Rogue Empire

Chapter 21: What Lies Beneath
A downwards detour.

The Thorns debrief with Magdeline Flintjaw regarding Rapture, the Falconers, and the vampires.

Amir K’Tar arrives to explain their alibi that they were attempting to lure Rapture in order to collect the reward offered by Grandmother Cooper, in case the old woman asks, emphasizing the importance that all parties keep their stories straight. Amir then speaks to Maggie privately regarding an option to proceed, before leaving The Rat’s Nest.

Maggie informs the group on the opportunity to contact a group of assassins who operate overseas and recruit them into assistance in dealing with the Thorns. The group is known as the Whispers and owe Amir K’Tar a favour. Unfortunately, Amir cannot risk sending any of his own men in the event that he is being watched by the Coopers.

The party discusses logistics, including maintaining Badger’s estate at 42 gold per week. Badger Cobblesprocket-De’Voir requests a week to get his affairs in order to ensure his home and wife are provided for while they are away. Scardock and Gregory (Banner) Smith find passage at the docks. Clark Wainwright gives rare flowers to Mishka Kadjet from their homeland and learns of Telnesthene from her. Quinn goes to find an interpreter and is pointed to the Duke’s palace. After some carousing, he meets Lady Celeste Montaigne who is acting as an interpreter for some of the dignitaries at the palace. Quinn learns that she speaks several languages including Telnesthene. Quinn manages to contract her for 50 gold per month plus expenses.

Greg speaks with Elissa Banner regarding her experiences overseas and she offers some practical advice about his journey.

Scardock goes to a discount brothel known as the Crusty Barnacle.

Badger uses his knowledge of blacksmithing and magical transmutation to craft an entire set of plate mail armour in a short period of time. He then sells it, depositing some of the money into the bank and leaving the rest with his wife, Melanie De’Voir. He spends some time with her and lets her know that he has some business overseas and will be away from the city for a while. She asks that he stay safe.

The party packs their armoury into a bag of holding, in order to pose as arms merchants while in Telnesthene. They outfit themselves for the journey. Scardock visits a temple to attend to an itch… The party then boards the Sahaguin’s Wake and meets the crew.

The group learns that they must work for their keep as per the arrangements made by Scardock, but they pay for a week of rest beforehand to finish recuperating from the battle with the vampires. Scardock makes a very good impression and is promoted to bosun in short order as their previous Bosun has taken ill. Badger earns some ridicule and Greg experiences sea sickness.

The ship spies a galley ripe for plunder in the distance and makes its way towards it, ready for piracy. The party realizes that Scardock has booked passage on a pirate vessel. The galley steers into an oncoming storm to attempt to lose the pursuers. Some time passes as the pirate ship slowly closes the distance. Just as the ships close, both are attacked by massive sea creatures.

The galley is attacked by a massive Megaladon, Maw, the Endless Hunger. The party’s ship is grappled by massive tentacles and broken in half by the kraken, Deep, the Malevolance. The Sahaguin’s Wake begins to sink, though the party manages to save some of their stowed gear before it is completely taken by the sea. The kraken swims away rapidly, causing a maelstrom in the water. The party is caught in the churning waters and finds themselves in the middle of two battling armies. An army of Merrow and an army of Sahaguin appear to be in the middle of a pitched battle beneath the waves.

Despite being underwater, and quickly running out of breath, the party manages to kill all who come near to them, and are eventually assisted by the arrival of a third faction. A small group of Merfolk arrive, placing special starfish on the necks of the party, allowing them to breath and speak underwater. Suddenly, the party finds themselves caught up in a strong current and are taken far away from the battle.

Many hours pass as the party is swept deeper, and deeper until they are enveloped in the cold dark of the ocean floor. They arrive at the temple city of Lyre in an underwater cave system. Illuminated by bioluminescence and heated by thermal vents. A massive glowing jelly fish hovers above the temple at the city’s heart.

The party is introduced to Limne, the seneschal of Lyre. She explains that following Procan’s death, a power vacuum occurred in the ocean with a number of powerful beings warring for the deity’s place in the pantheon. The three pretenders that remain, are Deep, Maw, and their lord, C’thume, the Outsider. Gregory is summoned to interact with C’thume and is touched by his noodley appendage. Greg learns of C’thume’s history and is provided with his blessing. They Thorns pledge to assist in C’thume’s cause if the Merfolk will help them get back to land after, then arm themselves in the armoury.

