Gyruff (Grand Duchy of Geoff)

Hochoch Street Blues 3 – Coldeven 618

Apparently Bothan and Dandelion decided to lock Mazer up in the castle chained to a bed with no items. I had just sold him a ring of mind shielding, which should help him. Gelwen also lent him a ring of protection from evil and good. Why they had to remove the items, I don’t know. They would have helped a lot with the insanity. Dandelion apparently decided to detect thoughts on one of the insane, so he is now also insane and has joined Mazer in his prison. Dandelion did manage to make some deal with the devil Mezophilosis for knowledge. Mezophilosis is under the Prince’s protection. But he gave us knowledge that a primordial is under the Boar’s Knuckle and the insane are digging in his brain to remove the spike. It is believed the spike is keeping the primordial asleep. The primordial’s name is Stone Root. It is believed that T was already imprisoned when the primordial was put to sleep and the obelisk put in his head.

Someone found out that the Boar’s Knuckle was condemned about 30 years ago just after opening when the town was retaken from the giants and reformed by magic. Someone opened a portal to the Abyss in the tavern.

Aurora, Benton and I decided to visit Dandelion and Mazer in their cell. Mazer was missing and Dandelion told us he had been released by a blind woman and a water girl. Mazer’s things were also missing from the treasury. Ben examined Dandelion and found he did not have the mark, just regular insanity which would be curable by a greater restoration.

We went looking for Mazer. Ben used a locate object on Mazer’s goggles. We found many of the cultists looking for Mazer in the Market district and headed to the Low Quarter. We heard the names Mouth that Talks, Ears that Hear, Claws that Rip, Hands that Carve, Legs that Kick and Feet that Walk in addition to Eyes that See. Ben found Mazer in the Old Oak Tavern, drinking at the bar. He was covered in dirt and waiting for a party to start in the evening. Aurora convinced Mazer that we should go early, so Mazer led us to a house near the Boar’s Knuckle. A peasant woman covered in dirt let us in and showed us to the basement. We sent Uaithne back to the castle in case we did not come back. We then followed a tunnel to the obelisk. We passed a beam which said “Speak T… and enter”. We declined Mazer’s invitation to speak the name. We found mining equipment, mining hats and poorly made scaffolding down to the bottom of the obelisk. We also found 6 tunnels into the area which would carry 60 to 80 people each and allow hundreds in to dig. The top of the cavern was wood, we think the floor of the Boar’s Knuckle tavern.

We went down the scaffolding and were attacked by shadows and later grells. I used a fire ball to damage the grells which set the scaffolding on fire above us. We followed the scaffolding down about 180 feet to the bottom. The cultists have been digging out the primordial’s brain, which is causing pain to everyone connected. They have dug down about 15 feet, almost to the tip of the obelisk. The obelisk is supernaturally cold and made of black obsidian with purple veins.

We found 4 tunnels out of the bottom of the cavern. One had perfect statues of people around the opening. We suspect basilisks. Ben heard voices down another tunnel, so we investigated. We found gibbering mouthers and had to retreat and fight them off. The cultists found us while we were fighting the mouthers and herded them back into the tunnel. They then surrounded us and grabbed Ben and me. Aurora floated up above the fray and fought from above. I was forced to touch the obelisk, but did not say the name and fought off the effects. In desperation, I cast fireball to release us from the cultists. Mazer cast fly and we were able to escape. He then rescued many of the cultists. The two fireballs had set fire to the scaffolding. Smoke was billowing out of the Boar’s Knuckle and 7 other buildings. The other buildings included the one we had come through and were all about 100 feet away.

While Mazer was rescuing cultists, we investigated the nearby well G at Iowerth Square. The bottom seemed to be stone about 150 to 160 feet down. We did not find a tunnel or passage between the well and the obelisk.

Aurora spoke with the Prince and convinced him to condemn and burn the 7 houses with tunnels to the obelisk. We then convinced the Prince and the captain of the guard that Mazer and Dandelion should be released, given their possessions back and allowed to leave Hochoch. Uaithne rejoined us and we took Dandelion and Mazer on the Illustrious past Gorna to Thorndyke. Thorndyke had been mentioned in the letter to Kendra as a spot for another gem. We questioned the inhabitants and discovered a halfling woman had been asking for a gem or obelisk. We were told that the cloud giants had taken the obelisk. From the hole that remained, we could see that the missing obelisk also had a point on the bottom. Research revealed 333 gems of T, which are the key to releasing T. I believe that the obelisk is one of the gems, as are the standing stones which were the statue of the giant god Annam that were being collected by the cloud giants. Aurora believes that we need a pick from the Giant Wars to destroy the obelisks.

Mazer was having pain in his head while the digging was going on, but that has stopped for now. Both Dandelion and Mazer were seeing the same shadowy figure watching them, but it seemed to be confused by dirt. Alana was able to come out to Thorndyke and cure Dandelion’s insanity, but she could not help Mazer. I am glad Dandelion at least is better. Hopefully we can cure Mazer in time.

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Hochoch Street Blues – Coldeven 618

Mazer asked Princess Jagr, Dentrack, Dasut, Yahnny, G-zo, Osirus, Thia and I to accompany him down to the Boar’s Knuckle to finish cleaning it up. When we got close, we were greeted by about 100 of the cult of T singing a song to Mazer with the chorus of we will, we will kill you. Mazer identified several leaders among the cultists who had special names, including Fire that Burns and Ears that Hear. When the cultists finished the song, they advanced and surrounded us, but they only attacked Mazer. Mezophilosis, the Chained Devil came to watch the battle and played a tune. He gradually added band members for musical accompaniment, but he did not help or hinder either side. From what we could tell, Mezophilosis found the spectacle immensely entertaining.

The battle was long, but eventually we persevered. Mazer was the focus of the attacks to begin with, so he went down several times. Jagr and I healed him each time he went down and he fought on. G-zo cast a hypnotic pattern, which confused many of the cultists and kept them out of the fight. We wanted to do non-lethal damage, but soon realized that with their numbers we would not live to tell the tale. Fire that Burns showed us how she got the name when she cast a fire ball on Mazer and Jagr, also catching the building they were flying over on fire. Thia was knocked unconscious and two cultists were dragging her away when Dasut and Yahnny saved her. Osaris also was knocked unconscious before the battle ended. Most of the cultists were killed except Ears that Hear and some of commoners. Jagr tracked Ears that Hear to a nearby house, which we then entered. We found Ears that Hear in a tunnel frantically burying a mirror and a weapon. Dasut took the mirror and Mazer took the weapon. Hopefully with the cultists gone, the obelisk can stay buried and the insanity will stop.

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Chapter 8: Hide and Seek

I have to admit that I have lost track of the goings on in Hochoch over the last several weeks while working on a special project but it has come to my attention now that Mazer is acting even more strangely than usual. Ever since being marked by the Chained God he has been displaying alternating episodes of near normalcy punctuated by periods of abject terror and insanity. Following his release from prison on the charges of assaulting a noble, Mazer decided that he needed to celebrate and that is when the problems began. During one night of “celebration” he disappeared from the main area of the Quivering Hills Companionship Hall, an edifice dedicated to Myhiss. He was later found in one of the rooms, eating dirt and gnawing on a potted plant. He was babbling something about someone called “Claws-that-Cut” and an odd rhyme I have reproduced here to the best of my recollection.

“Walls have ears. Doors have eyes. Trees have voices. Beasts tell lies. Beware the rain. Beware the snow. Beware the man. You think you know.”

Apparently, the woman involved is someone he encountered before the High Judge election, something that is looking less like a coincidence and more like a pattern. Based on Mazer’s description of what he saw and heard, there is a shadow following him in his dreams and he believes that dirt provides some protection from it. I don’t really understand how that could be but he seems very convinced of it.

During the second incident, also at the Quivering Hills Companionship hall no less, Mazer developed a headache and disappeared into a back room with another of the Companionship Hall employees. Shortly thereafter, Mazer started acting strangely again and rubed dirt all over himself and started mumbling how he’s “gotta hide”. Benton asked for some cold water for Mazer which was brought by a small girl. The bucket she carried was branded “WG” which we later determined to be Well G, a well very near the Boar’s Knuckle, the apparent epicenter of the insanity plague gripping Hochoch. Having completely lost it, Mazer hid under a sheet with the girl and turned them both invisible before fleeing from the room. The next morning he was back in his room at the castle yet no one saw him come in. With each foray, he seems to lose a bit more of his sanity.

Eventually, the Prince and several of Mazer’s companions decided it was best if he be locked up and prevented from casting spells. The Guard Captain took this a bit far and decided to remove all of Mazer’s magical items, in the end this was a fateful decision because it seems that some of them were protecting him from the influence of the cultists. Just after finishing my special project, I decided to go and see Dandelion, who was now locked up with Mazer after scanning the mind of one of the insane cultists, and Mazer. I arrived to find a bit of a commotion and that Mazer was again gone. Dandelion’s description of one of those who came to get Mazer, though a bit confused by his own growing insanity, fit the description of the little girl with the water bucket. Clearly the “coincidence” theory was wearing a bit thin. Gathering up what few people were available, we decided to go and look for Mazer using his “Eyes that See”, better known as his detect magic goggles, as a focus for a locate object spell from Benton. Knowing the limits of the spell we headed for the center of town to maximize coverage of the spell.

