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 Post subject: Dungeons & Dragons 5e: Gods' War journal
PostPosted: November 8th, 2018, 11:32 pm 
Burning my Dread.
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Hey, it's another of these things from me where I keep a running journal of an active D&D game for the few who may be interested or involved in it!

Locations revealed: 
Tycci (tai-chi) - The continent in question
Somnophis (sahm-no-fiss) - Central hub of a six-town region
Trisme Gate (triz-um, gate) - Northwest town, farmland, home to a great library

Characters mentioned: 
Gildie (guild-ee) - Lv. 2 Human Ranger, DEX melee focus, hunter's guild receptionist
Garn (rhymes with barn) - Lv. 2 Firbolg* Ranger, DEX archery / beastmaster focus, hermit
Tacin (tah-sin) - Lv. 2 Human Bard, apprentice Bard
Ember - Tiefling Forge Cleric, formerly deceased craftswoman
Riyae (ree-yay) - Deva* Divination Wizard, scholar and Trisme librarian
Kiran (ky-ron) - Dwarf Monk/Barbarian hybrid, disinherited wanderer
*Firbolg are part elf, part giant forest guardians.
*Deva are angels who used to walk the world as adventurers.

Plot given: 
20 years before the game starts, a wave of chaos blasts upon the world at the change of the year. No continent is spared the sensations of what might be called a Dark Age: demons roam freely in greater numbers, clergy reported feeling no connection to their deities anymore, and the seasons began gradually shifting to a darker, colder, wetter year. This pandemonium was highlighted by what is known as the Great Gnoll Raid, a surge of gnolls appearing from numerous points along every continent in a mad effort to consume anything that bleeds.

The raid was largely held back by the combined efforts of all armies and militia of the land led by the champions, clerics, and veterans of both Kord's and Bane's elite followers. The tide was stemied, but at the cost of almost all the devoted of these two gods. One by one the others' starts winked and faded, until few were left. At present, only the Raven Queen, Sehanine, Ioun, Vecna, Torog, and Asmodeus still shine in the sky, with the three evil being the only at full strength.

Tycci's salvation came in the form of a seasoned adventurer in Ember rapidly fortifying the Somnophis area enough that its people could find safety within a fortress' walls, able to defend itself until starvation took the gnolls and the strength in numbers faded. With the region safe, she found herself partnering with the Deva Riyae to spend the next twenty years rebuilding the region to its former glory or further.

Session 1: Festival of Seasons: 
Game begins in Somnophis, during a season's change festival from Summer to Fall, on a mercifully clear, sunny day. A play is being performed in the evening, with a knight set to win his maiden's kiss at midnight. He is interrupted by a bolt of lightning that sets the stage aflame, and a downpour barraging the townsfolk. The people are called onto the stage, wherein the tent is pulled over it to protect the people from the rain. While everyone is going over why the weather changed as it did, one townsfolk stumbled forward in a trance and, in a voice well not his own, uttered what could only be a prophecy before collapsing.

Ember takes it to heart, having come into possession of a painting that could only have been done by her in her sleep... except she's no painter, never having put brush to canvas in her life. As the people look over the picture for its significance, her attention wanders to something that grabs her attention, and only hers, leaving the tent for a moment before returning with a needle-like fragment of something between a gemstone and glass shard. She crushes it in her hand, orange electricity crackling through her arm before she glows in its light for a second. None left can deny the circumstances are too odd to ignore. After all, an adventurer of two lifetimes and two varieties of magic claims to not know what the power she grasped comes from. Only that it's not the first, and always seemingly from somewhere steeped in religious or historical significance.

At this point, Tacin steps forward to confirm who exactly she is. An outsider to this region, he was advised to seek her out to offer himself as a fledgling adventurer who might be available to help if help is needed. Gildie, nearby, had been whisked away due to a misunderstanding by Ember about her intentions, having said in days past that she wished to taste the adventuring life instead of seeing it from behind a desk. Ember takes these two at their word and guides them (with only a little arm twisting) past the fortress-sized inn, wherein its cloud giant proprietor asks what the news is with this dreary weather. She's more interested in the precense of an eight foot tall stranger at a table, the firbolg Garn, who for lack of a better goal in mind agrees her requests for help are worth a listen.

