"Tunis, City of Thieves I" - February 16th, 2002
Go read the Interlude #13...It will serve as a LONG introduction!
Part 1 - A TASTE OF THINGS TO COME (by Scott)
Men are pig-headed. The Finders sat around the table in the Castle Bar Tent. They had paid Okrote to reserve it that morning and have him keep watch outside while they made plans on how to get into Tunis and recover the Tomb of Purity. They had gathered enough information on where Tunis should be that they were sure they could find it, but how to gain access to the city of thieves? They had many options, from bluffing their way in to bribing but I; Kitzarnic Xeras felt using the letter we had recovered from the Mind Flayers lair. The letter regarding the kidnapping and delivery of the Ambassador from the Empire seemed to have been from Quincy the Quick, leader of the Council of the Knife, the ruling factor in Tunis. While some of the Group agreed this was a good plan, others felt we should try using other means first and save the letter as a final resort. I felt these other plans would not work to get into a City of thieves that had remained a secret for so long...against such attempts to find it...but the other members agreed we would proceed with these options first to get the Book of Purity.
Suddenly, we heard Okrote cry out from the front of the tent. I cast a dimension door some sixty feet away out beyond the tent as Vikos did the same just beyond it as others rushed out the exit or made their own exit outside. We found a terrible surprise, a creature of the abyss, an Infernal Demon was there with an unconscious Okrote lying crumpled some distance away. The Finders launched into an onslaught of all out attacks and spells which was met by an awesome roar the sent a shiver through all those close to the Fiery Demon. Will felt a wave of terror wash over him and an uncontrollable urge to run took control and he bolted away from the Demon. Druaden seemed to be conversing angrily with the Demon in its own language as Zeek and Vikos were exchangeing blows with it...and I launched wave after wave of Magic missiles its way. Jerimiah was shouting out commands at it in the name of Heronious for it to return to its infernal plane of existence but to no avail. Druaden then shouted a warning to Jeremiah that he needed to retreat for he was the main target of this creature but they found their way blocked by a spherical wall of evil force. I had exhausted my magic missiles and found that with their retreat I had room to send a Lightening bolt cutting through the demon and then Zeek finished him off with a blur of attacks from his glowing blue fists as the demon screamed and disappeared in a cloud of sulfur smoke and ashes...charing the ground beneath him.
With the battle over Jerimiah called upon his God for answers and guidance on this quest he had set him on after this attack from the Infernal Creature. It was made known to him that the Demon was sent to both send a warning and test the strength of our group. We had been found by our mentioning the name of the Tomb of Purity and the dark forces at Birchmount were aware that we seeked its retrieval. Our best course seemed to be to make haste and acquire the book and clean the Abby before the Evil there could get fully prepared for us. With this information we all went to prepare for our journey up the River of Blood to find Tunis and the item we would now be referring to as "The Book".
Part 2 - FILLET OF SOULS (by Scott)
Men don't know how to communicate. The Finders moved up the valley along side of the River of Blood, though it looked more like the River of Mud with it swollen with melted ice and 500 year old decomposed debris. As we came around a bend a strange sight came into view, an elderly man on a small donkey. He seemed to have metal cap on his head that was more a part of it rather than on it. Ruadin rode his newly acquired stead that he clamed was a gift from his God forward and hailed the man who promptly returned his salute. At a safe distance there was an exchange of introductions where the old man presented himself as Grinval...a merchant of sorts. When asked what he had to trade he matter of factly replied "Whatever your hearts' desire," but for a specific price, something that most people, as he put it had little need of...their soul. From there I could see the conversation was only going to end in a bad situation. What with a high priest of Hearoneous, a Paladin of the same and Vikos the hammer of Tobin taking in the confessions of this Grinval the Soul-Eater. I proceeded to cast my protection spells and prepare for the worst. He preceded to tell of his past acts as a servant of the Demon named RakRon and how he acquired souls for him in various ways which included the kidnapping and sacrificing of young virgins until his falling out with his master. Now he was on the lamb from the Demon hiding amongst the blue stones of the Azure Mountains, which seemed to give some protection from detection spells and all-seeing eyes of demons...that might give away his hiding places.
