Our cast continues as follows:
Cerise, the Spirit-Touched Cleric
Indigo the Gnome Cleric
Silent "Z" (as always, the name changes), the Half-Elf Rogue
Legolis, the High Elf Ranger
Hey Watchit, the Half-Orc Fighter
Lief, the Human Bard
Delthen Eversoar, the Human Paladin, and
Rolen Stillwind, the Wood Elf Sorcerer
Unfortunately, neither Indigo nor Z's players were available for the last game, so those characters stayed in the background and otherwise were checking out things around town which kept them out of the main action.
When we left the intrepid adventurers at the end of our previous game, there had been an unfortunate incident with a High Elven paladin who had become possessed by some demonic spirit. The party had been able to defeat him and free his squires from demonic influence, but he remained mostly in its thrall, with moments of lucidity. He asked to be taken to the Temple of Dawn in the town of Tampu Tinku to see if he could be freed of the demonic possession.
The group continued with the local teamster boss, a Hafling named Hull, and a Half-Elf named Quill who was returning to live with and take care of his "gran gran." They intended to meet at the Temple with Canoness Shar Patali, whose report to the Cathedral had helped spur their commission as auditors and whose request for help had reached the Order of the Great Gold Wyrm which had sent Sir Kalarai, the now possessed Elf, to the aid of the town.
They departed Stone Bridge Creek and not long thereafter arrived in the town of Tampu Tinku. They immediately headed to the rather grand Temple of the Dawn and met a Priestess named Mara at the temple gates.
There, she informed them that the Canoness had recently left on a mysterious pilgrimage to seek for aid for the town, she took with her two of the temple acolytes, Mari and Rob. Mara had been left in charge of the temple and the brother and sisters of the order who kept the holy shrines. Priestess Mara had no idea when Shar Patali would return.
The adventurers asked what her thoughts were on what was happening in town. She launched into a fairly detailed discussion of local politics, including the rivalries between the Baba brothers, Wari and Lenari. Wari and Lenari were once close (Lenari owns the dairy and Wari is a prominent farmer), but several years back, Wari had a religious conversion and began to heavily patronize the Temple of Dawn. His example helped many see the light of the way of the House of Dawn, and gradually many households began to turn from the druidic Old Faith to the Dawn Temple. Lenari is a staunch member of the Old Faith followers, and Wari is a zealous convert of the Temple. Their feuding has had the town in an uproar for some time.
Added to this, Wari is running for mayor, the first member of the Dawn congregation to do so, as the mayorship has, in the past, always been held by someone of the druidic faith. Also, to complicate things, the Old Faith candidate, Pitch, the Miller, recently dropped out of the electoral race. Rumors have circulated through town that members of the Dawn congregation intimidated Pitch into quitting.
Priestess Mara assured them that such rumors were nonsense. If anything, it was the Old Faith followers who were involved in their dark and emotional nature spirit practice who were scary and intimidating. If Pitch quit for any thought out reason, it was probably because he knew he was going to loose.
Also, the town is in turmoil because the old Druid who used to keep the Old Faith Grove decided to move on to a new territory (who knows why those people do anything?) and a new Druid of the Grove has yet to be appointed. Additionally, Lord Bari, the Emperor's representative and local military administrator (resident at the local fortress keep) recently also converted to the worship of the Dawn Gods, which drove a wedge between him and the local Archmage representative, Lady Kinara, who subsequently left on a mission of her own. Lord Bari's soldiers have been concerned with incursions that seem to coming in from the Red Wastes and have not been concerned with the local bandit problem, which is the concern of the local civil authorities, represented by Constable Kwan.
The bandits have been troubling, but in general, Priestess Mara opined that it was mostly just overblown town politics and family matters that really were not worth the Cathedral's time to investigate.
Delthen decided he would try to assess whether he thought she was lying, but he could not get a clear read on her. She seemed earnest enough.
