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Color Coordinated

Astrid’s Journal

13 Lamashan 4709 AR

We freed the old men from their shackles. I had offered to just break them off, but Tythe had some other means of “unlocking” the bonds, which everyone else agreed was a better option. Zandu introduced us and showed Gill the letter from the Pathfinder Society; unfortunately, the would-be assassins had taken the book we were supposed to retrieve. Gill, a historian that is well-versed in military history, had read the book and gave us a detailed account of what he remembered.

The book contained codes. Gill had tried a few of them out and was alarmed when he discovered that Taldorian undead rose up from the shipwrecks surrounding the island city. Fortunately, the book also contained a “master code” that would nullify the others. Unfortunately, he could not recall the details of that last code.

We learned that the men shackled to Gill were the only people other than the Pathfinder Society that knew about the book, so we opted to escort them back to the Pathfinders where (we hoped) they would be safe. As we walked I saw a red light flash six times from the top of a very tall building. Gill said that it was one of the codes— in this case, it was a signal for the Black Echelon to poison a granary with gutwither. The three old men agreed they could get to the Pathfinder Guild alone while Gill accompanied us to the granary.

The granary was enveloped by a cold fog and we soon found the bodies of three dead guards. I opted to sing something to inspire my friends, as we were sure the assailants were inside trying to carry out their evil scheme. We rushed in and up spiraling stairs to find ourselves knee-deep in grain. Three obviously-undead creatures surrounded a rusty chest. They were hard to hit! I managed to slay one with my claymore, and Salma, with the power of her god, was able to damage the others. One cast some sort of spell and suddenly, I could not hear myself singing any longer! Two undead Black Echelon appeared to rise up from the grain, and with one more blast of energy, Salma was able to destroy them all. As soon as that happened, the cold mists cleared.

Gill had managed to alert some town guards to our situation, and they arrived just as Zandu was determining what was in the rusty chest: ten vials of gutwither, thankfully all unopened. We ran up and checked the rooftop where the signal had come from— there was no evidence to show that anyone had been there.

There was also no evidence that the three men we had rescued had ever made it to the Pathfinder Society’s headquarters. Our only lead on who had the book was, of course, the War Hounds that had attacked the four old men originally. Gill knew the location of one of Nessiam’s rivals and reluctantly suggested that we go there next to see if he knew of the War Hounds were holed up. We soon found ourselves wading through the flooded tunnels under the Puddles, or the “Siphons,” looking for a crime boss called “Grand Master Torch.”

We came to a door and were greeted with suspicion by a large half-orc guard, who eventually let us in to their hideout. We slogged our way past several rather unsavory-looking people, towards a bathtub where a severely burned man was being bathed by two women (is everyone in Absalom obsessed with bathing?). After listening to our request, he offered the information we sought under a condition: a price of 3000 in gold. We convinced him that we didn’t have that kind of money and he made us another offer: open three of five magical locked chests in the next room— according to him, his best underlings had been unable to open any of them. We agreed to try.

I was able to open two: a red box with a trio of angry golden faces on it— I glared back at it menacingly and it unlocked. Another had musical notation all over it and 10 pores along the lid— that one gave me a little trouble until I figured out how to play the tune on the lid itself, which caused it to open. Tythe picked the lock on an iron cask, and had actually opened a stone chest with an illusion cast on it, making it appear to still be closed (we eventually convinced her it was open so she could “see” it) and one covered in carved ivy had very small writing on its surface which turned out to be a riddle— Tythe blurted out the correct answer and it too unlocked.

Grand Master Torch was pleased that we had opened all five and gave us each 100 gold for our effort, as well as the information we had requested. Nessiam’s base is called the “Pyramid of the Dog” and is an old siege tower just outside Absalom. Thanking him for the information, we headed back to the surface— somehow, the entire night had passed and we had never made it to our room at the inn.

We debated going to the inn or heading toward the pyramid, when we spotted orange and green lights flashing on a cliff in the Puddles. Gill told us that was one of the final signals he’d read about, and it means a team of Black Echelon operatives are to prevent the organ pipes at Abadar’s Temple from playing, signaling an all-out invasion. I guess we are headed there next!

Posted by Kristin on November 5, 2008, 14:31 | Astrid’s Journal