On the way we encountered a group of what I will now call cultists headed toward the Low Quarter. Hopefully this is not a sign of the “plague” spreading. Using Benton’s spell we were able to track down Mazer who was “hiding”, if you could call it that, in the Old Oak Tavern. He apparently was taking a break from being completely insane and was fairly lucid. He invited us to a “Special Party” later in the evening but we decided it would be best to get there early “to get the best seats” and he reluctantly agreed. Just to be safe, I gave him a potted plant to play with and he covered himself with dirt. As a precaution, and hoping it really did have some sort of protective effect (or at least some value as a disguise), we covered ourselves with dirt as well. The four of us set out for The Commons. Mazer lead us to a house, not surprisingly I guess, near The Boar’s Knuckle, Well G, and the monument of “Rhys’ Treatment of the Masses”, something I doubt is a coincidence. We descended into the cellar of the house, after meeting one of Mazer’s “friends” at the door, and into tunnels beneath it. The tunnels were of relatively fresh construction and we soon came to a beam that apparently supported part of the tunnel ceiling. On it were directions to “Speak T…. and Enter”. I have deliberately left out the name of the deity involved so as not to end up like Mazer. I suspect that this is one of the ways they are increasing their numbers. Perhaps this phrase “marks” the person with the Chained God’s mark. Benton cast a silence spell before we passed through and we all said something I assume was not the pass phrase. It was a nice idea to prevent us from using the Chained God’s true name, but in the end, it provided no protection against what was inside.

We came to a rather rickety scaffolding that descended into the depths around a dark obelisk of the Chained God. The scaffolding was poorly constructed and apparently unstable. Mazer led us downward but as we passed one of the side passages, a creature of shadow sprang out and attacked Xilvre. A split second before it launched it’s attack, she was alerted to it’s presence by my magic and avoided being struck from surprise. The creatures were only partially there and we had to resort to force and radiant based damage to combat them. We were able to cause one to dissipate and severely damage the other before it fled. I shall have to see if I can identify what these creatures were since I doubt we have seen the last of them. Further along, we encountered three more of the chasm’s guardians. Creatures called Grell, if I remember correctly what was said after the fight. They attacked from above which would have given them significant advantage but once again we knew they were coming and were able to strike them with a fireball before they could close to attack. One of them was severely weakened and an arrow of frost from me slowed it enough that it could not get to Benton before it was dispatched. Xilvre was not so lucky and was struck by one. I was attacked as well but able to deflect the damage with magic, it seems that my magical powers are growing stronger. As with the shadowy creatures, Mazer unleashed his spells against them and we were able to take them down with a little extra effort.

Reaching the bottom, we found a mining site around the base of the obelisk. The materials chillingly resembled a skull and what appeared to be brain tissue although made of a stony material. The question is, what is causing the pain to this buried primordial, the spike or the digging around it. We would later find out that in fact it was the attempts to remove the spike that were causing the pain which we surmised is related to the spread of insanity above. Four low ceilinged tunnels led off from this chamber with one of them being surrounded by a group of almost perfect stone statues, much like those we had encountered around the Neheli monument on the surface. We decided to check out one of the passages, not wanting to become permanent residents we avoided the one by the statues, and Xilvre led the way, a bit surprising but in this case may have been for the best. While crawling through the tunnel she suddenly stopped and a cacophony of mumbled voiced started to become discernible over the background noise. Magic washed over most of the party and Xilvre was paralyzed. After we pulled her free from the tunnel we found what was the source of these voices. Ooze-like creatures covered with eyes and mouths, something I later found out are called Gibbering Mouthers, crawled from the tunnel and began their attack. We were able to take one down before it exited the cavern but the three behind it swarmed on. Xilvre ran off in a random direction and Benton took the brunt of their attacks, going down in the process. Mazer called to his “allies”, who I will call Mazerites for now, for aid and I decided that keeping the fight on the ground level was not to my advantage. Using magic, I teleported 20 feet up to one of the scaffolds near the tunnel entrance and used a firebolt to attack the creatures. The Mazerites seemed to have some influence over the creatures which allowed me to heal Benton from a distance and he was able to heal himself as well while Mazer’s friends corralled the remaining creatures. They did not attack either Mazer or the other cultists. Presumably, the mark of the Chained God marked them as allies.

It was then that the Mazerites turned on us, well on everyone but Mazer that is. They tried to force Benton and Xilvre into contact with the obelisk. Benton avoided contact with it but Xilvre was not so lucky. There were no immediate effects that I could see but long term effects may take a while to manifest. It was at this time that I became acquainted with “Ears that Hear”. The “blind” priestess tried to use magic to compel me to touch the obelisk, but half-elves are quite resistant to such feeble magics. As a reward for her attack, I gave her a taste of my own magic in the form of magical missiles. She seemed to get the message and tried to cloak herself from further assault to no result. An arrow from my bow convinced her that standing out in the open taking me on was not in her best interest. It seemed the fire from the fireball above was burning too slowly so I started a second flashpoint with a flaming arrow. The scaffolding was now quickly becoming engulfed in flames and it would only be a matter of time before the entire cavern was filled with smoke and it was time to leave. Mazer provided that line of escape with several fly spells. Of the two dozen or so cultists that had accosted us at the bottom of the cavern, only a handful escaped with the help of Mazer. While not fully under their thrall he does seem connected to them in some way. We decided it was best not to push the situation any further and went to check out Well G while Mazer continued to “rescue” the surviving cultists.

For all intents and purposes, Well G seems to be a rather normal well but its connection to Mazer’s escapes is a concern. Although we did not see anything when we dropped a light spell down to the bottom of the well, there is something fishy about its proximity to the Boar’s Knuckle, the Obelisk of the Chained God, and the strange little girl that has “spirited away” Mazer on two occasions. Perhaps it is time to take Mazer away from here and see if there is an effect as Dandelion has suggested. Looking back towards the Boar’s Knuckle we noticed smoke billowing out of seven other buildings in addition to the Boar’s Knuckle indicating additional entry points into the Obelisk Cavern. We headed back to the castle to inform the Prince of our findings.

After telling the Prince what we found I was able to convince him to return Dandelion’s magical items, including his ring of mind shielding which we suspect has some protective effect against his nightmares. I was also able to convince the Prince that condemning the buildings and burning them down would slow the progress of removing the obelisk from the primordial’s brain until a more permanent solution can be made. I did have to promise him that my father would reimburse him for the cost of buying the buildings and burning them down. The cultists will of course start new tunnels soon but I hope that the destruction of those properties and entrances will be a sufficient setback to allow some of the others to permanently end those operations. I decided that we needed to follow up on one of the clues we had about a “gem of the Chained God” being “hidden out in the open” in Thorndyke and thought this would be a good way to get Dandelion and Mazer out of Hochoch to see if Dandelion’s theory about distance was correct. I was not ready to take either of them to Gorna due to uncertainties about their conditions. In any case, I would be able to keep an eye on both of them for the time being.

We took the Illustrious upriver to Thorndyke and after talking with several of the locals, determined that the obelisk in Thorndyke, that was taken by the Cloud Giants, was another Obelisk of the Chained God. The obelisk was apparently one of the fingers of the Cloud Giant Statue of Annam. It also turns out that the magic reflecting obelisks used by the giants in the Giant War are additional Obelisks of the Chained God, which would explain their strange properties. At least two of them have been destroyed, and maybe more, I’ll have to look into this further. Perhaps we need to seek out the last Gnomish Pick again to destroy the obelisks. Last I heard it was back in Deward, not a friendly place to visit at all with its own form of insanity. Could the obelisks be the gems spoken of in the ancient histories or are they something completely different. Collecting 333 of these obelisks would seem to be a daunting task. Perhaps not all of them are needed to free the Chained God. Which brings to mind the question, if the giants were to reassemble the Statue of Annam from the Obelisks of the Chained God, could that be in any way positive for Gyruff?

Since we were going to stay in Thorndyke for a while following up on other leads, we decided to ask if Alena could come out from Gorna to cure Dandelion’s insanity. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done for Mazer at this time. The ring of protection from evil seems to have isolated him from the corrupting influence of the cult in Hochoch and the mindshielding ring seems to have calmed his nerves a bit, though he still sees this shadow following him and has an urge to cover himself with dirt from time to time. Unfortunately, Dandelion’s theory about distance being protective has turned out not to be true. Mazer can still feel the pull of the cult, though the rings blunt much of the effects, even though we are days from Hochoch. Mazer did mention that he saw something odd, which I will not detail at this time due to the implications, but I think it is time to send my father a coded message about what I have found out. If it is true, it is bad news for Gyruff.

