Shensen Tesiril's Journal
3rd Wealsun cont.
Mirthan wanted to talk to Adric alone for a while, but before I left I had him do a sending to Detrick for me asking the man to meet me alone somewhere and allowing him to name the place. He agreed, saying that he would meet me in the former orc camp at midnight as long as I came alone. I thanked Mirthan and let him to his work.
An hour or so later a meeting of the resistance was held at Lady_Rhiavadi's house. Pretty much everyone whom one would have expected to be was there. Mirthan had found out from Adric that the Church_of_the_Righteous_Cudgel will be attacked at dawn since they evidently really wanted to kill Skellerang before he could speak in public the next day. Plans were made around that information, but little else happened at the meeting.
I didn't really sleep much anyway. Mostly I sat and thought about how a month had passed and I only questions and a little hope that maybe at some point Maeglin will come back and I'll start feeling like a Strider again and my life will start feeling like a life again.
Shortly before midnight I changed to a hawk and flew to the orc encampment, circling a few times before finally landing in the seemingly empty courtyard before the main tents. I assumed Detrick would make himself known in his own time when he saw that I was indeed alone (who could follow me in that form anyway?). My instinct wasn't wrong. After a few brief moments a figure stepped out of some shadows where I could have sworn no figure stood.
Detrick was pretty much what I remembered him to be. He attempted to flatter me in order to sway the conversation more in his favor, perhaps to get me to give him information I might not have otherwise. I wonder if that worked on Verana? Since I don't find him particularly charming, it wasn't terribly effective on me. Nevertheless, he clearly wanted to know as much as possible about Verana and her whereabouts, but he was wary of giving up much information in return. He did tell me that we shouldn't sell or give the dagger to anyone besides Verana and that there was something on the hilt suggesting we follow his instructions with it. He quickly guessed that we had Adric in custody, but was rather shocked that Adric would turn Jill into a zombie as he had done. He almost looked like he would tell me more then, but held himself back for some reason. He almost begged to know where Verana was when I told him she had not returned to Sasserine as he had assumed she had, but since she had not given me leave to tell him where her home was, I didn't. I must remember to ask her if she wants him to have that information. Once we figured out that the other wouldn't be much more help, we parted company. He teleported away and I flew back to the city, still largely puzzled.
We all met for breakfast. I pulled Tarik aside and told him about the mark on the dagger's hilt and how we were not supposed to do anything except send it to Verana. The mark was the symbol of Carceri. Tarik barely listened to what I said and largely seemed to forget it afterwards, returning to his breakfast. I was left to wonder why Detrick had a dagger with the symbol of Carceri on it and why he was giving it to Verana.
After breakfast we headed to the Church_of_the_Righteous_Cudgel where we found the remains of a massacre outside. There were bodies everywhere, largely those of half-orcs and orcs. It was very bloody and rather disgusting. The acolytes were carefully dragging bodies inside.
We met up with Jenya, Asfelkir and their respective acolytes as well as the Stormblades, Mirthan and the twins, the real Skellerang and more than a dozen guardsmen in full dress uniform and headed to the center of the city to attack the doppleganger posing as Skellerang. He was standing on a platform surrounded by four orc guards, a tax collector and a wizard. As he gave his speech, a projected image of him hovered over the crowd so everyone in the back could see him too. It was very odd. I've decided this city's notaries are far too fond of giving speeches.
Anyhow, we pushed through the crowd to the platform without too much trouble. The real Skellerang stopped the fake one from speaking and before long we were all fighting. The crowd, of course, continued watching (I'm sure this part was far more interesting than the speech part of the program). The doppleganger who was pretending to be Skellerang lost control of his form a few times during the fight and each time he did we could see that he had a demonic creature wrapped around his chest. At one point it even spit acid at Rassi! We didn't get a good look at it until we killed the creature and it permanently reverted, but even then we couldn't make much of it. None of us had ever seen anything like it before (not that we really got much chance to look at it).
As soon as the fight was over, the real Skellerang got up and gave a rallying speech. The crowd loved it, even if I couldn't help rolling my eyes (good thing no one thinks anything of what a troll does with its eyes). He got the crowd all fired up and we led them to Vhalantru's mansion, Rassi leading a chant of "For Maeglin!" I scouted ahead in falcon form (I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the midst of that crowd, but flying above them all shouting "For Maeglin!" was pretty nice).
We headed into Vhalantru's ostentatious house, leaving the crowd outside. Two half-orcs were inside and half-heartedly tried to make us turn back, but when that didn't work they raised the alarm. Orcs with demonic features came pouring out of various doors (both secret and not) to defend the household. The demonic orcs were actually not terribly difficult to take down, they were just rather annoying. Tarik and Kyrin did much of the heavy lifting with some well placed spells and the rest of us just kind of picked up the pieces. Tarik actually killed that last orc by hitting him in the face with Alakast.
And then the staff talked to him. Because our day hadn't be strange enough. Evidently, by hitting something demonic, he "unlocked it's powers". He seemed far more excited about this than seemed reasonable for someone who's carried the damn thing for months, never having hit anything, and now finds that all he needed to do was bop something demonic in the head and he'd have gotten a weapon with interesting powers. Why didn't it tell him this the last time it talked to him? It could have said "go hit something demonic", but no, it couldn't do that because magic has to be crypic and crap. Forgive me for not being terribly impressed.
