The Golden Cage

Game XXIII

The Journey Westward

—Before heading to bed, after the meeting had ended, Corta was one of the last to leave the hall (except for Lizer and Cyrus, who were still drinking heavily).
—She had not had much to drink, and was startled when Hakka turned from the front doors as she was leaving the dining hall, telling her that someone was there to see her.
—She asked Hakka who it was, and he told her that it was a man named Lyle. She said she would go to the door, and Hakka warned her not to be too shocked by his appearance.
—She quickly dashed over to the door, and opened it, revealing Lyle the Bartender, heavily bruised and bloodied, his hands in his pockets looking sheepish.
—Corta asked what had happened, and Lyle told her that Azaim had come down on him hard after Lizer had spoken to the crime lord. Lyle said he realized that things needed to change, and so that very evening, he had just attempted to take Azaim down himself.
—He gestured to himself and told her that it had plainly not gone so well. Azaim had beaten him, and he ran from his tavern.
—Corta moved forward, and kindly laid a hand on Lyle’s arm. She used her magic to heal him, curing him of his wounds. Lyle thanked her breathlessly, and Corta asked him why he had come.
—Lyle said that he had thought about what Lizer had said, and that he wanted to come clean with the guards. He said that after visiting her, Lyle was about to go and turn himself in, giving information about Azaim, no matter the consequences.
—He told Corta that he was thankful for the kindness they had shown him, particularly her, who had stuck with him on his side even despite the awful deeds he had helped commit. As a thank you, Lyle presented Corta with a diamond-shaped ruby set into a thick gold chain.
—He explained that he managed to wrench it from Azaim’s neck, and that it must be worth some gold, at the very least.
—Corta thanked him heartily, and told Lyle she was glad that he had decided to come to his senses. She wished him luck, and hoped the guards would be merciful. Lyle smiled, and told her that he needed to face whatever fate he had wrought on himself. With that, he said goodbye, and walked off down the street.
—Corta inspected the gem, but found no magical properties of it. So, she tucked it away in her pack, and went upstairs to sleep.
—The next morning, the party members each awoke, and began preparing for the day. They planned to leave sometime in the afternoon, leaving themselves plenty of time to get ready for the long trip into Thorek.
—They planned their route, and decided to travel through the southern end of Thorek, stopping in Fallforge before heading northward to Cobble’s End.
—Lizer awoke in the dining hall, very hungover, searching for some hair of the dog. Hakka eventually apporached him as Cyrus spat out a swig of Dwarven spirits he acquired in the kitchens.
—Hakka offered to go to the market to buy and sell supplies for them to use on their trip, and Cyrus agreed that this was a good idea. Together they assembled a list, and Cyrus said he would go and speak to Corta about getting him goods to sell as payment, and to acquire gold for the trip.
—Meanwhile, Lizer awoke, and looked through his books. He packed all he could about the Orbs and Towers of Telledor, and decided he would need to get some information regarding events in the last year in Thorek.
—Lizer went downstairs, and went to saddle up Erasme, finding Owtikk brushing Ghost, getting ready for the journey herself. They greeted one another, and Owtikk asked Lizer if he knew a way to restore the burned journal that she had found in Luntikk’s fireplace.
—Lizer told her that this could be done with the help of the Loremasters, and he offered to take her there, as he was headed to see them himself. They rode off further into the Knowledge District, and eventually came to an old, distinguished-looking stone building.
—An elderly gentleman dressed in scholar’s robes and spectacles and a white beard came to the door, and led them inside. They saw several small tables with Loremasters hard at work writing documents, and doing research. The scratching of quills was all that could be heard in the near-silence.
—Lizer asked about information regarding Thorek, and the butler rushed off and fetched a familiar face – Sir Warrick Jauneplume.
—Lizer and Warrick embraced as old friends, and Warrick happily greeted Owtikk. She presented the burned book tentatively, and Warrick quickly healed the book for her, restoring it to its original state. Owtikk began reading at once:
—Entry One

After all these years, STILL I am no closer to finding the answers I seek. It is discouraging that no matter how hard I try, the Realm of the Fey continues to remain just out of reach. I must admit that I am growing impatient as of late. If I do not find the answers that I so sorely deserve after all of my hard work, I am afraid that I may have to try something a little more drastic…

