Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 38

Moonday, Patchwall 10, 552 CY (50 AN)

Suddenly, Croitus, Dhavita, Marguerite, Osvanpyw, Resh, Southie, and Thava find themselves somewhere else, without their horses. They are in a well-appointed (albeit somewhat gloomy and bitterly cold) throne room. Sorrowsworn stand at attention around the walls, each standing guard. Two of the creatures flank an ornate throne upon which sits a black-clad maiden with alabaster skin and a cloak of raven feathers — the Raven Queen. She stares impassively ahead.

She inquires why they have requested her assistance, and Croitus reveals that they wish to return home. She seems offended that they have asked of her what any properly-trained magus can do, but they indicate that is their request. At discussion regarding his allegiance, Croitus expresses that she does not wish to stand against her, and so she enters into a non-aggression pact with him — he will not interfere with her and her servants so long as she does not antagonize him. Southie also volunteers that Bahamut made him an offer to leave this plane for another once his tasks are complete, chief among them likely involving slaying Lazghul the Lich-Lord. The Raven Queen notes this would please her, as he is a servant of Orcus (no doubt why he seeks the Shard of Evil, to slay assist his master in slaying her) and has evaded death for far too long. His Ivory Tower, however, is a fortress, and they would likely have to raise an army of their own to besiege it, unless they take it by stealth. She says if they agree to fight the Lich-Lord, she will send them home and see to it that they are no longer wanted for their crimes. The group huddles to discuss these matters, and says that doing the Raven Queen’s bidding sounds significantly more difficult than just finding some wizard to send them home. Dhavita also notes that she does not know if the Raven Queen’s offer to clear their names has some unforeseen loophole, such as the group no longer being wanted because they’re dead, or some such. Southie notes that he doesn’t know what constitutes standing against her, as he assumes Croitus’ pact binds them all, but the others think it does not. He breaks away to ask, and the Raven Queen indicates the pact only binds Croitus, as the others are not worrisome. Southie asks if she’s just a little concerned about him, but she replies that he will either come for her first or last. If he kills her first, how will he kill the other gods? If he kills her last, she will have too much time to prepare, and then how will he destroy her? Southie ponders this.

After much deliberation, the group decides to reject her offer. She bids them to leave immediately. Croitus makes one final comment, again calling her Nera, and she bids him to go, telling him she will not see him again.

The former gladiators leave her hall and travel through the palace, descending the stairs and descending the steep mountain that bears her keep. They begin heading south, and as they come to the ring of mountains, they notice a temple overlooking the pass to the south. They decide to investigate, ascending and knocking on the door. A pale, dark-haired woman answers, robed like a monk, tattooed, and bearing a spiderweb of slender silver chains threaded through her facial piercings. Croitus recognizes her as one of the shadar-kai, humans now native to the plane, and when they ask for sanctuary, she bids them to enter. They indicate they wish to raise a friend and return to the Prime Material Plane, and she says she will summon the priest. She bids them to sit and wait in a small chapel within the temple. She returns with a similarly tattooed and pale-skinned priest. He bears black robes embroidered with the raven’s head symbol of the Raven Queen. Piercings along his arms are threaded with chains terminating in two incense censers that dangle from his wrists, spreading clouds of fragrant incense. The priest seems pleased to see them, recognizing them as the Scandshar Six who have sent so many souls through the Raven Queen’s domain. They repeat their request to raise Resh and obtain transport back to the Prime Material, and he requests a donation of 5,000 gp. They’re about the discuss matters when Croitus merely pulls 5,000 gp from his pack. The priest asks if they have Resh’s body, and to bring it forth. They lay it upon the altar, and the priest chants over it and anoints it with oils and incense. There is a call and response, when some of the few shadar-kai in the pews wail. Finally, Resh’s ghost disappears and his body slowly awakens. When he has recovered, the priest bids the group to join hands and continues his chanting to enact a plane shift. After a few minutes, the vision of the chapel fades.

Croitus, Dhavita, Marguerite, Resh, Southie, and Thava appear in an overgrown field next to a small, ruined shrine to the Raven Queen. Osvanpyw does not accompany them. It is late afternoon. To get their bearings, Thava transforms into a dragon and flies into the air. Based on the position, they appear to be in the southeast of the Sorrowfell Plains, likely some miles to the west of Dawnslight. Before she can land, however, the spell ends prematurely, and she begins to fall. The others try to stand beneath her with a bag of holding, but she manages to weave a spell to slow her descent. When she lands, she reveals the information, and the group determines that this shrine marks the battlefield known as the Battle of Mezzik’s Farm during the Cackledread War.

As they prepare to camp, they hear footfalls through the grass. Croitus dons the hat of disguise, and with the exception of Southie, everyone finds cover. Southie is greeted by three hobgoblins and their contingent of thirty goblins. When he gives greeting, the hobgoblin leader demands, “Your money or your life.”

Southie is overjoyed.

The battle is swift and brutal. The three hobgoblins are quickly decimated by Southie’s axe blows, Croitus’ ghoul-amalgam, Resh’s arrows, and Thava’s fire magics. When Thava emerges from the trees as a dragon — albeit a grotesque, misshapen dragon as her magics again go awry — the goblins scatter and flee, although at least four of them don’t make it. The ghoul-amalgam manages to grab one and return it to the group for questioning. In broken Common, it reveals that it is a refugee from Gorizbadd. The others recognize Gorizbadd as the goblin name for Kiris Dahn, a human city that fell about eight years ago. Apparently, something has chased the goblins back out. As they question the captive, a brief shadow flickers over the sun. The interrogation is interrupted when a relatively young green dragon interrupts the conversation to snatch the goblin in its jaws.

Again, the battle is swift. Croitus orders the ghoul-amalgam to hold the creature’s jaws shut, while Resh and Southie antagonize it with weapons and Thava throws spells. Dhavita weaves a glamour using song to empower Southie’s attacks, but that draws the beast’s attention. Resh, however, leaps in its way and takes the blow as Southie cuts deeply into the beast’s neck. It falls and is still.

With that unpleasantness done, the group searches the fallen goblins and finds some trinket that potentially looks valuable. They also make camp and spend the rest of the day skinning and dressing the dragon to harvest anything of value.

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PsychicMayhem

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