For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Once Brother Vang had performed parting rites at the tomb of the Justicar Gerrant, the party recovered the remains of those who had perished and made their intrepid return to the Camp. There, discussion turned towards the disappearance of Anya–Brother Vang’s companion and historian; as the cloistered cleric had vanished in the destruction of the horological golem in the Crooked Tower, the group was uncertain as to the woman’s fate–but knew only that she ceased to register in Brother Vang’s status magic at the time. Pandora performed powerful divination to Desna and in doing so confirmed that Anya had not perished, at least–but the cleric’s fate remained a mystery.
Seeking to gain a better understanding of the situation, the party sought out advise from Asharru–given the Raksasha’s familiarity with planar affairs. Asharru suggested that Anya could indeed have ended up amidst another plane during the backlash of the golem’s destruction–but given the nature of the construct and its effects on the timestream, the whereabouts of the cleric would be difficult to ascertain. In order to better their odds, then, it was recommended that the adventurers seek out the mercane who had emerged and set up shop within Tsar’s harrow lanes–being planar merchants and purveyors of difficult to find goods and information.
Following this advise, the party returned to Tsar’s Harrow Lanes and discovered the out-of-place bazaar in which the mercanes were operating; the outsiders were joined by a cadre of strange otherworldly bodyguards and were swift to begin offering substantial sums of gold to the adventurers for more abstract ‘goods’–names, fates and other such things. Ultimately such offers were wholly declined, but instead the party discerned that Anya may have ended up somewhere far-flung, such as the ‘palace of lost and broken things’ or similar planar destinations. To pursue her whereabouts, the group commissioned the mercanes to find a contact who could glean the cleric’s ultimate fate–to be resolved at a later time.
During their discussion with the mercanes, the planar merchants recognized Cassandra’s possession of the jade statue she had received from the Sunset Captain–remarking that it signified a layaway token for their purveyance. The mercanes exchanged the statue with the sorceress for a bundle of goods they held within their vaults–revealing a pocket watch which functioned over multiple planes, strange vials of questionable content and an egg with potent powers of creation. The party purchased tuning forks for later planar travel from the mercanes before concluding their exchange.
Next, the party resolved to return to the Cathedral of Pain and finish what had started therein; upon arriving after a short jaunt from further along the Harrow Lanes, the group discovered a pair of strange robed figures at the entrance–harbingers of Argonax the Mad. When one of the peculiar men made strange sounds at Pandora’s approach, Cassandra quickly grew tired of their strangeness and called for them to be attacked–and a battle quickly unfolded.
From within the Cathedral, dark custodians emerged–potent incorporeal undead capable of rendering the living incorporeal as well; one of the harbingers managed to trap Pandora’s soul in a magic jar before withdrawing into the Cathedral–and after Emma, Anselme and the others had managed to destroy three of the four dark custodians, one managed to drag Brother Vang beneath the surface and trap him painfully within the solid structure beneath the street–requiring swift intervention from Anselme taking to an elemental form to recover the crusader.
Rallying then and now in need of recovering Pandora’s spirit, Meryk, Emma, Anselme, Cassandra and Brother Vang ventured into the hated structure and hastened past the bedlam they had wrought days prior. Searching the upper level, the group soon enough discovered a hidden stairwell which led to the undercrypts beneath the Cathedral of Pain; there, they were faced with a cramped and claustrophobic quarters crammed with armed and armored undead they recognized as iron ghasts.
Emma and Anselme, along with Leone, wasted little time in wading deep into battle with the undead–for they were scarcely able to leave lasting wounds on the powerful barbarian nor the massive lion alike. Brother Vang followed soon thereafter, heavily armored to such a degree that the cleric formed a veritable siege engine for all that the ghasts were able to lay against him–while his potent divine power and carried relics damaged and destroyed those who lingered near to him.
While Cassandra and Meryk loosed destruction from afar and several dozen such ghasts were laid low, the truly potent opponents soon became clear at the far end of the undercrypt–an imperial iron ghast who possessed powerful planar magic and an unidentified grotesque planar creature with long needle-like fingers who began to extract humors from nearby party members with devastating consequence. This latter foe proved a frightful enemy, bending space and geometry around it as it moved and flitting in and out of existence from moment to moment among the party members.
Emma was laid low, her wisdom drained–Cassandra in turn from similar straights with the intelligence of the sorceress; as well, the creature denied healing measures for several minutes with each of its ministrations, making recovering amid the battle a difficult proposition. It was in the midst of utilizing planar magic that the imperial ghast suffered an unexpected and strange setback as a consequence of avoiding a powerful spell from Anselme–a backlash which reversed the ghast’s alignment… and left it an ally to the party, aiding in the destruction of the remaining undead!
