As you're about to see, that title really fits this session.
We began with me catching Helen up on what happened last time, going into how Ace and Nova broke up and the party moved on to Corsovia where Ace got into trouble by tailing a mysterious man through the street. Helen said she was glad she wasn't there because it sounded too emotional and we all agreed it was pretty intense (in a very good way). Also before the session I gave Helen a little thing telling her what happened to Siessa while she stayed behind in Silburn. Long story short, the new cleric turned up, pulled the cap off of that pen that Ace forgot about and it exploded, revealing itself to be a JoJo reference- uh I mean, a terrorist attack by the Cult of the Black Cat (anti-Avacyn warlock cult). The new cleric died (revealing himself to actually be the doppleganger who disguised itself as Rao before, but I don't think Helen really clocked that) and so did a bunch of monks, but Gremia and Siessa survived. Gremia warned her to destroy the cult if she ever encountered them, and Siessa went on her way.
Fast forward to the present, Siessa and Rodor arrive in Corsovia and enter the tavern. They meet Sarah Zheng and get some water.Sarah gives you a skeptical look when you ask for water, then sees Rodor and you being all in-sync with each other. Then you see realisation flicker across her face, like she's thinking "ah, of course, vegans."
Helen: "Oooh I already hate her but love her at the same time."
After Levi and Blaine introduced themselves, I switched perspective to Ace, who was being attacked by the ghoul. After he said "if you're not gonna help me get food, maybe I should just take a bite out of you!" we rolled initiative
. We both rolled 15, so we re-rolled and the ghoul went first. With a bite, claw and knife attack, he did something like 25 damage, maybe more.
Helen: *seeing Alice have to make Con saves* "I swear to god if we end up with a ghoul and
an ashen beast in the party..."
Understandably, Ace grabbed Sooty and yeeted out of there with a dimension door spell. Appearing in the courtyard near the crucified Uta Falkenrath, two guards approached him and demanded an explanation for why he was teleporting around like a madman. Ace explained and one of the guards went to check out the situation. In the meantime, the remaining guard told Ace to come with him to the church for healing.
Switching back to the others, they were chilling in the tavern when two guards dragged in the man in leathers. With his mask taken away, he was obviously a ghoul with his grey skin, black gums and pointy teeth (also Nadine used her divine sense to confirm it). The players were all quite confused as to why he was being brought into the tavern, especially after Sarah confirmed it was probably for an execution. They pushed the protesting man down on his knees in the centre of the tavern and one of the guards went to the other side of the room and unveiled a mirror. One of them then said something along the lines of "this man is accused of conspiracy to murder, murder, theft and collusion with demons." Then, to the mirror: "Your majesty! Please, help us find the truth. Help us to acheive justice for this man's crimes. We beg of you, Katrina!"
At this point, Nadine tried to intervene, saying that this execution was a travesty and that the man wasn't getting a fair trial. A guard moved in front of her and told her not to be a nuisance. She actually cast Zone of Truth, which really annoyed the guard, causing him to apprehend her and drag her away from the scene. She didn't resist, and then-The mirror then begins to glow with bright, vicious light like what Sarah described appearing when Katrina first appeared with Uta's corpse. Then, a half-formed reflection begins to appear on the surface of the mirror and a figure steps out. A woman wearing black, not overly regal but formal attire with a high, white collar. Long red hair and piercing orange eyes. As she steps into the Zone of Truth, she uses a Legendary Resistance to ignore that shit.
Helen: *short pause* "Wait. Is that the actual Katrina?"Yup.
Helen: "Ohh shit."
X-05: "Hey! Katrina, I have a message for you. Your granddad's a ghost and he says that the only thing stopping him from moving on is that he hasn't seen you safe and sound after you got kidnapped."
We all then lost our shit.I CANNOT BELIEVE you remember that, James. You guys literally just watched THE Katrina Falkenrath step out of a mirror in a flash of light to end some guy's life and you bring up something from session four.
James: *shrug* "I'm just the messenger."Ok, well... Katrina does take notice of you, but only a little. She looks your way for a moment and you can see that she recognises you and Nadine. There is no verbal acknowledgement and she turns back to Garl. He tries to object, magically unable to lie, saying he is innocent. Katrina shakes her head, saying that she can see the demons' influence on him.
Siessa: "To be fair, you are a ghoul."
Garl: "No! I'm not a ghoul, I'm human! Human as the day I was born, I swear!"
Katrina: "I'm sorry. The demons have already corrupted you."
Blaine: *stepping forward* "Hold on a second, this isn't a fair trial! You don't have evidence that this man has done anything wrong. We demand an explanation."
Guard: "On what grounds do you demand?"
Blaine: "Well, I think we have a right to know."
