posted Feb 13, 2021, 3:55 PM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak

Ethyltina 27th, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

Since the blow dealt to The Deepbend Rakes by The Iris a couple of weeks back, a horde has been noticed amassing on the plains southwest of "The City."
The Iris is having one of their gatherings at the von Rumm estate when Reggot Octavius arrives.
Magic: Where have you been!? I thought you were missing?
Reggot Octavius: I pray I am not intruding, but if I may, I would have a word.
Magic bows like Cho Chi.
Cho Chi bows.
Reggot Octavius returns the bow.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Please, come in, good sir!
Reggot Octavius: Thank you.
Siren: Lord Octavius, I haven't seen you visit the Boar's Head in quite a while. How have you been?
Magic: Allow me to play some background music.
Magic pulls out his lute.
Reggot Octavius: Hello, Siren. I had not realized you joined The Iris.
Siren: I stumbled upon them recently. They have welcomed me into their troupe.
Munkustrap von Rumm looks sideways at Magic, narrowing his eyes.
Magic begins to play a soft melody.
Cho Chi: I'm sure Lord Octavius is very busy. Perhaps we should let him tell us his business.
Eris Drew: Indeed.
Reggot Octavius: Thank you, all.
Reggot Octavius: As you have undoubtedly heard, we have a horde amassing to the southwest beyond Nightfield. High King Ran has bid me enlist your help.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Who leads this horde?
Tartarus: Help to smash?
Eris Drew: A horde of what?
Reggot Octavius: We have not identified the leader yet.
Siren listens to Magic's melody and tries to improvise a harmony on her flute.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Have we infiltrated their group?
Reggot Octavius: The horde appears to be composed of goblinoids and orcs.
Eris Drew: Do you want us to find the leader?
Reggot Octavius: Whoever is marshaling this horde has done so on the most defensible terrain on the plains about ten miles away, with supply lines running into the forest to the west.
Tazdar: Goblinoids working with the orcs?
Tartarus pulls out his horn and ruins the song.
Tazdar: I find that hard to believe.
Cho Chi: What is the goal of our help?
Tartarus: Sorry, my bad.
Eris Drew: Well, they both live on the Barbarian Plains, do they not? They could be working together.
Reggot Octavius: This forest has been a bastion of the elves that survived the cataclysm, so the High King is concerned that they have been driven out or fallen back to Asaval.
Eris Drew: Where is Asaval.
Magic: Maybe my mom and dad are there?
Tazdar: It would have to be dire times for the legion to amass and align with the orcs.
Eris Drew rolls her eyes at Magic.
Reggot Octavius: Asaval is on the summit of the mountain to the west, surrounded by the Kinfolk Forest.
Cho Chi: The elves have been driven out, or the goblinoids have been driven out?
Reggot Octavius: The elves.
Tazdar: Who leads the legion? Do we know?
Reggot Octavius: We fear The Paragon may be influencing these two groups.
Munkustrap von Rumm whispers a quick prayer to Lehnbor, looking up as if to the sky.
Magic: Mom and dad are not great people.
Eris Drew: The Paragon shouldn't be able to influence them.
Eris Drew: Unless there is more than one.
Cho Chi: Our objective is?
Munkustrap von Rumm: How large is this horde? Do we have a count of their force?
Siren: A tremolo creeps into her tune as she shudders.
Reggot Octavius: The Rake you defeated was a corruption, not the actual Paragon.
Eris Drew: Not the actual Paragon!?
Tartarus: So we get to smash it twice?
Reggot Octavius: We are still assessing the horde, but it grows daily.
Eris Drew: What in Dracomundi did we fight then?
Reggot Octavius: The recent light-days have given us an advantage in thwarting their spies and scouts from approaching "The City," but there have been so many attempts that we believe some have eluded our patrols.
Siren: Then, have they entered "The City?"
Reggot Octavius: We have had reports in Nightfield, West Church, and South Port from several of our citizens familiar with the orcish and goblinoid tongues that there have been utterances from alleys and shadowy areas trying to persuade the non-humans in the area to rise and take up arms in the names of Gruumsh and Maglubiyet.
Eris Drew: Tazdar? You can speak their language, correct? That could be useful, potentially.
Cho Chi waits quietly for more information.
Tazdar: Sure, I was a member of the legion in times before. I would need to know who leads them now.
Eris Drew: Well, you would be able to talk to a spy if we could capture one?
Tazdar: The previous warlord would not have aligned with a lesser race like the orcs unless they've been conquered and used as fodder.
Tartarus: Lesser race?
Eris Drew: Or possessed in some way like I was.
Siren: Why would the Paragon ally herself with these goblins. I thought she hated the non-humans.
Tazdar: Yes, I could speak with them. Most would know my face, though. My exile was rather public.
Eris Drew: You could hide your face if need be.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Or disguise it?
Reggot Octavius: The Paragon will use any means to unite humans against all others. The High King will not let this happen.
Tartarus: Wait, I am a lesser race?
Reggot Octavius: The High King requests that The Iris patrol south of the river in these three districts, expose the enemy, and eliminate them.
Cho Chi: Which districts?
Siren: I'm quite good with makeup.
Siren eyes up Tazdar to think about how she could disguise him.
Eris Drew: I believe Tazdar still has his hood.
Reggot Octavius: Nightfield, West Church, and South Port are the southern districts beyond the river.
Tazdar: I would expect mostly bugbears to be running any spy missions, with goblins for scouting. Despite their large size, bugbears can be particularly stealthy when they wish to be.
Tazdar: Especially if there's work to be avoided.
Reggot Octavius: I also understand you had a member of your group leave.
Siren looks around.
Eris Drew: Yes.
Eris Drew: Unfortunately.
Magic: Yes, but he came back and then left again.
Cho Chi: So we are to Patrol Nightfield, West Church, and South Port to find infiltrators and eliminate them. That is our mission.
Siren thinks to herself, "There were more of you?"
Reggot Octavius: Yes.
Reggot Octavius: I have someone that I believe will be able to help you with the search.
