Starday, Harvester 15, 552 CY (50 AN)
Ashraf is ransacking an artificer’s shop, looking for components, when he feels a faint and distant rumble. Within a minute or so, a panicked man — weaponless, but wearing the garb of mercenary or private security agent — runs past the shop. Ashraf sticks his head out of the front door and asks what is the matter. The man turns to respond — and upon seeing a kobold, tries to flee. Ashraf responds by activating the electrical device he recently built and place on his shoulder, firing a gout of electricity at the man. Despite being shocked, he continues to flee; before he makes it to the alleyway to escape, Ashraf hits him with a second blast, and the man collapses into a twitching, singed mess. Determining he is close to the Heart of Scandshar, Ashraf gathers his tools and heads in that direction.
Meanwhile, Croitus’ guard-amalgam holds the door shut while Nobody, Resh, and Southie proceed to search the bar and nightclub portion of the Heart of Scandshar. Khuna sets about treating her wounds. Finding no one hiding in the nightclub, they are about to turn their attention to the door when they see Ashraf purposefully striding down the street toward the nightclub. He appears differently, however, now wearing a jumpsuit with a shoulder-mounted rifle and a utility belt. While functional, all of these things appear to have been made piecemeal. The group lets him into the Heart of Scandshar, and he and Resh set about building a trap on the door to make noise and hopefully slow anybody down as they enter.
Once the six are finished with their preparations, Croitus recalls his guard-beast to aid him, and they make their way downstairs.
Passing the privies, they come to a door at the end of the hall, leading into a smaller meeting area. A couple of tables are set here, likely for meetings or playing some sort of gambling games. The left side of the room bears a bookcase, while a bar sits at the far end. To the right of the bar, against the far wall, is a door.
A pair of eyes peer from behind the bar, and they quickly disappear as the group enters.
The group does a cursory check of the room, but largely moves over to the bar, where they find a very frightened woman in a maid’s outfit. She immediately begins pleading for her life, indicating that she is the only financial support for her family since her husband was injured in a mill accident. Confronted with unsavory characters, heavy weapons, and an undead guard monstrosity, she soils herself and collapses into blubbering.
Having donned her plague mask, Khuna starts inquiring as to the existence of the vault. The terrified woman reveals that the vault is concealed behind the bookcase, and only Torili Two-Spirit has the key. Incidentally, someone broke into the vault about a week ago by simply vaporizing the door and scattering the guards; this door is new, and likely has some manner of security system on it. Croitus and Khuna note the room is arranged according to geomantic principles to have some sort of magical effect, likely to summon something.
Deciding that it is much more difficult to try to disarm the summoning spell rather than just triggering it, they get to it. Ashraf is prepared to pick the lock while the guard-thing looms over him, guarding his back. Croitus, Khuna, and Resh stand in the entryway, guarding the maid, while Nobody and Southie position themselves in the room, leaving room in the center for the thing to be summoned. Then, Ashraf gets to work.
A wind whips through the room, followed by lashing rain. Suddenly, a behemoth of stone appears in the middle of the room, lunging for Ashraf. He activates one of the functions of his jumpsuit, briefly de-materializing while the others attempt to harry and distract the stone creature. Southie tries to carve at it with his axe, and while he seems to loosen some of the stones in the thing’s tough hide, it slams him in the torso, flinging him across the room. While Resh keeps it pinned with arrows, Nobody and the guard-amalgam move to engage it. It tears the guard-thing apart, then teleports across the room to face the group clustered in the alcove. Southie leaps onto its back, trying to carve at its throat, but the stony creature effortlessly grabs him and tosses him backward, flinging him into the bar and amidst the shattered glass of a broken case and various glass bottles. As his injuries have started to grow worrisome, he decides to take a brief breather, grabbing a bottle to drink from it.
Nobody, having received a small flamethrower device from Ashraf, moves to engage the beast with fire. As it focuses on Nobody, Khuna rushes across the room to tend to Southie’s wounds. Croitus and Resh run into the room and start moving tables in the hopes that will disrupt the geomantic energies that summoned the creature. It does not, and with most of the room ignoring it, it returns to attack Ashraf. It tries to crush his head against the vault door, but he de-materializes at the last second. Resh moves to attack and distract the thing, but it flings him to the ground, breaking his spear in the process. Although Khuna has not had sufficient time to treat Southie’s wounds, his rage fuels him, and he leaps back to his feet, ready to rejoin the fray. After a further sustained assault, Nobody finally destroys the thing with a well-placed blast of fire. The rocks dissolve, and the rain and wind stop.
About this time, the group hears the noisemaker trap by the front door activate, apparently marking the passage of the maid. They let her go as Croitus rebuilds the guard-thing and the others focus on their wounds. Ashraf finishes cracking the vault.
