Saga of the Old City

Episode 110: Headaches

Death and Betrayal

In the aftermath of the battle with the tiefling cultists, the party questions the young sacrifice-to-be after Gilgamesh provides her with a cloak to cover herself. The girl has no memory beyond her incarceration in the tunnels. She feels that she’s been trapped for weeks. Although none of the party knows her, a few remember seeing the girl in Low Town with an older man, presumably her father. An examination of her reveals a small cut or opening at the base of her neck, but they can make nothing of it.

Taking the girl back to the mining camp they tell Orobok to take her to Temple and instruct him to find Gilgamesh’s son [insert name] and ask him to organize a search for the girl’s father as well as to send some of Gilgamesh’s men to clear out the armoury. The adventurers, needing a rest, stay in the armoury. Once rested the party begins exploring the rooms beyond sacrificial chamber. Following a narrow corridor they find themselves in an antechamber with two doors, one ornately carved like the altar room and the other plain. The ornate door (which Gilgamesh and Krivv smash) leads to bedrooms used by the Tieflings (one shared by the acolytes and one for their master). There’s another locked door here, which Gilgamesh burns down. While the door burns, the party investigates the plain door. This door is locked, which Acacia picks, and it leads to a storage room filled with food stuffs and miscellaneous equipment. In the corner of the room they find the sack containing the tablets stolen from the temple during the Red Lion war; the ancient ritual tablet has been completely destroyed. The adventurers return to the bedrooms and search the room beyond it. They find a locked chest, which Krivv unlocks with a crowbar, filled with 500 gold pieces. In the fireplace Acacia finds the remains of burned documents. Only four words have survived amongst the scraps: the names Grun’tash, Zandimus, and Sejanus along with the word “hourglass”.

As they finish their search, another earthquake hits. The rooms around them hold, but other tunnels collapse and fill the air with the dust, temporarily troubling most of the party. Searching for exits, their first guess locates a stone trap door in the storage room. The door leads to a set of stairs going down into a rank smelling tunnel. The walls here have been defaced with acid and the only intact fresco shows a group of Minotaurs on the hill of Urkesh. Following the course of an underground stream, they party finds themselves in a chamber shaped like a bull’s head, featuring two pools that make the bull’s eyes. Gilgamesh, Siduri and Krivv advance into the room to examine the pools when two beholders and a large aberrant creature slip down from the ceiling behind Acacia in doorway. Acacia moves out of the way and fires at the creature while Zariastra is pulled towards it; she escapes and calls up a zone of darkness around herself and Acacia. Siduri, Gilgamesh and Krivv move forward to kill the unknown creature while unbeknownst to them Krivv is suffering from mental attacks, periodically resulting in wild swinging at his allies. Eventually Krivv kills the creature and Zariastra kills both beholders.
Acacia notebook 4.23
A closer examination of the pools reveals that they are of divine origin and would have boosted the party’s damage while standing in them. There is a passage down one horn that continues along the path of the stream. The adventurers follow the passage for two hours, steadily walking towards Urkesh. The passage starts to slope gently upwards as they are under merchant district then continues under the palace.

The tunnel exits the cliff face as the stream empties into the Tigris River. There is a cleverly hidden staircase up to the palace grounds. The party walks up the stairs with Gilgamesh in the lead (followed by Krivv, Siduri, Zariastra, and Acacia) to find themselves in the wooded area south of palace. Gilgamesh steps onto land and triggers trap that tries to launch him off the cliff-face. It misses him and he moves out of its range. Four trees animate and attack. Krivv, knowing that he cannot move past the trap, attacks the trap instead. Acacia uses Archer’s Staircase to climb the cliff face and Zariastra follows her up. Two trees fall and then Gilgamesh is pushed off side of cliff. Krivv kills the trap and moves into battle while Siduri races down the stairs and dives into the river to save Gilgamesh. Krivv, Zariastra and Acacia kill rest of trees while Siduri and Gilgamesh escape the river.

