Our story opened with the party trying to get their bearings after an explosion had flung them all over the upper story of the Ellery, a posh inn and imbibery in the center of Port Miller. The bombs left in their rooms were starkly reminiscent of the ones that Imperial Navy Intelligence agent Stern Viper had used in Hansen, but detailed analysis those implications would have to wait. The party had been seriously injured, but Finn reacted instantly and reached out in all directions with a wave of healing energy, restoring life to a number of the party and several civilians caught in the blast. Realizing at once that a number of others were hurt and the building was on fire in a few places, the rest of the party did what they could to take some load off of their cleric, providing first aid and carrying people out of the structure while Finn conjured up torrents of water to extinguish the blaze.
Seeing an opportunity to make sure their names stayed out of this debacle (and to question the girl at the front desk who had ordered their rooms “prepared”) Teegan focused instead on assaulting the young girl behind the counter and making doubly sure that she could not complete her only job during such a crisis- to make sure the front desk ledgers survived intact so the inn could collect its dues. Shoving the books she was collecting into the flames, Teegan collared her to the ground and cuffed her in short order. With city guards starting to show up, the party created a brief diversion to allow Teegan room to escape with their hostage, and then fled the scene themselves. A few minutes later in a nearby alley, the group learned that the girl behind the counter likely had nothing to do with bombs in their rooms, and the now-destroyed Ellery was the property of the local crimelord, Silas Thorne. Releasing the girl, the party headed for the cover of the local dive to plan their next move and try to figure out who tried to kill them from their top ten list of “people who might try to kill us.”
With no further activity that night, the group headed out for Sindar’s appointment at Port Miller College early the next morning. On arrival, they were escorted as a group into a conspicuously huge assembly hall in the west wing. A small panel of officials soon joined them, along with a number of personnel from the college. While Rector Ignus was formally in charge of the proceedings, the defacto head of the review panel was Kaito Sanders, who laid into Sindar almost immediately. Calling into question Sindar’s fitness to continue as a field agent of the guild, Kaito pulled out Sindar’s personnel file and began publicly detailing a string of incidents that would make anyone but Sindar blush with shame. Instead, he argued vociferously in his own defense. Sensing that Sindar was being railroaded to a poor conclusion to the proceedings, Tarsus decided to push some buttons and try to end things early. Rising to his feet, he collared Sindar while stating that they were leaving, and started walking out of the room. A grin spread across Kaito’s face as he raised his hand in signal and all four sets of doors to the room swung open to reveal two columns each of Imperial Regiment soldiers in full war field armor. As they marched into the room, the party acted on instinct to resist them, but quickly found themselves overwhelmed. For their part, the soldiers seemed professionally stoic after the very brief melee, bearing no obvious grudge on behalf of their bloodied members, but keeping the party contained as Kaito expressed his glee. Rector Ignus was very obviously upset by the intrusion of troops into the hall, surprised at this tun of events.
Elsewhere, Teegan had gained entrance to the second floor of the neighboring building, using a crudely drawn map of the premises furnished by Sindar’s memory of less chaotic days (is that a thing?) at the college. Slipping the notice of the single guard patrolling the upper floor, Teegan made his way through the hall until he came to an office door marked with the name of Kaito Sanders. Knowing the Sanders would likely be out to get him, and would likely get the expulsion of Sindar that he sought, Sindar had enlisted Teegan in pre-preemptive revenge. He had given Teegan a map to Kaito’s office, and a supply of sovereign glue to get in trouble with. Picking the lock was trivial, and Teegan set to work. Before ruining the rest of Kaito’s day by gluing down everything that might otherwise move, he fished through the desk and bookcases for anything interesting. He found some interesting looking documents, including one that had been recently torn into small pieces and thrown under the desk. He quickly pieced the page together, and realized why Kaito was trying so hard to pin Sindar to the wall.
As things were reaching super-serious levels in the west assembly hall, a bird flew through the window, dropping a note in Sindar’s lap before vanishing back outside. The note seemed to explain some grave and timely news to Sindar, and Teegan worked his way into the hall moments later as Kaito was explaining that the party were considered enemies of the state for other crimes yet to be public, and should be arrested and taken away. The rector intervened, insisting the party would be held on the premises until everything was sorted out in this confusing situation. Teegan was rebuffed when he tried to bluff his was past the troops surrounding his compatriots, and settled for passing the reassembled letter he’d found to Sindar via one of the soldiers. The letter made clear that Kaito was in league with someone named “Bishop”, who had ordered him to contrive whatever he needed to in order to hold the party in place until his other agents could arrive. A very high bounty seemed to be on their heads from an unknown source. After recovering from his stunned shock at the just-in-time arrival of a way out of this quagmire, Sindar passed the letter to the rector, and loudly proclaimed Kaito a traitor for all to hear. After his protests fell on angry, deaf ears, Kaito sucker punched Rector Ignus and made a run for it. The steel-clad fist of the regiment captain that stopped his escape barely recoiled as he barreled into it face first, knocking himself cold.
