eventually recognized the description as being similar to the rubies in Harper’s holy symbol, which she had personally procured for the prelate many years ago. She claimed no one had tried to sell her any such ruby recently, but Harmen had asked her unusual questions about the valuation she would place upon a similar ruby. Ohlatta said he did not show her a gem, merely described it and asked how much it would be worth.
Returning to the House of Abraham, the party discussed this while examining the crowd. They noticed an odd pair: Rollo and Tess, a husband-and-wife pair who apparently sought to use their magical skills for commercial profit. They worked in the fishing industry, weaving and repairing nets with the help of some of the very basic magical spells they had learned. They did have useful information on other wizards in town; they remembered Holga as having apprenticed with Armax, an officer in the castle guard who provided magical support. They also remembered that they had not seen her around town since she had began to learn magic, some years ago. They also remembered Rogan as an errand boy for the keep… but, upon prompting, noted he had been in that role longer than usual without aging into a more professional place. Or at all, for that matter. Odd.
The party decided to follow up with Harmen and make inquiries after Harper. Tiberium was about to convince Harmen to take a quick look around Harper’s empty quarters, checking whether his holy symbol was there. It was not, at least not visibly. Amathar took advantage of the opportunity to slip into the room, while invisible, and perform his own more thorough search. He found several items that radiated magic, including a medium-strength aura on a staff. He also noticed a powerfully foul smell coming from a bedside table, which itself glowed with magic. Odd. Amathar concluded the magical aura was likely a trap, and set about memorizing spells to deal with it.
While Tiberium and Amathar were occupied with Harmen, Thic Duc was preaching the glories of Pholtus to the townsfolk in front of the their temple. Shortly after he began, three of the villagers surrounded him closely, linking their arms and guiding him away from the church. Thic Duc chose to go along with them and continued to preach, all the way to the docks, when their intent became clear: they wished to introduce Thic Duc to their octopus god, who promptly appeared and began to explore the area with his/her/its tentacles. After a few confused exchanges with the creature (is it talking, or just making watery noises?) Thic Duc pulled out Tiberium’s gift, a historical and heretical book of the true doctrine of Pholtus the one and only true god, and offered it to the octopus to read by tentacle page by page. (This resulted in a contested Charisma roll; Thic Duc failed and the octopus rolled a natural 20).
After a few minutes, Thic Duc decided the octopus was listening, and sensing his opportunity, leaped into the water. The magic of his Cloak of the Manta Ray took effect, and Thic Duc shifted forms to a massive creature of the sea, following the giant octopus deeper into the lake. Cursing, Barron jumped into the lake and invoked the Princess’ polymorph ring to follow in a similar form. The octopus led the pair to a submerged cave all the way to the north end of the lake… and half-submerged in the muck lay the curved lid of a treasure chest, gently illuminated from above by a ray of sunlight filtering through a hole in the roof of the cave, leading all the way to the surface. It caught Barron’s attention immediately, and Thic Duc was still focused on finally finding someone who would listen to the truth of Pholtus. They both swam into the cave, and the octopus immediately moved to attack, along with three smaller octopi lurking in the area.
Thic Duc, aided by his cloak, was able to evade the monstruous tentacles while swimming towards the half-hidden chest. Barron, however, was caught in their sucker-laden grasp at first. He felt his ribs cracking under the pressure of the fierce grip, but was able to escape by changing shape once more, to that of a small water dragon. The smaller octopi moved closer as the large one grappled for both of the shape-changed men, vicious suction cups applying horrible force to their flesh as the lure of treasure kept the two party members focused on the chest rather than the creature.
Before long, Barron’s greed turned to terror, and he gave up on the chest and began striking at the tentacles holding him below the surface. The smaller octopi circled, trying to land a tentacle on Thic Duc or Barron whenever they managed to slip out of the larger creature’s grasp. Finally, Thic Duc laid a hand upon the treasure chest, planning to bring it to the surface before returning to help Barron against the octopi… but his hand was suddenly stuck fast, no matter how hard he tugged. A strange pseudopod emerged from the chest and swung through the water at the monk, but missed.
Thic Duc was forced to watch as the tentacles and beak of the great octopus slowly wore Barron down, taking no few wounds himself due to his captive hand. When Barron was caught once again in the eight-fold grasp of the sea creature, he sought the refuge of changing his shape once more, this time to the extra-large shrimp known as Pepe LePew. This was sufficient to escape the octopus’s immediate grasp, but a moment later the sea suckers were firmly fastened once more, and the shrimp’s spirit left its body and floated to the surface. From the shore, Warrin noticed the disturbance, and began to browbeat a fisherman into rowing himself and Leah out to the lake to help.
With Barron out of action, Thic Duc became more aware of his peril, and began to strike at the octopus’s giant tentacles, trying to stay free and as mobile as possible while still attached to the bizarre chest which was still taking swings at him with its own pseudopod. One by one, the rubbery limbs fell limp, their bizarre muscular torn and disabled. Finally, only two limbs and its beak – its terrible, death beak – remained. The creature suddenly released a cloud of ink, blinking everyone in the area, and fled. However, the strange chest and the three smaller octopi remained, and Thic Duc was still stuck to the chest – and bleeding into the water.
From above, Leah and Warin noticed the ink cloud, and frantically tried to figure out ways to help. Warin had already retrieved the small medium-well extra-large shrimp where Barron’s soul temporarily resided, but the pair were unsure how they could possibly help Thic Duc… until Leah remembered her armor would allow her to breathe underwater! Feeling mildly silly for not thinking of it sooner, she jumped in and swam downwards with short sword drawn, heading into the cloud of ink.
