20 May, 103 CY (Continued)
GM: Aramis finishes binding the gray-skinned eyeless “orc”. Reeoh notices something else behind the chest. It appears to be a cloth banner of some sort.
Reeoh: “Hey! Look at this.”
Aramis: His work completed, Aramis does so. (Overcome – Lore +4) “The Red Hand of Doom,” Aramis says in recognition. “A mighty orc horde that plagued the Elsir Vale, years ago.”
GM: Perrin finds a trapdoor in the floor of the warehouse that seems to lead underground into what appear to be Brindinford’s sewers.
Reeoh: “Great, are they coming to visit?”
GM: “Probably how they were getting the bodies off the streets so quickly,” Perrin muses. “Those they didn’t eat,” he says, eyeing the chewed femur in distaste.
Aramis: “I’m not sure, Reeoh. Perhaps their defeat was not as final as history would have us believe. Could there be more of them?” He peers into the sewer, nose a-wrinkle.
GM: “Still no sign of my nephew,” Perrin says softly, reminding the others that for the former Watch captain, Family First.
Reeoh: “Not much of a horde here, so…Maybe?”
GM: Perrin: “Advance scouting party?” He frowns at the gray bodies. “Are these even orcs? And if so, why murder townsfolk?”
Aramis: “They don’t look like the orcs I saw in Khundrukar, anyway.”
GM: Perrin nods. “Nor those I faced before I … you know. Died. The details are still fuzzy, but they might have had a Red Hand Banner. I was distracted.”
Aramis: “Interesting. She said that ‘Ghaerleth Axom cannot be stopped.’”
GM: Perrin: “Is that a name?”
Aramis: “I’m not sure.”
GM: Perrin: “The Watch aren’t helping. Maybe we should take this straight to the baron.” He sounds uncertain.
Aramis: “I agree with the former. Do you think you could land an audience with the baron?”
GM: Perrin: “He’s my cousin,” he says simply. After a beat, he adds wryly, “So. Maybe.”
Reeoh: “I’ll take a look down here,” says Reeoh, indicating the sewer entrance.
Aramis: Aramis accompanies her, renewing his light spell.
GM: Perrin: “I’m not going down there.” He takes the banner and climbs out the window to go see about informing the baron about stuff.
Reeoh: (Overcome – Notice +2)
GM: (Looks like a sewer. Smells like one, too. Sounds … sewer-y.)
Aramis: Coming up with nothing, they return to the warehouse.
GM: The prisoner sits against the wall, struggling against her bonds, somewhat feebly. Her head jerks this way and that, and if she had eyes, you’re pretty sure they’d be wild and darting.
Reeoh: Reeoh scurries around collect all her knives.
GM: One body twitches as she pulls the blade out of its brainpan.
Reeoh: “What are we goin’ to do with her?”
Aramis: Aramis approaches her, slowly, dropping to a crouch close enough to half-whisper: “Who is Ghaerleth Axom?”
GM: “Leave me, Death. Your minions’ torments are sufficient.”
Aramis: “Not until I am answered.”
GM: “Doom,” she says with the fervor of Blind Faith.
Aramis: “The Red Hand of Doom?”
Aramis: “Played in whose game?”
GM: She shows her teeth. “Ghaerleth Axom.”
Aramis: “Did Merdick Forren get caught in this game?”
GM: “I don’t know that name.”
Aramis: “The Captain of the Watch.”
GM: “Anything is possible.” Her tone is bored.
Reeoh: “Why have you come here?”
GM: Her head turns toward Reeoh, and though eyeless, she gives the impression of staring intently at a piece of meat. “To hunt. To conquer.”
Reeoh: “On whose orders?”
GM: She turns to “look at” Aramis again. “Not very quick, your friend.”
Aramis: “Ghaerleth Axom,” Aramis tells Reeoh.
Reeoh: Under her breath she says, “I really do not do interrogation well.”
Aramis: “Where is he?” Aramis assumes it’s a he.
GM: She “looks” off to the side abruptly and cocks her head, listening. After a pregnant pause, her attention returns to Aramis. “Close.”
