Conscientious Objectors

What I could have become

Depending on the events of the next few days, this is either from Yssith’s journal written about a weeks from now or a “Speak with Dead” questioning.

Ahktar-Drago… of course he was on the list.

My comrades all gathered information during our last shift and some of them gathered helpful supplies. I gathered some extra colour and greater disdain for Drago.

It seems that the Serpentfolk arrived and displaced the Orvian vampires and the Morlocks. Both now hate the occupying Serpentfolk, and would be willing to forge a temporary alliance to kick them out. This coupled with the knowledge that the ancient Serpentfolk that we ordered assassinated has been dealt, makes our situation look marginally better.

One of the supplies that Lena-Karik was able to gather was a Scroll of Miracle which Reethna-Onatee cast as soon as we made it to a safe place. It seemed to do nothing but give him a new outlook on life… at first. When he pulled out his sword to defend several degenerates from a giant spider, the sword started giving him battle tactics. Most of these tactics apparently involved killing Serpentfolk, but I guess that gods will do what they will.

After killing the spiders (another showed up), the sword opened up with a torrent of information. A Serpentfolk hating sword in the North West, ways to stop Ydersius from rising, and the list . 5 people who we would have to kill, and 5 people who would defend them. Most of the names we’ve known for some time, some we’ve assumed… but Ahktar-Drago… of course he was on the list. Hell, he’s probably been there longer than any of the others.

While we processed all of this information, we took two degenerates (injured by the spiders) to be healed at the temple. This also provided the opportunity to see the inside of the temple in case we needed to get in or out quickly at a later time.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to kill a person that I’ve know since birth, the homunculus that raised me, and stop either of them from alerting anyone else. On the bright side, I’m not on the list… and I am going to make damn sure that I never am.

From the Diary of supreme dog-trainer Lena-Karik

Cerberus only peed on Chinchilla twice today. This is a vast improvement from yesterday. I suppose the glowing stones of Ilmurea excites him. He has also taken to drinking the oily mineral water so I don’t think it’s a training problem, but too much weird water.

After such a long journey, coming to Ilmurea is a little disappointing. It involves more manual labour than I thought. We’ve all gotten our assignments and working with Zif isn’t as bad as I feared. We shuttle around different cities and I get to stop at the pub whenever I want. It is a little lonely only having one person to boss around. Kyras, Marcello, and Gethedar have their own bosses now making them do silly things. Brea is still sleeping but I think she is faking so she doesn’t have to perform labour.

Work ended early today because of the party. Apparently Ydersius’s head is a little closer to getting attached to the body and we have to step up our mission. With a Scroll of Miracle Marcello is hoping to get more information about how to stop Ydersius from rising.

Good Riddance to Saventh-Yhi

From the Journal of Reethna-Onatee:

Well, I suppose it had to happen eventually. On our way to deliver the Red Mantis sword to Chivane, each of my fellow party members and I were contacted via sending by the Serpent Folk high command. News of Yarzoth’s death has finally made its way up the chain of command and we have all been reassigned to different units. I will be reporting to Skhavo and even though it has been many years and my relationship to Iomadae has changed, I hope that we can still be civil to eachother. At first, it seemed like the group would be split up and our quest abandoned, but it appears that all of our new assignments are in Ilmurea, where we wanted to go anyway. After making a new plan as to how to stay together despite the reassignments, we continued on to the Red Mantis camp and delivered the sword to Chivane. Frankly, I am happy to be rid of the thing after what it did to Lena-Karik and the way that Gethedar has been eyeing the rest of us since he started carrying it. Chivane offered us one assassination in return for the sword and at first I was against such a devious attack, but upon consideration of the importance of our mission, I decided that the only course was to take the drastic step of communing with Iomadae directly for guidance.

We traveled to the main Serpent Folk base of operations on Issilar’s island and gave them the crystals they were missing from the portal to Ilmurea. While the portal was prepared, Lena-Karik’s “friend” Zif-Tarrin teleported us to the largest city I have ever seen so that we could equip ourselves for what whatever we find in Ilmurea. After getting my thoughts in order and finding a place of solitude, I read a sacred scroll and was able to talk to Iomadae directly. It seems so long ago that I was merely a caretaker back in the temple in Cheliax. To actually commune with Iomadae Herself is truly a blessing that makes all of our hardships worthwhile. Not only did She provide devine guidance for on how best to use the offered assassination, She also provided some much needed clarity as to what we must do to ultimately complete our quest. With her parting answer, Iomadae herself confirmed that I am on the correct path and I know that with her blessing, there is nothing I cannot accomplish. With our quest thus reaffirmed, I joined my companions in outfitting ourselves for the ordeal ahead. We then returned to Saventh-Yhi for the last time and stepped through the portal to Ilmurea.

