Nehwon

Violence for Votishal, second session

Night of the Mouse (19th), Lovers’ Moon, Year of the Burning Mountain

Midnight in the chapel of Votishal

The Eagle Has Landed

Aranduil of Waylorn circled disconsolately in eagle form through the smoggy skies of Lankhmar. He spied his associates Yucta Axotylata and Ockasiola the Zebran creeping towards the gaudy Temple of Votishal in the dusk. He observed them climb in through the upper window. Presently two dark clad figures emerged from the roof — but they weren’t his friends! They jumped onto neighbouring roofs and headed towards the docks. Aranduil landed on the roof to investigate.

Killer ghost

Aranduil, Yucta and Ockasiola were reunited upstairs in the temple. They found a dead priest with a note about a bronze skeleton somewhere in the sewers. They explored downstairs. They found a chapel tended by an angry ghost with a necklace of severed toes and a flaming sword. Yucta and Ockasiola aimed some blows at the thing but their weapons passed straight through. Aranduil managed to grab a vial of oil from the altar but got blasted by a black weakening miasma from the ghost which robbed him of his voice.

Yucta and Aranduil recognised the oil as one which might have special properties to harm ghosts. They coated their weapons and charged back to confront the ghost. This time, it seemed to work; after a few heavy blows the ghost vanished, leaving its gruesome necklace behind. The chapel was dominated by a huge spine topped with a bejeweled skull. Ockasiola was tempted to destroy it, but when purple beams lanced out of its eyes, Yucta dragged him out of the room

Downstairs were more corpses. Each had burns and sword wounds and a missing big toe. It seemed the killer was the ghost. One of the dead priests had a pair of bronze skeletal feet under his bed, which Yucta picked up. Aranduil calmed and fed the grey jaguar (called Otaz) and they pondered the well outside.

The sewers, again

Climbing down the rope from the well, they arrived at a pool chamber. Stairs led into the catacombs Ockasiola had explored earlier. Delving into the tunnels eventually led them to the sewers.

The rat bargain

A swarm of rats surrounded them. A giant rat walking on two legs shot crossbow bolt with a message ‘Bring us the toes’. A life-size rat-woman grew in front of them. She offered shrinking and growing potions in exchange for the toes of the recently murdered. Yucta declined the offer.

Crypt of the ghost

Near the rat embassy was a secret passage to a mass grave pit surrounded by narrow walkways. In the centre of the pit, accessible by equally small bridges was an open coffin. The ghost appeared, with its flaming sword. Ockasiola and Aranduil approached it from either side. Yucta tried, but the bridge at his feet fell apart, forcing him to jump back. With their specially oiled weapons, Ockasiola and Aranduil smashed the ghost, causing it to billow like smoke into the bronzed skeleton in the coffin. Yucta touched the skeleton feet to the rest and they fused together, trapping the spirit in its body. The killer had been put to rest.

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Violence for Votishal, first session

Day of the Mouse (19th), Lovers’ Moon, Year of the Burning Mountain

Plea from the Silent Priests

Time passed in Lankhmar. Yucta bought a small but well-appointed house on Silver Street. Kee-Ree Nigh Ran-ax departed, still hunting his demons. Blundar Oddly sought to banish his own demons in the Tenderloin district, night after night. One of these evenings (the Butterfly) Yucta was approached in the Plaza of Dark Delights by a silent, gagged priest of Votishal. The priest handed Yucta a note, requesting his presence at midday at the temple.

Sun zenith at the Temple of Votishal

Ockasiola and Yucta went to the temple at midday as requested. The temple was far up in the most excellent part of the Street of the Gods, indeed almost at the top. A restless crowd had gathered because the temple had been closed for days now. When the door opened at noon, Yucta and Ockasiola spotted a gang of toughs fixing to cause trouble. Yucta killed one and Ockasiola punched two more, sending them sprawling. The last one admitted they had been sent by Basharat, the local religious extortionist (or ‘provider of earthly insurance against divine calamities’ as he would put it).

