G106: Carousing and Intersession

The Saga of Micheline

Martin: In the meantime, we still need to get the other items (tools, jewelry, grandfather clock) to Glantri City to get the best price, I suggest we also bring the chest. Would the Marais be willing to lend us a wagon and horses for the journey? Otherwise we'll need to rent one out. I will accompany the wagon, as I have some business in the city.

Your goods are loaded onto the wagon of Joaquin, a laconic old woodcutter. The rest of the wagon is filled with bundles of firewood to be sold in the city.

I'm increasingly convinced the chest has a really nasty magic trap on it, which is just as likely to destroy the contents as the person who opens it. I say we take it to Peugot, let him spend some time and potentially pull in more resources on it. It will probably cost us some money - he's the most accomplished arcane resource we have access to. I think we also need to be careful to keep the source of the chest pretty quiet.

Peugeot shakes his head when the chest is presented to him. "Breaking the spell? I could bring it into the back room and attempt certain thaumaturgic experiments, but a simple and direct dispelling, that I cannot do. For that, you may wish to consult another of my colleagues. Perhaps Hypoline, or Panthalion. Or even one of the true wizards, although there are not many who are not affiliated with the noble houses. Maybe old Gaumont Ox-Eye, or Micheline of the Many Rings? But remember, these wizards who get this powerful but do not marry into the nobility, they are a bit… eccentric, you see?"
Gaumont lives in a house of wood and glass a few hours' travel from Glantri City. "He is a sort of mad gardener," Peugeot says. "He seems to be of the opinion that flowers, they are the key to the universe and hold cosmic power. Like I said, he is… eccentric."

"Micheline is a traveler. Her tower in the city, it is often empty, as she is swanning about the Million Spheres as though other planes had no dangers in them. When she is here, she is attending soirees and visiting the boutiques. They say she has twisted space and time to make her tower bigger inside than out, just so she has room to store all her shoes."

Let's attempt to get an audience with Micheline. We can offer to perform some favor (non-binding, non geased!) for her in the dungeon or in regards to the Su (it seems unlikely we'd get it for no cost and I'd rather not give up the chests contents). Can we find out if she's in town, and/or leave a calling card? We've been dealing with enough inter-dimensional weirdness that we may be of interest to her. She may also be able to shed some light on our demon "friend".

Micheline's door-guards, a matched pair of comely, effete youths in gold-chased ornamental armor, acknowledge that their mistress is present. "She shan't be leaving for a few days yet," says one. "Let us know your business and perhaps she can arrange to see you afore then."

Though they do not say it, their demeanor suggests that a trifling gratuity might speed the process considerably.

"Ah yes," Roland says, flipping his cloak aside to reveal his now-bursting purse, "one can scarce blame enterprising youths for being…enterprising." With a wink, he deposits 10gp in the hand of each of the guards. "If you would be so kind as to inform Milady Micheline that the Lord Zanzibar and the captains of the Company of Crossed Swords seek an audience, we would certainly appreciate it."

Smiling, the guards accept the proffered largesse. One enters the townhouse attached to the tower; while he is gone, the other leers at Roland speculatively and at length. The first eventually returns to inform the Lord Zanzibar that if he would be so kind as to wait in the Blue Room, their mistress will attend presently.

The interior of the townhouse is laden with baubles and curios of uncertain value, their style ranging from quaint to avant-garde. The Blue Room's cobalt tiles and indigo curtains are set off dramatically by various articles of porcelain, their creamy surfaces adorned with patterns of blue glaze. Roland waits for over an hour — attended by several handsome, interchangeable young footmen bringing tea and an assortment of pastries — before Micheline arrives.

She appears disturbingly young, perhaps no more than 15 years of age, but her demeanor is that of a much older woman. Her gown is of midnight-blue velvet sewn with pearls; peacock feathers rise from her miniscule hat. She smiles and curtseys. "Lord Zanzibar — of the Ouestmarche Zanzibars, I presume? It is a pleasure to meet you, I'm sure. I am Micheline. Welcome to my home."

