Saga of the Old City

Episode 106: War (Part Two)

A timely intervention

In the wake of the skirmish with the Taran’s Red Lion soldiers, the party examines the unconscious forms of their former allies. Both bodies sport arcane tattoos of a left hand which flare brightly upon closer inspection. Jesse’s tattoo leaves him dead while Foopi’s induces a coma-like state. There is nothing more to be done about them now while the city continues to burn. Gilgamesh leads the party along the path of the Red Lions towards the palace. On their way, they come across many bodies of Urkeshian soldiers and Red Lion bandits. There doesn’t seem to be any more pockets of fighting. Gilgamesh finds a few straggling soldiers who are in no shape to do more battle and sends them to protect the party’s rear.

The adventurers approach the palace gate and Acacia’s keen eyes spot 5 Red Lion soldiers in the guard tower. Gilgamesh, concerned for his family’s safety (the royal palace is also the Zabaia estate), marches towards the gate. As battle begins, Acacia unleashes bolts into the guard tower, knocking one of the enemies down the stairs and into melee range for Siduri who charges forwards. Gilgamesh and Krivv take a more direct approach and leap into the tower to attack the Red Lions directly. One of the Red Lion archers is a familiar face from the Hammurabi temple encounter and he surrenders quickly when faced with Gilgamesh’s glower and Krivv’s bloodlust. Zariastra fires chaos bolts into the guard tower before moving forwards and up the stairs. The battle ends quickly once the Red Lions are surrounded and Gilgamesh calls forth the remaining Urkeshi soldiers to guard the gate (and the prisoner). The captured Red Lion tells Gilgamesh that Taran made a deal with a monstrous creature in the woods that agreed to help him take over the palace and that it is within.

As they enter the grand hall that precedes the throne room they are greeted with an unsightly beast – a large beholder. It attacks immediately, immobilizing Krivv and pushing him back along the hall while focusing its damage on Gilgamesh. Siduri reluctantly wades into the melee to heal Gilgamesh and provide a secondary target. Acacia and Zariastra fire from the doorway while Krivv finally gets himself into range. Krivv ignores the beholders frequent taunts and the aberrant creature goes down quickly once it’s locked into Gilgamesh’s mark. The party, a little worse for wear, decides to advance immediately into the throne room where they can hear voices shouting at one another.
Acacia and Zariastra enter via the balcony while Gilgamesh, Krivv and Siduri march down the red carpet towards the throne. The King and Utuk stand at the front of the room by the throne; Utuk is seriously wounded.

Acacia diagram 3.25 Taran and two of his people—a mage and a soldier with a cool shield—stand at the ready.Zariastra is the first on the draw and unleashes a chaos bolt that hits the mage then ricochets to hit Utuk who falls to the ground dying. Acacia also fires on the mage while the rest of the party moves to engage in melee combat. Krivv attacks Taran who moves between Krivv and the mage (Krivv’s original target). King Gulishar flees the room via a hidden door behind the throne. The cool shield bandit tries to flank with Taran, but can’t seem to land a blow on any of the adventurers. As the second round of combat begins, Zariastra finds herself in a quandary, not really wanting to attack Taran so she holds back her attacks. Gilgamesh and Krivv continue to pound on Taran while Acacia puts the mage in lockdown and cool shield guy can’t land a blow. Siduri unleashes a powerful zone attack that boosts her allies and begins to change the tide of battle. Once the mage falls, Gilgamesh takes a turn to heal Utuk, who subsequently flees behind the throne as well (but not before he dodges one last parting shot from Zariastra). Taran and his companion, sensing that they too will soon perish, try to attack Zariastra and Acacia directly by leaping onto the balcony. The cool shield guy advances on Acacia, who keeps knocking him prone as she shifts away. Zariastra refuses to attack Taran and fires across the room. Gilgamesh and Krivv vault to the balcony and Siduri is left on the ground with no place to stand above. Gilgamesh and Krivv lay into Taran with a vengeance–-even Gilgamesh doesn’t protest the final fatal blow.
When the combat ends, King Gulkishar and Utuk return from behind the throne. The monarch is incensed. He orders Utuk to charge after the remaining Red Lions and slaughter them all. Gilgamesh tries to impress the need for a diplomatic solution while Utuk offers Acacia and Krivv absolution and 1000 gold to help in the butchery. Surprisingly enough it is Zariastra’s appeal to his vanity that stops the King’s mad dash. She convinces him that he will be perceived as a fair and just ruler if he shows mercy to the Red Lion soldiers. The war is over…for now, but the rebuild and questions remain. A seed of suspicion has been planted within the party. As they return to their homes, the party realizes that the battle has resulted in more destruction than previously thought. Siduri receives word that the principal archives within the ziggurat of Ashurbanipal have been ransacked and the ritual fragment they found in Hammurabi’s temple has been stolen. Urkeshi soldiers have rounded up the remaining Red Lion troops and incarcerated 30 soldiers. Although everyone's family is fine, a second earthquake shakes the city. Acacia determines that there is nothing natural about these tremors and Krivv, with a surprisingly good grasp of history, determines that there’s no history of them in the area. Siduri is able to determine that the earthquakes are arcane in origin. Laden with another mystery, the company finally rests.

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