Using My Monsters

Monday, 21 May 2012

State of Play - Shnecke's Wolves, 16th May, 2012


28/7/1472 – 02:00: Fighting their way along the rubble choked tunnel that leads to the surface, the group try not to focus on the screams of pain and fear that sound over the deep rumble of massive fires and shifting reality.

02:03: They find the end of the tunnel missing, and that all the buildings beyond have been washed away in a massive wave of burning ejecta from the impact site of the falling star. Rubble is piled high, and flames dance into the night, their hellish glow illuminating the horrors taking place.

Emerging from the tunnel, the group can see the cooked and torn remains of many people amongst the wreckage. They can also see a group of people being murdered by a gathering of bizarre hybrid monster – humanoid things with the thick scales and sleek, toothy heads of crocodiles, wielding savagely hooked khopesh with brutal, butchers, skill. Grigori quickly realises that they are Lycanthropes of some kind, clearly aligned with a crocodilian bloodline.

02:04 – 02:06: The group throw themselves at the monsters, and a brutal and sweaty battle ensues at the mouth of the tunnel, which sees Lia almost taken down at one point as she becomes the focus for numerous, lethally placed blows from the enemies weapons. However, ultimately, the monster's are put down.

02:07 – 02:15 – Grigori tries to fathom why these monsters should have transformed, and why they believed it had anything to do with the Devouring God. A search of the bodies reveals that one of them (clearly a leader of some kind, who wielded effective divine magic before being hacked to pieces) carries a dark symbol of Adathraine (the “Screaming Skinned” sigil; a human face, pulled from its skull, stretched and “nailed” to the standard's field), and that its own weapon bears a moderate enchantment.

The group discuss tactics, and Varracuda (as much to his surprise as anyone else) convinces them to head towards the impact site of the falling stone, to see if they can lend help.

02:16 – 04:00 – As dawn's light fights against the massive clouds of steam and smoke that rise from the area, the group realise that they are helpless to do anything for anyone close to the impact sight. Weird, unnatural flames leap hundreds of feet into the air, and they see many strange phenomena, apparently spawned by a release of raw arcane energy when the falling star hit the ground – burning skeletons stumbling amongst the flames, incongruous patches of greenish ice, sparkling amidst searing heat, and gusty, billowing things of raw magic (living spell), leaping and shimmering amongst the carnage.

At one point they crest the massive wall of debris thrown out by the impact, and look down towards where the southeastern harbours had lain before, barely able to believe that now there is nothing but a massive crater of melted rock, roaring and boiling where the seas pour into contact with it, disgorging a massive, lightning wreathed column of steam into the early morn's skies.

One point of real interest for the group is the presence of a Unified Order Skyship, apparently headed towards the impact site...

05:30 – The group arrive at an inn, in a district close to the impact that is still standing, having fought their way along smoke filled streets, choked with panicking civilians, confused city guard, and a few visiting priests who want to help heal the wounded. They book rooms, and get some sleep.

10:30 – The rumble of thunder wakes the group, and peering outside they find it is pouring with dirty, grey rain, and that the streets are thick with a noxious smog – a result of the smoke and dust from the impact.

11:45 – having eaten, and discussed their next move, the group head out to try and find the alchemist and the Black Ingots needed to fuel the Moon. They agree however, that once they have got the ingots, they are heading over to the neighbouring district, to try and locate the Tear of the Ancients winery, and hopefully, the renegade mage, Vacris.

11:46 – 19:30 – The group make their way through the city, painfully aware of the looming column of smoke that rises to the southeast from the shattered district. They notice a strange lull has settled over the rest of the island, as the people try to fathom what this latest calamity means. By nightfall they are in the area where Ajendu keeps his shop, and they decide that rather than waste time sleeping in an inn, they shall push on and get the ingots tonight.

21:20 – The group finally find the place they have been searching for, and bang on its front door until a slightly wary Aurymite, with a grey beard and rheumy eyes answers. He is clearly afraid of the party, but admits quickly to being whom they seek.

21:25 – 22:30 – The group explain to Ajendu what they need, and to their dismay discover that not only does he not have any ingots in stock, but that at present, he is unable to make any more. This is due, he explains, to a sudden lack of one of their main components – the “green dust” - which he has always purchased from an adventuring vyrleen named Kheshan.

He tells the party that he has not seen Kheshan since “nature turned to madness”, and voices his opinion that the vyrleen has been killed in the confusion of the sundering. The group ask him if he knows where Kheshan stayed. He replies that it was something to do with “Gussets”, and not recognising the word, asks if it is some kind of fish. To the amusement of the warlock, Grigori tells him (with a smirk) that it “kind of is I suppose.”

