Ad Astra Per Arcana

Katya's Journal Part 33 - Latest Notes

I brew a bleach mix that she uses in her hair, the smell scares off some pigs. Connie dies her hair blue and removes her hat. 2 1/2 days later the big doors open. I make my Will save

Gnome minerologist has knowledge of how to get to the world serpent inn from this in between place. Skinny bald monk with mustache gnome carrying a walking stick and gear humming comes in and walks straight to the bar.

Jinsi walks up and asks his name, introduces ourselves. They offer to buy drinks and he and connie escort him to the bar. Jinsi misses it as I notice a half-orc and two others from the Underdark glancing at Constance. Gnome starts calling her goldilocks. Info isn’t cheap, but you girls seem okay. He leans over and grins hugely and says Pay My Tab.

Jinsi and Constance go up to bar and try to nonchalantly pay his tab. Turns out it’s only 200gp
So Connie gives up some Sapphires and orders another round of drinks. He tries to take them to the back, but Connie brings in us and he gets surly. We go all the way back and it has a big crevass in the back wall. There you go, that will take you out into the back hallway of the bar.

Fine then you wouldn’t mind if one of my friends tests it, I say as I grab him.

Jinsi says fine, she goes through in to a hallway and follows some twists and turns into the middle of a bar. She comes back and says we’re good, I let the guy go. He gives me a glare and I turn and hiss at him while my hair acts like snakes.

We go to World Serpent Inn with big tower in the middle with a big door, pit where people fight, wide variety of beings and entities drinking. We all feel very energized by being here with FAST HEALING I. Gnomish waitresses with butterfly wings flitter about.

We need to 1) get drunk and 2) get information

They get a booth against the wall while I order drinks at the bar. Hodey orders fermented larva, Connie orders something Pink Mist, Jinsi something double layer thick slice of foam with a spoon/ale foam, and me something that will make a succubus forget the next morning.

Hodey wolfs it downs, his eyes cross and he hiccups before he sighs in joy.

He pulls out a tiny bottle with a shot glass and pours six drops of a smoky smi transparent fluid. 100gp.

I offer a tip, he says look up the angels that come through. I drink it up and fail my save. I believe my CHA has gone up 5 points, but in reality my DEX/WIS are at a -4. I am enjoyably fucked up.

DR/10 FAST HEALING 2 IN COMMON ROOM

MAGIC REQUIRES A DC 15 SPELLCRAFT CHECK

WE ALL SEE INVISIBLE

Connie’s ghosts are quite visible now. 3 or 4 miniature transluecent Slimer ghosts float around her head, causing me to snort and chuckle as I point. They sound like groans and moans.

We hang out and drink as I stumble around dancing drunk for the angels to show up. One of the waitresses shows up and lists specials of bitopian cheese and matza bread.

I ask a Neogi how to enter the fight? He says the money gets made on betting. You’re delicate for a human. Who are you calling human? You see these horns? Does it look like I’m human? He thinks I’m going to fight, I say no I get other people to do my fighting for me. Oh yes I understand. I’m drunk not stupid though so I’m not going to fight.

jinsi notices a thricreen primitive /dark sun guy steps in when someone stiffs a waitress and a sizeable lizard man with sun on his chest. no angels but a devil or two and a modrone where his cube has blooming clover on its head.

Jinsi points out the modrone, a being of pure order. Bonkers lawful type. carries a wooden staff. I slosh up to Jinsi and suggest she talk to it since they’re both lawful. ice breaker. You may ask… I am Oxenbloom the only Modrone Druid! Jinsi asks it about Remfa. It reacts and it tries to turn into a cat transformer. Jinsi tosses a bar mug at one of us to get our attention. it levitates in the air and a waitress gives her lecture about the rules. Jinsi asks her help to get our attention. Waitress gets us and we follow the cat. the hallways twist and turn, the effects change and corridors fill with mist.

it turns back into druid. why remfa? family reunion. Hodey talks to the Modrone instead. I will have to commune and seek the answer first. yes one future is that I will help you. for that to happen we shall have to survive first though look out behyind you.

trio of halflings comes down the hallway at us – Black Tentacles is cast twice and they come out of the walls. we are grappled.

JINSI throws some shurikens at the halfling and really whacks one in the face while another takes cover. Constance jumps through time and appears out of the spell range. She grabs me and we port behind three surprised halfings wearing matching wizard robes. hodey screams for annika I launch a lightning bolt at attacked halfling who hurts and teleports away with a ring. he used a planeshift spell

Jinsi and Hodey get grappled again. Hodey tries to escape but fails. Jinsi breaks free and tries to attack guy around the corner using acrobatics. hits guy in the head barely and knocks him back. Connie cassts Searing Light on other Halfling. I try a Hold Person and he visibly shrugs it off. He casts lightning bolt at us so 4 POINTS DAMAGE. Other casts at Jinsi and she dodges. She sweeps him and slugs him hard. Constance uses Command on Halfling but he shrugs it off. I say mine’s bigger and cast another lightning bolt. they both turn their rings and disappear.

they were all wearing an ensamble in various shades of green hoods, Jinsi kicks the teeth out of one and she and i scoop up some for trophies and scry spells. Connie and Hodey tries a knowledge Sigil roll: I try knowledge Planes:

They are freelance identical triplet evokers from sigil. mercenaries for hire out to get constance. That uniform comes up alot under rthe Planar Trade Consortium run by Estevan the Ogre. Wasn’t expecting ruffians let’s go somewhere quiet to talk.

I offer Connie my ring to keep her disguise changing and she offers a bottle of fey wine and the planar mace in extended exchange.

I try to talk to it about preserving the balance, doesn’t work. I suggest hitting it upside the head since it’s a machine then. Modrone looks at Hodey closely and says OK.

So are we close? Will you take us? I will return in 3 days with a scroll you will find useful. We get a room. Hodey orders food that’s an array of bugs and worms. I comment about the protien and munch a few before saying it tickles. We rest and I have Omen in the rafters of the hallway keeping watch. I cast mage armor on him too.

modrone returns with a scroll tube and we go into room and look at it. no one can know I gave this to you. I am now done, it’s trees and flowers and woodland creatures for me. he goes back to main common room and we look at scroll which is part star chart part planar references part indecipherable mathematics written in sapphire mage’s handwriting.

I study it and it looks like steps to do to get to the castle. sword used in the beginning leading to the cudgel as the next step.

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Katya's Journal Part 32- The Bar Between

Constance does information gathering. Dwarf says she’s full of it what are you really looking for. Doesn’t know what she’s talking about. They decide to look for rangers, I suggest they ask the temples. I go to the Temple of Bocob to do some research.

I talk to the steward and offer 10gp Connie tries to stop me and I say that I’m making a charitable donation to the church. Jinsi makes a donation to their war orphan fund and asks them very nicely. They go off to find information about the valley for us. Nobody knows anything about a veil touched valley around here. However, past the double doors down below in the Underdark there’s all such crazy shit.

No one knows the deeper regions like Taurine Leadstick, a Gnomish minerologist always running around in the Underdark. Even the Lord Mayor is unaware, the Deep Doors do exist, between the city and the underdark. Heavily guarded and warded against invaders and the such. In between the deep doors there is a BAR called Helkiums Pit. If you’re looking for something exotic, that would be the place to look. The secret is that it has a steady portal to the World Serpent Inn.

Jinsi asks about a guide, he says go to the bottom level and find Leadstick. Hodey notices people carry weapons that are made of a particular type of metal. Oerthblood is the name.
We’re heading down through the residential to the industrial section. I lurk in the shadows and let people pass me by while the others talk to dwarves and act diplomatic. I wheel and deal trading a vial of liquid mithral for an Oerthblood Dagger. Dagger and 30 crossbow bolts. Masterwork. +1 luck to attack/damage – target damaged gets -1 penalty to all magic saves for one round. (stacks)

Oerthblood is blood of the planet. They’re going to kill the planet! Gasp! Well not right NOW anyway. We travel a day and a half through the city through catacombs thanks to a guide. Robed humans and armored dwarves. I FAIL MY WILL SAVE Alcoves in the walls with glowing balista aimed at the doors. We seek passage! May we go through the door? State your purpose. We’re going to the bar. More clueless kids slumming, Thorfin! We’ll be opening the door again in 3 days.

When we enter the bar I alter my appearance with my ring and slip away into the crowd. Middle or so a hand painted sign says Helcum’s Pit with a big iron glove pointing at the door.
Glowing minerals light up the bar with a column of stone. Hodey talks with bartender about obtaining something from that column and he gets nailed with a bar rag around his head. Just because we’re used to you doesn’t mean you can’t be civil! "

I whisper “Man can you believe how much they’re asking for her? She’s only a human!” in the crowd to see if anyone takes the bait.

Gnome was looking for a vein of Dwyerite, he should be back recently. Connie asks about the valley. Not much response from the crowd. We’ll have to wait for the Gnome. Annika looks to get it on with a pretty dwarf. I drink and ask about the World Serpent Inn, but nobody knows anything. Jinsi is keeping an eye on Constance, who wanders around the bar looking at people. A couple of people look like they’re trying not to look at her. Grungy adventurer types. Connie walks by and they clam up. Jinsi hides and tries to listen to people’s conversations and notices there’s a tall thin guy in dark armor/clothes with a spiked chain who is watching her. Seems human. Seems amused by Jinsi. Annika gets drunk with a pretty dwarf. I wander off to the bathroom, do some detect magic scans, and draw a wanted poster of Constance in the bathroom.