Ember turns out to be in possession of three more of these "shards of power", one of each red, blue, and green. After some explanation that it seems to be a poor idea to try to shatter one color after attuning to another, she makes the nature of her request known; she wants the trio to be a fresh group of eyes, a new perspective on the land, to scout for what's what while making a delivery of the shards and her painting to Riyae in Trisme Gate. As she tries to convince the trio of the importance of this, one of the townsfolk from the tent comes by her forge with a clay statue of a golem-like creature adorned with many gods' symbols in positions that imply being within its grasp. With the religious importance of the request set further in stone, the trio agrees, and allows Ember to pay for a night in the cloud giant's inn.

The inn, aside from being a gaudy display of some of the most expensive looking pieces of treasure a thief could wish to even appraise, is incredibly comfortable, putting the trio in good enough spirits to try to get to know each other over breakfast. Ember, meanwhile, has prepared a starter pack of sorts for the group, a few relatively common but still useful magic items and proper gear set for the newfound adventurer in Gildie. With their mission re-stated, they depart to the northwest, cloaks tight around their bodies to fight off the cold and wet of the still heavy downpour.

At a halfway house, a rest house and prayer chapel combined, they're greeted with the building abandoned and coated in dust, empty of life save a scarcely clad dwarf, Kiran, stoking the fireplace. He makes it clear that he's not at all the owner or caretaker, merely trying to escape the rain, before making a clumsy attempt at starting stew for the team. He makes a little history of himself known, that he's a traveler who isn't allowed among his family anymore and doesn't want much to do with direct society anymore. He still cares for the people, though, enough to observe from afar, and protect off the beaten path. He leaves the stew to boil while looking outside for an unlikely traveler, and finds a less likely surprise. The trio is interrupted from rest by his reaction; a furious scream akin to a bear's roar, a smash into the wall near the entry doors, and the sight of a dead goblin corpse being flung into another goblin that gets toppled over.

And so the fight breaks out, with the party making their way out rapidly to find Kiran surrounded by seven goblin, but looking past them around the corner of the building to a Hobgoblin hanging behind to give orders. He is cut numerous times, but shrugs it off as he punches a hole through the group, pins the hobgoblin, and almost breaks his neck with one well placed punch of his bare hand. The party is left to deal with the seven smaller goblins, who end up unable to regroup in time to ambush the rookie trio. It ends up four-against-three before Kiran realizes he did indeed leave the smaller Goblins behind, catching his fists aflame before ending the hobgoblin and three of the lessers in one swift swoop. By battle's end, only Garn takes any true injury, a single scimitar slash to his shin.

Gildie recognizes goblin culture well enough to know this was a scouting party using the rain as cover to move closer to the road, and makes out their tracks as having come from the southeast as well. Kiran takes off in a dash to ensure there are none more coming, leaving the trio to recouperate for a few moments. As Garn remains near the entrance to find some suitable food off them for his pet, he hears ravenous chewing sounds from outside, seeing a gnoll with its mouth happily around the hobgoblin corpse's arm. With his own personal hatred of gnolls fuming, he begins the second round of fighting with a swift arrow directly between the eyes of the demon.

The damage isn't lethal, but is enough to cause a shriek that alerts all surrounding people, even the distant Kiran. The dwarf doesn't make it back in time to join the second fray, but Gildie is able to stand firm before two gnolls and bounce away every would-be attack against her while sword, arrow, and mockery spell assail the demons to their end. Fearing another search party of gnolls, Kiran agrees to make up for his running off in the wrong direction by carrying the corpses some three hundred feet away to ensure no further scouts prioritize the halfway house, offering the team a chance to properly rest for the hour. Stew's cooking, after all.

