Session Seven: Under the Trazan’s Shadow
Part One: Nighttime Ambush
The party awoke, having just escaped Laketown, with only a few hours of light remaining in the day. They were still unsure where they would go next. Yantse wanted to travel to Eaglemure, a proposal that reminded the rest of the party about the teenagers that they had heard about the last time they were in the town. Of course, there was the issue of them being wanted, but with several rogues they figured they could disguise themselves well enough. Milo, strangely enough, didn’t want to return to Azad-Roahk for the time being; he needed time to think on what had happened (and he was pretty fed up with the Dwarven nobility). It was ultimately Tero who suggested a larger goal: travel across the country to Silaïri, the Ruined Metropolis, where he might be able to find more spellbooks to add to his collection.
Silaïri was once the capitol of the region, a vast and prosperous metropolis ruled by the wise elven aristocrats who promoted education and civilization across the land. All the greatest academies had been in Silaïri, where wizards of all sorts—including Tero’s uncle Malakrian—carried out arcane research. This had ended, of course, when the Trazan Magi rose into power and turned against Silaïri with spellcraft and fire, razing the city and destroying vast culture which had grown there. There was nothing left but ruins now, with squatters living in what stone structures survived. If there were spellbooks to be found anywhere, this would be the place. At Tero’s explanation, the party agreed that this was worth doing; should they decide to turn on the Trazan Magi, they would want Tero to be as powerful as possible, and Tero appreciated the group’s desire to assist him. Perhaps these brigands and outlaws could become his friends after all.
On the way to Silaïri, the group decided to stop in Eaglemure so that Yantse could take care of his… business, while the others would free the imprisoned and rebellious teenagers. However, they had only traveled a few hours on the road before they once again made camp, attempting to reset their internal clocks after sleeping all day.
This night turned out to be more eventful than they might have expected, thanks to the keen eyes of Oldrian, who was on watch. The figures he spotted were a long ways off in the dark, lit by their own glowing rod as they searched, slowly and carefully, along the roadside. Scouting by his owl revealed that they were three travelers (a young human woman, an older human man, and a keen-eyed elven crone) in adventuring clothing similar to that worn by many of their own party members. Yet when he doused the fire and awoke the party, Chava snuck off and overheard them bickering about whether or not to use magic to fuel their search. It seemed they had not escaped from Laketown much after all.
Oldrian had also spotted, hiding up in a tree, the same black cat they had been seeing. The appearance of this cat had also set off Milo’s “cat-sense” and woken him… (I kid you not, he rolled a Spot check to see the cat while he was asleep, since he always seems to spot it, and rolled a critical.) When Oldrian pointed the cat out to Carter, the sorcerer immediately approached it… but it disappeared into the darkness.
The party debated what was to do next, and they decided that if they stayed quiet, the three searching magi would probably pass them by and not notice. Yet even so, Carter, Yantse, and Chava wanted to stay awake with Oldrian on watch. The searching magi grew close. That was when one of them spotted the group across the road, and the man in the group (named Jhohir) stepped across to investigate.
In attempting to keep her crossbow trained on him while keeping to her perch in the tree, Chava slipped and tumbled out—directly onto Jhohir. In his surprise, he reacted two ways: first to dodge aside, evading the young falling woman, and second to lash out with a transmutation spell on whatever it was that had just attempted to strike him. The result was the collapse of Chava’s equipment, as it all tumbled off of what was now nothing more than a firefly.
He took the moment to bottle up the firefly before the wrath of the party was on him. A barrage of arrows knocked the bottled Chava from his hand. Yet without a sense of his attackers, Jhohir retaliated with overwhelming force. The fireball which exploded in the center of camp scorched everyone, compounding between Carter and Amora and sending them both away as their life-protecting contingency enchantments took effect.