With his recently restored looks, Martín's smile is slightly less disturbing, but no less obsequious. While he is not a beauty on par with the magnificence of Roland Zanzibar, he is fairly confident that the two of them give the handsome, interchangeable footmen a run for their money (in the handsome department, not so much the interchangeability).

"Milady Micheline, thank you so very very much for your time, patience, and the grace of your audience. Without a doubt you have heard of my humble companions, The Company of the Crossed Swords and my most undeserving self, Martin Renais. As you have indubitably heard, we are the duly appointed champions of the house Du Marais, most loyal servants of the Temple of Trianomma (a personal friend of mine), and the earthly avatars of the mighty deity known as the Boss, charged with the exploration and erasure of Chaos from that most awful place… The Chateau D'Ambreville!"

Pausing momentarily to allow for any blushing or swooning, Martín will stride to the window, striking a dashing pose and preparing himself with a deep breath…

“Indeed! The fell dungeons are a dangerous place, enough to challenge the courage of even the most hardened warrior, let alone a delicate young lady such as yourself! Ambulatory skeletons, anthropophagous insects, and vile orcs are the least of the dangers therein. Battling past even these horrors, we have delved deep beneath the Chateau, and have encountered certain anomalies which we feel may be of interest to a young lady of your proclivities. Firstly – bands of dwarves from another realm, travelled here by means of a shadowy land. Secondly, cinnamon scented creatures, identified to us as the Su, entering this reality in ever increasing numbers. Most grave of all, a very demon from the other side, brought here to Glantri to destroy the vile sorceries of the house D’Ambreville.”

Impressed with himself, Martín will end his dramatic pacing, turning on a heel and gazing portentously down at the delicate sorcerous, one mighty eyebrow cocked in a most dramatic fashion…

"Oh, how terrible." Micheline opens a folding fan and conceals her mouth coquettishly. "Do go on, sir, with your fascinating story."

Encouraged by the rapt attention of the mademoiselle, Martin pushes on, giving a brief nod of encouragement to Richard and Roland. Martín gives a richly detailed (if mildly embellished) account of the party's exploits - it is a wonder to behold, the three Swordsmen sweeping about the chamber, interrupting in turns, gesticulating grandly, fencing with imaginary opponents, ducking phantom pursuers, and unearthing fondly recalled troves of treasure. While he will gloss over the specifics of their entanglements with Phoebe and Evangelista, and Richard's particular involvement with the demon, he paints a convincing tale of a brave and capable mercenary company, with more than passing knowledge of the greater mysteries of the multiverse…

"Ahem… to the point… in a recent foray, we discovered an object of great mystery. While we have applied our many resources to opening the vessel, the hex upon it is beyond the ken of our enchanters. Our small magics have revealed that the chest is indeed trapped, and that some enchantment is lain upon the box, but it's nature or how it might be removed yet escapes us. We are simple men… strong men… lawful men… Boss-men!… but we are not learned men. While we have traveled widely, it has been upon campaigns of war, or mercenary excursions… we have not had the opportunity to cultivate a deep, subtle body of knowledge such as yours."

"Lady Micheline, we have come to you, hearing much of your grace, your insight, and you generosity, to ask your boon. Aid us in dispelling this devious ensorcellment, that we may reveal the mysteries within! I would be happy to offer you certain services on behalf of myself and my companions. Perhaps some mystery investigated, or some noble edict enforced? I must reinforce that as devout adherents to the lady Trianomma (and her most noble consort, the Boss) we must insist that any services be respectful of Law, Magic, and the Aristocracy - though one can hardly imagine a gentile lady such as your self requesting aught else."

With a final flourish, Martin will rejoin his companions on the small settee, and await Micheline's response…

"If I may be so bold, Lady Micheline," Richard offers with a slight cough, "I can, in particular, offer some information regarding the entities from other worlds we have encountered and, if my description seems insufficient, offer you a mental link to the memories in question. I was, for example, the target of one entity's magics, and was in brief extra-sensory contact with that and another besides. There may have been details sensible to you that I am too naive to understand."

