Saga of the Old City

Episode 115: The Bandit King

Gilgamesh and Zariastra find the building that they heard held the entrance to the Lower Town tunnels and proceed to explore. Navigation is simple and there are clear signs of use. They make their way towards the Arcanist’s estates and find a tunnel that been concealed. Beyond the opening is a stairway that leads to a stone trap door leading to a storage room. Although the room is still in use, the trap door itself has not been opened in a long time.

Acacia drags Taurion through streets to Ishkibal. Vharkus stops her half way there and provides an escort the rest of the way. Ishkibal is adamant about keeping Taurion and won’t let Acacia take him with her. In a fit of pique, Acacia fires at the minotaur and flees. She’s faster than the door guards and slips past the door and runs down the street as Vharkus calls out for her to be stopped. She climbs to roof and leaps onto a building successfully, then falls leaping to the next—continuing to run along ground. She escapes Ishkibal’s borders and returns to House Kamman.

Siduri arrives at House Kamman the next morning having heard of Acacia’s antics from the Daku family (Taurion/Goeban’s group, who are allied with Arzan, leader of she and Acacia’s faction). She tosses Acacia over her should and takes her back to Ishkibal.

Meanwhile, Gilgamesh visits House Daku to explain Goeban/Taurion and Acacia. The House wants Gilgamesh to retrieve Goeban and smooth things over with Ishkibal. In return, the bankers will make Gilgamesh’s family accounts available to him. Gilgamesh agrees and proceeds to Ishkibal’s.

Ishkibal and Vharkus are happy to see Siduri, but Acacia won’t answer Ishkibal’s questions, so they tie her to a chair. Siduri wakes Taurion just before Gilgamesh arrives and explains his situation. Gilgamesh arrives and Ishkibal tells him he wants Acacia to pay restitution to the families harmed by her kernig root operation (which Gilgamesh explains she will from the recovered money). Acacia and Taurion are placed in Gilgamesh’s custody, so he and Siduri depart with them. He drops Taurion off at House Daku and Siduri tells him about a mission Arzan is sending her on. She’s been asked to go to forest to see Hudool the Bandit King who claims to be in possession of ancient artefact he wishes to trade. Tools alchemy kit

Krivv has been given the mission by Sikar to investigate Arzan’s meeting with Hudool. In the meantime Zariastra has learned that Lavant has been searching House Diaga and found a concealed panel where missing tablets were stashed by Sejanus. These tablets contain ancient minotaur legends which they can now connect to the Demon King. The tablets say that as his bonds loosen, the earth will shake and the Demon King will be able to send dreams into minds open to his influence. Lavant wants Zariastra to find out more information.

Zariastra shares her information, and she and Siduri spend time doing researching in the temple archives. Siduri finds a notation about minotaurs hiding artefacts in sacred places where humans were unlikely to find them. These sacred places have been lost to history. While Zariastra continues her research, Siduri makes a trip to the Kimah estate. Ashala is unavailable at the moment, but Kitu tells her that the family does not want to actively support any faction. When Siduri asks about Hudool, Kitu warns her that the Bandit King is very dangerous and that she should not engage him in combat.

Gilgamesh takes Acacia and the Lhyra the cliff face to investigate the disappearence of his sister Lilith. Acacia checks the tracks and determines that two people (presumably Lilith and a companion) passed through here a week ago. The tracks go down the rocky stairs, but not into tunnel. The only plausible exit would be a boat on the river. Afterwards Gilgamesh and Acacia stop at Bleating Goat to make more inquiries about Shad. They find out that Bill is the b-named person Vharkus mentioned. Bill is not at the tavern, so they visit his apartment. He’s not there either. There is evidence of black powder in common areas and Acacia determines that the powder been there for days. Gilgamesh asks the neighbours about Bill and learns that Bill and Shad were seen drunkenly walking towards Empty Quarter. Gilgamesh uses their travels to assess his Gnoll captive. He determines that she genuinely respects him and acknowledges that he would kill her if she betrayed him. Her biggest motivation involves wanting to go back home.

Krivv asks around about arena fighters and learns that since the fall of the city the arena has been closed. Most of the fighters have joined Ishkibal’s cause, but some have been hired by Arzan. Krivv spends the day walking around and talking to the fighters in an effort to recruit the, but everyone declines (Arzan’s maintain that his side will win and that “dead men can’t pay”, while Ishkibal’s faction want the rights and freedom he’s promising.

