Ok, second part!

Session 23, Part 2- Desperation, planning, and shadowy dealings

Arulashee's disappearance puts a big gloom on the party. Sena tries to scry her, and Minhago, but finds that he is blocked by some protection. He grunts in anger. But then depression creeps on him, and he feels shamed, sad, and falls mostly silent, deep in thought, responding laconically, with a shallow voice.

The party isn't doing that Great. Sena hs but a few spells left. Mad Dog has no more mythic power, and is quite wounded. Julian is heavily wounded as well, with about only a third of her spells slots open. Andera though is unharmed and has most resources still.

As the street starts to fill up, with many new onlookers, the party thinks they need a place to hide, and regroup. Back to The Inn and Out? Not now that they have gotten so far to the Flesh Markets. And besides- now they might be quite known... So they seek a small place, get a room and think.

A discussion immediately opens about Arulashee- has she played them as fools all of this time, just waiting for aa chance to betray them? Andera (Who surprisingly suspected her most) didn't think so- "You saw Minhago cast something on her from her ring." (They didn't bother making a spellcraft check). Also, why wait till now? And why go away, and not help Minhago against us?"

Julian thought, and agreed. "Indeed. Minhgo was there to capture her. Once she had her, she quickly disappeared. She was her target."

Sena is silent, and does not respond.

Julian thinks "We know of a few names- Minhago, Arulashee, Nezzerius, and that Oodkalakat" (Not the same coloxus). Sena burst at this "I already tried scrying! They are blocked! And you really think I care about that low life demon? What do we do NOW?!" At the end of the outburst though, he fell back into his gloomy mood.

The party is stumped. Julian though concludes. "In any way, we are in no shape to battle Minhago or her plans now. We have to rest, and think. Maybe.. .we can come up with a plan after some rest." Sena was angry, but complied. He spent the rest of his channel energy and few spells to heal the party. They then went to sleep, with Sena in his meditation keeping watch, adding a new name to his list of vengeance "Minhago!"

Andera's innovative reaching out.
It was at this point that Anders' player wanted to try something... special, outside the rules. "I have had a life time connection to Arulashee. She saved me, we saved her. Desna connected us, and we spoke from afar, in dreams. Maybe, Maybe I can contact her again?" I was intrigued, so I asked him to continue, see whee it goes.

Andera turned to Sena. "Give me her bow. It is a holy relic of Desna, and connected to Arulahsee. Lend it to me, and I will try to reach her, through dreams, as she have reached me." Sena, in his grief, handed him the moon bow mournfully. Andera pulled out the crystal arrow, which he found in the Temple of the Welcome Night (The second module, the lost Chappel. He kept one arrow as remembrance of that event). With bow in one hand, arrow in another, he laid down, and tried to concentrate, and pray to Desna...

Liking this, I allowed this, but for a price. This would drain some mythic power from him (3 points for the next day). Andera felt... Something... A divine presence?... Linking him, through the bow, through the arrow, unto...

Andera stood in total blackness. He saw Arulashee, TWO Arulashee. One was the one he knew, but she was on her knees, crying, in pain, with various arcane marks on her body, that Andera recognized as lilitu brands from Sena and Julian's explanation earlier, mainly on her torso and abdomen, places hidden by armor. (This was supposed to be a secret later on, but This was cool to warrant such a hidden discovery). Most worrying of all, the figure was nearly faded utterly, as if it was draining away...

But between her and Andera stood the other Arulashee, Seeming strong, confident. With a sly mocking grin on her face. "Oh, the savior! Have you come to say your final goodbyes?"

Andera, not knowing what can and can't be done in this realm, tries to trick her. "I don't care about old Arulashee! She walked with Sena, and left me! I despise her for that! I have seen Minhago and her power, I am more interested in what you and your masters has to offer. I don't plan on being on the losing side..." Andera surprisingly decides to use the Campaign trait, to have his bluff "roll" be a 20! With added bonuses, the evil side of Arulashee is just intrigued enough to bite. But she is no fool...

"Hmmm... you seem sincere! But you are fool of trickery. How can I trust you?" Andera replied "What do you wish of me?" She smirked. "The head of one of your companions!"

Andera is surprised by this, and tries to bluff again. "You've seen their power! If I do this, I need a quick way to get away! Where can I find you, immediately, so I can escape to safety?"

This works less well. "I cannot give you our location. I do not fully know it myself. Minhago does. Get a scroll of sending or something, and contact her once the deed is done. She will let you know!" Andera thought quickly, and tried to catch a glimpse of the fading tied Arulashee. The other one looked smug. "Soon she will be gone, and only I shall remain, after being lost all this time! Decades under her! Finally free! Send my thanks to Sena, send him... my love!" She said with a smirk.

