The Tainted World

Session 2
On the road east...

Will and Slabian gathered the remaining wagoneers, while Guardian recovered his strength and Kami and his Simians kept guard.

“There’s enough men here to get the wagons on their way— just enough,” stated Will.

“Should we return to the Visage?” asked Slabian. “Or hadn’t we better protect our investments and escort these goods on their way?”

“I have no pressing business in the Visage,” stated Guardian, already mounting his Rhinox.

Only Kami stayed silent, looking to the East— his homeland— wondering what his return would bring…

The primaries of the Eastern Trade escorted their caravan east. On the third day, they came upon a walled village. One great section of the walls had been torn down and several buildings demolished. The damage was obviously recent, and repairs had only just started.

The rich caravan was welcomed into the damaged village of Duskyglade, and introduced to its leader, the magnificent Claudius. Claudius told the party that the great tentacled beast they had encountered, or one very similar, had attacked Duskyglade, tearing down the walls, killing their shaman, and destroying his temple, among other nearby buildings. When told the creature might already be dead, he was disappointed. Having the repairs under way, he had arrogantly intended to ride out and hunt down the creature himself.

The party inquired if anything had been taken from the village in the attack. Claudius didn’t know, and directed them to the lisping youth Poppy who had assisted the shaman and was now serving in his place. They found Poppy conducting rituals in the ruins of Duskyglade’s temple. He stated that, yes, the village’s holy and magical golden bowl had disappeared during the creature’s attacked. He described very accurately an item disgorged by the slain creature— there was no doubt now the party had slain the same beast which had attacked Duskyglade.

They returned the golden bowl of Duskyglade to Poppy, who enthusiastically began to recount the many other treasures the beast had taken. The party didn’t need Will’s mind reading to determine him to be lying, but Will saw his anxiety at his youth and inexperience, and his many siblings he supported to be the cause for his apparent greed. The party told him to make up a list— a very specific list— and if they had found any of the items on that list, they would return them.

As the party left the ruined temple, they saw Claudius in conversation with a regal-looking [Rus]. Claudius introduced Hetman Averjin Kargin de Rasputina of Novavskorsk, who explained that he had been tracking this tentacled creature for some time, and was preparing to set out again with Claudius to slay it. He seemed quite upset to have had his quarry taken before he could reach it. Guardian’s natural belligerence seemed to draw his attention and a few pointed barbs of his own. Rasputina cast scorn on Guardian and Hetman Vladimir Romanov, the third member of ruling Triumvirate of the Sentinels of Kore.

Rasputina stormed away, and Claudius stated that Duskyglade would hold a feast in honor of their visitors returning the golden bowl to them. Slabian spent his time wheeling and dealing in the main square, taking a huge haul in local crafts that appeared Gnomish in origin. When time came for the feast to begin, Guardian saw Rasputina riding out of town, and followed on his Rhinox.

Scarcely had the first insults flown before Guardian swung his mighty maul at Rasputina, smashing his shoulder. Rasputina was obviously a skilled horseman and attempt to evade, yet the sure footed Rhinox was able to keep up. Yet the Content Not Found: ebon-lance hissed to Guardian, “Let him flee! Your masters command it!” Guardian reigned up and watch Rasputina ride away. Guardian wheeled his Rhinox back towards Duskyglade, but before he could reach it, a shot was fired from the direction Rasputina had fled. The mighty Guardian shrugged it off with a scowl and a foul gesture, then returned to the feast where he got mightily drunk, offended the citizens of Duskyglade, and passed out.

The next day, it was obvious Claudius and Duskyglade were glad to see them leave.

The caravan traveled on for a few days more along the ancients’ decayed stone roads. Slabian’s keen Moon Elf eyes spotted something unusual— a giant Eagle flying high in the sky, then landing. It would rise again, circle, and then land, each time approaching closer. The party was thus warned when, as they reached a bridged crossroads, a tremendous mammoth riden and surrounded by numerous large ogrish creatures rode into site.

Each ogre was easily as large as Guardian. They were giant twisted parodies of men, with mishappen foreheads, tusk-like teeth jutting from their thin lips, and arms too long and too muscular for their form. The mammoth itself was enormous, approaching twenty feet tall. Across its back was secured a platform carrying various goods the ogres had found value in, as well as the three riders. One in front acted as mahout, prodding the mammoth with a long spiked staff to control. One in back began to swivel a tremendously long rifle on the party. Between stood a shorter ogre, garishly decorated in feathers and skulls.

Guardian recognized this fiend— the ogre mage who had once left him for dead. He brought up his Ebon Lance and fired. The Necromantic energy struck the mage, but the wiry wizard managed to shrug the blow off. With a flick of its wrist and an utterance in some vile tongue, the mage turned one of the ogres on the ground into a giant spider. It bounded up the road and onto the wagon before Guardian, leading a mob of ogres to follow and sinking its poisonous fangs into his chest.

