It began with the invocation at the steps of Knallhart manor, and the Hunt began, opening up the festivities of the holiday weekend everyone has been eagerly anticipating for months. Aspen decided to ensure everyone hunted humanely and according to the rules, while Tad tracked down some deer to put on the dinner table. Sayaka decided to enter the contest at the last minute. There’s a rangy old dwarf hunter who claims that he will be the one to take down a white stag that has been rumored to be in the area, winning the hunting contest.
Sayaka and Aspen come upon the white stag, but before anything else can happen a gigantic wolf emerges from the brush, savagely biting the blue-haired inquisitor with its foaming mouth. Luckily, Aspen was on hand and Held the insane beast, and a disgusted Sayaka asked and recieved permission to lop off its enormous head. The stag had bolted; the inquisitor had taken a shot after the wolf had been held, but missed badly and never recovered that particular arrow, much to her chagrin.
Carrying back the wolf, the dwarf saw them and was stunned, saying he couldn’t top that kill. Sayaka explained that it wasn’t really part of the competition; Aspen had held it, and it wasn’t something we’d eat anyway. Stubbornly, she turned back into the forest, searching for something even more elusive than the white stag, who the dwarf eventually shot and killed.
Smiling, she returned carring a large, ghostly white boar, shrugging her shoulders and winning the contest for most amazing animal killed. A fact she mentions approximately four times an hour for the rest of the festival.
And that’s such a small part of what occurred. We’d established that the imprisoned provocateur was an agent of Pitax, and threw him into the oubliette for a night, Saalus rescuing him by placing him in a more regular cell, hoping to get him to change allegiance. I remain doubtful, the man convinced that he had powerful friends, trying to trick Saalus into a “story contest” to escape his sentence. If we could convince him that his old masters now wanted him dead…
The guests began arriving: Mayor Ioseph Sellemius of Restov, disguised as a servant of his envoy, Garrick Dolomi. We play along, but I let Ioseph know I know, even if I only know because Saalus told me. Maegar Varn, who looks to have aged, the pressures of command heavy on his shoulders. He’s worried about that dicey ranger he’d been accompanied by, and doesn’t seem to enjoy ruling. Finally, Mayor Raston Selline of Mivon, the nation to our south. All three are Sword Lords.
We’re throwing down some gold to entertain them, but we want to make sure they leave with a good impression. During this already lavish festival, we’ll spare no expense on their entertainment. Pretty much, anyway.
That night, as we began the Armor Breaking Ceremony, my wonderful Puella Magi on patrol noticed a cluster of evil beings approaching. Even though this advanced warning didn’t result in, say, a surprise round or anything, it was good to know. They were Gonorrhea worshippers, and the lead witch Desecrated the place Ilya does the smashing, making the armor instantly reform into the death knight!
The citizens wisely fled, and the Autarch wisely dropped behind the platform as Syzygy and Ilya confronted the undead knight, who’d summoned his horse back. Syzygy’s talons failed to find much purchase, Ilyas punches fared better, and Hyandaner dispelled the desecrate. Syzygy and Hyandander get to the leader witch, who has 5 cleric minions with her, and take her down, disrupting spells at critical times with Saalus’s help and Human bane arrows.
Syzygy is cursed by a cleric’s touch after killing another one or two, abruptly frozen in time for periods of seconds, completely immobile. The death knight heads back toward the clerics, who approach and heal him. Astoroth unsummons Syzygy, summoning a Hound Archon instead, which charges ineffectually. Hyandaner avoids being touched by Stupidity, and it is Tony the tiger that brings down the death knight, who’s armor is again torn to shreds and locked up in seperate boxes. Aspen puts forth the idea of destroying it in the dwarven forge fortress.
You’d think that would have been enough trouble, but a guard runs up a little while later telling us a group of barbarians have taken over an inn and hurt a bunch of people. We get there, and it’s barricaded and people are bleeding. Saalus performs some acts of benevolent kindness, and I give the people inside a chance to surrender. A guy opens a window, displaying his genitals to us, and i barely stop from shooting as Ilya non-lethally stunning blows the man (!). Ilya performed a stunning blow on the barbarian by touching his genitalia.
Anyway, Syzygy busted down the doors and poof Fairy dust blinded a bunch and some dropped and they surrendered. We led them off, alive and bound, headed to the jail to face sentencing-hard labor in the labor mines. Astoroth grudgingly concedes Aspen’s desire for a non-lethal solution was clearly appropriate.
That Inn is now called the Broken Barbarian. It will have one of their weapons hanging over the door, or just some old broken weapon, and a picture of a group of barbarians kneeling subserviently to Knallhart.
That’s about the time Sayaka returned carrying the massive boar on her shoulders, only to have to listen to the Autarch inform her of not one but TWO violent occurrences that had occured while she had been out enjoying herself hunting. Astoroth continues for a few minutes before acknowledging he’s just kidding around, the help from the Puella Magi patrols was, if not invaluable, at least valuable. But still, hunting? really?
This next part, I think, happened the following day, Saturday.