We camp out in the hallway and are woken up by an ambush. Constance takes damage as ninja with chain appears. Annika says terrible mistake and threatens guy. Annie goes all hardcore and licks her blood as she gets her ass beat. Jinsi throws a rock at him and misses widely. I wake up and try and hide while he’s distracted. Connie casts burning disarm on him and he drops his weapon. Annika hits him and then steps back casting mirror image. He sweeps up his chain over and around hitting annika. Jinsi hits him but he saves vs his stunning fist

I summon a pseudonatural dretch of clay flesh and tentacles that appears in the middle of melee and lets loose a stinking cloud. Jinsi is fine, Connie and others have to make their saves. Connie makes my creature disappear and casts Searing Light at the ninja. Annika says Surrender or Die. Jinsi rolls her eyes. He says nothing, Annika says fine I kill you and does her usual thing with shocking grasp. He teleports away though.

Hodey heals people with his caulk gun. Connie’s a teenager who thinks she’s invincible so she’s always on front lines. We take time to heal, Katya goes into the bar for a drink. Some people move their tents away from us to be careful. I cast Read Magic and check out the bar, finding some magical grafitt, some obscene, but no hints towards any portals. Jinsi gets real protective of Connie. Hodey sees drawn onto the wall a picture of Connie I drew on the bathroom wall. Jinsi says “Really, in a privy?” They whitewash it. Jinsi says she’s going to look out for anyone doing it and give them a good thrashing. Somebody is spying on us! How did they know we were here?
I try to deal with a Drow for some poison but he laughs at me. Constance agrees with Jinsi that she needs to cut and change her hair. We sleep in an alcove that Jinsi guards and tries to set traps in. People tend to avoid the metal roaches. Hodey makes some stuff when 2 1/2 days later the doors open.

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Katya's Journal Part 31 - Wanted Dead or Alive
Connie the Human Target

“Let’s get a drink,” I suggest eagerly after the last of us steps through the portal and back to the rain soaked streets of Sigil. “I’m thinking something in a large glass that’s particularly strong,” I chuckle to myself.

Hodey knods eagerly. “I know the perfect place!” He leads us through the twists and turns of the theatre district till eventually we’re led to a large building reminiscent of a plantation crossed with a beaver dam… with only a 5ft door. “Come on in and meet the family!” He says with a grin as he pushes open the door to reveal a warm comforting light, and the sounds of many Kobolds running about.

“A Kobold warren ?” I ask incredulously.

“As long as the drinks are flowing and nobody is trying to kill us,” Annika says with a shrug before she stoops and walks through the door.

“I think they’re cute! Come on, Katya… don’t be a grumpy puss!” taunts Constance before she joins the crowd.

“Just keep the drinks coming…” I mutter as I pull out the Kobold spray that I crafted out of my pouch, “…and keep them off of me.”

A pink-tinged youngling with a viking-styled helmet skips over to Hodey and hands him a rat on a stick before grabbing Hodey’s other hand and leading him into the waiting arms of his clan. They bombard him with questions about his career as he pulls various toys out of his sack like a scaled Santa Claus.

Suddenly there’s a tugging on my braids as well as around the edges of my skirt. I look down and cringe as I see a number of Kobold children looking at my horns in wonder. “Get off… go away…” I say as I spritz them with repellant. They sneeze and rub their eyes for a moment, but seem determined not to take the hint.

“Where did you get your horns? Are you Dragonkin too?”

I can see that handling these little creatures is going to take a more subtle touch then throwing them into an oven and cackling. I look around and find a small stool to sit on as I motion for the children to sit in a circle at my feet.

“Where did I get my horns? Let me tell you a tale… a story of a great darkness… a story of despair… a story of blessed madness as the Great One rises from his ocean tomb to meet out his wrath upon all planes of existance!” Some of the children scatter as my voice rises in a crescendo of impending doom… but some of them merely stare at me entranced. My glory crosses all races and worlds…only the truly blessed have minds willing to see.

“Do you think I should bring on some more staff, Katya?” asks Hodey as he manages to separate himself from his family’s inquisition.

“I think we should start branding the lot of you so I can keep track of your brood,” I snort in derision.

“We do shed, you know.”

“Guess we’ll just have to go in deep, then. Besides… a little ritual scarring never hurt anybody.”

“Do you think we could stop back at the ship before you start getting kinky?” Annika asks with a roll of her eyes. “We need to stow our cargo in a safe place, you know.”

“What about Jinsi?” asks Constance. “Can she come with us?”

“I think it would be wise, considering your current need for protection,” replies the ninja as she makes her way effortlessly through the crowded room to sit by the oracle.

“Well, we’ll need to discuss payment… how much you willing to work for?” asks Hodey cautiously.

“I am dedicated to my god and have sworn a vow of poverty, so-”

“YOU’RE HIRED!”

“-any salary you choose to give me should instead be given to the local orphanages here in Sigil.”

Hodey’s large grin faulters for a moment before he grins and nods. “Fair enough… sounds like we’ve got a new crew member then.”

“I’m sure you and Jinsi will have a lot to talk about,” I reply as I walk past to the bar to refill my mug. “You two are both so alike… only difference is that Jinsi chooses to give her salary up for kids.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sleep comes in fits and spurts that night as I toss and turn on the bedroll I’ve laid out in my lab. I don’t trust my dreams anymore… it used to be if I drank enough I wouldn’t remember them, but lately they’ve been getting worse. The voices… they only speak to me on occasion when I’m awake, but when I sleep they’re so loud that I just…I can’t shut them out. They speak to me of horrors my mind could never comprehend…they promise me that my enemies will be consumed in the belly of the beast that lives beneath the waves if I but speak his name… and gods help me… I can’t wait to see it.

I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, scrambling to my knees with a piece of chalk as I hurriedly sketch what I hope to be a protective circle around my bedroll before curling up into a fetal position and staring at the flickering light of the tallow candle that has nearly reached the end of its wick.

“Just like my soul,” I whisper…

…and then the flame goes out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Morning finally comes, and I stumble my way to the bar for a strong cup of coffee as the others discuss the nature of the Sword of Fedefensor.

“I did some research, and this is quite the demonslaying weapon, I can tell you,” begins Hodey. “This metal, though…” he tings it with a claw and it rings out with a pure tone, “I just can’t identify it. It seems like some sort of extra-planar silver, though.”

(INT +2 Fiendbane Silver Bastard Sword)

“Any idea what we should do with it now that we’ve got it?” asks Constance.

“We could always destroy it,” I mutter from the bar. “Then we’ll know for sure that they can’t use it for whatever ritual they’ve got in mind.”

“I’ve got no problem with that,” replies Hodey. “I’m sure I could get quite a lot out of this if I broke it down…”

Suddenly the sword begins to shake on the table as a howling noise eminates from it. “Nooooo!”

“Wonderful… it’s an intelligent sword.” I grab a bottle of rum and start adding it to my coffee; It’s going to be a long day.

“What is your purpose, oh mighty sword?” Constance asks it sweetly. “We don’t want to harm you…” she frowns at Hodey and I before smiling and continuing, “we just want to know how you’ll help me see my grandfather.”

“I kill fiends.”

I snort in derision. “You’re not helping your case against destruction with a statement like that.”

“That’s it? Are you sure you don’t have any higher purpose than that?” asks Constance again.

“There is no higher purpose than killing fiends. I was to be used in a dedication ritual in Fortitude, that is all I know.”

“Dedication ceremony… right… why would a bunch of rogue Harmonium cops bother this much to get you if they’re just using you for a dedication ceremony? I smell something fishy here… and this time it’s not coming from the kitchen.” I slam my empty mug down on the bar and push myself out of my seat wearily. “Look… I’ve got some shopping that needs to be done here in Sigil. Whatever you guys decide to do, I’ll be back in a few hours.”

“I’d like to try and do some more research on the sword while we’re here before we decide anything,” says Constance. “Why don’t we all agree to meet back here for lunch?”

Everyone nods and goes their separate ways while I find my way to the nearest shop of magical devices. The vial containing the piece of that creature is growing restless… I’m going to need some tokens of repose to keep it quiet if I’m going to continue my testing.

After a few hours I make my way back to the ship with token in hand and an idea that I’ve got to ask Hodey about. He’s been offering to build items for people in our downtime… I wonder how he’d feel about a glass coffin of repose? It shouldn’t be hard… and it would be so helpful if I could get some bigger test subjects. I simply must see if I can recreate that regeneration process.

“You wouldn’t believe what we found on Bral!” exclaims Hodey as he waves around a stack of papers in his hand.

“Is that bard you like in town again?” asks Constance hopefully. “He was sooo dreamy…”

“Even better!” Hodey grins widely and slaps the papers on the table to reveal the crudely drawn image of Constance… with a rather hefty amount listed as a reward underneath. “You’re a wanted fugitive of justice!”

“Just what I always wanted,” Constance laughs weakly as she looks over the posters. “I know they don’t like me on Bral, but really… 3,000 gold?”

“There were more posters, but these were the only ones I could grab before Jinsi stopped me,” Hodey replied.