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Excerpts Bothan Rodric the dwarf's Journal #7 continued

I almost forgot, when speaking to the drunken, insane person at the residence, Dandelion tried to detect his thoughts. In doing so he has become insane himself. This is the reason that I no longer have to worry about filing a complaint nor what his original intentions were. We put him in with Mazer. That way the Two lutes for Love can stay intact and offer each other what little comfort they can derive.

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Excerpts Bothan Rodric the dwarf's Journal #7
HH Street Blues – Evard, Vampires, a Devil, and the Primordial

Day 288
Xilvyre was found innocent of the murder charges and found guilty with extenuating circumstances on the destruction of property. As the destruction involved defending law enforcement officers and Rhys paid for the damage Xilvyre was released with the 24 days of time served.

Mazer was found not guilty of assault of Lady Patpi Neheli. The judge ordered an additional assessment due to his strange behavior. I thought that would mean he would be sent to the sanitarium as the healer suggested for this assessment, but instead somehow he was released. I suggested that we should keep an eye on him, Ben and Gelwen and myself agreed to take shifts in our free time to watch him.

Day 289
Well last night Mazer wanted to party after his release. He showed that his insanity is still present. He ate some dirt, talked about a crazy woman making him do it and complained about a headache.

Day 290
Last night Mazer again went to a tavern. He was still complaining about a headache and acting strangely. He began playing with a water girl and they both managed to diappear. He was found again at the castle in the morning.

Day 291
Despite trying to keep a close eye on Mazer to prevent his un-monitored sojourns he was able to disappear. This time he was under guard at the castle when the guards heard a thumping at the door. The guards briefle opened the door to see what was going on when an invisible Maze excapes. He is found the next morning back in his chambers.

Day 293
Last night Dandelion wanted to investigate the accused necromancer Evard. Since we did’nt have any probable cause for searching his place Dandelion used hi new ability of clairvoyance and clairaudience to do the spying. At some point someone is bound to notice being scried on and then such invasion of privacy will become illegal. This will give law enforcement another black eye in our reputation with the public. But it is not unlawful yet so I find no grounds to object. Dandelions sees two males. One is older and is likely Evard. They are looking at necromantic books and discussing necromantic theory. But their was no overt signs of them dealing with the illegal parts of necromancy (creating undead etc.). So we did not have grounds for search, sizure or arrest. I asked whether there were spaces in the bookshelves where the books they were reading could hae come from. Dandelion said there were not. He also noticed that the books on the shelves looked overly similar and aligned. With that someone mentioned a previous foray in which their was a concealed door hiding additional areas. From these had been confiscated necromantic tomes that were illegal. These tomes were placed into the castles vault. I suggested that we should examine the vault to see if those tomes were still present. It may be that this Evard used his magic to recover his former illegal library. That he was reading from a necromantic tome and his previous tomes had gone missing from the castle should be sufficient grounds to search his property.
On the way back to the castle, Dandelion wanted to stop by the “Quivering Hills”. Our shift was over so it sounded like a good way to blow off steam. Dandelion spoke strangely to me suggesting that I should wait outside. That I wouldn’t enjoy the chaos that is the quivering hills. I was immediately suspicious of his intent. This is the first patrol we have actually been on together so I only had his reputation to go by. Having heard the complaints of followers of Ehlonna regarding the quivering hills being registered as a temple to Myhiss I was curious as to whether these rumors have merit. I would have to say that there is merit. In observing the décor and use of Myrhiss iconography, I could tell that it was not in keeping with a proper Mhyriss temple setting. The symbols and décor were strewn about in a gauche unsophisticated display that I can only believe Myrhiss would find insulting. But as background in religion comes mostly from my home, I can’t be sure whether in these places in the stix such display is common. I should follow up with the priestess of Ehlonna to find out.
While Morrik and I were happily drinking a fine deep lager he noticed an employee that he had seen in the past who was a vampire. We went and told the owner judge Jia that she had a vampire in her employ. The judge wanted us to not cause a scene in her establishment so she suggested that Dandelion should invite the employee to a room where it could be determined that it was an undead and actions could be taken that wouldn’t disrupt her patrons. We uncovered 2 female vampires and two “toughs” half orcs. I was most impressed with my fellows abilities. Morrick had no trouble turning them. Aoth, the other fighter and the monk all are quite formidable. Not only in the damage they can do but also their abilities to incapacitated and prevent criminals escape. Dandelion was significantly injured until we could reach him and he’s not much of a fighter. But then that is not his role. He charms and wiles are more useful in other ways. In any case no one in our group were ever in serious straits. The only thing I will have to say is that some of our law enforcement personnel need to learn the value of self restraint. Not against the vampires. But their cronies were of no significant threat. It would have been useful to take them in to custody, interrogate and try them. However, the druids conjured pet “chickens?” ate them alive making quite a mess. Overall the judge seemed satisfied with our discretion.
We returned to the castle and I spent my night sleeping in the hallway outside Mazer room in case he found a way out which fortunately he did not.
Our next foray became a lot more disturbing. It seems that some of my fellows do not take their duties as peace officers very seriously. We obtained the proper document from the court to ensure that Mesi…, the chain devil was complying with the judges decree. On entering his temple the first room encountered appeared to be his living quarters. No one was present so we began searching the room. In our search we found illegal items. Their was furniture made from human and other sentient beings skin. He had form letter contracts some of which were also made from similar material. Also liquid gold apparently used in the contracts was found. While I tried to make a case that the liquid gold should be part of the evidence confiscated Dandelion pointed out that the material itself is not illegal. At the time I had forgot that the judge had ordered that all goods of those that had been worshiping evil gods was to be confiscated if they were still breaking the law. It was clear that some of the others wanted the liquid gold for their own benefits.
This makes me feel a little guilty in having taken the magical glaive instead of turning it in. But I consider it only a loan. It is the states property just like my law enforcement tabard. I plan on using it for my law enforcement duties.
So this room leads via a secret door to the temple proper. In the temple, we found the devil, speaking to an extraplanar evil being also present were a halfling scribe and a child. I announce ourselves ans peace officers and notified the devil he was under arrest for having proscribed items. He tried to excuse his crimes with the statement that the items present were here when he purchased the temple. I countered with the judges ruling that besides renouncing worship to evil gods all illegal good had to be destroyed or turned over to the state withing 24 hours and he had not complied with this requirement. The devil then tried to get out of it by bringing detailed account of his purchases from the crown prince. In examining the documents I was happy to see that the crown prince had not signed any of the documents in blood only his normal signature and seal. Still I could see where the devil was going with this. Trying to be let off otherwise threatening to tarnish the crown princes reputation further.
Despite possible political ramifications I was not swayed. The devil was obviously not going to be a beneficial citizen of HochHoch and we had him read-handed with illegal goods. It was then when Dandelion began to talking to the devil about making a deal. Dandelion told the devil to pay no attention to me. I felt insulted at his undermining of my authority. But knowing that Dandelion uses his “silver” tongue as an interrogation method, I let him carry on in negotiations. My hope was that Dandelion would lull the devil into further incrimination. The Devil was willing to provide us with detailed information regarding the cause of the insanity that was happening around town. I return he would allow for the confiscation of any items deemed illegal as long as he was allowed to remain free and not harassed by the constabulary. This is when the true colors of my fellows was brought out. Dandelion wanted to immediately take the “deal”. I insisted that we didn’t have the authority to make such a deal. But that the idea had merit as the devil had critical information. We should bring the offer to High Judge Jia. I felt sure we could get her to agree to the devil becoming a criminal informant in return which his present crimes could be vacated. Dandelion was adamant that we had the authority to make the deal ourselves and I was just as adamant that we did not. This would clearly be exceeding our authority. At first it seemed Aoth agreed with me. But Dandelions slick turn of phrase seemed to have my fellows turning to his side of events. Then the devil had his scribe drawing up a contract. It became clear that Dandelion was going to exceed our authority and sign the contract. I wished to prevent him from making this mistake which if done would put him in legal trouble with the judge. I have already seen two of our peace officers arrested impugning our reputations. I did not want to see it happen to a third. In addition the devil was most likely to take the contract as gospel regardless of what the judge ended up ruling. I then tore up the contract to prevent it signing. The devil then attacked me. After wounding me he changed his shape into my great-grandmother who was long dead. He failed to grapple me. In return I grappled the devil and hit him with my axe. Did my fellow peace officers come to my aid as I would have if they had been attacked. NO! Dandelion babbled something about my breaking the law in destroying the devils property (the ungrateful rube). The monk said something about letting the devil beat me senseless. I think someone posed the question of what if the devil killed me. I though Morrik at least would come to my defense. But he did nothing. So hear I was holding on to a devil that looked like my dwarven gnana and no help in sight. Evidently, the devil thought better of his actions, he did not continue his attack. He apologized for his temper. After he agreed he would allow himself to be taken to jail without further incident. At this point it was clear that I needed to take him to jail to prevent any further incidents. None of my fellow peace officers came with. They stayed at the temple. I was able to turn the devil over to some other guards so they I could return more quickly to the temple. I was afraid that my comrades might try to destroy or otherwise tamper with the evidence. I was able to hire some teamsters to hall the confiscated property back to the castle as evidence. While I worked on securing the evidence and searching the residence for further contraband the others went up to the castle and spoke to Rhys.
Upon reaching the castle I learned that the group had convinced Rhys to pardon the devil in retrun for his information and the confiscation of his illegal goods. I would have liked to have been their to try and counter some political pitfalls. Rhys pardoning a devil for crimes is not going to be looked favorably with the townfolk. It would have been better if he had talked to the judge and had her provide a ruling that would allow the exchange. That would have distanced him from the political fallout.
In return for the pardon the devil supplied the following information regarding the general insanity going on. The devil indicated that their was a primordial under the Boars knuckle. That during the war the chained gods speared the primordial with what has been described as the obelisk through its skull into the brain. That followers of the chained god were now involved in unearthing and removing the obelisk would allow the primordial to awaken. The rising of the primordial would destroy HochHoch. The mining that was occurring include digging up brain matter around the obelisk. The pain the primordial was feeling from this was causing the insanity in the surrounding populace. It was theorized that stopping the digging and preventing future incursions would prevent further insanity and perhaps cure some of those presently insane. I have the feeling that we still don’t have the whole story. Either the devil was holding back some of his knowledge or my fellow police officers left out some info in its retelling.
I was now worried that I would have to file a complaint against Dandelions blatant attempt to exceed his constabulary authority. I didn’t at the time see how I could refrain from this duty. Also some other things he said worried me. He seemed slightly obsessed that the Raven Queen not be disrespected. When I broached the idea that this did not seem to be the interests Dandelion had by reputation he readily agreed religion was not of great interest but that pleasing women had always been. He indicated that the 1000 years he spend in the death realm and the Raven Queen had affected him. Perhaps his action are being tempered by the trauma of his time there or perhaps he has become a worshiper of this new god. As it turns out none of this now matters as future events have intervened.
It was getting late in the day and it didn’t seem that further investigation about the goings on under the boars knuckle could be accomplished today. So instead I took our party to investigate the lead from the artist regarding the teamsters who had hauled the people turned to stone. Adding to the evidence of those arrested and perhaps identifying the mage an/or stoner would help HochHoch’s security. Little did I realized this was to lead to the primordial. We learned the location where the victims turned to statues were picked up. They were left unattended in the yard of a house adjacent to the Boars knuckle. We talked the resident of the house. He was drunk, insane and unhelpful. Aoth shapechanged into a mouse and went into the residence to scout. In addition to the man their was a boy. In the basement Aoth saw mining tools and a rough poorly constructed passageway that mighty lead under the boars knuckle. I determined that this house and likely many others were being used to access the obelisk and the primordial. We decided to stake out the house. Once it became night dirty insane people entered this residence as well as others. There were 200 people that went into this one passage alone. Aoth shape changed and followed the passage. It lead to a cavern the caver was over 100 feet across and almost 200 feet deep. In the center was the obelisk of about 20 foot diameter. Rickety scaffolding had been built around the edge of the cavern allowing access to its depths. But at the entrance to the cavern Aoth saw an inscription, “Say T…….. and enter”. So he decide to watch from his present vantage point. People were hauling dirt up in buckets, and digging at various points. Down below further activity could be heard. Magic was being cast against the walls as well. Eventually Aoth saw pieces of calcium identified as the primoridals skull. And also pink matter of the primordials brain. Dirt, brain and skull were be handled in multiple fashions. Some was halled out, some people spread on their bodies and clothes, some they ate. No further action was taken but ideas were discussed. Conjuring an animal to destroy the scaffolding trapping the poor insane people was suggested. I mentioned that doing such would for these poor victims would not be a good act. Sealing the cavern with lead to protect and prevent scrying as well as filling in and having a high level magic user cast non-detection were also discussed. At least we now know what is happening. Now all we have to do is stop it.