At this point Ruadin advanced and told Grinval that if he would swear to change his ways and repent for his past deeds and leave straight away he would not strike him down for his transgressions. Before he had a chance to respond Vikos cried out something about death and the wrath of Tobin on sinners and unleashed a spell, which I took as my signal to dimension door out of the line of fire. To my surprise Grinval was pulled to the ground by dark tentacles with little struggle, he only asked what had he done to our party to deserve this. The party's attention was drawn away from him by the frantic cries of his donkey that was also being crushed to the ground by the black bands. Jeremiah promptly cast a dispel magic as Will and Eytai went to aide the poor animal as Grinval once again pleaded for mercy. In answer to his cries, he received the "mercy" of Tobin, in the form of wicked by missiles of light launched from Vikos causing Grinval's crushed body to shudder. Ruahdin road between putting Vikos to the ground and stating he had given his word to let this man leave in peace if he promised to change his ways. I moved to Grinval and helped him up and offered to trade him a flask of Burey Hill brandy for the scroll of souls he had acquired, the bag he had that he could pull someone's hearts desire from, and the map to Tunis he had mentioned in his tale of dealing with a prior group we found to be the other Marked Ones. He accepted the deal with the stipulation it be sealed with a kiss from me which I gladly gave. He warned me quietly not to open the bag for it would be a great mistake and as he and his donkey hobbled off he turned and called out "By the way, watch out for the Giants up ahead" which caused the party to all glance at each other with varied expressions of worry, determination, and excitement (from Vikos).
Part 3 - BIGGER PROBLEMS (by Scott)
Men don't listen. The party agreed that Zeek should go ahead and find out the strength of the force of Giants
coming down the valley as the rest of the party set up an ambush at a narrow part of the valley. Jeremiah sent
a message back to Javair about the invaders as the others made planes of sending down avalanches, raising walls
of fire and raining down lightening on the enemy. Zeek did not return at the agreed upon time and the party became
worried and cautiously moved up the valley finding a line of white furred Yeti methodically advancing with a number
of giants following at a distance. As we were discussing our options Zeek came barreling down the mountainside
to inform us that the foe we faced was much too large for us to face. Vikos still pushed for some sort of strike
against them to do as much damage as possible and I agreed that we should do something to delay them but it should
in no way endanger our quest for the book. The advancing army stop short of our position and started building a
wall, so the rest of the party wanted to find an alternative route around them to the valley that Tunis was believed
to be but Vikos still wished to risk delaying our mission to try to slay some Giants and their minions. After repeated
efforts to convince him this was to risky he grudgingly gave in.
The Finders move up a parallel valley to the one we were seeking and came to a connecting gorge, but it was still in the grip of a glacier and we knew it was also home to a place we were told to give a wide birth to, the Black Tower. We moved across the treacherous ice to find a black spire rising a hundred feet above it though the glacier itself was hundreds of feet deep. An essence of Evil radiated from it that was still detectable from the great distance we were at. A dark mixture of smoke and steam rose from the ice around the tower. We moved off of the glacier and into the valley we had been seeking. A jet of dark water shot from a hole in the ice flows base an upon closer examination there seemed to be a residue of black cinders that also gave of an evil aura mixed into the water. Vikos cast a weather-changing spell to bring warmth to the valley that would greatly accelerate the melting of ice hoping it would flood the Giants encampment behind the very wall they were building. We moved to high ground to find a place to spend the night and replenish our spells to be ready for our hopeful entry into Tunis the next day.
Part 4 - A CRY FROM THE DARK (by Scott)
Men can surprise you. The Finders found a safe encampment in the valley where Tunis was hidden. Jeremiah and I took the first watch, which was uneventful then went to our bedrolls as Will and Ruadhin took the second watch. It only seemed like a few moments after my head laid down when I found Ruadhin franticly wresting me from slumber telling me they had heard a wagon full of crying people passing on the road and Will had went to investigate and had not returned. I rose and cast dimension door as far as I could back down the road we had traveled up and we stepped through to find Will had dispatched the wagon driver and guards of what turned out to be a load of slaves, mostly being women and children and all in bad shape. Will had thought the wagon was taking mentally ill people to Rykers Asylum at first but heard one of the children cry out "I will never see my mommy again" which drove him to assault the wagon with little care for his own life. This change my view of him as a stuck up elites from the Empire, I gave my potion of healing to the now freed slaves as Jeremiah and Vikos cast healing and the rest of the group gave food and did what they could to heal the sick and hungry.