Guard: "Sir, you are not entitled to anything. Now please, stop making a scene and obstructing government business."
Blaine: "Your government business is bullshit!"OOOOOOO-KAY, roll for initiative. You guys are really doing this when Katrina is still in the room, huh.
The guards then pulled out their muskets and shot Blaine, hitting him twice and dealing something like 22 damage. They yelled for him to back off and get on his knees. Siessa, trying to avoid conflict, knelt and said "it is an honour, your majesty" and had Rodor bow as well. Nadine got dragged out of the tavern but then pushed the guard off her and drew her weapons.
Nadine: "Everybody stand down! I just want to heal my friend, but my oath compels me to fight if I have to!"
Katrina: *her turn begins* There is a silence, and Katrina just regards you. Then, after hearing your words, she actually laughs, genuinely laughs out loud. "My, you really are the perfect paladin, aren't you?"
Daria: "oh god that sounds like something a villain says right before they kill someone."She then reaches into her jacket and pulls out what looks like a thin, white conductor's wand.
Katrina: *waves wand authoritatively, points it to the party* She's right, there's no need for such theatrics. Garl, come with me. Guards, take them to the church and question them."
She then took Garl's hand and pulled him through the mirror. At the last moment, he looks like he's happy, like he's about to get justice done for him.
It was then Levi's turn, who jumped to Blaine's defence.
Levi: "If you're going to take him away, take me with you. My brother's an idiot, but he's not a criminal."
Bailey: *laughing* "Blaine flips him off."Levi gives you a look, like "you know I'm right though".
Four more guards came in (making 8 total) and announced they would be escorting the party to the church for questioning ("why did you interfere", "why are you here in town" etc). The party complied and they got put in manacles.
Blaine: *getting manacled* "D'you think you could make these tighter?" *wink*
Guard: *angry squint*
Bailey: "Can we say that the bullets, like, pulled his shirt open?"Absolutely, the bullets blasted off the buttons holding your clothes together and your (bloodied) chest is partially revealed.
Daria: "The best kind of chest."
Helen: "Man, I wish I was still playing as Perren because he'd totally flirt with Blaine. Siessa's too shy to make a move, but she is very flustered by the sight of Levi and Blaine in handcuffs."
Gotta say, I'm really enjoying Blaine's antics. He's so different from Nova it's hilarious.
Anyway, the party (including Rowan and Rodor, the latter of whom was put on a leash) then got taken up to the church, bumping into Ace who was also being taken up there.
Ace: "What the hell did you guys do?"
Nadine: "What did you
Ace's Guard: "You lot are together, huh?"
Ace: "Yeah, but I have no idea what they did!"
Guard (with the others): "You better come with us, then."
And so, 8 guards became 9. I could practically smell the TPK coming. I must confess I had a small (joking) meltdown when I bumped into my sister in the hall when I went for a quick toilet break. "They're so fucked, Lydia. They're so fucked." She just laughed and wished me good luck.
After passing the long line in, they saw what all the people were waiting for: a woman in acid green robes and a blindfold (similar to what the man in the carriage from last session was wearing but in a different colour) was giving each person a medical examination of some sort. She merely nodded to the guards.
They then went into a back room, where they met someone Nadine recognised: Caspar, the local priest. I asked Daria what Nadine's relationship would have been with him when she was growing up and she said something to the effect of "Well, Nadine was a bit of a loner as a child and was always quite scared and confused with her innate powers. Since she turned to religion for most of her explanations of life, she would have treated Caspar as a close friend and confidant."
Caspar was then ordered to open up the dungeon (everyone: *eyebrow wiggle*) so that the party could be interrogated. Caspar pocketed a small book as he did that (none of the guards noticed but Ace and Nadine did), and then opened up a trap door. He was shocked to recognise Nadine as the strapping paladin she'd become, but didn't make a fuss. He seemed to be biding his time to talk to her. He also slipped the small book into Ace's pocket when he went to heal the latter's wounds from Garl.
After the guards put Rodor in a cage, they asked a few questions before the captain of the guard showed up: another person Nadine recognised, Tanya the local upstart. The two of them had been in school together, and Tanya was always known for being a rebel, causing trouble and committing petty crimes all through her childhood and teenage years up until Nadine left home at 15. I asked Daria what Nadine's relationship was likely with her and how she felt now that the guards all seemed to be treating her with all the respect that a guard captain is due. Daria said something like "Nadine was already having enough difficulty in understanding herself, so she mostly avoided getting involved with Tanya's antics. She's very shocked and worried to see Tanya in a position of power, though."
Tanya: *small nod* "Nadine."
Nadine: *unnerved* "Tanya."