—Entry Two

Lyle came to visit me today. The poor fellow seems to have gotten himself into more trouble, somehow. He begged me to help him complete a transcription and perjury job to help him save his business. I tried to refuse, but Lyle has been a friend for many years, and has helped me through tough times. In the end I agreed to help him, though I do not feel right doing it. But perhaps he will learn from his mistakes after this, and live as the good man that I know he is inside. I do hope that this does not take me long. I still have much more work to do…

—Entry Three

These blasted ledgers! I have set them aside for the time-being as I can scarcely bear to write another word on the tedious subject. Lyle is lucky to have me as a friend, else I would never think of completing such a menial task! I now am feeling flustered, and behind on my work. This, combined with my frustration that has been brewing since the start of the week has made me even more impatient for concrete answers on my research.

Moments ago, I took a break, and found a passage in a book about the Planes (The Realm of The Fey excluded, of course). Perhaps I could try to get answers from a more corporeal source than books and guesswork… I will try the summoning spell tonight (luckily I bought cold iron powder this week!) If anything, this should take my mind off things. I DO hope that I take the proper precautions…if I miss something in the writings, this could go poorly for me…and for many others…
—Meanwhile, as Owtikk read, Warrick and Lizer strode scholarly down the rows of desks, their hands clasped neatly behind their backs. Lizer asked Warrick if he could give him any books on recent events in Thorek, and Warrick happily obliged.
—He gave Lizer his notebook, which he duplicated smoothly. He told Lizer that the information contained therein, while in an unfinished format, would be the most up-to-date.
—Lizer thanked him heartily, and after asking a few more questions about the towers and Orbs of the Harbinger Gate (of which Warrick had no knowledge), Lizer fetched Owtikk, and the two left to return to the Manor.
—Back at Edenvale, Corta awoke and decided to check her crystal ball to see how Lyle had fared the night before. She concentrated, looked into the ball, and saw him sitting in a jail cell, speaking to one of the guards.
—She came in mid-conversation, but heard the guard telling Lyle that they believed his story, and were willing to give him a second chance, as this was his first offense. The guard said that his mind had been searched by mages, and he had been interrogated by investigators, and that he was found to be not guilty of anything but being a fool.
—He told Lyle that they had tried to capture Azaim, but that he had escaped before they arrived. The guard told him that he would set Lyle free if he agreed to stay within the laws of the realm. Lyle happily acquiesced, and the guard began unlocking his cell.
—Corta smiled as the image faded, and she thought for a moment. She then withdrew Azaim’s necklace from her bag of holding, and focused upon it, remembering what Magatha said about using an item to scry upon people you’ve never met.
—Soon, an image of a Halfling with flaming red hair appeared in the crystal ball, hidding under a blanket in the back of a wagon. The wagon trundled under a bright blue sky, heading in a northwesterly direction. The image then faded, and she pondered awhile before heading downstairs.
—Cyrus and Corta met as they passed into the entrance hall. Cyrus explained that Hakka would be aquiring supplies, and selling things that they did not need to unburden them, and Corta happily shoved a number of gems into his hands, along with a scroll, and a few potions.
—Hakka took these from Cyrus a moment later, and left for the market.
—Foren had been awake for some time, and packed his things for the journey. He sat thinking a long time, and then went over to Henry’s room, knocking.
—He and Henry went upstairs to the sitting room for a chat. Foren sat Henry down, and told him that he was concerned for Herny’s safety, and that his level of magical aptitude was not high enough to keep him protected if a war broke out.
—Henry agreed sadly, and Foren was quick to tell him how impressed he was by his progression so far. He explained that this was the reason he was enrolling Henry in the magical college of Lorehome.
—Henry’s eyes lit up, and was overjoyed by this notion. He suddenly flung his arms around Foren in an embrace, before letting go quickly, embarrassed.
—Foren said they would go that afternoon, after he had gotten the right amount of gold together. Henry thanked him, and told him that he would not let Foren down.
—The day progressed, and everyone prepared their things in the cart for the journey. Foren had dropped Henry off at the college, and they said their goodbyes. Hakka had returned with the money, and supplies, and they began loading them into the carriage.
—As they all stood around, getting their things together, Hakka paused and mentioned that someone was approaching in a carriage.