Once everyone is on solid ground they go to palace to check in on the situation before going to the Arcanists to see Lavant and Sejanus. Arriving at Sejanus’ quarters, Gilgamesh orders Sejanus to disrobe in front of Siduri, Zariastra and Acacia. They find no visible tattoo, but an Arcana check reveals an illusion on his back. Zariastra dispels the illusion to reveal the left hand tattoo on his back. Zariastra and Sejanus trade lewd suggestions while Siduri calls Krivv and Gilgamesh back into room. Krivv is dominated and defends Sejanus against Siduri who tries to bind him; she binds Krivv with a Word of Binding instead. In the midst of the chaos, Lavant arrives and furiously demands that everyone vacate the room except Gilgamesh and Zariastra, saying this business does not concern the rest of the party. He eventually comes to an agreement with Gilgamesh, whose troops arrive and arrest Sejanus. Lavant takes him to a magical holding cell.

Gilgamesh and Lavant speak about what the party has discovered. Lavant agrees to quietly search his people for the tattoo and also agrees to examine Krivv to see if they can figure out what has been affecting his behaviour. Krivv’s does not have the tattoo, but Lavant does find a tiny hole in Krivv’s neck. There’s a foreign object in the wound that radiates arcane energy. Lavant prepares a ritual to remove the object while the rest of the party follows up on other leads.

Siduri returns to the temple to inquire after the girl from the tunnels. Her name is Helen and she is the daughter of labourer. Strangely enough, she has not been reported missing by her father. Siduri also determines how many tieflings occupy important places within the temple, as she considers them prime suspect (there are two). Acacia checks in with her family to see if they know anything about the tattoo, but comes up empty. There has also been no news of the missing Silverkin.

Gilgamesh returns to the dungeon to intimidate more information out of Sejanus. Lavant has already performed the ritual and removed a tiny shard of unknown material containing a now-dead aberrant creature. The creature, Lavant explains, was responsible for influencing Krivv’s actions. He is now trying to figure out a way to detect them. Gilgamesh, interrogating Sejanus with Krivv’s help, learns that the tattoo is associated with followers of the so-called true ruler of Urkesh – the Demon King. Krivv has another moment of inspiration and remembers a story from childhood about Demon King, but the nursery tale doesn’t present any helpful details.

Meanwhile, Zariastra shares her secret with Siduri. Prior to the Kimah party, Zariastra learned of the plight of a Lower Town woman’s daughter who would be sacrificed because of her arcane powers. Wanting to help the girl (Kara), she sought Sejanus’ help at the party and the tiefling hid her away. Aware now of his treachery, Zariastra wants Siduri’s help to recover Kara before it is too late. Siduri urges Zariastra to share this with the rest of the party, which she does, and they agree to help. Gilgamesh leads the party to the safe house where the girl is being stashed. On the way, a runner approaches the party to tell Gilgamesh that Helen’s father been spotted—foaming at the mouth and behaving erratically. Gilgamesh calls his guards to apprehend Helen’s father while the party continues to Kara’s safe house. They find no one inside and all signs point to the fact that Kara’s been absent for days. The party splits again; Zariastra and Siduri visit Kara’s mother in hopes for a lead (she hasn’t seen anyone for weeks and is upset that Zariastra has lost her daughter), while Siduri sends word to the Kimah family, asking their help in finding Kara and revealing to them Sejanus’ treachery. Krivv and Gilgamesh return to intimidate more information out of Sejanus. He tells them that Kara’s been taken and that there’s only one week until she’ll be sacrificed. He laughs at Gilgamesh because of some plan of plot that has started with his capture—but the laugh is his last. Krivv cuts off his finger and the fearful tiefling tells them that servants of the Demon King hideouts in the forests (Grun’tash lives there), wastelands (gnolls), and tunnels. He talks about the ogre Grun’tash, who gives him his orders, but refuses to discuss Zandimus beyond acknowledging his existence. The shards are also part of their plan, but Sejanus was unaware that this phase had gone into effect. He tries to fool Gilgamesh into believing high level officials are cultists, but he isn’t fooled.

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