Saga of the Old City

Episode 105: War (Part One)
A Sudden yet Inevitable Betrayal

After the incident in the warehouse, the party members return home to rest. Gilgamesh takes a moment to send someone to investigate the illegal tattoo shop before returning to his family home. The night is peaceful despite the war that looms. In the morning, one of Gilgamesh’s patrolmen arrives in distress. Gnolls have attacked the village of Laga. With the patrols sent to watch the river for Taran’s Red Lions the prince represents the best immediate hope. Horses have been provided for everyone and the group is joined by a pair of new adventurers to help them (human rogue Foopi and halfling assassin Jesse). Gilgamesh has the group roused while he collects information about the tattoo shop – it has been empty for some time and the owner is missing. Siduri wants to know if additional information has been uncovered about her key, but two days are not yet enough for anything new to be learned.

The party departs for the village of Laga, finding smoke curling from smoldering buildings and villagers running amok. The victims recognize and address Gilgamesh, telling him that the Gnolls have taken two wagons full of able-bodied villagers to enslave or eat. The direction of their passing is clear, but the villagers are so muddled that they aren’t sure how many Gnolls there actually were. Gilgamesh and Acacia are familiar enough with the territory that they determine that they can easily get ahead of the caravan and set up an ambush in a ravine a little distance from the village.

Both wasteland veterans recognize the Gnolls as being from the Sand-Walker tribe, who typically come out of the Rimanik Wastes to assail the west. Their ambush is tactical perfection – Gilgamesh and Siduri block one end of the ravine while Foopi and Jesse block the other. Zariastra, Acacia and Krivv await overhead. The battle is swift and devastating for the Gnolls, with only Krivv suffering a setback—after a magnificent climb down the ravine wall he eventually falls (temporarily) to the Gnoll mage. Gilgamesh mows through the front of the caravan without taking a single hit; Zariastra and Acacia provide air support while Foopi and Jesse take out the rear of the caravan, leaving one riding hyena bound captive in Foopi’s rope. Acacia kills the bound hyena – much to Foopi’s annoyance. The party frees the villages and walks them back to Laga – the ever gentlemanly Gilgamesh giving up his ride to a pair of rescued ladies.

Acacia s notebook 3.19 When Urkesh comes into sight the adventurers can see smoke curling from its burning buildings. Taran’s Red Lions have attacked the city and caught Utuk and his army unawares. Most of the fighting appears to be in low town and the party hurries to help. They arrive to meet a Red Lion ambush. Although Taran is not in sight, there are over 30 soldiers standing at the ready in the main thoroughfare. The lead soldier spots Gilgamesh and calls to the archers to fire—16 archers fire, but only 6 arrows hit their intended target who shrugs them off. Krivv moves around the corner of a building and slaughters 4 enemies lurking in the alley before charging across the street to attack their companions on the other side.
Acacia launches two series of rapid shots and kills seven of the enemy archers. Jesse slides next to Krivv and kills an enemy soldier, while Zariastra calls up her concealing shroud around herself, Siduri, and Gilgamesh—Foopi climbs a nearby building and begins throwing daggers at the enemy. The Red Lion soldiers run towards the party to engage them, foregoing their prepared barrel-trap and saving Krivv the seemingly inevitable sticky conclusion. The next few seconds are a flurry of blows from Krivv, Gilgamesh and Jesse while Siduri tries to keep everyone alive and Acacia fires at the remaining archers. The battle reaches it’s peak when the last of the Red Lions dies and Foopi shouts “It’s time to reveal ourselves” as she and Jesse turn to attack the party. Luckily, Zariastra moves quickly and unleashes a powerful dazzling ray on Foopi which knocks her out in one hit. Acacia fires a disruptive shot at Jesse and immobilizes him so that Krivv and Gilgamesh can hit him hard enough to knock him out. The skirmish is over, but Urkesh still burns.

The party reached 3rd level.

