Finishing the tower
Needless to say, Shinymonger quite literally lept at the sight of the skull-sized diamond. He grabbed onto it with all of his might and began whispering sweet words to it. Since it seemed he was relatively harmless and otherwise occupied for the moment, the party began dividing up the rest of the magical items and testing them out. Camille discovered that her necklace had the ability to control lights, and Borgen tested out the magic boots by sticking them on Shinymonger’s feet, whereupon they shrunk down to his small size and fit perfectly. Borgen tested out the magic whip by lightly flicking Shinymonger with it, who was immediately wracked with agonizing pain. When he recovered, Shiny decided he no longer wanted to be the guinea pig, and ran upstairs with the diamond, seeking a place to hide it. He briefly considered the privy, but decided that retrieving the stone would be much too difficult. Meanwhile the Professor pocketed the golf-ball sized gem, and Ren picked up the black bow.
Ren fired a test shot out of the bow into the side of one of the wooden chests, and as he did so, waves of terror and fear shot through the entire group, emanating from the arrow’s point of impact. Most of the party fled the room in fear, while others went catatonic in the corner. Eventually, everyone recovered and regrouped. The professor inspected the bow and informed Ren that it was a famous Orc weapon. Ren (who hates Orcs) decided that he was not going to keep such an evil thing and tossed it aside. (It was later picked up by another party member for storage purposes). There was some discussion at that point regarding how to get Shiny to give up the gem; (one suggestion involved boiling him in a pot until he let it go.)
Harvey decided that he had enough of this foolishness, and he and Ren hiked back to the clearing to check on the gypsy family, and to make sure there were no more of the frog-men lurking about. They found the camp destroyed and blood everywhere. Ren tracked the frog-men’s trail- first by following their tracks, then by shifting to a dog and sniffing his way through. It seems that the frog-men attacked the gypsy camp first, killing Poloi and dragging the others off into the swamp. The frog-men then attacked the tower, which is where the party encountered them previously.
The Professor came and joined the inspection, noting that the gypsy camp wasn’t just randomly trashed- the frog-men had gone through the deliberate searching of the tent and caravan, opening drawers and cupboards as they went.
The group retreated back to the relative safety of the tower, deciding to barricade themselves in until morning. Unfortunately they left the ogres in charge of this plan, and the ogres not only barricaded the only exit, but they decided that building a fire in front of it (on the wood floor) was a good idea. Fortunately the Professor caught them in time, and patiently explained to Craig that the “fire belongs over there with the other fire.” indicating that he should put it in the fireplace.
The night passed without further incident, and the group made the 8 day journey back through the sinking lands and the swamp to where Her Lady Bismark awaited them.
Treachery Aboard the Bismark
The party was greeted warmly upon their arrival at the airship, and were served a hot meal. The resupply caravan had brought with them a portion of beef, and the crew chief had forbidden the group to eat of it until the party was back, so they could all enjoy a hot meal of beef stew together. A couple of the party members inquired about the captain’s whereabouts, but were informed simply that “he was in his cabin resting.”
The group thought nothing of this, and the prospect of a hot meal after so long in the swamp was welcome indeed, so they all tucked in and began thinking about the trip home.
As the group came back to consciousness, a few things were apparent:
1) They had all been drugged
2) The crew was gone
3) The ship was out of control and rising fast
4) The air was getting very cold and thin.
5) Much of the party’s valuables were gone. Specifically their gold, Harvey’s large backpack, the large diamond, the small golf-ball sized diamond, and any other small gems or jewelry that was accessible. The only exception to this seemed to be Camille’s jewelry- but since she was a mage it’s likely the thieves decided to leave them alone for safety’s sake.
Fortunately the Professor had spent a good deal of time on the outward voyage studying how the airship worked, and he quickly closed off the feed valve for the inflatable, and began venting the bag, halting the ascent of the ship and regaining control.
The party made a quick search of the ship, whereupon they found the Captain tied up and gagged below decks. It seems that upon the arrival of the caravan, the Captain’s crew was killed and he was captured. Several days had gone by before the party arrived back at the ship, and it was unknown how many days had passed while the party was unconscious.
Camille touched the Captain’s bonds, using her magic to look back through time and see what had occurred. She discovered that the attack and robbery was done at the behest of Lord Rannarsh, a noble of some note from Galantri. This is the same noble that Harvey had been investigating with the help of The Guild.