Aramis: Aramis turns to listen. “We should probably get out of here,” he says. (Overcome – Notice +2)
GM: (Sounds clear.)
Reeoh: (Overcome – Notice +0)
GM: (Sounds muddy.)
Aramis: Aramis stands and walks toward the window.
Reeoh: Begins tying a noose
GM: “Listen,” she snaps at Aramis’ back. “He will come for you as he came for all of us. The Speaker in Dreams. You will see.” She laughs a little at the irony. “Oh, yes. You will all see.”
Reeoh: Reeoh frowns. “See what?”
GM: No answer is forthcoming from the bound and blind prisoner.
Aramis: “We’ll send someone to collect her,” Aramis tells Reeoh as they exit.
Reeoh: “Couldn’t we hang her up by her feet before we leave?”
Aramis: “We could,” Aramis says in a humoring tone, “but I don’t want to be here if and when her friends arrive.”
GM: (Timestamp: Noonish)
Aramis: “Until we hear back from Perrin, I believe we should look into this laughing ghost of West Hill.” He doesn’t put quotes around “laughing ghost” because he doesn’t even joke about the possibility of undead.
Reeoh: “I agree, it’s something we can do for now”
Aramis: We head that-a-way.
GM: (West Hill) This eccentric district is popular among intellectuals. It contains specialty bookshops and is home to a number of sages on various subjects. The buildings are largely freestanding houses with small yards. The shrine to the Raven Queen, which they avoid because of Father Sloane’s ire, is found in West Hill, as is the Zenadiel Academy.
Reeoh: (Create Advantage – Contacts -1)
Aramis: (Create Advantage – Investigate +2)
GM: Aramis and Reeoh try to corroborate the stories they’ve heard about the Laughing Ghost, avoiding fairgoers and attempting to reach out to any of the local businesses. For the most part, the proprietors have no time for “superstitious nonsense” and the adventurers are shooed out. As they walk about a quieter street in West Hill wondering how to proceed, something strange happens.
GM: For an instant, the very fabric of space seems to warp—distances stretch to infinity or close to nothing, straight lines warp and weave, and vertigo assaults their senses. In the eye of this insane storm, space opens up, and a pool of thick blue slime oozes out onto the street. As the vertigo subsides, a huge wormlike creature rises up from the pool. Its translucent, purplish skin reveals strands of pulsing organs beneath it, and a ring of hooked tentacle-like limbs surrounds a gaping lamprey-like mouth.
GM: (2 zones: Alleys, Streets; Situation Aspect: WTF is That?!)
Reeoh: “This ain’t good, Aramis! THIS AIN’T GOOD!”
Aramis: Aramis works his jaw until he realizes that nothing is going to come out. Then he draws his sword.
Reeoh: Following his lead, she readies her knives.
GM: (Exchange 1)
Reeoh: (Attack – Shoot +2)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +2)
Reeoh: (Boost on Wyste, Knife Wedged in its Teeth)
GM: The creature screeches squelchily!
Aramis: Aramis calls on the power of winter to slow the creature’s movement. (Create Advantage – Lore +6, invoking Cleric of the Raven Queen)
GM: (Opposition – Physique +5)
Aramis: The wyste is Freezing Up (1 free invocation).
GM: The otherworldly horror slithers forward and attempts to wrap its bulk around Aramis! (Create Advantage – Physique +5)
Aramis: Aramis is too slow to avoid (Defend – Athletics +4, invoking Freezing Up)
GM: (Aramis is Grappled!; 1 free invocation for GM)
GM: (Exchange 2)
Reeoh: “Damn!” (Attack – Shoot +4)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +1; 3 shifts of stress to wyste)
Reeoh: Skips to the right. (in a non-zone-changing fashion)
Aramis: Aramis attempts to hack his way free of the grapple. (Attack – Fight +5, invoking boost Wedged Knife)
GM: (Defend – Fight +4, invoking Grappled!; 1 shift of stress to wyste)
GM: The wyste tries to hold Aramis still while it brings its be-tentacled mouth down to take a bite! (Attack – Fight +4, fate point to invoke Grappled!)