—They all looked, and spotted a handsome, extended carriage in black and gold being pulled by two phantom clydesdales. The carriage stopped, and a young driver in a top hat and tails jumped from his perch, and opened the carriage door.
—Out stepped Luntikk, looking to be in great spirits. Owikk noticed that he was wearing his necklace, and she beamed.
—Luntikk greeted them merrily, and announced that he wanted to thank them properly for saving his life. With that, he gestured toward the carriage, and the group stood, mouths agape.
—Lizer rushed forward, and shook Luntikk’s hand for his generosity. Luntikk laughed and told him that if he liked the carriage NOW, then he should see its other feature. He bustled to the back of the carriage, flung open the doors, and pressed a small button. The carriage shrank itself down to miniature size, and could be place in a pocket.
—Luntikk told them that this could only be done when nothing was being stored in the carriage, and when no one was riding in it.
—He then restored it to normal size, and reached into a pocket. He withdrew a notebook that Lizer recognized, and haded it to him. Luntikk explained that he had made a copy of his guide to deciphering runespeech. He said that it was very difficult decode, even with the guide, but that a scholar like Lizer would be able to handle it.
—Lizer thanked Luntikk heartily, and Luntikk moved over to Foren, handing him an ornate compass. The compass’s needle didn’t point north, and was gold on one end, and a cold-grey on the other.
—Luntikk explained that this was an artifact of the Fey that he figured would be more useful in the hands of an adventurer. He told Foren that he did not know how it worked, but that it would surely serve some purpose to someone searching for information on the Fey.
—Foren took it, and promised to keep it safe, and to check it often. Luntikk then moved over to Owtikk, smiling deeply at his sister.
—He then produced a collar from his pocket, and extended his arms, saying that this gift was for Ghost.
—Owtikk hesitated, unsure that Ghost would like it. Luntikk winked and told her to trust him, and so she affixed the collar to his neck.
—As soon as the clasp was fastened, Ghost changed immediately in size from his large, dire wolf form to the form of a small, white wolf puppy.
—Owtikk exclaimed with glee, and Ghost began bounding around her legs, barking and yipping playfully, his puppy tongue lolling out of his mouth.
—Owtikk thanked Luntikk for the gift, and gave him a hug. Luntikk returned the embrace happily, and bade her a fond goodbye. Luntikk looked to the others, and wished them all luck on their quest.
—The rest of the party waved to Luntikk as he strode down the street with the driver, and out of sight.
—Hakka began loading the new carriage with the provisions, and Cyrus strode off toward the stables to fetch Scarto. As he saddled his pony, and began leading him from the stables, he caught a glimpse of Korrice, his back turned, facing the inside of the shed.
—Cyrus said nothing, and kept walking. However, he heard Korrice clear his throat, and he turned. Korrice faced Cyrus. He was wearing boots and traveling gear, and was fastening clasps on a pair of hardy gloves. He had a bow strapped to his back, and a warhammer at his side.
—“You weren’t leaving without me, were you?” Korrice said in his low voice.
—Cyrus looked him up and down. “We ARE leaving. That much is certain.” Korrice strode toward Cyrus, and looked at him seriously.
—“I thought about what you said. You are right. The time has come for redemption. I will follow you, Cyrus. To a better future for our country.”
—Cyrus nodded to Korrice sternly. “Welcome aboard.” The two of them strode off toward the carriage.
—Lizer crossed paths with them on his way to pick up Erasme. Korrice looked at his master and said “I am taking a leave of absence, sir. I hope that is alright.”
—Lizer told Korrice that this was quite acceptable, and that he didn’t expect that the manor would have much need for a stablehand without any mounts to tend anyway.
—They all got themselves ready, and then returned to the carriage. As they were loading themselves inside, and saying their goodbyes, a messenger ran up to the group.
—Cyrus recognized this boy as the messenger who had presented him with his summons the day before. However the boy still looked to each of them and said “…Cyrus? I’m looking for a…Don Cyrus Montessori?”
—Cyrus’s expression turned to a glare. “Really?” He said, fuming. “You don’t remember me?” The boy shook his head, and Cyrus angrily grabbed the letter the boy held out, annoyed. Cyrus began reading the message, addressed from the King:
—Esteemed Don Cyrus Montessori

I trust this message finds you in good health. In accordance with the discussion shared between us yesterday, I feel the need to further express my support for the endeavour you have been so bold to undertake. This gift best befits a leader who wishes to guide his closest few through the giving and taking of thoughts, plans, and strategies. Whether on the battlefield, or off it, it is my sincerest hope that you will make keen use of this gift.

