Dungeons & Devils

We went to the tower when Blackstaff was ready. The ritual made the room all red, hot, and stinky. There were weird winds and voices, and then an awful noise and we could see the Hells. Then a big Pit Fiends clawed his way through, but not really. He was a ghost fiend or something? There but not. He was definitely not who I was expecting. He said it had been a while since someone else had held the book, and asked what we wanted. We all stared around at each other for a few minutes until Red stepped forward. When you want to make a deal with a Devil…

Calls himself Big Red and doesn’t like the idea that we think he’s beholden to anyone buy his Lord Asmodeus. He picks up pretty quick that we don’t like the folks he’s been helping, but won’t admit it’s the Cassalanters. He wants to know what we’re offering in exchange for information on his dealings with them. He doesn’t want his deal with them to get interrupted, they owe him two souls. He says them all dying wouldn’t negate his deal, or them losing all their wealth and going to jail. He just doesn’t want us to directly intervene to stop the two souls coming his way. Red assures him we have no concern for their lives, we just want to get what we want, and get out. What if we accidentally messed up his deal, or made our own deal and then broke it? Big Red says he would harm everyone Red cares about and make his life a living, torturous Hell.

Then we get into more details. He says the Stone isn’t part of his deal. That his deal is for two specific souls, or 100 nonspecific souls. They go back and forth a bit more, then Red agrees not to interfere so long as Big Red tells us everything we want to know. Deal struck, and we all can feel it. Big Red explains that the Cassalanters have worshipped his Lord for some time now. This generation made a deal for wealth, offering up the souls of their children at the age of 13, or a buy out of 100 souls to get their children back. He’s already collected the son, and the twins turn 13 in a month. Blackstaff says that’s enough. She sends Big Red away and tells us to invade the villa.

Red slaps his telepathic bracelet on me again, and I explain everything I saw there. We ask the Blackstaff if she can send mages with us. We need a Passwall into the villa grounds if we want to avoid a public fight. She offers us a couple acolytes, asking us to keep them safe: Rogj and Alvar. Red makes a plan and we head out, sneaking through the shadows of the evening.

At the north wall, Alvar opens a hole, and we sneak through and to the main house. Alvar dispels a trap on the nearest window, and Red unlocks it so we can all slip inside. It’s a dining room, set with golden plates and things. I’m surprised Red resists stealing it all right there. Red says there are three people to the right and two guards in the hall. There isn’t really a door here, so we quickly take out the guards in the hall and drag them inside. Then we put down the guard in the smoking room quickly and quietly. We tie them all up.

Sneaking out into the hall then, we all hide under the stairs while Red checks the other rooms on this floor. There’s a clang, and we all rush to fight off a set of armor as quickly as we can. Two guards come in from outside, and Red and I put them down. The pile in the smoking room is getting really big. Red searches the desk in the armor room and pockets some papers and a medallion. Then we all wait there while he looks some more. There are a couple people standing around in the last room, so he just leaves them be. I already searched upstairs, so we go for the door under the stairs then. Down to the basement.

It’s a normal basement full of luggage and clothing. The Red finds a big vault door. While he looks at that, I check down the hallway and find a wine cellar. There’s a chalice on the wall with a golden sun. Looks like a pressure plate, but I don’t want to explode, so we wait for Red. The plate opens a vault full of sliver bars, which we take, and some stairs going down. So, down we go.

This goes to a big old demonic temple with lots of doors and another staircase. Also, a big old spike-covered devil. He says we don’t look like we’re here for the meeting. This is not the time to talk, so we jump him. Send him back to the Hells. Off to one side, we find prison rooms, but there are no living prisoners, so we move on. There are some meeting rooms and devil statues further around. Then we find ourselves at the edge of a crumbling balcony.

There is a massive statue to the right of the rather large room that the balcony overlooks. There is quiet chanting, too. Red steps out, but some of the stone crumbles, so he keeps us back. He carefully makes it to the edge and says there’s three people down there, praying or something. But the balcony is too unstable, so we head back to the first room and go down the stairs.