Cho Chi: Are we to try to capture any?
Reggot Octavius gestures for a gnome to enter the room.
Eris Drew: Dar went down in the last battle with the apparently fake paragon. We brought him back, but he didn't want to continue with us.
Eris Drew looks at Siren.
Siren: Do we get to interrogate them?
Reggot Octavius: This is Tiko Shadmar, a recent visitor to our city and hunter of sorts.
Eris Drew: Possibly.
Tartarus: Yes, dying will change a man.
Eris Drew: Hello, Tiko.
Magic: Hello, newcomer! I am especially fond of tiny people!
Tiko Shadmar: Greetings and salutations!
Cho Chi: Greetings, Tiko Shadmar.
Cho Chi bow.
Tiko Shadmar: I know the forest, somewhat, and perhaps I can help to scout.
Siren looks jealously at the gnome.
Eris Drew: Are we going out into the forest? Are we leaving "The City?"
Tiko Shadmar is aware of activities in the forest that may be relevant. Goblinoids and giants are moving north around the edge of the forest to the Gold Hills.
Siren: Lord Octavious told us to patrol the southern districts. Venturing out into the plains or forests would be dangerous.
Tartarus: Forest? We are leaving the cramped city?
Tazdar: We should be cautious. If the warlord knows what he's doing, the goblins will have traps laid along their scouting paths, as well as false trails.
Magic -> Siren: I doubt he can play an instrument as well as you, Siren. Do not worry.
Siren -> Magic: You are generous. I will never play as well as you can.
Magic -> Siren: We play differently. To each their own.
Siren -> Magic: I can only hope to steal a few of your talents.
Eris Drew: Well, that is why we have Tiko now?
Magic -> Siren: And I yours.
Magic: I happen to like the shadows as well, great for observation.
Siren winks and smiles at Magic.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Well, what are our next steps? Scouting the forest? Disguising Tazdar so that he can infiltrate the horde?
Tiko Shadmar: I, as well. Quiet and stealthy and stick to the shadows.
Cho Chi: I am sure Lord Octavious is right. Tiko will be an asset to our group.
Magic: I have a bit of magic that helps one do so if you ever need it.
Eris Drew: Wonderful.
Reggot Octavius: Patrol the southern city and find the spies that made it past our defenses.
Siren: I prefer a crowd and the limelight.
Magic: Danger finds us. It shouldn't be too hard.
Eris Drew: Where should we start?
Magic: We have a love/hate relationship with the patrons of the city.
Cho Chi: Shall we try to capture one if the opportunity presents itself?
Eris Drew: I would think so. That would be useful.
Eris Drew: Shall we start at South Port?
Reggot Octavius: Take the bridge across the river into South Port and start there.
Siren: When do we begin?
Eris Drew: Now.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Let us proceed then.
Magic: I don't know where I'm goin' But I sure know where I've been Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday An' I've made up my mind, I ain't wasting no more time Here I go again, here I go again Tho' I keep searching for an answer I never seem to find what I'm looking for Oh Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on 'Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams
Siren gathers her things.
Eris Drew: Unless we need something special to help us, we had trouble with the Paragon. If I recall, not all of us could hit them?
Reggot Octavius: Good luck. Report to the castle when you have eliminated the spies you can find.
Tazdar: We could probably bait out one of the goblin spies. They're not that bright, and they love meat, treasure, and the opportunity to torture anyone weaker or defeated.
Siren: Oh, I know this song.
Cho Chi: I'd like to pick up healing potions along the way if possible.
Eris Drew: Would you like a live one for questions, sir?
Magic: Sing it with me, Siren!
Siren picks up her flute and pipes along with Magic.
Reggot Octavius departs.
Cho Chi: Let's go by the Temple of the Father and the Mother.
The group makes their way to the Temple of The Father and Mother.
Magic buys a healer's kit and a potion of healing.
Cho Chi purchases six healing potions.
Cho Chi: If I want to look helpless, leaving the Gaun Do home might be necessary.
Cho Chi: Pass off my guan do and longbow. Who will carry them for me?
Cho Chi: Siren, are you going to walk with me?
Siren: I am honored to walk with the brave Cho Chi.
Siren: After Magic finishes his song, Siren pipes a walking tune on her flute - heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to South Port we go.
Magic: I can put them in my magic backpack, but we will need to wrap the blade.
Between the temple and the bridge, The Iris passes several small groups of humans that look displeased by its racial composition, but they don't otherwise bother the group.
Cho Chi: A woman with a child is always more vulnerable. I know you are not a child, but perhaps the infiltrators will not.
Magic: Siren, you said you are good with makeup. I am good with disguises.
Siren pulls her silk robe about her and tries to look like a human child.
Siren: Yes, Magic. I often dress up to perform at the restaurant. A quick costume change helps keep our clientele entertained.
Magic: If you need a stagehand, let me know.
Siren: You are welcome to perform at the Boar's Head whenever you want.
Magic: That sounds splendid! It sounds like they would have some delicious food as well.
Eris Drew: What is it, Orcus?
Munkustrap von Rumm and Siren actually spot a goblin duck into an alley.
Siren -> Cho Chi: Look over there in the alley. Our first goblin.
Munkustrap von Rumm nudges Tazdar with his elbow. "Did you see that goblin that just disappeared into that alley?"
Siren (pleadingly): Oh, Mommy! I think I saw a puppy in the alley. Can we bring it home?
Cho Chi -> Siren: Run in there. I will chase you.
Siren darts towards the alley.
Eris Drew looks puzzled.
Cho Chi follows Siren.
Munkustrap von Rumm walks casually toward the alley.
Cho Chi: Get back here!
Siren: Quickly, mommy, before it runs away.
Cho Chi sees the goblin duck down another alley.
Cho Chi chases the goblin.
Eris Drew follows Tazdar to try and block off the goblin's escape.
Eris Drew: I was just following Tazdar.
Magic: I hung banners from my shop over here before, trust me.
Eris Drew: Of course you did.