Session 2: The Trisme Gait: 
The party feels somewhat stronger for their experiences, yet their journey has only just begun, and the day only half spent. Unfortunately for them, the constant cloud cover casting the dready downpour on the land only makes it seem later than it is; despite their earnest desire to get to know each other and their new comrade in Kiran, time has to cut their conversation short. Tacin is willing to muse to the group over his understandable, deep-rooted worry about Ember's sense of responsibility in giving three perfect strangers a mission to carry mysterious and prophetic items, shards of power, and gifts of magic items for the sake of unraveling a seemingly continent-wide mystery. For what little Kiran knows of Ember through eavesdropping on local travelers, he knows she's well praised among many in the region, enough to abate the group's fears somewhat.

In his desire to pay his debt of leaving the group alone for the would-be Gnoll ambush, Kiran accompanies the trio the rest of the way to Trisme Gate's borders before excusing himself. Evening falls and the town awaits, dimly lit by torches casting lights from within homes and along the outside of the great library at the town's center. A building built to rival the size of the Somno Sleepery, it beckons as the obvious first destination for the group. Its doors are closed, but upon opening, they are greeted by a great man standing at the ready shortly inside, towels spread along the entry way. Almost seven foot tall of lavender skin, milky white pools of white for eyes, and streaks of blue and white decorating his flesh, he is obviously not human. Making this fact more apparent is the golden, feathery decorations adorning his purple robe's back and neck, angelic in style. Riyae, the Deva.

He stands calm, almost as still as a statue, unblinking and unwavering even at the burst of cold on the doors opening. He instead greets the trio in a calm but deep voice, beckoning over fresh cloaks brought by invisible hands. The party is understandably hesitant to trust such displays at first glance, but Tacin takes the lead in accepting the hospitality, following his lead to a reading area beside a sizable fireplace. Gildie follows, though Garn stays put comfortably on the towels, not wanting to take off his muddy boots and expose himself (and likely stinky feet) to the group proper. With their cloaks drying by the fire, tea starting to heat, and the basics of introduction made, the group get down to business.

Tacin procures the statue, painting, and three vials with a shard of power apiece onto a table while voicing his concerns over the weather, the confusing nature of Ember's request, and the mysterious artifacts thrust upon him and the group. Riyae seems completely unshaken by Ember's behavior, however, assuring the group this is somehow standard fare for her way of life and that their task was not entrusted lightly. As they call his explanation into some question, he spends a few moments examining the objects, drawing a few basic conclusions about them while waiting for an opening to reveal his initial findings.

The golem in question isn't identified, however the numerous symbols of gods ensure the divine nature of the problem at hand is to blame. Ember's choice to petition his help comes from his nature as a Deva, good-natured immortals who consider it their mission in all their reincarnations to grow close and helpful to the gods. For all the many deities who can be identified by symbols, one stands out as important to not appear; Sehanine, the goddess of the moon, trickery, illusions, and the autumn season. The timing of the start of the downpour, that her two best friends in the pantheon are shown in the statue as potentially captive, and that a shard of power appeared in Somnophis specifically leads him to the conclusion that the goddess weeps uncontrollably, sending unchecked rains upon the land.

Of the drawing itself, four ghosts chasing a skull chasing a bird's head, a simple conclusion is drawn that the Raven Queen is being hunted by Orcus. There is little room for doubt, given the nature of the statue and religious overtones to the whole deal. The prophecy inscribed on the back, however, presents a unique challenge in that it is in the style of the true seers of old, of which Riyae was not. There is one single word standing out from the rest, spelled by Ember how she thinks it may have been pronounced. The few ways she wrote it down are read aloud, ringing familiar to Tacin's ears with how he once attempted to pronounce the same sounding word from an old Celestial dictionary he chanced upon. Riyae soon pieces together the likely idea that it was misspoken, and is indeed the Celestial word for "Despair" used in the prophecy. Why that single word is an issue and in Celestial, however, is not yet figured out.