The party gathers and follows the trail marked by Hudool’s. They come to clearing in the wood where a Red Lion soldier stands. He calls out to Gilgamesh, “You killed Taran and I will have my revenge.” In a diplomatic turn, Gilgamesh orates him into submission and sends he and his four compansions back to Urkesh to serve as guards for the hostel.

The meeting with is in another clearing where the party is confronted by 30 bandits. Hudool’s terms are simple: he wants an unqualified pardon so that he can return to Urkesh. There will be no negotiation. Gilgamesh tries to convince some of the guards to deflect (and is declined) and Hudool won’t let Siduri validate the authenticity of tablets before she returns to Arzan to present the offer (saying he has other offers if his terms are refused). He also offers Krivv a job, but the dragonborn declines.

Back in the city Arzan agrees to grant pardon because he wants the tablets and that Hudool might turn the balance in his favour; Krivv reports this to Sikar, who wants him to make a counter offer with a pardon if Hudool gives tablets to Krivv instead of Siduri.

Since the second meeting won’t be for a few days, Krivv, Gilgamesh and Acacia follow up on Shad’s disappearence. They discover that he wandered into an empty building after abandoning Bill on the streets. Acacia finds vomit and footprints leading towards the basement. Gilgamesh and Krivv find an imprint of a body that has been dragged to wall. Acacia figures out how to open the well-maintained secret door that leads to an area of tunnels have been turned into cell. Gilgamesh finds another exit and gets hit by a poisoned dart, though he shakes off the effects of the poison easily. The door opens into more well-maintained tunnels; they find a big stone door with a depression to release. This door opens to a circular chamber with three more doors and a House Kimah sigil on the floor. They randomly select the right tunnel and hear water; another door reveals another branching room plus a well. Acacia sees a set of spying eyes in the wall and they continue to explore until House servants approach and escort them to Ashala and Siduri. As it turns out, Shad owes the Kimah family 10,000 gold and will be imprisoned by them until the sum is paid; Krivv suggests that Acacia shoots Shad and get it over with. Although she is not allowed to see her uncle, Siduri checks on his condition and suggests he needs nothing more than a bath. Gilgamesh assesses Ashala and discovers she is most concerned with her family being in charge of the underworld and to maintain the profits of her ventures. With the agreement with House Kamman already made (Acacia assigned responsibility to pay for Shad), the group departs.

Gilgamesh continues his search for Lilith and finds a fisherman who saw Lilith and an affluent handsome man heading north up river – no one knows who the man is. Checking in with Lavant, he finds that none of the Arcanists experiments with the kernig root powder have yielded any useful results.

Returning to the woods and Hudool, they accept his terms and he returns to Urkesh with them. Siduri gets tablets which are definitely part of the ritual fragment found in the Temple of Hammurabi. Hudool explains he found them in the Tigris swamp. He also shares that his men saw Lilith and a man headed north. He also saw Foostus who’s been tracking the Behemoth which is apparently a huge triceratops-like creature.

Checking in with the Daku family, they learn that Taurion is lucid and confessed that Sejanus taught how to make powder, but he remembers nothing of the events of the last several months. Gilgamesh is able to confirm that royal servants saw a man with Lillith for the last 2-3 months in the palace, but their descriptions of him are all varied and they can’t remember his name. He also sends work to the lizardfolk to send him word of any news related to the either the ritual fragment or the keys. Zariastra has Kara moved to Gilgamesh’s fortress in Low Town.

The party then heads north to track Lilith, taking a boat upriver. Acacia and Krivv locate the trail and Acacia is able to track them north and discover an ambush up ahead. The party makes short work of the wolves, Gith soldiers, and Gauth Beholder guarind a bridge of a Tigris stream. Taking a short rest, the move forward.

Episode 114: Tainted Goods

Before the adventurers can breach the lower level, Siduri hears a voice calling from outside. It is one of the Temple acolytes with an urgent message. Siduri leaves the party to investigate as the rest proceed into the subbasement.