Limne tasks the Thorns with finding C’thume’s prophet, Kinosternon. The prophet left for the Red Waters, searching for a great treasure that could help the cause but has not been heard from for some time.

Chapter 22: Red Waters
The prophet and the treasure.

Their party discusses their predicament. The learn more about Lyre and the Merfolk. They tour the city. Badger Cobblesprocket-De’Voir copies a spell into his spell book, then encounters a heretic who implores Badger to take the treasure he finds in the Red Waters to Deep as a bribe to leave the people of Lyre alone. Badger politely declines, bet lets the heretic go his own way.

Badger tried to convince Lady Celeste Montaigne to assist him in teaching magic to the Merfolk, but she seems less than enthusiastic about the idea. When Badger presses for details, he learns that Imperial magic is a closely guarded secret of the guild and not to be shared outside of it as a general rule. Badger apologizes, as though he has been accepted into the guild, he has not yet arrived to train at the college.

The party sleeps, and then is awakened by Limne who leads them to their transportation. A giant manta ray carried the party to their destination. The Red Waters. The waters are thick with the coppery tang of blood. The party ties themselves to each other with rope to stay together in the haze. A faint clicking sound can be heard in the distance. When they sneak closer, they see a massive, wounded dragon turtle on top of an even larger half deteriorated, partially buried torso. The torso belongs to the dead god, Procan. The turtle is surrounded by heavily armoured crabs and explodes one of them wth a powerful blast from its steam breath. There are 20 of the giant armoured crabs that move in to attack the turtle. The party moves in to engage, fighting the crabs. They spend a great deal of effort and resources in order to save the turtle.

After the combat, it introduces itself as Kinosternon and sensing the connection to C’thume, the Outsider, gives Gregory (Banner) Smith the treasure he was sent to recover. Greg received a bag full of 1000, glowing astral diamonds. The party expends their remaining resources to heal Kinosternon, enough to travel with them as the group leaves the Red Water.

They arrive back at Lyre in time to see the assembled army of the Maw, the Endless Hunger besieging the city. With Kinosternon’s aid, they run the blockade and Greg rushes the treasure straight to C’thume. C’thume absorbs the astral diamonds, beginning to glow more intensely before releasing a massive shockwave of psychic energy that dominates the minds of the besieging army, turning them into loyal thralls of C’thume. Those few forces that managed to resist are swiftly overwhelmed by their former allies. The massive Maw flees the field.

Later, Greg experiences a vision of C’thume’s limited omniscience and sees the Maw get ambushed by Deep, the Malevolance. The great shark is killed and devoured. Only two pretenders remain.

Chapter 23: The Outsider
A new god ascends.

The cleanup of the Maw’s forces around Lyre is swift and coordinated. The newly acquired armies are sent out to conquer the known oceans and a combined force of Merfolk and Sahuagin leave the city under the command of Kinosternon.

Gregory (Banner) Smith approaches an increasingly powerful C’thume, the Outsider. Greg asks questions regarding the mental like and what will come next. C’thume answers with images and mental pictures indicating that it is waiting. Greg then speaks with Limne, Queen of the Oceans, and learns that Deep, the Malevolance has left its army behind and is on its way to Lyre at incredible speeds. Limne informs Greg that the Thorns may request their reward now and leave the oceans before the Kraken’s arrival, or stay and see the battle through.

Greg speaks with the Thorns to take their council, and they agree to stay and see it through.

The party prepares to defend Lyre. They see that a great deal of preparation is already beginning with the packaging of supplies, some of the tunnels leading to the city being collapsed, and one of the other tunnels being widened. Greg assists with collapsing a tunnel, and Badger Cobblesprocket-De’Voir uses his magical expertise to utilize a special stone statue and help summon earth elementals, per Limne’s request.

The party defends one tunnel entrance against a massive tentacle probing the city. It smashes through the buildings it can reach within the cavern complex. The group successfully damages and beats back the tentacle, but just barely.

