Saga of the Old City

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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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 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 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 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 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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Episode 107: Party at Kimah's Place
Party Favours

A week after the devastation of Taran’s Red Lion attack sees many changes in the city for the adventurers. Krivv has been adopted into the Katar military family (after turning down a similar offer from Utuk); Acacia is setting up a project-venture with Taurion and accepting a contract from the Savian family to find the vanished Silverkin, while Gilgamesh has been advocating for the creation of a proper army to protect Urkesh. Siduri has a duplicate made of the Silver Key which she keeps in her room. The king, following Zariastra’s advice to increase his support among the people in his own way, has heralds proclaim his greatness and commissions statues of himself to be placed around the city.

An invitation to a party at the Kimah estate arrives for each adventurer as well as all the biggest and brightest in Urkesh. The Kimah estate is in the merchant district is nothing special from the outside, but the inside is almost as opulent as palace. They have many servants and the family uses clay golems and living statues for security. Ashala, the current head of the family, takes no chances with her guests and all weapons and armour have been prohibited with no exceptions—even the king’s guards are weapon-less. The family also employs an arcane dampening power or device to keep things safe.

Gilgamesh turns down the invite, not wishing to embroil himself in the political cauldron the city is becoming, and suspicious of the Kimah family in general. Krivv also stays behind, his instructions from the Katar family being only to show-up if Gilgamesh was there.

The estate’s butler, Kitu, greets everyone at the door and strictly enforces the mandate with an aplomb that leaves even an arguing Utuk incapable of armed passage. The other adventurers fair no better. Zariastra tries to hide her weapon and when she fails, fails to seduce Kitu into letting her keep them. Acacia also tries to hide her crossbow, and when she fails she sheepishly surrenders her equipment and enters the party. Siduri proves that she’s smarter than everyone else by complying with the mandate and enters without confrontation. Foostus follows behind her and tries to intimidate Kitu into letting him in armed, but Kitu is unfazed and Foostus eventually surrenders and spends the rest of the night flirting with Siduri and engaging in drinking contests he wins easily.

The party is a platform for political machinations and questionable investment opportunities. The biggest news is Gilgamesh’s absence from the party altogether, as leaders of all the different political factions wanted to make a pitch to him. Gilgamesh’s sisters (Lilith and Ishtar) are in attendance; the elder Lilith is having a grand time, while the younger is quiet and reserved. The head of the Ghorvas merchant family, Orobok, accosts each adventurer to get them to invest in his speculative mine; Foostus is the only one who shows any interest, offering 10 gold pieces and demanding a high return or Orobok will lose his legs. The dwarf is taken aback by the powerful minotaur and refuses his offer.

The leaders of factions promote their own ends. Akkar, supported by the aristocrats and military families, advocates moderate change, believing it will address the needs of the city (radical change, he says, would lead to chaos). He says that the need for stability in Urkesh is paramount and that his political ends would further this. Arzan Ummam, the head of one of the temple, advocates a ruling council as opposed to the current absolute monarchy. He has the support of the bureaucratic families (other than the military and arcanists). The final faction is headed by Ishkibal, the leader of the dispossessed, who is looking for radical change in the form of a democracy. The Arcanists are favourable to his cause, as well as one unnamed merchant family; this support, though, seems a bit unsteady as the Arcanists are more in favour of the idea itself rather than the advocate. King Gulkishar stands apart, angry that there are any factions at all, but unable to do anything about it. Utuk also stands as a pariah for his catastrophic leadership of the army.

The adventurers all have private agendas at the party. Siduri uses talks to Ashala to learn more about Kimah family’s interest in her (after failing to learn anything important from mid-level family members). She discovers that while the family is interested in her, there was no conversation at a Low Town bar for Sejanus to overhear. She admits to Kimah’s presence in the Temple of Hammurabi, saying she was unhappy with the operation, but that they were interested in what might remain in the temple and could not enter it openly. Afterwards, Lavant Diaga, the head of Arcanists, speaks to Siduri about their progress with regards to the silver key. The Arcanists have perfected a ritual to date the key’s effacement and have determined that the writing was removed no more than 5 years ago. Xandrilla of Akitu merchant family tries to get Acacia to talk about Kernig root project with intent to take over it, but Acacia politely removes herself from conversation and party after warning other members of her family to beware of Xandrilla’s intentions. Sejanus approaches Zariastra with a solution to a private problem and the two agree to meet outside the estate to discuss it.

