Monday, December 10, 2012, 11:57 AM
Torinth and the few remaining Dragonborn stayed behind to loot the dead; The Red Order would travel faster without them, and grabbing the Standard of Arkhosia was something that needed to be done as quickly as possible.
The Order cured Kawaii of her affliction and then had a rest to level up before setting out. A cursory attempt to teleport back to Vermillion failed, proving that the war (however the curse's original afflictor had defined it) was not yet over.
There were several locations that could contain clues pointing to the true location of the banner: a temple to the dead god Io, a courthouse and an institution of learning packed with books. Deciding universally to go for the latter, The Order headed off under cover of daylight to ascend to the higher levels of the vertically stratified city-ruin.
The once impressive staircase that made such travel easy had been destroyed in the siege, so it was a case of flying, teleporting and clambering to get higher at first. As Lenwe was climbing a rope, he was forced to grab onto the cliff face itself as some invisible hand parted the strands he was holding onto.
At the top, a disembodied voice offered the party promises of paltry power in excahnge for knowing why they had come. Knowing better than to trust the words of a devil, The Red Order shunned the fiend and the imp disappeared with its tail no doubt between its legs.
Slightly more fearsome diabolic opposition awaited ahead, as three large devils lurked on the other side of a bridge crossing the river.
Lenwe managed to pin a couple in place with arrows as Arthur ran forward with Kawaii under Ralvereon's supervision to tackle the ice devil that crossed the bridge. Two assassin devils sprang out of a nearby church to fling shadow nets over the party, only to have their efforts undone by Shibboleth's faith in Bahamut.
As the fight progressed, the supposedly immobilised devils began teleporting each other about, chasing Lenwe around the bridge, while Arthur was pushed into the river by another. Shibboleth spent a great deal of the fight forced to shout encouragment as he was the only one caught by the second wave of devil-nets. Yet! Despite all this, victory was The Red Order's, with nary a member bloodied throughout the whole kerfuffle.
They had arrived at Epic Level.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 10:37 AM
There wasn't time to rouse Kawaii - The Red Order would be missed at the party if they spent too long away. Ralvereon, Lenwe and Arthur snuck back to the event to spin theirwheels for a while, rady to alert Shibboleth as to when the moment was right to enter with their sending stones.
As the night progressed, guards entered and took Torinth away to discuss something urgent. That was when Arthur gave the word to Shibboleth to enter and throw the bodies of Tala and the devil into the middle of a punch bowl.
Torinth came racing back in to announce that Raskar had been slain, just in time to be accused of having the devil act as assassin by Shibboleth. Any accusation on the side of one party was countered by another from their opposite, and no firm succession of tribal leadership had been decided by the time a crashing came at the double doors.
Another guard ran in, bearing bad news. The tieflings were attacking! No time for infighting, so The Red Order and the Tiamatites formed a battle line:
The first through the door were a horde of ghouls and a few flaming tieflings to command them, and they crashed against the bulwark of Dragonborn at the door, Arthur in their midst holding off the majority of attackers. Things looked okay until more tieflings came rushing in from the side, and Shibboleth led more Dragonborn to head them off.
This meant that Lenwe was quite alone as ghouls came lumbering in from the opposite direction,quite surrounding the archer.
The final battle for Arkhosia was underway, with Ralvereon coordinating the defence of the gates around Arthur, and trying to keep Torinth from upsetting theings. Shibboleth flew back to turn the ghouls back into corpses with Bahamut's blessing, but that was all the opening the cowardly tieflings required to surround and gang upon him:
The cleric was taken down even as he enveloped the infidels in cleansing energies, but there was no time to immediately aid him. Arthur's magic transposed mobs of ghouls, tieflings and Dragonborn, leaving the enemies clustered and confused in a heap, ripe and ready for Ralvereon's inspired counterattack to cut them down before the warlord got Shibboleth back to his feet.
As the battle settled, there were very few Dragonborn left to celebrate the victory.
Sunday, November 25, 2012, 1:47 PM
So, a bunch of Dragonborn closed the door behind Lenwe and advanced menacingly upon him, at the command of the tiefling Tala.
Fig i: sacrificial chamber
The ranger dodged around the room for a while, buying time while he grabbed his sending stone
to contact the rest of The Red Order. Ignoring stealth this time, the rest of the team - Arthur, Ralvereon and Shibboleth, Kawaii still being unconscious on an altar - left the party and ran directly to the scene.
