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  #1  
Unread 2nd of December, 2009, 00:16
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Chapter 5: The Champion's Belt (IC)

23rd of Patchwall, 595 CY (Evening)

With a dull scrape of metal on stone that reverberated across a now-deserted street, Khalavas Aramok pushed the manhole cover aside and stepped back into the waning glow of twilight. He reached down behind him and helped Quince onto his feet. Kellen didn't require assistance climbing out of the sewers, but it took all three of them to get Darion up the ladder.

The four heroes stood there for a moment, dusting off clothing (the smell would require a bit more work to get out) and looking up and down the street for any signs that they were being watched. They were in the middle of a trade district well past normal working hours, so there wasn't a soul in sight.

[You just killed Zyrxog the mind flayer about an hour ago, so you are probably pretty tapped on spells and other resources. You are right outside the Cold Forge. What would you like to do next?]
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Unread 2nd of December, 2009, 00:58
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Kellen scanned the streets looking for any movement in the shadows. Satisfied that the streets are empty; he said, "We should get back to Eligos. We have some more information to sort through, and he may be able to help. The Apostolic Scrolls sound familiar, but I cannot quite place them. It might be helpful to scan this ledger to see if any thing ties into the other machinations of the illithids."
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Unread 3rd of December, 2009, 05:53
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Khalavas is silent for a moment before speaking. "I agree, we should try to find out what these scrolls are what part they play in all this." He looked up at the darkening twilight sky.

"We should hurry. If any more drow or mind flayers are trying to catch us, they'll have an easier time of it after the sun goes down."
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Unread 3rd of December, 2009, 09:13
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Darion pushed the grimy manhole cover back into place, and the four of them set off in the direction of Eligos' manor house, wary eyes checking every dark alley as they crossed the quiet city.

They reached the sage's dwelling without incident and knocked on the door. A few moments passed before the manservant Pollard opened it with a creak and examined them all wordlessly. His nose wrinkled as the smell of sewage crept across the threshold, and for a moment he looked like he was about to close the door in their faces, but a friendly voice behind him said, "Oh let them in, already. They are adventurers - they all smell like that..."

Pollard stepped aside and they all piled into the foyer. Eligos was seated in the visiting parlor, a large, dusty tome resting on his knees. The jar with the green worm suspended in jelly was sitting on a small end table right next to his chair. He closed the book gently, placed it aside and stood up.

"Gentlemen, I was just about to send for you. I have some answers for you...although it looks like you may have some more questions. Please, have a seat. Pollard, could you bring us drinks?"

He motioned around him at the various empty chairs and loungers, then took his seat once more.

"How has the Free City been treating you? I heard there was a bit of nasty business at the Crooked House."
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Unread 4th of December, 2009, 01:21
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"Sorry 'bout the smell, Master Eligos," Khalavas said with a slight grin.

"This city may be free, but it has more than its share of danger and conspiracies. You're right about the Crooked House, a shapechanger tried to frame us for murder. Kellen saved the life of your friend the inkeep, though."

"Do you know anything about a mind flayer cabal that uses a tattoo of a green spiraling tentacle as it's sigil? We've encountered some shapechangers and dark elves bearing the symbol."
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Unread 4th of December, 2009, 13:47
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Eligos nearly spit out the fine elven wine he was halfway through.

"Illithids? In Greyhawk?"

He sat forward in his seat as they recounted their harrowing tale of the previous few hours spent below the streets of the city. When they were finished, he nodded thoughtfully, seeming to relax a little bit.

"It doesn't sound like a full-scale invasion, then...just a loner. Well, I am certain that the governance of the city will reward you greatly for ridding us of such a menace. Of course, you'll have to wait until after the Champion's Games to gain an audience, they are all quite busy at the moment."

He finished his wine, smacking his lips appreciatively.

"On to business...I reviewed these-" at this, he presented them with several artifacts from Zosiel's tomb - the obsidian horns, the diadem and the talisman, "-and I do not think they are related to the Age of Worms, or the Ebon Triad for that matter. I must concur with all the points in Quince's excellent dissertation on the tomb and its history. I am afraid I am not much of an expert on the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, but I would suggest holding on to all of them, just in case..."

He handed them back, slightly regretful. Other rooms in the manor they had visited indicated that he was something of a novelty collector.