Saalus recognized a certain nobleman standing in the crowd. Again he whispered the crucial information in my ear, and I approached one Landar Lebeda, a member of an Issian royal family, and the scion (heir) of that family, no less! He appeared embarrassed or perhaps worried, but I tried to soothe his fears and convinced him to participate in a manner befitting his station, as an honored guest. This was only an option because we knew his family was, 1, a possible rival to the Surotova family for the Issain throne, and 2, they were the least dickish and most “rostlandic”, or closer to the southern folk we’re allied with. He was invited to attend the dinner at Knallhart Manor later that evening.
Middle of the day, Autarch gives the state of Arcadia speech, with wild success. Nazi-like fervor sweeps through the citizenry, but this time harnessed for good through the power of friendship! Some women swoon listening to his dulcet tones.
Saalus talked with the mayor of Restov, the disguised Ioseph Sellemius, in private. During this period, extensive use was made of the lead-encased rooms in Knallhart manor, both the Command Room upstairs and the Vault in the basement. If only Dralt hadn’t been compromised, we wouldn’t have had to kill- well, we’ll get to that part soon enough. The vault held all the dangerous objects and valuable treasure. Anyway, possibly inside one of those very rooms, Ioseph warned that Issia was looking to take over Restov, supplanting him as Mayor, and were looking at us with worried eyes. Something to think about.
The feast is fabulous, with the meat brought back by the hunters cooked up by Aspen with the aid of the Autarch’s chefs. During the celebration, Garrick Dolomi, the envoy and outward “representative of Restov” (Ioseph is in disguise), recognizes the Issian I’d invited. “What is that filth doing here?” is something like what he yelled, pushing up from the table and overturning a bowl of delicious stew in the process. Unseen in the chaos, the Autarch had to have Syzygy gently lay a talon on the Queen’s shoulder to keep her from reacting to this blatant waste of food, while he stood up, and the room seemed to hold its breath.
“This festival is a celebration,” he began, and proceeded to explain about Arcadian principles, being an open and accepting society, everyone at this table was both my personal guest and the guest of Knallhart, and essentially everyone should be respectful of one another under my roof. It worked. There were grudging comments, “At least of all the shit-eating Issians, you’re the least biggest dicks,” was the effect of Garrick’s comment, returned by the Issian.
Again (i think) it was Saalus who noticed something crucial; that Raston Selline, the Mivon mayor, looked like he wanted to do the Issian harm, despite what had just been said. Astoroth took this as an opportunity to ask the Sword Lord with a reputation for… eccentricity, to speak privately. Heading into the command room, the Autarch awkwardly tried to find his footing in the conversation, but Raston made a comment about how the Issian would have been “Fed to the eels” or some kind of euphemism for killing someone. It was a great foothold into a long discussion of tactics. Essentially, the need for time so that we can build up our armies, and prepare for war against a numerically strong nation. I implored him not to poison or assassinate anyone until that day in the nebulous future (probably two years from now) when we’ll say OPERATION INFINITE JUSTICE or HAMMER OF GOD, whatever, and launch the agreed-upon assault. He was surprisingly rational, and made me feel confident in his ability as an asset in the upcoming struggle.
Meanwhile, Saalus is talking to the Issian, Landar Lebeda, and figures out that he’s not really spying or anything, but just wants to have a good time.
Towards the end of dinner, a Syzygyian Knight approaches, informing us of a strange occurrence in the Bardic College. When we hear Dralt’s name, we move, leaving the room abuzz with our sudden heroic departure. We found Dralt, trying to walk back to the manor and mumbling about “getting the book,” obviously dominated. We returned him to the manor, then set out again. Hasted, we ran the two blocks until we got inside, finding, if i recall, some dead guards, the first casualties of the festival.
We’d been told about a girl and a guy or two, rather vague. Saalus disguised himself as Dralt, pretending to return, whlle hiding the rest of us in a bubble of invisibility. He got us inside, sneaking past the things in the room… and the things were demons!
A succubus, and two vrock, large, vulture-faced, winged monters. What followed was a desperate, lengthy battle where I’m pretty sure everyone thought, at one point, I’m glad we’re not playing our cohorts. The ambush is sprung, and everyone attacks while a Hound archon is summoned in lieu of Syzygy, protecting us with its aura of good. It rushes in, getting nailed by a Vrock right off the bat. Ilya is punching and grappling the Succubus, who is sleeped by Hyandaner until a Vrock kicks it. Succubus-grappler. That’s a sweet title. That’s right up there with “Dragon-Slayer/Stunner”.
Tony is raking and a newly summoned Syzygy is clawing, both less the optimally effective against the supernatural entities. Succubus tries to teleport, but Syzygy lashes out and interrupts her, and Ilya grapples her and she’s out of it for a while, eventually slain. One of the other Vrock is slain after a long battle following, and despite Sysygy’s best attempt, the last Vrock concentrates hard enough to teleport itself the hell out of there.
We surmise they were part of the Oraculum.
Astoroth has Ioseph, mayor of Restov, sent for, so that he can see the remnants of the demons. He acknowledges the Oraculum is a problem, and gives us permission to deal with it, although he says if we’re caught and fail to destroy them he won’t be able to help us. So, yeah.