Part 5 - TUNIS REVEALED (by Scott)
Did I mention Men are Idiots? That morning we left the paladins horse to guard them till we could return and proceeded to the Mill to hopefully gain easy entrance to the City of thieves. I knocked on the door to the main building and was greeted by and old man would introduce himself as Raphael. I proceeded to tell him we were there to meet with Mr. Nevos in Tunis as the party had instructed me only to be told there was or had never been a Mr. Nevos as far as he knew in his Inn and he knew nothing of this place called Tunis. I could tell by the mater of fact look he gave me he regarded me as a fool for putting to him this story. I was not to happy about this and when we where invited in for a meal and a room I let will proceed with the next plan of bribing our way in since I was angry and also felt my credibility was blown away with this first fruitless ploy to get in to a place that had been kept a secret for so long and I knew bribing would have a slim to non chance of working. I was right. Will looked to me to use the letter as was my first choice but I was still not in the mood to join in to this and I had also noticed Ruadhin was looking around as if through wall with a concerned look. Knowing he could detect evil this was not a good sign. The letter change Raphael's attitude but he questioned why we did not want to see it originator Quincy the Quick. Vikos passed me a note that Raphael was thinking this might have something to do with a power struggle between Mr. Nevos and another council member and this led him to bring in one of Mr. Nevos men to take us into Tunis and continue with our questioning. We were in.
Part 6 - MEETING WITH BENDIS (by Scott)
Men are short sighted. Bendis had dark, olive colored skinned and black hair with a tightly trimmed beard. He led The Finders through the rear of the kitchen at the back of the Mill and across a room with obvious holes in the walls that would bring a rain of death upon any unwelcome visitors. The next door that opened unveiled the City of Tunis to the party, a vast well like area carved down into the solid blue stone of the mountain with circular patterns that Vikos informed us looked like the same type of he had seen at the Storm Gate that had been created by rays of disintegrate cast from one of the eyes of dreaded Beholders. Bendis led us across the bustle of the most eclectic group of people I had ever seen to a dirty and dark tavern that was empty save a rough and quite odorous man in dirty cracked armor passed out at another table.
Bendis promptly inquired about our business with Mr. Nevos concerning the Ambassador from the Empire. I tried to pursue a more open and direct offer of an alliance than in the long run would benefit both Tunis and the Azure Kingdom informing him of the army of Giants that had set up camp at the mouth of their valley. This was my mistake since Bendis seemed only concerned with the Ambassador and was not able to see the big picture. Will took over and let him know we could deliver the Ambassador but we had to deal with his master and not with him. Bendis agreed finally but as he stood there was an air about him that gave away we would not be going to see Mr. Nevo but would be leaving Tunis one way or another. It was then I put to him we might be able to do a favor for Mr. Nevo that might solve his current situation with Zardis, the man Vikos had said Raphael had been thinking about who was in a power struggle with Nevo. This changed his attitude and he took us to a tavern where we were to rent a room and meet him there later in the day after he conferred with his boss.
We were free to sight see around Tunis as long as we stayed away from Mr. Nevos and trouble. The first was no trouble it was the second that would be impossible, as usual. Zeek had been contacted in a vision by the very Raksasha that had tried to use him as a human scroll, to end his life and the world with it. Zeek said he wanted to help us on our mission so we would not let loose his love upon the world and he loose his chance to gain her favor. We reluctantly agreed with this plan and went of to deal with the backhanded creature.
Part 7 - INTO THE MADHOUSE (by Scott)
Men can't be trusted. The place Zeek led the finders to was a Temple to Ethynul the Many, God of Chaos. The
building looked to be cut from one solid black stone and was out of place amongst the other dwellings made from
the blue stone of the Azure Mountains. The door was locked and there was no answer to our knocks. There was only
the indention of a handprint and a ominous mention of one giving to the many above it. Zeek placed his had there
and was immediately drained of something of his life force leaving him weak but the door remained sealed. I tried
next and felt a slight drain but the door swung open. The group moved into the building to confront what we thought
was the Rakshasa and receive the information he had promised but it was then that Zeek revealed the cost. A life
was to be given to Ethynul and Zeek meant that life to be the Rakshasa as he drew closer to it only to get the
secret of where the book was kept and then strike at his old nemesis. After the two tiger men exchange information
Zeek turned in a panic and yelled to the party we needed to flee the building. I being the closest got there first
and cast knock upon it and watched it swing open only to find a world of Chaos before me.
The plane of Pandemonium lay before us as the winds there sucked me toward its mayhem and it was all I could do to get the immovable rod drawn and stop me from drawn into the madness. It was then we found out the Razshasa was actually a Automaton of Gnomish construct that the true Rakshasa had place in the Temple as bait to lure our whole party to its doom. The Automaton was actually quit open about the situation and told us Ethynul had deceived the backhanded creature and would not take all our lives but still required a sacrifice for us to return to our plane. Jeremiah informed The Finders he could plane shift the whole party back but it could be many miles from Tunis but we all agreed this was our only course. The Automaton at first wanted to go but upon revealing he would again fall under the control of the true Rakshasa he agreed it was best he stayed then headed of into the plane of Pandemonium.
We gathered around and joined hands as Jeremiah sent us back to our plane where we found ourselves in a vast desert far to the south of the Blue mountains we called home.