Eris Drew: Coming.
Cho Chi: Can anybody track?
Eris Drew: Ready to smash something, Tar?
Eris Drew looks at Tartarus.
Magic: Do we want to let the new guy check it out?
Magic: He said he is stealthy?
Cho Chi: Tiko, can you track?
Cho Chi: Let's go down.
Magic (addressing Tiko magically): What do you see, new friend.
Tiko Shadmar points at a crate in a cellar he has followed the tracks to.
Tiko Shadmar draws a dagger and sword and approaches the crate quietly.
Eris Drew: Should we open it, or could we just move it out of the way?
Magic: He is silent.
Magic: Not sure if that is good.
Magic: He didn't respond to my spell.
Eris Drew: Maybe he is focused?
Magic: I will try again.
Tiko Shadmar: Tracks seem to lead to this crate. He might be hiding, or maybe this is a secret entrance?
Magic: He responded.
Tiko Shadmar: I'm ready to go on a signal.
Eris Drew: What did he say?
Magic: He found a crate that might lead to a hiding place.
Magic: Maybe a secret entrance.
Magic: Or maybe the goblin lives in a box.
Eris Drew: Should we open it or move it out of the way?
Tartarus: Box goblins?
Magic (magically speaking to Tiko): Let us know when to enter.
Magic (magically speaking to Tiko): Is it safe to enter.
Magic: I asked him if it was safe to enter.
Cho Chi moves the box.
Siren is trembling with excitement at the idea of meeting a goblin.
Siren sees an odd sack that seems to be breathing.
Siren nudges Cho Chi.
Cho Chi looks.
Siren (whisper): Mommy, I think someone put the puppy in that bag.
Siren points.
Cho Chi grabs the bag.
The sack comes loose and reveals a passage.
Cho Chi jumps in the opening.
Siren (whisper): Tiko, you go next.
Cho Chi: Tight in here.
Tiko Shadmar: In behind her.
Magic pulls out Cho Chi's bow and large, pointy monk stick.
Siren (whisper): Sir Knight, can you squeeze into the tunnel?
Cho Chi pulls her whip from around her waist.
Cho Chi moves forward quietly down the tunnel.
Magic: Stick with me. I rarely get hurt, Siren.
Magic puts a hand on her shoulder.
Eris Drew: Orcus, stay here. Be a good boy.
Eris Drew moves down the stairs.
Eris Drew: Ya might have to help me.
Magic: Eris, I will drop Cho's weapons to you.
Magic: Can you hand them to her?
Eris Drew: Okay, I'll be ready.
Siren continues directing people to enter the tunnel.
Eris Drew grabs Cho's weapons.
Magic drops Cho's weapons down to Eris.
Siren follows Magic.
Magic: If we pull on Tartarus' legs, we can squeeze him down here.
Magic: Heave! Ho!
Cho Chi follows the goblins' tracks.
Eris Drew catches up with Cho Chi and hands her the weapons.
Cho Chi takes her weapons.
Siren holds on tightly to the hem of Magic's robe so she doesn't get lost in the dark.
Cho Chi lights a torch.
Magic: Siren, these big guys and gals make great shields.
Magic: We will just hang back and let them run in. At least, that is what I usually do.
Siren: Good, because I don't.
Tiko Shadmar: Bloody 'ell. We be goin' round in circles!
Magic: Does anyone have a map we can draw these connective tunnels?
Eris Drew: Doesn't Cho or you have a piece of paper we could draw on?
Eris Drew: Just write down a couple of street names?
Cho Chi: I have paper and brush, but map maker I am not.
Tazdar: Munk, you should inform the guard of the situation and see if we can rally more eyes.
Tazdar: Magic, can you convince the commoners to keep an eye out for us as well?
Munkustrap von Rumm: What would I say? That I saw a goblin?
Tazdar: Goblin spies in the city. I would have just escaped in this area.
Magic: Tazdar, keep moving.
Cho Chi looks about.
Magic: Eris, give him a push.
Magic: Come on, Siren.
Magic magically cleans himself and Siren up.
Eris Drew: Can you get some of this mud off me?
City watchman: Oye!
Munkustrap von Rumm: Guard, did you see a goblin recently come from that area? We have reason to believe that he is a spy plotting against "The City."
City watchman: What were you doing down there?
Eris Drew: My plate armor is squeaky.
Magic pulls out his lute.
Magic: Wallflower, wallflower Won't you dance with me? I'm sad and lonely too. Wallflower, wallflower Won't you dance with me? I'm fallin' in love with you. Just like you, I'm wondrin' what I'm doin' here. Just like you, I'm wondrin' what's goin' on.
City watchman: Goblin? I have seen some tracks down to the south that might be from goblins.
Magic sits on a barrel carrying a tune while trying to look inconspicuous.
Munkustrap von Rumm: How recent are these tracks?
Magic: Whall we walk and play, Siren?
Siren: Yes, I don't want to get left behind.
Magic nods to a commoner and smiles.
Magic continues to play.
Magic: Just like you, I'm wondrin' what I'm doin' here. Just like you, I'm wondrin' what's goin' on. Wallflower, wallflower Won't you dance with me? The night will soon be gone.
A bugbear charges from the shadows and slams its morning star into Cho Chi's back. She falls unconscious to the street.
Another bugbear appears.
Eris Drew: Oh no.
Siren: Oh my, does this happen often?
Tartarus: Yes.
Magic: It didn't, and now it does.
Eris Drew looks at Siren and frowns.
Magic: Ever since our last confrontation.
Siren runs down the street towards Cho Chi.
Magic: Cho has lots of potions on her!
Eris Drew: She can't drink one if she is unconscious.
Magic: Stay behind a big guy, Siren!
Siren: But, Cho Chi fell.
A hobgoblin iron shadow sneaks around the buildings to try and flank the group.
Eris Drew: Tazdar is up there. She will be fine.
A nilbog sneaks up to the street.
The bugbear chief moves to the corner of a building to see what the commotion is about.