The shards of power, however, present a unique mystery to him. They are familiar enough that he stands a chance of some form of identification, but not enough that he can do so at a simple glance or first touch. He concentrates on each one among the Red, Blue, and Purple shards, coming to a more solid conclusion the more he lingers on them. Within a few minutes, he has an epiphany; these are the selfsame style of shards of power found more commonly in the Fourth Era, used by the divine magicians dubbed "Invokers" at the time. Though smaller, less powerful, and more varied in their magical natures, they resonate the same way he felt in past lives when encountering similar power. Garn finally becomes curious enough to remove his boots and take his place beside the group, examining the shards properly for the first time himself while Riyae speaks.

Tacin's mind works quickly, coming to the conclusion that different shards might manifest different forms of power specifically, though his first thought is that different colours may signal different schools of magic. If so, however, their associations of colour to school are faulty; Ember described a nectotic-esque loss of life force from the backlash of crushing a green shard some time after orange. Garn, whose Firbolg nature allows him to detect the magical nature of items and creatures around him, promptly asks Riyae if schools of magic associate themselves with different colours. Tacin wonders much the same, yet he would expect necromancy effects to be akin to black, or perhaps purple, but certainly not green.

Riyae thinks much the same, but takes it a step further; perhaps the power is not in a school of magic, but a source of power entirely. He muses that the nature of the shards is the powers gods grant all magic, not simply wizardry or divine strength, an explanation he feels is backed up by his own discovery to the energies he felt within each individual shard. Of the Red shard, he felt a sense of a Warlock's all-consuming power, coupled with a unique familiarity to the Invoker's strength of old. To the Blue, he sensed naught but a glimmer of natural magic, his mind's eye likening the strength to what he would know in the Fourth Era as a Warden's strength. The purple, he could assume naught of its strength or origin, only that it held the same magical nature as his own Wizard powers.

The trio are left wondering why Ember would not have saved the Orange shard for herself to add to this collection fo research, and what to do with this newfound information. It was Ember's request of an inquiry, after all, not theirs. Riyae, however, is left wondering what to do with the shards of power themselves. Manifestations of gods' own strength, they were not to be taken lightly, and cerrtainly not to be left alone for fear of falling into the wrong hands. After a brief conversation via telepathy with Ember herself, he confirms that her goal was information. She herself was attuned to the orange shards' power, after all. Given his understanding of the powers of the Fourth Era, Riyae offers his suggestions of what to do.

Garn could make use of the Red, for Archfey warlocky was a possibility and its power useful besides, and his wise nature brought him closer to religious proficiency than his comrades. Gildie, being the only of the group who seemed comfortable facing foes toe to toe, was presented with the Blue shard, whose suspected ties to a Warden's strength was to be a potential boon for her. The purple shard, however, Riyae seemed hesitant to offer to Tacin, who seemed equally hesitant to accept it. Only Garn was courageous enough to crush the offered shard, finding himself growing in vitality, reserves of energy, understanding of the arcane, and somehow coming to know a spell he had never pursued. He curiously casts it, finding himself coated in a cool, magical aura that Riyea identifies as the Armor of Agathys.

There is no question about it, the shards are indeed powerful. But Tacin and Gildie opt out of using their own offered shards, replacing them in their vials for the time being. With the mysteries largely cleared up, the trio recognizes they are somewhat in over their own heads for dealing with the problems of gods, and find themselves weary, even with the long-boiling tea finally served to refresh them. Riyae offers to pay for their night at the inn, given their lack of spending money coming back to haunt them, but Tacin's eye catches a curious sight on the way. A young girl of maybe seven or eight summers is looking at them from around the corner of a house, outside, in the heavy rain.

He petitions Gildie to not retire for the night yet, and asks Garn for his cloak to offer the girl, but being an eight foot man, the cloak is exceptionally large and heavy with water. Instead, he makes it a point to offer his own as he approaches the girl, worry apparent at her likelihood to catch cold or worse. With the promise of a dry spot and what looks like a hug, she leaps herself into him and shivers the entire time. She speaks little, but agrees readily to join him to the inn to find a dry place. Riyae identifies her as Emily, but she seems to recoil from him even as he works his magic to rapidly dry and warm her clothes, before the rest of the party's in turn. Though she doesn't want conversation with him, Riyae voices his worry for her safety, his hope that their family's torubles end, and that he misses seeing her in the library.