May knowledge guide you, and courage bind you.

Sincerely,

Augustus Lumière Gendarme, King of Weldor
—The boy also produced a small, ornate chest. Lizer took it and opened it up. Inside were five identical pieces of nondescript jewelry, each with a gem set in gold.
—Lizer picked one up, and it turned into a fastening for his cloak. He affixed it there, and then read a small card, explaining the function of these items.
—The card revealed that the jewelry pieces were communication devices that could be used to contact others with the same device. One could activate the device by touching it, and speaking into it once the others received the transmission. Others being contacted could ‘answer’ their communicators by picking them up once they began to flash.
—Cyrus showed the others the jewelry pieces, and each party member took one. Each of the pieces of jewelry took a different shape, and the party members put them on.
—Cyrus returned the chest to the messenger, pressed a silver piece into his hand, and sent him off.
—The group then waved their goodbyes to the staff members of Edenvale Manor, and rode off with the carriage driven by Korrice. They left Lorehome, and went out into the wide, green expanse of Weldor.
—The carriage rolled over the hills, past the freestanding oak trees, and far out of the realm of Lorehome. As they went, they passed travelers and farmers of varying description, nodding as they passed by on their own journeys. They spent two days traveling under bright blue summer skies before they reached The Lazy Griffin once again.
—The exterior had been fixed up perfectly, save for the broken Griffin statues, which seemed to have been glued hastily back together, and rather poorly.
—The group went inside, and spent a merry evening among plenty of guests seated at the long tables. The bartender was still as owlish as ever, and seemed a little grumpier due to his burned-away beard.
—The group laughed, ate and drank. Cyrus and Korrice began a silent drinking competition, Korrice going at one point from stern and silent to belting out old Thorekian battle tunes in a ragged voice.
—As the night wore on, Corta sat in silence a moment. Through the crowd, she spotted a strange figure seated in the corner. The figure was dressed all in sickly-green robes, and wore a feral-dog mask over his face, carved from wood, and painted a metallic green.
—As she looked upon this figure, another person passed by her vision, and the figure disappeared.
—Corta shook her head, and looked about the tavern, but could see no sign of the figure. She kept the notion to herself, and they all went to bed, sleeping soundly in comfortable beds.
—The morning came, and the party rode onwards out into the country of Golaria. Flatlands of golden wheat filled their eyeline as they rode forth, the land covered in tall, crisp grass. Locusts and butterflies clicked and fluttered around them, and birds soared happily overhead through the lush country.
—Two days passed, and they spotted the city of Algordale on the horizon. As they rode closer into the farmlands that sat outside of the city walls, they were greeted by those they passed, merrily.
—Many travelers and farmers were riding along the rode toward the city, and all were dressed in their finest, brightest clothes. On every house, every barn, every structure were banners displaying the purple-falcon sigil of Golaria. Streamers were set up spanning across the road. Everything seemed to be decorated, and made to look the best.
—Corta and Lizer pondered upon this for a moment, and Corta exclaimed that the Summer Harvest Festival must today. Lizer nodded, and went into detail about the history of the festival, and what items were harvested and presented.
—The party moved in through the city gates, and were wished a “Happy Festival” as they did so. The city looked much different without the black cloud hanging above it, and the streets were decorated with banners, streamers, hanging lanterns, and all manner of embellishments that showed them all the festival had arrived.
—The party moved through the streets toward Thornholm Manor, and noted all the people, rich and poor talking and laughing with one another, and treating each other as equals. Everywhere farmers were offering samples of their wares, from apples, to peppers, to cider brewed by the Dwarves of Brookden Abbey.
—Soon, the carriage rounded a corner, and the group spotted a familiar face. Duchess Olivia was giving directions to a group of people setting up decorations in the city square. She was gesticulating wildly with her hands, making her golden locks spring, and her fluffy pink dress pouff.
—Not far off, Nathan was helping some workers erect some towers, evidently being used for the festivities later in the evening.
—Corta caught sight of her childhood friend, leaped from the carriage and flung herself into Olivia’s arms. Olivia let out a shriek of delight, and exclaimed at how pleased she was to see everyone.