"The real finds, you have probably already guessed. I am more than a little bit disturbed by the journals and writings of the Ebon Triad leaders you slew back at Diamond Lake. They all seem to be working toward the same goals as the smaller, older cult of an undead deity named Kyuss, but as far as I know the two entities have no connection, or even synergistic goals. And the worm..." he picked up the jar, gazing at the preserved green worm as he continued, "...the worm is concrete evidence of the cult of Kyuss's fingers digging into this mess. The worm-ridden spawn you fought at Blackwall are the most common - and least dangerous, I'm afraid to say - of Kyuss's creations. They are horrifically fecund, of course, which is why they are so common."

He cleared his throat, picking up the tome sitting beside him.

"There aren't a lot of texts that are legal to own here in Greyhawk that make mention of the Age of Worms, but it is perhaps the oldest dark prophecy ever recorded. It is mentioned briefly here in this Account of Amedio as a foretelling of an age when life gives way to 'something else'. An apocalypse for most, but for the agents of Kyuss and like-minded individuals the beginning of a golden age. Much more specific descriptions are found in the Book of Vile Darkness, the Necronomicon, the Libris Mortis, and of course the Apostolic Scrolls. Even if I could get a hold of one of those, I don't think I would. Stronger minds than mine have been corrupted by such texts. At any rate, the Age of Worms is something that must be avoided at all costs."
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 01:31
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Kellen considered the words of the sage. Thoughts of all the shapechangers in their path over the last few days shook his trust in others. Kellen focused his thoughts as he surveyed the room.

[Detect Evil and Sense Motive check of 31 .]
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 02:16
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[You do not detect the presence of evil in the room. You also don't note any deception in Eligos' words]
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 06:41
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As Eligos finished speaking Khalavas noticed Kellen's look of concentration as he surveyed the room. Remembering that his friend had the ability to sense the presence of evil, he caught Kellen's eye for a moment. Satisfied with the look Kellen gave him indicating he felt everything is ok, Khalavas turned back to the sage.

"We had heard that the Ebon Triad and the cult of Kyuss do not work together. But clearly they are in some fashion. Perhaps one is using the other as a cover. A wolf in wolf's clothing, they would have said in my village. But I don't know....it seems like it's more than that. Whatever it means, we should track down this Loris Raknian. He tried to have our brains flayed, and I think we should..." Khalavas grinned, intentionally showing his mouth full of sharp dragonteeth, "have words with him."
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 06:46
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"I am of the same mind. We should track down Loris Raknian and his master Bozal Zahol. Perhaps one of them had business with the illithid in the past, and we can find something in the ledger. I may have other resources in Greyhawk to help us find them."
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 07:02
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"Loris Raknian tried to have you killed?"

Eligos looked slightly incredulous.

"How do you know? What ledger?"
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 09:01
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"It was Loris Raknian who sent Zyrxog after us. The mind flayer was a black market dealer and he had acquired The Apolostic Scrolls for Raknian recently."
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 10:49
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Eligos was clearly troubled by this information.

"Loris Raknian is one of the most influential men in Greyhawk. He owns and manages the Arena. Years ago, he was a famous gladiator...what reason could he possibly have to want you dead?"

Brows furrowed, he stood up.

"Excuse me for a moment."

He left the room, but after only a few seconds he returned, several pieces of parchment in one hand. He smiled tightly, waving the papers at them. "Notes. Your query interested me, and I spent a lot of time in the libraries this past week."

He sat down again and began rifling through the rather extensive looking collection of scribbles.

"Here we are...the Apostolic Scrolls, hmmm...bad business indeed. The originals are rumored to have been penned by Kyuss himself. They contain much of the cult's dogma, but they have a more practical function. Have you ever heard of the ulgurstasta?"
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Unread 5th of December, 2009, 19:52
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Kellen considered his religious training for a moment. Did the name come up during his time with the Pelorans?

[Kellen rolls a 20 on his Knowledge (Religion).]
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Unread 6th of December, 2009, 08:17
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Kellen pondered the name, which did conjure up an intense feeling of foreboding. He was sure he had heard of them somewhere, but could not quite pinpoint it. He shook his head after a moment, and Eligos continued, taking on the tone of a scholar giving a lecture. He didn't seem aware of the transition.

"Ulgurstastas are some of the vilest creatures in known undead lore. Giant worms with thousands of tendrils branching off of their carapace... Their ecology, if you want to call it that, is defined mainly by their habit of swallowing the living and spitting them out as skeletal monsters under their control. They secrete this sort of necromantic bile - of course, no one has ever been able to capture a specimen to discern the properties of the secretion - that they can...discharge, infrequently. The bile essentially liquifies any flesh it touches, and what is left over usually becomes a skeletal monster, much in the same way as the poor creatures that are swallowed by the ulgurstasta.