The group work to cheer up the girl, with Tacin and Gildie offering conversation and questions while Garn uses his innate magic to offer her a pleasant distraction. Illusion cloaks him to appear almost five feet tall, yet reality prevails as his still eight foot tall body reaches over to, with permission, scoop up Emily and hold her piggyback atop his shoulders, a magic trick of levitation to successfully shake her mindset out of her gloom. Deeming herself among friends, she mentions that her father told her to get out because she interrupted him and her mother's alone time, even though she was hungry. It was sometime after breakfast that this happened, likely near noon, and there had been no sign of the parents missing or searching for her at all.

Gildie fumes, and is overcome with an urge to give these two parents a piece of her mind. With the barkeep onlooking and in agreement about the insanity of the situation, he offers up what little he knows, alongside a quick meal for Emily. Her father is Robert, described as a good man and hard worker who suddenly came into relations with an outsider that seemed to take an unusually direct shining to Robert. Emily's sudden seclusion and the potential for abuse, however, are an entirely unheard of idea, even among his gossiping patrons. Though her resolve to get to the bottom of such neglect is unshaken, a new possibility hangs in the back of Gildie's mind. The team is moved enough to proceed at once, though, using the barkeep's direction of the southwestmost house as the target.

Garn is the one who knocks. Yet Gildie is not far behind, and even Tacin able to hear a feminine groan of frustration before a minute passes and a well kept man opens the door. Among the immediate chatter, Gildie's piercing cry of "Are you Emily's father!?" prompts a sudden change in his demeanor. His visage shifts from a hazy, absentminded gaze to a genuinely distraight sight, guilt clear in his voice as he realizes what has happened. Despite this, Garn blocks the doorway, seeking answers before entrusting Emily's safety to a potentially neglectful or abusive father. He never once seems to lie or show anything but crystal clear worry; the feminine voice makes itself known as an uncommonly beautiful lady pokes her head out of the second floor clearing to voice her disdain for the situation, and not in a way that shows any concern for Emily's well being.

Robert's earnest worry wins the party over enough to lead him through the rain, Tacin making it a point to stop at the building where Emily was originally seen hiding. Robert knows nothing about why she would choose such a spot, given her preference for games in the fields or time in the library, and laments the idea of her spending such a long time in the icy rain. They proceed to the inn proper, where Robert all but vaults to Emily's side, relief apparent and guilt still consuming his voice. Emily takes a few seconds to cave into tears herself, with Gildie's ears catching hints of such cries as wondering why he never looks at her this way anymore. She missed this side of him.

Unbeknownst to the two, though, Garn took the moment to slip away to pursue his own approach to the situation. He is en route to the household again to directly confront the stepmother. Out of caution, he makes it a point to attempt any direct sources of magic before and after opening the door, finding nothing but the lady's voice waiting. She proves to be as unconcerned for the situation as before, merely telling Garn to get out before humoring his accusations. Emily confided to the party that it was Robert's word to get out, a story the stepmother sticks to quite readily. She herself has no hatred of or real problem with Emily, statements that Garn can't discern to be lies... but he can discern that her tongue is silver with experience of getting into peoples' heads. His audacity to enter the building leads her to appear beside the open doorway, tell him to get out, and slam the door behind him when he obeys quite readily. As he leaves, Garn notices a curious, pink, heart-shaped trace of magic exiting himself and floating towards the closed door.

So he returns to the inn, unable to successfully recount the situation. It's an unusual display of uncertainty and forgetfulness from an otherwise straightforward fellow, enough to trigger worry in his allies. What he does recall is his effort to talk to her, his swift departure, and the fragment of some enchanting magic leaving him before his return. Tacin attempts to work out the details himself, but Gildie seeks to put the pieces of the puzzle together with help, returning to the library alone to seek Riyae's assistance. He himself knows nothing more of Robert's wife and their life than the barkeep, but he grows concerned for Garn's change of demenaor, returning to the inn alongside Gildie. Near the same time, Tacin catches Robert trying to escort Emily home, leading him to convince Robert over the next few minutes that Emily would be safer in the inn, to which he eventually complies.

