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The summary of this session's events is at swords-are-trump
Carousing for G56: Swords are Trump
Martín le Black
Martín Morthommes stuffs the red gem into his pouch with sneering disdain, cursing the hundred coins wasted in the identification of the useless bauble. A moment's pause. Recalling that the studious wizard Tertulián's pursuit of D’Ambreville lore, Martin returns to describe the huge spinning globe that the party discovered, as well as the vicious animated mace in the throne room. Has Tertulian ever heard of such artifacts?
Making a brief stopover at the Smoking Owl for a restorative, Martin spares a wistful moment remembering the fine times he spent behind this most excellent establishment.
Back at the pavilion, Martin will gather the veterans of this latest campaign under the Chateau, and propose a meeting with their contacts in the house Du Marais. Key items of interest would include…
- An inquiry into the nature of the spinning globe
- A revelation of the horrible door and its gruesome carvings.
- The animated mace. Do they have any understanding of the effects of a dispelling enchantment on such an object?
- An attempt to sell the hearthstone (REVERSE CAROUSE!).
The dark woods flashed on either side of Pritchard as he leaned close against his horse's neck and dug his spurs in harder. The gates of Glantri City closed at sunset and he had need of reaching that place tonight. With one hand he held the reins, while the other fondled the hilt of his new magical dagger. He couldn't seem to stop touching it.
Maybe it was all going to happen again. Maybe he wanted it to happen again.
Ahead of him the gates of the city loomed, dark and already in motion. The guards hauling on them shouted as Pritchard thundered through, just before closing. He paid no heed, but kept up his gallop, his horse gasping for breath as he hurtled through the streets of the capital. There: the temple of Trianoma. He lashed his reins to a hitching post outside and approached the massive doors. This place never closed its gate to those in need.
Inside, he was given a quick anointing with the goddess's milk, enough to refresh his body but not to cool his feverish brain. A white-robed acolyte came forward to guide him, though he knew the way to the holy of holies. Before the great statue of many-dugged Trianoma he knelt, and bent his head in subservience.
"Master Hood," the high priestess said, coming up behind him. "For a man who claims to worship no gods, I find you so often on your knees here."
Pritchard said nothing. He took the magic dagger from his belt and laid it on the ground before the altar. "Is it cursed?" he asked. "Like the other?"
The high priestess needed to merely glance at the weapon. "No, my child. It is not cursed. It could be a weapon of holy vengeance, in fact, when held by the right hand."
Hood clamped his eyes shut. Then it wasn't the dagger? But the dreams. The dreams were haunting him again. "I saw a pair of doors, deep underground in that hell-pit. Close to where the Wind's Edge was found. A pair of doors carved with scenes of carnality and vice most profound. Of desecration and dark revelry. I see those carvings now every time I close my eyes. Sometimes I long to… to join in with the orgy they depict. Forgive me."
A gentle hand fell on his shoulder. It gave him the strength to go on.
"I think there is a temple down there. A chapel of perfidy, a grinning obscenity in counterpart to this holy place. But Glantri is a civilized land. It was so even before the civil war. How could the D'Ambrevilles allow such a thing to exist inside their walls? Do you know anything of this temple of chaos?"
"Yes." The Matriarch Josephine speaks softly, recalling earlier days. "It is why they lost, and why they came so close to winning. They dabbled in dark magics, breaking bread with Chaos in order to increase their power. And in doing so, they opened the way for Chaos to crawl into our land. There are places in Glantri where the earth is verminous with demonic forces, just waiting for the opportunity to turn our world into an antechamber of Hell.
"Backed by Chaos, they had the power to oppose those who massed against them. They intimidated enemies into standing aside and rivals into giving them support. But fear only goes so far, and in the end, their allies were only too glad to turn on them once their Chaos-spawned advantages ran thin.
"I know that the d'Ambrevilles made pacts with many Chaos gods, not all of whom were allied. Chaos is not of one mind. I suspect that much of what undermined their family during the war was strife between individuals and factions as they jockeyed for power, thinking their victory inevitable. Much of that may have stemmed from rivalries between their patrons. But I am not certain that knowing this will help you any.
"All I can recommend is to show great caution. Some of the Chaos powers are as strong as any god of Law, and the lesser ones range in strength from the trivial to the catastrophic. As to this specific temple, without more information to go on, I can give you no specific advice."