Shibboleth had trouble getting past the Dragonborn at the door, but the others teleported through to begin a swirling melee, attempting to reach Tala and prevent her from sacrificing Kawaii. The tiefling had a plethora of lightning-based spells, and joined the fight herself.
Shibboleth finally broke through into the chamber as Raskar came storming along, demanding to know what was happening. He shouted for the combat to cease, but the Dragonborn ignored him, and some even turned on their leader.
Confusion reigned, as Tala's Dragonborn attempted to protect their mistress from a ranger they couldn't quite pin down, and once Raskar got amongst them they were surrounded and chopped to pieces. Tala managed to blast herself over with her own magic, and got decapitated by her former lover.
Still, Tala had admitted to knowing where the Banner of Arkhosia was located, so Shibboleth prepared to cast a ritual to speak with her deceased spirit. Ralvereon ran to attend to Kawaii, discovering that she had been incapacitated by some venom that would take some time to work itself out of her system.
Raskar announced that he was going to leave them to it, to track down whatever other traitors may be within his tribe. Of course, that was not something The Order was prepared to allow, as he was an evil high priest of Tiamat and perfectly capable of rallying his followers to attack them. Also, if he wanted to know who else he couldn't trust, he could just wait for the ritual, and ask Tala how many others she had subverted.
At this, Raskar broke down, and actually physically shifted his form into that of Omar the kobold. She explained that she was a mighty sorcerer that had killed Raskar and subsumed his form; with The Order's aid she could secure them the aid of the entire tribe, but only if they let her go now, as the body would soon be discovered!
At one point the party may have trusted the little critter, but not after she revealed this deception. How long had she been lying to them? Why had she chosen to disrupt delicate negotiations? Why had she not helped earlier? As things started to become more violent, Omar changed again.
Her third form was much more diabolic, a corpulent horned being. The devil explained that it had been in the city since the fall of the empires, but was trapped along with everyone else, unable to leave the mists until the conflict was resolved. To that end, it was trying to finish the fight between the tielfings and Dragonborn.
The holes in its story were obvious to all, and given its evil nature, deceptive history and admission that there was no such person as Omar, The Red Order stabbed it to death. Its body would serve as culprit for Raskar's murder, and The Order could then claim responsibility for avenging his death!
Arthur attempted to use his magic ring to teleport back to Vermillion, but when he went nowhere he confirmed the truth of the devil's words regarding the imprisonment. Ending the war was the only way.
Tala's spirit admitted that there were no further traitors, and that the Banner was hidden in the catacombs of the central crypt of the city. Naturally.
Kawaii could recover under the supervision of the party, and soon it would be time to confront the tribe of Tiamat and hope that they accepted The Order as their saviours...
Thursday, November 15, 2012, 3:17 AM
The remaining Dragonborn didn't get very far, falling into a pit trap in his desperation to get away from The Red Order. Our heroes helped him - his name being Gavil - out and explained that they were from the Outside World with a message for his leader. They glossed over the fact that they allowed one of the tieflings to escape.
The Dragonborn had much a much nicer settlement than the kobolds, living in an old Arkhosian municipal building, with properly appointed guards, a library of ancient texts and citizens dressed in finery.
Their leader sat on a throne of skulls.
Raskar Moonscale, high priest of Tiamat (puttup!) greeted The Red Order warmly at the thought that they had killed five tieflings. That made the loss of Gavil's patrol worthwhile! He listened intently to the stories of The Order's conquests (killing a thunder lizard was a bug deal to these guys), but it was the tiefling slave sitting at the foot of his throne that perked up at the mention of the defeat of primordials.
Raskar admitted that he did not know where the standard of Arkhosia was, but after The Red Order helped him stage one final attack to wipe out the tieflings his tribe would help them locate it and then venture out into the wider world to restore Dragonborn dominance. His underlings seemed overjoyed at the thought, but this mission wasn't turning out at all like The Order had hoped it would.
Escorted to a private room to rest and clean up in preparation of the feast that evening, The Red Order considered what they should do. Guards kept them within the chamber for their own safety. Arthur used a sending to message the tiefling, since she seemed like an interesting contact. She - being called Tala - messaged back that she would meet with the swordmage and Kawaii following the feast to talk further.