The high priest of Votishal beckoned to the two. He removed his gag, turned over a sand-timer, and spoke quickly. The former high priest had been murdered by Basharat, and five more priests had been mysteriously murdered; one per night for five nights. The Votishites needed Yucta and Ockasiola to break in to the temple and find the murderer. Why break in? asked Yucta. Because the Votishites were a paranoid bunch

The hours till dusk

Ockasiola explored the sewers beneath the temple. He found a catacomb, a corpse and a space beneath the temple, but no way up. In the house on Silver Street, Yucta brewed a ‘spider oil’ which would allow people to climb vertical surfaces.

Nightfall on the Street of the Gods

As dusk fell on Lankhmar, Yucta and Ockasiola approached the temple. They found a side garden, but noticed before entering that it contained a hungry Grey Kleshite Jaguar. They climbed the wall to a second-storey window using Yucta’s spider oil.

They found themselves in a dormitory. Exploring the upper level they disturbed some bottles, which had been set as an alert by two Guild (?) thieves. There was a stand-off, but Yucta persuaded the thieves to depart without bloodshed. Later he wondered how they could be Guild-affiliated if one was a woman.

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High Priest of the Ape Cult

Day of the Hare (1st) Black Witches’ Moon, Year of the Titan

The secret room

Exploring the temple in search of the High Priest, the adventurers discovered his secret inner sanctum and a trapped chest filled with temple silver. But no Sog-Sodhi.

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A Conflagration of Adepts

While inside the priests room they heard shouts and noises. Following their ears they returned to the dining room where the Adepts of the Yellow Mountain had almost killed Ockasiola. More adepts were there, but Yucta dealt with them with Fire Powder. Flaming priests fell hither and yon.

Sog-Sodhi

The adventurers returned to the main temple. Ockasiola and the others pulled the huge jade statue of the Ape God to the ground with a crash. Behind was a secret door, a corridor and another secret room — with Sog-Sodhi and his enormous bodyguards, turbaned and armed with double-handed scimitars! Sog-Sodhi cast a wracking spell on Ockasiola, who was first through the door. But the adventurers were undeterred; they charged the high priest and his brutes and overwhelmed them after a sharp battle. The ape-cult had been defeated.

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Adepts of the Ape Cult

Day of the Hare (1st), Black Witches’ Moon, Year of the Titan

The Temple Steps

After dealing with the guards outside, they swaggered up the temple steps and flung open the doors. Greenish fumes wafted out from huge braziers within, where could be seen the indistinct forms of robed priests. Ockasiola loosed a few arrows and the figures scattered. Yucta sniffed the air and recognised the narcotic smell of a potent hallucinogen. He nevertheless charged inside. Immediately he felt light-headed and strange. Odd shadows loomed up at him in the murk. Kee-Ree helped him back to the fresh air.

Let’s split up!

Ockasiola set off at a jog around the south side of the temple. After making sure Yucta was conscious, Blundar followed him. Aranduil and Dorf headed back to the guardroom on the north side. When Yucta recovered from the poison only Kee-Ree was visible; they ran after Dorf and Aranduil.

North: wild baboons

Entering the northern rear guardroom, Aranduil heard a ruckus through one of the archways. He and Dorf piled up furniture against the door to prevent enemy entrance. They located a concealed door nearby and were immediately attacked by a mob of crazed apes in the corridor beyond! An ape bit Dorf in the groin and he fell back.

South: Adepts of the Yellow Mountain

Ockasiola strode into the temple dining room. The far door opened and eight yellow-robed Adepts of the Yellow Mountain entered. They immediately charged the Zebran warrior, who jumped up on the long dining table. Despite his broadsword, the adepts soon surrounded and grappled Ockasiola. They were disturbingly strong. One broke his finger and started to strangle him. He was close to death when Blundar arrived in the doorway with his arquebus ready. One adept fell writhing, but the others mobbed Blundar just as they had Ockasiola.