Another hobgoblin iron shadow sneaks behind the buildings, following the other one.
Another nilbog sneaks up to see what is going on.
Tazdar: Beware the range of the bugbears! They have long arms and can reach from farther than most.
Munkustrap von Rumm slices into the bugbear that struck down Cho Chi, and it falls. He then rushes across the street to confront a bigger bugbear and wounds it as well.
A third nilbog appears and fires an arrow at Munkustrap, who shakes off the minor wound.
Magic: Guard, do something!
Magic causes a mystical bell to toll over the big bugbear engaged with Munkustrap, and it withers.
Magic: You watched one of yours die by our paladin, and now you will too!
Tartarus moves into position to attack.
Guards begin to mobilize, one skewering a bugbear on his spear.
Eris Drew climbs up on the roof, trying to find a target for her crossbow.
Another hidden bugbear moves to join the fray.
Commoners scatter, seeking shelter from the battle.
Magic: Goodbye, wallflowers.
Magic: We shall dance later.
Tazdar grows to giant size and moves forward threateningly.
Magic: Watch this, Siren and Tiko. You thought he was big before?
Siren: Oh.
Tazdar [Goblin]: You will join Maglubiyet's army in the Plains of Acheron soon!
Siren: Now, I really want to climb him.
Siren: Mount Tazdar
Tiko Shadmar points a finger at the nilbog that shot Munkustrap, and after a moment's hesitation, a bolt of fire leaps from it and strikes the creature down.
Eris Drew: Why is he roaring? He doesn't usually do that.
Tazdar: Beware the nilbogs. They have strange magics that protect them.
Tazdar: It's better to incapacitate them with magic. That's how Ran dealt with them in battle.
The bugbear struck by the guard retaliates while rushing past but misses the guard with a swing of its morningstar. The guard also misses its thrust reacting to the passing monster.
Siren sings her healing ditty for Cho and then shifts to an uplifting, inspirational tune for Sir Munkustrap.
Magic: Good show, Siren!
Eris Drew: Wow, you are a better healer than I.
The hobgoblin iron shadows continue to sneak behind the buildings.
Cho Chi: Thank you!
One of the nilbogs tries to disable Tazdar with a laughing spell, but the giant hobgoblin is unaffected.
The big bugbear turns on Tazdar and hits him, but the giant hobgoblin's Skye rune activates and sends the damage careening across the street and slams into a nilbog, obliterating it.
Tazdar [Goblin]: Careful now, smelly.
The first hobgoblin iron shadow makes its presence known by launching several darts at Magic, hitting him several times, and breaking his concentration.
The nilbog in the sidestreet causes the guard there to fall into fits of laughter.
Munkustrap von Rumm continues his assault on the big bugbear, slashing it with the blade of his glaive and smashing it with the butt until it falls bleeding and bludgeoned to the street.
Magic cloaks Tartarus, Cho Chi, and Eris with his inspiring mantle before launching rays of eldritch energy at the hobgoblin iron shadow that attacked him.
Magic: Tartarus, this shadowy hobgoblin is making fun of your mother! Cho Chi, stand up! Eris help!
Tartarus: What did you say about my mom?
Using Magic's taunt and closing the distance with the hobgoblin, Tartarus flies into a rage and begins smashing at the creature.
Guards move to assist The Iris, except the one inflicted with fits of laughter by the nilbog.
Eris Drew move into position on the rooftop and fires a bolt from her crossbow as the hobgoblin in melee with Tartarus but misses.
Cho Chi, having also closed some distance with the hobgoblin iron shadow, cracks her whip and slashes the creature and stunning it.
A bugbear enters the melee but is hit by Munkustrap as it closes with the paladin. It misses its attack, as well.
Tazdar moves to eliminate one of the approaching nilbog's, which almost escapes due to its charms. It falls dead under the strike from the giant hobgoblin's greatsword.
Tiko Shadmar moves for cover and attempts a shot at the closest bugbears with his short bow but misses.
Another bugbear enters the fray and clubs Munkstrap with its morningstar.
Siren chases after Cho Chi and providers her with some more magical healing, as well as some inspiration.
The other hobgoblin iron shadow appears next to Tartarus and hits him with a flurry of blows, which has little effect on the raging half-ogre.
Another nilbog pokes its head out and tries to charm Tazdar without success.
Munkustrap von Rumm continues attacking the bugbears surrounding him.
Magic: Look into my eyes. You made a mistake.
Magic strums a dissonant chord on his lute as he glares at the first hobgoblin monk. It drops dead from the wave of the psychic assault.
Tartarus pulls the other hobgoblin monk into a bearhug.
Magic: Cho, you are looking much better.
One of the guards joins the melee with the bugbears.
Eris Drew reloads her crossbow and fires another bolt, this time hitting one of the bugbears surrounding Munkustrap.
Cho Chi continues to crack her whip at the hobgoblin restrained by Tartarus, making gashes in his hide.
Another of the bugbears surrounding Munkustrap swings its morningstar at him but misses again.
Magic: She is scary with that whip going for the eyes and throat.
Tazdar chases down another nilbog and ends it.
Tiko Shadmar attempts another bow shot at the same bugbear but again misses the mark.
The bugbear giving Munkustrap a real fight hits him again.
Siren touches Cho Chi and magically toughens her skin in case any more attacks strike her.
The hobgoblin monk caught in Tartarus' arms slips free.
Tartarus [Orc]: Slippery bugger.
Munkustrap von Rumm slashes the throat of one bugbear and then turns on the other one and smites it. Both of them fall dead.
Magic strums more chords on his lute, and a shimmering pattern forms around the hobgoblin monk who now stands mesmerized.
Tartarus, not interested in keeping the distracted hobgoblin alive, crushes it under two mighty blows from his massive maul.
Eris Drew: No!
Eris Drew: We needed that guy.
Tartarus (chuckling) [Orc]: Splat.
Siren peeks out the door to see what's happening.
Tartarus (chuckling): It exploded.
Eris Drew: Oh, please don't do that. Your socks stink, bad.