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Excerpts Bothan Rodric the dwarf's Journal #6
HochHoch Street Blues Wastri, assassin, and statues

Day 244
I prayed at the temple of Ehlonna today. It turns out something I said in front of the crown prince has caused an asylum to be established for all the poor insane people in town. The followers of Ehlonna are caring for them. So I have volunteered to help out when I have time available. I also asked to see if the there was anything else I could do. I overheard two followers upset about the Quivering Hills and House of Negotiable Affection. They have been chartered as organized religions, yet none of the “clergy” of the Quivering Hills speak elvish, though they are supposed to follow an elvish deity. The “House” the Flan worships Myrhiss but is owned by the Suloise Neheli family. These do seem a little odd but unless they are breaking the law I don’t see what I can do about this. I wonder whether how that one follower knew that none of the clergy at Quivering Hills speaks elvish. Perhaps the follower visited and if so he may have an ulterior motive. Finding something that could help get Neheli out of HochHoch seems like it would be a benefit. I’ll have to keep my eyes open.

Day 245
Helping with the insane I’ve learned a few things. There are a lot more around then is normal for a town of this size. They seem to be coming mostly from the Commons quarter. They tend to be aggressive and violent to themselves. They also seem to like to play in the mud.

Say 246
Some of the insane have set themselves on fire. I spend a lot of time restraining them to prevent injuries. The Crown Prince has designated a building for the sanitorium, it is starting to be outfitted. It looks more like a prison. But then these insane people are a danger to themselves and others so it seems kind of necessary to have restraints and locks.

Day 247
Some of the insane are drowning themselves. Also the insanity seems to be centered around the boars knuckle. Underneath which is the temple and evil obelisk to T…….. I wonder if the suicides and playing with earth have some sort of elemental component to them. Most of the insane seem focused on earth. They are dirty and unkempt. They all appear to be poor. Now higher status people have been found that are insane. The earth around T’s temples was collapsed. I wonder if these insane people have been digging it back out. It must be these followers of T… who talk of a Temple of All-Consumption which sounds like it is in or somewhere around a town called Hommlet. I learned this from a letter that the crown prince has. It is from Heidi to someone named Kendra. It directs Kendra to recover a jewel that is buried. Evidently they already have 15 of these gems and gathering more all the time. These jewels seem to be related to the primordials. The letter talks about being prepared for when the primordials awaken so that they can harness their power. Someone in El-Char is searching for one in Moundgnomery and then is to go to thorndyke where one is supposed to be out in the open.
Kendra is supposed to seek out Dagda as his alchemical skills would be useful and also get some Tears of Beory. That must be who I heard G&G was trying to get a hold of them for. It seems they need a Tear of Beory to release T……. aka the chained god. They are going to try and convince Dagda to join them.
Evidently Heidi is going to try a dangerous ritual of some sort. She talks about undergoing the trials of the Dreaming stone which requires drinking of a potion called the dreamstep. She doesn’t think she will survive the attempt and lists the next in line to make the attempt El-Char, Abbot Thomas, and Glorrk. It seems that Kendra has put up some resistance in helping this group lately. Perhaps she is turning on them or could be convinced to.
I will tell all my compatriots as well as the high priestess of Ehlonna and Alena. I have been serving with. This needs to be addressed. The chain god cannot be allowed to be released.

Day 258
The Crown Prince has announces an election for a high judge. Some of my fellows are interested in affecting the outcome.

Day 270
Priestess Jia Buckman has been elected as high judge.

Day 271
I testified before high judge Buckman regarding the River Witch and the teamster case.

Day 272
I am happy to write that the High Judge found in favor of the crown with regard to the River Witch. Indeed she found that the previous sentencing had been over-lenient and imposed further sanctions.
I had thought it would have been best two just pay the teamsters settling out of court. Judge Jia ruled in the teamsters favor. Instead of paying 4 sp another 4 gp were tacked on for court costs.
In another judgement she has outlawed the worship of evil gods and commanded those doing so to either stop and recant or to leave Arweth. They have 24 hours do one or the other.