Andera tried to think. In this dream world, he tried to make it look as if he's retreating, but then sneaking past her, to the bound fading figure. He succeeded, and came behind her. He looked down in his hands, and willed the bow, and the arrow to his hands, and then put it in hers,whispering in her ear ""You still have the bow and arrow of Desna! believe in her, in us, in yourself and we will find you again! We will find you!" He felt her hands grasping the moon bow of dreams, grasping the one sole arrow, tightly more than Mad Dog ever grasped his sword! And with that, the dream ended...

He awoke, but with no bow or arrow in hand. Sena was puzzled, as despite him keeping watch, he must have gotten distracted, and haven't seen the bw and arrow disappear! Alarmed, he went to Andera. "Tell me!" Andera told it all, word for word, with Sena looking pained at the mention of "send him my love." Sena ws silent, thanked Andera, and went to his place. he had conversation of his own to make!

DM thoughts- Andera's dream reaching
I personally really loved it! It had all kind of beautiful touches- The bow, The arrow, The connection with her. Andera- the ultimate sneak, senaking even to dreams, even beyond one's own subconscious (Sort to speak). I thought it was really cool, really creative, and a lovely piece. So I allowed it.

In my original plans, if Arulashee was captured, later on she might appear, with a bit question of whether some of her good self is still there, or has she been corrupted utterly. This may make this question more obvious, orgive mroeincentve to the party, but still- it was cool! And they deserved it.

The last bit, with Andera sneaking and giving her her bow and arrow? Wow, I was inspired! I just rolled with it, and I intend to make it important somehow. I have no idea how yet, but I'll try to think of something.

Another talk with Calistria
Sena decided he needed all the help he could get. With what Andera told him, time was of theessence if they wish to save Arulashee. So he cast commune, and once more the mask on his face drifted off and turned in mid air, looking at him amused.
Calistria: "Well, this is becoming a habit!"
Sena was a bit rude: "I don't have the mood for chit chat. We made a pact once."
Ca:"Yes, we did. I do not forget such things. So what is it now, oh unseen one?"
S: "What do you want?"
Ca: "That is quite a broad question, but in this matter? I want to see where this will lead, I'm curious…"
Sena was getting angrier. He was hoping for soem sort of a trade of favors: "Anything specific that you want?"
Ca: "To learn… of True things." Unlike most responses of Calistria, the tone of this answer was without joking, quite serious.
S: "Well I learned something true, and it was taken from me! Where is she?"
Ca: "Beyond my power to know. Butr... not in a good place probably…" (The player laughed, Sen himself fumed)
S: "Goddes of revenge, of retribution. How can I revenge what have been done to me. What do you want?"
Ca: "I told you what I want, you don't seem in the mind to listen... But revenge is best served, unproportioned… The real question is:What do YOU want? What is important, to YOU? At this time, NOW?"
Sena was left speechless, thinking. The mask smiled a curious smile, and floated back to fit upon his face.

DM thoughts- communes with Calistria
An agreement between me and the player is that the spell should not be abused, and that it may be used in major events. This was such a one, so we played it. Also, wediverge from the spell's descriptions of "questions and yes/no/maybe answers", as that is quite boring. We prefer some conversation, with me keeping a sort of a tally upon "answers", though most times we just come to some conclusion, and that's it.

Why is am I playing Calistria as so difficult? A few reasons: First, this is the plane of a demon lord, and so she is not expected to have all power or even be omniscient here. Secondly- Sena IS her most powerful agent here, by far. Third, she is a capricious goddess, and does seek to see what choices will Sen make. He is an unknown quantity to her, an experiment of a sort. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I have a certain plan of play with Calistira, which I have hinted about in the past, which would later on might explain her behavior.

I must say that I quite like Sena's dealing with religion. He talks more in terms of bartering, trade, deals with the goddess, than outright worship, which is... interesting. Keep tuned!

One thing to note: The last question that she posed to Sena IS important. It runs on similar lines as the question of the Vorlons and Shadows from Babylon 5, which the player takes great inspiration for. This came as a sort stroke of improvisation, but the player got the hint.

Doing some leg work
After resting, the party tried to think again what to do. Julian had an idea. "You tried Arulashee and Minhago. But what about that shadowy creature? She called it Nezzerius? Maybe you can locate him?" Sena scried, and managed to see it, in some sort of an ethereal space (Actually, a bit of my bad. I forgot he can go to the ether only a limit rounds per day! Oops!) From the vauge etails on the ether it seemed he was near some people. They thought to greater teleport there (With Julian having access to 7th level spells), but the description was not clear enough.

By this point, in all the thinking and trying to come up with a solution something weird happened. Julian and Sena's players were searching the PFSRD for any kind of spell that could solve this. They kept on looking, looking, discussing spells, while Anderas player suggested "We're near the flesh market, lets go search for info there! In this big city someone must know something!" But the two players were quite reluctant at first, still searching for that one spell. It took them a while to accept his plan, though grudingly, a bit with an attitude, like "this is so simple and lame!"