So far Ilmurea has been mostly uneventful with only a pair of huge spiders blocking our way. We made quick work of one of the spiders while the other ran away, but I can’t help but be concerned that we will encounter more enormous creatures that may not be some easy to defeat.

AND a manticore?!

Taken from one of Yssith-Atil’s note books:

On the way back to Boggard territory, Varia spotted the aboleth in its hideout. We made a mental note of that location and moved on. Nearing the boggard’s land, we saw that the swamp was covered in crows. The boggards were as successful in fighting the plague as the humans. We put Issilar and Het-Kiril in a boggard house and boarded it up, then headed toward the troglodyte lands. The only boggard survivors that we found were already infected and dying on an island between the boggard and troglodyte lands

When we arrived at the troglodyte area, veiled as troglodytes, the locals were weary of any strangers who might have the plague and tried to herd us away. We ducked into an alley and cast a locating spell which found the mantis sword in the local ziggurat. We then left the area because the locals had started to gather around us, calling out our location to each other.

Since the sword was a secondary priority, we went back to the entrance to the underground river in the boggard area. All of the piranha’s and ogre piranhas were dead, along with a handful of degenerates. Someone had obviously already claimed the gem and anything else in the area. Hopefully the “someone” was one of our few allies.

We went back the troglodyte area and attracted the attention of a giant parrot called a camulatz. We set up some images for it to play with and then we dimension doored into the temple. We appeared in a room with 3 troglodytes and 2 dinosaurs. One of the troglodytes was dressed in some sort of ceremonial armour made of mantis carapace. Varia convinced them that we were pilgrims looking for “the sword” and he offered to administer the Trial of Achaekek. We accepted and he pulled the sword out of a wall and handed it to Varia… if only all the locals were so helpful. We dimension door-ed straight back to the camulatz. The camulatz was a little murderous when we returned, but Varia convinced it that we would try to find it a mate (it bargained to 2, one being a manticore) and it let us go.

We returned to Yog’oltha’s (the aboleth) hideout and tried to find out what this situation was about and who wanted to capture him. By his account, he and the intellect devourer that sent us to capture him are old enemies who both want control of the city. The intellect devourer can also, after he’s killed someone, fill a people’s head with some kind of goo that allows him to control them. Either way, we decided that we didn’t care about this power struggle, and all we really need is the portal gem. So, we knocked him out (after some unpleasantness with slime) and dragged him to the intellect devourer fully expecting to be double crossed. We handed over Yog’oltha to one of the intellect devourer’s minions and the minion handed us the portal gem… just like that… a lot of helpful locals today.

Will you STOP moving! (From the Journal of Reethna-Onatee)

After heading outside to regroup and allow my companions to regain their composure, we were greeted by the welcome sight of a conscious Lena-Karik. We quickly brought her up to speed on the current situation and decided to venture forth into the dungeon once again. Unfortunately this is when both Het-Kiril and Issilar fell unconscious and we were forced to hide their sleeping bodies as safely as possible. Even without their help we reentered the dungeon to find it eerily quiet. Quiet, that is, until we were well inside and were set upon from all sides by nasty undead monsters. With the strength of Iomadae flowing through me, I was able to hold off the bulk of the undead hoards allowing my companions to concentrate on one of the most deadly creatures we have yet faced. While appearing as a vile, skinless human, this creature had such speed and cunning that even Gethedar’s lightning fast blade and Lena-Karik’s amazing archery skills were hard pressed to touch him. To make matters worse the monster was able to bypass our defences and deliver brutal, debilitating attacks that seemed to strike at the very soul. Luck was with us today, though, and after a long battle we emerged victorious and claimed several magical items that will surely help us along our way. Concluding that the extended combat with the skinless creature had probably drawn out all the monsters in the area, we continued to explore unmolested, eventually finding the crystals that we were seeking in a crypt deep in the dungeon. We also found a secret passage leading to a smaller crypt that seemed to house the remains of a poor wretch that had attempted to become a Litch and failed. After some debate and analysis, we were able to carefully liberate the magical dagger he had stabbed through his own chest. Perhaps we can put the dagger to a more noble use.

It felt good to leave the dungeon again, not retreating as before, but victorious in our fight against the forces of evil and one step closer to our goal. The battle had been long and hard and our magic had been mostly spent, so after retrieving the bodies of our two slumbering companions we set up camp for the night. I’m sure tomorrow will prove to be just as eventful a day…

From the Journal of Reethna-Onatee

Now we serpent folk are obviously superior to other races in many ways, but I have to say that our need to enter an extended torpor state with little to no warning has started to become a hinderance. Case in point, after defeating those plants with the horrible mind affecting spores, Lena-Karik fell into a deep sleep taking her exceptional diplomacy and archery skills with her. Luckily, the timely arrival of Het-Kiril and our old friend Issilar allowed us to press onwards to get the crystal we seek. The whole area seemed to be infested with sentient plant life and after dispatching some strange fungus covered giant locusts, we encountered an enormous multi-tentacled anemone-like creature sitting in a pool of water. We tried to keep our distance, but the creature’s tentacles were unexpectedly long and managed to ensnare Het-Kiril and come within a hair’s breadth of killing her. Thankfully a judicious use of lightening from Issilar, fireballs from Yssith-Atil and the holy light of Iomadae defeated the monster and we were able to free and heal Het-Kiril before it was too late.