"You are indeed strong men," says Micheline, regarding the heroes of the Company with an appreciative gaze. "And perhaps you are also Lawful men, or even 'Boss men.' But you have come to me on an affair of business, and so you are most surely business-men. And in such matters I must match you, and be a business-woman."

She turns self-consciously to one side, displaying her youthful profile to good effect. "I will attempt to banish the curse upon your coffer, but not for favors or for knowledge. As you can imagine, it is expensive to maintain myself in a style befitting my station, and so I must ask for gold. But from such handsome men, such hardened warriors, I ask only a trifling sum — two thousand, and no more."

The three Swordsmen bow their heads together, terse whispers raising quickly to a harsh crescendo as sums are tallied on fingers, hands waved, and faces redden. After a brief locking of silent glares, the three break, as Martín raises to his feet, a vein throbbing in his forehead…

Martin: "My lady is too generous. For the removal of magical wards and traps on this artifact, the sum of 2000 pieces of gold can easily arranged for. Needless to say, we should take the ladies word that any contents of the chest should remain undisturbed once the seal is broken. This is a line of enquiry that pains me , but would it be appropriate for one of our associates to be on hand for the opening?”

Micheline indicates that she is amenable to this. That evening, Martin and his companions are escorted by lantern-bearing footmen across a flower-flanked path to a gazebo that glows with lamplight. Micheline waits there in an emerald-green gown trimmed with gold. "Set the chest there," she says, gesturing to a marble bench at the center of a nearby stone-floored patio. "Then stand well back."

Her spell is anticlimactic, evoking no dramatic flares of sorcery. A second spell proves equally unimpressive. "The box is free of taint," she says, smiling. "You may open it as you please."

Before anyone opens the chest, Richard will check it for traps of the mundane variety. If he finds no traps, he will open the chest.

Richard finds no traps. Opening the chest reveals seven leather-bound volumes. Several bear small scorch marks. Otherwise, their only markings are Thyatian numerals on their spines, ranging from 'I' to 'VII'.

Richard promptly shuts the chest and asks Martin and Roland to help him move it. If he's able to secure a safe, private room at the temple, he'll set up a workspace there to investigate. If not, we should leave for Malinbois at the next available opportunity in as inconspicuous a mode of transport as we can arrange, and ask for shelter with the Marais. He assumes that these are Phoebe's spellbooks, but wants to catalog them as best as he's able- they're almost certainly what Evangelista wanted.

Audrey

Audrey Carcassonne takes her share from the first part of the adventure, coupled with some gold she already has, and go to the Temple of Trianoma in Glantri City. As a cleric of Seff, an associate goddess to the triple-headed, she is comfortable and familiar with the priests there, if not overly sociable with them yet.

She will inquire about a private study cell for Richard Loubeau, whom she admires for his conversion. He is wise and experienced, his powers far beyond the usual novitiate (which she was, herself, not long before), and she wishes to provide a large donation to his cause and for the temple as a whole, in the propagation of its good works, and the good works of lieutenant Seff.

(You rolled a 4, spending 600gp and earning 600xp for your faithfulness and devotion. For your saving throw, you rolled a 17: success!)

Hamish

Now flush with gold, Hamish returns to Glantri City with his comrades. He buys himself a jeweled amulet to house his holy symbol — the middle finger of the Boss — and a coffer with a fairly intricate lock in which he plans to store the remaining pieces of the True Boss.

Hamish dickers with a jeweler on Dawngate Street, and is pleased to eventually acquire a bargain: a small silver reliquary encrusted with 'genuine diamantes' for only 300gp! He admires the amulet with pride as he leaves the shop. The shopkeeper experiences a similar feeling as he counts the profit from unloading the glass-crusted thing on a foolish foreigner.

(You rolled a 2, spending 300gp and earning 300xp, as you acquire new knowledge regarding the value of various valuables.)

Martín

Martín Renais tithes 300 gp to the church of Trianomma, gaining 300xp. After lighting his candles, the fighting man will visit the temple Apothichurgeon, whose specialty is the removal of curses, taints, or poisons via the applications of various infusions, tinctures and poultices. Salvatore is somewhat taken aback by Le Black's uncanny knowledge of psychotropic toxins on the human physiology, but will agree to help Martín channel his sinful talents towards the way of Law. Where once he would intoxicate, Martin seeks to purify, where once he was a poisoner, he seeks to become an antiveninist.