Constance looks at Jinsi questioningly. “Removing wanted posters is against the law,” Jinsi replies matter-of-factly.

“Any luck on your research?” asks Annika. “I ended up getting stuck for hours in lines here in Sigil; hopefully you had better luck.”

“Actually, I did find something when I was in Waterdeep,” begins Constance as she pulls a book from her pack. "I ran across a book about the planes that had some rather interesting notes in the margin about trying to find the Demiplane of Time. From what I could decipher, this person has tried many times, and came to the conclusion that an “Artifurnace” is required."

“That sounds nasty… what is it?”

“Apparently it’s a helm that runs on artifacts instead of spellcasters. From what I could find, only the Arcane know how to make one, though.”

“Those blue bastards… we try to make a deal with them for one and our grandkids will still be paying off the debt,” I growl. “There has to be another way.”

“The notes also talked of another way… through the lawful city of Mertion in the Platinum Heaven. Rogue Modrone founded it and it resides on the edge of the demiplane of time.”

“Wonderful… so now we’ve got to go through multiple layers of heaven; wait till they get a load of us!”

“Any idea who wrote in those margins?” asks Hodey.

“Not sure, but the book belonged to the great wizard Tenser,” replies Constance as she flips to the back of the book. “Hang on… what’s this?” She scrambles to her feet and takes the book over to a window. One of Hodey’s mechanical bugs crawls down her arm onto the book, and after a few moments two pieces of parchment fall from it to the ground. “A-HA!”


References to another way – through Mertion, the Platinum Heaven, a Lawful city founded by rogue Modrone called Rempha, the city on the sands of time. You have to go through each step of heaven to get there. From the library of the archmage Tenser. She finds something hidden inside the back cover of the book. Connie takes it to a window and tries to extract it out without damaging it using the metal bug. Two folded pieces of parchment come out. She opens it to find it’s a brief recorded history of Rempha. Alliance with Ionius the Sapphire Mage who looked back in time, shattering his mind. They hid his daughter in safety (ie her). Granddad and mom’s involvement and Rempha partially exists in a glacial valley on the prime material somewhere.

Modrone worked with Batezu to build the city because the angels wouldn’t.
THE BRINGING – Chronomancy? Illithid involvment in the temporal plane to resurrect their ancient empire? temporal anomalies created by the lady of pain, time cops

Annika suggests we follow the clues of the book to find this valley on the prime material. prime plane is big. Greyhawk, possibly? We’re in Waterdeep… let’s just fly it. they prep the ship and we fly

Before we go a phenomenally beautiful woman with a cloth pack comes to the ship inquiring about booking package to Greyspace. Do we really need to – Of course we do! Hodey greets passenger. I am suspicious of her but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

During the week I brew Cure Moderate Wounds potions – 7 potions. – 800

I also make a liquid concoction out of the remnants of the skeleton creature and keep the gentle repose token in it. I conduct two dimensional ritual spells to boost TWO LIGHTNING SPELLS TO 7TH LEVEL. I also cast a Lightning Bolt spell into my staff.

Anika in hallway comes face to face with bloody and dismembered body of crewmember in the hallway. Standing over it is a vaguely human looking woman with long dark hair and a 3rd eye in her forehead and 7 mouths full of teeth. chittering noises. Connie grabs it and makes it disappear for 3 rounds. I ask what’s going on, annika talks with connie about dead body and says sarcastically she decided to kill a body without me so i give her shit before it appears again. can’t tell what it is by how it’s described.

3rd eye is a bug flesh modification thing with the tattoos. Xixchill?

I cast Shield and Mage Armor on myself and back-up to let the fighters in.

Surrender or Perish! says Constance as she readies a Searing Light spell. I take a 5 ft step and unleash a lightning bolt at it. 27 points of damage. Jinsi leaps in with her fists. and crits with a flurry of blows. crushes shoulder and breaks arm, fist comes through back and kills her.

I ask for the pieces of the heart and spine for later research.

+2 Sickle and a Heavy Crossbow

One of the unnamed human crew is dead. Annika suggests checking out the rooms and disposing of the body. Annika loots the corpse. Jinsi notices stitchwork where the body is modified. spinaretes on the wrists and other odd changes. 7 mouths full of teeth, grafts from a gibbering mouther. Abberation grafts. This is a well known hitman. Chattering Sphinx, assassin with addiction to body modifications. Jinsi asks if he’s wanted, we just need his head, right? Katya drags the bodies to her laboratory and locks the door behind her. Constance casted gentle repose on the body so she’s got a week to experiment with it.

passengers are fine. another human crew member and 3 kobolds have been killed. hodey’s machines have been damaged. Jinsi goes investigating with Hodey. Jinsi says one of the dead bodies doesn’t belong on the ship.

I spend time removing the monster grafts as spell components and getting a few vials of blood from the bounty hunter. my rooms are ok but others had their rooms sacked.
Creature came from one of our smuggling compartments. balled up blanket and hidden effects. bedroll, dry rations, water, brandy, and parchment with odd text.

Draconic parchment says… bounty on Connie’s head not needing to be attached. Collateral damage is not frowned upon. “Agreed upon amount” no other information.

exotic goods sold all over the place. We’re on Siris in the Grinder Asteroid Belt. Hodey sells stuff.

Connie pilots the ship through the asteroids and impressing crew. 4 days we land close to Irongate because it’s close to icy valleys. We make quite a scene with our unusual ship. Irongate is a big stone and steel city off of the end of a cliff. Questioned for being here by the city, etc. pay fees and enter the city. annika questions people about the valley. Dwarven city. they try some taverns.

Connie takes 3 points of damage from a crossbow bolt in the arm. can’t tell where the shot came from. Jinsi covers her while Anika casts detect magic. out of shadows bursts a skinny human figure with 4 shiuriken attacks. she fights off some poison.

Anika whacks the ninja. it punches annika and jinsi. I smack it with a curse using my braid. Annika takes his legs out with a sword sweep and kills him. I scoop up some of the shurikens that missed Annika when people aren’t looking. No markings or symbols on the guy. I give potion of Cure Moderate to Jinsi. We find an inn for HQ.

Hodey can make Wonderous up to 9th, Armor and Weapons.
JAUNT BOOTS? COFFIN OF GENTLE REPOSE

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Katya's Journal Part 30 - Three Dog Night
I feel MUCH better now....

Katya banner

“Gods, Annika… I thought using that ioun stone would give us a shortcut back to Sigil!” I moan as we trudge through the fields of Averness, dodging spurts of hellfire and monsters of all shapes and sizes.

“Well we’ve got to get out of here first, and then we can use the shortcut,” she replies in a huff as she looks around with her hands on her hips and blows a stray hair out of her face.

“We’re lost… aren’t we,” I moan as I roll my eyes.

“Oh ye of little faith,” she chides as she turns around and points into the distance. “We need to go that way!”

“Towards the rampaging skeletal dinosaur, you mean,” mentions Constance as she grabs her mace.

“Yes, towards the-oh shit!”

A huge black and deformed skeleton in the shame of a 15ft tall dinosaur covered in green fire and magical runes climbs out of the seemingly never-ending fields of bubbling sludge and barrels towards us with a screech. Annika wields her sword with two hands as her spell crackles down the blade and with an upward swing knocks its head back as the others prepare for battle.

Our new friend Jinsi Que leaps forward with her fists clenched and promptly steps on a piece of spleen someone carelessly left on the ground before falling on her rear with a PLOP! Fortunately for her, she’s able to return to her feet quickly as she springs up from the ground and strikes the skeletal demon with a glowing flurry of fists.

I raise my hands as I prepare to strike the monster with a spell, but the words fall flat on my lips as I take in the hypnotic patterns of green fire and runes flowing over its bones. I’ve never seen the likes of it before in all my travels! Even my forrays into the tomes of forbidden knowledge have provided little support… other than a gut feeling that this creature has been touched by gods that cannot be named by any sane person.

A bright beam of light bursts forth from Constance’s hands as she steps forward, causing the creature to howl in pain before it rears up and explodes into shards of bone that scatter across the landscape. I rush to tend to Annika and discretely brush off some of the smaller pieces in her hair into one of the empty vials from my pouch. Whatever this creature was, it definitely bears some investigation. Besides, I never pass up the opportunity for new spell components.

“Hey guys, I think it’s time we leave…” Constance suggests as she casts a worried glance at the pieces of the monster that seem to be slowly reforming into smaller piles of a dark bubbling mass.

“Run faster!” warns Jinsi as she guards the rear while we make our hasty retreat. “The things are already heading this way!”

Two smaller versions of the reptilian skeletons can just be seen running towards us as Jinsi picks up a rock and hurls it at one of the creatures. I turn and throw my hands out as I mutter the words of a summoning that I’ve not tried since our journey to the planes of Hell. The ground in front of me begins to shake and crack as it splits open and three Hell Hounds scramble out from the darkness, flames licking along their dark skin.

“Go, my pets… see if you can bring Mother a sample of this wonderful creature.”

One of the dogs turns to me with a wag of its tail as its head splits open into a mass of waving tentacles. See what wonderful gifts I can bring if you only call to me… A gurgled bark emanates from the hole where its head once was before it and its brothers launch themselves towards the regenerating skeletal beasts.