As short time later, the party was escorted to the rector’s quarters for a private meeting. The soldiers guarding them waited outside as they met, and Rector Ignus explained that he was familiar with the author of that letter, and wanted to know more about how the party would be involved with such a man. He knew they must be working for the Council or the Navy in some regard to be mixed up with Bishop and his organization in Riyaqa. Tired of trying to remember who knows what and who might be working for who, the party relented and spilled most of what they knew about what was going on. In response, Ignus explained that they were wrapped up with a group that operates secretly behind the scenes of Empire politics. They originally had good intentions, working to keep back channels open between various entities within the Empire in order to make sure critical negotiations never froze up, and really bad people never got a chance to exert too much influence. Over time, they became corrupted. The group has never taken a name, and maybe only one person knows more than a few names of members. Recruiting is done personally, and promotions are rare. Individual members take on the names of chess pieces and colors. The man who signed the latter to Kaito is formally known as the Black Bishop, not just Bishop, though he would not reveal that detail needlessly to a lackey like Kaito. At one time, Ignus himself had been the Black Bishop, though he hung that title up years ago as the organization moved in a direction he did not like. The man who now served in that role was either Arturo Ducet himself, or a very close lieutenant acting on his behalf.
A bit later the rector left the party alone to deal with the fallout concerning Kaito, advising them to stay in his quarters a while and keep out of sight while things calmed down. Autumn Reilly, the Director of Research at the college, came to see them, then. She had earlier confirmed elements of the party’s story concerning the missing librarian, Rinn Kulanov, and their belief that an imposter had taken up residence at the college. Now she came seeking more information, and to discuss what the party knew of the plague and its implications. As this conversation concluded, she helped clear the way of troops for the party to go about their business. With this, they decided to slip away and head to the Grand Market to finally do what they came to this gods-forsaken tornado of trouble for in the first place.
Their trip to the market was, surprisingly, free from trouble. The market was an opulent affair, with traders hawking luxurious wares from the far corners of the Empire and Riyaqa. Many were focused on the rich textiles that servants would use to tailor fine clothes for their masters in the Merchant District, but a few dealt in more serious goods. At length, Tarsus was able to locate the vendor he had been directed to find by the armorsmith in Aridesa and strike a deal with her to fashion what he required. Other members of the party milled about and made purchases of gear and items they had been looking for. Finn and Teegan both came up empty on important items they had been hoping to locate, but everyone found what they were seeking, for the most part. While deciding what their next move should be, the party agreed it was best to remain in town until the Seachild was ready to depart, and then figure things out from there. They would at least remain one more night, and began making their way back from the market. The rector had offered quarters at the college for the night, if they needed them.
While moving through the busy streets, Sindar was quite suddenly accosted by skilled pickpocket, who cut the strap that held both of his waterproof bags and made away through the crowd before anyone could grab him. Sindar immediately gave chase, and the rest of the party followed suit. The harrowing pursuit wound through the streets, down back alleys, and past a very confusing fruit cart before Teegan was able to cut across a street in front of the pickpocket and close the gap to bring him down in a loading yard behind a merchant building. The lad proved spry, if not very powerful, but revealed that he had accomplices nearby. Teegan had not gotten the upper hand on him, after all. It had been a trap! He found himself covered by two archers as another a pair of thugs armed with nasty-looking bludgeons closed in. Very quickly, the rest of the party arrived to even the odds, and the fight was on.
As the party closed ranks and got to work, the thugs realized they were in far over their heads, and called for backup. “Boss! We need some help out here!” the call went out. Vaulting off the roof and landing in the midst of the fray, the former leader of the Jade Ravens laid into Tarsus and Teegan with ferocity. Accompanying her, a large black wolf circled the field, looking for weak spots to attack. In the early moments of the fight, the party focused on thinning out the mooks a bit to open up some room on the battlefield. Teegan demonstrated his newfound love of defenestration in disposing of one of the archers before joining the battle below, which coaxed the second archer into giving up his elevated perch for terra firma underfoot. Seeing the opening it had been waiting for to get to its assigned target, the wolf charged into combat, transforming into a harder-to-hit swarm of bats as it closed the gap. And that was when the former Onyx Mongrels realized they were in real trouble. This wasn’t just Atala and a gang of street rats. That bitch had brought a vampire with her.
Reaching melee range with Finn, the swarm of bats dropped its transformation and revealed the form of Lana, the vampire thrall that Magister Ducet (an ancient vampire himself) had used as a communication medium aboard the Talia’s Vengeance in the weeks before. Recalling all he could about vampires as quickly as he could, Finn cast daylight on his holy symbol and held it before the charging vampire. The ploy worked, sending her fleeing to the far side of the yard. But he had lost precious time, and Atala’s fists weren’t slowing down on his comrades. The melee rolled across the yard for several seconds, seeming to make progress in no one’s favor as the remaining thugs closed in to complicate matters. In a desperate ploy, Zayn sprayed a series of glitterdust spells into the melee to reduce the effectiveness of the thugs, and on balance, it seemed to work. Though she could not avoid hitting her own teammates a time or two, the thugs were rendered largely ineffective, save for the time it took to put them down.