Day 273
I got together on duty with Aurora, Gelwen, Dasut, Spectre, and the flaming hair dude. I suggested we should investigate this insanity problem but Gelwen was set on making sure the Temple of Wastri was secure. As I have been wanting to address these evil worshipping nonhuman bigots, I agreed.
We went to the judge and made sure we had the proper paperwork, eviction notice, warrants, etc. Our group covered both entrances. Upon entering we found the temple packed with worshipers. I could hear them praying to their god a clear violation of the judges order. I immediately identified myself, declared them under arrest, and told them to surrender. They seemed intimidated and had only daggers for weapons. I think their hatred for non-humans overcame their better judgement and they did not surrender. Dasut who was at the other door persuaded some to disband. He let about a third of the congregation leave. The remaining attacked. I used nonlethal damage and mad my way towards “Imperial Father Flannan de Bridge” who lost his attempt at being high judge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach him in time. However our spellcasters were able to take him out before he escaped upstairs. Alas he expired from his wounds. Meanwhile one of the congregation opened a trap door in the corner of the room and another disappeared upstairs. Skeletons poured out from below. Our group was able to winnow down the numbers with an assortment of injuries. No one else in our group seemed worried about the trap door where the skeletons were coming from. I don’t understand this because they were better fighters then the congregation. So I was able to knock out the two opponents next to me and then went over and shut the trap door. At this point members of the congregation came from upstairs with bows and scimitars. I was able to convince Dasut to kill the congregant that was directly in front of me. That allowed me to knock out the one under the ladder and place myself beneath it to be a bottleneck for anymore up above. Strategy doesn’t seem to be our groups strong suit. On top of no one else taking care of the trap door or the ladder, Dasut start tying up those that had been incapacitated. This wouldn’t have been so bad, but their were other members of the party that were hard pressed at the time. Then the flame haired dude dropped his concentration to recast his hypnotizing spell. So the six that had been incapacitated became available and he only incapacitated a total of four. While Dasut was thus engaged I tried and failed to bring relief to Spectre. Happily other members of the group were able to come to Spectre’s aid. Dasut continued to tie people up as Gelwen took damage. Again I tried to take out the bowman who was shooting at Gelwen. All this running around and fighting had begun to tire me and I missed. Again other comrades came to Gelwen’s aid. At this point the tide had clearly turned and we were eventually able to overcome our opponents.
I am afraid a little bit of friction developed in the group having to do with Spectre. I should mention the small frog. When we entered the temple their was a small frog on the altar. During the fight a congregant ordered a skeleton to throw the frog at the flame haired guy but missed. Later the frog “attacked” the flame haired guy causing damage. I noticed that the damage was caused by its touch. It was obvious to me that it excretes some sort of contact poison. Now I get back to Spectre. We were in the process of collecting the evil holy symbols, other accouterments and hiring teamsters to transport it. Then I see Spectre scraping a substance from the altar into a vial. Well a couple days ago that would have been fine. But Judge Jia had recently outlawed the manufacture and possession of poisons. Believing he intended to keep it for personal use I approached Spectre and told him that he could not collect the poison. If he did so I would be required to arrest him. Likewise, Aurora reminded him that if he was found with poison on his person he would be facing stiff fines and that should we let him keep it we would be subject to the law as well. Spectre reluctantly agreed.
In investigating the scene I determined that the skeletons were non-humans. I interrogated the congregants and learned that one of their rituals involved the use of the frog in poisoning, killing and turning non-humans into undead. While this enraged me, I kept my composure and did my duty. The congregants and their evil supplies were taken to jail. We were able to charge them with almost a dozen infractions. I hope the high judge convicts them all of murder and I can see them swing.
I am still unhappy that Dasut let some of the congregants leave.
That dastardly Flannan De Bridge had a magical flail. I have taken it so that it can now be used in a legal fashion. It has a name the skewer of the impure. Sounds like it most likely has a bonus against non-humans or maybe those opposed to Wastri. I hope it isn’t cursed. I think I will hold back using it until I face an enemy that requires magic to harm it.
Time to turn in early. That way I can get up early and do some roaming in the castle to see how secure things are.

Day 274
Aurora and I decided to turn in early so we could get up and do some checking on the castle security. If someone was to try and sneak in night time would have advantages. When we reached the door to the royal bedchambers Aurora spotted some blood on the floor. Thinking the worst, that assassins had possibly killed Rhys and Jagr we went into action. Remembering that the the door opposite the royal chamber has a guard into it. I entered it and warned the guard of the danger and that he should watch and raise an alarm if our fears proved true. Happily the noble couple were sleeping and unaware.. Howeer Jagr had quite a shock when she woke to find the head of a gnome set on the floor. Doing some investigation, were were able to determine that the death of the gnome occurred on the parapet. His head was cut off their. Someone then had cut off his head and went into the royal chambers to leave. They also took considerable time to clean up the mess through mundane means. At this point confusion reigned as to who the gnome was and who had killed him. The head in the bedchambers seemed clearly to be a warning. Since just yesterday we took down the temp of Wastri I thought at first that they had killed a gnome and left it. But as more information came in it became clear that this was not the case. Aurora, Dasut and I made our way to the bottom of the parapet to furether investigate. Gelwen went to ensure the other visiting nobles were safe and learn if they knew anything.
Below the parapet we found the headless body of the gnome. Searching the body we found an obsidian blade. It was obvious that he was an assassin working for the group of the same name. Further searching allowed us to determine that the assassin had been dropped off on the beach from a boat that had multiple people making this a conspiracy. But who had killed him and why were they staying hidden? Were Rhys and Aurora still in immediate danger? Based on the evidence I deduced that the killer must have been familiar with the castle and where items such as cleaning supplies could be found. We decided to gather all those who reside or work in the castle and have Alena cast a true seeing. We were worried about dopplegangers as well as mind flayers although the latter seemed less likely. Alena determined that two of the individuals were not who they appeared to be. They were quietly taken aside to be questioned. The two were were-rats and “the boss” gave them a command to protect the crown prince and had killed the assassin. I had the feeling that they would be just amenable to kill the prince if their boss gave the word. Rhys is in dire need of protection so they were allowed to continue on with their roles. But I am still leary. Who is this boss, and how far can we trust what is happening? Oh, and to top this off the were-rat assassin who tried to kill Rhys was set free by someone. I know that Dandelion is friendly with were-rats. Perhaps he is the boss, which would negate my worry considerably. If not him then perhaps he knows who the boss is. We need to speak to Dandelion and find out what he knows. If he knew that the were-rats had people in the castle guarding the prince then he should have told us. We need to know what is going on if we are to have a chance at not making matters worse instead of better. Given only a slightly different scenario we could have thought the were-rats intruders and the gnome one of the staff. I imagine if we had killed the were-rats that the boss might hae changed his view and orders regarding Rhys. If Dandelion knew any of this we need to have a talk of the importance of communication. Most likely help from the were-rats in the castle. Aurora and I made some suggestions about security for the castle. Things like locking your chamber door at night. Placing torches along the castle walls so that the humans can see any one sneaking in. But at present there are just not enough sufficient guards to provide adequate protection.

We also talked to Xilvyre’s lawyer today. He asked us to go investigate the statue that was put up in the commons neighborhood. In looking at the statue their was quite a difference in the quality. The main piece was roughly human shape but the features were quite vague. The other “statues” were of perfect workmanship. So perfect in fact a looked at the plinth they were in. I found that the statues were set into their plinthes after the fact in a crude fashion. So they appeared to have originally been free standing. This all led me to believe that these were people that had been changed to stone. Alena confirmed this and began work on returning them back to flesh. The judge gave arrest warrants for the artist and for the Nehli patron. We decided to go speak to the artist with the other arresting officers as we were afraid that if someone got to him first he would be dead and of no use in furthering the investigation. In short order it became clear to us that he had gone insane. Still we were able to learn a few things. He made the main piece. The other “pieces” had been sent to him for placement in the plinths and to be set around the main piece. He also talked of the wizard who cast the continual flame. The wizard may also be involved. I learned from him that the “statues” had been properly delivered by the teamsters. We need to investigate this further. The teamster should know who paid them, and where they picked up the delivery. This could help find the other suspects involved.
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Hochoch Street Blues Part 2
Readying 618

I spent 2 weeks campaigning for Rangrim Rumnaheim, but my words fell on deaf ears. Jia Buckman of the Quivering Hills Companionship Hall was elected judge. May she serve Arweth well.

Judge Jia has declared the worship of evil deities illegal per the laws of Gyruff and revoked the charters and permits to worship any devil, demon, Wastri, Hextor, Vecna, Incabulous or the Flan God of the Dead. The worshippers and clerics of those temples have 24 hours to take their possessions and depart. Judge Jia also declared in force the Gyri law against substances that cause addiction, poisons and those that cause disease. Mezophilosis was given 24 hours to insure that his facility did not produce any illegal substances.

The next day, G’zo, Spector, Dasut, Aurora, Bothan and I saw Judge Jia and got warrants for the temple of Wastri, Mezophilosis’ business at the former Yellow Sails facility, Mezoplhilosis’ temple in the Old City and the temple to the Flan God of the Dead.

We decided to start with the temple of Wastri in the low quarter. When we entered the low quarter, G’Zo was accosted by beggars. We kept going and reached the temple, which had been a warehouse before Gareth. The doors were barred, but Spector and Bothan quickly opened them. We interrupted a service to Wastri with a packed house, including what Spector identified as an arrow toxic frog on the altar. Dasut ordered the worshippers to disburse. One to two dozen left, but the rest decided to fight us. During the fight Father Flannan died. They had non-human skeletons in the basement, which they released also. We found partially packed chests in the loft, so they had started packing, but stopped to hold a service. We called the teamsters to help us take the chests and skeletons to the jail. We also brought in 34 worshippers of Wastri, including one acolyte. Bothan took Father Flannan’s magic glaive, called Skewer of the Impure. Hopefully it is just a name and Bothan controls the glaive rather than the glaive controlling him.