They are greeted with a most unwelcome sight. A long u-shaped table dominates the room. The table is covered in lab equipment and the black powder they found on the mob. The powder is being derrived from Kernig Root, which Acacia has unwittingly been bringing into the city by the wagon load. Awaiting them is Taurion (aka Goeben). Behind him is an arcane ballista facing the staircase while in front is a mechanical golem with large hammer hands. The party makes no attempt to talk to the minotaur, but Gilgamesh and Krivv cover their mouths to avoid accidentally inhaling the dust. Acacia moves into the room and fires at the ballista, shouting furiously at Taurion as she does. Zariastra also fires at the ballista and destroys it before it can act. Taurion advances on Acacia and hits her hard enough to nearly kill her. She is saved by Gilgamesh who advances behind Taurion. Krivv dodges the flailing arms of the golem which tries to knock black powder in his face before it moves around the room to attack Acacia. The battle becomes a series of strikes and shifts. Zariastra chaos bolt ricochets everywhere and hits everything. Acacia shifts onto the worktable and nimbly manoeuvres across the room. Gilgamesh makes a graceful leap onto the table and is subsequently knocked prone by the golem. Krivv kills the Golem with a whirling blow and Taurion falls under Acacia’s arrows (the first time she wilfully disabled an enemy instead of killing him—a now standing order from Gilgamesh).

Acacia and Zariastra cover their faces and search the room while Krivv ties up the prisoner and Gilgamesh shoves the unprocessed kernig root into his bag of holding. Acacia finds a false floor and searches Taurion’s body for a key (she also finds 10 platinum pieces) and discovers another locked chest with more money and containers of black powder. Gilgamesh places everything in the bag of holding while she examines the rest of the room. Krivv spends some time trying to figure out how the lab equipment works, but can’t figure it out. Acacia finds an account book that will have to be studied at a later date.

The earth trembles and another earthquake hits Urkesh. As the building begins to shake apart, the floor below the party vanishes and they fall. Acacia and Krivv land on their feet but the rest of them tumble to the floor, a cloud of powdered kernig root covering them, but their facial covers protect them from its effects. Taurion lies dying and Acacia reluctantly heals him. Her treatment is so effective that he comes out swinging and Krivv has to knock him out again. The ceiling begins to shift so Gilgamesh props a piece of the fallen table towards the ceiling to reinforce it. The party will need to dig their way out. As they start to dig towards where they believe the exit to be, the earth shakes again and a warm glow begins to emanate from a ring Gilgamesh wears and envelopes the adventurers.

Acacia s doodle 5.28 Suddenly, they find themselves somewhere else. They stand on the hill of Urkesh, though there is no city in sight. Instead a series of stone monoliths ring a table where three minotaurs are chanting. Each wears a familiar key emblazoned with the words BLIND, BURY and BIND. The ground is littered with the corpses of demons and minotaurs. Acacia notices that her perspective is off and looks at her companions to see they now inhabit the bodies of minotaur from an age gone by. A single driving purpose enters everyone’s mind. They must protect the chanters from the demons. The warriors set up a defence against the hordes, casting spells to obscure the area. Esteru (Acacia) fires at the large demon that enters the clearing, dazing it and knocking it prone in one round. The minions surround but fall easily.
As the battle continues, more and more demons emerge from the forests. Podrus (Krivv) and Terios (Gilgamesh) protect the casters while Esteru kills minion enemies and Raastred (Zariastra) attacks the artillery. Podrus moves out of the main circle and attacks the large demons directly, activating his armour to ignore the attacks from the minions. They hold off the enemies long enough to complete the ritual though it is a difficult battle with Terios acting as group healer. When the ritual is complete, a radiant light sweeps over the hill and decimates all the remaining demons.

The party finds itself back in the tunnels, the latest quake having cleared most of one passageway. Zariastra and Gilgamesh decide to finish Zariastra’s mission, while krivv wants to return to House Katar to make his report and Acacia drags Taurion through the streets, heading towards Ishkibal before (she plans) to take him to Arzan to face punishment.