He did not expect the two men for another day, but there they were, just as before: Anonymous and silent, standing in the foyer of the reliably quiet (for a price) boarding house that Richard had arranged rooms at. The last fading hue of dusk lit the door behind them. "Gentlemen. I thought to be alone this evening." A quick exchange of glances. "Sorry sir. It must be now." "Well," Richard thought, "at least I'm learning a bit of how the prince works." He addressed his escorts: "A moment, gentlemen, to retrieve my things." "Right sir, though it would be better to come in a less threatening posture, if you get me. Bring no more than is required?"
He walked up to his room, and collected the remains of Jacques and Jean-Michelle d'Ambreville into a leather bag."No more than is required." Richard muttered as he tucked a dagger into his boot. "The prince still distrusts me." They could not doubt a cloak, to conceal the bag beneath? A bit of money, in case a palm must be crossed along the way.
The prince's guard looked relieved at Richard's less combative appearance. "Sirs. Let us be off. Madame, monsieur: I will be visiting an old acquaintance this evening; please have a late supper ready."
The prince, as princes do, arrived at his leisure. "Ah. The half-mage. I did not expect to see you again unbidden. You have something to say?" "My lord. I believe I have encountered two more of your rivals: Jacques and Jean-Michel."
The Marais arched an eyebrow. Richard continued, "They appeared to be possessed of all their living faculties, despite the state to which they had descended." Silence. Time passed, and Richard grew nervous. "There was a surcoat…"
"You were at the great hunt, were you not, half-mage?" "My lord?" The prince grew agitated. "Do I need to repeat myself?"
"My lord, I was. My party was vict…" The prince waved a hand to quiet him. "You remember, then, the stageshow beforehand, and my servant Luc de Luc?" "I… my lord, I believe…" "Half-mage, it was a farce. Luc, you see, was costumed as a clownish imitation of the prince before you. A farce because no one could seriously mistake the jester for the prince. Tell me, half-mage: Do I look like the fool?" Richard's mind raced. This had gone horribly wrong. "My lord…" "Do I look like the fool?!" The prince demanded, lurching forward to grab Loubeau's throat while his guards pinned his arms down. Richard responded directly, "No, my lord." "Then why does my servant insist on treating me like a fool?!" Richard protested, now in a panic, "My lord! I never…"
"Yes you did, half-mage. Yes you did." The Marais wiped his hand on a kerchief, droppng it to the floor afterwards. He straightened his robes with a sneer. "There was no Jean-Michel d'Ambreville, and no Jacques for years before the war. If you're a faithful servant, you're a fool. If you think to deceive me, then you lack a certain respect for a prince's time."
"You may still prove useful to our house one day, but certain lessons must be learnt. Do not think to invite me to a meeting again. You will know when you're wanted." Gerard turned to leave, pausing in the doorway. He spoke over his shoulder, "You two. Instruct our servant on the correct estimation of his betters."
The beating did not begin immediately, as the guards waited for the sounds of closing doors to dim. "You should really have been more prepared, graverobber." The blows, while heavy and constant, had a certain quality of boredom to them. "I wonder, did you ever think to offer a polite bribe to a hard-working man? Something to take the edge off?" "I think he must have, here's a purse." Richard slumped to his knees. He was propped up on the wall. "Guilty gods, he smells like bad cabbage. Should we kick him?" Richard fought to preserve his thoughts. One of his captors began to rear back a leg, but stopped suddenly when a ball of silvery light flashed into being overhead. The three of them stared at the new presence in the room. "What kind of a light is that?" "I don't know."
The Marais prince's voice rang out from the sphere: "That's enough. Leave him, and bring his bag to the maison." One of the guardsmen perplexedly withdrew Richard's purse from his own belt. "The heads, you fool," snapped the voice from the sphere. Startled, the guardsmen collected Richard's offering. "Do not make us wait." Richard's head snapped back with an electric shock. Two terrified guardsmen fled the room.
Richard awakened, bleeding and bruised, in the wee hours before dawn. Nearly overcome by pain, he stumbled back to his safehouse. The housekeepers seemed unmoved by his condition. "Where were you, then? Your acquaintance has been here for hours. She's up in the rooms." Richard should have been wary, but the ringing in his ears had entirely blocked out the housekeeper's words. He fumbled open the door, and discovered a halfling packing up his equipment. "Hans… how did you find… again," he mumbled, and collapsed on the floor.
Richard spent much of the following days trying to understand what had happened. He remembered a plan to frighten his assailants, and something strange about his spells. They seemed… he had no good description. Tilted, somehow? Richard recalled something dreamlike: his light spell leaping from his mind towards its natural goal, then spinning towards some other destination like a jeu de boules. His ventriloquism began to as well… then he faltered. He remembered a shock, something that reminded him of succumbing to the Hazart's mystic cube. There was much to think on.