What followed was a very tense interrogation session. Tanya radiated a relaxed yet powerful presence, needling the players for info. Siessa tried speaking both Abyssal and Infernal to spook the guards (which she nearly got shot for) but Tanya merely noted the fact that she could do so and moved on. The party tried to argue that the trial was unfair, but Tanya dismissed them.
Tanya: "Do you know of Katrina's philosophy? She wants everyone to know that she is a powerful leader, someone that humans will trust but their enemies will fear. To that end, a criminal of Garl's sort is commonly executed in public places. Did you not know that he had committed five murders already? A fair trial's usefulness was in the past."
Eventually, Tanya decided that she had had enough of talking with the party. She'd discerned that they were just troublemakers, and to be kept under a watchful gaze from now on while they were in town. So she let them go.
Tanya: "But before you go, a quick search. It's standard procedure."
Alice: "Ah-ha! I put the prayerbook in my jacket, not my bag, so she won't find it."Oke, she takes the bag. But what about the other book?
Alice: *realising she left the Tome of Demonology in Ace's bag* OH NO-TOO LATE!
Tanya rummaged through everyone's stuff, commenting on X-05's attire and weaponry.
Tanya: "I find it strange that someone wearing a Cloak of the Goldfire and carrying what seems to be a genuine Moonsilver Spear also carries a homonculus with them."
X-05: "Well, Oglor needed a place to stay and I figured he could tag along."
Tanya: "And where did the cloak and spear come from?"
X-05: "Oh, Saint Traft gave 'em to me."
She was skeptical, but let it slide. It wasn't like he was carrying anything illegal. Speaking of, one my of my favourite things I did in this conversation is say "Tanya rummages in Ace's bag, and" without actually moving on to her finding the book. I just kept building the tension, making them believe I was going to have her find it and then not. Then, eventually-
Tanya: "Alright, I think you can all leave now- wait, what's this?"
She then casually flicked through it and calmly asked why Ace happened to have a book with a comprehensive knowledge of demons in it. Nadine (and most of the rest of the party just now learning of this) pulled a Yellow Diamond face
but were quickly allowed to leave by Tanya who was now only interested in Ace and, thanks to her speaking fiendish languages, Siessa.
Tanya: "So, care to tell me a bit about why you have a demon-summoning item on you? Maybe it has something to do with that strange familiar you have."
Ace: "Ok, so the book, you'll notice that the instructions say that you need to burn pages in order to use it, right? And you'll also notice that all the pages are there if you read through it. I'm not using it for summoning, just for research to help me better protect myself from demons."
Tanya: *clearly playing with him* "I see. So you're saving all the pages for something, then? You must be, if you fight demons and other evil creatures so often but never use this thing. What sort of activity might you be saving all these pages for, and might it have anything to do with why you're here?"
Ace really felt the pressure then, but Siessa jumped in by saying it was her book.
Tanya: "Yours? So you're the author, are you?"
Siessa: "No. If you look at my notes you'll see I am a traveller. Recently, I met a necromancer in Shadowgrange who I got that book from."
Tanya: "So he gave it to you?"
Siessa: "No, he sold it to me."
Tanya: "Really? What, did he just have it on his shelf for anyone to buy?"
Siessa: "No, I found it in his shop and he let me buy it. He seemed very eager to get rid of it."
Tanya: "Really. He had it lying around and you found it. When was this?"
Siessa: "About a year ago."
Tanya: "So, long before anyone realised he was insane. In fact, long before he apparently went into necromancy. Why did he have such an item at that time?"
Siessa: "I don't know, he didn't say much about it."
Tanya: "So you didn't think to ask? Or better yet, tell the authorities that he had such a thing? You kept that secret, did you? Sounds less like you were an innocent passerby and more of a compatriot in his later acts of evil. Why did you buy it?"
Siessa: "Just to clue myself up on how to fight demons."
Tanya: "Well. Honestly I-"
Ace: "Wait, Siessa, you don't need to cover for me."
Siessa: *nervous* "Ace, what do you mean-"
Tanya: "Go on, Ace. Maybe you can tell me more about this creature while you're at it."
Ace: "We were in the swamp near Dansk, but one of our friends got cursed. The only way to save them was to take them up to the Ashmouth to be cured by one of the angels. While there, we got in an altercation with some demons. At that time, one of them dropped the book and I picked it up. Just for research, of course. And if you must know, I am a warlock and this is an elemental comprised of ash and fire."
Tanya: "I've heard of its like. There are apparently a group of elven warlocks (as you clearly are) called Embersworn out in Kessig who regularly skirmish with the other cults of demon worshippers out there. Each clan fighting to prove the supremacy of their dark gods and demonic masters. Is that accurate to what you are?