Episode 113: King and Chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acacia notebook 5.21 The party arrives at Goeban’s house. It appears very rundown and unsafe. Acacia scouts two An examination of the bodies reveals a fine black powder on their noses. It is not arcane, but some type of natural substance that has been processed into a drug. Krivv scares up someone to ask about the drug. The man reveals that the drug flooded the market weeks ago. It has many names and the drug’s most often used catchphrase is “go mellow, go mad”. A minotaur named Goeban is the producer and there are dealers in the Empty Quarter. The party locates a dealer who sells Krivv a small package for 2 gold pieces. Gilgamesh intimidates the dealer into quitting trafficking and to mark Goeban’s place on Siduri’s map of the city. Gilgamesh remembers a Goeban from the Daku banking family, but cannot be sure if they are one and the same.entrances and several windows. The party positions themselves for an all out strike and blasts into the room from either side of the building and above. There is nothing on the first floor, but noise can be heard from the lighted basement below. Gilgamesh and Krivv step onto the floor and are attacked by several humans who were playing dice before they broke in. Acacia drops to the floor so that she can fire from above while the enemies converge on Krivv. One of the fighters uses her trident to immobilize Krivv and he is stuck in place for most of the battle. Zariastra fires a chaos bolt that hits all enemies in the room. Gilgamesh tries to keep the attacks focused on himself, but they lay into Siduri instead and she falls. Gilgamesh heals as Zariastra and Acacia try to kill the mages. The battle is long and grim. Once two enemies have fallen, the leader raises them as zombies who continue to attack the party. Gilgamesh takes out the enemy healer, knocking him unconsciousness to prevent him rising as a zombie. When the necromancer finally falls, so do the zombies. The combat has ended, but a further sub-basement lies beyond.
Episode 112: Rescue Mission (Part Two)

As the party flees the Gnoll camp under the cover of darkness, they can hear the baying of hyenas in pursuit. The first group of four riders catches them just as they approach the mesas. The hyenas and riders converge quickly on Siduri at the back of the party carrying Kara. She is knocked out immediately, shielding Kara with her own body. The other prisoners ride forward into the mesas while Gilgamesh wheels around to heal Siduri. Acacia and Zariastra continue attacking their pursuers from a distance while Krivv manoeuvres into the melee to smash enemies left and right. Zariastra knocks one of the riders off his mount as Gilgamesh kills the mockery priest. When the last hyena is killed, the party quickly rides into the mesas. Acacia with Siduri’s help plots a course through the mesas that throws off the Gnoll pursuit. They find a quiet place to take an extended rest and continue towards the village of Laga the next day.

On their way to Laga, Acacia and Gilgamesh try to find traces of the reinforcements Gilgamesh ordered on the way out to the wastes. There is no sign of his soldiers. When the party arrives in Laga, the three human prisoners return to their families. Krivv scares up a villager who speaks Abyssal to translate for the Gnoll prisoner. Gilgamesh interrogates her and discovers that her name is Lhyra and that she’s of the Whisperer clan. She was confined for spying on the Sandwalker tribe at the beheast of her leader Gnara. She speaks frankly about the Demon King (whom all the Gnolls worship) and that they plan to attack Urkesh. They also learn of the internecine fighting between the Gnoll groups.

After the interrogation is over, Gilgamesh asks the villagers about the missing patrol and discovers that a lot of strange rumours have been floating around about Urkesh the last few days. No one is sure exactly what’s going on, but the adventurers decide to quickly return to the city to see what they find.

As they approach the city along the main road, they come to an unwelcome sight. There is a barricade in the middle of the road being manned an assortment of men. Closer examination on Krivv’s part reveals that their leader is a man named Taris, one of the better arena fighters. When they won’t make way for Gilgamesh, he hops from his camel and strides forward, kicking the cart that blocks the way out from under Taris and knocking him to the ground. Acacia fires at the archers behind the barrier and Krivv moves in to attack Taris and the two soldiers. The battle is swift and brutal. The archers can’t hit Gilgamesh and even as they fan out to avoid area bursts, the camels allow the adventurers to move around the barricade to attack them. Siduri and her camel vault the wagon to charge Taris and kill him with her goring charge. With their enemies dead, all that remains is to complete the journey home.

The party reaches fifth level.

Acacia doodle 5.14

Episode 111: Rescue Mission (Part One)

In the wake of what the adventurers learn from Sejanus, they decide to have Helen moved to the temple to investigate the incision they’d discovered earlier. Her father, found raving and frothing at the mouth, is also taken there for examination. All return to their homes to sleep.

