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December 4, 2008

Having a Ball

Astrid's Journal

14 Lamashan 4709 AR

We elected to fight on. First, we needed to get through the thick wooden door in front of us. I was unable to kick it down, so Zandu torched it, and I used my claymore to break up the burning wood so we could enter more quickly. Our nemesis was already gone, but his means of departure was obvious: I pulled up a “hidden” trap door and we filed down and through some winding tunnels and caverns. Zandu’s dog and I split tracking duty, and when we came to a ladder, I slung the dog over my shoulder so we could ascend easily. We all came up in a storage building in the Coins district and then headed to the Puddles as far as Gill’s house. He was not home, and Nessiam was nowhere to be seen, so we took the tunnel back to the pyramid and did a proper search of the main tower. We were quite lucky— we found several lanterns with glass of different colors and an iron box— once Tythe got the lock open, we found the book Nessiam had stolen (as well as a large sum of gold and gems). Before heading back to the Pathfinder Society, we opted to memorize the “abort” code just in case we managed to lose the book.

I am happy to say that we did not lose the book, or get attacked, or witness armies of dead marching through the streets. We got the book to its destination and handed it over, then used the lanterns to render any further use of the codes ineffective. We were rewarded with seeing the unnatural fogbank along the harbor’s edge dissipate.

One would think we would go and take a well-deserved rest at this point, but Zandu had other ideas. After getting the Society’s cartographer Elias to look at his “map” (which is a big tattoo on his back), we all ended up nodding off in various corners while his map was meticulously copied by Elias.

Afterwards, we went to the Golden Griffin, where there was a big “bath” waiting. The bath turned out to just be a big tub of water that everyone used— I am not sure how this is supposedly cleaner than a river, where the water rinses away whatever needs washed, but it was warm, which was a pleasant surprise. It was quite late, well after the kitchen had closed, so I pleaded our case with the innkeeper, who kindly found us some fruit and bread to tide us over till breakfast. We shared a room— I do not remember too much after that, as I was quite worn out from two days of non-stop adventure.

Morning started out with a proper breakfast. I had planned to take it easy for the day, but shortly after we sat down in the common room a local woman burst in and exclaimed to the innkeeper (and anyone else within earshot) that her basement had demons in it. Curiosity piqued, we asked the innkeeper about her and learned that Goodwife Thestra was of sound mind. We wandered next door and offered to look around for her, and found a tunnel behind some barrels in her basement, and a shadow of… something. Before we could check that out, the town watch arrived and took over, insisting that this was now a crime scene and needed to be handled in an official capacity (never mind that we had rescued the town several times without their help over the past few days).

We started to feel a bit aimless. Salma decided she should drop in at her school and give them her portion of the gold we found. I guess that is her family. Later still, we returned to the Golden Griffin to find a letter waiting, addressed to Zandu. It said simply:

“I’m in need of your services— meet me at the Salty Dog. — TR”

I was actually relieved that we might have something to do, as I was getting restless, and I think Tythe was hitting the rum bottle a bit earlier than normal.

We headed straight to the Coins and to the aforementioned tavern. Upon entering, everyone in the place turned to look at us, and I thought we might have to fight our way through, but a man at the back of the room motioned to us and ushered us through a door to a private room. There we met Torin Radu, one of the two families we encountered upon our arrival in Absalom. He told us how his sister had been kidnapped by the filthy Torescos and somehow charmed into believing she was in love with one of them. Our “mission” will be to attend a fancy ball hosted at the Torescos with the hopes that we can get the Radu woman away from her captors. Dress clothes will be provided by the Radus.

Posted by Kristin at 00:00 | Astrid’s Journal

December 6, 2008

Well, that's over...

Zandu's Journal

Well, that’s over. After we burned the door down and followed Nessiam’s escape route for a while we searched the tower. The book was locked in an iron chest which was rather easily opened and we returned it to the Pathfinder Society. After making sure the master abort code was used I showed them my birth tattoo and explained a little about it. They brought in a nice cartographer and the next thing I knew I was being nudged awake. We then returned to the Golden Griffin Inn where we had a nice bath and something to snack on. Then it was suddenly morning.