Cho Chi: Wow, nice job tying.
Tartarus: Can I smash this one too?
Siren: Did they carry any valuables?
Magic: Not yet, Tartarus.
Cho Chi: No!
Eris Drew: No, you can not smash him.
Tazdar: That depends on if he talks.
Tartarus: Yet?
Siren: No, oh, that's too bad.
Cho Chi searches for valuables.
Siren: Oooh, you captured one. Magic, you're so brave.
Magic: You're the one who saved Cho Chi. I couldn't have done it without you.
Cho Chi: Siren, you are one fantastic healer.
City watchman: Ah, you captured one. Good.
Siren smiles.
Magic cleans himself up and the dart holes in his robes.
Eris Drew: Glad I don't have to run around healing anymore.
Cho Chi: Clean the blood off me too, please.
Siren: This was scary. So many bugbears and hobgoblins.
Eris Drew: Welcome to The Iris, Siren.
Magic: What is it, you say, Cho?
Magic (while magically removing the blood from Cho Chi's robes): You learn from doing?
Cho Chi: Thank you. Blood is uncomfortable.
Munkustrap von Rumm heals himself.
Tartarus: I disagree, monk.
Cho Chi: To each his or her own, I guess.
City watchman: I noticed a chest in the lot back to the south where the big one came from.
Magic: Onward to treasure!
Siren: Sneaky bugbears were carrying a chest?
Siren: Maybe they kept their secrets in there.
Magic: You don't know where that stuff has been! Let me clean it for you.

Propyltina 26th, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

The Iris has spent the last several weeks scouring West Church, South Port, and Nightfield along with contingents of Inquisitors and The City Watch. An elusive group of infiltrators have been inciting violence throughout these three districts but have escaped detection due to magical phenomena of areas of darkness and silence.
During the group's downtime throughout this period, they have engaged in training, carousing, pit fighting, gambling, and tending to Majestic Wares. However, Munkustrap believes he has been being tailed through Nightfield whenever he has been visiting Captain Korald for his training.
Disease has become more prevalent in Nightfield of late, as well, and there seems to be a correlation between cases of plague and the shrieks and the presence of the elusive infiltrators.
Over the course of several days, with the help of other members of The Iris, Munkustrap believes he has tracked down his spy to the slums along the river on the east side of Nightfield. Other indications suggest that this spy may also be associated with the infiltrators as the group has experienced the disorienting silence while pursuing them.
Magic casts a couple of spells to change his appearance to a humman commoner with auburn brown hair and plain, brown eyes wearing simple worker's clothes.
Magic: Is that one of The iris. Wow!
Magic casts message to Munkastrap.
Magic: If you see him, let me know, and I will enchant him with my music if given a chance.
Magic eyes the stage.
Siren asks the bartender if he needs a bard?
Tazdar: Barkeep, two ales, please!
Magic messages Siren.
Magic: Would you want to join me in a show? Treat these folk to some music?
Magic messages Cho Chi.
Magic: Hi
Cho Chi: Hi
Eris Drew: Don't break each other arms. Oh, oops.
Tiko Shadmar: Five silver on the big ugly one!!! Wait...?
Siren (to disguised Magic): Oh, are you a performer too? Let's do a duet. You sing, and I'll dance.
Magic messages Siren.
Magic: Let's do it!
Munkustrap von Rumm converses with the people in the street.
Siren jumps on the table to dance.
Magic orders some food and a drink.
Cho Chi looks at the various things for sale.
Tiko Shadmar: Tiko tries to sneak upstairs when no one is looking.
Magic then excitedly pulls out his lute and plays an upbeat tune.
Eris Drew: What are you doing, Tiko?
Magic: Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. Maraud and embezzle and even highjack. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. We kindle and char and in flame and ignite. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. We burn up the city, we're really a fright. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villains and knaves. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. We're devils and black sheep, we're really bad eggs. Stand up me hearties, yo ho. We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads, Stand up me hearties, yo ho. Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads, Stand up me hearties, yo ho. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
Tiko Shadmar: I had one too!
Bartender: Feel free. There is a common room upstairs.
Siren taps her feet and ruffles her skirts before breaking into a high stepping jig, flashing her petticoats to the crowd.
There is a crash in the storeroom behind the bar.
Tazdar: Do you need help, barkeep?
Eris Drew looks around and stands up.
Tartarus: What was that? Anyway, back to drinking.
Siren keeps dancing as long as the music plays.
Siren directs a flash at Tazdar after leaping from the table to the bar, who has entered the storage area, as a means of inspiration.
An orc red fang of shargaas sneaks up to the platform in the alley when Tazdar enters the storage area and calls darkness down upon the room.
Eris Drew moves towards the darkness and concentrates on it, determining it to be a spell.
Eris Drew: What did you do, Magic? How are you in two places at once?
Orcus follows Eris to the bar.
Magic: Magic is here? I don't see him! I love his music.
Magic: Do you think he will give a gig?
Eris Drew (to Orcus): No! Wrong way. Go back to the shop, dog.
A large presence near Tazdar roars, and something bites the hobgoblin.
Magic leaps onto the bar and dispels the darkness seeping into the bar. He then grants his mantle of inspiration to Tiko, ERis, and Tartarus, who move toward the storage room.
Magic: That roar is ruining my song! Aren't you The Iris!? Can't you do something about that!
Magic says, leaping on top of the bar with Siren.
Tazdar: Excellent, now I can see what I'm killing!
Tartarus flies into a rage as he pushes his way into the storage room and flanks the tanarukk facing Tazdar. He gives the demonic orc two crushing blows from his maul. However, the tanarukk returns the blows against the half-ogre. Tazdar redirects the damage to another scabby, white-handed orc in the storage room.
Eris Drew: That thing is uglier than Tartarus. Ick.
Tazdar: Careful where you swing, ugly.
Tartarus (chortling) [Orc]: Missed me.
Commoners run for cover, leaping out windows into the street. Those already in the street seek shelter in nearby buildings.
