Well, we last left our story with Geziah being restored, right?
That’s what I saw, at least. Geziah was really sporting an excellent ‘Who am I? Where am I?’ when he woke up, neatly mirroring his movements to all the times he undoubtedly woke up drunk in some alley.
Yeah, I’m still bitter with the guy for running off after Dejour. How did you know?
Anyway, Jimmy and I briefly told him about the few things that had happened between his death and his resurrection and we set up a new plan to go. We decided that following the map we had bought from Little Jim would probably be our best course of action, so we went out to gather Jackie and get ready to move out, again.
Outside, after hailing a gondola, it didn’t take long for the blabbermouth at the rudder to start talking. Apparently, there had been a ruckus in the harbour as someone had managed to rob a merchant’s ship in clear daylight. Though he couldn’t tell us much details, I had this little gut feeling that just left me intrigued by the situation and wanting to learn more. I made a mental note to investigate if we got the time.
The gondola wasn’t a very quick – or reasonably priced – way of transport, but we eventually reached the street closest to the pub that we guessed our little Halfling would be in.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw two guards standing there.
After asking what happened, the guards basically told us that ‘Jackie happened’. It took us a little bluffing to make sure the guards weren’t on to us being ‘with’ her, because apparently, she had done what she did best.
In the next pub we got Geziah something to eat – being dead apparently wreaks havoc on your appetite – and decided on an intermediate plan of action. This was, of course, find out what happened and if we could get our Halfling out of the trouble she had gotten herself into. So to the nearest guardhouse it was!
I honestly can’t remember what might have gone through my head while listening to the story the guard on duty told us. He almost seemed bored to tell, but he knew quite some details. Jackie had killed people. Four, to be exact, which included the barman of the bar she had been in. Wrong place, wrong time, unfortunately. While trying to flee from the guards coming after the commotion she killed one of those, as well, before getting caught.
At that point, I just tipped my hat and thanked the guard for his information. The man told us that the execution would be the next day, with the auctioning of the goods an hour later.
I wasn’t planning on still being in Milicio by the time that happened.
Jimmy seemed a little upset that Jackie was going to die without fulfilling her goal in life – or, so he thought, anyway – and dragged us outside and back to the bar, where we would need to make some kind of distraction. In the bar was beer for him, which was a good start, and there would be room to look at our map and make some decisions. At least, that’s what we thought.
We hadn’t taken into account that, with one of the bars down, all its usual patrons would go to the other ones, packing those to the brim.
Upon entering the packed bar, we were approached by a woman clearly wearing the robes of a wizard, who appeared to be ready to throw herself at us and join our group. Though we were distrustful at first – I was, anyway – she was quick to lead us to a table with two people she had recently met, starting an introductory round.
Apparently, the wizard woman was Lanaya, who was out to kill Raven’s Heralds, who had placed their unfortunate mark on her. Jimmy immediately started to like her more.
The second newcomer was Lin, another girl whose behaviour unfortunately reminded me of Jackie. She and her brother, Lucas, were out to travel and adventure – or that’s what they told us. I made a mental note to keep an eye on those two, if only to make sure we would still wake up every morning with our lives.
In the end we decided that, with the current size of our little group in mind, we could let them join us. Jackie was gone and you could count as much on Waldo as you could count on Skyph, so even if they would only join us temporarily, they were welcome and were let in on our plans before we hit the hay to leave early the next day.
The next day we decided to get the hell out of town, before Jackie would use her last words to tell on us. Well, Geziah got jumped by Touchy Feely, which held us up for about a minute, but after that we really did everything to get out of town.
Of course, it wasn’t made easy for us. We were stopped by guards at the town’s edge, for they were investigating the robbery of the ship and wanted to check up on our goods. Though it was a minor annoyance, I was sure we didn’t have stolen goods on us and allowed them to see what was in our bags and Bag of Holding.
When I was told that the ritual book Jimmy and Jackie had borrowed the day before was actually the stolen item, I silently vowed to never let Jimmy out of my sights again when someone of the thieving kind was close by.
That said, the book came in darned handy and we took some time to try and actually buy it, but we unfortunately had to hand it over in the end. As we drove on, my cursing got a lot of uncomfortable looks from more or less everyone.