—Olivia asked Corta many questions, and they introduced Lizer and Cyrus whom Olivia had not yet met. Nathanial strode over and extended greetings to them as well, mopping his brow.
—As Olivia and Corta talked, Lizer asked to speak with Nathanial in private. The two of them strode over to where the towers were being constructed from wooden planks, where the hammering drowned out their conversation.
—Lizer asked Nathanial if he had heard anything about Thorek. Nathanial’s face turned grim. He told Lizer that they had received only a little word, but that the Dwarves had taken over, and that they had several refugees travel through.
—Lizer asked if there was anything they should know if they were to travel through Thorekian lands, and Nathanial thought a moment. He told Lizer that the entire region could be dangerous if the Dwarves had seized the capital, but warned specifically about the road from Tsarmina to Cobble’s End.
—When Lizer inquired as to why, Nathanial told him that a swamp had evidently sprung up overnight, blanketing that section of road. He said it was not a natural swamp, and that stories told of treachery dwelling there.
—Lizer thanked him for his input, and then left to rejoin the others. As he returned, Olivia was inviting them to attend the festival’s open-air banquet, at the royal table. She told them that the heroes of Algordale were welcome as honored guests any time in the capital, and that she would be more than happy to have them there.
—The group were only too happy to agree, and Owtikk rushed forward to assist Olivia in putting up the decorations.
—That night, the festival began. Many long tables were arranged in the square and down the wide street, overlooked by the grand royal table on the hill leading up to Thornholm Manor.
—The party sat at this table, gazing happily down at the feasting city. All food was paid for b the crown, and the merriment, dancing, and singing was rising to a fever pitch.
—Everyone was enjoying themselves at the grand table. Olivia, Nathanial and their two children Even and Selene were seated in the center. Also at the table sat Argus Blackhorn, the guard they had met previously, and halfway through their meal, Zephar Goldbiter arrived.
—They all greeted Zephar happily, and he explained that he had been busy training his own task force for protecting the city from incursions by Demons and Monsters of the night.
—As the the night went on, bards climbed the towers erected earlier, and began firing snapdragon fireworks into the air, ranging all the colors of the rainbow.
—The crowd were dazzled by this, and bursts of applause could be heard rippling throughout the streets.
—As this was happening, Corta, Lizer and Owtikk each noticed something occurring in the space between the towers, down at the end of the street. This area had been used by dancers and fire-eaters earlier, but now was clear except for four hooded men.
—Over a hundred feet away, they began rhythmically moving in a pattern. Each step they took was like a dance, but somehow more ritualistic. They began to draw phosphorescent lines upon the ground, which glowed a bright green. The lines grew more complicated with every step, until they had created a runic circle.
—When they were finished, the hooded men folded their hands, and began what looked like a prayer.
—No one else seemed to notice this. Corta, Lizer and Owtikk exchanged significant looks. They were just about to warn Olivia, when she stood up, and addressed the people of the festival in the beginnings of a speech.
—As Olivia thanked everyone for coming and participating in the festival, Corta and Lizer told the others what they had seen. Corta knew this to be some sort of ritual, and Lizer identified the runes to be part of a summoning spell.
—At this point, Olivia introduced the “Heroes of Algordale”, and the party members stood up politely to accept applause before sitting down. Owtikk took the opportunity to transform into a purple falcon, both impressing the crowd, and using the guise to land closer to the summoners.
—Foren transported himself closer as well, arriving before Owtikk even had a chance to perch nearby.
—On a nearby rooftop, Foren looked down at the hooded figures. He saw that their faces were obscured by carved dog masks in green, and that they indeed were droning a ritual used in conjuration.
—Meanwhile, Corta grabbed Nathanial’s attention, and told him of the cloaked men. Nathanial told her not to worry at first, sure that this was just part of the show. But when Corta continued to explain, Nathanial’s face grew grim. He agreed to tell Argus of the problem immediately.
—Corta turned to tell Zephar, but found he had been listening the entire time. He said he would muster his troops should things get ugly, and whisked off into the night.
—At this, Lizer and Cyrus nodded to each other, and made their way forward, Korrice in tow. Lizer mounted Erasme, and cautiously made his way through the crowd.