Guards begin to dash toward the alley where the melee has erupted.
Magic: Think I can fly Think I can fly when I'm with you My arms are wide Catching fire as the wind blows I know that I'm rich enough for pride I see a billion dollars in your eyes Even if we're strangers 'til we die I wanna run away I wanna run away Anywhere out this place I wanna run away
The white-handed orc rushes Tartarus and touches him, but its magic does not seem to have the intended effect.
Eris Drew: Is Magic singing again?
Tazdar [Goblin]: Filthy orc!
Tartarus [Orc]: Eeew.
Tanarukk [Abyssal]: No! Back away!
Cho Chi races from the market to the alley and leaps, using the stall's canvas, to the roof of the building north of the alley. She spots another orc between some crates and the building below her.
Tartarus: I get his greatsword when we kill him.
Eris Drew: Yes, you will. You are welcome to it with the fury you are hurling at this thing.
Another orc red fang of shargaas sneaks towards the platform where the melee is happening and produces a sphere of darkness at the alley's opening.
Tiko Shadmar slips into the storage room next to the horned orc. His shortsword thrust misses, but his dagger hits, making a gash in the creature's leg.
Tazdar grows big and proceeds to cut down the demonic orc with two quick slashes of the greatsword. Then he turns to the white-handed orc and cuts her down, as well.
Tazdar: Step on up, friend. It's your turn.
Munkustrap von Rumm dashes up the street following Cho Chi's path but doesn't yet arrive at the alley.
Siren dances between Magic's legs, patting him on the butt as she goes before jumping down and out the door.
The red fang leaps onto the platform and swings its scimitar once at Tazdar and once at Tartarus. It cuts Tartarus. Then it slips away like a rogue.
Tazdar: Come on, you stupid orc.
Eris Drew moves onto the platform and fires a bolt from her crossbow at the fleeing orc, striking it in the back.
Tazdar: Running away? Shameful, even for an orc.
Magic nimbly makes his way to the platform, and the spectral bell appears above the red fang's head, tolling. The orc begins to falter.
Tartarus chases down the fleeing red fang and pummels it with his maul. It is barely able to stand after this.
Magic: Are you scared of The Iris?!
Eris Drew: I would say a fair amount of people are scared of us.
Tazdar: Let's capture that coward!
Guards begin to approach, one through the bar and the other towards the alley.
Cho Chi fires her longbow at the skulking red fang hiding behind the wagon. She hits it twice, the second arrow breaking its concentration on the darkness it had conjured.
The previously hidden red fang makes a break for it. However, Tartarus catches it with a backswing as it tries to pass before stumbling around the corner.
Eris Drew: Do you want me to make the orc by Tartarus fall so we can question it, Tazdar?
Tiko Shadmar moves to the turn in the alley and launches a bolt of fire down the alley and the fleeing orc. It misses.
Tazdar follows the action into the alley and cuts down the first red fang before flinging a hand axe down the alley at the other one. This one drops face down in the alley.
Munkustrap von Rumm charges into the alley to find all the orc are defeated, the two red fangs being bound to be taken to the Tower of the City Guard.
Tazdar: That was a fun warm-up.
Tazdar: Now, where are their actual fighters?
Tazdar: Tiko, Cho, check my work, please.
Tazdar: Do we want two of these?
Magic: Are my food and drink ready, Mr. Barkeep?
Siren: Oh, Tazdar, you're bleeding.
Tazdar: Oh, so I am.
Eris Drew: It isn't magical. As far as I can see, it is not glowing.
Siren: Do you want me to heal you?
Tazdar: If you can, that would be appreciated.
Siren sings a song of healing.
Siren: Doctor Doctor, gimme the news you got a Bad case of lovin' me No pill's gonna cure your ill You've got a Bad case of lovin' me
Tazdar: That'll keep me patched up for now. Thank you.
Munkustrap von Rumm: What happened here?!
Tazdar: Orcs. Weak ones. Not sure what they were up to.
Munkustrap von Rumm: I heard a commotion!
Tazdar: But we caught two of them.
Siren (gleefully): We can interrogate them?
Eris Drew: We killed some orcs, and you missed a lot.
Tazdar: Orcs usually talk easily. They're weak-willed.
Eris Drew: I got one of them from twenty feet away.
Eris Drew: Can I talk to them? I can be intimidating.
Munkustrap von Rumm: What are we going to do with them?
Tartarus [Orc]: I dislike you insulting them.
Tazdar: Here you go. There were an orc demon and some ugly orc mage as well in there.
Tazdar: I'm guessing these are just scouts. They're not tough enough to be proper soldiers.
Magic: Do you have studded leather, Siren?
Magic: Oh, right!
Magic: Tiko, you get awfully close to the action.
Eris Drew: He is pretty sneaky, isn't he. He snuck right past me, and I didn't even see him.
Magic: So Mr. Barkeep, has this happened before?
Magic: You seemed awfully scared, like you knew what was back there. Are you in cahoots?
Cho Chi: Captain, can you or any of your men translate this for us?
Bartender: They have been terrorizing us for weeks.
Bartender: They killed the previous bartender.
Magic: Wow! Maybe the owner should have contracted The Iris.
Magic: Guards can be lazy.
Magic: And we will work for drink or food.
Bartender: We knew you were looking, and the bartender was going to contact you when he was killed.
Bartender: At that point, we were just surviving.
Bartender: I never intended to run a tavern.
Siren: C'mon, Magic, let's get the ale flowing.
Bartender: I don't know how to thank you for ridding us of those fiends.
Eris Drew: We should talk to Captain Ridley. I worked for him when I was an Inquisitor. He might be able to help us with our orc friends over here after we get a round of drinks.
Siren: Whose thirsty?!
Eris Drew: Aye.
Magic: If you don't want to run the place, I could buy it from you if that is on the table?
Siren: I could bring some of my siblings from the Boar's Head to help out.
Eris Drew: Magic, do you really want a bar in the slums?
Siren: What better place to gather information on the seedy underbelly of this city?