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Episode 104: Loose Ends
Traps favour the Bold

The news upon returning to Urkesh is not happy. King Gulkishar has decided to send in an army to defeat Taran’s Red Lions and has placed Utuk at its head, responsible for conscription and planning the attack. The only bright spot is the arrival of Foostus, a Minotaur barbarian who has also been hired by Akkar to aid the party. Foostus seems quite taken my Siduri, though she is less than flattered by his attention. Meanwhile, Utuk’s father Sarrat announces that he is willing to take bribe to get Utuk off Acacia and Krivv’s back, a bribe to the tune of 2000 gold pieces. While the adventurers are trying to figure out their next steps, the ground begins to shake. Earthquake! After the rumblings subside, it’s back to gathering information. Krivv (looking for a violent solution) checks with his arena buddy, Zul, who reports that Utuk likes to hang in Uppertown taverns, but that he will be surrounded by military types until the attack is over. Siduri takes the time to update the rest of the party about her findings, following up on Acacia’s prior discovery that a dwarf named Arnan had his mark on the pump mechanism. She meets the detail-oriented dwarf (from the Elenu bureaucratic family) who was commissioned to design the pump found in the Temple of Hammurabi, but he won’t tell her who the contract was with. She also learned that the military tattoo discovered in the temple was from the Katar military family. The Katar records were made available to her, but she discovered that many men were engaged on the “king’s business” and their missions and details could not be revealed.

Gilgamesh, thinking that Arnan would reveal more to a member of the royal family, leads the party to the Elenu family. The dwarf is surprisingly closed mouth and directs the adventurers to speak to family head (Nilus) who in turn reveals that the Kimah family commissioned job. The inclusion of Arnam’s maker’s mark was a result of his constant doodling on his plans. Talk of the machine reminds Gilgamesh of the temple. Inquiries reveal that the earthquake leveled the upper part of the temple. Gilgamesh sends workmen to retrieve the bodies of his soldiers.

With the news of Kimah’s involvement Acacia takes a moment to check with her uncle Shad who has dealings with them. After tracking him down in a tavern, she asks about rumours pertaining to a Katar-Kimah family alliance. Shad has heard nothing about this, but concludes that it’s possible.

With all leads seemingly explored, the group is approached by a Tiefling Arcanist named Sejanus. He is looking for Gilgamesh and Zariastra because he’s heard some disturbing news in one of the taverns. Two Kimah men were discussing Siduri in great detail. Acacia supposes that they want magic key the party found in the temple. The key is of great interest to Sejanus who asks if the arcanists have examined it. Since they have not, the party decides to take the key there. The head of family (Lavant) examines it; he confirms that the key is old, powerful and unique. He also tells them that the effaced writing was done by someone powerful, more powerful than anyone he knows. The most curious thing is that the writing was effaced within the recent past (he can only guess no later than a hundred years, but proper study would narrow the timeframe) while the key itself is at least a thousand years old.

With all they can learn about the key for the moment dispensed with, Sejanus again approaches them with new information. He believes that the Kimah family has a secret warehouse in Empty Quarter, the area of the city abandoned as the population of Urkesh has gradually decreased. All is quiet when the party arrives at the spot, but just when they are wondering if Sejanus set them up, soldiers in Kimah-garb attack. Archers fire from the rooftopss and swordsmen converge on ground. Foostus leaps up to the nearby roof and slaughters the mage above them—the two other archers flee, one falling to his death while trying to leap to the opposite roof to escape. Zariastra sends out a burst of chaos magic that pushes others archers off the roofs while invoking a dark shroud that hides her allies from sight. Acacia slides the second wizard, who had been leaping from roof too roof, to his death where he splatters on the street. The bulk of the party stand huddled beneath the protection of the shroud, but the battle does not go all their way. Foostus is hacked down by a sword-swinging archer on a rooftop, where Sejanus hurries over and saves him. Krivv falls under a flurry of arrows on two occasions with Siduri and Gilgamesh saving him. When the battle finally ends the party is surrounded by 20 bodies and unanswered questions.

The injured Foostus leaves the party to recover, while Acacia and Krivv loot the bodies—discovering some money and some glaring inconsistencies. The weapons are not to Kimah standard and the soldier’s tattoos are very fresh (too fresh it would seem). Gilgamesh interrogates a surviving soldier who tells them that they are mercenaries hired to impersonate the Kimah family and set up the ambush. Krivv recognizes some of them as former arena fighters. The prisoner reveals that they received their markings at an illegal tattoo shop in Lowtown. Gilgamesh knows where shop is from his patrol duties. While the party puzzles over these revelations, Sejanus identifies the Kimah warehouse he was looking for and the party moves to exploring it.