Reinforcements

At last Yucta and Kee-Ree arrived at the guardrooms. Kee-Ree danced north to help Aranduil, slicing the rabid apes left and right. Yucta charged to help Blundar and Ockasiola. He almost suffered the same fate as them; several surrounded him and grabbed him with their Fists of the Ape. But Yucta was almost as strong as them, and he broke free of their grasp. He sent some to their doom with his mace, and then Blundar escaped and rejoined the fight. They were wounded and shaken but victorious.

The baboons and the Adepts of the Yellow Mountain lay dead. But there was the sound of more of them to the north, behind the blocked door. And where was the High Priest, Sog-Sodhi?

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Guardians of the Ape Cult

Day of the Hare (1st), Black Witches’ Moon, Year of the Titan

Prisoners of the Ape Cult

One of the prisoners of the Ape Cult was braver than the others. He was a sailor named Dorf who had been shanghaied by the cultists. Ockasiola welcomed him to the fight against the Ape Cult, and urged the other prisoners to pay their respects to Storm Bull.

Aranduil led the other prisoners through the sewers to the entrance, where he released them.

A merciful kindness

The savage ape of the cultists had been driven mad by cruelty. Aranduil used his powers to put it to sleep, and then he ended its sad life.

After some further investigation they found Dorf’s confiscated gear. A cultist came down the stairs to investigate, but Blundar shot and killed him. The group climbed the stairs.

Guards of the Upper Level

Late afternoon sunshine streamed through high windows. They found themselves near twin guard rooms, where off-duty guards gambled. The adventurers attacked them, causing them to flee outside. Ockasiola pursued them into a walled compound around the hidden temple. More guards from the gate ran to intercept — this time armed and armoured. Ockasiola fought them, and his friends caught up to help. Aranduil meanwhile (somewhat disgusted by the violence), circled above in eagle form, observing the melee below.

The guards were no match for the adventurers, though Dorf took a nasty wound in the side. Blundar and Dorf stabbed several through the heart, and Kee-Ree and Ockasiola’s arrows finished off the ones at the gate. One guard surrendered but Ockasiola killed him in anger when he admitted to worshipping the Ape God.

A silence descended on the bloody courtyard and the adventurers mounted the wide steps of the Temple of the Ape God.

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Against the Ape Cult

Day of the Hare (1st), Black Witches’ Moon, Year of the Titan

A mission for Storm Bull

Ockasiola convinced the other members of his party to fight the ape cultists. They made their way to the temple of Storm Bull, and from there to the sewer entrance, guided by a young initiate (formerly a street urchin) called Kregen

The ape cult temple – lower level

Blundar spotted a secret entrance just near the main one, and Aranduil showed a surprising ability to pick the lock. Kee-Ree crept down the quiet corridor, lit by smokeless torches dipped in a glowing green substance.

Poisoned doors

Kee-ree entered a chamber with four doors. His armour saved him from death as two poisoned darts shot out at him.

The ape lair

Through one of the doors a giant ape roared behind bars. Though he could speak with animals, Aranduil could see that this one would not be reasoned with.

The chambers of the Strangler

They continued to explore and found bedchambers, a laboratory, and stairs upwards. Yucta picked up some Fire Dust. Along one corridor were prison rooms, filled with ordinary Lankhmarts. ‘Help us,’ they implored. Ockasiola was determined to do so!

The Inner Sanctum

The Strangler and several of his white-robed cultists were performing a ceremony. They were fanatics and leaped to attack. Yucta flung his Fire Dust and several were consumed with flames. Aranduil swooped on the Strangler in eagle form. Kee-ree, Ockasiola, Blundar took care of the rest. Ockasiola toppled the ape-idol and released the prisoners with the Strangler’s keys.