That evening I spent some time in the temple of Ehlonna to refresh my spirits before returning to the castle to rest. Shortly after midnight, I was awoken by Aurora and Bothan. They had found a dead body or head or something in the Prince’s room. They sent me to check on the Ministers from Gorna, who were also staying at the castle. Dasut, Aurora and Bothan investigated the dead body further. It was a gnomish Obsidian Blade assassin. Someone had killed him and left the head in the Prince’s room as a warning that security was too lax. Aurora said she will be working to tighten security. The Prince is hiring more guards, but he needs many more to guard the castle and the town.

As the excitement was quieting down and we were preparing to retire again, G’zo and Spector had some news. They had visited the old apothecary shop, which I thought had been deserted by Evard the Black. The woman behind the counter, one Vanda Everwood, asked them to retrieve some chests from the docks for her in exchange for reduced prices on a potion of invisibility. The chests contained some toxic and illegal items, so she did not want to retrieve them herself. I went with G’zo and Spector in the morning to get a warrant from Judge Jia. Strangely, the judge said Vanda was a good person and she could not believe she would do something illegal. When G’zo and Spector went to the docks, one of the ships, the River Queen, had suddenly left port.

Xilvyre’s advocate, Spencer Darrow, had asked if we could investigate the monument in the common quarter raised at the site of the fireball. The monument was raised in three days. The artist, John ap Ffernfael, had the reputation as a mediocre sculptor. He was capable of creating the rough figure in the middle, but not the very detailed figures of the commoners around the central figure. I went to ask Minister Alana to come and examine the statue. She discovered that the 12 commoners were people turned to stone. She restored the people and found 9 humans, 1 elf woman, 1 halfling male and 1 half orc male. All were insane obsessed with dirt.

We reported back to Advocate Darrow and to Judge Jia. The judge issued warrants for Lady Patpi Neheli, who had commissioned the work, and for John ap Ffernfael the sculptor. We decided to go with the town guard who were arresting the sculptor. He was eating clay and clearly insane. He had a magic symbol on his forearm of T’s holy symbol. John did tell us that he only made the 8 ft tall statue in the middle. He needed help from a wizard to cast the continual flame on the fire ball. The 12 statues came delivered by teamsters and John only set them in a base.

Once we had seen John’s magic tattoo, I examined Mazer and others of the insane. Mazer’s tattoo was on his upper arm. It appears that magic temporarily suppresses the insanity, but the symbol moves if interacted with. Even Alena can not remove the mark.

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Chapter 7: Undercurrents
Aurora's Journal

The war with the Path of Purity seems to have quieted with their defeat at Dersyth by the combined armies of Gyruff. Many of the followers of the path have returned to Gyruff but there remain a number of powerful enemies that could pick up the banner again. Caswallon has been killed on the eve of his surrender by parties unknown leaving the Druid Council without a leader and the Path of Purity in the hands of potentially more radical elements. Llewelyn has returned but the price turns out to be higher than expected. In order to complete his return, other heroes made a deal with the entity now known as the Raven Queen, previously known as Mazzel – the mother of The Whispered One of all people. That deal involved the raising of the Primordials, ancient beings of great power that exceeded even that of the gods. They had slept for millennia, but the Raven Queen roused them from their slumber so she could slay Nerull and claim his power. Nerull has been all but forgotten by the Raven Queen’s decree, leaving only a select few that know the whole story.

More troubling are whispers of the Chained God coming from Arweth. The cantrev has fallen on hard times since it’s liberation from the Gran March and has descended into near anarchy with criminals and evil holding much power. The Crown Prince has been given Arweth to rule and has begun to try and turn things around but it is an uphill battle. Heroes from across Gyruff have gone to Hochoch to lend what aide they can. Unfortunately, all has not gone well for those heroes. While spending time in the Libraries of Gorna trying to find out what is known of the Chained God, word came to me that two of those heroes had been arrested for assault in Hochoch. It seems that Xilvre was responsible for a fire that killed a dozen or more in the city while Mazer has been accused of assaulting a Keoish noble. Reports of growing unrest and a plague of insanity has gotten the attention of the Regent and he is sending several Gyri ministers to Hochoch to assist the Prince and see what can be done. Having learned as much as I can about the Chained God and the Primordials in Gorna, I’ll travel with them to lend my services to restoring order.

On my arrival, an election for the position of high judge was in progress. The first order of business for that judge appears to be several rather serious cases, all of which appear to involve Heroes of Gyruff. It seems that there was an incident at the docks involving a Keoish cargo vessel and a group of heroes. I have heard conflicting accounts of what occurred varying from the heroes carrying out an all out assault on the vessel to them enforcing the prohibitions on illegal cargo. More investigation may be needed to determine the truth. Xilvre has found herself imprisoned on multiple charges of reckless use of magic and a number of more serious crimes as well, that stemmed from an altercation in the Commons with what some are calling plague rats. I had heard a little about this prior to arriving in Hochoch, but this is the first “evidence” I have seen for their existence. It seems, Xilvre unleashed a fireball in a particularly flammable section of the Commons resulting in a fire that burned at least three buildings to the ground and killed a dozen or more of the locals. I find it hard to believe that Xilvre would have been that careless, so there must be more to this story. I also understand that a local Neheli noblewoman, who was also involved in the altercation that landed Mazer in jail, has commissioned the construction of a rather grotesque “memorial” to the incident.

After a few days of looking around the town, the winner of the Judicial election was announced. “Priestess” Jia Buckman, proprietress of the Quivering Hills Companionship Halls has edged out the other candidates. I suspect she called in some favors to get the position, for what purpose I am unsure. From what I have heard, she is not an ideal candidate but there were few in the field that would have been. Hopefully her fidgetiness and reputed fiery temper won’t be a detriment to her upholding the law.

She did come down very hard on the Neheli, upholding the confiscation of their ship and cargo as well as absolving the heroes of the deaths of the crew and placing the blame squarely on the ship’s mage and captain, both of whom were killed in the altercation. She also assigned the sentence of the captain and the mage to the ships owner, Lord Starle Neheli. Awarding him 13 years stay in Arweth’s prison. Something I am sure the Neheli in Hookhill will be appealing or at least lodging a protest with the Regent. High Justice Buckman has also decreed that the laws of Gyruff were in full force upon its acceptance back into the Duchy of Gyruff and that violations of Gyri law are punishable retroactively to that point. Showing some compassion for those caught “unawares” she allowed illegal entities within Hochoch twenty-four hours to leave the city. Remaining beyond that point they risked seizure of their property and imprisonment. The cases of Xilvre and Mazer are still pending so perhaps there is time to clear them.

Local law enforcement was looking for experienced contractors to begin enforcing the edicts passed down by the High Judge and I joined up with several of them to deal with the Temple of Wastri. The “Temple” looked more like an abandoned warehouse than a temple but I suppose when you’re evil cultists, hanging a big come beat me up sign on your place of worship by brazenly displaying your unholy items would be counter productive. When we arrived, the door was locked, imagine that. One of the party was skilled in picking locks so that was not an obstacle. The dwarf Bothan, of whom I had heard a few things about through my sources, went around to the side door and finding it locked, decided to bash it in. He seemed to have had no trouble with that but found himself interrupting some sort of service within. Moments later we opened the main doors and had the cultists “surrounded”. Bothan ordered them to disperse and the less than devout members of the assembly decided that fleeing was a prudent course of action. We let them go since it seemed their devotion was not particularly strong. The remaining worshipers and their High Priest and acolyte decided to put up more of a fight. Bothan, the rogue, and monk waded into the midst of the battle and started subduing worshipers. Careful use of magic whittled down the more powerful of the resisters and prevented their escape. Just as it seemed the fight was almost won, one of the worshipers opened a trap door in the floor and skeletal undead poured out to join the fight. A brief time later, more cultists swarmed down from the upper level. One of the mages was able to control the battlefield somewhat with a hypnotism spell that took a number of combatants out of the fight for a while but unfortunately included the monk’s apprentice as well. Though hard pressed for a moment, the team turned the tide of battle once more and began mopping up operations. The High Priest, Imperial Father Flannan de Bridge was dead but most of the worshipers were taken alive to face an uncertain future. A magical glaive was recovered from the high priest. Examination of the weapon revealed that it was called Skewer of the Impure, something that brought to mind Father de Bridge’s campaign slogan – The Hopping Prophet will use the Skewer of the Impure to cleanse this world, an oddly familiar refrain of purification. I hope the weapon isn’t cursed because Bothan felt it was something he could use.

Ferrying all of the chests, making sure to use the teamsters for carrying cargo, and prisoners back to the castle took the remainder of the day and we arrived back at the castle around nightfall. Having heard quite a few stories of corruption within the ranks of the teamsters, perhaps it is time to examine the definition of “cargo” in the laws of Arweth. Regardless, taking a quick nap before reviewing the Prince’s security measures seemed like a good idea.