The brave Krivv walks straight into the seemingly empty warehouse and immediately falls into a pit trap. Gilgamesh and Acacia carefully sidestep the trap. Krivv, after a lift from Gilgamesh, steps blindly into a spear trap and the group realises the entire room is a danger zone. Examining the area, Gilgamesh is able to see where crates were formerly kept in the room. Using that as reference, the group begins carefully moving into the room which has completely bare other than for four statues depicting famous Kimah figures.

When Siduri crosses the threshold, the door shuts behind her (trapping Sejanus outside). Krivv, examining the nearest statue, discovers a button under its chin which he immediately presses, bringing all four statues to life and they attack. Acacia takes a clever shot against one of the statues and slides it into a spear trap. Siduri moves to stand next to Krivv (who will need a bit of healing after the trap mishaps) and Zariastra moves next to Acacia and begins blasting away. Sejanus, left outside, blasts at the cover windows in hopes of clearing a path for his own magical attacks. After one of the statues falls, Zariastra examines the statues again and makes a move to tap another on the button which immediately deactivates it. The party makes quick work of the remaining statues.

Acacia diagram 3.12 After figuring out where the rest of the traps lay, the party proceeds to the next and final room in the warehouse. Again the door closes and locks behind them, leaving Sejanus pounding at it. This room has been completely emptied, but Acacia and Krivv see something shiny on the far side of the room. As they approach two different corners they see small nozzles near the floor. Fire traps! Acacia tries to disable it but triggers it instead so she and Zariastra take a hit. When the traps go off the entire room is bathed in flames. Krivv attacks and destroys the trap on his side of the room and all the party members move to the safe corner of the room. Before they can destroy the remaining traps four fire elementals appear in the room and move to attack Acacia. Siduri’s rune of protection saves the day as her magic prevents some of the damage to her now burning allies. Once Krivv and Gilgamesh wade into the fight, they make short work of the elementals. The party is left in the remains of a hidden base filled with unanswered questions.
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Episode 103: The Red Lions
Rescuing the Rescuers

When the party returns to the city proper, Siduri leaves to make preparations at the temple while the rest of the adventurers meet Akkar in the antechamber to the throne room. They relate their discoveries to Akkar. Krivv gets paid for his services while Acacia asks Akkar to get more information about the weapons they found on the bodies of the temple looters and to inquire about the Dwarven maker’s mark. Gilgamesh orders his men to prepare a trap in the temple in preparation for the next bandit sortie. The party then separates to pursue their own agendas while awaiting Gulkishar’s audience with his brother. Gilgamesh stops in to visit with his family, discovering that his former friend Utuk had dropped by in the morning to speak to him. Krivv goes to the bank to exchange Akkar’s note for real gold while Acacia stops to speak to Taurion who has a job for her (harvesting a rare plant called Kernig Root for some interested buyers).

When Gilgamesh returns to the castle to speak to his brother, he learns that Utuk went on patrol and was captured by Taran’s Red Lions. He wants his brother to take his new companions and leave immediately in attempted rescue. On their way out of the palace, Akkar lets them know that the weapons were of Kimah make and that the Dwarven maker’s mark on the pump machine belonged to a dwarf named Arnan (a member of the Elendu agriculturalist family). Not having time to deal with the leads, the party heads out to rescue Utuk, stopping to requisition some healing potions and wound patches.

Crossing the Tigris the group enters the Kharsannu Forest. Acacia has no problem navigating in the tangled wood, discovering the site of the ambush and following the Red Lion trail. The group comes across the a village of the dispossessed—runaways, peasants, slaves—the outcasts of Urkesh who fled their burdens in the city. The residents run from the party, but Gilgamesh is able to talk to one villager who speaks glowingly of the Red Lions. Gilgamesh is able to persuade him to tell them which way the bandits went. At that moment Dalkon and his Urkeshi patrol arrive, wishing to execute their standard order of returning the dispossessed to the city. Gilgamesh presses them into the service of rescuing Utuk, putting a stay on the removal of the villagers.

Following the trail, they encounter a well-armed group of Red Lions. Gilgamesh tries to negotiate with the bandits, but he is unsuccessful and battle ensues. Although the adventurers take down the bandit leader right away, the other troops rally around and converge on the group. Despite the efforts of the party all the patrolmen are killed and they overwhelm the party. Captured, they are dragged to Red Lion headquarters.