During the time it took us to travel to Biontola and Joseph, and from there on to Sannich, we made sure to get to know each other a little better. Our little group had, after all, just doubled in size and the newcomers weren’t exactly well known to us. I took a bit of a shining to Lucas, who appeared to be the sensible half of the twins, but Lin became more and more of a Jackie as we learned more of her… Which wasn’t much to say in her favour.
Good old farmer Joseph was as hospitable as ever, always willing to chat a little and to part with a bit of apple pie, but Sannich got a little… Chaotic. I still remembered the last time we were there and was, quite frankly, very sure the local guards did so as well. I quite simply forbade the consumption of alcohol to Jimmy and Geziah, which got me a few strange looks from our new companions, and we went straight on, following the map to the mountains not too far from the city.
The mountain roads proved to be treacherous and dangerous to traverse. Geziah nearly lost his life again, almost plummeting to his death after he tripped up and fell. Only his Fey Step and a load of luck saved his sorry backside from being plastered to the stone at the bottom of a mountain pass, but thankfully, we all made it to a little valley where the woods were still growing and the map was clearly pointing to.
It took a little searching, but Jimmy eventually stumbled over six enormous rune stones and found us studying them already. It took us a little research and thinking work, but after a short while we remembered the ritual we had gotten with the map from Little Jim and decided to kick it into action. I got into the middle of the rune stones, where a little stone slab appeared to be made for a ritual, and got to work.
I immediately regretted doing so when the sky parted above my head and thunder started roaring around us.
After I got struck by lightning, it took me a while to realize I wasn’t dead yet. It was pitch dark in the room I had ended up in, and it took my comrades a while to join me through the portal that had appeared all around me after the completion of the ritual.
It didn’t take us long to remember the riddles on the map and, seeing how we couldn’t see anything, we decided to start trying them one by one. After clapping twice – which, mind, was the first thing we tried – the lights turned on and we had a bit of a feeling of accomplishment.
Naturally, that was far from the start of this little adventure.
The room we had found ourselves in was quite empty. The ceiling was filled with what looked like bronze globes, and there was a large bronze golem guarding an equally bronze door, but that was really it.
We cautiously went on, but it didn’t take me long to step on a pressure plate and get struck by lightning again, this time of the painful kind instead of the portal-creating kind. Naturally, that was the moment the golem started thinking we were hostile and attacked. Because that’s the kind of luck we have as a party!
It turned out that a couple of the ceiling orbs were configured to strike anyone standing directly below them, which became pretty clear when the golem started tossing people around with sometimes pinpoint precision to the tiles underneath the orbs. While getting smacked around, everything coming out of the ceiling was a terrible danger to us and made us constantly think twice about every step we made.
But it was also clear that the golem wasn’t made to withstand lightning strikes itself, either. As the battle raged on, Lucas was throwing more and more lightning at the golem, causing it to malfunction a little more with every hit. When we started pushing and luring it onto its own pressure plates as well, it didn’t take long before it overloaded and exploded, leaving nothing but bits and pieces behind.
The only golem that’s better then a golem in bits and pieces, is an inactive golem, if you ask me.
Before we tackled the bronze door, Lanaya stated that she thought she could have done better during the battle and asked us if we had some equipment she could borrow.
Why yes, we had a staff she could probably use. It still didn’t stop me from thinking twice before handing it over to her. Though we had spent quite some days together, now, I was still wary of her taking the staff and running… Thankfully for her, Jimmy and Geziah talked me into giving her the Staff of Random Events, as I have started calling it.
The door gave us quite some trouble, though. It was quite solid and resisted all our conventional attempts to open it quite well. It didn’t have a lock or handle and didn’t react to being pushed or slid sideways in any way. Our usual contingency plan of starting to hammer at it until it gave up seemed to be an option to fail, as well, and we would have honestly been stumped if Lucas hadn’t grown impatient.
He shouted at us to get out of the way, which we did quite readily as we imagined the lightning he had been throwing around, after which he blasted the door with his signature lightning. It slid open without any real problems after that, causing the man to grin with superiority and the rest of us to groan. Yeah, some problems just don’t allow too much thinking to get involved.