The Deep squeezes its way through the largest tunnel in the way only an octopus can. The party evacuates Lyre with the Merfolk. At the last possible moment, C’thume teleports out of the caverns before Deep can reach him. The earth elementals collapse the remaining tunnels and agitate the volcanic vents beneath the city. A volcanic eruption occurs, killing the legendary kraken and destroying Lyre in a blast of molten fury.

The Thorns join the exodus for the next week to the city of Atlantia which has lain in ruins for decades. C’thume becomes more and more ethereal before ascending to godhood, disappearing from the material plane of existence.

Limne assumes the throne and becomes the Queen of the Oceans with C’thumes blessing. She directs the Merfolk to begin reconstruction on Atlantia and rewards the Thorns. The forward thinkers and industrious folk that they are, they request safe passage and calm seas for all of their future shipping interests, once they establish them. Limne promises to send a representative to Ferros to communicate with the Thorns as they require. Lady Celeste Montaigne has chronicled the war of the Pretenders and is given an open invitation to return to Atlantia to act as the official Imperial ambassador to the Merfolk.

Badger receives a vision from his patron and explores an area of Atlantia not yet under repair. It appears to be some kind of vault or repository and Badger manages to find a puzzle cube.

Kinosternon takes the Thorns to land. They camp on a beach in Telnesthene and Badger proves himself to be a competent survivalist, fashioning shelter, gathering food, and building a fire. The rest of the party cleans and oils their weapons and armour.

The party makes their way to Karindi, the port settlement that they were to arrive at on their ship. Badger meets a merchant named Salam Haddim, and sells all of the weapons they took with them in their bag of holding, which Salam is more than happy to purchase. They then buy clothes, tents, and other necessities. Salam hosts the party for supper. Badger makes a pitch to Salam to purchase his fireproof clothing. Salam Haddim is interested in the process if it could be fashioned into tents in order to protect from the wrath of certain types of Djinn.

A strange man approaches the party’s tent and introduces himself as Bertrand, the contact that Amir K’Tar said would find them.

Chapter 24: Camel Trouble
A journey through the desert.

The party shops for camels, rations, and water skins, spending several hundred gold with Salam Haddim, whom is more than happy to provide what is needed. They then pack up and set off with Bertrand, their guide to Emberhold.

Scardock stays behind to organize transport back to the Empire on a ship. He requests some gold to facilitate this. Quinn provides 100gp and Scardock makes his way towards the town brothel.

Badger Cobblesprocket-De’Voir, Bertrand, Lady Celeste Montaigne, Clark Wainwright, Gregory (Banner) Smith, and Quinn set off on their journey. The first day of travel goes on without incident. The party sets up camp and Bertrand hunts snakes and shows the party how to extract the venom glands behind the fangs, which he carefully harvests. Quinn takes a fang as a guitar pick. The night is uneventful other than a brief rain.

The next day, Greg wanders slightly off of the path and suddenly finds himself waist deep in quicksand, sinking fast. Bertrand swiftly strings his blow and kills the camel just before its head sinks below the muck. The party pulls Greg out with a rope. He narrowly saves his equipment thanks to his immense strength. That night, the party arrives at an oasis and Bertrand spends some time speaking with some desert nomads who have also set up camp, exchanging news. The party learns that the various princes of Telnesthene are gearing up for the war season. The night is uneventful.

On the third day, on a rocky outcropping, Badger loses control of his camel, and the camel slides down a slope, breaking its leg. The party manages to restrain the creature long enough to set the bone, pouring a healing potion onto it, healing the break. Despite this treatment, the camel is still limping and is unable to bear weight. With the loss of two camels, the group’s movement is slowed. A storm begins to pick up later in the evening and the party quickly makes camp at Bertrand’s direction as a large sandstorm makes its way across the horizon. They bring the remaining camels inside of the large tent just as the storm hits. Greg, Badger, and Quinn are kept awake by the howling wind and are exhausted in the morning.

The fourth day is uneventful. Bertrand kills and eagle, harvesting its long feathers for his arrows, and cooking the meat for consumption. That night, as Clarke is standing watch, he notices 5 humanoid figures shambling towards the camp. Clarke calls out to them, but receives no response and immediately goes to wake his companions. The party wakes as the figures arrive and they encounter the second undead encounter in their lives as five mummies attack. Quinn, Badger, and Greg are afflicted by the curses of the mummies before the creatures are destroyed. The Thorns loot the bodies and manage to get back to sleep.

