Saga of the Old City

Episode 113: King and Chaos

As the party approaches the gates, a pair of unfamiliar guards greets them with the news that the city is no longer under Gulkishar’s rule—he and his family have been killed by poison. The guards tell them that Ishkibal, who they serve, wishes to see them, but the group declines. Too shocked to ask more questions, they enter the city to check on their families. There are signs of fire in city but it appears that the fire was contained quickly resulting in little damage. The party splits as they travel, Gilgamesh taking the Lhyra and Acacia taking Kara.

Krivv heads directly to House Katar. The family head, Sikar has been looking for him. He has a mission of great importance for Krivv. He shows Krivv a map with the city divided into three parts and says that his faction (Akkar’s) has the strongest force.

Gilgamesh enters the palace (which is also his family’s home) to find that all the heirlooms and important personal items are missing. There are no bodies anywhere nor signs of conflict in his apartments. He heads to the Akkad estate next. Here there is much activity as the estate is being fortified along with the rest of the southern side of Upper Town. He finds his wife and children inside. His wife tells him that Gulkishar, his immediate family, and his younger sister Ishtar were poisoned 3 days ago. The city erupted in chaos and most are blaming the Demon King (no one has stepped forward to claim credit for the assassinations). She tells him that the city has been divided into three factions (those represented at the Party at Kimah’s Place) and that his older sister Lilith is missing. Akkar has recovered the bodies of the poisoned family members, but he hasn’t located Lilith one way or another. One of Gilgamesh’s guards also has news for him: only twelve of his men are currently in the estate. The Red Lion recruits disappeared into Low Town and haven’t been seen since. Since travel through the city is unsafe, he doesn’t know how many others may be out in rest of city, but many died in the immediate chaos after Gulkishar’s death. Gilgamesh instructs his guards to protect his family.

Meanwhile, Acacia and Kara enter House Kamman, which (along with most of the north side estates) is included in a large barricade. The Arcanist estate is surrounded by this northern fortification, while the Kimah estate has been conspicuously left alone. Acacia gets Kara settled in with young cousins and meets with her mother who has difficult news. Uncle Shad is missing and it is believed that Ishkibal has him as a hostage. She also confirms that Acacia’s Kernig Root money is still coming in, although no one has seen Taurion since the chaos broke out.

Zariastra visits the Arcanists and goes directly to Lavant. He’s glad to see her and updates her on recent events. Since all of their immediate neighbours are from Arzan’s faction, he wants her to find tunnels in Low Town that connect to the estate which he hopes to use to get the vulnerable family members out before they are attacked.

Siduri visits her family estate (Essur) and speaks to the head of her family (Vauldra) which supports Arzan. She is happy to see her and updates Siduri about the state of things. She learns that Helen is with them, but shard is still in place because Lavant supports Ishkibal. Helen’s father is also at the temple, restrained but no longer suffering from symptoms of madness. He has last his memory of the last several weeks. Vauldra explains that Arzan’s forces (largely mercenaries) are slightly larger than Akkar’s, but he remains unsure how Ishkibal’s popularity with the poor will play out. She does have a mission for Siduri, asking her to help Acacia find her uncle Shad who is believed to be with Ishkibal. The purpose of her involvement is to see what other political prisoners the populist might be holding.

Gilgamesh visits the Arcanists to check on his children there (13-year old twins). Lavant tells him that there is no room for compromise with other factions, explaining that all three leaders (for different reasons) cannot back down—Ishbkibal because of his idealism, Akkar because he would lose all his power if he fails, and Arzan from the enemies he’s created in trying to seize power. On the subject of Helen, Lavant will gladly remove the shard if she is brought to him. Gilgamesh fetches Helen from Arzan without resistance and after giving her to Lavant returns to the Akkad estate to speak with Akkar who confirms what he’s heard. Akkar thinks he will win in the coming conflict and advises Gilgamesh to stay aloof or else lose his reputation of being above the city’s political wrangling.

In the evening the party begins to move. Siduri stops at the Kimah estate on her way to Acacia. Kitu takes her to parlour where she meets with the head of the family, Ashala. Siduri asks about Ishkibal’s taking of prisoners, specifically about Shad. Ashala tells her that Shad was last seen gambling at the Bleating Goat in Low Town, but thinks it impossible that Ishkibal holds him prisoner (while leaving room for those beneath him for having him). She gives Siduri a map with Ishkibal’s location and a very detailed account of his routine. She also tells her that the man who is really in control of his faction is a dragonborn named Vharkus, an arena fighter who is Iskibal’s second in command.