Unfortunately the cloud of ink made target identification difficult, and her blade sank into Thic Duc’s flesh. The wound was serious, and Thic Duc knew he would be unable to stop the bleeding with one hand trapped against the chest. Fearing the worst, trapped underwater, Thic Duc drew on the memories of his monkish training, and withdrew from his body, slowing his physical processes down until they resembled death. His limp body slowly fell towards the lake floor.
The cloud of ink confused everyone. The three octopi and the chest-creature seemed unable to land any blows, and Leah was doing little better with her short sword. Eventually, though, the ink cleared and Leah was able to land a few blows, enough to drive off one of the smaller octopi and kill the other. Just as she was about to lose consciousness in the grasp of the others, Thic Duc recovered from his trance, and slew one that remained. The two hastily returned to the boat, where Warin was able to provide some healing.
After some time to recover, the two returned underwater and slew the chest-like creature, then searching the area. Nothing valuable was found.
Thic Duc surfaces and clambers into the boat, bleeding from dozens of sucker-marks and missing more than a few chunks of meat from his bones. Warrin begins to heal him while Leah tries to return to the boat, nearly capsizing it more than once. Barron’s shrimp-sized body lies in the boat, unmoving. Their hired fisherman begins rowing frantically to shore.
When Leah, Thic Duc, and Warin reached the church, they found Basil, who informed them that Harper was still in seclusion meditating over the problem of the hammer. Harmen had left with Tiberium to discuss matters. And Harper was the only cleric capable of summoning the divine powers needed to bring a man back from the dead. The trio laid Barron’s shrimp form within the temple to wait for Harper’s return and went in search of the town’s High Priest.
Basil lead them to the town’s small cemetary, where a crypt led into an underground maze. Basil himself was unsure of the path, but Leah was able to track Harper’s footsteps. It took some time, but she led the group to a room filled with statues, then through a secret door (there was a trap on the main door that filled the room with water, but the party was able to disarm it) to a small room containing a pool of water surrounding a small meditation platform. On the platform, Harper was clearly in the midst of some kind of psychic struggle with the hammer. They were able to break him out of the trance and help him back to the surface, but he would need time to memorize a Raise Dead spell to help Barron. Amathar offered to try to Dispel Magic first, to reduce the necessary effort.
Harper seemed mildly peckish, but agreed to pray for his Raise Dead spell immediately when the party explained there was an important meeting in the morning that could be vital to their investigation.
While Harper settled in to memorize spells, Thic Duc and Leah returned to the House of Abraham, determined to ensure that the priests hunger was satisfied so that the priest could focus fully on restoring Barron’s life to his body. Alas, for there were no octopi to be had. A quick survey of the fisherfolk revealed none had been caught that day. But Harper’s hunger was interfering with his concentration and something must be done. Thic Duc and Leah together set out in a small boat to retrieve one of the octopi they had slain.
Thic Duc leaped into the water and returned to his manta ray form, Leah following in a fisherman’s boat. They returned to the underwater cave, where Thic Duc retrieved the corpse of a slain octopus and begin returning to shore. Suddenly, tentacles from below grasped the small fishing boat and shattered it, dumping Leah into the water. From further ahead Thic Duc noticed and reversed course, dropping the small octopus corpse in his haste.
With the very large octopus corpse in tow, the pair returned to shore and enlisted the aid of several local fishermen to haul it in. As it emerged from the water, two giant crabs came with it, already devouring the flesh of the fallen creature. As they were hauled free of the water, they turned their pincers towards the group. Two of the fishermen died wielding makeshift spears against the crabs, but the party quickly dispatched them after that. One of the locals noted that the going price for giant crab of that size was a gold each, which the party duly collected. The octopus itself was carted to the House of Abraham, where it was hastily prepared for Harper’s consumption.
Amathar made use of his Enlargement spell to increase the size of the serving platter to hold the great beast, and Harper’s Flame Strike left it a delicious, crispy mess. Hunger assuaged, Harper returned to his studies and this time memorized the proper spell to retrieve Barron’s soul from beyond the gates of death.
With a choking gasp, Barron opened his eyes surrounded by his friends and companions as the clock struck midnight. The close passage of death had left him weak and bedridden, and his arranged meeting with Captain Basmar would take place in less than 8 hours.
To be continued…
For reference: 200 cp = 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 1/5 pp 5400gp worth of gems found tightly sealed in an iron flask within the stomach of the giant octopus 2 gp for crab bodies Treasure: 5402gp (600gp each)
Base xp for showing up: 100xp each Journal entries, sketches, or baked goods (): 500xp (individually) For those who bravely faced the octopi at great risk: 1000xp each (Thic Duc, Leah, Barron) Clue: Harmen inquired about a ruby at the jewelers, but did not have it, nor did he buy one (1000xp) Clue: Harper still has his holy symbol, with two rubies, though no one got a close look (1000xp) Clue: Holga studies under Armax, a woman in the castle guard who studies magic (1000xp) Clue: Facing the party's hydrophobia (1000xp) 1 Giant Octopus: 927xp 3 normal octopi: 366xp 1 mimic: 2190xp 2 giant crabs: 69xp Bonus for surviving the GM's gleeful sadism: 1000xp Treasure: 5402xp Group Total: 14724 xp (2103 xp each)
Roleplaying moments and quotables
"Dead shrimp don't roll!" "It's Moby Thic!"
Dangling Threads of Fate
The Duke of Highport is dead, killed on his wedding night, in a locked room alone with the Princess Purity (Tiberium's sword) has mentioned some sort of centuries-old prophecy The Princess seems to want more adventure, and told Barron a few things that might be important... Pyro has fallen in battle... How to invest your ill-gotten gains...