When the party comes to, they find themselves stripped of their equipment and facing the Red Lion leader Taran. Krivv recognizes Taran as a former arena fighter named Alani. Taran opens with a speech: The priest-kings have failed—Zabaia, Warad, Akkad—they have no honour. All they care about is maintaining their control over a shrinking territory amidst the desert. The people suffer and receive no relief. The temple, the bureaucrats, the merchants—all of them are corrupt, blindly supporting the establishment. But what of the Urkeshi? What about the people who make the city live and breath? They are made to suffer, with no hope in a world filled with darkness. Change must come—total change. The system must be swept away and a leader installed who has the people’s needs at heart. A strong man who can reorder the city and then stretch out his hand to rebuild what was. Urkesh needs an heir to the legacy of Ashurbanipal—a Red Lion. I am that man, I am that heir. I will bring the changes to the city, by force if need be.

The speech is followed by diplomacy, as Gilgamesh trades himself as a hostage with the understanding that all the others will be freed to collect the ransom. The party is given back their armour but not their weapons, although Zariastra talks to Taran in private and receives some extras.

The Red Lions accompany to party back to the original ambush site, helping Acacia collect the Kernig root along the way. After the Red Lions leave them, Krivv, Zariastra and Acacia accompany Utuk and two of his guards back to the palace. Utuk is incensed at his capture and talks about leading an assault on the Red Lion compound. Perhaps fearing Gilgamesh’s death in such an attack, or merely irritated at Utuk’s rudeness, the party attacks him. Krivv tries to sneak up on Utuk to give him a well placed blow to the head, but isn’t stealthy enough. Utuk and his men try to flee, but Zariastra unleashes very powerful magic that is not quite enough to knock him down. Acacia has no problem keeping up with the fleeing prince, but his guards run separate ways at his command while Utuk becomes the party’s prisoner. Krivv tries to follow one of the men into the woods, but immediately becomes lost. Although Acacia finds him easily, the time delay means no possibility of controlling the message to king Gulkishar.

Arriving back at the castle, they find that Utuk’s guards have already reported to the king. Gulkishar refuses to speak to Zariastra or Krivv. Although Acacia explains the situation, there will be consequences. The king is relatively sympathetic, given the situation, but suggests Acacia and her two companions will need to go into hiding for awhile before returning with new identities. The party leaves the palace to get a few things done while Akkar arranges for Gilgamesh’s ransom. Acacia delivers the root to Taurion with instructions to send payment to her mother since she may be unavailable for the next few weeks. Krivv visits some of his arena buddies to have them compile information about Utuk. Zariastra visits Lavant Diaga, head ofthe Arcanists, who is sympathetic to her plight and concoct a story involving chaos magic and madness that should resolve her of any responsibility for the attack on Utuk.

When the convoy is prepared, Akkar and the party begin traveling to the Red Lion camp. They are accompanied by 40 porters who are helping to move the weapons and supplies that will be the ransom for Gilgamesh. Acacia sits in one of the wagons and works on the map of the area that Gulkishar requested, carefully plotting a path to avoid the village of the dispossessed. The exchange goes well. Gilgamesh has spent the last few days speaking with the Red Lions about their goals. Taran is obviously a fanatic who believes that only he can do a better job running Urkesh than the king. The others seem to agree that something needs to be done about the current establishment (who must be eradicated or submit to him). Gilgamesh is unable to learn anything specific about their plans. Reunited with their weapons, the party returns to the city ahead of the caravan. They walk through the woods and come across a camp. Acacia sneaks forward, but only spots two soldiers. Gilgamesh strides ahead and when the red-headed soldier recognizes him, she attacks. The five attackers are after the ransom on Gilgamesh’s head—members of Hudool’s bandit group, the man known as the Bandit King. The party faces a difficult battle, as Gilgamesh and Krivv suffer mightily, the former nearly dying outright. Zariastra is also knocked down, but Acacia is able to stay up the entire fight by keeping her distance in the trees. The party eventually kills all but one bandit (a dwarf), whom they interrogate and reveals who they are and their purpose. The party has a moment’s respite.