The captain took command of his ship once more, and despite the lack of a trained crew, the party sailed on back to Galantri, keeping a close eye out as they travelled for signs of the caravan below.
Back in Town
There was no sign of the caravan, so the Captain landed the Bismark just outside the city, and the party returned back, headed to the Mages College to seek an audience with Casmeir, the head mage, to give him the Fireberries, and claim their reward.
Casmeir was glad to see the party, and he let them know the college had made progress in analyzing the blue potions in their absence. The next ingredient needed would likely be even harder to obtain than the first- it seems that water from each of the world’s oceans would be needed. This would certainly be a challenge to gather!
The party informed Casmeir of what they had seen in the tower, of Edwin Viktor’s writings about Ythran the Mad, the strange sigil that was protecting the diamond, and the odd map with the rune notation next to Galantri and southwest of Gorna. They showed Casmeir the items they had brought back from the tower, and as part of their payment, he spent some time identifying each of the items for them.
The group expressed an interest in getting their items back from Lord Rannarsh, and taking him to task for their troubles. Casmeir summoned an old friend of his, an elf that answered to the name of “Packtrick”. This graceful and charming fellow informed the party that he was the leader of The Guild, and that at Casmeir’s behest, they would ensure the streets around Rannarsh’s manor would be clear tonight, and that the party would have the Guild’s permission to pull off a heist tonight, during Rannarsh’s event- he was hosting an auction to sell some goods of “unique and unusual value”. He simply asked that the party keep things subtle, and do nothing to reflect back upon the Guild.
Lord Rannarsh’s Manor
Using her contacts among the nobility, Camille managed to get herself an invitation to Lord Rannarsh’s event. It was decided that Harvey would attend as her bodyguard, and Bernie would attend as her date. Meanwhile, Shiny, Ren and the Professor would infiltrate from the upper floors, and the two ogres, Borgen and Craig, would wait nearby as backup.
The initial infiltration seemed to go well, Camille and company were invited inside, though Harvey was asked to wait with the other house guards on the second floor. Bernie nearly gave everything away, as he appeared to be terrified. Upon noting his nervousness, Camille tried to calm him down, but realized very quickly that his nervousness stemmed not from the danger of the situation they were in, or the ruse they were playing, but the fact that he had never been on a date with a girl before.
Meanwhile, Shinymonger was able to leap from windowsill to windowsill to get to the upper level. Ren, (in the form of a thrush) flew up to each window in turn until they found a likely looking unoccupied room. Shiny jimmied the window open, and the Professor used one of his magic pipes to turn to smoke and float up to the room.
The Professor began searching through the desks in the room, and the rest of the upstairs party began exploring. In the next room they found several cages with wild animals, with cloth covers, and one large glass case with a 3’ long golden dragon. Upon seeing him, Shiny immediately began talking to it, asking it to be quiet, that they wouldn’t hurt it. The dragon responded happily, “sure thing buddy! Think you can get me outta here? I ain’t no parakeet!”
Meanwhile, downstairs, Rannarsh was not one for formality this evening. He was anxious to get the auction started and his goods sold, so he asked his guests to join him in an upstairs room for the auction. In addition to Camille and Bernie, the other bidding parties were a military general named Worlga, and an elf named Silvanus. The group was led to a lounge room with a large table. Sitting on the table was the skull-sized diamond from the tower, and the smaller golf-ball sized faceted jewel.
It’s not clear what happened first to start off the chaos- as many things seemed to happen almost simultaneously. Most likely it was the roar of the lion in the cage that triggered the party’s leap to action, but regardless of the cause, chaos followed soon after.
Ren took charge of the animals upstairs, releasing them from their cages and commanding them to “kill Rannarsh and tear him limb from limb” before shapeshifting to his Grizzly bear form and charging after them.
Shinymonger ran downstairs just ahead of the pack ready for battle.
The two ogres charged the front doors, each of them on either side of a flaming wagon, loaded down with pitch barrels.
Silvanus grabbed the diamond and teleported away.
The general drew his weapon and readied for battle.
Harvey flashed his royal writ and suggested to the guards that they seek other employment.
Things moved fast after that- the battle at the front door, Ren disemboweling a guard as he ran from the back entrance, Harvey fighting the two guards in close quarters, Bernie defeating the general with one amazing sword blow to the face, the lion, cobra and weasel jumping on Lord Rannarsh, (following their instructions to tear his limbs off quite literally).