In the calm following the explosion, it was the black cat which dropped down from the trees and landed on the sorcerer’s back. By now, of course, the other sorcerers were aware of the skirmish and racing to join, but before they could arrive the cat bit Jhohir’s shoulder… and they both disappeared. It took a moment for the two women to locate their companion, who was now down the road being puppeted by the cat. Crying out that their target was getting away, they both raced away from the battleground. The party recuperated and quickly agreed that they needed to get out of here. Despite it being the middle of the night, they packed their things and set off once again towards Eaglemure.
Part Two: Eaglemure
The party’s flight to Eaglemure was fueled more greatly by need now than it had been. With two party members gone and a third trapped in the form of a firefly, they needed to find a church where they could have the enchantment upon Chava broken. Fortunately for them, Carter and Amora reappeared just outside of Eaglemure, and upon discovering that Chava had been cursed by a Baleful Polymorph, produced a scroll of Break Enchantment which Tero excitedly took and copied into his spellbook. Then, carefully casting off of the scroll, the young necromancer restored Chava to her proper human—and now naked—form. The group regeared their companion before moving into Eaglemure and establishing a place for themselves. Yantse set off to take care of his own, personal business (with the man whose house they had broken into last time they were here), while the other rogues disguised Tero, Milo, and Oldrian. Carter also took this moment to produce a ring he had acquired from Tero’s catacombs, one which conferred invisibility upon its wearer. This was passed on to Milo for the time being.
In town, they learned that the teenagers they had come to set free were already released… but that they had been tortured, and many had been killed. One in particular was the mayor’s son, who hadn’t spoken since his release. Humbled by the aftermath of the Magi’s brutality, the group decided to go see if they could learn anything from the mayor’s son.
The mayoral manor was easy to find amidst the run-down aspect of the town, though it was clear that the mayor was only marginally better off than anyone else. When they knocked, a haggard old housekeeper answered, who, after taking stock of the adventuring party, allowed them to enter. Once inside, she revealed herself to be Mayor Troiani, a woman in her late 30s who looked markedly older than she should have. It was late, and she did not want to talk about her son just yet, but she allowed them to stay the night. They could be safe here from Trazan intervention, and in the morning they would talk.
That night, while Troiani worked and the party slept, an invisible (and armorless) Milo snuck around to see what he could learn, accompanied by the naturally-stealthy Chava. The two turned up little new information beyond a lot of documents which indicated Troiani’s role in opposing the Trazan’s wishes through bureaucratic stalling. They also went out into town to check on the prison, this time accompanied by Carter, but found only a small chamber with restraints and an excess of spell residue: scorch marks and arcane energies that lingered from an overwhelming amount of localized magic. To the surprise of no one, the Trazan Magi had been torturing these teenagers with excessive magic.
The following day, the group gathered to speak with Troiani. She told them about how horrible the Trazan Magi were, and how their treatment of the town’s teenagers—teenagers whose rebellion had been in words only—had completely crushed the hope of the town. The magi had indiscriminately burned down the upper floors of one of the inns, and the brutality of their retaliation had demoralized even the most optimistic of townsfolk. Her son had been released five days prior, but had not been able to speak since. Nevertheless, she permitted the group to see him.
As expected, he was quiet, his gaze slightly distorted as though a part of his mind had been taken away during his time in prison. Carter produced a potion of Lesser Restoration for him to hopefully cure his muteness, and fortuitously it encouraged him to finally speak. The party’s questions were gentle, for the most part, but also ceaseless. What had happened to him? Why did they revolt? Were there rebellions in other parts of the kingdom?
He answered sparingly and with halting speech, the toll of the Trazan’s magical and physical torment still visible as he suffered through the guilt of having led the small band of rebellious teenagers that had wanted to see the Trazan’s presence removed. They had been unprepared for the retribution, and the fate of the teenagers of the entire town rested on their shoulders. Trazan magicks had toyed with his flesh and flayed his mind, and even the mention of opposing them drew fear and anxiety—for what if it was traced back to him? There could be no retaliation against the magi here, not in Eaglemure. Not when their vengeance might find him again.
