(This entry refers to Session Summary 7)
So somehow I thought that getting into Xin-Grafar was going to be, like, the easy part, right? That we’d punt the posterior of anything that had it coming on the way in, and then we’d just be able to walk out without any trouble. Yeah, right. We just turned around and that stupid snake-thing was sitting in the next room. How the heck did it not get burned up by the molten gold, and manage to climb out of that hole? Freakin’ shenanigans! After I tried my hand at shooting a bow (it worked, like, about as well as you might expect), I threw one dagger into it’s head, then one dagger into the glowing pool of gold beneath us, and then I stopped wasting my time, jumped the gap, and freed it’s organs from the confines of their internal viscera with Krant’s Joy.
Things only got better (by which I mean worse) when we walked outside, because we saw these horrible wraiths that Tar Baboon had made from the people who used to run this place. Luckily Meryk has this spell that makes the undead unable to see us as well, and between that and generally being sneaky we got through most of the rest of the place without incident. Except for the pile of gold that ended up being an ooze. And the bulette (my very first!). Oh, and that damn golden ram showed up and turned Brother Vang to stone which totally pissed me off, so of course it had to go. Don’t worry, he got better, and before anyone had the bright idea to cut him up for easier carrying.
Oh, and it didn’t help that the wraiths could make the bodies we’d left behind tell them that we were there, and what we looked like, and other stuff we generally wouldn’t want someone like a like-sucking ghost to know about you. I tried to carry out those pieces of slag that Anselme and Meryk had left to cool on the end of the first bridge, and everything was going fine… until all three of them were waiting in the final stretch of the tunnel to leave! Somehow Meryk’s spell made it so that only one of them could actually see us, but after I saw him touching people and draining the essence out of their bodies like a tomato left in the sun, I dumped one, grabbed Brother Vang (who was never going to outrun these things), pumped myself up, and ran as fast as my legs could go. Which is obviously not fast enough, Pandora and Anselme could run have run laps around us and still gotten out first.
The craziest thing? Pandora didn’t! When we were just on the verge of getting out, she decided to smack the main wraith dude with her sword. The one that’s made of sunlight. Yeah, I think that pissed him off a bit, because all three managed to smack her on the way out, and she looked awful. People were wondering how many seconds it would be until she died, and I was wracking my brain looking for any way to help. Luckily, she had some magic thing going on where she can maintain her life essence with, like, some sort of magic thing. So she was never going to turn into a wraith, but she still totally could have died so it doesn’t make what she did any less brave. Or reckless. Or awesome.
Dusan had been on the island for years, so a couple of days of waiting wasn’t any big deal for him, but I think I peed a little when he popped out of freakin’ nowhere. I think even Pandora could learn a thing or two from him. Everybody except me was in pretty awful shape, so I dragged the hunk of slag back, kept the long watch overnight, and tried to make sure I would take the brunt of anything that jumped at us. Luckily, it seems like most things aren’t too active when the storms start to get bad, so we got back to the coast without having any fights. Or having the wraiths pop out of the ground out night and kill us all. Yeah, that would have sucked.
The weather was so bad that we couldn’t even tell if our ship was in the water, but Anselme can turn into a dolphin now (so cute!), and he managed to find it out in the storm. We DID see another ship while rowing though, a big black one that I at first thought was cliff. People said they saw skeletons and zombies on spikes and stuff, but I could barely see Anselme leading us to the Black Sovereign, so I just tried to row faster instead.
We managed to get there just as a battle was raging, so I raged too of course. I raged as I cut cultists in half (I’ve had a lot of practice recently), I raged as I smacked a ghost in the face (using the “harmonic dissonance” technique that Kreighton told me a story about once, he’s going to be damn proud when he hears I figured it out on my own!), and raged EXTRA hard when the ghost dropped through the floor. I tried to stab through the planks and into his dumb ethereal head, but he was good.
Once Captain Levar stopped thrashing at everyone (it took some effort), Kai told us that one of her men, Mercutsio, had turned on their group when they were after some sort of phylactery. Torn Tusk bought them enough time to escape, but was captured by the baddies. There was some debate on what we should do next, I was totally ready to go on a rescue mission right then, but the magic-types wanted to get better prepared after a night’s rest, so Pandora and Meryk went on recon.