Amongst this chaos a scream was heard from outside and several of the frog-men were seen running away from Silvanus’s corpse on the street below. Apparently his getaway spell teleported him right down to where they were lurking. Part of the party pursued them while the rest finished up the battle.
When the dust settled, the only friendly casualty was Craig, who was laying on the front step, unconscious and bleeding from several sword wounds. Unfortunately, his only help was Borgen, who, using ogre logic, looked at him and said simply “I hope he gets better”, before running off. Needless to say, with no one to heal him or bind his wounds, Craig didn’t get better. This is no surprise, particularly since he was lying next to the burning wagon that was beginning to catch the house on fire.
A brief battle followed on the street, with the party firing off spells and other attacks at the backs of the running frog-men. A few of them were killed, but they seemed single-minded in their purpose to get the diamond away. One of them managed to duck into a sewer opening and vanish from sight.
The party explored the sewer, first Shiny running ahead in pursuit of the frog creature, then the others slowly trailing along after. At one point during the navigation and exploration of the tunnels, the professor realized that he had seen this pattern before. The strangely-marked scrolls that had come from the chest in Viktor’s tower seemed to align with the pattern of tunnels and entrances.
Eventually the group came upon a muddy bank leading to a wide pool. Beneath a pile of mud in the corner, they found a large jug, which the professor was able to identify as a potion of water breathing. Why frog-men would be keeping something like this was speculated about, but the group elected to continue pursuit, drinking from the jug then diving into the water. Those unable to swim or weighted down by armor simply walked along the bottom.
It did not take long to cross the pool, and a passage sloped upward, breaking the surface of the water shortly. The group found themselves in an ancient corridor, which appeared to have once been constructed with granite walls and paving stones, but time and decay had collapsed portions of the walls, and the floor was uneven and jagged.
The hallway split in two directions here, and the group went left, following the long twisting hallway for what seemed like a quarter mile or so before it turned a corner and continued on.
The Ancient Temple
Eventually their explorations led them to a vast cavern with a wide pool in it, surrounding the decaying (yet still imposing) edifice of an ancient temple. One side of the temple was intact, and the other was half-sunk into the pool. It looked as though this was once a building that had been at surface level, but had sunk beneath the earth before coming to rest here. The roof of the building was cracked in half, showing where the building gave way as its footings sunk.
The party explored the ancient temple, noting the construction was originally of white marble, but the place was long-since deserted and empty. In a large back area, through a doorway sunken under water, the group found a strange sight- a raised white throne. Seated upon the throne was a marble statue of a winged, bare chested humanoid figure with the head of an elephant, and across his outstretched open palms stretched a sheathed sword with a gold hilt.
Before anyone could stop him, Shinymonger climbed the statue and drew the sword from its sheath.
As he draw the blade from its sheath, he first felt a light tingle in his fingertips, and everyone in the group could both feel and see the hair on their arms stand up. The air around the blade seemed to draw in upon it for a moment, and then suddenly expanded outward, as the space around the sword warped and shimmered in a moving wave, crossing outward from the blade in a sphere. As it passed over everyone and through the room, ever expanding, they felt the roar of magical power moving with it, and for the first time ever, the magical energy was visible to the naked eye. It had an odd color that no one in the group was able to describe. It only lasted a fraction of a moment, as the rapidly expanding sphere moved as fast as sound, and crossed through flesh and stone alike as it departed, but the memory of the color was haunting and seemed to linger in the mind’s eye.
After it passed, there was nothing but a strange silence, not of sound, but mentally. The background noise of magic that was always present was suddenly silent, and its absence was staggering by its contrast.
This strange quiet lasted only a few seconds, though it seemed much longer. Eventually, a dull ringing in their heads made the party gasp aloud. The ringing quickly faded, and the familiar dull presence of magical energy returned once more.
Having drawn the sword completely, Shiny brought it down and showed it to the group. The Professor noted that the language written on the sword was ancient- it predated most of the writings he was familiar with it, but with some effort he was a able to glean the meaning of the writing on the blade, which he loosely translated to mean “man slayer”.
Shiny tried to sheathe the blade, but it would not go back into its sheath, slipping aside every time he tried. He handed the sword to Camille, but she quickly handed it back, feeling strange about keeping it. Shiny then handed it to the Professor, but the professor tripped as he walked, and the blade skittered along the ground, coming to rest at Shinymonger’s feet. The group quickly reasoned that something had occurred to bind the sword to Shinymonger, which was unfortunate, as he was too small and weak to wield a sword of that size.