Gildie returns with Riyae during the exchanghe. The four isolate themselves to a corner far away from the calming girl, learn the name of the mother at last to be Jessica, and double check that Garn's testimony hasn't changed. Riyae, fearing the worst, asks permission to touch Garn's head, and casts dispelling magics in rapid succession to remove general spell effects and curses. Garn's head immediately clears, and he recalls in much greater detail how the lady acted, how she mysteriously appeared in the doorway, and how her presence up close shifted his mindset.
Riyae asks if she used the ladder to descend, knowing the layout of buildings in the area. To his dismay, no. She did not.

Riyae's fears are revealed after considering the situation from all sides. He is of the opinion that Jessica is a succubus, targeting Robert. As much as they wish to help, the adventuring trio has no desire to pick a fight with a devil while they themselves are still spent from the halfway house's fighting, a stance shared by Riyae. The morning, however, promises to be quite the adventure.

Session 3: {b}Jessica{/b}: 
Although their original mission was merely to deliver goods and request investigation about them, the party feels the presence of a potential succubus is well worth sticking around for, as neither the trio nor Riyae want to leave a fiend unchecked. Riyae convinces Emily to retire for the night in the library, hallowed ground resistant to fiendish attention. Agreeing to see Riyae shortly after awakening, the three retire to their own rooms, though Garn has the idea to send his pet--a giant wolf spider he otherwise has kept tucked safely away--to scout the household for audible signs of struggle or trouble. There is nothing to report, however, merely a surprised inkeep and a further scared inkeep's wife come the new morning when it skitters from and to the inn.

The night passes without any visible issues, and the three reconvene at the library to find Emily passed out quite peacefully on a couch facing the fireplace, and Riyae behind his desk awaiting their return. He leads them into the entryway, out of earshot of the sleeping child, to go over both the nature of the enemy, and his plan. He briefly explains for the party's sake that among fiends, a devil differs from a demon in that they obey their own laws, seeking to corrupt a soul rather than destroy it, as part of their ways. The more good or faithful a target, the more satisfying the corruption, and the worse the fiend spawned of the soul. Given the behaviors a good man like Robert had recently shown, and Emily's dire situation, he deems the party's arrival to be just in the nick of time.

Despite his quite apparent book smarts, Riyae's skills at combat strategy are somewhat limited, and his ability to explain them worse. His idea's core consists of the trio bringing Emily back home, a sign of delivering her to lower the guard of Jessica and Robert, before having Emily run back to the library. During this time, Riyae is to enter the house ethereally, while the trio force their way in physically, barring the door to prevent Jessica's escape in the material world. Riyae, in the ethereal plane, will conjure a spell that binds her in a spectral cage that stops her from shifting away in any directon. Riyae points out his susceptibility to her charming effects, calling on Tacin's ability to allow him to perform above his normal, keeping his inspiring tones in reserve to call upon if he finds himself a target of her charms. With this, Riyae hopes to systematically eliminate the succubus' options, leaving her isolated and an easy target on either plane, given a succubus' or incubus' physically frail nature.

Tacin, however, promptly calls out the problem of leaving Emily unattended to potentially witness violence, and Garn chips in that her ability to stick to a plan instead of lock up or watch out of sheer childish curiosity is a worry. Riyae, however, has no expertise in illusionary magic, and they must hire the innkeep's wife, Jillian, to leave her station for a moment to play Emily's escort. Riyae sparks some confidence in Jillian's reliability due to knowing her and Jacque to be good people, and certainly that Jacque would have told her of the happenings of the night. And so she agrees, takes it upon herself to wake Emily up, and leads the group out to the house. Jillian is visibly confused about how to approach the situation once there, as is Gildie when the door finally opens to show Robert waiting in it, but Garn and Tacin lead the charge in and push Robert to a side wall so everyone can funnel in while Jillian coaxes Emily away and back to the library.