Constance uses her time manipulation powers to teleport behind the charging monsters as the Hell Hounds move to surround the creatures. A quick movement to my right sets me up for a lightning bolt that crackles through the melee. One of them unfortunately manages to dodge as it leaps for my throat… and misses just over my left shoulder. I take a small step to the right and almost reach out to touch it as my eyes are once again drawn to the glowing runes along its skin.

These secrets can be yours my child… all you have to do is call my name.

“Iiieee!” Constance yells out in pain as one of the creatures wraps its jaws around her forearm. I wonder if their bite is poisonous. Do you think she’ll let me run some tests? Jinsi leaps into the fray and shatters one of the monsters ribcages with a glowing fist before kicking its head clean off. My three pets corner the other one in a blaze of fire emanating from their writhing tentacles before I summon a last lightning bolt that finishes off the job.

“Ow! Damn it… reign in your beasts!” moans Constance as she pats wildly at the flames licking along the breeches of her right leg.

Damn it… I’m usually more careful than that. Why didn’t I…

They must know pain before they can know the peace that I will bring them; the peace of oblivion.

I shake my head roughly and press fingers against my temple as I wince in pain. My head… Gods I need a drink.

“Katya, will you control your… things… already? They’re eating the damn skeletons and making me sick,” says Constance as she shoos some of them away and starts smashing the skeleton with her mace. Hodekin and the others quickly move to scatter all of the shattered pieces of the skeletons… leaving me a perfect opportunity to scoop a tiny piece into a vial and slip it into my belt pouch. You know… for science.

“I think that does it,” says Annika as she scatters the last of the pieces that are already starting to bubble and move. She casts a spell of Web that shoots out over the pieces, and will hopefully delay their reforming long enough for us to get out of here. “Hey Katya, I know you like collecting spell components and all. You didn’t put any in your pack, did you?"

“No, I didn’t put any in my pack,” I reply with a slight grin.

After a quick jaunt using Constance’s teleportation boots we make our way to the gate where we say our good-byes to our temporary travel mates.

“Be sure to look me up when you’re back in Sigil!” the ratkin suggests to Hodey as they shake hands. “Here’s that blasted sword… I trust you guys will do what needs to be done with it.” He holds it out and Annika reaches out to grab it by the exposed hilt jutting out of the wrappings.
Oh you silly…The look on her face as the Lawful Good nature of the sword reacts to her Tiefling blood is priceless.

“What did I tell you, huh?” I chuckle as she hisses in pain.

“Here then… you take it!” she replies angrily.

“Oh no… you can keep your holy relics, thank you very much; I’m not stupid,” I chuckle.

“I will guard this holy weapon with my life,” Jinsi offers as she reaches and to take the sword.

While not as visible a reaction as Annika, even she twinges slightly as she straps the sword to her back.

Interesting…

Before I can comment on it, however, we hear the duck-like squawking of a dozen or so small
skeletal lizards advancing rapidly toward us in the distance.

“Okay, enough of this place… let’s get out of here.”

View
Katya's Journal Part 29 - New Friends and Shiny Swords
The enemy of my enemy...blah-blah-blah...

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I pull a scroll from my belt and recite the words of a Shared Senses spell that causes Omen’s eyes to glow for a moment. “Go and share what you see of them so we know what to expect, my sweet… and I will give you a lovely treat.”

Omen soars off into the mist with a flap of his wings and I close my eyes to concentrate on his sight as the others bicker over how best to organize an ambush. All that is except the monk… who seems to have curiously disappeared.

“Probably not a bad idea,” I mutter to myself as I fly up into the mists so that I can hide and get a birds eye view of the bridge. I concentrate again once I’m safely hidden and see a trio of people… one a dark-haired human in black armor wearing a wrapped sword on his back, one a human-sized figure in black and scarlet robes… and the last a human male sporting the faction colors of the Harmonium.
But wait… are there two more in the mists behind them? For a moment I could’ve sworn I also saw a Ratfolk and a Tiefling, but much farther behind… almost like they were following them.

That will have to wait, though… because I definitely recognize the black and scarlet robes. Hard to forget when the first time you see them they’re being worn by a guy ready to sacrifice you on an altar.

“That’s it… Constance and Hodey can talk all they want… these guys are going down,” I whisper.

“Hey… who are those guys ahead?” I hear the Harmonium man ask loudly as he draws his rapier. Well crap… at least some of us know how to hide. But that’s ok… every good plan needs a distraction, too.

The Harmonium’s sword begins to glow an icy white as the cultist begins to cast. Suddenly Jinsi appears from over the side of the path and whacks the Harmonium in the head with a rock in a surprise move before feeling the slice of the rapier across her stomach. Before I can even think to help her, however, she disappears in a puff of smoke.

“Nice to know she can take care of herself. I think I’ve got an idea for something fun… lets just hope the others know when to get out of the way.” I had learned my new summoning spell a while ago but had been nervous that I might summon something with a head full of tentacles after my bout with the book. After a few days in hell, though… it doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

“Let’s see if they want to play Chicken with a Dire Boar,” I snicker as a 2,000 pound, 7ft tall dire boar with red eyes, grizzled fur and sharp tusks appears with a snort in the smoke that hid Jinsi’s escape. Charge until you see red hair…

The boar gleefully obliges and charges into the surprised Harmonium cop with a grunt as he falls off the edge to disappear some 15-20 feet down.

“Yes… now the next one!”

The cultist flies off the side of the path in a flurry of robes… but instead of falling just seems to float there as he stands up and brushes himself off. Damn…damn…damn… going to have to take care of him myself. When he continues into the Hell Knight, however… that is where my entertainment ends as the knight nails my poor boar with an armored elbow that causes it to stumble and fall off the cliff.

“I liked that pig!” I yell as my hands crackle with electricity and a lightning bolt cascades over the black armor of the Hell Knight and strikes the cultist in the chest.

I’m reminded of the two others I saw in the mist when an arrow suddenly appears between the armored plates of the Hell Knight and a magic missile spell launches from the mist. Well at least they seem to be on our side in this fight…

A wave of negative energy pulsates out from the cultist striking everyone on the bridge. In case I haven’t said this enough… flying is awesome.

“What are you all doing?” shouts Hodey from behind a rock. “We’re supposed to fight over here!

STOP!” Constance screams as a beam of blinding light shoots from her hand and slams into the Hell Knight. It doesn’t stop him for long though as he swings his sword into Annika and it resonates with a burst of sonic energy. Thankfully for her, it only causes one of her duplicates to disappear.

“Is that all you’ve got?” she taunts as she motions to the Hell Knight with a grin.

JUMP,” replies the cultist as he points a finger at the fiery-haired tiefling who grunts at the sudden mental attack.

“You…ungh… first…” she snarls before shaking it off and gripping her sword tighter.

“I don’t think you’re done cooking yet, you sonofabitch…” I mutter to the cultist below. “Omen likes his snacks well-done.” There’s another flash of light and crackle of ozone
as a lightning bolt sizzles across the Hell Knight’s armor and nearly fries the skin off of the cultist. “Where’s your God now?” I yell in glee. My joy is soon cut short, however, as I notice the cultist is still moving. “Damn, you’re a tough one, I’ll give you that… but you don’t have long to go.”

I wasn’t far off… because a few seconds later a fiery ray of light emerges from the hand of the other stranger slamming into the cultist and turning him into a flailing inferno before he plunges into the mists below and disappears.

Another arrow appears in the back of the Hell Knight, and it seems to have hit a nerve as he collapses to the ground. “Be careful with that sword!” I warn Annika as I fly down to rejoin the others. “I wouldn’t want to touch it if I were you… it’s made for holy paladins… not the likes of us.”

“Seems fine to me,” says one of the strangers as he picks up the bundled sword. Upon closer inspection of the stranger it looks like he’s not a Tiefling at all… more like… a Drow, perhaps. “Well… just keep it bundled, anyway. We’ve literally gone through hell to get that thing.”

“Hodekin? Is that you?” questions the Ratfolk as he steps closer to the Kobold. “Fancy meeting you here!”

“You must be from Sigil… I recognize the Planewalkers Guild badge,” says Annika as she points to her own on her lapel.

“Yeah.. Hodekin and I go way back with the Entertainer’s Guild. Dad owns the Portaljammer Bar.”

“Reunions are grand and all… but tell me… what brings you two down to Dis to get that sword?”

“We’re trying to stop an evil plot,” offers the Drow.

I snort as I unroll a parchment from my pouch to show them the names of all the people trying to kill us for different reasons. “Which one? The one about the rogue Harmonium and the Tennari trying to conduct some ritual with the sword? Or the one about the satanic cultists? Or what about the Tennari who took off to 12 Trees? Or the one about Area 51? That’s a good one, let me tell you…”

“Um.. the first one.” offers the Ratfolk.

“Yes… we are trying to stop the plot between the Harmonium and the Tennari… and there is also a Yugoloth involved. The ritual they were to conduct in Fortitude is just a cover for something much more dark and sinister.”

“Well you know… we were actually hired by one of those rogue Harmonium to retrieve that sword. They’re back in Ribcage… so if you’re wanting to stop them, perhaps we can work together and arrange a ‘meeting’?”

“I’m not sure what we would have to say to them, honestly,” replies the Drow.

“Oh I wasn’t thinking about talking to them,” I say with a sly grin as I let the tips of my fangs show.

