The horrible, empty husks of men known as the Spellbound took Elythia up for questioning last. She was gone only a short time, and returned looking composed and being courteously escorted by the elven interrogator. It caused me great suspicion at the time, however she later explained that the interrogator—Sutton—mistook her for someone of great and covert importance due to her possession of the shadow pearl she received from Scalla. We are lucky Elythia is so practiced at acting superior to all others, else I suspect we would have rotted in that cell. She used her unexpected influence to have Latham freed as well.
Once freed, Elythia pulled a letter out of her pocket, read it, and then paced off determinedly. She didn’t respond to any of our shouted queries. Latham advised we let her go, as he knew the look of a woman who didn’t want to be bothered. I figured that was the last we would see of her, which would not have bode well for our party because her magic can be quite effective against the adversaries we regularly encounter.
We headed back to the Seven Moons Inn, as some party members were in desperate need of a drink after the trauma of being captured by the Spellbound, and I felt the least we could do for Latham was by him a drink since he was imprisoned for the poor luck of running into us.
We drank our ales and questioned Latham about the battle mage Oror, who is something of a legend. He cleaned up the countryside of necromancers and can allegedly “kill any man or elf he chooses to.” As per usual, Sir Thomas found the opportunity to take offense at something Latham said and fondle his dagger in a threatening manner.
We decided to continue pursuing our task of utilizing the Fulcrunalium (or something to that affect. None of us can recall the exact name). The only problem was, we did not know where it was located or how to use it. Musushi hatched a sickening plot to speak to the deceased Beauregard through the near-death necromancer Sir Thomas encountered in the sick house. We tried gathering the information from the nurse Scarlett first, but she said she had neither the skill nor permission to use it. She wasn’t particularly keen on helping us, as she blames us for Beauregard’s death.
Sir Thomas found the necromancer—Kallus—slumped on the floor, close to death. He agreed to help us if we put him out of his misery.
I thought about protesting, insisting we find a different way. How can I condone this perversion of divine gifts? Perhaps because I have already done so many morally questionable things on this quest from Naphrem, and time feels short. The longer we dally, the more people die. So, I chose to be complicit in the necromancer’s dark ritual.
Musushi went to fetch Beauregard’s head and came back looking sickly, with a bundle under his arm. We stood close to Kallus, attempting to provide some protection from the view. The necromancer used Musushi’s blood to make symbols on his pillow. I thought it wasn’t working, until Kallus’ eyes rolled back in his head, and Beauregard’s snapped open. The dead cleric tells us the rituals we need to use the Fulcrinarium can be found in a book sitting on a pedestal before a portal. We weren’t able to get any additional information out of him before the spell faded. To my great surprise, the pillow Kallus used to draw his blood symbols shriveled and turned brown. Another reminder that necromancy is a defiling art.
Thomas went to make good on our promise by smothering Kallus with the shriveled pillow, but I couldn’t stomach it and stopped him. The dying man didn’t object. On our way out I asked a nurse if anyone ever recovers from this pervasive strain of disease. She herself was a survivor, and pulled back her mask to show me the horribly disfigured jaw it left her with.
With our new information, we headed to the temple of Boccob. It was a functional building, looking more like an office than a temple. Elythia is the first worshipper of Boccob with which I’ve spent any amount of time. He is called the Uncaring God. I assume those that worship him are mostly interested in personal gain of knowledge or power. Beauregard was administering to the sick, however.
We knocked on the door of the temple. Rustling was audible from inside, but no one answered. Finding the door unlocked, I entered cautiously. Once I walked into rooms without any particular care. This quest has caused me to look for danger and traps around every corner, behind every door.
We find a pair of elves in a side room. A woman sitting in a chair looking traumatized, a man kneeling beside her whispering words of comfort. Musushi spun a falsehood that we were the evening cleaning crew here to clean to Fulcrinabulum. He no doubt would have gone on to speak about his expertise as a small business owner, however the man simply remarked “she said this might happen” and directed us to the second level. Again wary of a trap, I summoned a celestial dog- which oddly took the shape of a small terrier.
We ascended the stairs and were shocked to find Elythia standing atop a pedestal in a large room, reading from a book in some arcane language and gesturing abstractly with her other hand. She had an intense focus and seemed to be exerting herself more than her physical movements should warrant. She was frustrated we took so long to join her, as if we should have read her mind when she went wandering off! I do not understand why she started the ritual by herself and did not inform us of her plans, unless she thought she could use the Fulcrinarium on her own and didn’t want us present. Something in that letter must have set her off.
Showing us the book while she continues chanting, we learn that there are specific phrases we must get the stone archway set in the back wall of the room to say in order to speak to designated locations. Yes, a talking wall. It wasn’t hesitant to speak once we greeted it. We decided the best location to communicate with would be Triddy College, as the scholars there might have more insight into the strange illness and rumors of walking corpses.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t solve the wall’s riddle to make it say the passphrase, “closer to the heart.” Bribery didn’t work either—it wasn’t interested in Sir Thomas’ offer to “polish” its stones.
Eventually we settled on an easier passphrase, “Dawn tomorrow,” and were able to reach Khakal. A scene materialized in the archway—a study in disarray. An elf lay on a bench, pinned there by a fallen bookcase, and seemingly asleep. He stirred when we called to him. He told us the city of Khakal was under siege by shamblers. Half the town was overrun, and it would have been worse if it weren’t for the Halfling refugees who built fortifications and were fighting ferociously. Luckily the shamblers don’t climb well—in Khakal, at least. Reports from Gwari Tower, also under siege, were that the shamblers had started piling atop one another to reach higher on the tower.
There wasn’t time to gather any more information. The portal started to fade from the edges, and as it did an oily black substance appeared in its wake and peeled off the wall like an old scab. It formed a puddle on the floor, which grew slowly outward, seemingly increasing in substance. Elythia, still on the pedestal in the center of the room, collapsed from exhaustion. Someone had the presence of mind to pull her to the staircase and away from the spreading goo—as it is with recalling moments of extreme emotion, my memory is hazy as to who.
Bone-colored creatures emerged from the black substance, each with a single eye and curved horn. Elythia recovered just in time—before the battle began. Thomas charged forward heedless of the black goo, which he immediately began to sink into as if the floor was not there at all. My celestial terrier was surprisingly effective against the demons, making several successful attacks and avoiding blows. Rooke wielded his fiery axe, Musushi his giant ladle. Elythia let loose another of her scorching rays, reducing a demon to ash and causing some structural damage to the temple.
Downstairs, the shaken-looking male elf confirmed that demonic goo is not a normal byproduct of using the Fulcrinibulum, and informed us that by doing so we had broken the quarantine. Seems like something he should have mentioned beforehand.
We returned to the tavern, finding Latham exactly as we left him—swigging an ale with his boots propped up on the table. He was quite pleased to see Elythia in a more sociable mood. As Latham is now out of a job, we convinced him to guide us to the Tower of Oror, where we will either help him secure new employment or pay him for his services. Hopefully, we will find Oror present, alive, and amenable to helping us root out the cause of the shamblers.
Also, we ran into Fordham again, and expressed our interest in circumventing the blockade with him after we returned from the Tower of Oror. He indicated that if he came up with enough coin to reapply at Triddy College before we got back he would not wait. Seeing his poor skills as a stage wizard, I doubt that will happen. I’m also pessimistic that he will be of any use with a blockade, seeing as he can barely cast a puppet show.
TLDR: We used necromancy to speak to Beauregard’s disembodied head, used the Fulcrunalium, found out shamblers are terrorizing Khakal and Gwari Tower, and decided to go find a battle mage named Oror to see if he can help us defeat the shamblers.