((Notes from 04/30/11 game))
The party returned to the Monastery in the early morning hours of day four after their defeating and capturing the were-leopard Haidir. After the mercenary leader was secured in the catacombs, Almah decided that his gear would be best be used by the group until his fate was decided. She also mentioned (but the GM forgot) a reward of 500 GP for dealing with Haidir and another 500 gold once the Shrine was fully cleared. Doctor Zorastan also gave Sukin two potions of Fox’s Cunning in gratitude for bringing back a sample of the Breath of Nethys which allowed the elderly alchemist to advance his knowledge (lvl 4). Surkin also discovered that the walls of the shrine were inscribed with mystical writings dealing with destruction and creation magics. (The Shrine acts as a spellbook that can be copied from containing all PH 1st-3rd lvl evocation and transmutation spells.)
After briefing their employer and dividing the loot, of note Kharis took possession of En-Nebi, Haidir’s shocking Katara, the party rested. It had been decided, considering events that had occurred the day before, to infiltrate the Battlemarket in an attempt to rescue the remaining Lions of Senra. During this break, one of the mercenaries on lookout spotted Gnolls in Kelmarane setting up wooden platforms on the upper level of the Battlemarket. Also there was a large group of gnolls searching through all of the Kelmarane buildings.
Around noon, after resting (welcome to lvl 41), Surkin decided to take his lunch in the open air shade of the Monastery courtyard. He heard an avian scream of rage overhead. The mother Grier had returned and was enraged by the discovery of her nest having been plundered, her eggs missing. Surkin was the unfortunate target of her wraith, screaming down to nearly bite the gnome illusionist in half. Fortunately, the diminutive mage was able to use his illusionary magic to create a phantom foe to distract the berserk bird long enough for help to arrive.
Alenor and Kharis quickly showed up, the druid shapeshifter changing into an earth elemental to travel through the ground and the Sohei boosting his speed with his ki. Aarak was nearby as well and between the three of them dispatched the bird quickly. Alenor decided to butcher it to examine its structure to increase his knowledge of animal forms. Shortly afterward, the lookout watched the gnolls searching the town find someone and drag him back to the Battlemarket.
That afternoon, fortified by Endure Elements magics against the intense heat of midday, the group set out for Kelmarane, disguised as merchants with a borrowed cart pulled by a draft oxen. On their way, the party saw catapults being set up on the newly made platforms and that their ammunition look like some sort of large wicker balls, perhaps pyrotechnic in design.
The adventurers cunningly used the butchered body of the vulture to distract the Dire Boar whose lair was right next to the street they would have to travel through town. While the beast was feasting, Surkin cast detect magic and then used another spell to vanish, bravely going into the boar’s domain to recover some magical items, a cloak, a urine soaked scrollcase, a wand, and a potion. Fortunately, “Old Bonegrinder” as the dire beast was known, was two distracted by the vulure’s body to notice the intrusion into his domain.
The party eventually reached the guardpost outside the Battlemarket and seemed to bluff their way in without any problems. While on alert, the gnolls seemed eager to for new merchants to show up. The group then entered and was greeted by a scrawny goblin dressed as a jester, who “eagerly” led them into the central area to be announced. There above the central circular stage, dangling by his wrists from a chain leading up to the roof, was Felipid. The hapless bard of the Lions of Senrae was being tortured by lowering him down to the snapping jaws of three hyenas then jerked back up before they could get more than a few painful bites in. Up above, sitting on three thrones, were Kardswann and two gnolls, shouting questions down at the prisoner.
After the party was announced, Kardswann halted the interrogation commanding Undrella to tend to the bard’s injuries. The slave witch flew out to Felepid and pulled him over to the second level, both of them disappearing into one shops. Surkin introduced the group with a flourish complete with a gonging sound, which was actually the Chime of Opening employed by Kharis to open a door that led to the cooridor where prisoners were supposedly kept. The gnome illusionist kept up the deception that he was a merchant and entertainer with his assistants, guards, and slavegirl. This caught tho Jani’s interest and he demanded entertainment. While Mia danced provocatively with Surkin backing her up with colorful illusions (to quote Megamind “Presentation!”) the rest of the group used this distraction to move about.
A’b’da and Zaeda shifted their positions in between the two entertainers and the nearby tavern, the three bugbears and ogre getting more and more riled and “boisterous” as the dance went on. Of note, their was a well dressed and equipped silver furred gnoll sitting at one of the tables whom seemed to know Mia whom was later learned to be called Ragnar. Meanwhile Alenor moved the ox cart out of the way and then prowled around the shops, noticing that there were only 3 of the twelve(?) stores that were in use, the remaining filled with junk and miscellaneous supplies.
Aarak and Kharis meanwhile used the wagon as cover, followed by the distraction of the dance, to move into the corridor to try to find any prisoners. They only heard noise behind one door which belonged to the room Haleen was confined in. Aarak managed after a lot of work, to jimmy open the lock with a dagger. They found the sworddancer in good health but with no equipment and an enchanted slave collar around her neck, similar to the one on Undrella. This would warn Kardswann if Haleen moved far from her room. Kharis decided that they could at least arm her, sneaking back to the wagon and getting the masterwork scimitar the group had found in earlier adventures.