After searching the library for evidence of the tunnels, Zariastra has pretty good idea of where to being looking: she heads to the Empty Quarter. Once there, she finds a sympathetic woman whose arcanely gifted child was also taken away and killed: she knows a building that has door into tunnels beneath the basement. Zariastra advises the woman to find her again if she hears of anymore magical children being born in the peasant class before continuing into the Empty Quarter.

Siduri and Acacia visit Ishkibal after convincing a couple of patrols to let them pass. They ask Ishkibal about Shad. He says he doesn’t have him and Acacia’s keen insight assures her that he is sincere. Ishkibal tells them that he has looked for Shad but cannot find him. Siduri asks him about the poisoning, but he doesn’t know who might have done it, unaware even that Lilith survived. Ishkibal’s most pressing concern is that the city is troubled with bouts of madness; men and women foaming at mouth and attacking others wildly. He hopes Siduri and Acacia will go find out the cause of the madness. Leaving Ishkibal, they go and talk with Vharkus, a huge, powerfully built man (he is disturbed by how well marked their Kimah-born map is). He tells them that his people are rounding up the maddened and imprisoning them in an old warehouse by the river, saying after a few days they start to calm down. He doesn’t know where Shad is, but had men looking for him. He won’t be specific, but hints that a human with a B-name from the Bleating Goat has some info about Shad (“you humans all look the same—it’s so hard to remember your names!”). Siduri and Acacia decide to start in Empty Quarter to look for the cause of the madness.

Krivv has been sent with three other Katar men to raid a Kimah house in the Empty Quarter. Sikar wants no survivors and for the attack to not be traced back to House Katar. Krivv and his men change into nondescript clothing before moving into the Empty Quarter. Krivv can sense no danger; but suddenly they are attacked by raving mad mobs. The mobs shamble over to Krivv and his men and mindlessly attack. Krivv takes heavy damage as Zariastra and Gilgamesh coincidentally arrive on scene coming from opposite directions (Gilgamesh having received instructions during his meditations with the god Urkesh who urged him to stamp out the threat of madness in the Empty Quarter). Zariastra fires from the end of an alley and Gilgamesh attacks the mob from behind. The swarming mobs are difficult to damage. Siduri and Acacia arrive moments after Krivv falls, having heard the commotion in their search. Siduri races towards him to heal him and Acacia climbs up to the roof and starts picking off the mobs that have no hope of escaping the flurry of arrows. Gilgamesh is stuck in alley on other side of mob until Acacia clears that one too. Once the combat ends, with mounds of dead Urkeshi citizens cluttering the allies (to Gilgamesh’s fury, who wanted them alive) the party reconvenes to discuss what is going on.

Acacia notebook 5.21 The party arrives at Goeban’s house. It appears very rundown and unsafe. Acacia scouts two An examination of the bodies reveals a fine black powder on their noses. It is not arcane, but some type of natural substance that has been processed into a drug. Krivv scares up someone to ask about the drug. The man reveals that the drug flooded the market weeks ago. It has many names and the drug’s most often used catchphrase is “go mellow, go mad”. A minotaur named Goeban is the producer and there are dealers in the Empty Quarter. The party locates a dealer who sells Krivv a small package for 2 gold pieces. Gilgamesh intimidates the dealer into quitting trafficking and to mark Goeban’s place on Siduri’s map of the city. Gilgamesh remembers a Goeban from the Daku banking family, but cannot be sure if they are one and the same.entrances and several windows. The party positions themselves for an all out strike and blasts into the room from either side of the building and above. There is nothing on the first floor, but noise can be heard from the lighted basement below. Gilgamesh and Krivv step onto the floor and are attacked by several humans who were playing dice before they broke in. Acacia drops to the floor so that she can fire from above while the enemies converge on Krivv. One of the fighters uses her trident to immobilize Krivv and he is stuck in place for most of the battle. Zariastra fires a chaos bolt that hits all enemies in the room. Gilgamesh tries to keep the attacks focused on himself, but they lay into Siduri instead and she falls. Gilgamesh heals as Zariastra and Acacia try to kill the mages. The battle is long and grim. Once two enemies have fallen, the leader raises them as zombies who continue to attack the party. Gilgamesh takes out the enemy healer, knocking him unconsciousness to prevent him rising as a zombie. When the necromancer finally falls, so do the zombies. The combat has ended, but a further sub-basement lies beyond.

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