—As Olivia’s speech continued, unabated, the conjurers continued their work. Foren was about to act, but moved too late, as the ritual completed.
—A bolt of lightning flashed from the sky, and struck the marked stone where the circle had been drawn. Gradually, welling up from a portal to the Abyss came a horrible, black creature on long, thick legs. A mechanical spider as big as a bull elephant rose from the depths, its four red eyes flashing menacingly.
—The crowd nearby screamed, and Olivia faltered in her words as she spotted the monstrosity. She trailed off into pleasantries, and then urged everyone to run as the spider drew itself it its full height.
—Foren wasted no time, firing a bead from his hands, striking the creature dead in the eye, engulfing the spider, and all four of the conjurers in an eruption of flame.
—As two of the conjurers crumpled from their burns, Foren fired a second bead, and it burst a second time, killing the other two, and wounding the massive spider-beast. Foren saw that he had destroyed one of the creature’s four eyes.
—Foren was pleased with the short work he had made of the conjurers, but balked as the enormous spider turned its gaze upon him. A ray of freezing cold energy shot from one of the creature’s eyes, striking Foren in the chest.
—Foren was nearly killed by the blast, his skin frosting over, his blood going instantly cold.
—The spider then walked towards him, climbing over obstacles as though they were nothing.
—Meanwhile, Corta instructed Olivia to save her children and to get back to the manor. Olivia nodded breathlessly, seized Selene, and grabbed Evan’s hand.
—As they bustled off, Selene began to cry. Evan was looking over his shoulder as he ran, and exclaimed “…Cool!” as the spider fired a ray at Foren on the rooftop.
—They left Corta’s sight, and she removed the collar on Ghost, turning him back into a wolf. Ghost ran down to the battlefield, and Corta took flight, landing on the edge of the square.
—Lizer dashed forward on Erasme, and turned toward the spider, getting into position for a charge. He inspected the spider, consulting one of his books. Lizer shouted out facts about this demonic beast, telling the others that it was named a Retriever, and that it was a formidable creature owned by Demon Lords in the Abyss.
—Owtikk took flight, and soared above the Retriever. In a flash, she turned into her Gnomish form, but as she fell, she assumed a new form – a purple-furred mastodon.
—She landed directly atop the Retriever, slamming it down upon a wooden pillar it had been climbing over. Owtikk could hear its carapace crack, and it let out an awful shriek as it was compressed by Owtikk’s girth. Owtikk rolled from her position, and onto her feet nearby.
—As this was occuring, Cyrus trudged slowly from his position slightly nearer to the battle. He felt slightly overwhelmed by all the feats of power being displayed by the others, and looked sheepishly at his spear and spiked shield before striding forward.
—However, as he walked, a chill ran down his spine. Cyrus looked up to the sky involuntarily, and saw the clouds part over the moon. It shone, bright and full down through the night air, and captivated him in a beam of light.
—Before even panic could set in, the change began. Cyrus’s body wrenched horribly, and he began to shift. Face elongated into a fearsome snout, and filled with pointed teeth. He grew in size, and fur covered his muscled body. His ears snapped flat against the side of his head and he grew long, thick claws from his pawed hands.
—Appearing like a man-shaped wolverine, Cyrus tore at his armor, pulling it off until the shift was complete. Looking to the nearest target, he spotted Korrice, and let out a horrible snarl.
—Korrice was shocked by this transformation, and looked over to Ghost, who was growling and whimpering nearby. Korrice debated firing an arrow at Cyrus, but instead drew two from his quiver, and aimed them at the Retriever.
—The first one hit, striking hard into the beast, the other going wide. He then turned to face Cyrus, wary of any moves the creature might take.
—Foren got to his feet, and ran down the length of the building on which he stood. Badly hurt, he did not want to risk being attacked by the creature again. He moved to the edge of the building, and aimed a ray of light at the Retriever.
—However, the beast took the full brunt of the blast, but withstood its effects, the Slow spell falling short of its expected power.
—The creature righted itself easily, and then struck heavily into Owtikk several times with mechanical movements. It hit her first with a bite, and then with four separate claws, wounding her deeply.
—Corta saw this, and took flight instantly, landing nearby her dear friend. She wasted no time, and applied her healing magic, curing some of Owtikk’s wounds.
—Lizer uttered a challenge at the Retriever, and spurred Erasme onward for the charge. He struck deeply with his lance, striking hard at the beast, spilling ectoplasm upon the flagged stone street.