“You now, I like the way this lady works,” says the Ratfolk. “I’m curious, though… what makes you so interested in fighting them?”

“Ever since we first took that job back on Refuge our lives have not been our own… and I’m sick and tired of it. I’m going to take my life back one rogue Harmonium at a time if I have to.”

I turn away from the others and focus on rifling through the equipment on the Hell Knight as I wipe the angry tears from my eyes. They won’t take me like they did you, mother… I swear it!

Thankfully the Hell Knight has a lot of interesting goodies on his person to distract me from my angst. “Hmmn…” I hold the potion bottles up to the light and inspect them closely. “Looks like a number of healing potions here,” I reply. “He’s got some other magical things on him, but I can’t quite identify them.”

“Oooo… looks like some protective magic in the amulet, ring and cloak there,” offers Hodey as he steps over. “If nobody minds… I could turn the armor into something we could all use instead of that tacky black stuff.”

“Knock yourself out,” I chuckle as I find a folded packet of sheepskins in a pouch on the knight’s belt. “Just do me a favor… take these too. If you can’t keep that thing in your pants when we get back to the ship, at least you can use protection.”

“Oooo… good idea!”

“Speaking of the ship… shouldn’t we be heading back?” asks Constance. “You two wouldn’t have a better way of getting out of here, would you?” she asks the Drow and Ratfolk.

“Any other way than the way we came would be great, considering that Harmonium is waiting for us in Ribcage,” I remind them.

“Let’s see… there’s that portal to Arboria…”

“But you need the blood of a Celestian to get that one to work,” the Ratfolk laments with a shake of his head.

“Yeah… I’ve got Owlbear and Baazetu… but no Celestian,” I reply.

“Wait… isn’t there that portal to Sigil?” asks the Ratfolk with a snap of his fingers.

“You happen to have a grey ioun stone handy?” replies the Drow doubtfully.

“Wait… I think I do!” says Constance excitedly as she pulls out her Darkwood Wayfinder and opens it to reveal the grey ioun stone within. “Will this work?”

PERFECT!” they reply in unison.


3 Cure Light
2 Cure Moderate
1 Cure Serious

+2 Plate Mail Hell Knight (Hodey)
+1 Thundering Longsword
+1 Amulet of Natural Armor (Katya)
+1 Ring of Protection (Constance)
+1 Cloak of Resistance (Annika)

+3 Condoms (Hodey)

View
Katya's Journal Part 28 - Enter Jinsi Que
Blood wars make strange bed fellows

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By the Gods if I have to listen to one more story about the “Nice dragon who gave them toys” I’m not going to be held responsible for my actions. Thankfully I’ve got a 25 foot tall iron gate to take my frustrations out on.

“Just..ugh…give me a minute…” I grunt as I fly up to the large handles and use my braids to inch the gates open. I might not be strong in stature… but mentally, I’m rather well endowed. Thankfully the doors aren’t trapped… but really… a doorway into Dis should be enough warning to keep people away, right? Sane people, anyway.

Once we’re able to squeeze our way through, it becomes apparent that continuing into Dis isn’t going to be a walk in the park… unless the park is two feet wide, looking over a vast chasm full of greenish smoke and the screams of the damned. I roll my eyes at Hodekin as he eagerly looks over the edge and wrap my braid around his waist to keep him close… just in case his curiousity gets the better of him.

What am I saying… when his curiousity gets the better of him.

Once we’re about a mile down we reach a stone bridge and begin to detect a wonderful new smell a the heat rises.

“Sulfur…smells like home!” Annika jokes as she straightens her hat.

I’m about to retort with how I feel about home when I hear a scuttling sound from down the path. “Did you hear that?” I ask quietly before whispering the words of an Armor spell.

Annika nods grimly and with a wave of her hands multiple images of herself appear along the path with sword drawn. “SPIDER!” she yells as a 5-ft across spider covered in black and crimson fur comes racing up the cliffside wall towards us.

A purple mist from one of Hodey’s machines combines with the green mist of Dis as I feel the energy of his Haste spell run across my skin. I soar up into the air in order to give the fighters more room to maneuver and prepare my crossbow for a few pot shots. Thankfully it doesn’t last long as it falls victim to Annika’s spells and falls from the wall into the mists below.

“Well then… that was fun!” Annika jokes as she sheathes her sword. “Shall we continue?”

“Sure… let’s keep going to the place that monsters are running from in a hurry… why not?” I snort sarcastically.

We continue down the path with Annika in the lead, when suddenly she halts the group as a figure emerges on the path up through the mists.

“How are you alive down here?” She asks the rather non-descript female who looks at us questioningly. “You don’t even have any weapons on you! You aren’t even prepared!”

She’s got a point… the dimunitive woman doesn’t even radiate any magic. If she’s not a fighter or a spellcaster… what in the blazes is she?

“I was just going for a walk, acutally.” the woman replies. “Funny, though… I was going to ask you how you survived getting here too. But where are my manners? My name is Jinsi,” she bows and smiles. She looks to each of us and then stops in surprise when she comes to Constance. “Wait… are you Constance, from Bral?”

“Um…why do you ask?” Constance replies hesitantly as she fingers the handle of her mace.

“I am a monk from Bral myself… I’ve actually heard a few stories about you! I loved the one about…”

“IT WASN’T OUR FAULT!” Connie interjects before she can finish. “Anyway…I thought monks couldn’t talk?”

“My sect did not require a Vow of Silence,” she answers with a polite smile. “I am more of a…requisitions specialist.”

“You mean you’re a thief,” I snort.

Requisitions specialist,” she reiterates. Sure… whatever you want to call yourself.

“Instead of mincing words about titles, how about we travel together for safety?” offers Constance as she nudges me in the ribs with her elbow. Jinsi nods and bows respectfully before we all continue on our way.

A little less than an hour later we’re still continuing down the narrow path through the mists when suddenly a gust of wind from Gods know where surges and threatens to blow us all into the Abyss. Thankfully I’m able to stabilize myself as my braid grabs onto the edge of the path… and my other holds tight to Hodey as he’s sent dangling off the edge.

“And THAT is why you don’t try to escape when I have a hold of you,” I admonish as I let him dangle for a few seconds before I pull him back up.

Eventually the winds die down and we find a wider part of the path for a place to stop and take a drink or two to satisfy parched throats. While Annika and I are more used to the heat, even Dis leaves us a bit parched.

“Good, you made it!” a disembodied voice cheers.

“Do you often hear disembodied voices?” asks Jinsi with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, actually… but usually I’m the only one that can hear them,” I reply as a thin man in silvery ragged clothes appears sitting on the edge of the path with his feet dangling over the side. Hmmn… a higher order fiend, perhaps?

“What do YOU want?” snarls Annika.

“Oh nothing… I just want you to steal the sword, is all.”

“And you are?” I ask tiredly.

“Why do you want the sword?” asks Constance.

“I don’t want it myself… I just want you to steal it from them.”

WHO THE $#$ ARE YOU?” I yell, tired of constantly being played by third parties. “Rule of Three, maybe?”

“What… am I dressed that bad?”

“Look, right now you could be my uncle, for all I care. I am tired of getting played by you people.” I reply with a sigh.

“Look where you are… what else did you expect?” he replies.

Annika shrugs and looks at me. “He does have a point…”

“No, Katya’s right… we want nothing to do with you.” Constance says suddenly, and the man disappears.

Wait… what just happened?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eventually the path comes to an end at a bridge that leads to a pair of large iron doors that look red-hot to the touch. Before we can step onto the bridge, however, it liquifies and takes the shape of a gargoyle in front of us.

“All who enter must crawl!”

“Gods… not this again,” I mutter to a chorus of distaste and groans as I pull up my boots to protect my knees.

Thankfully the crawl isn’t as long as last time, though… and we soon enter an area rife with fire and flames leading up to a massive tower that has to be at least 1,000 miles tall… if it ends at all. Odd thing, though… no matter where you turn, the tower seems to always be on the left. I know there’s a joke about the “left-handed path” there somewhere… but right now I’m too tired to care.

“Halt! State your business!” shouts two Adashi as they come up to us with weapons drawn. I dig my nails into my palms as we’re faced with even more red tape in this god-awful lawful town. Thankfully Constance and Hodekin are more than willing to give them their sales pitch.

“Thee hundred gold worth of your clockworks, and you may pass. Don’t touch the walls… and watch out for construction.”

They weren’t kidding… I have to roll out of the way into a side street and pull Hodekin with me as the street suddenly fills with large burning larva ripping the road into burning sludge.

“Look out from above!” warns Hodekin as ash and rubble rain down.

“We’ve got to get the others out of there… can you see them?” I peer through the raining ash and think I can just make out some movement. “Here goes nothing…”

I stretch out my braid as long as I can until I feel the tell-tale tug of someone grabbing onto it. I hope that it’s not a construction worker as I pull with all my might… and sigh in relief as Constance lands at my feet, singed, but not too worse for wear.

“Where’s my pack?” Worries Hodekin as he runs to check over Constance. “You were carrying my stuff!”

After a few more attempts and more than a few singed hairs I’m finally able to retrieve Annika and Hodey’s things from the burning lava that used to be a road. A few cantrips are able to take care of the dirt and ash… and thankfully our own natural protections (as well as those handy-dandy rings) kept us from taking much damage ourselves.