DM thougths- Over reliance on spells
I've noticed it slightly before, but on this occasion it became far more clear. With the mythic abilities Wild Arcana and Sanctified Spell, (Or however the divine version is called), the casters have basically every spell in their spell list at their hands. This lent to a form of... well... toput it bluntly... laziness. They think less of solving things through smarts and playign the world, and more in terms of "just finding the correct spell for THIS problem." Strangely enough, this comes from quite creative players. This was a bit more with battles, but as spell levels progressed, the reliance on spells to save the day becomes more and more evident. The two players didn't even consider looking for information or solutions outside their spells. Yeah, I know this is partly why you wanna play a caster, but still- weird...

The party casts their long lasting buffs, and go to the Flesh Markets. This time the sights of mass auctions and sales of slaves, of nearly any kind of creature, do not really get to them. Nor the horrors, the tortures, or the various sights and sounds of suffering. They have become somewhat more jaded, and much more goal oriented. Amongst the trades of all senses, pleasures, items, sins, experiences and more, they start canvasing and gathering information.

Andera seeks any information about delegates from Deskari or Baphomet. Yet outside learning that such envoys might get to the place of Nocticula herself, he discovers nothing.
Sena seeks about Oodkalakat. The coloxus clerk is known well enough- He recently started to work for an aristocratic succubus mistresses, known as Lady Vallexia, who actually have a place in the market, called "Rapture of rupture", Which she uses to test potential artistic talents, to bring into the Terrace of Favored Mistresses (A sort of aristocratic quarter, for the elite of the city). He explores more of her, learning she is quite sophisticated, very easily bored, has powerful magic and can be quite deadly.
Julian asks about Nezzerius. With her high social skills she manages to learn that it is a unique kind of assassin, bred in the special vaults of Nocticula's elite assassins herself. He now works as an independent, but he might be contacted through a branch of the assassin's guild here in the market. (Okay, i was kind of improvising quickly)

Still trying to solve with spells, Julian tries casting Vision. First of Minhago (Spell check) and then on Nocticula, which succeeds! I am a bit stumped... I have some info I planned on the demon lord (The module comes with very very little). So they give me a mintue or two, and I come up with the following basic legends:
Notcicula was the First Succubi, made out of mortals first deep concepts of lust, manipulation and betrayal. She rose quite quickly through the ranks, proving smart, assassinating her superiors, and taking the demon lords' life blood. Then, about 350 years ago, came an era which the demons call "The silent Darkness"- Nocticula, always mysterious, seem to have withdrawn from the world completely into her palace. She was seen a handful of occasions since, and usually uses delegates to run her religion, Porphyry city, and more. She has been absent from major occurrences for that time, though it is said she watches many things, and invite those of import to her palace. Few leave. It seems she has some greater plan, some philosophical concerns and questions, as some of those she sends, go to ask existential meanings. She uses powerful demons, as a sort of supervisors and managers of Porphyry. She brought Shamira about 80 years ago. An immensely powerful Succubus, but surprisingly with no known origins. Previous "overseers" of Prohyry usually vanish when she deems it, perhaps go serve in her palace, perhaps killed when they get to be too much of a threat. In the past two centuries, Nocticula mostly communicates through The Sisters of The Last Embrace- Specially trained and blessed succubi, who acts as her mediators, servants, elite assassins and bodyguards. There is much uncertain about her, but her love of a good challenge is quite known. Despite being an assassin, she always took risky targets.

I agreed with the player that I may think of a few more things between sessions, and might add these. Though these seemed to have satisfied them somewhat.

Shady dealings- A deal with a demon

The party again is stumped. Andera suggest an interesting idea- "Lets try to contact Nezzerius. He failed in his mission, perhaps we can play on his pride? Maybe turn him against Minhago?" Sena seethes "I want her head!" Mad Dog heartily agrees, and puts his hand on Sena's shoulder. "Me too, but this may lead to her." Sena agrees, and send a Sending to Nezzerius. "You failed once. She left you there. How much to hire you? Can we meet?" I find this quite interesting, and it fits with how I see Nezzerius (The module also suggest they might turn him on her) So Nezzerius replies. "Interesting... Meet to talk. Assassins branch in meat market. 1 hour."

They manage to find the building, which was fairly unassuming, yet with a subtle and fine architecture. After explaining themselves they were brought inside, to a room with an anti magic field, a big glass in the middle, and a room beyond. An elegnat succubus sat at the corner. "Negotiation room" Julian commented. "Safety measures?" She said, feeling the anti magic field, not quite liking it.