Ace: "I might have some of their powers, but I'm not one of them. And for your information, the Embersworn turn into these familiars when they die. In fact, this one is the soul of my dead best friend given form, so thanks for bringing that up."
Tanya: "...honestly, the first story was more believable."
We had a quick break and I thought of what to do next. This session was really testing my ability to keep cool and improvise good dialogue. Just to brag, I think I did a pretty good job. There was a line where Ace tried to pretend Sooty was nothing to be concerned about and Tanya quipped "oh, let me guess, you bought him too and have nothing to do with his creation" which got a nice "oooooh" from the players.
After a little thinking, Tanya said: "I have enough evidence between the two of you to accuse you both of being demon cultists. The book alone is enough to warrant arrest at the very least. But tell you what, I've realised something. Ace, you are clearly entirely incapable of lying. Miss Hamilton, you're free to go."
Siessa gave Ace a worried look and tried to stay and defend him more, but Ace insisted she leave. As she did, Tanya sat back in her chair and smiled.
Tanya: "So, Ace. This must be a success for you. All your friends are in the clear and you're the only one left."
Ace: *grimly* "Yep..."
Tanya: "I think Her Majesty will want to meet you. Let us go to her so you may tell her more about yourself. Worst case, you are found to be a cultist and executed. Best case, you are a demon hunter as you say and she offers you a job."
Ace: *under his breath* "Fucking religious types..."
Tanya: "Excuse you?"
Ace: "You're clearly forcing me to do this because of your religion. We're in the basement of a church."
Tanya: "Do you see an Avacyn talisman on my chest? I'm loyal to Her Majesty first and some absent angel second."
At this, Ace was lead away through the church and out the door by four guards and Tanya. No one from the party followed except Siessa and Rodor, who didn't want to leave him behind. Tanya intially told Siessa to go away, as she was now a free woman. When she insisted on following, Tanya shrugged and said whatever. Approaching the mirror in the tavern again, Tanya bowed and said "Your Majesty, I apologise for contacting you again so soon."
A vague form appeared on the surface of the mirror. "Why are you contacting me directly?"
"There is a young warlock I think you will be interested to speak to," Tanya said, ushering Ace forward. "He has ties to the demons, and a curious artefact in his possession."
A small amount of light appeared on the surface of the mirror and a hand came out of it, beckoning. "Bring him forward," said the voice.
Daria: "So, is she dtf?"Huh? Dtf? Down to fuck?
Daria: "I don't know what it is Gabe, all your characters are just very fuckable."Oh, well that probably has something to do with the fact that they come from MY imagination.
Daria: "Heh, you just have good taste then."
Anyway, Ace willingly took Katrina's hand and was pulled through the mirror, despite Siessa's protesting.
Siessa: "Please, you don't have to do this!"
Tanya: "Be quiet. He is having the great privilege of a meeting with Her Majesty. Maybe you should play your cards right next time if you want one."
Both the hand and the mirror were like ice to the touch. As Ace went through, Siessa could not stand still any longer. Rolling Athletics against the guards, she beat them with a 14 against their measly 7 (they even had advantage!) and grabbed onto Ace just before he fully went through. Tanya yelled for her to stop, but it was too late. Both PCs entered the mirror, taking Sooty but not Rodor with them.And they were never seen again. Hahah, just kidding. But maybe not.
At the same time, Levi and Blaine had a short, whispered convo about how they were all probably in enemy territory after all. Then Caspar approached Nadine.
Caspar: "Hello again, Nadine. It's been a while. I was wondering if you had a minute to talk."
Caspar: "It's about your parents. I'm sorry, but the rumours are true, they're both dead. Would you like to come with me to the cemetery? We can do this more privately."
Nadine: *crestfallen* "Sure."
Caspar then led Nadine to a pair of graves that read Nora Miller and Jonah Miller. But before Nadine could speak-
Caspar: *suddenly speaking quickly* "Nadine, your parents are alive. I don't have much time, there are spies everywhere-"
Caspar: "I tried to slip you a note in that prayerbook earlier but it didn't work, your parents are trapped in the catacombs and they likely don't have much time left, you need to go save them right now or their chance at survival is going to drop to zero."And I think we'll end the session there.
So yeah, that was our fourth or fifth "pizza GIF" session in a row. A lot happened, including the loss(?) of two PCs. I think I'll have Helen and Alice play as Levi and Caspar for the next few sessions until the party move on from Corsovia. It was a really fantastic session with great RP from everyone. Bailey says that this was the first time she was scared both in-character and out, which pleases me. This is the part of the story where I want shit to feel like it's getting serious.
Anyway, next time: catacombs and probably more death! I wanna make this next bit a real challenge heheheheh