Bartender: Really, You would buy this place?
Eris Drew: I didn't think of it that way.
Magic: It is looking that way, yes.
Magic: Halflings to run the place by day and money to be collected at night.
Magic: And it would be a great hub of information.
Eris Drew: Having a place in Nightfield might be useful.
Magic: Siren, if you want to go in 50/50 on it?
Siren (glowingly): Partners!
Magic: Partners!
Bartender: Excellent! Let's draw it up.
Siren: What should we name our tavern? How about "Orc's Demise."
Meanwhile, at the guard tower.
Captain Ridley: Well, The Iris has really made a name for themselves.
Tazdar: It's about sending a message.
Eris Drew: Hello, Captain.
Captain Ridley: Hello, Ms. Drew. How have you been?
Cho Chi: Good afternoon.
Captain Ridley: Captured some orcs, have we.
Eris Drew: I have been busy, but that seems quite obvious.
Cho Chi smiles.
Eris Drew: Yes, they attacked at a nearby tavern.
Tazdar: Well, they didn't attack so much as they made a racket, got caught, and got beat.
Eris Drew: One of them had been trailing my companion.
Captain Ridley: I guess we should wake one of them up and get some information out of them.
Eris Drew rolls her eyes.
Tazdar: I'm not certain they meant for us to find them at all.
Cho Chi: That sounds like a good idea.
Eris Drew: They probably did not, and yes, information would be nice.
Cho Chi: Shall I bandage them?
Captain Ridley looks over the captives and raises an eyebrow.
Eris Drew: I hope you can read and speak orcish.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Shackle then before you question them so they can't cast spells.
Captain Ridley: These are orcish assassins, red-hands.
Cho Chi: I wonder who their target was.
Eris Drew: Shackles would be nice.
Eris Drew: Assassins? Who were they supposed to be assassinating?
Captain Ridley (to the guards): Secure them in separate cells, and we'll get to it.
Eris Drew nods.
Captain Ridley: Were these the only ones?
Cho Chi: Several died.
Tazdar: They summoned some demon.
Captain Ridley: A tanarukk?
Tazdar: And also there was a tongueless mage of some kind.
Tazdar: Probably.
Captain Ridley: With white hands?
Eris Drew: We killed a large orc, or the hobgoblin did.
Tazdar: Yup, white hands.
Captain Ridley: A bodyguard and their leader. These two were probably acting as scouts.
Tazdar: It seemed like it. One of them decided to attack, which was stupid for a scout.
Eris Drew: Well, they weren't doing a very fine job.
Tazdar: The other tried to run but didn't make it.
Tazdar: As a former sergeant, I'd tie them to the whipping post if they'd made it back after failing this badly.
Cho Chi looks rather ill.
Captain Ridley: They failed in the mission. Their worst punishment would be to live imprisoned.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Are you feeling all right, Cho?
Eris Drew: You would?!
Cho Chi: Flogging seems extreme.
Tazdar: You have to keep troops in line. Failure is unacceptable. It's the way of the legions.
Tazdar: Orcs tend to have less organization than my people, though.
Eris Drew: Explains a lot.
Captain Ridley: It wasn't that long ago before King Ran took power that this happened regularly in Deep Bend.
Tazdar: Kindness is a luxury, but King Ran has enough power to afford it.
Cho Chi: I'm glad I'm in a gentler martial tradition.
Tazdar: Those without such strength require unity of forces.
Tazdar: One weak soldier can break a line and get everyone killed.
Tazdar: But we're not here for military philosophy.
Tazdar: I believe we're here to make some orcs squeal.
The orcs have been shackled in their cells, and the guards return to their duties.
Tazdar: Captain, do you have an interrogator on hand?
Eris Drew: And squeal they shall.
Eris Drew smirks.
Captain Ridley: Force is the only thing they will respond to, unfortunately.
Tazdar: Matches with my experience.
Captain Ridley: War does nothing good for ethics and morals.
Tazdar: Not sure if they speak common or not, though. We might need someone to translate.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Do what you must, according to the grace of Lehnbor.
Captain Ridley: I can speak their tongue.
Tazdar: Well, that makes this easier, indeed.
Cho Chi: Can you read it also?
Captain Ridley: If there is written orcish, I can decipher it.
Cho Chi: Very good.
Captain Ridley translates the message, "Major Chargilz, Continue your campaign with your retinue. We have General Balmgroz now. He will no longer be an issue. Colonel Orgrazr".
Tazdar jaw tightens.
Tazdar: Of course.
Tazdar: Balmgroz, the damned fool.
Eris Drew: Do you know him?
Captain Ridley: You know these names?
Tazdar: I assumed he'd have gotten himself killed by now.
Cho Chi: Then are there likely to be more within the city?
Eris Drew: Who is he?
Tazdar: My former commanding officer.
Tazdar: And the reason I'm exiled.
Cho Chi: How many soldiers would a major be in charge of.
Eris Drew eyes widen.
Tazdar: However, he's a general now? Clearly, things have gone downhill in my absence.
Tazdar: And why would Orgazr "have" him?
Captain Ridley can't help smiling.
Tazdar: This is all very confusing.
Eris Drew smirks.
Tazdar: Captain, I would say if Balmgroz has made general, it would be an excellent time for King Ran to crush the southern legions.
Captain Ridley: Not a fan, I take it.
Cho Chi: I take it he is not the best strategist.
Tazdar: No, I'm exiled because I refused to follow his idiotic and needlessly bloodthirsty orders.
Tazdar: Better that than my men dying from his lunacy.
Tazdar: Violence is one thing, but we're not orcs. We conquer. We do not commit genocide.
Tazdar: However, it seems he's fallen out of favor.
Captain Ridley: So it seems there has been a mutiny.
Tazdar: I have no idea who this Chargilz person is.
Tazdar: But from what I know of Balmgroz, he wouldn't have thrown in with orcs.
Captain Ridley: That name seems orcish to me.
Tazdar: This is conjecture, but I will wager that Orgrazr has mutinied and usurped Balmgroz.