After a bit of time, Nezzerius teleported into the other half (Which had no antimagic field). For some reason, I accented him a bit like a cliche rastaman. > . The shadowy floating assassin grinned at them "You wanted see me? Talk? Then talk." The party felt unease at the presence of the Succubus, but Nezzerius gave a shrug. "Guild practice. Till think is safe. Not much to do. Now talk."

J: "In what way can we use your talents? Eliminating/ extracting?"
Nezzerius just nodded. "Can do both."
S: "We want to find someone, and extract them." Julian added "You won't go in alone. Once you find her, let us now, and we attack in force, combined!"
Nezzerius seemed unpleased. "Me guess who you talk about. Problem. Allready employed. Bad business to not finish. Bad name. This be tricky. This be dangerous. This high pay!"
Andera intervened. "I thought you're a business man? Just an honorable business man?" (This got great laughs from the party, a reference to older character's of Sena's player. In previous logs- Killpi the murderous halflign posing as a businessman, and D*ick Mighty, a powerful, but highly... "determined", business man. Sena's player was amusely offended "What? I'm not like him!")
Nezerius shrugged, and gave a smile. "I do business. Last business, not work so well. Problems. May be way out of it, work for you? Maybe, if pay right!"
Julian looks atthe succubus, not wntign peopel hearing of them. "lets talk details. Can we have some privacy?" Nezzerius looks at her, and she promptly goes and leaves.
J: "Ok, so how much will it be to locate Arulashee, and then help us free her out of wherever she is?"
Nezzerius seemed to conemplate. "You ask go agsint former employer. Minhago strong. VERY strong. Many allies, resources. Not easy. Very Dangerous. But... first thing- If we do this, you give true oath, you no harm me, me no harm you. True?"
The party, except for Mad Dog, agreed to this. He still remembered having died to a barrel of arrows. Yet, the party sort of convinces him. Nezzerius takes their word for it, for now.".
Sena, in a strange turn of events, tries to convince Nezzerius. "We can offer you much! If you succeed, I can offer you more! You can be a great asset to my cause!" Which gets him some worried, soem funny looks from the party. Yet Nezzerius disregards. "Not like goody causes. Now, what we saying, EXACTLY."
The party hashes out some details. Basically they want him to find where Arulashee is being kept, notify them, and then they all go in (with Nezzerius), and go in to extract her. If they happen to kill Minhago, all the better, but that's not the main goal. There is disagreement in the party of whether to have Nezzerius help them. Mad Dog really doesn't trust him.
Nezzerius again emhapsizes the danger, the difficulty and such. Julian cuts to the chase. "I hear negotiation,"
Ne: "How much you pay?"
S: "How much you offer?"
The party tries to deal and negotiate, Andera even suggest "We soon go to talk with Nocticula, we can put in a good wordfor you, have you on her good side!" To this the shadowy demon finally laughs, a weird, joyless laugh. "She is on on one's sides. Just her own..."
At the end Nezzerius offers: "100,000, half in advance, half when find. If want me to fight, 70, 000 more. What you say?" (Note: By the module Minhago wants to pay him her ring of spell storing, worth 50,000. Nezzerius goes for a high base negotiation. The party sees it as it is. )
The party haggles quite a bit, with Sena keepignto try to lure the demon towork for him. Finally Julian makes the her diplomacy rolls- 47! (With both Andera And Sena failing in the "aid another" tests. By our house rules, the DC is either 10, or theoriginal DC -10, which ever is higher). The demon scoffs at Sena "You work from heart, from passion. You be dangerous. Not trustworthy!" also at Andera "You I don't trust, you speak what the other wants to hear!" but Julian's impressive charisma and roll. (47!) gets him to agree for 30K now, 30 K upon finding where Arulahsee is being kept. The party decides to forgo his actual fighting assistance. He grins at Julian. "Hear you want become a goddess, yes? So you do true bargains, like good gods, yes? You remember me, eh goddess?"
Sena grunts, and gives the demon his pearl of power of 6th level. "The first payment" and also gives hi ma scroll of sending "Inform us quickly!"
Julian adds to finish this up: "I trust on your expertise"
Nezzerius accept the payment, starting to mutter to itself: "Minhago, Minhago, where to look for her? Ah… maybe…" and then he teleports.

Sena looks back at the others, still somewhat pissed off, but relieved they've got Him working for them. "Well, that went... however that went. Now what?"

DM thoughts- Hiring Nezzerius
I liked this idea, for this is one of the real dealings with demons, that didn;t involve killing them .I feel that had I prepared to play him better, I might have done better, but it's ok I think. He got quite mixed responses from the party.

Not sure how to deal with him yet, or his mission. I want it to pay off to some degree, not sure exactly how.

The party is becoming more and more desperate... Interesting...


I shall stop this part here. Gotta go and sleep. One more part to go, where the party's pent up frustration leads to some... interesting results. Also, a real PC fatality! (With no Breath of Life!) Who was it? Next part! (Hopefully in the next few days).