Around midnight, while making my rounds I came across the dwarf, Bothan, doing the same. Having reached the top floor of the castle, just outside the Prince’s room, I found a small splatter of blood on the ground just outside the royal chambers. This was not an encouraging discovery. Just as I was about to knock on the door to see if the Prince and Princess were alright, Bothan opened the door. To my great surprise it was unlocked. It was bad enough that there was no guard posted outside, but to leave the door unlocked as well seemed quite irresponsible. Princess Jagr met us at the door and discovered the severed head of a gnome just inside. The startled princess was taken aback by the discovery, something her training should have prevented but perhaps she is getting soft living the life of luxury. Examination of the area outside the royal chambers and the adjoining areas turned up several clues. Apparently, the gnome was killed right outside the royal chambers, beheaded, and the body dumped over the castle wall, all without anyone noticing. Whoever was responsible did a masterful job of cleaning up the mess and left only the tiniest of clues behind, a professional job to be sure. Recovering the body of the gnome required us to go down to the beach below th castle walls. Unfortunately it was to far a drop to use magic to descend so Bothan and I took the long way around while the monk scrambled down the walls. Searching the headless body on the beach turned up some rather disturbing clues. Tucked in a sheath at his belt was a dagger made of black stone, an Obsidan Blade. There has been a price on the Prince’s head for some time now and several attempts have been made on his life and it now seems he has a guardian angel. It would take quite a bit of skill to take down an Obsidian Blade assassin without being noticed. A further examination of the castle turned up blood soaked sheets and other linens that had likely been used to clean up the mess left by the slaying of the gnome. These linens appear to have come from the common stores down on the lowest level of the castle. Whoever used them to clean up the mess knew exactly where to find them even if they were careless in disposing of them. Someone in the castle is not who they seem to be.

Due to the potential threat someone of that skill would pose to the Prince should they decide to “go rogue” we gathered all of the castle staff and visitors together and had Minister of Health Alena Araul examine everyone. Three of the servants, ones that had struck me as somehow out of place during my earlier review of the castle defenses, turned out to be wererats. We separated them from the rest of the staff as discretely as possible for further questioning. It turns out that they were charged with protecting the Prince by someone the called “The Boss”, though they hinted there was some kind of “deal” involved. Now I have some suspicions on who might be involved in this “deal”, but that will have to wait until later. For now, it seems, that these wererats are allies. Oddly enough, we also discovered that the wererat assassin that had been held in the castle dungeons had also “escaped”. Examination of the silver spikes that once held him indicated that he had been helped in that escape. There are a lot of security upgrades that I will recommend to the Prince to try to ensure that assassins do not gain such easy access to the castle. This one apparently entered the castle along the western wall of the castle and approached from the river. Evidence of a boat and several other persons were still visible on the river shore where the assassin apparently landed.

After getting a little more rest, I joined up with the same heroes as had accompanied me to the Temple of Wastri. Xilvre’s advocate had requested that we investigate the memorial called “Rhys’ Treatment of the Masses” that was commissioned by Lady Patpi Neheli. The monument is constructed of two rather oddly different aspects. The central element was rather crudely crafted but was surrounded by several statues of exquisite, one might almost say lifelike, design. The mason who had been commissioned to carve the statues, it turns out was not a sculptor of particular skill. Examining the statues uncovered a very odd “design flaw”. The statues had been attached to the bases rather than carved as part of them. Putting all these facts together, it was clear that these were petrified people rather than carved statues. Gathering up Minister of Health Alena and High Justice Jia Buckman, we asked Alena to dispel the petrification. When restored to life, these people turned out to have been affected by the insanity plague to boot. A warrant for the arrest of the sculptor and for Lady Patpi Neheli was issued. We decided to accompany the law enforcement team sent to apprehend the sculptor, deeming him to be most at risk for having an “accident”. The sculptor was mostly gone mentally but we were able to find out that he had in fact acquired the statues from a wizard and had only mounted them to the bases. The teamsters guild apparently delivered the statue so we will need to inquire with them as to who contracted them for transporting the statues.

The petrified commoners and the sculptor both bore what appears to be the mark of the Chained God, as do many of those affected by this insanity plague, that to the best of our ability to determine is the same mark borne by Mazer as a result of his foray beneath the Boar’s Knuckle. I need to talk with Xilvre and Mazer about what they recall about the area beneath the Boar’s Knuckle. There seems to be an inordinate connection between the events in Hochoch and the rise of a cult to the Chained God.

On another note, it seems that the local apothecary, a nefarious necromancer named Evard the Black, may be trafficking in illegal items. Unfortunately we were too involved in uncovering the assassin’s attack on the castle and missed an opportunity to confiscate that cargo. Perhaps this needs to be looked into further as well. I wonder if the “wizard” referred to by the sculptor could be this Evard the Black.

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Hochoch Street Blues Part 2s

The Crown Prince has been petitioned to eliminate harsh fines and penalties for minor theft and other offenses that appear to target the poor and destitute.

Of course Rhys is sympathetic to the plight of the unfortunate, but we must have Rule of Law and need to stamp out theft and other crime. He’s considering the proposal, but we can work through this (and any other proposed legal changes) on Saturday.

New declaration:
• Those with legal enforcement authority within Arweth will hereby be granted an incentive bonus of 10% of any fines levied by the Crown Prince split among the authorities making the arrest(s).

With that new declaration, arrests for criminal activity have gone up tenfold, but that has also caused congestion in the court. Trials are often delayed several days, awaiting the Crown Prince’s time. Although initially an improvement in troop morale, a certain undermining between law enforcement agents has developed, especially among those troops “stuck” on castle or gate duty who are unable to make lucrative arrests.

With his recent windfall from the seizure of the Neheli vessel “River Witch” and her cargo, plus the multitude of fines and fees, Crown Prince Rhys has been hiring as quickly as he can. For the confiscated vessel, he’s hiring a ship captain and a crew of 40 sailors with an average rate of pay of 2 gp per day. He’s beefing up the tax collection service with 6 dedicated tax collectors (one per sector of the city plus the docs), each with six armed guards (thugs). The Teamsters Union has been very helpful in producing qualified guards (thugs) to help collect taxes. – Soon he will be begin hiring permanent members of the town guard.

The thug-ish members of the Teamsters Union have been depleted to less than a quarter of their ranks from the time the Crown Prince rose to power. They have made formal complaints to the Crown Prince about “stealing” their members and not investigating the disappearances of members lost over the last two months.

Murders and disappearances are in a slight decline in the Low Quarter and Old City, but they are still a problem.

Undead registration had 3 intelligent undead registered in the first week.

All eight of the city’s ratcatchers have constant work as rats continue to be a problem throughout the city, eating into buildings and food stores. Stockpiles should last the winter, but there are many complaints about the rat population. Whether the rat overpopulation is due to the bountiful harvest, the decline from fourteen to eight ratcatchers, some of the new arrivals or some supernatural event is a matter of some debate throughout the city.

Work has already begun on Muninguluss’ Estate (O5) in the Old City. His arrival has created a short-term boom for the construction trades from excavators, masons, carpenters, tilers, painters and artists. There is some competition for craftsmen with the devil Mezophilosis rededicating the Temple to Asmodeus. Mezohilosis has applied for casino, brothel, alcohol brewing and drug production facilities between the temple and acquisition of the House of Yellow Sails (formerly used for poison production). There is some confusion over the definition of “poison” as written in the current code of laws, as many medicines and drugs could be construed as “poison” in different doses…

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Hochoch Street Blues 2

Readying 618

Morrick has examined Aoth’s baby acquired from the hags and has determined that she is a baby hag. Aoth does not know what to do with her. Killing an innocent babe seems so wrong and he hopes to change her.

Prince Rhys offered a reward for information on several people. He found many people willing to provide information.

Kendra is a female halfling archeologist. She got a permit from Count Gareth to excavate under the Boar’s Knuckle. Kendra has not been seen for several months. Mazer had been with a group last month who investigated the Boar’s Knuckle and found a portal to the Abyss and symbols of the Chained God. Prince Rhys had ordered the tunnels collapsed to prevent further digging. According to Gelwen, there is continued activity at the Boar’s Knuckle.

Count Gareth was with the Hextorites. They all left by boat downstream within hours of Prince Rhys’ arrival. Garson and Rhyzzat are rumored to be with Count Gareth.

Andan ap Arendil left when Gareth fled, possibly to the west.

Prince Rhys then led a group of us on a patrol of the Old Quarter. Princess Jagr, Mazer, Dentrack, Dandelion, Morrick, Aoth, Evendur, Uaithne and I accompanied him. We first visited Lord Nestor Eldoran at his estate. There are rumors Lord Nestor has a license to worship Vecna from Count Gareth, but this is not illegal under Prince Rhys either. Lord Nestor is a wealthy individual who retired to Hochoch. Aoth investigated his library and found several old books with no visible titles. These books were probably purchased from Mundinguluss, the rare book dealer who recently moved into town.