Outside the party the other adventurers are also pursuing their own goals. Krivv gets a message from Lilith to meet him in her suite at the palace, where she then seduces him as is her wont (Krivv offers token resistance, but the princess if very persuasive). In the midst of their tryst he notices that Lilith wears a golden key around her neck that is the spitting image of the silver key. Krivv tries to steal the key, getting himself kicked out by the royal guards with Lilith’s disgust as his prowess hurled at him as he leaves.

Gilgamesh is prepping patrols when a messenger arrives with news that the townsfolk in Mari have captured a lizardfolk who is asking to speak to him. The Lizardfolk’s name is Zissren and he is from the blue tribe. Gilgamesh meets the prisoner outside the city to avoid prying eyes.

Siduri Zariastra Acacia
On her way home from the party, Siduri is attacked in alley by a Drow rogue and three minions who (she learns subsequently) bear the mark of the left hand (ala Jesse and Foopi). Foostus arrives from the alley behind her and jumps into the fray. She lets out a burst that kills two minions while Footus brutally slams the rogue into another minion hard enough to kill him. Siduri follows up with a blast that kills the drow. On her way to meet Sejanus, Zariastra is attacked by Utuk’s men looking for revenge. The four soldiers surround her, but she’s able to knock them back. Sejanus arrives on the scene to help. Zaraistra attacks the soldiers’ leader and Sejanus finishes him off. Zariastra and Sejanus trade blows with the rest of the enemies until combat ends. Afterward the pair continue on their private mission. Acacia wanders along, minding her own business when she is confronted by stumbling crazed man who attacks her. She uses Archer’s Stairway to climb to the roof of a nearby building to attack him from above. He follows her up with a mighty leap, still foaming at the mouth and gibbering. Orobok arrives and tries to bribe Acacia into investing in his mining operation in exchange for his help. Acacia slides enemy soldier off the building to his death and flees Orobok’s overtures.

Gilgamesh arrives at the prison transport and releases Zissren, the blue tribes diplomat who suffered greatly at the hands of the townsfolk he approached. Zissren tells Gilgamesh that Ssorgess has allied himself with a black dragon and is readying to attack the villages while the city is recovering from the Red Lion attack. The blue tribe is seeking an alliance with Gilgamesh—they want normalisation and are willing to assist in battling Ssorgess as a sign of good faith. Gilgamesh asks Zissren about the tribes’ relationship with the Kimah family and the lizardfolk tells him everything he knows about it and the Kimah family’s ventures in the swamplands—all the tribes trade with them, mostly in information and in any trinkets or artefacts washed down from the river (including an Iron Key) worn by Essuri of the black tribe). He also learns that the blue tribe traded with Taran’s Red Lions and he asks Zissren to help him make contact with the survivors in the forest. Zissren mentions that dealing with the legendary Behemoth of the forest might help.

Gilgamesh gathers the important folk of the city (post-party) and makes the argument with his brother that they must seize on this alliance and eliminate the present danger. Gulkishar is persuaded and the companions grab a night’s rest.

Acacia notebook 4.2 The following day Gilgamesh organizes an expedition with his fellow adventurers into the black tribe territory, Zirrren acting as their guide. As the party approaches the cave entrance, Acacia and Siduri spot sink holes among the trees and black tribe lizard folk in hiding. The lizard mage casts an immobilizing zone that bursts among the party and dramatically changes the battlefield. Siduri spends most of the battle immobilized; only healing Krivv, who falls twice under the attacks of the scaly brutes. Acacia and Zariastra hit the mage hard and he falls. The rest of the enemies quickly succumb to the adventurers once the zone and its affects disappear upon the mages death.
Acacia sneaks into the cave and down the tunnel. She sees 8 Lizardfolk milling around the sleeping chamber. They are quick to react to the party’s arrival and the mage dazes them in their opening attack. Once again the battlefield shifts and the party flounders in the wake of status effects. On a high note, Zariastra’s chaos bolt hits four enemies in a row and once this mage is killed, the rest also follow quickly.
The party rests in the cave’s antechamber, on the doorstep on the black tribe’s stronghold.
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Episode 108: Ssorgess

As the party descends deeper into the lair, Krivv can hear voices whispering in draconic. As they round a corner they enter the kitchen area, with a dozen Lizardfolk huddled in the back. Essuri, the priestess of the black tribe, greets Gilgamesh with two of her followers. She explains that she has been held in captivity by Ssorgess and wants the adventurers to oust him from the tribe. With proof of his demise she can stop the raiding party that has already been sent to assault the town of Mari. She also offers the group an amulet that can protect one of them against the poison trap further into the lair. Zariastra is given the pendant.