Captain Ridley: The rank directly translates in orcish, not goblin.
Cho Chi listens attentively.
Tazdar: Yes, I'm trying to use ranks akin to your own military to avoid confusion as best I can.
Captain Ridley: Let us wake up one of these orcs and have a talk.
Tazdar: For my people, Balmgroz would be a Legate, and Ograzr a Tribune.
Captain Ridley: That lends more credence to Chargilz being an orc. I am guessing the white-hand you disposed of.
Tazdar: That would make sense.
Captain Ridley enters the closest cell with an orc.
Munkustrap von Rumm: I can assist with bringing these orcs to.
Cho Chi observes the prisoner closely.
Captain Ridley: Please do.
Munkustrap von Rumm leans forward and briefly places his hand on the orc's shoulder.
Cho Chi Swatches for evidence of deception.
Orc [Orc]: Argh!
Eris Drew leans against the wall near the entrance to the cell, waiting.
Captain Ridley begins the interrogation, translating as he goes so everyone can understand.
Captain Ridley [Orc]: Orc! Speak and receive a quick death or remain quiet and live your life out in shame.
Orc [Orc]: Go to Pits of the Abyss!
Cho Chi: Now that is not polite.
Captain Ridley: Heal him up, so he does not immediately pass out.
The orc growls.
Cho Chi walks over and presses firmly on a pressure point.
Tazdar: Eris, could you give the orc some health back?
Munkustrap von Rumm places his hand upon the orc's shoulder again for a quick moment.
The orc chuckles.
Cho Chi feels down the orc's arm to find the pressure point.
Eris Drew: If you do not do as you are told, I will have the little one burn your flesh and scatter your ashes to the wind.
Captain Ridley draws a stiletto and flips it.
The orc yowls.
Captain Ridley: That seems to be having an effect.
Siren -> Magic: Why don't we leave the bartender to his business and join the fun at the Guard Tower. I bet they're deep into the interrogation by now.
Cho Chi waits a few seconds and then releases the pressure but not the grip.
Captain Ridley [Orc]: What was Chargilz doing in the city?
Magic -> Siren: Sounds good to me! We will have to get these papers notarized or witnessed anyhow. That could take some time.
The orc [Orc]: Weakening it.
Siren and Magic leave the tavern to join the rest of the Iris at the Guard Tower.
Captain Ridley [Orc]: Not succeeding, though.
The orc [Orc]: More damage than you realize.
The orc chuckles.
Cho Chi looks at the orc questioningly.
Cho Chi retightens her grip.
Captain Ridley looks at Cho Chi to apply the pressure point again.
Orc: Arrggghhh!!!
Cho Chi waits longer this time.
Munkustrap von Rumm casts a zone of truth within the cell.
Cho Chi releases the pressure point after about a minute.
The orc [Orc]: Enough! Enough!
Magic: Hello! How is everyone doing? It looks like Cho Chi is having too much fun.
Siren: Oh, I love the screams of agony.
Siren: Do you need help?
Tazdar laughs loudly.
Magic: Have you heard of Death Metal Music, Siren?
Magic: I feel like this is the occasion for it.
Siren: How about a little Bane?
Munkustrap von Rumm: He could lie just to get you to stop, Cho.
The orc [Orc]: The disease, the disease is spreading!
The orc laughs hysterically.
Tazdar: Such cowards, as always.
Tazdar: I know orcs can't fight, but I didn't realize they knew it too.
Magic: A company always on the run A destiny, oh it's the rising sun I was born, a shotgun in my hands Behind the gun I'll make my final stand, yeah That's why they call me Bad company I can't deny Bad, bad company 'Til the day I die Until the day I die Until the day I die Rebel souls Deserters we've been called Chose a gun And threw away the song Now these towns Well they all know our name The Death Punch sound Is our claim of fame And that's why they call me Bad company I can't deny Bad, bad company 'Til the day I die Until the day I die Until the day I die Until the day I die "Eye for an eye" "Tooth for a tooth" "Blood for blood" We've all gotta die We've all gotta die
Suddenly, a black vapor begins to escape from the orc.
Magic begins to play his lute like a mad man for a minute attempting to enthrall the orc.
Cho Chi feels a sharp, icy shock go through her.
Cho Chi grunts in surprise.
The orc begins to convulse, and his skin begins to blacken.
Tazdar: He might need some healing again.
Cho Chi: We need to find the locus and method of the spread of the disease.
Munkustrap von Rumm reaches forward quickly and lays his hand on the orc's shoulder.
Tazdar: It seems like it's magical.
Siren backs out of the cell.
Tazdar: I wonder if the wizards can follow the magical trail.
Magic attempts to dispel the magic overtaking the orc.
Magic: You are stinking up the room, fanboy.
Magic: Fanboy...
Magic: Fanboy...
Magic: It looks like he is dead. It wasn't me.
Tazdar: Blasted orcs. So fragile.
Cho Chi steps away from the orc.
Captain Ridley: At least I can confirm Chargilz was the white-hand.
Tazdar: I'm guessing we will need to go down into the sewer and find the focus for the spell.
Captain Ridley: What was that effect, though?
Munkustrap von Rumm: Magic, if you wouldn't mind? Prestidigitation, please.
Munkustrap von Rumm holds out his hands to Magic.
Cho Chi focuses her Ki into healing energy for herself.
Magic: On it.
There is a shriek from the other cell.
Munkustrap von Rumm: Thank you.
Magic: A little here.
Magic: And a little there.
Magic: All cleaned up.
Magic: So it wasn't me. Good.
Magic smiles.
Siren -> Magic: When you interrogate a prisoner, you aren't supposed to kill them that quickly. It's better if they can linger around a while and enjoy it.
Cho Chi: We should check on his companion.
Siren looks into the other cell looking for the other orc.
The orcs in each cell are now blackened husks.
Magic -> Siren: My fanboy is dead. I didn't think dispelling the magic would end his life.
Cho Chi: That is nasty Paragon magic.