For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Concluding their scouting incursion against the temple-city of Tsar, the party returned to their burgeoning base beside the Camp to retire for the evening and prepare for their next expedition into the wicked locus of Orcus’ faithful. However, a foggy embankment soon rolled in against the group’s accommodations–and with it as sure as before, the mysterious midnight peddler returned to barter cryptic clues in exchange for the purchase of bizarre curios. Through this exchange the party gleaned several warnings of their would-be assault of the city–the most poignant among which seemed to resonate with all assembled:
“Ten little blackbirds sitting on a hill, nine want to fly away, one
stands still. Reunite nine with one and return their home will.”
With the rumors and allusions the group had already gathered, unanimous agreement was had that in order to be fully prepared for what lay at the heart of the city, nine objects must be collected–and doubtless, it would be necessary to overcome great obstacles to obtain them. On the morrow the group convened once more, wracking their brains for the best approach to the lowest portion of the city–but after much debate, it was begrudgingly agreed upon that searching the city very nearly door to door would be necessary until a stronger lead could be found.
Making their way to the Camp proper, the party was surprised to discover a great dearth of new activity now found among the community–convoys and caravans had arrived in the stead of rival adventuring parties, cadres of camp followers, merchants, manservants and more. With such, supply and demand within the Camp itself would be further drawn to peaks–though as well the potential to gain more information about the adversaries ahead would further be bolstered as well. For a few hours, the group split up among the new arrivals and worked to gather information–seeking out rumors of the city and investigating what progress others might have achieved in turn.
Reports and rumors of Tsar were greatly varied and mixed–and among the great crowd within the camp it was difficult to discern what weight and truths truly accompanied what had been learned. Mention of a dark stair and the importance of its avoidance was heard, along with reports of a great black dragon even more powerful than Malerix lording over the ruined city; as well, it was said that the true ruler of the city was the most powerful of Orcus’ priests–a Grand Cornu whose magic wrought the Chaos Rift, a man whose power was so great that he was able to cheat death and now held the city as its immortal overlord.
Amidst talk of trolls and iron towers many rumors and reports were gathered–and slowly but surely the party began to coalesce once more within Lucky Bjorc’s now rather packed tavern; therein, an old and heavily scarred former adventurer sat alone in a dark corner–and it is he who offered up perhaps the most particular advice the adventurers mustered among the masses. The man warned of powerful leaders holding sway within the city–Karkuune the black dragon, Plaguebone, Aruug and the Khanjar; the most powerful and dangerous however, he warned, were the Bloodmage and General Myrac–both of whom the party would be wise to fear in their coming forays into the city.
Now possessing broader knowledge of what opposition they may yet face, the party purchased fresh supplies before heading out anew. Wary of the prospect of resting within the city of Tsar itself, the group had decided to attempt to establish a forward base of operations–a site to which they might retreat and rest should the situation grow dire or the need arise. It was elected that they reclaim the firebase they’d attacked previously–and so it was to there that the party sought to return by foot.
As before, the potent iron golem awaited the adventurers below–and after attempting to fool the construct with the epualets they’d recovered previously, the party instead lured the automoton out into the open before engaging it more directly. Though the machine dealt frightfully powerful blows and a startling array of unusual attacks, soon enough the group managed to dispatch it–being rested and well equipped in their re-match with the creation.
Once dealt with, Anselme took the time to plant continual flames behind the gemstones which served as faux eyes for the golem before Emma and Leone were tapped to haul the thing upright by the entrance of their new outpost–an effort to fool any passerby into thinking the place was still under the ‘watchful eye’ of the powerful golem such that they might be disuaded from investigating further.
Reconstruction efforts were swift, with moved earth and re-tooling of booby traps within the bunker beneath the firebase; a secret emergency exit was fashioned and several collections of supplies were stowed before the party settled in to rest for the evening and prepare for their assault on Tsar the following day. Much to everyone’s surprise, the midnight peddlar returned again–somehow hauling his cart of trinkets into their secret hideaway to purvey his ways and further strange tidings.
Availing once more of Brother Vang’s divine magic in order to traverse swiftly upon the air, the group set out from their new hideaway upon the morning. Reaching Tsar and passing by its walls was again made far easier in such gaseous forms, and soon enough the group had arrived at the southern end of the lowermost steppe of the city–for it was there that they had decided to begin their systematic search and gradually began working their way north.