The mighty war mammoth approached the remaining bridge span and raked its mighty tusks across it, smacking both Will and Slabian as well as the caravan’s lead wagon. Slabian backed off, firing arrows at the mahout ogre until he fell lifeless from the mammoth. Will summoned the debris from the fallen bridge span to encase the mammoth’s neck like a collar. The beast was too tremendous and shattered his restraints.

Kami led his lieutenant and remaining minions to meet a second group of ogres head on. The mage again waved his arm, and the lead ogre transformed into giant, poisonous snake. The simians battled desperately, defeating most of the ogres but falling themselves. Kimi himself suffered from a poisonous bite of a snake, but Slabian firing from the bridge was able to finish off the beast.

The mammoth now wandered uncontrolled. The mage began to shout commands and magically control it, heading across the bridge for Will as Slabian slew the gunner on the back. Will began to overpower the mage, commanding him to sleep. The mage drowsily resisted and threw an evil hex upon Will, which only just failed to take hold.

With Guardian powering past the poison to pulverize the spider-shaped ogre and its minions, the mage had no more allies. With Will’s commands preying upon its spirit, the mage summoned the last of its strength and launched himself from the mammoth, transforming into a great eagle and flying for the dense cover of the far trees before disappearing in their depths.

With the ogres dead and defeated, the agitated mammoth wandered dangerously. Guardian approached it, and using his skill with animals, calmed it down and even mounted it himself.

Session 1
The Eastern Trade Co indicted before the king and their caravan attacked

“Sales are down 22% in the last month, sire,” stated Hershall, the estate’s doorman. “You know why.”

Garrison Blair lounged in his gaudy velvet chair with filigree arms, and swirled his goblet distractedly. “The Eastern Trade.”

“Yes, sire.” Hershall cleared his throat. “People…are talking…”

Blair’s eyes narrowed, his ego hurt to hear such from a trusted confidant. “That cartel of monsters thinks it can waltz into the Visage and undercut me. Make me look incompetent, a fool? It’s not about money with these…creatures. They seek to destroy me personally. Malfinger’s blood, I’ll be damned before I let that happen!” He stared into the fire, contemplating. “Hershall, grab a quill. Compose a letter to the king…”

Our story opens as the Eastern Trade Company finds itself summoned before the king of the Visage of Strife. Noted businessman Garrison Blair has filed a petition to set minimum prices on a variety of goods, to stop the Eastern Trade from undercutting his existing business.

Alister sends his Little Birds into action, to see what secrets Blair has. They report what is widely known about Blair— a successful businessman, member of the Visage’s “Old Boy” network, outspoken against both magic and non-humans, and looked upon with favor by the king. But unknown to most, a Little Bird whispers into Alister’s ear that this fine upstanding citizen of the Visage has a most unsavory habit— that of the highly illicit magical drug Moon Dust.

The principals of the Eastern Trade concoct a plan, to use Guardian‘s contacts among the the Black Lotus to contaminate Blair’s next Moon Dust supply with extract of fire beetle— known to make its users overly aggressive and compulsive. Alister’s Little Birds go to work whispering into the ears of the king’s court that Blair is a dangerous user of magical drugs, and the party hopes the reports from the Little Birds that Blair likes to imbibe such substances before important meetings is true.

The next day, the party sees Blair arrive before the king looking the worse for that. Not only is he weary with blood-shot eyes, but his wife sports a black eye as well. Before Slabian can speak for the group, she approaches him alone, and confides how attractive she find Slabian and how she hopes he will win the king’s favor in the meeting today. Slabian finds himself angered by this comely lass’s treatment at her husband’s hands. However, he is still able to argue deftly before the king.

Blair claims that the Eastern Trade’s good are magical counterfeits, and presents his doorman who testifies to having bought Eastern Trade silk, only to have it turn into a bird and fly away! Slabian counters by questioning why Blair or his people would be buying silks from non-humans. He also drops hints of the pleasures of the Orient they could bring to the Visage of Strife. Blair calls it immoral debauchery, betraying the hard working people of the Visage, but king swayed by Slabian. Slabian deals yet another blow by implying Blair’s drug use; Blair is rattled by the low murmors among the court at the rumor.

Later, news is brought that the Eastern Trade has had a caravan attacked by a great beast. Routes east do seem to be growing even more dangerous. Will Cartesian leads the party and they arrive to find most of the caravan still in good order, although scattered. Only one wagon has been destroyed, laying crushed in a area of disturbed earth which has entombed several of the wagoneers.

As the party examined the scene, they noticed a rumbling coming from below the surface of the ground! Prince Kami’s lieutenant and minions spring from their hiding places to defend their liege as terrible tentacles erupt from the ground. They party battles these horrible tentacles which seem to focus on Guardian, trying to strip his gun or his maul from him. The party makes headway until hundreds of tentacles erupt, ensnaring everyone at once! Tentacles are hewn left and right, until Guardian pulls the Ebon Lance and fires into the heart of the mass, his own might draining away as the Ebon Lance seemingly stole the creature’s soul.

Upon death, the creature convulsed and thrashed, and dissolved back into the earth it sprang from— leaving several magical items it had previously acquired.