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26 November 2004 - Friday

I guess today is when the traffic was bad, because Harold (and his Chris) were delayed on their way to Roseville, but we still sat down to at a reasonable time to play ...

Amazon Quintet of Justice VIIId: "Fall of the Naga Pirates!"

Before Our Heroines can follow the escaping nagas, Fresa is laid low by the illness dwarves suffer after being surrounded by ocean for weeks and has to retreat to the boat. (Don't ask.) Fortunately, Marika shows up at about this time, having followed the other Amazons with a message from Princess Lisbet. This is deemed sufficient strength, and the Amazons attack!

The underwater tunnels are not too complicated, and the Quartet soon find the naga ambush. Two nagas fully prepared for battle are a tough match, but one is soon killed and the other flees deeper into the caves. It makes its stand once it meets up with its allies: three magic snakes, a yuan-ti, and a vrock demon. Marika and Alyra charge while Amaryllis and Gabrielle attack from afar, but Alyra is once again strucken with a magically-induced fear of snakes and flees the battle. Marika is overwhelmed and slain, and since none of their foes have been taken out of the fight, the remaining Amazons execute a strategic withdrawal, leaving the tunnel sealed behind them.

Under cover of invisibility, Amaryllis teleports back to the site of the battle, grabs Marika's body, and teleports away before the pirates can do anything. The three Amazons take Marika back to the boat so that Fresa can resurrect her, and lay their plans.

The next morning, fully enhanced by Fresa's magic, Our Heroines make another assault on the pirate lair. This time they teleport in, bypassing the wall they created last time as well as any ambushes that might have been laid for them, and catch the snakes sleeping on the beach where the last battle was fought. The three snakes are easily dispatched, but as the last one expires, Alyra hears someone coming down the tunnel.

The naga isn't taken by surprise when the Amazons jump her, but outnumbered three to one and without her full armaments of magic, she is quickly put to flight, and then surrounded and killed before her yuan-ti ally can do much to help her. The yuan-ti is then mentally controlled and interrogated, then killed when she tries to escape into the stone floor.

The inner sanctum of the pirates is behind a solid stone wall which only the chief naga knew the spells to open, but Amaryllis's magic gets the Amazons in easily, and the looting search of the pirates' temple and personal quarters begins! Sadly, not a lot of information about the pirate's greater motives or secret masters is found; according to the yuan-ti, the Great Master just teleports in when he wants to deliver orders. However, some papers in Dwarvish are appropriated for Stephen to study later, and the ominous tapestries from the temple are seized. As is, really, everything else, except for those items too close to the pool of seething evil that strongly resembled the one the Amazons had found in another dark temple.

Having furnished their pocket dimension with the best of the pirates' personal effects (including an opulent four-poster bed and a gold and silver bathtub in the shape of a squid, which produces its own hot water) and stored everything else for later sale, Our Heroines return triumphant to Pelagos!

A few days afterward, Amaryllis is approached by a seedy individual who claims to represent some people interested in buying the tapestries from the pirate temple. Amaryllis cautiously admits to having only ten of the twelve, at which the agent shakes his head sadly and names the outrageous sum that is all he can pay for a partial set. A meet is arranged, at which Amaryllis and Marika will show up with the tapestries while, hopefully unbeknownst to the villains, Alyra and Gabrielle will lurk nearby to follow the purchasers back to their lair.

The night of the meet comes, and Amaryllis and Marika cart the tapestries to a deserted warehouse, where the agent inspects each one and hands over a sack of platinum when he approves it. As the last exchange is made, two dozen people appear out of thin air, grab the tapestries and the money, and teleport away again! Fortunately Marika's emotional attachment to nearly twice Amaryllis's weight in platinum keeps the villain from taking it away with him, but the tapestries are are now in the hands of the dark cultists.

Half a dozen short ninjas (halfling or gnomes, perhaps) are left behind, but rather than fight them, Amaryllis and Marika teleport away, leaving the agent and his two goons to deal with them or not as they please. Amaryllis tries to scry the location of the teleporters, but is blocked.

The Amazons have already recorded the writing on each of the tapestries for Stephen's later examination, so after some discussion they destroy the two they still have, to ensure the cultists never get a complete set. Still, with that many high-powered magicians in their ranks, the cultists are clearly much more of a threat than previously believed, and will need to be dealt with soon.

The next day, the word on the street is that one of the major merchant families had a great deal of money stolen from them recently. With a sinking feeling, Amaryllis and Gabrielle wangle a dinner invitation, and discover in the course of conversation that yes, the money the cultists used to pay them is the coined platinum that was stolen from the merchants. At least they get a 10% finder's fee.

Not long after that, news spreads that King Penn has taken a large fleet and set sail for Rati with unknown intentions. Before rushing off to stop him, the Amazons meet with Queen Ditte and learn that she has changed her mind on the issue of the war and now fully supports saving the world. Later, Captain Callie explains that the queen had taken her anti-war stance to keep the support of the major merchant families, but when the merchants suddenly reversed their position, she was able to reverse hers.

With the Rati ambassador and his signed treaty, Our Heroines set out for Rati and the Pelagos fleet!

* * *

We had to break when Harold and Chris left, but it was a good stopping place anyway.

This session, we decided on a new way of calculating experience, which I guess is the 3.5 way: each character gets experience as though the average party level was equal to her level, so lower-level characters get significantly more than higher-level ones. Hopefully this will catch Gabrielle and Marika up to the rest fairly quickly.

* * *

Sometime during all this, Chrisber and Christy showed up, but they didn't come along when Al dragged Ken and I out to the local comics and gaming store and forced us to buy stuff at 20% off. The fiend! Ken picked up a massively out-of-print Exalted book he had been longing for, and I went mad with the card games and Exalted novels (the third is by Jess Hartley, so I had to buy it, and I figured I might as well get the first two so I could I read them in order...). Then we went back and played the Nodwick card game, which is all about assembling henchmen, from parts, with duct tape, in real time. I got squished like the insect I am.

* * *

Eventually there was more sleeping.

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