They came back with more information, some of it bad (the crew of the ship was nasty, let alone their dog-faced killer captain Lucimar who could freakin’ STOP TIME WHAT THE HELL THAT’S BULL), and much of it valuable, including what they’d come to get (a kidney?) and more detail on what the Whispering Way was doing, including allies in Ustalav, a feint against the Shining Crusade, and a rendezvous in a city nobody’s ever heard of, Tsar.
Upon discussing the whole deal, Pandora wanted to go beyond the smash-and-grab rescue, to go further into the ship and get more info, as well as try to take the magic communication pool that was in Lucimar’s cabin! I realized then that Anselme’s desire to get more shiny stuff was not the only kind of greed the people around me were capable of (even if both were being driven by the very best reasons). We’d sent Taes to the Pathfinders with word that we had major information, but the others wouldn’t let me send any details. Now we had even more details, and were risking losing everything for more…
The clincher was the dream Meryk had over that night. He dreamed of looking inot the pool-thing to see a new city appearing on a map, with demons/an ink spill flowing out over the world, then looking up to see the four-armed stitched dude that Pandora had also seen in Lucimar’s room (almost forgot about him) killing him. It wasn’t my dream, but because there wasn’t really anything new, I think it meant that we already knew everything we were going to get, and trying to get more would kill us. Between that, the fact that almost everyone still looked really frail from the wraiths, knowing that Pandora (and Ansalme!) would probably STILL try to infiltrate even though we’d voted against it, and the image of trying to row back to our ship with ghost wizards flying after us and shooting fireballs, I changed my vote. It ended up being, like, the decisive vote. Of course. Pandora didn’t talk to me for a couple of days afterward, and that hurt.
But the worst part was the Man in Metal. Like I expected, he was pissed, and the whole first night could barely sleep because when I closed my eyes, he was there, in my face, just screaming at me. There weren’t any words, but he didn’t need to say anything to say anything, you know what I mean?
“COWARD! YOU FLED THE FIGHT!”
The worst part? I didn’t have a body in this dream, so I had no mouth to talk back, and no legs to walk away. I just had to take it.
Or so I thought. The second night, he started in on my again, and after a while I had a thought. I was hearing him without ears, right, and seeing him without eyes, right? So I decided that even though I had no mouth, I’d scream back. And I did. I screamed back until my lack-of-throat was bloody, so then in a weird dream-logic that I can’t really explain, my scream became the wind through this canyon that Adril had taken us to see once… then it become the roar of the oceans, and I think there was even a volcano in there too. I couldn’t scream louder than the Man in Metal, or longer, but I tried.
“FUCK YOU! IF YOU WAN’T A MINDLESS BEAST, GO ANNOY, LIKE, ROVAGUG OR SOMETHING! I’VE GOT TO WIN THE BIG FIGHT, NOT THROW MYSELF INTO EVERY HOPELESS SMALL ONE!”
Finally he stopped, then screamed something else, something that almost sounded like a word. I don’t know if it was “Huh” or “Ha,” but I woke up feeling utterly exhausted, but good. He didn’t bug me the third night.
We finally got back to Tamran, and Ambrus Valsin was waiting for us! He’s pretty much the face of the will of the Decemvirate, so, like, I think they took us seriously. We let him know everything, and let us know that they already know a lot of it. There’s a new mountain range that just popped up, with a massive city (Three guesses as to what it’s called, and I’ll give you a hint, it starts with “T” and ends with “sar”), and without him giving any details Meryk was able to draw a sketch just as good any anything scouts had managed to find.
The Pathfinders, the Green Faith, the Shining Crusade, pretty much any organization of decent folk in a thousand miles, were working together to try to figure out what was going on, but direct armed conflict wasn’t working out too well. Luckily our bosses know who can get things done: adventurers! They’d already commissioned twelve other groups, and were willing to heal us all up and finance our trip if we’d be willing to go.
You know, I’ve tried them all out, of the assigned group numbers, there’s something really resonant and fun about screaming ours out. Maybe this Fate that Pandora thinks she’s got behind her, maybe it’s at all of our backs? That’d be nice, but I think I’ll act like my choices matter, and messing up means I’m dead. Still, it’s a pretty good battle cry, now that I think about it…