Hull spoke up that he still thought the bandits were the worst of the town's problems.
Quill noted that he really needed to get to his Gran Gran's.
Priestess Mara promised that she and her brothers and sisters would confine Sir Kalari and take care of him until the return of the Canoness, when they would be able to perform an exorcism. The Squires Valerie, Rupert and Jock helped the Priestess move Sir Kalari into the Temple, but stated that they would go to seek aid from their Order for Sir Kalari.
Indigo decided to go a pray at the temple, and Z mysteriously disappeared to snoop around unencumbered by the other party members.
The adventurer's accompanied Hull as far as his depot, and then, they proceeded through town with Quill to his grandmother, Vamil's, home. While on their way through the town, they noticed that the largest and nicest building (after the Temple) a large inn complex, announced as the Serene Empress Inn, was shuttered and boarded up. Quill expressed surprise, as the Serene Empress had always been the heart of the town, at least it was when he was here 10 or 15 years ago.. He has no idea what happened to it.
Once arriving at Vamil's ("Vamy's") cottage, the old woman hobbled out to greet her grandson and embrace him. Hey Watchit decided to get in on some group hug action and gave a gently crushing embrace to the two of them.
Quill explained who these strangers were and what they were doing, and how they had saved his life. Vamy dispensed tea, wine and ribbon candy to each of the visitors and offered to allow some to sleep in her loft free of charge (she does not have quite room enough for everyone, but Hull's wife would probably put up the rest if they don't mind not staying at an inn).
They asked Vamy what had happened to the Serene Empress Inn, and she allowed that it was a big mystery. About a month back, there was a huge commotion at the inn: fighting and screaming. When the Constable and his deputies finally came, they found the inside of the inn laid to waste and every living person, the owners, their family and employees, the townspeople and the travelers who were guests, all dead in some kind of huge melee. The fight apparently raged throughout the Inn, leaving no survivors. No one understands what kind of madness must have happened, and no one was able to figure it out. The bodies were taken out and the families buried their dead. The travelers were buried in the hallowed ground of the old Druid Grove, and people were afraid, but just did not know what to think.
The adventurers wanted to talk to Pitch Miller about pulling out of the mayor's race, but they thought they would just have a look at the Serene Empress first.
They began their investigation by forcing open the door into the kitchen. They carefully toured first the main floor and then the upstairs. They found every chair in the inn to have been broken, and much of the other furniture damaged or destroyed. There were areas of blood staining and spilled drink and food that was not cleaned.
Hey did notice that the kitchen, if cleaned up, would be a great place in which to cook.
As they looked through the main floor, Delthen in a careful search found a broken blade with strange script on it. The blade itself looked ornate, as if it had been forged for ritual use.
Lief examined the script and found that it seemed to be of the ancient Serpent Script, and that the characters probably translated as "[of]fering."
Upstairs was less disturbed, but still it looked like the fighting had happened up here as well, and everything was broken into. Nothing of real value seemed to remain.
They finally proceeded down into the cellar.
The cellar looked strangely cleared out, with only a few decrepit ale or sour wine barrels still left as far as provisions. Otherwise, there was just trash and debris left around.
Something else surprising they found was that the basement had been left trapped. Rolen managed to fall down into a relatively freshly dug pit, though he avoided the spikes at the bottom.
Then, shadowy and chameleon-like Kobolds struck, from surprise.
The “ninja” Kobolds hit each of the characters not in the pit, and they hit the cleric Cerise for critical damage.
Then we rolled initiative.
Round 1 (no escalation)
The Kobolds handily won initiative (n.b. I was using the playtest Kobold Shadow-Warriors, who turned out to be much more pumped up than the final published versions in the Bestiary).
Three disappeared into the shadows.
The other three all attacked with eggshell bombs filled with stinging dust, damaging Delthen and Lief (both in one shot) and Legolis. The last shadow warrior successfully disengaged on Hey and three a metal star at Hey, but missed. Hey invoked his “reach tricks” and took a surprise opportunity attack, but missed.