22:40 – 01:45 (29/7/1472): Jaeger moves through the streets, speaking to any that can help him. It's dangerous work, but he soon learns that there is a whorehouse called The Exquisite Gusset, but a few streets from Ajendu's shop, run by an ex Dohr'Khustan pirate named Santheil Burr, who sends funds from the place to his people. Tired, grimy but determined to get on, the group move to it.

01:46 – 02:15: The Gusset is a gaudy place, tailored to the tastes of visiting merchants and nobles; and for some it is a little much. Varracuda's discomfort is only compounded when Thatari silently commands a male prostitute to gyrate and grind against him, before growing angry when the genasai not only fails to respond positively, but seems embarrassed.

Monies are taken from the group kitty, and whilst the rest of the group eat and drink, Grigori takes a woman to a private room (where he quietly drains some of her blood, his request for “a woman who is in her monthly bleed” meaning he can do so without killing her), as does Thatari (who is more conventional in his use of the girl). The rest of the group drink and eat in the main greeting area downstairs, getting several of the girls drunk enough that they may talk more freely than they would otherwise. Jaeger stays sober, and carefully notes that there are a dozen or so large men with ebon skin, dreadlocked or tightly plaited hair woven with sharks' teeth, coral or gold, carrying keen scimitars of bright steel, sat about the place – Dohr'Khustan's.

One of the girls sitting with the group happily tells them about the missing vyrleen, saying that he has rooms at the Gusset, but that he has not been seen for a while. She suggests that the group speak with Santheil, as he was “good friends” with Kheshan, and may have some idea as to where he is. However, she says, he may not be willing to talk to them.

02:30 – 03:00 – The group persuade the girl to seek out Santheil and request an audience. She seems reluctant, but the group use all their charm, which, oiled with a little money, overcomes her fear. Shortly afterwards Santheil himself arrives – a handsome Dohr'Khustan in his 50's, who's black skin bears a number of pale scars and spiralling tattoos, and his smile as much gold as ivory. He smells of the exotic oils he uses in his dreadlocks, and when he speaks, it is with a calm sense of confidence.

Lia speaks for the party, and with her charm and natural empathy, is able to get Santheil to relax enough that he will talk of his diminutive friend. He states that he too is searching for Kheshan, as the vyrleen has run out on him without paying several months rent, and he is eager to find him to get his money. The priest detects that something is slightly off with the Dohr'Khustan's reply, and become increasingly hostile towards him, almost provoking a fight at one point, whilst several members of the group notice that he habitually grabs hold of a large shark tooth he has on a cord around his neck whenever they mention something unpleasant or Grigori makes a veiled threat to him. Luckily, the argent's honeyed words soothe the hurt feelings, and though the ex-pirate clearly detests Grigori (and Grigori, he and all his kind), he agrees – grudgingly – to let the group examine Kheshan's quarters, stating “If you find anything of value I missed when I went through it, it's mine you hear!”

Before they enter the room, Grigori spends a moment shifting his awareness into the arcane spectrum, suspicious that there could be hidden magical snares or devices in the room. He is therefore not entirely surprised when he finds, under the bed, a source of woven spectral energy, which he realises is born from illusory magic. Carefully entering the room (watched from the landing by several of Santheil's thugs), they see the the object radiating the magic is a small diary. Jaeger gives it a cursory examination, and reports no apparent wards or traps, the barbarian sweeping it up a moment later.

Examining the diary, it seems, to all mundane examinations, to be filled with nothing but dull observations, and a recipe for a fish dish. However, with a little force of will, the illusion covering the pages fades, and the group are shocked to find that the vyrleen was a member of a local cult dedicated to Shadrakuul – a little known God associated with sharks. Grigori suddenly feels a shiver run down his back as he recalls that the symbol of this deity is a sharks tooth upon which is carved a stylised eye, recalling Santheil's choice of neck decoration.

Suddenly fearing there may be more to the little one's disappearance, they conduct a more thorough examination of the room, and soon uncover a well hidden recess, lined with leaden materials designed to keep magical auras hidden. Within this lies a suit of scale armour, a shark's tooth amulet bearing the eye of Shadrakuul, and a small bone dagger who's blade is lined with more shark's teeth.

“And so,” muses Grigori, “we must ask ourselves where a hidden shark cult may be found in this place?”

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