Walking on, we almost entered another room, this time with a kind of podium that we could thankfully identify from a range – it would do something with lightning, and we were sure we wouldn’t like it.
Remembering the golem’s room, we were rightfully wary of calmly entering this room. Geziah, who else, decided to scout ahead with a quick Fey Step towards the podium while the rest of us were preparing for disaster to strike as soon as he blinked back into existence.
We were right to prepare.
A skeleton, which had just been innocently lying there, got up from its incapacitated position and started shambling towards Geziah. At the same time, a wraith popped up beside me and Lin and started attacking us while a Rust Monster popped out of a crack in the wall as well.
I have to admit, when Lin and Lucas looked at each other and turned their tails without another word, I was about ready to follow them. A second Rust Monster joined the first, after all, and it was joined by a stone Gargoyle dropping from the roof as well.
The four people left looked at each other, swallowed, and made their preparations. Thankfully, I was prepared for Rust Monsters now, with my new Impostor’s Armour. One monster tried to charge me and get the armour in his paws, but I thankfully managed to keep it off for long enough to make the metal disappear from sight. The result: one very disappointed monster that was suddenly cut off from its buddy in a different room, with me standing between it and the others. Not my favourite kind of position to be in, but eh.
After Geziah caused the skeleton to fog up the better part of the room, the fool decided to attack the second Rust Monster with the very, very magical sword we had given him. The blade immediately started rusting, which caused both Rust Monsters to grow very enthusiastic and hungry. It was basically all I could do to keep the one I had been keeping back from trampling me in its joy to get to the weapon!
Eventually, through some clever use of the traps in the golem’s room, we managed to kill the Rust Monsters and the Gargoyle, which caused my beating hart to settle down a little. After I Lance of Faith’d the Wraith back into the realm of the dead, we were finally able to properly start cursing at the two adventurers we had taken along for the ride and, when danger reared its ugly head, had turned their tail and fled.
After properly cutting up the Rust Monsters for their load of Residuum, we made sure to take a rest and get back into shape. I was thankful for Geziah’s return, for he was way better at keeping watch then I am.
We got lucky, though. Orcus didn’t decide to attack our world that night. At least, we didn’t notice.
The next door that was in our way thankfully did have a lock, which Geziah promptly picked. After opening it, the first thing we saw was a giant bronze face, probably as high as Jackie would have been, with its open mouth aimed straight at the door. I knew for sure that I didn’t want to be the first to go in there, so Geziah went ahead again.
After he shouted that he found a treasure chest and some other things, Jimmy, Lanaya and I decided to take the risk and join him. We got past the face without trouble, but were still very careful with what we touched and didn’t.
All in all, the room contained a cabinet with ten coloured vials, a big bookcase, a table with four crowns, the treasure chest and the bronze face. We got to work with the things inside, first opening the chest to find 675 gold pieces, which was quite nice.
The four crowns, one red, one blue, one green and one yellow, appeared to be enchanted with some kind of magic. We figured these were the four crowns of one of the riddles on the treasure map and, quite frankly, the one riddle we had managed to solve while en route to this place. So we took the blue crown and then started checking the others for traps. After some trial and error, we realized that the wearer of any non-blue crown would be stunned for as long as he was wearing it.
We realized potential there and stuffed all four crowns in the Bag of Holding.
Next was the bookcase, which gave us a lot of trouble. It turned out that the ‘knock twice, knock trice’ riddle was for this one, for if you tried to grab the wrong book, flamethrowers would come out and shoot flames at you.
After getting the right series of books thanks to Lanaya, though, the trap pretty much disabled and we stuffed the whole library in the Bag of Holding. Though I admit that it’s getting pretty swamped in there, that’s one thing we’ll sell as soon as we’re back in Sannich.
Finally, we met our match with the coloured vials. Logically, it would be the band of broken light riddle, which seemed to have to do something with colours. We quickly deduced that it would have something to do with the rainbow, but what…
Yeah, we got kinda stuck on that…
In Loving Memory:
Jackie ‘The Feminine Touch’ Dandelion
1171 AV – 1192 AV