Archive for November, 2006

Art and Architecture

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

The next morning we arose in Thentia and made plans for the day. Adric had some goods he wanted to pick up in Melvaunt, one-time home of the spy who betrayed my circle of agents and seat of one of the largest temples to Tempus in the realm.

As Adric saw to his own priorities in town, I engaged a street caricaturist and described to him – without explanation – the various faces of BOB we had seen or had described: Alec, Muad Ter’Thalas, the Faerath, the dwarf, the grey-skinned being and the bullfrog into which Badl turned him when we fought him in the Tomb.

I ordered, from said caricaturist, one poster with each of these portraits, in caricature, on a single page. Once I had that in hand, and was satisfied that the likenesses were sufficient to serve their purpose, I took the sheet and paid him well, then set off for a messenger service. The Mulmasterian noble Adric and Rock had interrogated the day before had confirmed one of our suspicions about Mulmaster and Hillsfar’s two-pronged invasion: Melvaunt’s leadership – ie, Helmuth Bruhl – had agreed to allow Mulmaster to pass by unmolested, once Thentia had fallen, in order to assault Phlan. As mayor emeritus of Phlan, I was more than just personally offended; my people had been traded between Melvaunt and Phlan like so much excess cattle.

In order to make the point to Helmuth that his deed had not gone unnoticed, I used my disguise kit and a quick Alter Self spell to make myself into the living image of Lord Dicaprio, the spy who betrayed the rest of the Obsidian Arrows all those years ago. He’s long dead, you understand; in his guise I walked right down one of the main streets of Melvaunt, into a messenger service, and sent a note to Helmuth:

It looks like you won’t have a chance to wave hello to your Mulmasterian friends as they pass by on the way to Phlan. Tsk – this is how the followers of the god of war behave when there’s an invasion on either side of them?

Lord Dicaprio,

Then I turned right back around, walked right back down that same main thoroughfare, ducked into an alleyway to drop the disguise and the rest of us teleported to Phlan.

Once in Phlan, I had to locate a high-capacity printer. I found a dwarf who could do 20,000 copies of the caricatures I’d had drawn in Melvaunt. I had him add specific text to the posters, too: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS SHAPESHIFTER? Some of them have the address of my teleport point in Waterdeep, others the address of the temple to Lothander in Selgaunt, still others simply “Sess’uadra,” and some with the address of the old tower of Rowena, in Phlan itself.

Speaking of said tower, we (the TTC) now formally own it. I engaged an engraver to make a TTC sign to go on the building, but he was unwilling to actually remove the old sign from the front of the tower and replace it with mine; our compromise was that he would prop the sign up in a chair in front of the door of the tower but not actually touching it.

Is it wrong of me to hope that these posters, which are currently being manufactured and distributed throughout the realms, will piss off BOB so badly that he’ll send someone after us in Phlan and they’ll end up springing all the traps Rowena left behind so we don’t have to bother?

In other craftables news, I have commissioned the manufacture of two more TTC signet rings from a jeweler in Phlan. When they’re completed, I plan to give one to Badl and one to Adric to formally welcome them into our ranks. In the meantime, however, there are two more places of power to investigate: the Aelfwin weapon foundries in what is now the frozen waste of Rashaman and the City of Dragons, where the gold dwarves now make their home. From the sound of things, Adric wants to go to Rashaman first.

Hither & Yon & Back

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Diary, allow me to paint the picture for you to refresh your memory: I was swimming underwater, in the form of an aquatic elf. Adric, Rock and Badl were above the surface of the Moon Sea, flying with various of their abilities. I had blown holes open in the sides of a Mulmasterian ship carrying several of their Banite priests, sinking it. Shortly after, a voice had appeared telepathically in my head: a vampire, released into the water from one of the ships.

My answer to that was quite simple: I polymorphed into a dolphin and swam the hell away. The vampire chased me briefly, but pretty shortly it gave up the chase. I took to the air shortly afterwards, circling back towards the rest of the party. Badl was up high, having taken the form of a seagull and was circling above one of the Mulmasterian warships. None of them knew about the vampire just yet – Adric was concentrating on keeping the storm going, directing it to push the ships further and further away from the coast so that we could separate the Mulmasterians from their supplies. However, they learned of the vampire quickly enough because the vampire emerged from the water and simply appeared next to Adric, fangs bared, ready to attack.

Adric turned to face it, held up his holy symbol and uttered a few words of prayer… and the vampire dissolved into ash in a flash of light.

One enemy down, two warships left to go.

I made myself invisible again, flew around towards one of the Mulmasterian warships and used a Disintegrate spell to blow a hole in its side. As it started to take on water, clerics rushed down into the hold and we saw smooth wooden walls start to fill the hole; I melted another hole in its side and this time it took on water too quickly, or perhaps the priests had used up their spells. In either case, the warship began to list hard to one side and it was obviously going to sink.