The first few moments of this entry are an awkward exchange, Gildie wondering what the signal is of Riyae's spell and Robert trying to get answers out of Garn and Tacin. Garn assures Robert it's for his own good, and after ten seconds of waiting, escalates the tension by taking a rushed and unfortunately inaccurate shot at the still disguised Jessica. She scoffs and drops the facade, pointing out that she should have killed Garn when she had the chance, before she vanishes into the ether. Unknown to the group, Riyae awaits her on the second floor balcony, already having wrapped her in the force cage and at the ready to fire deadly accurate missiles upon her. The team takes their positions and hopes for the best; Garn bars the door and awaits a chance to shoot, Tacin holds steady in front of a window while hurredly trying to explain the situation to Robert, and Gildie dashes herself up the ladder to put herself as close to the succubus' original position as she can.

The lady reappears where she once was, trying to fly away but ending up only squishing her side against the very tight prison holding her in both worlds. Garn's arrow explodes in a magical spray as it lands, and Gildie's blade finds itself just barely missing the fiend's face, while Riyae rejoins the fray with another barrage of missiles and Tacin's words cut through to her black soul. She turns and tries as expected to charm Riyae into turning against the party, but his mind is all too well steeled against the effort, leaving her isolated and outnumbered. Seeing the desperate situation for the fiend, Garn beams to himself and figures out the perfect method to conclude this dark chapter. Being an eight foot giant looking upon a ten foot balcony, he uses a table as a footstool to roll himself over the edge and scramble into place behind her, pinning her between himself and Gildie. Restrained, distracted by Gildie's efforts to scar her beautiful face specifically, and caught in the middle of two foes, the succubus is helpless against Garn's headsman's chop with an axe, soon giving the devil a taste of the dullahan's life.

Mich to Riyae's displeasure, the dissapation fiends are known to undergo upon death is a slow process. He expected her to flicker away into flame or ash at an instant, but instead the corpse very slowly fades into a back smoke, and would take too long for his taste. Tacin jabs him with a point about his lack of being able to plan, though Riyae's lack of fiendslaying history is hard to blame, but agrees to the idea of bringing Robert to the library and ensuring Emily does not watch the door while Riyae telekentically flings the corpse through the doors to dissolve much more instantly within the holy, hallowed aura. Robert and Emily are reunited, and both seem much more revitalized for being rid of the succubus' lingering influence.

Riyae congratulates the party, pointing out that he feels cheery enough to perhaps ring a bell in celebration. Garn's mind turns in memory of his dream over the past night; a large bell swinging, with an amber twinkle somewhere at the hinge of it glinting at him every so often as it swung. He does not voice this dream specifically yet, but asks to see the bell to confirm for himself if it's a coincidence or not. The bell in question is upstairs, comparable to a house in volume and a brilliant brass in color, but Garn pays its beauty and Riyae's explanation of its use as an alarm clock of sorts no mind. He instead maneuvers himself around to the same angle he remembers it in his dream from, even using his magic detection ability to try to pinpoint the location of where he dreamed the shard. Indeed, standing directly under the hinge, he finds himself able to see a lustrous yellow glow of magic, to which he explains to the party his dream and that there is something triggering his senses. The bell itself is not magical, only being born from a spell alongside the creation of the library. Curious, Riyae flies up to the hinge, and comes back down with a shard of amber pulsing in his palm.

After a minute, Riyae concludes that the primary power flowing through the shard is true divine power, clerical and holy in nature, but couldn't quite name the secondary power hidden at its core. He claims the power is a rare form of holy power, but not one that he had seen more than once in a past life, and certainly not in-depth enough to recall more than its nature as some form of artistry, with pictures or words. Despite this, the shard's existence is clear as day, as is a renewed reminder from Riyae that the trio is free to break the shards as they desire as per Ember's request and permission. Gildie is still hesitant to risk subjecting herself to unknown magical effects, but Tacin confirms with Garn his lack of ailments from his own red shard before risking the violet one stored away. A brilliant streak of purple electricity courses through Tacin's hand as he squeezes the shard, giving him a similar charge of vitality, store of energy, insight into the arcane talents of Wizards of old, and clarity of thought about arcane knowledge in general. Being a very practical soul who knows his well being is important to him, his power manifests itself in the form of a protective shield that he can summon once per day to shove away an otherwise true strike against him.