While having breakfast, an older woman from next door came in and started screaming about demons in her basement. We went to check it out and discovered that someone had dug a hole right into her basement wall. As per my suggestion the town guard was called and they decided to take over from here, so we went to stock up on supplies.

When we returned to the inn there was a message for us from some one with the initials TR. We went to the tavern mentioned and it turned out to be the nice guy we helped a few days ago. He said his sister is under some kind of spell and we need to get her back. So we are going to attend a Ball and attempt to bring her home. This sounds like fun to me.

Posted by Fred at 11:25 | Zandu’s Journal

December 7, 2008

More Rum!

Tythe's Journal

More Rum!

Yeah, I’m drunk. What of it? I wanted that thrice damned creature of filth impaled on my sword after all we’d been through and he escaped!

The old man in the street was too slow and I took the bottle from him with a flourish of my rapier. Laughing as I bowed to him, I threw the gold with a wink to see his look of anger turn to one of drunken glee as he realized I’d just given him enough to stay drunk for a week. Removing my sword from the handle of the jug sheathing sword and raising the bottle to my lips I ran to catch up with the rest. Where to now? Who cares. I need a drink. More rum!

Posted by Jon at 09:03 | Tythe’s Journal

What are we thinking?!

Salma's Journal

We stood at the closed and locked door, nursing our wounds and shouting insults. Zandu set the door on fire; when there was no response we walked around the structure checking windows, but no one exited. When the bat was sent in, it said the place was empty, so Astrid smashed through the weakened entrance.

We searched for hiding places or secret doors (and Zandu informed us that he has brass dragon blood), finally discovering a loose flagstone in the floor. Astrid lifted it easily, exposing a trap door and ladder. We descended some thirty feet below the surface and found ourselves standing in a tunnel that seemed to lead back to the city.

I tried to tell the others that I was too tired to run, but when Astrid thoughtfully tried to carry me I had to laugh and agree to continue the chase. Thankfully, we missed any traps that might have been laid along the way. Even our running failed to catch up with our prey, unfortunately. We hauled up short when we reached a small cavern with two exits; now which way?

Zandu’s dog came in handy at this point, tracking (I hope!) the man through the exit straight ahead. Then a T junction and turn left, and another tunnel leading to a ladder up with a trapdoor at the top! Pushing on the trap door a few times, we finally got it open by knocking something over, then climbed up into a storeroom.

The place was full of boxes, crates, sacks and jars, but no people. Astrid carried the dog up the ladder, Zandu sicced it on the trail again, and we followed the dog through a door that opened into an alleyway between buildings. I was glad to be back in Absalom, but I was not so happy to see that we were in the heart of the Coins district. I warned the others to watch their purses as we followed the dog.

The dog led us back to the Puddles and lost the trail. Argh! Ah, well, at least we could check on Gill while we were there. Zandu tried to pay a streetwalker for information on Nessian, but I didn’t really believe her when she pointed up the street. We went to Gill’s house, instead, only find no one at home. Hopefully, he was still at the Pathfinders’ Guild.

And, after all the running around, Zandu announced that he wanted to head BACK to the tower. I could have cried! He had a point, though; perhaps Nessian had hidden the book, expecting to return after he lost us in the city. So, before food and rest, we walked back to the Pyramid of the Dog to search.

At least the place was still abandoned when we got there. Nothing was found downstairs, but the office upstairs looked promising. We found the colored signal lanterns, and a desk to search. A locked box was discovered, and Tythe set to work on it while I took a quick walk outside to look for anyone coming our way.

There was no one, so I came back to the office. Although Tythe had poisoned herself on a trap, she’d gotten the box open. And there it was - an old book full of battle plans and signals for an invasion fleet. Before anything else, I insisted on sitting down and memorizing the abort code on the last page! We all did, just in case, then took the lanterns (and, I must admit, some gold coins and gems) and headed back to town.