—Owtikk retaliated with a trumpeting call from her trunk, and swung her tusks into the Retriever, landing a resounding blow.
—She ordered Ghost to move away from Cyrus, and Ghost obeyed, circling around to the other side of the battlefield.
—Meanwhile, Cyrus lunged at Korrice, who failed to fend him off with an arrow. Cyrus swung a massive set of claws at Korrice, who only narrowly evaded being shredded to ribbons, taking a nasty set of cuts on the arm.
—Korrice then attempted frantically to pin Cyrus down, but was thrown clear by his powerful limbs, snarling incoherently.
—Foren’s attention was divided. He stood atop the building, his gaze drifting from the Retriever to the left, and the Werewolverine to the right. He decided that Cyrus was the greatest threat to the party, and so unleashed a Deep Slumber spell upon him.
—As Korrice attempted to guard himself against Cyrus, the creature’s eyes drooped. He fell in a heap on top of Korrice, fast asleep, no longer a threat.
—The Retriever let loose a blast from one of its eyes, narrowly missing Owtikk in her mastodon form. The bolt of lightning went rogue, and struck a nearby tower, lighting it aflame with a crackling blast of energy. The Retriever then crawled its way backward, up on top of the building on which Foren stood.
—Lizer and Owtikk were able to strike the beast as it moved, and drips of strange protoplasmic fluid oozed from its joints.
—Corta took one final aim at the spider-like beast, and unleashed a blast of Searing Light. With a resounding cry, the Retriever’s life force left it, and the creature crumpled atop the building, its many limbs hanging lifelessly down onto the street.
—The party members gathered themselves after the battle, and began inspecting the fallen enemies around them. Lizer looked at the Retriever, and could not find out who had sent it by the runes on its body, though his suspicions were for a Demon Lord of the Abyss.
—Corta, meanwhile inspected the bodies of the conjurers. She took note of a symbol on the backs of their robes – a hound with crab’s claws stitched in lighter green cloth. She knew this to be the symbol of Wargoth, and surmised that these must be cultists of some sort.
—She removed one of the hound masks to inspect it, and saw that the conjurer had surgically removed an eye.
—Inspecting the other three, she saw that they had done the same. Remembering Galithor’s single good eye, this was distressing news indeed.
—Lizer drew closer to Corta, and she revealed what she had found. Lizer asked her if there was anything else, and Corta showed that she had also recovered two magical headbands used to increase mental functions, and four identical daggers bathed in alchemical silver.
—Owtikk conjured a stream of water from her trunk, and sprayed it to put the fire out on the nearby tower. She then turned back into herself, and gathered up Ghost, scratching him on the ears.
—Owtikk walked over to Cyrus, who was snoring loudly. Korrice mumbled meekly, and Owtikk had Ghost pull Cyrus to the side, freeing Korrice from beneath.
—Korrice stood, and thanked Owtikk before staring down at Cyrus, not saying a word.
—Foren was inspecting the Retriever, and identified the creature’s remaining eyes as being instruments of lighting, cold, and petrification effects, when properly used. He removed each of these eyes, and stored them for later.
—As the party members took in their surroundings, they began to hear a sound. A strange sort of roaring noise coming in from all sides. Still on the alert, the group lifted their guard.
—The sound grew louder, and then they recognized it for what it was. The entire city was flooding toward them, cheering their victory. The crowds rushed forth, and calls of thanks for the Heroes of Algordale could be heard.
—Olivia and Nathaniel pushed through the crowd, and embraced Corta, and thanked them all for saving the town once again.
—Foren caught sight of Zephar over Nathaniel’s shoulder, standing over Cyrus’s sleeping body. Zephar met Foren’s glance, and raised an eyebrow.
—Foren mimed that he used magic to put him to sleep, and Zephar grinned, baring a mass of gilded teeth. He hefted the huge beast onto his shoulders, wavered, and was assisted by several identically-dressed soldiers, who looked as though they were the new recruits Zephar had mentioned.
—They all carried Cyrus toward the manor, and eventually, the rest of the party followed.
—Olivia offered them each their most comfortable guest beds, and most of them accepted. However, Owtikk decided to follow Zephar and his men down to the dungeons, where they were keeping Cyrus until he awoke. They locked him in a cell, and all of the men stood watch for the evening.
—Zephar nodded at Owtikk as she crept inside, and slept on a nearby chair. The party soon fell into sleep, exhausted from the evening’s events.

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