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The Stars Are Right

Night of the Beaver (29th) and Day of the Crab (30th), Harvest Moon, Year of the Titan

Stars and Sky

Ockasiola followed Jengo’s man Reynold at midnight through the Park of Pleasure to the tower of an astrologer. Nesting in the park, Aranduil returned to human form after communing with the thirteen perfect eagles. Jengo told of his customer: a sorcerer called Ooorn the Red-Eyed, who had frightened away other bidders with his dark reputation. The meet would take place at the conjunction of Astorian and Ranstar.

Scrolls and Smoke

A trip to the Great Library was called for, to find out the significance of these stars (they enhance bargaining). On the way back through the Street of the Gods Aranduil and Ockasiola met the priest of Storm Bull, who urged them to sack the temple of the Ape God. Ockasiola agreed.

Sorcery and Sale

On the night of the conjunction, Yucta demanded to be present. Aranduil observed from the rooftops while Ockasiola, Blundar and Kee-Ree guarded the gate. Tall, gaunt Erei arrived in a cart pulled by black horses, and clutching what looks like a bloody bandage. Aranduil observed the scrap of cloth was ornamented with stylised eyes. When Erei departed Aranduil interrogated the frightened horses. In the warehouse with Jengo and Yucta, Erei donned the red blindfold of eyes. Ooorn saw through them and all felt his presence. Jengo and Ooorn sealed a bargain and Erei departed, exhausted, promising later payment.

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The Spider-God's temple

Night of the Beaver (29th), Harvest Moon, Year of the Titan

Evening at the warehouse

Kee Ree and Ockasiola did not want to wait at the warehouse. They ventured into the streets in search of Yucta and Blundar

Enfreel the beggar

Ockasiola helped Enfreel the beggar reach the Green Keg Inn. Enfreel told them he had seen Yucta in the old part of the docks.

Reunited at the old church

With some luck and Kee-Ree’s keen eyes and tracking skills, he and Ockasiola found the old church and scaled the wall, just in time to see Blundar and Yucta at the entrance.

Spider guardian

There were several lightless rooms in the church. In one, a paper-rustly giant un-dead spider attacked them. They defeated it and found a trapdoor, from which chanting could be heard.

The new-formed cult

Kee-Ree descendend the staircase and found a basement temple with six chanting cultists. He heard two of them say their names. Stealthily he advanced upon them — then struck with his whirling blades! Almost before Yucta and Blundar could join the fight, it was over.

Black Garrick’s reward

Back at the Noisy Nun, Black Garrick seemed surprised about the spider cult, but paid his agreed fist of gold to all four.

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Skull business

Day of the Beaver (29th), Harvest Moon, Year of the Titan

Jengo’s Famous Auction House

Yucta’s first reason for being in smoky Lankhmar was to find a buyer for the skull of the Icewyrm, which he and his companions had lugged all the way from the cold Northlands. Fortunately Blundar had heard of the Plaza of Dark Delights, where all goods are bought and sold. So they searched there and found Jengo’s Famous Auction House.

Jengo seemed to be legitimate. He directed Yucta, and Blundar to store their merchandise at his warehouse, which was located near the Grand Gate. Yucta decided to move their base from the tavern on Nun Street to a quiet inn called the Green Keg in the Plaza district, not far from the warehouse.

Blundar and Yucta travelled back to their inn via the Street of the Gods, where they dropped in on the priest of Storm Bull whom they had met earlier. He was excited. “Tell Ockasiola that there is a cult of Chaos — an ape god — to smite in this city!”. Yucta nodded and backed away slowly

A job for Black Garrick

When they arrived at their inn, they found a man in the bar waiting for them, surrounded by several scantily-clad slave girls. He offered them a drink and introduced himself as Black Garrick, a pious and upstanding member of the Thieves’ Guild, “the real power in this city”. He offered them a job to track down a couple of ‘rogue’ cutpurses, who he’d heard had surfaced at an abandoned shrine in the harbour district. In return he offered a handful of gold each, and the benignity of the Guild. And he needed the job done this night.