The feast came, and amongst the steaming delicacies were kobold meats. Omar didn't react too well to this, and amongst the laughter of the Dragonborn she was escorted back to The Order's chamber while everyone else talked. There didn't really seem any way of getting around the wholesale slaughter of the tieflings, as the Tiamatites demanded blood.
Once the food was finished, a more informal party ensued. Lenwe snuck back to the room to check that Omar had made it back safely, and comforted her despite the language barrier. He left his sending stone with her so that she could call for help if needed.
Once the ranger returned, Arthur and Kawaii snuck off with teleporting boots to search for Tala's room in the palace. The tielfing waited with tea and negligee on hand, and while Arthur refused the drink Kawaii smelt nothing wrong with it and drank deeply, also answering positively the slave's amorous advances.
Tala told them that she knew where the standard was located, and could help The Red Order to find it if they poisoned Raskar for her (she nonchalantly mentioned while handing said poisons to Arthur and Kawaii looked again at her drink). Invitations to help avoid the massacre of her people were rebuffed; they were all devil-worshipping cannibals,even worse than the Dragonborn. Arthur promised to think it over before returning to the party, but Kawaii insisted on staying behind with the tiefling. She didn't have long before the drink knocked her out however, blearily noting that Tala was laying her on a table with in-built manacles.
Back at the party, Raskar's lieutenant, the blackguard Torinth, approached The Red Order with another prospect: kill Tala for him, and the loyalty of his knights would be secured. Nothing like trust between worshippers of the god of greed, eh?
Kawaii had been missing for some time, so Arthur got himself escorted back to the room to talk with Omar (sharing the same language comes in handy) and use the sending stone to contact Kawaii. With no response, he returned to the party to give Lenwe the nod to stealth on over to Tala's room and rescue the avenger.
Getting there was easy, but after entering the ranger smelled the Dragonborn shortly before they droppedtheir invisibility and attacked.
Monday, November 12, 2012, 5:54 AM
It didn't take long for The Red Order to arrange a meeting with the so-called Inheritor of Io, wyrmpriest of the Io'Vanthor kobolds. He was an aged little reptile, and quite set in his ways. He refused to believe talk of an outside world, and insisted that Io was alive and spoke to him, the god living in the city and selecting the kobolds as his chosen race.
When prompted for aid in locating the Dragonborn in the city, the wyrmpriest refused to involve his tribe in the war between the Tiamatites and the tieflings - Io's plan was for the kobolds to hide and grow in number, allowing the other factions to wipe each other out. The fact that those factions kept attacking the kobolds and stealing their food didn't seem to him like a flaw in his plan, although after badgering he did agree to consult with his god to see if Io wanted him to help the adventurers. He would do so in private, during which time The Order was to wander the settlement. There would be a feast in the evening, and they could stay the night, but come morning they would have to leave.
Suspicious of this crazy old man -
- Arthur had Omar sneak into the chamber to place some Scribed
parchment to record whatever was said between the priest and his master.
The Red Order toured the kobold shanty town, built up in the ruins of Dragonborn civilisation. Fungus farming was their means of sustenance, and they entertained themselves in squalor, the passing of The Order through their lives both slightly intimidating and inspiring. Omar didn't want any mention of her resurrection brought to light, as it wouldn't sit well with the superstitious kobolds.
The feast in the evening featured feasting and dancing (Kawaii joined in with the latter), and enough of a distraction for Lenwe to stealth his way to the wyrmpriest's quarters (past two guards) to retrieve the parchments.
The Inheritor announced that he would allow Omar to guide The Red Order through the feuding factions, but no further aid. Omar was pleased, as she alone of the kobolds thought that perhaps it was time to stand up to the Dragonborn and tieflings, against the wishes of the wyrmpriest.
The recordings showed nothing but that the Inheritor performed a ritual to consult a higher being, but no evidence of what was said by the outsider. Oh well.
So, Omar led The Red Order toward the Dragonborn lair, but en route heard the sounds of combat. It seemed that the two factions were fighting:
One Dragonborn was fighting over the bodies of his fallen allies against several tieflings. The Red Order came to his aid, in an effort to win his support, but in the frenzied melee he took a swipe at Ralvereon and fled into the shadows. Typical Tiamatite treachery.
One of the tieflings also escaped, getting too far to be followed, but The Red Order decided to continue their journey to the Dragonborn camp.