Legolis missed with his axe.
Delthen invoked Smite Evil and missed for half damage [which maybe should have just missed because of the Kobolds’ “evasive” ability, but I let it count].
Lief dealt some damage with Battle Chant, dropping one shadow warrior.
Hey swung his trusty enchanted tree and struck with a critical hit, not only smashing the Kobold before him, but flinging it into the Kobold attacking Legolis, killing both shadow warriors. It seemed they had taken out the opposition.
Rolen was unable to get out of the pit.
Cerise stepped up and did some healing for herself and others.
Round 2 Escalation 1
The three shadow warriors who had slipped to the shadows came back with a vengeance. Delthen, Hey and Legolis were all hit for 30 points of damage each. Delthen staggered, but stayed up. Hey invoked “Heavy Warrior” to take only 15 points of damage. Legolis went down.
Legolis rolled a death save on his initiative and failed.
Delthen attacked with Smite Evil and killed one of the warriors.
Lief attacked with his Battle Chant, damaging another of the Kobolds.
Hey invoked “Tough as Iron” and rallied, and then struck with a “Power Attack.” Hey missed [n.b. I should have invoked “evasive” but forgot again], doing 12 damage because of his Power Attack feat.
Rolen continued to be stuck down in the pit.
Cerise then cast Spirits of the Righteous which blasted the last two warriors into oblivion.
End of Combat.
Delthen was disappointed that he was not able to retrieve any of the stinging powder bombs unbroken.
Cerise healed Rolen.
Everyone helped Rolen get out of the pit.
Otherwise, in searching they Kobolds, they found that each bore the ritual tattoo of an ancient Snake Cult, which generally was something at odds with the Kobolds’ draconic nature.
They carefully searched the rest of the cellar floor and found two more recent pits. Both of Kobold make.
They then began to search for some secret way into the cellar. Neither Hey nor Delthen could discover anything, but Cerise found a secret door into a hidden store room. In the room, Cerise, Legolis and Lief all discovered an exit from the room, a trap door.
Beyond the trap door was a passage, similar to a mine tunnel. They proceeded down the tunnel until they came to an underground stream, which they would have to ford. There was a handy guide rope across the stream. Delthen waded in first.
This drew immediate attack from a group of Lizard Men.
The leader propelled himself out of the water with a stroke of his tail, and he charged Hey, striking him.
Delthen took out his mace and started Smiting at the two Lizardman Hunters attacking him.
Cerise hit the leader with Spirits of the Righteous.
Lief then lifted his voice and unleashed Soundburst, damaging two of the enemy and killing one outright.
Legolis then killed another firing his bow, using one of his last Twin Arrows, and hit the leader with his magical second arrow.
Hey launched his Power Attack, which missed, but still dealt 11 points of damage.
Round 2 Escalation 1
The leader launched his attack, but missed. Delthen then stepped up and brought his mace down in a crushing blow, killing the leader.
Cerise flung her Javelin of Faith at one of the last two Lizardman Savages, but did only miss damage.
Lief sang his Battle Chant, which did little damage, but with his Stay Strong! Battle Cry he aided Hey.
Legolis launched another arrow, striking one of the Savages for 10 points.
One of the Savages hit Hey.
Rolen did not manage his Elven Grace roll, but he summoned his Chaos Bolt of Thunder Energy and blasted one of the Savages.
Hey then struck out with his tree, killing one of the Lizardman Savages, after using Heavy Blows to reroll damage.
Round 3 Escalation 2
Delthen whirled his mace and struck another crushing blow (16 points!) but could not take down the last Lizardman.
Cerise invoked her Halo and then threw her Javelin of Faith, striking down the Lizardman.
The party then decided to rest a moment by the underground stream and decide what to do in exploring further.
One thing was sure, however, this was much easier than figuring out the Mayoral race in town.