The party reached 2nd level.

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Episode 102: The Temple of Hammurabi, Part Two
Divine Intervention

The exhausted party was desperate for a rest, so they returned to the guardroom in the upper level for an extended rest. Precautions are taken, including Gilgamesh sliding their boat across the entrance into the ziggurat. Acacia tries to catch a quick nap while everyone else sits quietly, Gilgamesh taking it on himself to position himself in the broken doorway. Siduri and Gilgamesh hear the faint sounds of the boat being moved outside. The noise rouses Acacia to listen carefully and she can hear four distinct voices speaking a guttural language from outside. The moment she mentions this, the voices stop and the jig is up. The party creeps forward (some more stealthily than others) into the defensible antechamber where they first encountered the Red Lion bandits. Gilgamesh strides confidently forward while Siduri and Krivv take up positions further back and Acacia prepares to attack from the arrow slits.

Outside, six lizard folk warriors are positioned, but there is nowhere for them to hide and the party attacks. Acacia’s initial shots miss, but begin the battle. Gilgamesh demands they surrender but the lizard folk move to attack. This is the perfect set-up for Krivv, who ignores attempts to be bribed and slips between the enemies, beheading three and seriously wounding a fourth in a single round. Siduri attempts to pass Gilgamesh and Krivv and Gilgamesh kills the lizard folk who tries to attack her as she passes. The two remaining enemies and Krivv converse violently with one another while two crocodiles slip from the water onto the mooring. A few more well-placed blows from the party kill the remaining lizard folk and the crocodiles make a strategic retreat. As the party examines the bodies another boat arrives on shore – this time it’s Zariastra, a human sorcerer who was sent by Akkar to aid the party. Examining the bodies, Gilgamesh recognizes that these lizard folk are from a tribe he has previously fought and defeated over a year ago—called the Black tribe by Urkeshi’s. Krivv reveals that the lizard folk were talking about a bounty on Gilgamesh’s head – a bounty placed by someone called Ssorgess. The name is familiar, but Gilgamesh can’t remember the specifics. On one of the bodies they find a map of the ziggurat’s upper level – one that shows it before it became a bandit outpost. The party returns inside to rest again and contemplate theses new developments.

The group returns to the guardroom and finally gets its rest. At mid-day they rise and head down to the temple below and take the elevator up to the pipe source. Siduri identifies the upper chamber as the ziggurat’s old sitting room – a place where petitioners would wait their turn or rest before making their pleas to the gods. It was sealed up long ago and now bears no resemblance to its original purpose. In the far corner of the room sits a large pump machine that pulls the water from the lower levels before flushing it out the pipes that have been careful drilled through the ziggurat’s walls. The machine is of very fine workmanship. Krivv and Acacia discover a Dwarven maker’s mark on the device. The room is also cluttered with dead bodies and has crates and barrels filled with food and machine parts. Gilgamesh finds a hidden door on the far side of the room that opens to reveal another mooring – this one hidden from the view of the city and presumably the place where the builders of the pump moved material into and out of the temple. The bodies are similar to those below—a small number appear to be the crew that worked the apparatus, while the rest are unknown. The weapons of the crew are of better workmanship than those carried by the Red Lions. Acacia takes a sample weapon to show to her family. Against Siduri and Gilgamesh’s wishes, she then turns on the machine and Krivv and Zariastra take the elevator back down in order to question the bandits about the noise of the machine—does it match their recollection and when did it stop? Shortly after they leave, the undead rise and attack the remainder of the party.

Acacia notebook 2 Minions surround Gilgamesh but they have a hard time hitting him. Acacia is left on the far side of the pump with two undead archers while Siduri is attacked by wailing dead. Siduri falls beneath the onslaught as the enemies converge on her. Acacia slides underneath the pipes to avoid attacks and Gilgamesh pounds a few minions before trying to scatter the enemies surrounding Siduri. Zariastra, alerted to the sounds of combat, arrives with Krivv mid-battle and turn the tide of the fight. Siduri miraculously rises at the end of battle and the party returns to the main room to ask the bandits about the noise – this time traveling via the corridor and breaking the sealed door attached to the guardroom rather than the elevator route. The bandits say that they’ve heard the noise of the machine since they first arrived, but it stopped suddenly a few days ago. Acacia returns to turn off the machine before the party decides to further explore the rest of the temple.