The Apostolic Scrolls, in addition to revealing much of the lore of Kyuss and the cult that continues to follow him, details the exact methods and rituals involved in creating an ulgurstasta. Rumor has it that there is an additional ritual in some copies of the Scrolls that can summon a particularly powerful ulgurstasta, one that consumes and spews out powerful undead at a terrifying rate.

As you can imagine, the Scrolls are highly illegal despite their academic value."

He cleared his throat again, reaching behind him for a glass of water that Pollard had switched out for his empty wine glass.

"As for this Raknian business, I must caution you against taking action against him just now. I said earlier that he is one of the most influential men in Greyhawk, and that is particularly true right now. He is immensely popular during the Champion's Games, which are starting in little more than a week. This ledger-" he pointed at the binder in Khalavas' hand, "-will interest authorities, but when you tell them you got it from an illithid black market dealer they will probably laugh at you. It will take something much more concrete to damn the man before the law here."

He paused again, eying them all a bit sternly.

"I must also caution you not to try anything...above the law. I know your type, I used to be one of you, believe it or not. Allustan could tell you all about the sort of trouble we used to get into. But vigilante justice in this instance will get you hanged. You need more evidence before you take any action."

After draining his glass, Eligos considered their faces, trying to see how they had taken his words. He sighed, obviously not liking whatever he saw.

"Let me try to help. Don't do anything rash for a few days, I might be able to get you close enough to Raknian to gather evidence. The Scrolls, if discovered in his possession, would get him arrested and executed, regardless of his popularity and the political favors he could cash in."
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Unread 8th of December, 2009, 05:15
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Khalavas thought for a moment before speaking. Loris Raknian? Had he heard anything of this champion gladiator during his travels across the Flaeness?


"I appreciate your words of caution, Master Eligos. I think you speak truly, we need some proof of this man's evil and crimes before we strike against him. But I do hope he resists us, so I can show him the difference between fighting in an arena before an adoring crowd and fighting us---for his life."



[Khalavas rolls a 10 on his bardic knowledge check.]
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Unread 8th of December, 2009, 11:21
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Quince asks "does Raknian have any political enemies here who might be willing to help us, or who might be trying to set him up?
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Unread 10th of December, 2009, 03:18
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Eligos considered Quince's question for a moment before shaking his head.

"Up until now, I have had very little interest in the man, but he is certainly one of the most popular public figures in the Free City..."

There was a hesitance in his voice as he said this, and after a moment he continued.

"...well, there might be someone...I don't know, it's a long shot...but there were some highly unsubstantiated rumors..."

Pollard had re-entered the room to collect the cups and distribute glass plates heaped with fruit and pastries. When he left, Eligos seemed more resolved.

"Gentlemen, can we meet again tomorrow evening before sundown?"
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Unread 10th of December, 2009, 09:04
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Kellen nodded his approval at the food, while he concentrated for a moment on Pollard.

[Kellen uses Detect Evil]

As he ate slice of the fruit, Kellen responded to Eligos' question, "Tomorrow will not be a problem. We can use the time to rest and pick up some new gear."
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Unread 10th of December, 2009, 09:32
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Eligos smiled reminiscently. "Ah, the spoils of war. I remember the days..."

He proceeded to regale them with a tale of dragon slaying and the associated, lucrative rewards from his own time as an adventurer. He kept on glancing at Khalavas and mentioning that it was a chromatic dragon, apparently worried about giving offense.

[Detect evil doesn't register any auras on Pollard. At this point, Eligos is just being a good host, so feel free to either ask him more questions or meander on down to the Crooked House.]
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Unread 11th of December, 2009, 07:09
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Khalavas smiled at Eligos' worry over offending him, but said nothing about it. After listening to some of the sage's stories of his adventuring exploits Khalavas looked to his companions:

"Well, I suppose we should be getting back to the inn soon. We might have a big day tomorrow."
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Unread 11th of December, 2009, 07:14
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Kellen said to the sage, "Thank you again for your help. We should be going."

Kellen turned to Khalavas and Quince, "I have a few things to do before I return to the Crooked House. I will meet back up with you all later."
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Unread 11th of December, 2009, 07:19
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"Do you need any help, Kellen?"
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Unread 11th of December, 2009, 07:22
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"I appreciate the offer, but I should be fine. I have some people here, and I want to make contact. If anything goes wrong, I am confident I can slip away."
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Unread 11th of December, 2009, 07:25
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"I hope you're able to find your people. We'll see you back at the Crooked House."

Khalavas turned to Eligos.

"Thanks for your hospitality and all your help, Master Eligos. We'll see you tomorrow."
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