Once he is finished and Khuna has treated as many of the group as she can in the little time allotted, they decide to investigate before opening the door. They check out the door at the far end of the room, finding a sitting room and a plush office. Southie strews his own filth around the office, destroying the objets d’art he finds within. Croitus, however, realizing that the pieces might be valuable, takes them.
With that task done, they open the vault.
Shelves line the walls, and two treasure chests sit at the far end of the room. The shelves contain a small, burlap bag; a small, metal canteen; a glass jar; a grappling hook; an ornate helmet; an executioner’s axe with a heart-shaped blade and a white-and-red striped haft; a large scroll case; a wrapped object about the size of a deck of playing cards; a heavy and ornate-looking key; a bedroll; a dressform with a suit of quilted leather armor on it; a coil of rope; and a slim, leather book.
Ashraf immediately goes to work on the lefthand treasure chest, but is surprised by the righthand chest as it springs to life. Unable to get out of the way in time, it grasps him in writhing tendrils and pulls him apart, the sound of tear sinews and the spray of blood filling the room. The others leap into combat — Southie even grabs the executioner’s axe, burying it in the creature — and make short work of the mimic, but it is already too late.
After a quiet moment, they get back to looting the vault. A spiraling white coral horn, likely usable as a spearhead, is found in the mimic’s remains; Nobody takes it. Southie recognizes the executioner’s axe as the legendary Jolly Dancing Headsman’s Axe of Voivodja, an executioner’s axe used in service of the Heart Queen. It apparently enjoys killing so much that it will dance in the air, allowing the user to attack enemies at a distance. He takes it and the ornate helm, using the axe to open the remaining treasure chest. Several sacks are within, most containing gold but some containing gems. When Croitus tells Southie that the helm is likely an object to boost his intelligence, he parts with it; Croitus takes it. Nobody dons the armor; when she wears it, it turns into a lovely gown of Elven make. She decides to keep it. Khuna wraps several objects — the canteen, the scroll, the key — in the bedroll, while Croitus determines the small, burlap sack to be a bag of holding and shoves the remaining objects and the sacks of valuables inside. Ashraf’s corpse is placed within, in case they can raise him.
Satisfied, the group returns upstairs, but sees guards moving through the streets. They decide to exit through the sewers.
Croitus leaves the guard-thing in the sewers to cover their escape and wander until it finds a guard patrol. Dodging the sewer patrols, the others return to the ruins, holing up in an abandoned building to examine their loot. Croitus, holding the bag of holding, the glass jar, the grappling hook, the deck of cards, the rope, and the book, starts to examine them. He recognizes the glass jar as a flask of breath, an object that always has air within. He also recognizes the book as a Tract of Teratology, a book describing how to summon a creature which can do the group’s bidding. He messes with the grappling hook; when he throws it at a broken wall and successfully hooks it, a rope extrudes from it to his hand. The deck of cards appears to be a mundane deck, and when he tries to lasso Resh with the rope, it doesn’t do anything special. Resh tosses the hook at Khuna, but only succeeds in clubbing her in the head and scratching her shoulder with it. She wanders off with her bedroll tucked under her arm.
While the others examine their objects, she wanders to the front entrance of the building to keep a lookout and examine her items. She is about to look at the canteen when she sees five people approaching: four armed and armored men, and one woman wearing loose-fitting clothing, like what one might wear in the desert. She shoves the object back in the bedroll and retreats inside to warn the others.
Informing them that someone is coming — but asking them not to kill her — the others arm themselves but continue about their business until a voice calls out in greeting. Croitus unleashes the ghoul-thing and approaches, while the others approach, casually holding their weapons. Khuna approaches the group, donning her plague-mask. The woman and her associates seem unconcerned.
The woman is thin and willowy, of dusky skin and wearing the exotic, billowy garb one might associate with the desert. Most notably, her lips are cracked and swollen — but not from thirst or injury, it appears. Khuna’s primary association is a disease that primarily affects boas and pythons — a degenerative neurological disorder that causes erratic behavior and degenerative symptoms.
When asked, the woman introduces herself as Zafira Shulud, native to the Kharha Desert on the isle of Anhak. Brushing aside Khuna’s concerns about her apparent ailment, she describes herself as a pilgrim, suggesting that her affliction marks her as a seer. She has apparently come to Scandshar to find a girl named “Dhavita,” apparently a woman of some destiny. Zafira has little information regarding her, however, and plans on continuing to seek information regarding this woman.
Khuna does not intimate to anyone that she was known as Dhavita before she came to the gladiator pits.
However, at the revelation that this woman is apparently some sort of priestess, the lot ask if she might be able to raise dead, as they have a deceased companion. Although she lacks the capacity to do so, she could cast such a ritual if she could acquire ritual components and a ritual scroll. She thinks it would cost around 2,000 gp. The group decides this is a good idea, although they take a moment to discuss how they want to go about this new course of action.