Aramis: Aramis resists. (Defend – Physique +5)
GM: (Exchange 3)
Reeoh: Reeoh moves to the alley to hide (Create Advantage – Stealth +4)
GM: (Opposition – Notice +3) The creature loses track of the rogue.
Reeoh: Reeoh in now Hidden (1 free invocation).
Aramis: Aramis tries to keep its attention on him with another strike. (Attack – Fight +7, invoking Dragonslayer) “You aren’t so big,” Aramis lies.
GM: (Defend – Fight +5; 2 shifts of stress to wyste)
GM: It trills hungrily/angrily and tries again to devour the frustratingly kill-y priest. (Attack – Fight +5)
Aramis: (Defend – Physique +1, invoking Eye for Wisdom; 3 shift hit + boost Squeezed)
Aramis: (Minor Consequence Bruised Ribs, 1 free invocation)
GM: (Exchange 4)
Reeoh: Reeoh flies out of the alley and “Double Stabs” the worm (Attack – Stealth +6, Backstab stunt)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +2, 3 shift hit on wyste, plus boost Distracted by Pointy Bits)
Aramis: Aramis attempts to make himself Too Cold to Hold (Create Advantage – Lore +4)
GM: (Opposition – Physique +7)
Reeoh: “I’m running out of knives!”
Aramis: The cleric’s reply is all wheeze and no words.
GM: The wyste feels lunch at hand! (Attack – Fight +4 ; you know, after 3 free invocations to reroll the horseshit.)
Aramis: (Defend – Fight +5, invoking boost Distracted)
GM: Aramis holds it off.
GM: (Exchange 5)
Reeoh: More knives from the mouth of the alley. (Attack Shoot +5)
GM: The worm-like monstrosity seems to have worn itself out. (Defend – Athletics +1; it is taken out.) It slumps to the street and its body melts into a puddle of viscous purple goo.
Reeoh: “That’s nasty. Aramis!”
Aramis: “What WAS that? Are you all right?”
Reeoh: “Me? Are YOU all right? You sound like a broken concertina!”
Aramis: “I don’t feel much different either.” He looks around to see who’s watching.
Reeoh: “And that was a large purple worm … from nowhere”.
GM: A few looky-loos poke their heads out of shops or peek through windows at the remnants of the scene in the street. They look spooked, and who wouldn’t?
Aramis: “Did everything kind of… bend when it appeared? Did you feel that?”
Reeoh: “I saw it. But I don’t understand.”
GM: The purple puddle evaporates as they talk through what just happened.
Reeoh: “Uh … At least I don’t have to go wadin’ to get my knives back.”
Aramis: “Nor I.”
GM: A bystander says, “I wonder why Alein is not here. She’s usually on top of anything that happens in West Hill.”
Aramis: He turns to look at the bystander.
GM: “Yeah, Alein, the Champion of Bahamut. She lives in the shrine not too far from here.”
Aramis: “I see. We’ll let her know what happened here.”
GM: Concerned conversations begin as more people emerge into the street.
Reeoh: “Maybe we should check on her? And get your ribs wrapped.” She looks at Aramis.
Aramis: “I’ll tend myself shortly,” he tells Reeoh. “Let me see if I can reassure these folks first.”
GM: From snippets of conversation the words “Death priest” and “cursed” punctuate the fear.
Aramis: “Everyone! A… disturbance has just occurred, but my associate and I have dispatched it! Rest assured that we are investigating its cause, with an eye toward making sure this does not happen again.” (Create Advantage – Rapport +4) “Please go about your business.”
GM: They dare not gainsay Aramis and appear to accept his version of events.
Aramis: He takes a moment to treat his wounds, then sets off toward the shrine of Bahamut.
GM: Ahead, a shrine decorated with the iconography of Bahamut looms out of a bank of thick mist. A woman’s voice cries out from behind the shrine. The words are indistinct, but the tone carries a sense of urgency.