The abandoned shrine

Yucta and Blundar made their way to the shrine, surrounded by looming warehouses. The gate was chained and the building was surrounded by a high but crumbling wall, which they climbed easily. The shrine stood in an overgrown garden with a well. The grass had been trampled between the well and the church but otherwise grew wild. Blundar and Yucta entered the building through its ancient doors. Yucta’s glow globe cast light inside to reveal a huge mosaic of a spider inlaid in the floor. Several doors exited the chamber.

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Comforts of the South

Day of the Bat (25th), Harvest Moon, Year of the Titan

Kvarch Nar

The city of Kvarch Nar was a welcome sight after so many days in the wilderness. It was a graceful, tree-lined place.

Recalling Mylo the brandy merchant, they sought his house. They soon found it, a mansion on Wool Street, and gained admittance. Present were Mrs Mylo and another merchant named Jhonen, a friend and business partner of Mylo’s. They made the adventurers welcome, with warm beds and a delicious breakfast.

Jhonen told of the dangers of the eastern roads; that beastmen, bandits and even a sorcerer in a golden mask caused trouble for merchants heading that way.

Jhonen took it upon himself to escort them around town and help them with their errands. Yucta wanted to purchase a lead-lined box in which to conceal the sorcerer’s skull; and also to secure passage to Lankhmar. He felt sure that the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes would be an ideal market for the Icewyrm skull which they had so laboriously transported from frozen Olathoe.

Helena

In the market square, they chanced upon an argument between a man and a young woman, which had attracted a crowd of onlookers. The man had taken the woman’s arm and she was threatening to slap him. Yucta approached and the man stormed off. The young woman smiled. “I should reward my rescuers,” she said, and produced a gold crown for each, including the stunned Jhonen.

“Who are you?” asked Yucta as she walked away. “Look me up,” was her reply.

Silently, Jhonen turned over the coin to reveal the young woman’s profile. “Helena, daughter of Movarl, who is overlord of the Eight Cities”, he said.

From Lobster Wharf to the Inner Sea

Jhonen had organised (and paid for) passage to Lankhmar on the merchantman Pride of Sarheenmar, which was loaded with timber and ready to leave on the morning tide. Out of respect for Jhonen the captain delayed departure until the next day for the adventurers.

For three days the ship sailed across the Inner Sea, with the sailors singing:

I got wood in Kvarch Nar!
I got wood in Kvarch Nar!
I got wood
He got wood
We all got wood in Kvarch Nar!

He got wood
They got wood
I got stoned in Mlurg Nar
(Laughter)

I got wood in Kvarch Nar!
I got wood in Kvarch Nar!
I got wood
We got wood
We all got wood in Kvarch Nar!

City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes!

dockside.pngLankhmar! Perhaps only in his dreams had Yucta, Ockasiola or the others seen such a city, though Kee Ree Nigh Ran-ax said that spired Tisinilit was a fairer place. The gleaming towers of the Rainbow Palace were visible first over the grey sea, then the bustling docks of the Harbour District on the banks of the brown River Hlal.

Yucta made arrangements with the harbourmaster to transfer the crate containing the dragon’s skull into a secure warehouse. The group then found themselves an inn in Nun Street, somewhat away from the noise of the docks and not far from the Great Library of Lankhmar.

A walk down the Street of the Gods

Ockasiola had heard from the sailors that temples of all the gods of the world could be found in Lankhmar on the Street of the Gods, though none could build their temple closer to the head of the street than the decrepit stone fane dedicated to the Gods of Lankhmar. Ockasiola wondered if the words of Storm Bull might be known in this great city.

They walked the length of the Street of the Gods, past droning priests and cultists of a thousand faiths. As they approached the Marsh Gate on the far side of the city, the tenements and temples became more and more shabby and small, with some cults even sharing addresses. Finally, Ockasiola spotted a set of lopsided horns — the sign of Storm Bull! Inside was a snoring priest with crumbs on his vestments. But he awoke and praised Storm Bull, especially when Ockasiola placed his gold coin on the collection tray.

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