“I don’t know about you guys… but I’m ready to call the rest of this day a wash and get a room for the night,” Constance groans.

“Wash… oh what I’d give for a good long bath right now,” I mutter.

“There’s a servicable inn just down the street,” offers Jinsi. “I can meet you all there… I just have to go do something in the Despoiled Virgin across the street.”

Annika looks at her with a raised eyebrow and a doubtful expression. “Don’t you mean to?”

Jinsi blushes. “Just picking up a package in the bar… that’s all.” she assures us before running off.

Hodekin splurges for the rooms for us, and I spend the rest of the night resting my tired feet and summoning Omen to my side so I can memorize some new spells and make a few potions for the rest of the trip as the sounds of Hodekin’s tinkering echo through the paper thin walls.
_____________________________

The next morning we’re all awoken to a pounding on the door as a large and burly fiend with tusks informs us that we failed to read the fine print written in a coffee stain on the wallpaper behind the coffee table in the lobby.

I take it as a challenge… because if someone’s going to try and argue red tape with me before I’ve even had my breakfast, then Hell is definitely going to be the one to pay.

Unfortunately the rest (other than Jinsi, oddly enough) would rather pay than challenge a demon this early in the morning. So be it… I’ll get my money back from these cretins one way or another. In the meantime… I’ll have to make an extra potion or two for the monk.


Once I’m finally satiated with breakfast and a nicely strong cup of coffee, I decide to go in search of information regarding any potential thefts or oddness going on around town while Hodekin goes to sell his devices and Constance looks for a license for our spice merchant. A stretch, I know, looking for something strange in the city of Dis… but I’ve had a scratching in the back of my head telling me that we’re being set-up ever since we started this… and I’ve got a theory that the Sword of Fedefensor isn’t even IN the Tower of Dis anymore.

After sharing a few rounds of afternoon libations with some Clueless, I’m able to glean that I’m not the only one who’s been asking about the sword. Turns out that another group of adventurers was planning on breaking into the tower to steal the sword because of their “Invisible Sponsor.”

Trust a demon to hedge their bets.

The more I think about this though… the more perfect it sounds. We don’t have to break into the tower to steal the sword… all we have to do is wait until THEY do it.. and then steal it from them! Oh I just love it and can’t wait to tell the others when we meet up for lunch.

“Annika… wait till you hear this!” I begin, but am brought short by her worried look. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure… but I think we’re being followed by a Githzarai,” she mutters as she looks around the street outside the inn. I describe the one I witnessed back on Sigil and groan when she nods. “Yeah, that sounds like the one.”

“Great… it’s The Rule of Three again,” I huff.

“I’m not scared of him,” Annika scoffs.

“Don’t be silly, cousin. Besides, last I checked he’s trying to kill Constance… not us. Come on… we’ll talk about this inside.”

We return to our rooms to find Constance and a smiling Hodekin as various Kobold servants straighten up the room.