Examining the bodies of the workmen they find one without a peasant tattoo—it’s from one of the military families, but is too damaged to be more specific. Two doors exit from the temple, each to the same long corridor. They can go left or right and decide to go left first. They come to a room that used to be the temple archives. There is a large statue of a Minotaur in the center of the room and two piles of what’s left of the abandoned tablets on the floor. When Acacia disturbs the piles, the statue comes alive and starts to attack the party. Gilgamesh, Krivv and Siduri converge on the golem while Zariastra and Acacia fire from the near side corners. Acacia dazes the golem and Gilgamesh uses his defender’s aura to pound on the statue each time it slams his allies. Eventually, Gilgamesh and Krivv both fall beneath the statues attacks before Siduri makes a final blow to destroys the statue. Searching the tablets, Acacia finds an ancient map with hereto unknown trade routes and Siduri finds two tablets, one a rare text about the goddess Inanna and the other a part of an undiscovered divine ritual of great power (Ancient Ritual). They also learn the golem was set here by the archivists long ago to protect their collection and that with proper supplication and ritual it might have remained dormant.

Further exploration of the other corridor leads the party to what used to be the main storage room. The floor is covered with detritus of former contents and a small amount of water. In the far corner of the room they spot something small glowing. Acacia makes it across the room in one bound and crouches to examine the object: a Silver Key with a bull’s head on it. Gilgamesh follows her and physically restrains her from picking up the key, fearing another attack ala the Archives room. Nothing happens until the last person (Zariastra) crosses the threshold of the room. A wall of water blocks the entry way and 5 water elementals appear in the room. Water begins to flow from a hole in the wall and battle begins. The adventurers make short work of the elementals, but their deaths do not stop the water flow. Krivv and Gilgamesh make themselves as a barrier to slow the water down while Zariastra uses her knowledge of the arcane to dispel the barrier. Acacia grabs the key and makes her way to the doorway. When the entrance way opens the water flows into the hallway, knocking Acacia to the ground. The adventurers are able to deduce that the undead who plagued the temple were folk of Urkesh who drowned in the Tigris deluge 75 years ago—trapped in the storage room, they went made when the workman desecrated the temple. The elementals were also trapped, bound by the temple sealing, and had gone mad. The elementals had kept out the water when the pump stopped functioning, hoping to lure victims into their clutches.

The party returns to the upper level of the ziggurat and Siduri takes and examines the silver key. The key is very old and glows with arcane energy. The inscription of the key has been deliberately effaced, but Siduri can tell that the key itself does not belong here in the temple – it is an out of place artefacts that may just lead to the people who are responsible for the desecration of the temple. The adventurers return to town with their bandit prisoners in tow.

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Episode 101: The Temple of Hammurabi, Part One
A Sticky Situation...

Akkar Akkad, junior member of the Akkad royal line and advisor to priest-king Gulkishar, has approached the king’s brother Gilgamesh to engage on a secret mission. He recommended a covert team investigate a rumoured bandit base on the mostly submerged ziggurat of Hammurabi—the Temple Ziggurat dedicated to the gods, flooded 75 years ago. Both the proximity of the threat and the holy nature of the site suggested secrecy to Akkar. The recommended team included the Minotaur Runepriest Siduri (priestess of Inanna), Dragonborn arena champion Krivv, and Elvish merchant/hunter Acacia.

Being a man of action, Gilgamesh did not waste time looking for information about the ruin. Gilgamesh knew that patrol regularly passed it and that it was briefly used as a guard post, while Siduri recalled that it had been properly sealed by the temple when abandoned. Choosing the hour before dawn, the adventurers travelled by boat to the mooring at the top of the ziggurat. Krivv, another man of action, leaped ashore and approached the opening into the entrance into the structure. Approaching in the near darkness, Krivv failed to notice the awaiting bandits, who fired on the party through arrow slits in the wall.

Fast-acting Acacia returned fire with her crossbow, able to hit the archers through the slits. Responding in kind, the archers take her out. Gilgamesh takes control by lifting the boat from the water and hauling it ahead of himself like a shield—in the process, accidentally knocking Siduri into the Tigris River and Acacia’s unconscious body onto the ground. Manoeuvring the boat, Gilgamesh blocks the southern arrow slits stifling half their fire power.