The next morning, King Gulkishar orders the execution of Sejanus and is ready to round up all the tieflings in Urkesh to submit them to scrutiny. The leaders of all three political factions protest his racial profiling, but the king is swayed by Gilgamesh’s suggestion of less extreme measures: the process will be gradual, will involve everyone, and each group will investigate internally using Lavant and his arcanists as a resource. They learn Sejanus execution is a moot point—the tiefling died shortly after questioning, going into rapid convulsions before expiring (much like Jesse near the end of the Red Lion war).

Siduri gets a tip from the Kimah family about Kara’s whereabouts. She’s been handed off to gnolls who are on their way back into the Rimanik Wastes. Gilgamesh arranges for a second party of his troops to follow behind them with soldiers and healers in case any of the people he saves need attention, then he asks the lizardfolk in the city what they know about the gnolls. They say that they don’t get along, but they have had dealings with all three tribes (the Whisperers in the south, who are the most cunning—attacking villages in the night; the Skull-riders to the north, who are the most aggressive of the tribes; and the Sandwalkers, who only irregularly raid from the depths of the wastes.

After securing camels for travel, the party embarks on the trail after the gnolls. Acacia has no trouble finding the trail and after two uneventful days of travel the party comes to a closed in path between mesas where five Sandwalker gnolls and a hyena are preparing an ambush. The keenly perceptive adventurers are not surprised, but the gnoll soldiers quickly move in to attack and crowd around Acacia as she scouts. Gilgamesh tries to lock them down so that she can flee, but they still manage to knock her into unconsciousness. Siduri moves around behind them to flank, heals Acacia and gives one of the gnolls a heavy blow to the head. Krivv moves in next to her and kills the soldiers as Zariastra fires from a more secure position. Gilgamesh moves ahead to attack the gnoll mage while the hyena charges in to attack Krivv. As the battle ensues, Zariastra kills one of the archers and Acacia moves around a mesa to attack the other (not the best idea as she falls and Siduri must move around the bend to heal her again). Once the final archer falls under Gilgamesh’s sword, the group takes a minute to recharge while Acacia climbs one of the mesas to get a look at the plateau ahead. In the distance she can see a gnoll camp well ahead. There is cover from the mesas within 300 yards of the camp. From this position, Acacia can see there are between 100-200 gnolls.
Siduri prays for a little divine intervention and the party decides to advance to the edge of the mesas to get a better look. Again Acacia climbs, but this time with better results.

Acacia diagram 4.30 There are close to 200 gnolls in the camp from all three tribes. She can see the prisoner area with three cages along the western edge of the camp. There are a total of five prisoners among the cages – one small figure in the first cage, one large figure in the second cage and three human-sized figures in the last cage. There is a recessed area within 50 feet of the cages and another raised area on the opposite side of the camp. The cages are monitored by a party of 4 gnolls and a hyena. The camp patrols circle the area with a 20 minute window at any point along the perimeter. Each patrol is composed of 4 gnolls and a hyena with a rider. After a bit of discussion, the party decides to leave the camels at the mesa line and creep forward under the cover of darkness towards the dip near the cages. Zariastra’s Shroud of Darkness will cover the party as they carefully advance to free the prisoners.

The party waits on the edge of the light. Acacia fires two shots into the camp, destroying the nearest sunrods and limiting the gnolls field of vision. One of the gnolls goes deeper into the camp to fetch more light and Acacia checks out the locking mechanisms on the cages from a distance. Determining that they are too difficult for her own skills, she looks for the guard with the key. Although she can’t find him, Gilgamesh and Siduri do. Knowing their target, the party advances as one and prepares to attack the guardss. The gnoll soldiers crowd around the cloud of darkness and hit a little more often than desirable. The archers fire blindly at the cloud and hit Zariastra. Once the soldier with the key falls, Gilgamesh uses his psychic hand to pick up the key out of the dirt. The party moves forward towards the cages. When the last archer falls, they shuffle over to the camel enclosure and liberate enough camels for everyone and then move over to the cages, releasing the first three prisoners (humans) and directing them to mount and start moving away from the camp. The second cage holds a badly beaten gnoll, who they also free. When only Kara remains imprisoned, reinforcements arrive and Siduri and Krivv stop to kill these new threats while Gilgamesh frees Kara. When two of the new gnolls fall, the final one tries to flee back towards camp and Acacia kills him before he can summon more help. Kara mounts behind Siduri and the adventurers flee the Gnoll camp.

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.

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

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.

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.
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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