That the ship was doomed, however, did not necessarily mean that they were done with us. Two clerics ran out onto the deck and began to summon creatures into the water. Though we were flying, and thus in no danger from them, demonic sharks – red runes and wicked plates of chitin up and down their bodies – appeared in the water and began to search fruitlessly for us. At the same time, another couple of clerics ran out and cast Invisibility Purge in the area to expose us. Upon seeing me there, they cast Air Walk and ran out into the air to approach; I was able to freeze one and between Adric, Badl and myself we were able to take them out in time. As their Air Walks were dispelled, or their lives taken, they would sink from the air and into the sea, trapped there forever by the weight of plate armor.

Finally we moved on to the last ship. Rock had gone and begun scouting it out ahead of us. I had one Disintegrate left and used it to make the ship begin taking on water. Badl and Adric finished it off when the clerics onboard ran below decks to try to repair the damage by casting successive Comet Falls in the middle of the decks. That ships defenders were a wizard and a fighter – a fop armed with rapiers. I had become invisible again and polymorphed myself into a young gold dragon to give myself a greater chance in melee if need be. The wizard opened by trapping Adric in a force cage and Badl was out of spells and needed to stay in bird form so that he could fly. Much to my and everyone else’s surprise, I proved fairly effective as a meleer once I had the strength and range of movement of a dragon. I had nearly finished the wizard when he turned to his fighter companion and said, “Good luck,” then teleported away. Badl, Adric – now free of the cage – and Rock subdued the fighter and we confirmed that the last of the warships, having had a Disintegrate and two Comet Falls hit it, was sinking without hope of recovery.

We had eliminated the three ships that oversaw the fleet of fishing boats Mulmaster had pressed into service, and so Rock and Adric went to question our prisoner while Badl and I went to scout out the fishing boats – on each of which was at least one Mulmasterian handler, there to issue orders to the original crews of fishermen. We landed on one – Badl in seagull form, me invisible – and took out its handler, then questioned the original crew to learn what we could of the other ships. Most of the other ships had a fighter or warrior type on board, but some had weak clerics. Liberating them would be a trivial endeavor; however, they did have one big surprise in store for us: the ships were not carrying supplies, they were carrying dozens of crates of zombies.

I polymorphed into a dragon again and flew from ship to ship, taking out the handlers one at a time. Individually, and facing a dragon, they didn’t stand a chance. Once we had liberated all of the ships, we called a conference of their captains and promoted one of them to Admiral in the new Phlanian navy, then gave them the option of continuing on to Phlan – whom we would warn of their impending arrival – and giving up their lives under the rule of Mulmaster for a chance to live in a free society. They accepted, and Badl and I rejoined Adric and Rock to get an update on their questioning.

The fighter we had captured turned out to be the son of a noble family of Mulmaster. From him we learned that the crown princess of Thay had recently married the ruler of Mulmaster and now Thay calls all the shots. Why they would be interested in helping Hillsfar conquer the Moon Sea was beyond us, other than the obvious explanation that they would gain wealth and Mulmaster’s predilection for the mass production of undead would be a formidable addition to Thay’s usual arsenal. The noble told Adric and Rock that the crates of zombies on board the shipping boats were to be the first stage in Mulmaster’s plan to invade and conquer Thentia: first, the shipping boats would arrive and sneak the undead into the sewers of Thentia. At the same time, Alec’s directions would have allowed Mulmasterian assassins to eliminate the cabal of wizards that rules the city when they gathered for their weekly communal meal. By the time the actual army of Mulmaster arrived, the city of Thentia would be in chaos and the residents would welcome Mulmaster’s invasion as a way to restore order.

Of course, we were only too happy to put an end to that. Rock took the sword Adric keeps enchanted with undead-searing light spells and went out to the fishing boats. As we cracked open crate after crate of undead, Rock would chase them around the hold until they had melted away entirely.

Once we had separated the army of Mulmaster from its fleet, however – the priests of which were conjuring huge quantities of food each day to keep the army on the march – we knew we had only a very short time to act to inhibit the movements of the army itself. We flew directly to a valley which the Thentians had told us about and set up to call down a hurricane to slow the army’s advance.

The best vantage point over the valley through which the army was going to pass that night was a huge and somewhat unnatural-looking rock formation on the northeastern edge. We landed and Adric began preparing to cast his spell but almost immediately, from all over the rock formation, gargoyles began to appear and approach us. How many times, diary, have I had to deal with gargoyles? Yet in all the years of adventuring I have yet to see gargoyles with that singular and unmistakable spark of intelligence in their eyes. They approached us with caution and care rather than the usual “swoop first, ask questions later” approach, but all the same their approach was obviously enough also aggressive rather than peaceful. Given how many of them there were, and how low we all were on spells, we simply ditched our advantageous spot above the valley and took one on the other side of the valley. Rock, Badl and I stood watch for a few minutes while Adric summoned up a hurricane to slow the advance of Mulmaster and then, with that, we were off again.

At that point it was back to Thentia to report to them what we’d learned.  The geomancer on their ruling council heard us out, thanked us and told us they would be able to handle the army of Mulmaster once it arrived.  Then it was off to Phlan to warn them that a fleet of fishing boats with a few priests and warriors of Mulmaster held captive among them, would be arriving in a few days and to have agents of the temple of Tyr ready for them.

And then, back to Thentia to spend the night and rest.

The next day would be a big one