After searching the cave and finding the crystal, a luck stone and magical dwarven axe, we decided to make haste for the crystal in the Troglodyte section of the city. It was then that we realized another disadvantage to Lena-Karik’s current state: her ranger magic allowed us to enter the vegipygmy area undetected. After discussing several options, we decided on the simplest strategy to avoid the vegipygmies and just ran though their area at top speed. Much as I was loathed to do it, I ever switched to a lighter suit of armour so that I could keep up with my companions.

We had just exited the danger area when we suddenly encountered a squad of noble-caste serpent folk with bright red scales. Based on past experience, we were wary and readied for a fight, but Issilar showed them his true form and convinced them that we were allies. The serpent folk told us how they had lost most of their officers to a group of spectres hiding in a nearby crypt. We guessed that this crypt might also be where the next crystal was hiding, so we prepared ourselves to fight these insubstantial foes, entered and made short work of them. However, the spectre is a nasty creature and before they were vanquished, one managed to affect me with his terrible energy draining touch, chilling me to the core and making every action more difficult. Nevertheless, we pressed on until we were attacked by several “Raw Bones”, truly disgusting zombie-like creatures that attack with their own internal organs and have a habit of vomiting without warning. While the vengeful light of Iomadae strengthened my stomach against the creatures’s putrid stench, most of my companions were not so lucky and our group of battle-hardened warriors quickly devolved into a mass of nauseated uselessness.Aided by what little of our forces remained, I was able to defeat the Raw Bones, only to be set upon by an even more dangerous spectral creature. The cowardly beast seemed to be able to become invisible at will and eluded most of my attacks only to appear behind me and stab me in the back. With much of my magic consumed by earlier battles and most of my companions still debilitated by nausea, I decided that a tactical retreat to regroup in the fresh air outside would be prudent.

from the diary of Her Majesty Lena-Karik

Finally threw away pretense and claimed my rightful role as King. Het Kiril’s weak disposition left her elsewhere as the rest of the group, minus Stetha, Nyalik-Cheytab, and umm that other one, headed off. Stetha for some reason or another didn’t want to dig anymore so I told her to stare at a statue instead.

We trekked back to find the gem in the boggard area and ran into a voice that was not too please we tried to invade his home. He was, however wiling to trade the gem we wanted for the simple task of capturing his substantially sized and somewhat influential aboleth nemesis aka the Voice of the Swamp back here to his lair for him to kill. Added to our list of future tasks.

Then on to check off “dismiss Radiant Muse”. I talked to her. She left. Check.

Now on our way to grab the troglodyte gem. Walked by a pretty lady in a beautiful mansion so we avoided her in favour of going down a dark cave near large dead animal skeletons with gnaw marks on their bones. Inside were four thorn lions, named Hugging, Sassy, Crouching, and Majestic. I would have made them collars but we killed them instead. Then a bunch of us except for Kyras went crazy and melted for a bit but we are okay now and there are a bunch of dead plants around.

This King business is exhausting. I think I need to take a nap.

Babysitting Stetha

After Varya’s meeting with the ghost, we have Kyras send her into the air via magic to scout. She doesn’t see too much out of sorts, so we decide to make for where the buried gem was, and see if we can access it via dimension door. On our way, Getheday gets a sending from Jia-Noth, his higher-up.

Gethedar, Kyras, Varya, and Marcello decide to dimension door down, and I’m left to mind the two soldiers and Stetha. I promptly get Stetha started digging (to keep her busy, as opposed to expecting her to do anything productive), and settle in. Turns out, not for long.

Only a few minutes later, my four compatriots return. Apparently, after dimension-dooring in, they were promptly ambushed by two 4-armed apes, which they dispatched. This was followed by a roper, which they also dispatched. However, there was also another very… very formidable ape-thing there as well, and they… did not do so well against it. We cast what healing magics we can, then decide to head back to the caravan to rest, recuperate, and reassess how we will engage this creature the second time. On our way to the caravan, we are intercepted by a serpentfolk soldier who warns us that the Red Mantis Caravan has not yet been subjugated by Tiira’s forces. We thank him for the un-needed warning, leave Stetha, Sak-Kwig, and Nyalik-Cheytab outside the camp, and make our way in.

The guards seem jumpy, and after having checked us over for disease, we make our way to Chivane’s tent to give her a report of our findings thus far.