The fifth day and night of travel are uneventful, though the travel is slow. Those affected by curses weaken further.

On the sixth day, the party encounters a ruined caravan with streaks of glass in the sand. Bertrand concludes that it is the result of a Dragon attack. It appears that anything of value has been taken. That night, they arrive at Emberhold.

Bertrand guides the party to the only temple in the city and find it is a dedicated temple to Boccob, who has died, though some of his divine influence still lingers in the world. Bertrand then goes to call upon the Pasha. The party donates 800 gold to have their curses removed, and their wounds healed. They are ritually washed and bled until their curses dissipate. Clarke peruses the library of scrolls but cannot decipher the language.

The party sleeps peacefully that night at the Inn. The next day, they are granted audience to meet Pasha Vakaj, the massive efreeti who rules over Emberhold. During the conversation, the party learns that Vakaj is the patron of their ally, Amir K’Tar. In exchange for contacting The Whispers, Vakaj requests payment in the form of a service. He offers the party a choice between retrieving an item from an old tomb, destroying a raiding camp, or killing the dragon that has been plaguing his lands. The party volunteers to deal with the tomb.

In preparation for their journey, the Thorns return to the temple of Baccob to learn more about the tomb they are preparing to raid. The head priest is horrified when he learns the party is going to be entering the tomb as it is the final resting place of their patron Boccob, and it should not be disturbed. The priest immediately leaves and goes to speak with the Pasha about this. He does not return.

Badger bribes an acolyte to get into the library and uses his comprehension of languages to learn that Boccob predicted his own death hundreds of years ago and that his followers constructed a tomb for him in preparation for his passing. All records of the construction were destroyed as part of the defence of the tomb.

Badger the petitions another meeting with the Pasha, this time in private with the purpose of being allowed to speak to his court wizard. He is told ahead of time to bring a gift in order to make such a request. Two days later he is brought to see the prince. Vakaj is bathing in a small pool of molten lava. Badger has a hard time due to the proximity of the heat, but sweats his way through the conversation. He attempts to offer his patented fireproof clothing to the Pasha for his followers. The Pasha is unimpressed by this offering as much of his power comes from fear as a means of control and the idea of his subjects being resistant to fire does not appease him. He suggests Badger instead offer never to manufacture or share knowledge of his invention as a gift instead. Badger attempts to change the subject by offering a small stone figurine as a gift. Vakaj suggests he could just kill Badger instead as a means to ensure his inventions are never produced. Badger suggests this would not be effective as copies of his schematics are at his lab in Ferros. Vakaj says this is not a problem as he could send word to Amir to collect and destroy these things. In desperation, Badger asks if the Pasha needs anyone killed, because Badger can do that for him. This seems to intrigue the prince and he leads Badger to an underground dungeon where the temple priest of Baccob is being held in a cage. Badger does not hesitate to burn the priest alive despite the pleas from the priest. As a reward for this service, the Pasha shows Badger his stone garden, adorned with the preserved charred bodies set up in poses like statues. He then dismisses Badger who bids a hasty retreat.

Badger does not mention his encounter to the group. The party rests for a week, not leaving the Inn. They then restock on adventuring gear and purchase some healing potions. Bertrand leads them to the temple.

On the third day of travel, Greg’s camel is bitten by a poisonous snake. Greg swiftly kills the snake and administers an anti-venom to his mount, saving it. The party camps outside the Tomb of Baccob. In the morning, their camp is covered in tracks and their camels are missing.

Chapter 25: The Tomb of Boccob
Tomb raiders

The party discusses the idea of keeping whatever treasure they find in the tomb for themselves, and perhaps overthrowing Pasha Vakaj. They attempt to recruit Bertrand into this plot, however he has no interest in politics and informs the party that every prince in Telnesthene is one sort of bastard or another. The Thorns then attempt to convince Bertrand to assist them in the Tomb, another prospect that he feels he has no business getting involved in. However, after some discussion, the party offers Bertrand a fifth of the treasure, and their assistance in hunting down Andronaax, the dune scourge. He agrees to assist the group in the tomb and the party breaks camp.