While in Glantri, Martin also drops by the orphange he founded as a thrall of chaos. While the institution stands, the poor waifs have been pressed into labor, cobbling crude buskins under the crack of the whip. With the help of an enthusiastic Pigshit Pat, Le Black whisks 7 of the poor creatures away, cleaning them, feeding them, and toting them along to the Chateau, where they will be trained by the Burning Brand, and hopefully level up into orcs.

Pat

Pigshit wishes to procure some clothes befitting someone of his status. He will search Galantri city for a suitable tailor and request some ostentatious robes, upon which will be sown his family "coat of arms", which he will invent at this time. To show his piety and link him to the "powerful" and "respected" Church of the Boss he will take as many of the Bossly images he can remember and mash them into his own interests.

I believe the logical conclusion of this is a petrified dragon (rampant) clutching a terrified (non-petrified) infant in its mouth as it gives the viewer the finger with one of its claws. Pat is sure to gain some respect around town in these clothes.

After a tailor archly informs Pat that a peasant can't have a coat of arms, the psychic decides to pay a visit to Castle Glantri to complain. Fortunately, his rambling explanation to a castle clerk includes a mention of the enormous amount of gold he had acquired in his most recent visit to the Chateau. The clerk, her eyes bright, informed Pat that arrangements could be made in exchange for a small, discreet fee. Several hours later and several hundred hundred gold pieces lighter, Pat finds himself in possession of an elaborate document displaying the official coat of arms of one Patrice de Cochon.

(You rolled a 5, spending 750gp and earning 750xp from your accidental discovery of the art of bribery. For your saving throw, you rolled a 20: dramatic success! Pat is now officially armigerous. He still hasn't bought any fancy clothes, though.)

Excellent! What does the coat of arms look like?

Brunatre, a dragon segreant regardant argent, in its mouth an infant or.

Richard

Do any of Phoebe's papers or volumes look sufficiently wicked to merit the Temple's attention?

Most notable are copies of Cezarine d'Ambreville's On the Binding of Demons and her On the Binding of Souls, and Gaston the Elder's The Hierarchy of Hell. Several chapters of Ferand d'Ambreville's multi-volume, unexpurgated Incunabulum Artificium — which deals with the trapping of spirits for use in the crafting of magical items — deal specifically with unholy entities. Some of the laboratory notes appear to involve the use of wicked spirits in such a manner.

Ferand's work, and the notes, sound distasteful, but Cezarine and Gaston sound like the kind of thing Richard is supposed to be hauling up. Richard has more than one motivation for turning Cezarine's and Gaston's volumes over to the Bishop of Trianoma, and does. The party holds onto the notes and Ferand's Incunabulum Artificium.

Richard would like to advise the relevant Temple elders of the circle around Phoebe's body, in case they can match any of the incantations in the texts to them. He wants to find out what house stooped to the summoning of demons in their fight against the Ambrevilles, and is trying to gather all information possible.

Richard and Pritchard both concluded that the circle was a general-purpose protective ward against incursion by summoned entities, similar to the effects provided by a protection from evil spell.

The priestess Camellia proves more interested in the entity's reference to 'the frozen rivers of Cocytus.' She observes that such a locale exists within the so-called Nine Hells. "The Hells are home to the devil races, who claim allegiance to Law despite their cruelty and wickedness."

The priestess Camellia thanks Richard for the books and has the vicar Salvatore bring them to the temple vaults. Later in the day, she informs Richard that the bishop Sommelinde is pleased by his efforts and will personally perform the rite to renew his wounded soul. She also provides the requested potion of neutralize poison as an additional reward. As to a workroom, no permanent space can be set aside for Richard at this time, but there are chambers he may borrow whilst he is present.

Sommelinde remains sour when she invokes her goddess's power to restore Richard's life force, but does not seem actively irascible.


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