Tythe was looking pretty sick from being poisoned; I wanted to hurry; we had to walk through the Coins once more on our way to the Pathfinders’ Guild. Of course, a drunk stumbled into Zandu. When we stopped to check on the book (and our money), Astrid and Zandu saw Nessian standing across the street! We stared as he ducked into an abandoned building, but decided to get to the Guild before anything else.

At least we made it there without further incident, and were cheered to find Gill safe as well. (Tythe had gotten ahold of some rum at some point and told us all that she now felt “fine”) He checked the book, we gave him the lanterns, and guarded him safely to the roof to send the abort code before anything else could happen to stop us. Thank Irori, it is done.

Now, Zandu showed off his “map” - actually a tattoo he says is a birthmark. The Guild was quite interested, asking to make a copy so they could search their archives for a similar location. Zandu was worried about the discretion of whomever might see the map, and asked to meet the copyist first. They brought a very deaf old man, who Zandu decided was trustworthy, and I think we all fell asleep while the copyist was working.

It was after midnight by the time the gentleman was done, and they still have to search the Archives. We told the Guild members we’d be at the Golden Griffon, warned them about Nessian, and finally got a chance for a bath and bed. Better yet, we had a quiet night. In the morning, we divided the gold and gems over breakfast - a small fortune apiece for our work saving the city.

Suddenly, an old woman burst through the door and collared the owner, chattering so fast we all listened in to hear what was going on. Demons? We quickly offered to help, and she told us a story of demons in her basement, calling her name! I quietly asked the owner if this was, er, normal behavior, and he told me that Goodwife Thestra is certainly of sound mind.

Well, then. We followed her next door to her house (watching for Nessian too), then around back to her cellar door. She explained that the voices were threatening to kill her, too. When we entered, it seemed quiet - but Astrid spotted a shadow moving across the room! She started singing, then shouting at it, and it disappeared. We quickly checked the corner, hearing a scratching noise but seeing nothing.

After moving everything away from the corner, we found planks leaning against the wall. I moved the planks while the others held their weapons ready... and we found a small tunnel, only about three feet high, with a T junction visible about fifteen feet back. Goodwife Thestra was very surprised to hear about her “addition”! She has no pets, her husband is dead, and we decided it was time to call the town guard.

They promptly declared the area a crime scene and kicked us out of the house. So much for helping! Back to the Griffon we went, telling the owner that he should probably check his own cellar for any disturbance. His place was quiet (we listened at the walls to hear if anything was happening next door, even). Finally, we shrugged our shoulders and went back to waiting for the Guild’s map people.

I took some time to check in at my school, asking if there were any news (No? Good!), and donated most of the money I’d earned. I told them where I was staying, then walked back across town to the others. They’d been out buying healing potions and such, so we’d all just sat down when a message was brought for Zandu.

Not from the Pathfinders’ Guild, though; an short note telling him “I am in need of your services. Meet me at the Salty Dog. T.R.” The House member they’d assisted in their original fight, apparently! So, once again, we headed to the Coins district. Why do I keep ending up in the worst part of town?

The bar went quiet when we walked in, but a man in the back by a closed door beckoned us over. Astrid glared about as we walked through the crowd and showed Zandu’s note. Through the door we went, ending up in a small room with a table and some chairs and the man from the alley fight sitting behind it. Zandu happily greeted him.

Of course, it turned out to be a problem between Houses. I groaned - family politics! He wanted our help rescuing his kidnapped sister, who had been enchanted so as to think she is in love. Of course he refused to believe that she might be there of her own free will. No one from his House could get into their manor, so he wants us to go to their fancy dress ball tonight and somehow get her back.

To my horror, the others quickly agreed to assist in this mad scheme, and we were supplied with fake IDs, fancy dress, and forged invitations before I could protest!


Zandu asked to see a portrait of the lady, which was shown, and then we were given a sleeping potion in case we couldn’t persuade her otherwise. Then, back to the Griffon until the party. Astrid entertained us with tales of her homeland - ice trolls, evil fae, Baba Yaga, and giants. I’m afraid I was distracted by my worries, however.