Reeoh: Reeoh sneaks up to the corner to peek around.
Aramis: As a Friend to the Needy, Aramis rushes forward without regard for his safety.
GM: Aramis finds that to be problematic when the aggressors in the fog hear him coming and get the drop on him. (Compel for +1 Fate Point)
GM: Behind the shrine, Aramis finds the senseless form of a woman in armor. Magic Missiles streak from above! Two robed and cowled figures are perched on the roof of the shrine. (Attack – Lore +3, +1)
Aramis: (Defend – Athletics -2, +3; 4 shift hit plus boost on Aramis; Medium Consequence Cracked Ribs)
GM: (Exchange 1)
Reeoh: “Well, shite,” she whispers, climbing the wall to get to the roof for a better view over the fog. (Create Advantage – Athletics +3)
GM: Reeoh has the High Ground (1 free invocation).
Aramis: Aramis calls upon a winter wind to blow the fog away in his zone. (Overcome – Lore +5)
GM: (Opposition – +2, Success with Style. Looks Clear)
GM: The robed figures exchange a surprised glance, then strike again! (Attack – Lore +5, +3, invoking boost on first attack)
Aramis: (Defend – Athletics +5, +4, invoking Clear on first defense; boost on Aramis)
GM: (Exchange 2)
Reeoh: (Attack – Shoot +6, double invoking High Ground)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +3, target is taken out)
Reeoh: Reeoh flips the knife high into the air to let it drop right into target 1’s skull, dropping him instantly.
Aramis: Aramis attempts to burn the second caster down with sacred flame. (Attack – Lore +5)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +0; target is taken out)
GM: (End Conflict)
Reeoh: ’What was that? Do you always just trip over fights?!"
Aramis: “More often than not. Search them while I see to her.”
Reeoh: ’FINE!" She searches the bodies. (Overcome – Notice +4)
GM: The robes feature a double circle centered on the chest, a smaller circle inside a larger one.
Reeoh: “They have nothing except this symbol on their robes.”
Aramis: He nods and goes to check on the armored woman.
GM: She is unconscious, but apparently otherwise unharmed.
Aramis: Aramis attempts to revive her.
GM: Her eyes flutter open after a moment and she gasps. “Alein! Oh! Who … who are you?”
Aramis: “I’m Brother Aramis. Has something happened to Alein?”
GM: “Brother-? Oh, yes! The other Dea- I mean … the junior priest of the Raven Queen.”
Aramis: The solemn one’s face shows no umbrage at the near-slip.
GM: “What’s happened here? Why was I on the ground?” She notices the bodies. “Oh! Who are they?”
Aramis: “Were you on the roof? Two spellcasters up there attacked me when I came to aid you.”
GM: “On the roof? No. Alein and I were together inside the shrine and heard a cry for help from the back. She told me to remain inside while she investigated, but she did not return. When I came to check on her her, I found the mist and cried out. After that … I suppose they … ensorceled me? But where is Alein?” She stands, and moves to inspect the bodies herself.
Aramis: “I intend to find out. What is your name, milady?”
GM: “Torea,” she says. “I am Alein’s … squire, I guess you could say.” Pulling the cowl aside, she gasps. “Oh! I recognize this man. He was at that bookstore – the Reality Wrinkle, it’s called – when that man was killed!"
Aramis: Aramis exchanges a glance with Reeoh. “Reality Wrinkle? That sounds rather like what we experienced earlier on.”
Reeoh: “An’ then some,” Reeoh mutters.
GM: “Odd little shop. Alein and I were among the first at the scene days ago when word spread that a man had died at the bookstore. Witnesses were unwilling to describe what had happened as anything more than an ‘unfortunate accident.’ The proprietor said that the victim fell down a staircase, but his body was covered with small bite marks and strangely drained of blood.”
Aramis: “I think our search should begin there, then. Though I need a moment to compose myself. Possibly several moments.”
Reeoh: “Ya think?”
GM: She nods distractedly. “I’m worried about Alein. I’m going to see if anyone nearby has seen her.”