At the entrance to the pyramid, they see a large creature with the body of a lion, and feathered wings on its back. Quinn has heard tales of the legendary sphinx who guard the entrances to holy locations, refusing entry to those who cannot answer their riddles. Quinn and Badger Cobblesprocket-De’Voir approach to speak with the creature who asks if they have come to make “the pilgrimage” to which they say yes. She offers entry if they can complete her riddle. She offers a logic problem. After some thinking and some time, Quinn believes he has the correct answer, however the rest of the group is less than sure and waits some distance away while Quinn gives the response. The sphinx informs Quinn his answer is correct and Quinn offers a riddle of his own. The Sphinx offers several likely answers and then informs Quinn that she senses that others have entered the tomb already through some sort of gateway inside, rendering her watch superfluous. She takes off into flight and leaves the tomb. The party walks up to the door seeing a lever behind smokey glass. Gregory (Banner) Smith attempts to break the glass but breaks his hammer instead. The party muses attempting to use a crowbar to remove the bricks around the lever before Clark Wainwright realizes that this is the tomb of a god of magic. As an arcane trickster, he summons a mage hand to move the lever. The door opens.

The party enters into the first chamber where an ethereal form takes shape and instructs them to pray at the altar in front of them if they wish to pay pilgrimage. The party makes the appropriate gestures at the altar, as the form vanishes, then begins to delve into the dungeon against the warnings in the tomb. They avoid most of the traps, and set off others, before encountering a room full of several recently dead Githyanki and a suit of full plate adamantine armour with an adamantine longsword in the centre of the room, which is covered in the blood of the Gith. The party decides not to disturb the armour. They notice bloody footprints off in one direction and decide to follow it, finding an alchemist’s lab, and a group of Githyanki at the tail end of their plundering. A fight ensues, and two of the Gith manage to escape, though not before wounding some of the party members significantly.

Clark accidentally activates two flesh golems in another room, but quietly closes the door and informs the party to keep silent so as not to draw their attention. They avoid that room. They battle zombies and find a number of treasures, however it seems much of tomb has been looted recently. Attempting to manage their resources, versus the other rewards, they decide to clear as many of the rooms as they can to loot them before descending into the depths of the tomb.

At the base of the tomb is a massive set of double doors. The party debates for a while whether to press on or turn back, but decide to try their luck, opening the doors. Inside they find a large sarcophagus, the corpses of several Githyanki, and a lone Illithid Mind Flayer that immediately attacks the party. The fight is a close battle and Clarke nearly has his brains removed, but is saved at the last minute by Greg, who stabs through Clarke to hit the foe. The Illithid retreats to the astral plane.

Alone in the depths of the dungeon, the group pushes the lid off of the sarcophagus to discover a simple wooden staff inside of the tomb. They remove the staff and immediately the ground begins to shake, and bricks begin to fall from the ceiling. The Thorns rush out of the building as it sinks into the sand behind them.

Chapter 26: The Way Back

Heavily wounded and low on resources, the party plans their next move and decides to head to a nearby oasis to recover.

Badger Cobblesprocket-De’Voir attempts to identify the staff and determines that it may be the Staff of the First Magi, one of the most powerful magical artifacts in existence. The rest of the party spends some time attuning to the magical artifacts they found in the Tomb of Boccob. Quinn attempts to attune to the black horn found on the statue of Orcus but is unable to determine the magical properties of the horn. He attempts to blow the horn but finds that a bonding agent has been used to plug the horn.

During the night, a magical portal opens up outside of the camp of the Thorns. High Arcanist Narien Silverwind and a small entourage emerges and approaches the party to parley. The party learns that the Empire has been backing Pasha Vakaj, and promised to deliver thirty iron golems in exchange for acquiring the Staff of the First Magi. However, as the staff has been recovered by Imperials, the deal could be circumvented. The party agrees in exchange for a large sum of gold and patronage for Badger in the Arcanist’s guild. Narien agrees and the Thorns hand over the staff. The High Arcanist and her entourage disappear back through the portal and it closes behind them. Laden with several thousand gold, the party decides to return to Emberhold to report to the Pasha.


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