(Carousing in Glantri, rolled a 4, failed save with 5)
(600gp spent, 450xp acquired. Burgeoning business relationship with Prince Gerard du Marais suffers an unfortunate setback. On the other hand, you are now a Burglar-Seer. Congratulations!)
Hop-Frog frets and spumes to himself, hiding behind one of the lodge's unfinished pillars. It has taken too long, the drunkard, kingly wizard Louis Lamont should be here by now, or has he collapsed in the distance under sudsy clouds?
In late May rains, he snugs the hood of his stars-and-moons ratty Zelig du Gare magician's cloak close around his fat dwarven head and hauls off toward Eastkeep, some cheese, biscuits and sausage in his pouches, his hand axes clanking against his knees. But wait — he senses — something — He senses Lamont is not in that direction. Ensorcelled, superstition'd, flummoxed, he believes he knows where the talented, way-crossed wizard is.
Walking back towards the lodge, trying to follow his subtle muse, the dwarf sees Martin talking animatedly to Marcel, Millipede, and… a third goblin? Drawing nearer, Hop-Frog sees that it is not a goblin, but a goblin head held aloft by le Noir. Stranger still, the unmoving head begins to bellow, in a loud but strangely tremulous voice:
GOBLINS OF THE CITY. I AM THE VOICE OF YOUR GOBLIN GOD.
Marcel and Millipede exchange unconvinced glances with Martin.
THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS OF THE FOREST!
Marcel holds his tobacco away, peering closer at the inanimate head.
I WILL VISIT YOU SOON. PREPARE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ME.
Martin lets the head drop to his side, peering around the pavilion grounds as Hop-Frog walks closer to investigate.
YOU WILL KNOW ME BY MY APPEARANCE. I WILL COME IN THE FORM OF A HUMBLE HUMAN.
Millipede sniffs the air and walks towards a shrub.
YOU MUST PREPARE FOR ME A BED, AND A POTTLE OF WINE. TWO POTTLES OF WINE. AND SOME FOOD. NO TURNIPS! YOUR GOD TIRES OF TURNIPS.
Millipede drops into a crouch.
DO NOT DOUBT MY… HOP-FROG? ERR! MY WRATHFUL POWER! URK!
Hop-Frog stops beside Martin, as Millipede leaps into the scrub. Leaning forward to get a better look at the fracas, Martin barks orders to his goblin retinue, "What is zis nonsense!? There is a fool bum-mage in ze bushes over here! Millipede, Marcel! Pull this scabby witch from the hedge, check his purse!" Directing a suspicious glare to red faced dwarfling at his side, Martin snarls with impatience "How does zis wretch know your name, messieur house dwarf?"
"Martin Black, my fellow sword, I beg you again do not overstep your bounds! This is none other than Louis Lamont, who sees shadows and specters as they pass him in fear, whose fingers sizzle with stupendous spells, who has engaged the tremulous lifeforce, as it rose within his chambers of torture, of the long-dead sorceror Zelig du Gare… and they… wrestled in their mystical battle… er, I think… not really… Er, we were in his laboratories at Quasqueton, anyway."
He brushed the sodden dirt from the mage's clothes, while Martin held him aloft like a damp, unconscious cat. "He isn't much, I know," the dwarf continued, "but he is a mage, and deserves some respect…"
A new stench overcame them. So foul! "Och, all the broken stone gods, we will need to wash him, too."
The goblin head, lolling on the ground, chipped in. "What a naughty mage!" it croaked. "Disgusting! For a man fully grown! But surely he feels better about himself, physically… now…" Lamont, held by his collar, could be seen to move his lips, eyes dazed and shining, and two of his fingers wagging in enforcing these magical sounds.
"Marcel, Millipede, strip him of his clothes. Wash them! Fold them in a pile. I will go draw a bath (yet we have no bath). Martin, warm food. Chop! Chop! Move!"
The goblins looked at Martin dubiously. Martin looked at the goblins dubiously. During the bath, Lamont recounted his journeys as best he could remember…
Two loud splashes from general direction of the nearby riverbanks are followed by bellows of rage from the soiled magic user and his presumptuous associate. Sauntering back from the direction of the Loir the Black Swordsman calls out mirthfully, "Enjoy your baths mes amies!"
"You're clean now!" the dwarf exclaimed, wringing riverwater out of his nifty van Dyke beard. "Good thing I put your valuables on the bankside, including your valuable scrollcase. Come, come. Some bed rest for you."
Lamont took a moment to toss his liquid breakfast over the dandelions before groaning into Malinbois.