The party continues down until they reach the final cavern in the lair. It consists of a huge, vaulted ceiling over 80 feet high, a turbid muddy pool over 20 feet deep, and a series of small islands connected by crude planks serving as bridges. Luminous fungi provide low light, but the party relies on the sunrod carried by Zariastra, allowing the humans to see.

The party crosses the first bridge with Acacia remaining behind on it. As the trapped bridge collapses Acacia’s quick reflexes get her on land just before the black dragon Vaxlathan arises from the water and breaths on the party. Nearly everyone is hit. Ssorgess, a bodyguard, an archer and a mage stand on the furthest island firing arrows and magic at the party. The less than sturdy bridges will prove to be the most difficult part of the battle for the party. Gilgamesh is the first to fall into the water, but manages to keep his feet the rest of the battle. Siduri, Foostus, Krivv, and Zariastra all fall into the water at various points, with Siduri ultimately forced to swim. Gilgamesh slowly advances along one side, making himself an attractive target (both for who he is and by being the most visible) and he is forced to use his healing magic on himself multiple times to survive the trip across. Acacia and Zariastra travel along the opposite side and Acacia is felled by the mage—Zariastra heals her and calls upon her globe of darkness to shield them both. Krivv is the first to make it across to the large island where Ssorgess is, followed closely by Foostus (who is the only party member not seriously hurt). Krivv lays into Ssorgess with his barbarian rage, while Gilgameah kills the mage in front of him and leaps across the corner of the bridge to land on the large island. Gilgamesh and Ssorgess trade blows while Foostus decapitates the bodyguard. Ssorgess falls under Gilgamesh’s sword and the dragon slides under the water to hide from the party. Before it can disappear, Gilgamesh and Foostus hit it so hard that they bloody him with opportunity attacks. Gilgamesh turns his attention to the archer whom he flanks and kills him. When the dragon resurfaces, Footus leaps fifteen feet in the air and brutally slams him. Siduri and Krivv position themselves on the shore to attack while Gilgamesh throws a javelin. Acacia shots at the dragon and slides him into range, triggering the readied actions with Krivv getting the killing blow. The battle is over and the party is in desperate shape. Gilgamesh mounts Ssorgess’ head on the end of his own battleaxe while Acacia loots the bodies. She finds the Iron Key Zissren mentioned and Siduri confirms that it is magical.

Acacia s notebook 4.8

The group limps back to Essuri and gives her the proof—she immediately races off with many of her folk to stop the raid. As the party makes their way out of the lair towards the city they are meet by a very smug Utuk and his men. Utuk tells them how sorry he will be to report the adventurer’s deaths to the King, but someone (Zariastra) has been a thorn in his side long enough to merit taking care of it himself. Gilgamesh gives Utuk one chance to withdraw and is refused. Krivv, Foostus, and Gilgamesh proceed to intimidate Utuk’s men and 4 flee from their combined wrath. Two soldiers rush Gilgamesh, but are unable to land a blow even as he charges past them to attack Utuk. Acacia fires two rapid shots and kills the four minion archers. Krivv advances and decimates cool shield soldier (will they ever learn?). Foostus brutally slams the other soldier into Utuk and then uses his avalanche strike on Utuk and hits for enormous damage. It’s not quite enough to kill him, but almost. Siduri follows up with a mighty blow that leaves Utuk dead. Gilgamesh, enraged by the man’s reckless foolishness, drags Utuk’s body back to Urkesh.

The party reaches fourth level.

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Episode 109: Miner Investment

It’s been one week since the adventurers returned to Urkesh. In the interim, the negotiation of a treaty with the Lizardfolk tribes has begun. Zissrin is looking for remaining Red Lions in woods, as he promised Gilgamesh he would. Acacia and Taurion’s plan has been implemented and workers are looking for Kernig Root. Foostus has ventured into the Kharsannu forest looking for the semi-mythical Behemoth, hoping to earn a trophy to impress Siduri. There has been no backlash for the death of Utuk—having made himself a political pariah, the party’s story is accepted and his death treated as a deserving end for someone who failed as utterly as he did.