There was no word of any rebellions in other towns, and upon learning that Tero had been from Eaglemure (the burnt-out farmhouse at the edge of town which Amora had visited back at the start of the campaign had once belonged to his family), the party became nervous that the Trazan Magi had ulterior motives for going after the teenagers of Eaglemure. Fortunately the rogues’ disguises had worked so far at keeping notice away from Tero, but they did not want to linger. Finally purchasing horses (Milo had to get two, since his armor was so heavy), the group thanked Mayor Troiani and offered their assistance should she require it in the future. With that, they were off to the north, where they hoped they could find something to stem the horror of the Trazan’s rule.
Part Three: The Road to Silaïri
A few days north of Eaglemure, the party came across the equally-poor town of Selesen. Here they stayed the night, asking around to see if there was anything new they could learn. Chava took to a curious figure in purple robes, who she tracked to a bar across town. There the figure seemed to be meeting up with several other hooded figures—and she immediately feared a cult in Selesen’s undercity. Several drinks later, she learned that they were a cult of something called “BMR,” which involved a great many sparkles and lots of singing. She may or may not have been inducted, but honestly she can’t quite remember.
Milo and the others, meanwhile, learned that the Trazan’s taxation was hitting Selesen as hard as it was Eaglemure, though no rebellion was growing here. They had heard news of Eaglemure’s plight, and so people were a bit more cautious. They also shared a cultural tidbit: in the southern town of Golgaria, no one went out after dark, and Stensia had been suffering from recent bandit troubles. They learned nothing of Silaïri, however.
While traveling through Selesen, Carter took the chance to explain what the deal was with the black cat they kept seeing, which the three sorcerers they had encountered had been tracking. It was not the horrible omen of the Trazan that the party had expected; rather, the cat was the familiar of Carter’s mentor. If he could capture it, it would be proof that he had completed his training and could return home. This seemed like an odd criteria, but Carter pointed out that when the cat had bitten Jhohir earlier, it had stopped time and Dominated his mind—this was the familiar of a very powerful wizard, and so trapping it was no easy feat. But it was also a proxy of his mentor, watching in the background in case he ever was in dire need.
After restocking and recovering the party, they continued north to the ruined metropolis. It took them again several days to reach it, and when they did they found it more wondrous and ghostly as they had imagined.
Stone ruins, stretching as far as the eye could see, marked the remains of a once-great city. It was Chava who noticed, a ways off, that someone had built a shelter of some kind over the stone remains of the old city. Unsure exactly what their next step was, now that they had arrived, the party entered the bounds of the city…
…and were promptly set upon by elven (and a few human) bandits. Weapons and armor were drawn, and the fight immediately ensued. There was a bandit leader who stood atop a ruined ledge, flanked by archers, and after the appearance of a huge swath of spikes from the ground in the center of the party (which somehow managed to avoid hitting anyone), he descended to the fight himself. Milo and Amora were sweeping up foes without too much trouble, and when Akorn nabbed Milo’s magic ring and slipped it on, making himself invisible, he found his assassin skills finally paying off. Chava mounted a pile of rubble and set to picking off archers where she could (while they returned fire), while Carter and Yantse worked alongside Oldrian and Tero to protect the group’s flank. Tero’s magic didn’t become apparent until the end of the battle, when it became clear that he had been possessing one of the bandits to turn the bandit against the others. Just when the fight was over, before anyone could interrogate the remaining bandit (not realizing it was possessed by Tero), the elf stabbed itself through the neck and sent Tero’s soul back into his own body.
The party had little trouble dispatching the bandits (who fled once only a few archers remained). This was in no small part also due to the arrival of a rather unexpected figure: the immense, 6’3″ frame of a human barbarian, his enormous axe intimidating even on its own. The barbarian had arrived and set into the bandit leader, cleaving through the elven warrior’s blades as he cleaved through the bandit himself. He introduced himself on friendly terms, a barbarian from the north by the name of Hall. He had come from Bloomingburg to find Yantse, who had been getting into trouble and whom he had come to protect. With one more member in the party, the group took stock of their stone surroundings and began brainstorming their next move.