The fake IDs made Zandu a silk merchant, and me his wife. Astrid was a bodyguard to Tythe, a political emissary. Of course, everyone got changed at the Griffon anyway - I’m quickly becoming convinced that I’ll never be able to live in Absalom again, regardless of how big this city is!

We walked in all our finery back to the Salty Dog, where a carriage was waiting to take us to the fine manor house and the ball. Our IDs checked, we found ourselves some of the first “guests” to arrive. There was no sign of the hosts, or the sister. Zandu and I found a table and busied ourselves listening, while Tythe and Astrid made a scene as the drunk politician and her bodyguard at the bar.

Zandu and I heard a little talk of nobles going missing, and joined the dancing in order to glean more. Meanwhile, Tythe and Astrid tried to join a table of gossipy noblewomen, with no luck. Finally, a bell rang to announce the entrance of the Lord and Lady of the house. The Lady was the sister we were looking for, and she didn’t look at all like she was being coerced.

Zandu danced us over to them, introducing himself and thanking them for the invitation. He made up a tale about selling the Lord his silks and did his best to finagle an apppointment for more. I was embarrassed - so much for my career as a spy! But eventually we went to talk to the others at the bar —- and saw Nessian was there talking to a man we did not know.

Tythe boldly walked up to Nessian and his friend and invited them to dance, leaving the rest of us to sit at the bar and watch. I told Zandu that, honestly, I thought the Lady was fine and we should just come clean with her as to what her brother is up to. Although Tythe and Astrid flirted madly with Nessian and his friend, they weren’t able to stop them from leaving the ball early. What surprised us was that the Lord left with them!

This put a new spin on things, in my opinion. I desperately wanted somewhere private to talk things over with everyone. We ended up in the ladies’ room, talking over plans, while Zandu stood outside watching for anyone coming. I told the others that we ought to lure the Lady here, give her the sleeping potion, change her clothes with one of our own costumes, and sneak her out while pretending she’s drunk.

Zandu was soon in on the plan, which the others added their own finishing touches to. Tythe remained “passed out” on the couch in the ladies’ room, while Zandu went for a glass of wine at the bar, and Astrid walked up to the orchestra, halting them mid-song. She stood on the stage and began to sing... and everyone stopped, spellbound.

Quickly, I took the opportunity to step up behind the Lady, quietly telling her that I needed to talk privately, with a message from her brother. We met Zandu at the bathroom door, and he gave me the glass of wine as we walked inside and he stayed out to guard again. Once there, I couldn’t think of anything persuasive, so I just told her the truth about her brother’s fears.

She took it well enough, but she was determined to stand by her Lord. She wanted us to give her brother a message in return that she was just fine! But when she started to walk out, I gave her the wine, and as she held the glass, I told her what we knew of Nessian, and my fears that her Lord would be friends with this man. She was still determined to stay, and in the end, I let her walk away. At least she’d been warned...

Down the hall she went, obviously concerned, and without thinking she drank the glass of wine. She collapsed without a sound! We carried her back to the bathroom as fast as we could, changing her clothes with Tythe’s while changing plans slightly. Zandu and I carried the unconscious Lady out past the Master of Ceremonies, explaining that the “Ambassador” had had a bit too much, bundled her into her brother’s carriage, and were gone.

Astrid was still singing to the enrapt crowd when Tythe came screaming out of the bathroom naked as the day she was born to distrupt the entertainment. Astrid went into “bodyguard” mode; her charge had been robbed! Tythe had a grand fit about getting clothes and a ride home. There was a huge commotion and confusion, and they were soon back at the Griffon drinking their success.

Zandu and I, meanwhile, went straight to the Salty Dog with our passenger. The carriage let us out in front of the darkened bar and disappeared into the night. We went around back, finding an unlocked door, and headed across the dark room for the private door. Her brother sat behind the table... dead.

Posted by Kate at 16:46 | Salma’s Journal