Once Tarik was done marveling at his toy's new powers, we continued further into the house. We found a fountain behind a secret door (the hell? Who puts a fountain behind a secret door? Is there something super special about it that we missed?), a lot of relatively boring rooms typical of houses, and a set of petrified adventurers behind an illusory wall in the wine cellar. The upstairs had been abandoned for weeks. We carried the petrified people out to Jenya and her acolytes. They began to break the enchantment and the elf who came back to life first told us he and his party were the "Laughing Minstrels" and had been transformed by a beholder in the passageways below the city when they were hunting goblins. He didn't have any further information, so we headed back inside.
In the room with the adventurers there was an illusory floor, which we carefully climbed through and down the passageway beyond. I used a monkey form, since it gave me the ability to climb more effectively. Everyone else used rope and spider_climb slippers. The passageway opened up into a large circular room at the bottom. In it were three zombies. They ignored us until Aidan attempted to turn them, at which point they attacked us. Rassi killed one, but as soon as it died the body exploded and a demodan emerged. The explosion also caused the others to die and their bodies to go through the same process. So then we had demodans to fight. It was exciting. Or something.
A tunnel led down from the round room and we headed down it. There was a door at the end with a beholder on it in the room at the bottom and the word "Oblivion" written on it in undercommon. Another room led off this one with another identical door. No other way out was evident except the way we came. This didn't fill me with excitement, but since we needed to keep going, there seemed nothing to do but open one of the doors. Each door had several interlocking pieces and each of the beholder's eyes (ten on each door) was a different gem. Tarik determines that the doors are magical, which is not encouraging either, nor is the fact that his open spell failed to open one. Finally Rassi just walked up and opened one. It slid open in three parts, but also zapped her with rays from the gem eyes.
The room beyond contained three hell hounds from the Abyss. Tarik surrounded them with his black tentacles, which was a help, but they were stronger than normal hell hounds. They breathed fire on Rassi and me, which forced me to pull back a bit. Being able to look like a troll unfortunately doesn't mean that I can take the punishment one can. Kyrin did quite a bit of damage with some well chosen spells, though, and between Rassi and Gadrey the hell hounds didn't last terribly long.
Then the door shut again, separating the party. We were worried for a minute, but when Gadrey approached it, the door immediately opened again (with no rays this time). Aidan healed everyone and we decided to move on to the next room. There we found a flame-haired woman with a pet hell hound and a greatsword. She asked if we were minions of Vhalantru. Rassi said "yes" and the woman asked why we had killed her pets then. With no logical answer for that, we attacked her. Her pet turned into a man with a greataxe. They tried to flank Gadrey, but he jumped out of the way. They still managed to wound him pretty badly, but Rassi and I took out the man almost immediately. Aidan healed Gadrey and then Rassi and Gadrey killed her. It was a quick, but very painful, fight.
As the others were removing the armor and magical items from the bodies, I walked around the room. It was rather more opulent than I had first noticed. As I passed one place I noticed a catch for a secret door, behind which were two chests. Gadrey cut the locks off the chests and we found coins and various valuables inside.
As we shuffled all these new things into various bags, I decided it would be best to give my last few healing wands to Aidan, since I'm not likely to get the chance to use them and he was running low. Once everything was accounted for, we moved on.
Most of the doors, which we figured out opened when touched by magic items, opened onto empty rooms. One might have been Rhiavadi's room, one was bricked up with magic items in wall cubby holes and golems in the floor that ignore us (we decide to come check them out later), but mostly they were rather uninteresting.
Eventually we opened a door to find another pit. On the other side of the pit was another door. We opened the door across the hall to find a small library. The only truly interesting thing in the library was a large red leather-bound book floating in the center of the room. It was very odd. We didn't really have time to look at it, though, so we left it for later and continued down the shaft. At the bottom was another beholder door. We were assuming that Vhalantru would be beyond it, so we were battle ready when we opened the door.
Just behind the door, however, was a short hallway with two large paintings hanging in it. The first shows one of the tree cages with Swillmore writhing inside. Somehow, that painting didn't surprise me at all. It just made me angry. The other painting showed a very pretty young woman that Tarik and the others identified as someone named Celeste. I guess they met her before Maeglin died, but she was unfamiliar to me. Gadrey looked clueless about her too.
A large door was across from the paintings. We opened the door to find a large round room with bloody straight-jackets and shackles on the floor and the disguarded husk of a body draped over a chair. There was a large magical circle of some type on the center of the floor. Floating over the center of the room was Vhalantru. He had no center eye. Instead, his center eye socket was filled with another one of those creepy demonic things like the one we saw on the doppleganger. Aidan, Tarik and Kyrin bombarded the beholder with spells, but it was challenging to avoid the anti-magic field of his eye. The demonic thing spit acid goo at Gadrey, but Gadrey shrugged it off pretty easily. Unable to otherwise reach the beholder, I grew bat wings and simply flew up and sat on its head (it really did seem like a good idea at the time). Rassi used her anklets of spider_climb to climb the wall behind him to try and reach him that way. In the end, neither of us need have bothered because Kyrin sent a well-aimed orb_of_cold at Vhalantru and the monster fell to the ground with a rather satisfying crunchy thud.
Unfortunately, just after he died, Vhalantru received a message through his magic circle. The frost giants responded, evidently to a summons, that they were on their way and would be descending on the city momentarily. Great. Just freaking great.