The humans are dead.

We make off towards the human dorms where we might find Osond, who is apparently one of the human leaders and doing what he can to stem the tide of the plague. Along the way, we pass by a ziggurat that has been modified… by having a hut shaped into the side of it. It could only have been done through some powerful magic, but we haven’t the time to investigate too closely.

We arrive at the dorms, and wouldn’t you know, there are sick humans everywhere. I try not to touch any of them, and I hold my breath if they get too close. We question a sick human woman, and she points us to where Osond should be. We make our way to his dorm, and he mentions that we should go visit the Muse. And so we do. She is some sort of serpent-y outsider lady (a lilland, apparently). She wants us to help cure the plague. We glean that she may have been here and away from her plane for a while. A good long while. As in thousands and thousands of years. Which is a little bit unheard of. Perhaps she had been summoned here to try to fulfill an unfulfillable task? She does mention that she had been summoned around the time that Saveth’s tomb had been built (Saveth, apparently, being who that giant statue we’d come across earlier was depicting). The Muse orders us to go burn the bodies of the humans.

We decide that perhaps the ghost lady we’d come across earlier may have had something to do with the plague. We set off to find her, and have Osund get started on burning the bodies of the dead.

On our way, we find a clearing. Full of basilisks. After collectively saying ‘nope’ to engaging them, we take the long way around, and finally get to where we met Sozothala. We decide to try the diplomatic approach and approach to engage the humans there in conversation. Apparently, they had been ordered to kill us on sight, but we manage to bluff our way out of a confrontation… until the ghost lady and Dark Fire appear. They are going to go ahead and try to kill us. Whereupon, our Lawful Good cleric utters something I thought I’d never hear him say. “Fucking Dark Fire….” he mutters with more vitriol than I’d have guessed him capable of.

The battle begins and Stetha simply murders one of the humans. They throw an Entangle down in our midst, but our Kyras takes myself and Gethedar into their midst via a dimension door. The humans fall very quickly, as does Dark Fire (I ensure she never gets back up… and her skull collapses. Uh oh.), and we engage the ghost.

And the ghost sinks below the ground. And summons a shambling mound. Which we promptly kill. The ghost summons three giant scorpions. Which we promptly kill. The ghost summons a scorpion swarm. Which we promptly kill. The ghost yells out to a Zakiya (the naked lady we tried to murder a while ago) that we’re more difficult to kill than promised.

We diplomatically offer to go kill Zakiya for the ghost… the ghost replies by summoning a portal that Varya alone can use. We cast what magics we can on Varya and send her through. As we learn later, it was into the ghost’s Magnificent Mansion. Where the ghost was. Varya and the ghost parlay, Zakiya had said that if the ghost killed us, Zakiya would help find the ghost’s body. The ghost is amenable to us finding her body instead… sometime within the next 10 years.

All in all, a productive afternoon.

Sometimes I just have a good day

I learn of this after the fact, but apparently Marcello wakes up and has a bit of a chat with the boggards. Which we receive word of, via Whispering Winds. However, what was neglected in that dispatch was that he had been given a platoon of boggard troops to go kill the rest of the humans. When I heard that, I’ll admit I was a little bit jealous. Up until he mentioned that when he arrived in the human district, he found most of the humans dead or dying. From the bubonic plague.

Meanwhile in the spider… thing… cave… we manage to wake Stetha, and find the gem we’re looking for. Also, a staff of Evocation. Not a bad day. We didn’t manage to kill the lieutenant (still one witness alive and conscious), but I dole out what healing I can (neglecting the lieutenant, of course), we rig up a travois for the lieutenant and corporal, then head off to find Marcello.

Through vegepygmy territory. Crud.

We are ambushed by a squad of them, and rather then decide to see if vegepygmies are as dangerous as we’ve heard, Kyras fireballs them with his new toy, killing most. We very quickly dispatch the rest, and make haste from there…

… Into a second ambush of two vegepygmy squads. It’s chaos, with spores and fire everywhere (Kyras again kills most of a squad with a fireball). During the chaos, Varya manages to shoot Gethedar, and he falls over. She claims it was an accident, but I’m not so sure. Regardless, we kill the rest of the vegepygmies, and make haste to the edge of vegepygmy territory. We veil ourselves as troglodytes, disguise the others as best we can, and get within dimension door territory. That territory just so happens to be in some covered bridge infested with tentacle beasts. As we ferry everyone to safety, I take the chance to stab the good lieutenant to death, and leave his body for the beasts.

Finally we rendezvous with Marcello and there is healing aplenty. I will admit I missed him. His healing, anyhow. We rest a little bit, try curing some bubonic plague, try questioning a cured human (a somewhat pointless exercise on two fronts, I might add), and then we finally decide that our next action should be the megapiranha cave. Again.

What could go wrong this time?


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