Lord Mundinguluss had recently purchased an estate from Ser Korum, who thought the new law requiring the undead to register was an infringement on his freedom, even though 3 other intelligent undead have registered. Ser Korum and his followers have left for parts unknown. Lord Mundinguluss hosted us graciously and offered us fine wine and refreshment. Dandelion persuaded Mundinguluss to tell us which books Lord Nestor had purchased. He purchased books on the history of the Flan, Llweyllen, the Dawn War, Titans, and Primordials. These books are very rare and expensive. Lord Mundinguluss has associates in several large cities, such as Niole Dra and Greyhawk City. We then asked if we could see the work he was doing in the basement. He was excavating and planning bathes and other things. The tunnels were made with spirals and curves and had egg shaped rooms also decoratively carved. It all seemed very alien. Lord Mundinguluss also had several servants who were unintelligent but muscular. The butler was named Lee and there were several others around also.

On our way back to the castle, we passed the Neheli estate. Lord Kosseth Neheli, a young Sueloise man in his twenties with sharp, almost rat like, features and a lanky build, came out of the estate to speak to Prince Rhys. Lord Kosseth petitioned Prince Rhys for the release of the River Witch. Dandelion taunted Lord Kosseth, trying to provoke an incident. Lord Kosseth replied with a thinly veiled threat that governments can rise and fall all the time. Dandelion did some investigation at the tavern later and found Lord Kosseth’s wife, Lady Patpi has bright blue eyes and is talkative. She also missed Keoland and is not very wise.

Prince Rhys went back to the castle. We were hailed by the temple of Ehlonna. They are overwhelmed with 100 to 150 insane people and are renting boarding houses in the lower quarter and the common quarter to house all the patients. A traveling priest cast greater restoration on a few patients, which cured them, but they quickly reverted back into insanity. Upon investigation, this does not look like spell plague or any of the fey curses. We traveled to the boarding houses visiting the insane to determine a pattern. They seemed to come from the northern area of the lower quarter around the Crackling Crow boarding house. Or the insane came from a large area in the Commons quarter around the Boar’s Knuckle. They were laborers, beggars or poor street merchants and their families. It seemed that once one person was infected, the entire household were infected. This insanity is taking a lot of resources from the good clergy, the town guard and the government. We wonder if it is a distraction for something. Of the insane, 5 were magical persons. Mazer was using in glasses of detection and the insane were calling him Eyes that See and also One of Us. This is causing us to wonder if the insanity was related to the Chained God.

The insane were trying to follow Mazer, so we let one go and followed him. He led us to the Boar’s Knuckle and then wanted oil. Dandelion supplied him with oil, which the insane man used to douse himself. He then tried to set himself on fire. Mazer and I tried to clean him up with Prestidigitation. He then attacked Mazer, who shot him with a firebolt. Mazer would have missed, but the insane man dodged into the bullet, catching on fire and dying. We later heard that the other insane when wild around this time and trying to kill themselves. Somehow they are connected to each other.

We decided to investigate the Boar’s Knuckle and look into the new excavation. There were lots of rats around. Suddenly a giant rat peed on Dandelion’s shoe. He cleaned it off with Prestidigitation. Then we heard a scream about a block away. We ran toward the screams and saw a woman collapsing under swarms of rats. Aoth noticed several giant rats watching from nearby houses. We killed one giant rat, who then turned into a Flan man of Dandelion’s acquaintance. Princess Jagr and several others ran up to attack the rats swarming the woman. Aoth summoned 8 velociraptors, which were vicious little creatures and drew some of the rats’ attention. However, there were many more rats then we thought, 200 to 300 regular sized rats or more and a dozen or more giant rats. I did not see any people in the streets and did not think about them being in the adjacent houses. I cast a fire ball on the spot when the woman had been swarmed, killing a lot of rats in the area and causing the others to flee. Unfortunately, none of the slain rats were wererats. Even more unfortunately, the fireball set 3 nearby houses on fire. One person each came running out of two of the adjacent houses. Morrick and Dentrack were able to put out the flames before they died. Dandelion flew off to get water from the river to put out the fire. And I cast chromatic orb cold to knock down the burning houses to contain the fire. Aoth was able to use a spell to create small rain clouds to prevent spread also. Once the fires were out, we discovered 11 dead people in the houses.

People were understandable upset and we all went to explain things to Prince Rhys. I explained the fireball was in protection of Princess Jagr. The Prince paid the cost of the buildings to the landlords. I paid 50 gp for each person killed (including the rat catcher who was the original target of the rats) to the families. That took most of the money I had, only leaving a little for living expenses. Aoth and Mazer discovered that Prince Rhys is planning to build a palace outside of town to the north as a surprise for Jagr. The cost will be 500,000 gp. The Prince got a loan from the Rhola and the 10% down payment of 50,000 gp is due in three months. This at least partially explains why the Prince wants money. I think this is a bad idea at this time, as Hochoch needs so much. And selling buildings and permits to anyone for anything is not helping clean up the town.

The Prince allowed us to sleep in guest rooms in the castle. Mazer was in the kitchen getting a snack when he got creeped out. He woke Morrick who noticed a muddy boot print in the hall and suggested waking Aoth. Morrick then went to don his armor. Aoth noticed that the mud was actually sewer matter. They then quickly woke up the rest of us and went to check on the Prince and Princess. Evendur also decided to don his armor, but the rest of us raced up the stairs. Mazer knocked and burst in, with the rest of us on his heels. An assassin was in the bedchamber and had just stabbed the Prince. Uaithne went for Morrick. Dandelion stabilized the Prince. Mazer and I fired magic at him and Dentrack shot him with arrows. The assassin again attacked the Prince. Dandelion was forced to attack with his dagger, which had no effect. We attacked and Princess Jagr shot him with ensnaring strike. The assassin was getting damaged, so he tried to flee out the window, but could not escape the ensnaring strike. Morrick arrived and stabilized the Prince. Dandelion read his thoughts and found he was a wererat. He received a contract for 5000 gp on the prince through Ian the Hearty. He did not belong to the Obsidian Blade assassin’s guild. Prince Rhys decided to keep the assassin in a cell for a week. He commissioned silver spikes to attach the assassin to the cell wall.

The next morning Dandelion disguised himself as the assassin and we went to find Ian the Hearty. We began our search in the low quarter and were soon accosted by 19 beggars. Mazer threw 20 gold pieces down the street and the beggars went after them. Evendur noticed that a piece of his magical cloak was missing, probably to be used to scry on him. The next time we were accosted by peasants, Aoth turned into a dire wolf and scared them away. We need to look poorer in the low quarter.

Dandelion soon found Ian and through persuasion and detect thoughts, convinced him to share information. Payment is to be in Ioweth Square in the fountain when the Prince is confirmed dead. The sponsor is a tall, lanky Keoish man with blond hair, blue eyes and green clothes. He came on the River Witch. From the description, this is the dead first mate of the River Witch, but the will to see the Prince dead probably did not die with him.

Aoth noticed that no guards were on the castle walls, so we decided to hurry back to the castle. Uaithne went to volunteer at one of the insane wards, as they always need help. Mazer cast fly on himself and me and Dandelion got fly and we headed for the castle, landing on the third floor parapet. Aoth turned into a war horse and carried Morrick, Dentrack and Evendur behind us.

When we landed, we noticed that the area smelled of chlorine. Upon entering the castle, we found a yellowish green fog of poisonous vapors heading down the stairs. We found 3 dead guards which were beyond help. Prince Rhys was not in his room, so we took the stairs down to the second floor. The great hall was scorched with the evidence of a fire ball and several dead bodies. Five sets of prints left the great hall, 2 female and 3 male. 2 males and 1 female went into the kitchen. The sooty prints soon dissipated, but we cautiously followed the stairs down. The fog had settled in the entry hall and seemed to stay there. The others caught up with us and we headed down to the dungeons. Morrick was able to heal two guards who had been blasted with multiple fire bolts in the chest. They had not seen anything. We continued around a corner and Mazer detected magic. We could not see the magical person, but tried to shoot where Mazer shot. We were hit with two fire balls before we finally captured two assassins. They were mages and members of the Obsidian Blades. The bounty on Prince Rhys had gone up to 10,000 gp. The Prince will have to decide their fate.

Someone has taken the events of the past few days and misrepresented them to the people. It sounds like the Neheli are behind the rumors in an attempt to remove Rhys from power.

I spent some time at the temple of Lydia researching the strange architecture under Lord Mundiguluss’ home. I discovered that the architecture is a mind flayer lair.

Prince Rhys and Princess Jagr soon issued a new decree in response. They are taking steps to restore law and order. An unfortunate side to this 8s that I am under arrest and awaiting trial by a judge to be elected by the people in two weeks. With the way publuc opinion has been directed, I do not have much hope of a sympathic judge.

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