“That’s all we need… we travel all the way to the planes of Hell and you STILL somehow manage to get laid,” I chuckle.

~~~~~~~~~~

The next day Hodey and Constance go out once again to sell their wares while I check in on any information about that “other” group of adventurers. Much to my surprise, from the excited scuttlebut around the inn it seems that the group succeeded and are currently trying to escape Dis.

“Thanksfortheinformation! Bye!” the coin spins on the table from the round of ales I purchased as Omen and I fly out of the inn to look for the others.

“The sword is on the move!” I gasp breathlessly as I finally find the others in the bazzar. “We need to catch up with them.. NOW!”

“How are we supposed to do that?” asks Constance. “Surely they’ve got a head start on us.”

I tap my foot on her boot and gaze at her with a raised eyebrow. “Magic boots, remember? You can teleport us to the entrance to Dis and we’ll see if we can cut them off.”

“Doh! Allright… let’s go, people!” Constance announces as we all grab hands and appear at the entrance to Dis surrounded by the now familiar green mist.

“Check the path behind us, my sweet,” I coo to Omen as I stroke his feathers. “See if we managed to get ahead of them.” The raven flies off into the mist, and after a few minutes returns with a flap of wings to my outstreched arm.

“You owe me eyeballs!” Omen squawks. “There is a group far behind us.”

“But of course… only the best, my sweet.” I pull out one of the Owlbear eyes that I had salvaged from our first visit to Greyhawk and smile as the raven gobbles it down.

“Now… what kind of surprise shall we set up for our new friends?”

View
Sept 20th XP

Monsters Killed

  • Fiendish Zombie Lord 1200 xp x 7 = 8,400
  • Bone Devil (Osyluth) XP 6,400 × 3 = 19,200
  • Dhampyr Soulknife 6 = 1,600

Story Awards

  • Helping Kobold petitioners 500
  • Intercepting Twelvetrees message 500

Total XP: = 30,200 / 7,550 each

Level Goals(Slow Advancement): 6th Level 35,000 / 7th Level 53,000

Updated XP
Constance Oracle 5 – 35,710 xp >> Level Up! <<
Hodey Artificer 6 – 46,210 xp
Katya Witch 6 – 44,210 xp
Annicka Magus 5 32,050 xp

View
Katya's Journal Part 27 - Betrayal Part 2
The enemy of my enemy...

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Have to write this all down before it disappears… every time I try to grab at the memories I can feel the scraping of that Tannari’s nails in my mind. I must focus and write down what happened while those hapless fools fall victim to the compulsions of dragons. I mean really… we were headed to the Iron Tower of Dispater… so it seems to make sense that we should go through the big iron gate… but no… they’ve got to look at the ‘pretty lights’ while we’re walking past the homes of the Prismatic Dragons and…

FOCUS!

I was desperately running out of spells during our fight with those Bone Devils… when one of them caught me by surprise and teleported me just far away enough from the fight so that I could be interrogated by a blasted Tannari with its psionic ways.

“Give me the blue bottle in your pouch that you found on the Dampyr!” it demanded…

“Frelling’ idiot, it’s black! So much for your vaunted abilities,” I spit. Try as I might to escape the tigthening embrace of the Bone Devil and the glowing eyes of that Tannari… I couldn’t break free.

“The message from Twelve Trees… turn it over and I’ll let you live!” it growled.

“What… this one?” I laughed as my braid brought out the bottle from my pouch and opened it… releasing the message from a deep gravelly voice…

It has come to our attention that the Tannari have double crossed the Harmonium. According to our informant, they’ve taken the Ship of Chaos to Twelve Trees.

…and that’s when the torture began. I hid in the shadows of my mind… wrapped in the loving embrace of the slithering arms of my dark lord… and he protected me from the clawing and scraping of its claws across my thoughts. Not totally, though… just enough to let me know what pain I would’ve suffered if it weren’t for his attentions. When they thought I was at my weakest I managed to fly away under the cover of darkness… but it felt too easy.

I know naught of this Ship of Chaos… but Twelve Trees… that is the 12th layer of the Abyss where they torture Divas in order to power their most awful magics. What purpose could this serve? Think… put the pieces together, Katya…

A rogue Harmonium group has the Silver Sword of Fedefensor with the goal to use it in some ritual in Fortitude in Arcadia. They were double-crossed by the chaotic Tannari, however, who possibly are to blame for the stolen sword taken to the Abyss, where it supposedly lies in the Iron Tower of Dispater. Wait… the Tannari are a chaotic lot while Dispater is set in his ways…

The Dampyr, however, observed this double cross, and know that the Tannari have taken a Ship of Chaos to Twelve Trees. Did they take the sword there? If so… why? Do they plan to power it with the death throws of the Divas, or perhaps use it in a ritual of their own there?

Whatever these two parties wish to do… it’s important to both of them that they make sure Constance never meets her grandfather and never grows in her power. I have to wonder if the Harmonium made the deal with the Tannari in the first place in order to get Constance killed? The Rule of Three is a tannari after all, and he was trying to kill her…

I haven’t heard any screams coming from the tunnel yet… I hope that means they aren’t dead. Silly Kobold… I tried to grab him and keep him out of there… but if he wants to run to his doom so easily there’s not much I can do to…

Rule of Three! Wait… when we passed those letters of introduction to people Annika spotted some secret text that contained his name… were these “letters” really from him? And if so… are we just being manipulated? So many double-crosses… so many different parties trying to get what they want and using us to do it… it’s so hard to keep things straight anymore!

What if… what if… the Harmonium made a deal with the chaotic Tannari in order to conduct some ritual that would harm the lawful Baatorians? That would seem to fit… a lawful multi-planar rogue group of cops wants to wipe out their arch-enemies so bad that they’ll make a deal with a demon in order to do it… except the demons have found something better.

Dear Gods…am I actually contemplating making a deal with a devil in order to stop demons?

Gods grant me strength… it seems the rest of them have not only survived their ordeal in the cave and come out with new treasures they can’t stop talking about, but they’ve been struck stupid in the process. They must have been struck rather hard… because it seems common sense to me that if a dragon uses magic to make you take something from his hoard, there’s got to be something really wrong with it. My magics are weak without rest, however… I hope whatever fate awaits them can wait until I get some sleep.

Hopefully whatever lies beyond these gates will provide more answers…

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Katya's Journal Part 26 - The Road to Hell
Haven't seen a good intention yet...

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“Gods… I’m never going to get this smell out of my hair!” moans Constance as we slosh through the endless terain of blood and gore. “This place reeks like a charnal house!”

“Which is why I never come back home without something to plug my nose,” I reply in a nasally voice, since I’ve long since stuffed my earplugs up my nose to cover the smell.

“You try to never come back home at all,” Hodey jokes.

“True…” I laugh, “but one should always be prepared for the worst.” I pull a small bright orange and red bottle from one of my pouches and shake it invitingly at Constance. “You could always put some of this rot pepper sauce under your nose… you won’t smell anything here, I guarantee it.” I shake the bottle and rear back as my eyes water. “In fact, you probably won’t smell anything at all for a few months, at least!”

“That’s enough, you two… I’m seeking some activity ahead, so we need to be quiet!” Annika admonishes as she looks up from the trail.

We dutifully obey our guide and as quietly as possible flit from outcroppings of rocks to various ruins as we just manage to avoid a rather large Bone Devil as it trudges by.

“Hey… who’s that guy?” Hodey whispers as he nudges Annika and they look at a roughly human-sized figure crouching atop one of the crags some 20 feet above us on the path ahead.

“I don’t know… but best we try to avoid him.” Annika replies. “We’ll take another path.”

We trudge along through the gore when Hodey happens to look over his shoulder again. “I think he’s following us… I spied some black & red armor before he disappeared.”

Constance and the others look to where Hodey saw the creature when suddenly a pale skinned male in Baatorian style armor appears out of thin air (behind) in front of us on the path as he leaps towards Annika with a large translucent blue sword sparkling with psionic energy.

“Look out!” I yell as I just manage to dodge out of the way, muttering the words of an Infliction spell as my braid lashes out to touch him. He grunts in pain for a moment before he flickers in and out and appears amidst us, his sword blade shattering into multiple pieces that fly out and strike us like shrapnel before disappearing.

“Screw this!” Annika yells as the sword begins to reform in his hand. She strikes him with a viscious blow from her scimitar as it glows with a black light that runs up her arm and over her body, but before the rest of us can retaliate the creature disappears. At least he left us his equipment, anyway. I wonder if there’s anything useful? Shame that sword is no where to be found… must be something he generated with his mind.

“Cool boots!” Constance exclaims as she uses Hodey for balance and slips them on.

“Don’t you want to know what they do, first?” asks Annika.

“What could go wrong?” Constance asks with a grin and a shrug.

I chuckle and shake my head as I pick up a pair of magical bracers of protection and some magical bandages. “She’s got a point… it’s not like we’re not already in Hell.” Annika stuffs the armor into a bag of holding as fireballs smack the ground not far away. “I think that’s our cue to keep moving.”

We continue on for what seems like two hours more through the stench and rot, passing the ruins of more dead gatetowns that fell into darkness and over the edge of the abyss. “You know, I think I finally remember where I’ve seen that guy before…” I mutter as I kick a horned skull out of my way. “The way things are going I thought it was another cousin at first…” Annika snorts and I glare at her before continuing, “but I believe he was a Dampyr.”

“Great… half vampires…” mutters Constance as the wailing of hundreds of voices in agony echoes in the distance. “As if Hell wasn’t bad enough.”

“I think I see the Pillar of Skulls… we just need to cross the River of Blood and we’ll be on the right track,” Annika looks over her shoulder to tell us as she continues scouting. “Just… don’t talk to it, ok?”

“Don’t talk to… the pillar?” asks Constance with wide eyes.

“Stories say that it holds all kinds of knowledge about things… but if you tried talking to it I’m sure it would just bore you with a thousand different creatures lamenting about its death all at once.” I smirk and shrug as Constance looks at me with mouth slightly agape. “So yeah… last thing we need is another insane person in this group… so probably best not to talk to it.”

No one says anything as we make our way past the wailing pillar of writhing skulls and we round a craggy corner to finally reveal the aptly named River of Blood… as well as two rather large Bearded Devils with glaives in hand charging towards us from both sides.

We quickly form up back to back in a circle and my fingers crackle with energy before a Lightning Bolt lashes out to strike one in the chest. Hodey activates one of his devices that sends a rush of energy through the group and we speedily strike out with sword and spell.

One of the devils growls in Infernal and I wince… because I know a summoning spell when I hear one. Annika slashes out with her sword after suffering from a burning wound as I strike two more with another Lightning Bolt… causing one of them to tire of our match and disappear. Constance runs over and grabs another one, the surprised look on his face visible for only a moment before he momentarially disappears from time.

Hodey runs over and quickly heals Annika with another of his strange devices as another of the devils spits at our feet. “Volkovs!” he mutters before he too disappears. Mother…what didn’t you tell me about our family?

“The other one is about to come back!” Constance warns as I shake myself from my thoughts and we all gather around where the devil will reappear when Constance’s powers wear off. When he reappears, we lash out with sword and spell once again… but it doesn’t kill the creature. It grunts and sneers before stepping over Hodey and disappearing.

“By the Gods… they’re just playing with us!” I groan as I crouch down and try to gather my breath.

“Looks like our friend is back too,” Hodey warns as he points at a human sized figure in black and red armor in the distance. “Let’s get a move on, shall we?”

“Ah yes… through the…ugh… River of Blood.” Constance deadpans. “I don’t suppose there’s a bridge?”

“That’s a good one,” Annika says with a chuckle. “Let’s go.”

A mile and a half we trek through the flow of blood and guts from the neverending battles, Constance doing her best to keep her balance and Hodey riding on Annika’s back. I’d have loved to have flown over it… but the powers that be, bastards that they are… have seen fit to make sure that all avenues are blocked except walking through it.

“Well… while I’m here… might as well fill up a flask or two.” I say as I pull an empty vial from my pouch and Constance looks at me in disgust. “What? You never know when you need blood for a spell… so it’s always nice to have some that isn’t your own.”

It’s hard to judge how long it takes to get through the river… but eventually we do make it to the other end, and a few quick cantrips from Annika and myself quickly remove the blood and gore coating bodies.

“Now that’s over with, we just need to cross a valley filled with battles and the River Styx… and then we’ll finally be out of the safe part.” Annika says as she finishes checking her clothes for any lingering blood stains.

“The safe part, she says…” Hodey mocks as he rolls his eyes.

“You call that safe?” Constance says as she walks to the edge of a valley and looks down at a field filled with everything from succubi to cerebroliths clashing in an endless struggle.

“It will be if they don’t see us!” Annika hisses as she pulls her back into cover. “We’ll just have to use those boots of yours to get everyone across.” Constance looks at her doubtfully. “Yeah… in case you wanted to know… you’re wearing Boots of Teleportation.”

“Ohhh… so we’re going to…”

“You’ve got it. So everybody grab hands so she can click her heels and we can get out of here.”

~~

We make it to the other edge of the valley and before long we can see rows of skulls appear as they line the edge of the River Styx. There’s a jetty out into the river… but currently no boats are docked. There are, however…. two rather sizable Bone Devil guards standing beside a giant skull of a creature used to mark the docks for the ferryman.

“State your purpose,” one of them drones after we finally get up the courage to try just talking to them.

Once again Constance displays the mechanical wares as she explains how we’re a group of travelling merchants on our way to Dis… and once again they show that all they want is the money as the next boat arrives to take us across. I just hope we brought enough for bribes before we run out on the way…

We make our way across surprisingly uneventfully and continue our trek around a hill to come face to face with four short figures that could be distant cousins of Hodey, except for the amber scales and tiny white horns. At least these guys aren’t in danger of calling me cousin…I hope…

“Do you know the way to Newbellum? We got lost after fighting off some Gnomes and can’t find our way…”

I look to Hodey questioningly as he whispers “Petitioners for Kurtulmak probably.”

Ahhh… I whip out a parchment and pen and scribble down some directions in Draconic. “Poor souls… hopefully this will help you on your way.”

“Might you have anything you could give us to aid us on your travels? It is such a dangerous place…” Hodey gives them a set of his old tools, but I am loathe to give anything up.

“Honestly… if they run into any of the creatures we saw, there’s nothing we could give them that would help them.” I whisper to Annika, who nods.

“Thank you for the map and the tools. Fair warning, travellers… if you continue on your path, you will encounter a succubi’s lair. To the right are Erinies… but to the left, if you take the long way around… that should take you where you need to go.”

Fireballs explode in the distance as the Kobolds scamper off down the path which we came and we continue on till we see a valley filled with Maenes… what others fondly call the Maggot Pit.

“Oh dear gods… and I thought the smell couldn’t get any worse,” Constance moans as Annika pulls out a vial of jasmine and places some under her nose.

“Oh that will work,” I say sarcasticallly to Annika. “Now it’s going to smell like jasmine and shit, instead of just shit. I’ve still got the hot sauce if it gets too bad for you.”

“I hope to not have to smell it for that long… that is, if Constance wouldn’t mind clicking her heels again to move us beyond it.” Annika replies.

~~~~

When we appear again it’s next to a large pile of rocks… with a pair of armored legs sticking out from under it. “Ugh… teleport accident, from the looks of it.” I look around and take in the fifteen to twenty bodies strewn across the ground… some of them sticking out of it at grotesque angles. “Make that a lot of teleport accidents.”

Constance and I scan the bodies as we search the grounds. “Looks like Harmonium… must be that squad that they sent in before.”