By this time, the ogre Harvouk the Strangler had moved up to the stage, staring at Mia with near uncontrollable lust, seeming unperturbed by Zaeda, Alenor, and A’b’da blocking his path. Kardswann, perhaps seeing this and being amused by the possibility of more violent and depraved entertainment, commanded Surkin and Mia to stop and instead for Harvouk and A’b’da to fight, the winner “getting” Mia as a prize. Zaeda, whom was currently in negotiations with Almah over the slavegirl, objected to Mia being “watched over” by the bugbears while the fight occurred. Ragnar offered to watch instead, which led to a brief interchange between him and Kardswann. Apparently the two knew each other, Ragnar expressing the opinion of the dismal state of his tribe under the Janni’s leadership.
Zaeda, perhaps in misunderstanding, objected to this new arrangement (despite Ragnar’s attempts to magically influence her), escorting Mia to the opposite side of the platform. Kardswann lost his patience at this point, commanding his minions and “honored guests” to kill the adventurers, with a reward of 500 gold for each body. A battle started immediately, with Kardswann and Ragnar mostly watching making various commentaries while everyone else fought for their lives.
During the battle Surkin used his illusions of umbrellas, bunnies, and naked dancing girls to impede ranged fire from the balconies, even fooling two gnolls to fall to their deaths after they foolishly tried to grab said illusionary bare flesh. He locked down with a hypnotic pattern a particularly skilled gnoll archer whose feet was able to stick to the walls by some means. Surkin also used the shadow and color spray spells to disable the hyenas when they were set loose on the party. Nearby, Mia used her Euphoric Cloud spell twice to keep the bugbears and other tavern goers out of the battle and healed when necessary. She kept A’b’da alive after the barbarian kept getting hit by arrows and then almost burned to death by fire bombs (with a living pugwampi inside) dropped on the group by one of the gnoll sub-chieftain’s forty feet above.
Meanwhile, Kharis, Aarak, and Haleen wiped out the gnolls in the guardpost at the end of the prison corridor. Kharis and Haleen then moved up to the second level to try to rescue Felipid. While doing so Kharis used the Chime of opening to free Undrella of her collar. The elven witch had returned to the air at Kardswann’s command, casting a web spell on the party fighting the orge wrestler and hyenas. The release of the collar apparently made the dark skinned slavegirl to change her allegiance somewhat, instead of using her Chill Touch spell through a spectral hand, she cast cure spells to heal the A’b’da’s mighty thews, and Aarak as well.
Speaking of the dwarf barbarian-scout, Aarak, after dealing with the guard post moved out to the central area (forgot that door was locked, GM retcon: he broke it down with a lucky roll) and challenged Kardswann to combat. The Janni eagerly accepted, enlarging himself and flying down to strike the brave dwarf with his Bardiche with a tremendous overhand chop. Aarak wisely stepped back into the corridor and drank a healing postion, forcing Kardswann to move down in normal melee range. The dwarf then took a nearly mortal strike, staggering him.
On the other side of the arena, A’b’da and Zaeda fought and killed Harvok the strangler, followed by a single bugbear that wandered out of Mia’s Euphoric Cloud. They weathered the pugwampi firebombs and web spell, Zaeda armor and shield proving quite effective against the arrows fired from above. They and Mia moved around the arena’s stage to go help Aarak. Alenor used ability to shift into elementals to innovatively deal with these developments, first changing into a water elemental to douse A’b’da when his clothes caught fire, and then as a fire elemental to burn a path out of the webs, and finally as an air elemental to fly up and to try and push off the gnoll throwing the firebombs. He wasn’t initially successful but stopped him from tossing a forth bomb.
Before his friends could possibly save him from a final blow from Kardswann, Aarak felt the spirit of Vadishal, Templar of the Five Winds, servant of Nephysti well up within him. With a voice tinged with a spirit not his own the dwarf started to admonish the Janni. He could not believe how low his brother in arms had fallen, how he could let such a fell influence corrupt him so. Aarak’s words were not enough, it took also Surkin, Zaeda, A’b’da and then finally Ragnar to break through to Kardswann, who gasped out pleading to be rendered unconscious so that the evil beneath the Church of Abadar could be destroyed thus freeing him.
Upon hearing this Undrella begged the party to save her lover, realizing his change of manner was not his fault. Meanwhile Ragnar finally “convinced” Mia to come over to him, his goal apparently throughout this entire fight, casting a heroism spell on her and giving her a small flask of Golden Pesh, a valuable and perhaps life saving resource. Upstairs, the surviving gnolls moved to engage Kharis and Haleen and enemy reinforcements were heard coming from outside. Though Kardswann seemed neutralized, not fighting, and many of the enemies dead or dying, the fight was far from over.