Though pushed to the brink and filled with fright and after Meryk was nearly slain, the party was able to beat back the mysterious planar monster–recovering the jar which held Pandora’s soul before the creature dispersed into an eerie swarm of inter-dimensional metallic spiders. After the battle, the party parlayed with the imperial ghast and attempted to persuade him to return to the Camp with them–but the ghast insisted that he could not do so, for he had raised the ire of the Usurer long ago. While the party insisted that they might make that relation amenable again, the ghast revealed a bag of holding containing stolen iron bits…before promptly turning to stone.
Somewhat unnerved at the long-reaching and apparent consequence to such, the group nevertheless collected the statue and bag alike and resolved to return those missing iron bits to the Usurer themselves–to better smooth over their own relations. Plans had been struck with the Usurer previously to construction an arena within the Camp for wagering and letting off steam among the many monsters and adventuring parties present; now, many elementals had gone to work to commence construction of such, and so when the party returned to the Usurer with their recovered iron bits, the mysterious fellow seemed moderately satisfied–but declined their requests regarding the petrified ghast.
Despite their setbacks, the party had at long last retrieved another small windfall of treasure and valuables at the conclusion of their return to the Cathedral of Pain–swiftly setting to task negotiating the bartering and sale of what materials they could to better bolster the group’s finances and available magical resources. Among the recovered treasures, the party also found a map which revealed the presence of a hidden river interconnected beneath the temple-city of Tsar; such had been sighted when they fought the morlocks previously, and so the party decided to explore such in pursuit of anything of value.
In this opportune downtime with a sudden inspiration, Pandora and Meryk reviewed the strange mythos tome the ranger had carried for many months since the party had visited Ustalav–discovering its contents to regard a cult of cannibalistic northerners from the Linnorm lands and containing strange but unnerving spells. Pandora resolved to keep the tome and later pursue others like it, should the opportunity arise.
Venturing back into Tsar, the party elected to enter the Missing River by passing through the waterfall found previously in the swamp of the lower-most level. Once through with magical flight, the party spied strange invisible fungus-people glowering and shouting taunts at the flying adventurers. The party decided to make a show of fearing the small fungoids, much to the apparent satisfaction of the diminutive tribe–‘fleeing’ from them further along the river without further incident.
Following the map for near to a mile, the party discovered a small embankment and caverns off the side of the subterranean river. Setting down, they began to explore–and were quickly assailed by cave leeches, aberrations from deep beneath the surface of Golarion. The leeches were quickly dispatched, along with a tiny monkey skeleton which attacked the party–the fez-wearing little undead a curious foe. When the skeleton rose to fight again, the party realized that it was not unlike the bloody skeletons fought ages ago beneath the Crypt of the Everflame; before anyone else could object, Anselme captured the skeletal monkey and stuffed it into a bag of holding for later amusement.
Venturing deeper into the twisting caves, the party navigated their way for some time before Pandora discovered an open chamber with a grisly display to be found. What seemed to have at one time been a band of additional morlocks had been gruesomely devastated–with blood and gore strewn about before a cavernous entrance leading deep beneath the surface–down into the under-realms networked beneath Golarion. Much to the party’s delight, however, they discovered what was confirmed to be another of the nine statues sought within Tsar–but once it had been recovered, an ominous rumbling began to issue from beneath them.
While some called for withdraw, others remained and prepared for battle–and swiftly, a colossal maw burrowed through from below, swallowing Pandora in an instant. A towering black worm assailed the party, extremely territorial it would seem–sending the adventurers into a devastating melee. Biting, burrowing and swallowing with abandon, the black worm pursued the party–loosing periodic sprays of powerful negative energy with breath attacks which nearly laid them low. Leone was killed, as was oft the fate of the sizable lion–while Pandora only very narrowly avoided such a fate between a surge of heroics, desperate magic and a series of maneuvers which left many of her fellows breathless in anticipation for a time.
Emma as well was swallowed by the worm, much to the barbarian’s chagrin–yet it was she who fought her way free from deep within the colossal worm’s deadly gullet, hacking and slashing and tearing away with her furious power before emerging once more beneath the beast. Hewing and hacking away as magic and missiles were loosed, the party managed to not just beat back the worm–but miraculously to slay it–a victory of rousing calls in their moment of triumph as the adventurers prevailed on the brink of devastation. With a fourth statue recovered, the party swiftly withdrew from the underground river to regroup once again and begin planning their next expedition into Tsar…
Meryk has written an ‘Update from the front’ in his journal here!