With the business of the bell concluded and the nature of the dream resolved, the party reconvenes downstairs, finding Robert reading a children's book to Emily. Riyae gives the painting back to Tacin, having transcribed a summary of his findings upon it so Ember has a hard copy, and makes it a point to say he intends to investigate the statue further on suspicion that it is for some reason hollow. Gildie and Tacin make sure to give Emily a farewell before the team squares away a proper meal to ready them for the trip back to Somnophis. The weather, unfortunately, has not improved whatsoever. The road is similarly dull, though that seems to be a good thing as little happens on it. At the halfway house, the team finds themselves feeling less like stopping and more like getting the trip over with, but a squeak of the door's hinge and slam shut after they pass confirms to them that the place is occupied. Fog heavily obscures the windows to the entry, however, and Gildie takes initiate with sword out and shield ready to peek the door open. She is greeted by a rather rough and tumble figure with his own weapon drawn, a man who cries out "They know!" before a melee breaks loose.

The team is initially outnumbered four to three, but cut and run tactics give Gildie a quick chance to stab one bandit fatally before she takes a defensive position in a corner of the entry room to avoid exposing her back. Sadly, the three cads are quick to respond, swarming her rapidly. The largest of the group, a scarcely armored man wielding a big stick, swings wide once but crashes his club against her while a more nimble man with two daggers steps through her guard. She is overwhelmed rapidly, slumping unconscious against the corner while the leader rides the momentum to step out and fling a dagger at Tacin. The second lesser bandit sprints out after Garn, who has taken a distant position to shoot into the building, leaving Tacin an opening to sing a quick rejuvenation spell to Gildie. The second bandit is lost to Tacin's swift backstab after, leaving the fight effectively split in two.

Gildie contends toe-to-toe with the thug, who makes it a repeat performance to miss with his first strike before the backswing catches her off guard. She gives into the need to survive and dips her shield arm's hand into her bag to force her grip through both the glass vial and turquoise shard within, finding herself revitalized as well and able to further rejuvenate herself even more with a bard's choice of the same healing spell Tacin cast before. The ringleader contends with Garn and Tacin, slipping up and striking blow for blow as best he can with the Bard, but struggling de to the heavy rain in his eyes and the surprise of a spectral shield just as he thinks he has an opening. In desperation to create some distance, Tacin summons a blast of thunder, failing to push the leader away but creating a resounding thunderclap that roars out for quite some distance.

As the heroes' resources are spent, they find their assailants looking only about halfway to defeat themselves. The confrontation as it is will end in defeat, for sure, but there is a follow-up roar of sound charging from the southeast. Garn is the first to see Kiran chasing the source of the noise, rushing forward to deliver his furious justice upon the bandits. The leader recognizes four to two are bad odds and calls for a retreat between him and his ally, but his ally is soon pinned by Gildie and Tacin blocking the doorway and preparing to dodge any onslaught. Dodge they do, Gildie well readied to deflect both swings before Kiran once again punches a streak of fire from his fist. A single blast to the face is enough to fatally wound the thug, and Kiran is free to dash the distance to the leader for an unexpectedly efficient grapple that halts the absconding scoundrel, though only for a moment when the struggle is too wild to hold any longer.

Garn takes one more good shot at the foe before Kiran once again holds the bandit steady, one well-placed strike to the neck ending the poor sap. Despite her fatigue and injuries, Gildie looks through the building for more signs of the bandits, but thankfully comes up short. The party perseveres, and is thankfully in good enough company to take a well deserved rest from putting their lives on the line.

Author's note: Curse the limitations of BBcode. The original title was to be [b]Jessica[/b], the title of the session being a Mafia vote reference for throwing the succubus under the bus by lynching her, but code in spoil titles is a no-go.

Goten is dead!

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