Meanwhile, Sindar saw the opprtunity he was waiting for, and hurled a tanglefoot bag at Atala with superhuman accuracy, enhanced by his extracts. The bag stuck home, slowing the monk long enough for the party’s members to bracket her in and do some real damage. Momentarily blinded by a glitterdust spell, she had trouble fighting back for a second or two, but was still remarkably adept at defending herself even with attackers on all sides. Finn and Lana entered into a brief spell duel, with Finn trying to dispel the magical darkness protecting Lana from the afternoon sun, and Lana trying to dispel the daylight spell that countered it if she got to close to him. Finally, she landed the right dispel first as Finn chewed through her other magical protections, and once again charged in for the attack. Not ready to burn another spell he might need to preserve his allies, Finn opted for thrusting his symbol of Rustum into the air between them. While it did not send her fleeing, it did seem to momentarily keep her at bay. Summoning her powers of vampiric persuasion, Lana changed tactics. Maybe she could not close in for the kill on this troublesome cleric, but someone else could. Reaching out, she took a firm grip on Teegan’s mind, and ordered him to kill the cleric. Teegan abandoned his attack on Atala, and advanced on Finn.
Recovering her sight, Atala began working on her own to thin out the field a bit. With Reece loitering nearby as a distraction from other attacks, she turned on him. Three rapid strikes fell too quickly for the snake to dodge, and he was dead. She turned her attention to Tarsus, now without nearby allies, and beat him badly enough to force him to retreat. In the same time frame, Finn prepared to receive Teegan’s attack with one of his own, touching his teammate with magic in his fingers and imbuing him with protection from evil, which temporarily suppressed the vampire’s domination. Unamused, Lana immediately seized the mind of Sindar, forcing him to attack Tarsus and giving Atala more room to maneuver. Atala used her temporary freedom to close on Zayn, who was in retreat from an attempted gang-up by the remaining mooks. They given her a savage beating, and a brief encounter with Atala put her nearly off her feet for good.
Interrupting Atala’s plans, Teegan found himself at death’s door within a heartbeat, narrowly pulled back from the brink by a cleric still dealing with a pesky vampire problem as she circled and looked for an opening. Finn knew that Sindar may still have dispelling bombs available for the day, and those bombs were the key to lowering Lana’s defenses against the natural light. He focused his efforts on freeing Sindar from the domination effect, and discharged his last use of his metamagic rod for the day to reach across the gap and imbue Sindar with protection from evil. Playing her last card, Lana leapt onto Tarsus in an attempt to sink her fangs deep and draw out his life force- to burn his essence to make good her escape when the sunlight eventually broke through. But try as she might, he was just too tough. As Sindar’s bombs rained in, her penumbra finally broke. In a final screeching rage, Lana was incinerated as she ran for cover.
Seeing the battle turn badly against them, the remaining thugs nonetheless stuck it out. Atala must have promised them a small fortune to get street criminals so dedicated to killing such dangerous quarry as these adventurers. A final shot of glitterdust closed the book on their usefulness, and the last few went down, leaving Atala alone on the field. Struggling to recover his own sight, Teegan found himself toe to toe with the monk. Both were bleeding badly from numerous wounds, and both were near death. As they leapt at each other, Teegan managed to land the decisive blow against all odds. An unconscious Atala crumpled into him. Finn immediately moved to save her life, if not wake her up right away. The session closed as the rest of the party secured the scene and began seeing to their prodigious injuries.
The vote has been tabled in the Asad while missing delegates are searched for and rescued. An automatic procedural clock of 60 days started when they went missing, with 50 days now remaining before the delegates are declared dead and replaced.
Quote of the Day
“Let’s get her naked…” -Teegan, standing over an unconscious Atala.
Advancement & Rewards
The party advanced to level 7!
Sindar’s player earned 2 inspiration points for awesome prop creation.
Teegan’s player and Finn’s player each earned 1 inspiration point for general badassery during the final encounter.
This won’t be in every write up. I’ll include it here since we had no time at the end of our marathon session to go over it, and I don’t want to spend time on it at the beginning of the next one. Just tell me then who is taking what.
Boots of striding and springing
Amulet of bullet protection +1
Headband of inspired wisdom +2
Potion of spiderclimb (x2)
Potion of cure moderate wounds (x2)
Ring of spell knowledge II
18pp 31gp 4sp
(All other personal effects destroyed during her combustion event)
Chain shirt (x5)
Heavy mace (x3)