Krivv charges forward, running blindly into the glue trap situated between barriers erected by the bandits. Siduri is able to swim out of the river and uses a healing rune on Acacia and Krivv who has become the focus of the archers. Krivv attempts to smash his way through the barrier, but is attacked by the melee guards and goes down. Siduri rushes forward to heal him again, forced to stand on top of him to avoid the glue trap.

Gilgamesh charges into battle and leaps over the barrier to confront the archers—taking the two on the north side down. Using his defender’s aura, he forces back the melee bandits while Acacia darts in and out from behind the cover of the boat while peppering the bandits with arrows.

Krivv tries to force himself out of the glue while Siduri lands a few blows of her own. Gilgamesh makes another stunning leap, bounding over Siduri’s shoulders to the other side of the barrier. He’s able to badly hurt many of the remaining bandits, but as Krivv and Siduri are taken out by bandits he is surrounded and taken down. Acacia races in to revive him, but he’s immediately taken out again. Acacia is able to slay three before she too is knocked out.

Acacia diagram 2.12 The party awakes in a primitive cell attached to the guards’ quarters. Their gear has been taken, but only one guard watches them. From behind the guard a roguish figure approaches. Silverkin, a contact of Akkar’s, has slipped into the bandit’s camp pretending to be one of their own. He is able to take the guard by surprise and drive him towards the cell, where Gilgamesh holds him and Silverkin finishes him off.
Freed, the rogue slips back into the shadows while the party prepares to deal with their remaining foes. Their haste is rewarded when the bandits break through the door they had blocked to the adventurers in position—Gilgamesh and Krivv right by the door and Siduri and Acacia (standing by the bandit’s cooking pot). Krivv, in true barbarian fashion, slips in amidst the enemy and lays waste to the bandits in a whirling blow. The combat is brief, and while Krivv takes their weapons and, after examining them to determine that they appear to be of Kimah make (the criminal merchant family), sinks them into the untouched glue pots.
Gilgamesh interrogates the survivors before locking them in the cell. He discovers that the bandits are part of a group known as the Red Lions and that their leader Taran has them on rotation at the temple outpost. There is another encampment in the woods on the west side of the river. A supply ship visits the temple once a week and the bandits stationed here have no idea how large the Red Lion force is.

Adjacent to the cell is a doorway which has been blocked and barricaded by the bandits. The bandits are afraid of the noises they have heard coming up from the door and have never looked beyond it. The party decides to open it, rather than the sealed door in the other chamber. Siduri believes it leads to a staircase down into the temple-proper.

As expected it does lead to stairs, but surprisingly they are not under submerged. The party carefully makes its way down the slick steps that open into a small chamber with a sealed door on the far side. Siduri identifies this room as a purification chamber. The great hall should be beyond the sealed door. Sensing no disturbance from the Goddess, Siduri begins removing the mystical seals before demolishing the boards holding the door closed. The party enters the cavernous room to find an unexpected sight. The room is modeled after a long hall with a central aisle and towering columns. There are statues of the gods along either sides of the room and a dais opposite the door with an altar and three more statues behind it. Some of the columns still stand, but most are crumbled and broken. The center aisle is a mass of corpses and fresh blood and a weird mist hangs along the floor. But the most surprising thing is the large black pipes descending from a hole in the ceiling. These pipes seem to have been used to draw the water from the room. Next to the pipes is an elevator, currently resting in the room above.

The party, upon closer examination, reveals that of the 9 statues to represent the gods and goddesses of Urkesh, only three remain un-desecrated – Inanna, Urkesh and Enki. The rest of the statues have been smashed. When Gilgamesh steps into the pool of blood to take a closer look at the bodies of the dead, all but the freshest rise and the mist grows thicker and tries to impede the heroes.

Acacia leaps forward onto a broken pillar and sends a volley of arrows at a group of minions. The rest of the enemies, including archers and corruption corpses, converge on Gilgamesh. Krivv charges straight to an archer and Siduri provides support from the entrance of the great hall. The minions fall quickly, the archers with a bit more trouble, leaving only the corruption corpses with their horrible aura. When the last one explodes, showering Gilgamesh and Krivv with fluids, the party is able to pause and take a breather.

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