“We should get as many identifying badges from them as we can… perhaps we can give them to their families so they can find peace,” says Constance sadly.

“Shame they didn’t come prepared,” says a disembodied voice out of nowhere. “You guys seem better off though… so maybe we can help each other.”

“You must be quite frightening to the eyes if you choose to strike bargains with us without showing yourself,” I taunt as I look around for any traces of the originator of the voice.

“I’ve got to make sure you guys are actually good and not just lucky though… hope you don’t mind a test!” The ground starts to shift and shake as the flesh bodies of the dead Harmonium soldiers fall away to reveal skeletons rising to battle, along with a Bone Devil to lead them.

“Couldn’t have been a written essay, eh?” I mutter as I grab the components for my lightning spell from my pouch. “I love writing essays….” With a blast of electricity from my hands, I manage to take out two of the skeletons and slightly scratch the bone devil before the spell fades. Son of a…

Annika screams out in pain as the boney scorpion tail of the Bone Devil strikes out and hits her in the chest, and her cries are soon joined by Constance as she suffers the burning touch of one of the skeletons.

I shift position as I unstrap by staff and fire my remaining lightning bolt into two more skeletons, turning them to dust. Constance swings at one with the Improbable Mace, but misses as she dodges a slash from its claws. The Bone Devil disappears from view for a moment before appearing next to Annika and slashing her with its claws… and then the blasted thing disappears again.

The disembodied voice chuckles as Constance and I stand to protect Hodey as he rushes to heal Annika from her poison…

…and then another Bone Devil appears.


Roll of Bandages? – Bandages of Rapid Recovery (can heal Ability dmg)
Dhampyr Armor? – +2 Leather Armor
Small black vial? – Bottle of Messages (there’s a message trapped in it)
Magic Boots of Teleportation – 3/day self & 50lbs.

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Katya's Journal Part 25 - Darkspine

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“We’ve got to take our clothes off and bathe with demons?” Constance asks worriedly as she does her best not to visibly shudder while we walk toward the Gymnasium of Steam.

“You have to admit, it’s a lot harder to hide things on your person that way…” I reply. “Just let Anika and I do the talking here, and try to stay out of trouble.”

After the greasing of multiple palms we finally are escorted by a large male guard into a secluded grotto in the rear of the baths to meet our Harmonium contact named Tardat. She’s a shapely half-elf female with enough male guards around her to make you wonder about her… tastes… but that’s not the kind of information we need today.

Anika hands the letter of introduction over to the half-elf and nudges me slightly as she begins reading it. I glance in her direction as she mouths the words “false words” behind a faked cough. Great… who knows what we’re really getting ourselves into.

“Your references look good, so we’ll get down to it. Twenty-Four hours ago a paladin named Demiel was mugged in the Hive of Sigil and his sword was taken by fiends. This sword is important to the Harmonium, and we want it back quickly.”

“Why us?” I ask in scorn. “Surely your group is capable of handling our kind… especiallly en mass.”

Tardat looks and Annika and I with a barely concealed sneer of disgust. “We sent a squad to return it… the 26 that weren’t torn to pieces by demons returned a few hours ago.”

“Where’s the sword now?”

“A Pit Fiend mounted the sword somewhere in Dispater’s Iron Tower in Dis, the commerce center of Hell. Go to Dis and wait for our contact. If you bring us the sword, we’ll be sure to make it worth your while.”

“I don’t know… my while is worth quite a lot,” Hodey snickers.

“Ten thousand worth in emeralds and a single handcrafted magic item for each of you should be enough for your worth.” She snaps her fingers and one of her guards hands her a scroll. “We also have this interesting map… it seems to show an island location with an engraving that says ‘Some doors are best opened with a mace.’”

Constance’s eyes light up as Tandar smiles. “If you bring us the sword, the map is also yours.”

“I guess we have a deal, then.”

~~~~~~~

“Okay… other than filling out your Last Will and Testament, I suggest you all purchase some new shoes for the trip, as the land gets a bit hot around here. I’m going to go see if I can Dermot in the Barons Market… word is that he is trying to get a trade license in Dis, so that could be a good way for us to get entrance to the city.”

“I could use a few potions,” Hodey begins before Annika and I both yell out “NO!”

“Seriously… you really don’t want to buy anything magical here in Hell, Hodey… they never do quite what you wanted them to…”

“And they usually take from you more than you’re willing to give,” Annika finishes ominously.

The others manage to purchase shoes in the Barons Market so we continue as a group past large blue insect creatures selling souls in bottles till we come to a tent manned by a short and rather rotund bald man bathed in exotic scents exchanging a small bottle for a rather large amount of money.

“May I help you?”

“We’re here to help you, actually…” I reply.

“Oh! You must be here because of the ad! If you can help me with what I need, I will cut you in for 5% of the profits from my trade in Dis for the first year.” He hands us the contracts and samples with a smile. “I trade in exotic spices from the far away beastlands… crushed fire poppy from the Plane of Fire, even white peppers that glow in the dark from the Outlands!”

“We’re going to have travel expendetures,” I reply as I look up from the contract.

“That can be reimbursed when you return with the licenses… and receipts.” He pulls an envelope from his coat and hands it to us. “Take this letter of introduction… it should help you on your way. Now if you’ll excuse me…”

The others choose to do some final preparations under Annika’s guidance in the market while I look around for some last minute information. Locals don’t talk a lot here in Ribcage (safer that way)… but I do manage to find a rather inebriated Harmonium thug lamenting about how none of them are supposed to be here in Hell. No kidding… Apparently they’re all supposed to be in Fortitude where they’re going to use the sword for some “mighty ritual.”

Curiouser and curiouser…

I find the others afterwards waiting in line at the government office, enjoying their introduction to bureaucracy in Hell. “This is getting ridiculous!” Constance moans in boredom.

Hodey checks the money in his pocket and grins. “I’ll be right back… save my place.” He scampers up to the front of the line and from what I can tell, falls flat as he tries to offer them money. Constance runs after him, however… and after a few words and an additional exchange of funds, she waves the rest of us to join her.

“I don’t suppose you got a receipt for that?”

Two hours later we’re ushered into chambers as the clerk hands the official on duty the letter. “Rule of Three, eh?” he snorts. “Dermot just doesn’t know when to quit. He’s an industrious bastard though… so we’ll give him the paperwork for 400 instead of 1000.”

“Funds we’d gladly pay as long as we can get a receipt sir,” I answer with my best fake smile. Gods damn it… we’re walking into a trap… I just know it…

Money is exchanged, and a squadrom of men escorts us through obsidian hallways into a large room with huge iron doors and twenty guards on each side. The room is lit, but without torches… with naught but a bare stone wall with a four foot gap at the top beyond the door.

“You’ll love Hell this time of year…” says one of the guards with a chuckle. “You might want to smoke whatever you’ve got before you go, though.”

“Afraid I smoked my last when I heard I had to come to this place,” I chuckle as my braids wrap around Constance and Hodey and we levitate up to the crawl space to see a crimson pillar of light with silver flashes within it. “You coming, cousin?” I snicker as she tries to scramble up the wall and falls on her rear. “Or do you need help?”

Annika mutters and finally makes her way up to the crawlspace where we all enter the portal… and find ourselves standing at the ruins of a town that looks like it was on the losing end of a fireball competition. I can’t shake a strange feeling though… that it’s somehow familiar… but not quite. And then it occurs to me… this must be Darkspine… the gate town before Ribcage that fell to temptation and became a permanent resident of Hell.

“What be your business here?” bites out a large insectoid figure as he cracks his whip.

“We are merely commodity traders seeking entry to Dis,” I reply as Constance walks up to the creature.

“Observe our fine mechanical wares!” she says with a smile as she gestures with her hands and Hodey’s metal bugs crawl over her.

“Five-hundred,” it replies dryly after looking at all of us and snorting.

“Absoultely,” I reply with a grin as I whip out a parchment and pen and scribble a quick receipt. “Just leave your mark here.”

There’s not a lot of signs of life in Darkspine… most of the buildings are falling down, burned or beaten by the constant barage of fireballs falling from the sky. In the distance is an endless plain coated in gore and sharp rocks as the distant cries of demonic armies engaging each other for eternity reach our ears from every direction.

“Did you see something move over there?” Annika whispers as the rest of us scatter and hide in the shadows. Well… all of us but Constance, anyway… who sings to herself in the middle of the street.

The roar of flame and new voices from behind us urge us onward to the edge of town as Annika steps up to be our guide. I may know Ribcage… but I was never insane enough to venture beyond it. We travel a good five blocks before we are stopped by a gutteral voice. “Last chance for a drink before the wastelands!”

A vaguely troll-like woman leans against a shelf full of rusty tin cups full of a strange dark liquid and grins at us as we walk by what must have been the ruins of the local inn.

“What the hell,” Constance says with a grin as she takes out ten gold and orders a drink for everyone. I sniff my glass and shrug. “It’s actually whiskey… and from what I can tell, not a bad one.” While the others chug their drinks, I pour mine into one of my empty flasks. Who knows how long our trip will be… and when I’ll truly need a drink.

“So what’cha doing here in Darkspine?” the woman asks as she attempts to clean the mugs.

Annika talks to herself quietly for a moment before placing a hand on Constance’s shoulder. “I think something’s coming,” she whispers. “We should go.”

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