For several hours the adventurers plied and pried among countless buildings and homes, a great many of them found abandoned or occupied by meager zombies and skeletons–vestigal remnants of what had once been a great and terrible city at once. Keeping to narrow alleyways and taking care to avoid attention, the party managed to duck past and circumvent encountering resistance along their search as patrols of siege undead and other denizens were observed making their way about the main roads and thoroughfares.
Having covered nearly half of the Grunge, Tsar’s lowest quarter, the party spied a structure of more apparent significance–a sizable warehouse from which the sounds of work could be made out, while twin chimneys billowed trails of smoke readily into the pall above. Pandora stole ahead from the group, climbing up to the second story of the building to catch a glimpse of what lay within–and there observed a veritable workshop wherein skeletons were fast at work stripping and deconstructing corpses, that they might be fashioned into fresh siege undead!
Wasting little time, the party rallied outside of the warehouse–and after finding the main bay doors barred and blocked, elected to make a quick breach of a pair of double doors further along the building. Within, several siege undead stood tireless watch–and Anselme, Emma and Pandora rushed in to engage the undead servitors. Battle was at hand, the durable guardians of the warehouse engaging the intruders while the skeletons on the warehouse floor continued to mindlessly go about their tasks.
While Cassandra, Meryk and Brother Vang began to join the battle in kind from the street, Anselme rushed past the battle in progress and made his way to the upper level of the warehouse–only to be passed by a four-armed gargoyle which flew into an overseer’s office on the far end of the building. Rushing to pursue the gargoyle, Anselme opened the door to the room behind it–only to find himself faced with a trio of necrophidiuses, frightening skeletal serpants with the fanged skulls of humanoids; the young druid was swift to close the door once more, calling for assistance from Emma and the others.
By now, a patrol of siege undead had arrived from the main thoroughfare, moving to engage Meryk and Cassandra outside in the wake of Brother Vang–as the crusading cleric had called upon divine might to wade into melee with the undead within. Emma rushed to Anselme’s aid upstairs, pausing to investigate the office from which the gargoyle had emerged–and therein discovered a sight most disturbing, a sewing project in progress to fashion what appeared to be a skinsuit with a striking resemblance to Brother Vang.
Down below, Pandora moved to open the second of the two doors in the main entryway–revealing a room in which siege undead were literally packed shoulder to shoulder such that they could scarcely move. Swiftly standing aside, the drow called back to Cassandra–and the sorceress was all too ready and willing to let loose a potent fireball into the midst of so many clustered undead, the stench from which was staggering. Brother Vang made his way back out into the street as Cassandr and Meryk began to withdraw into the building, faced with so many siege undead.
Once the patrol had been thinned, Cassandra broke away with flight and joined Emma and Anselme upstairs just as the young druid and barbarian found the door to the overseer’s office destroyed by the denizens within. The necrophidiuses lashed out and gnashed at the intruders–before a bone swarm emerged from further within the building, setting upon Anselme, Emma and Leone by surprise. Cassandra quickly began loosing explosive spells upon the swarm while Emma and Leone made short work of the serpentine constructs.
Downtairs, now that the streets and entryways had been cleared, Pandora and Brother Vang made their way to the factory floor while Meryk maneuvered to join the battle on the upper balcony–loosing a salvo of arrows against the remaining necrophidiuses. The four-armed gargoyle returned, quickly moving to grapple Cassandra after receiving a volley of arrows himself–but the powerful brute soon found himself biting off more than he could chew when the sorceress coolly delivered a deadly touch attack to free herself from his grasp.
By now, a strange gaunt and otherwordly man emerged from the rearmost office, awkwardly joining the battle in progress in time to observe Brother Vang channel holy energy below–obliterating all of the skeletons on the warehouse floor. Bellowing angrily at the intruding adventurers, the ‘cobbler’ loosed threats and obscenities–but was quickly cut off when Cassandra let loose with a fireball upon the entirety of the balcony in an effort to be done with the swarms–Emma, Anselme and Leone caught in the blast as well.
As soot settled and the din began to die down, the group quickly went to work gathering what little loot could be found within the offices–but was satisfied enough to have halted the production of siege undead as consolation for the day’s assault. Brother Vang was most disturbed by the discovery in the office, requesting the strange skinsuit be burned; Pandora took the article in question for disposal, though the group lost track of the drow’s doings thereafter.
Confident from the start of the day’s excursion into Tsar, the group gathered together what goods could be found and prepared to set out and continue their exploration of the city–but little did they know, many eyes pried upon their progress, and soon an unexpected arrival would find his way into their midst…
To see what Meryk thought about this session, go here.