The quiet week is ended by a desperate summons from Orobok Ghorvas. The entrepreneur has financed his mining scheme on his own and run into trouble. His miners broke into pre-existing corridors and some have now disappeared. His operation has ground to a halt and he’s desperate to get it going again. Gilgamesh learns from the foreman that there were hieroglyphs on the tunnel walls. The writing reminds Siduri about shapes in dreams she’s had (in her moment of death back in Episode 102 and then in the aftermath of the war before Episode 107), while Gilgamesh and Acacia realize that the hieroglyphs match those on the iron key they recovered from Ssorgess. The language itself is incredibly old. Following that clue before proceeding to the mine, the party drops in on Lavant to investigate the silver key. The head of the arcanists has found and cast his ritual to reveal the word erased from the key: BIND. Using the same ritual he translates the word on the iron key as BURY. He makes a 2 word dictionary for Siduri and the party leaves for the dig site.

Arriving at the dig site, the party finds miners milling about in tents. Entering the mine shaft they make their way into the tunnels. Acacia starts making a map of the tunnels as they travel; when they come to a large chamber, she and Gilgamesh examine the carvings on the wall to find an ancient map of the Urkesh geography (minus the city). Acacia copies it while Siduri looks for instances of the words BIND or BURY among hieroglyphics. At the far side of the room, there is a door that opens into long corridor. Someone has made attempts to remove the writing on tunnel walls in the last couple of years. There’s also graffiti on the walls written in a dialect of abyssal spoken by Gnolls (Acacia makes a copy of this as well). The party comes to a fork in the tunnel and decides to take the left passage (Acacia determines that it’s the way the miners went and Gilgamesh and Krivv concur that it’s also headed towards city). Acacia can hear screaming from down the tunnel and the party hurries to the source (a door). Gilgamesh opens the door to reveal a trapped room where two Tieflings are torturing one of the miners with an iron maiden. As Gilgamesh moves into the room, the spiked chains that hang from ceiling attack him. The two Tieflings and the iron maiden (running on rails) approach Gilgamesh. Krivv and Siduri move to his aid and attack. One Tiefling’s has a control rod that allows her to control the traps, which she stuffs into her pocket; Gilgamesh uses his psychic hand to remove the rod and pass it to Acacia in the hallway. While Zariastra fires into the room, Acacia uses the rod to move the chains around (running on tracks in the ceiling) to attack the other Tiefling. The male Tiefling moves to a cupboard at the back of the room to retrieve a second control rod and makes the Cauldron trap fire at Zariastra and Acacia who stand in the hall. Meanwhile, Gilgamesh gets swallowed by the iron maiden, but a heavy blow from Siduri shatters the trap around him. The two Tieflings fall and Acacia turns off the traps, ending the battle. Siduri notices that they have tattoos of the Left Hand on their bodies (echoing those that attacked here after Kimah’s party (Episode 107), as well as those worn by Jesse and Foopi). Freeing the two surviving miners from their cage, the group moves to the door exiting the room.

Krivv flings open the door and marches into the next room, releasing a stench that fills the party’s nostrils. This is a charnel house—the room is full of naked and tortured corpses. As the party enters, two corruption corpses rise along with three claw swarms which move to attack. Gilgamesh kills one corruption corpse after Acacia fires at it, having it explode violently when he does. Zariastra unleashes a burst of magic on the swarms killing one outright and badly damaging another. Krivv and Siduri kill the other two swarms who try to surround them while Zariastra finishes off the other corruption corpse which also explodes and barely misses Gilgamesh.

The next room is an armoury with a large but motley assortment of weapons. A quick arcane check reveals that nothing is magical and Acacia and Krivv check the weapons to discover that they are all of different makes. Down another corridor the sound of chanting can be heard. Acacia sneaks forward and finds a large ornate door with abyssal writing and a figure bearing a crown surrounded by dancing flames. She returns to inform the party and Gilgamesh and Krivv advance and kick down door, surprising a sacrifice in progress. In the center of room are three Tieflings surrounding an altar upon which a naked woman is tied. The sorcerer and his two apprentices take a pounding in the surprise round, with the party killing one straight off. As combat begins, three soldiers enter from a back door to support their leader. Krivv kills the other apprentice as Gilgamesh wades into the fray to attack the leader and mark the soldiers. Siduri jumps atop the altar to protect the girl and hit the Tiefling leader, who she eventually slays. While the other enemies try to converge on Acacia and kill her in melee, Gilgamesh and Zariasta are able to slay two of them with Krivv demolishing the last. With the battle over, the party takes a breather.
Acacia notebook 4.17

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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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