There are rooms and halls in all directions. Red says there are two people in the east room, but we want to get back to the big hall. The west corridors seem to go that way, but he wants to check south first. That hall takes us to a room with beds and robes for a bunch of cultists. He finds a secret door which leads into a smaller room with nicer robes, masks, and wine. Only Nevi and Page are the right size for the robes, so we just leave them and go back to head West to the big hall.

We sneak in and up under the balcony we were previously on. All the way up to the devil statue chamber they’re in and attack. It’s just three members of the staff here, but they’re worshipping a devil lord, so I don’t feel too badly. Then, two more people come in from under the other balcony. It’s Amalia and Victoro Cassalanter, and they are quite perturbed.

Amalia raises the three dead back up, but as devils, blood pouring down the statue and into them. Two barbed devils and an erinyes, Nevi told me later. Then they start messing with our heads. But not mine, never mine again. Time to try out my new staff. I lightning bolt the erinyes down because it won’t stop hurting the Big Guy. I add some thunder and lighting to my strikes and Mary helps me put one of the barbed devils down. Red already got his and has gone after Victoro, so I join him. Amalia sent Orange off to get help, so the others focus on her. Victoro, however, has summoned a chain devil. That hurts a Lot! I keep falling unconscious, but the Big Guy doesn’t let me down, and I send that devil home. The body melts, and it turns into their lost son, who then gasps and dies, as well. Poor thing.

Victoro runs, and Red and I give chase, but he puts me down again. Red wakes me up and helps me back to the group. He got the stone, but Victoro got away. We stabilize Amalia, heal up a little, and search the rest of the room, while Red heads out to make sure we didn’t miss anything else. Then we head back upstairs with Amalia and tell her guard she is arrested and they should stand down. Page sends the Blackstaff a message and the children are gathered. Orange is mean to them and they cry and scream until he shouts them down. I’m too tired to stop him. I hurt all over.

The Blackstaff and all the authorities ever arrive and take charge of the villa. She takes us back to her tower to speak privately. Red hands over the stone and they have a conversation about the problems it will cause. He says he’s not worried for himself, but she should be careful. Then he asks her to hurt him and restrain him with magic. He wants to be able to say she took the stone from him. So, she holds him and shoots him with a bunch of magic missiles. Then we head home, but we go the long way, so that Nevi and the Big Guy can both report in on what happened. Mert has brought us dinner back at the Cabaret so he can talk to Page. Red and I will just have to report in the morning.

Brunch With Blackstaff and Silverhand

After the job, Floaty comes to tell me to get rid of the things Red stole at the party. I take it all down to Skullport and throw it in the hole. After getting an imprint of the signet ring for my collection, of course. He said the sewers, but shouldn’t waste stuff like that. A cat comes to get me that night, to come up to the Portal for a meet.

Another cat meets me at the Yawning Portal. It says I need to get Red mad at Brikka. He did try to kill Page after all. The only way to get Nilhoun out of hiding might be to get rid of Brikka. I’ll try, but I don’t know. Red’s reactions are hard to understand. Nothing to do while he’s in jail, though, so I go back to hiding.

Floaty shows up a few days later and says it’s safe to come home. I head up to the Cabaret and Red says everything is fine. I give him my notes on the Cassalanters, and slip a note in about Brikka, too. He isn’t surprised, but I can’t tell if he’s going to do anything. At any rate, he spends a lot of time doing paperwork after we get invited to brunch at the Palace with the Lady Silverhand.

We all put on our best, and go over the next morning. The Palace is beautiful! We don’t even have to wait that long, and the Blackstaff is already there waiting for us. The dining room looks out over all of Waterdeep, I want to go stare, but I sit like everyone else, as far from the head of the table as I can. Blackstaff tells us all to be good and polite to the Lady or she’ll have us killed.

The Lady is elegant. She greets us and orders in the food, then talks to each of us about our business. I think she knows too much, but she doesn’t talk about the bad stuff. There are no accusations. I breathe a bit easier when she moves on to the business at hand.

We explain about the Cassalanters, the stone, the chain devil, and the book, and the Blackstaff supports us, says using it may be the only way to find proof. Silverhand agrees, if it is done in the Tower, and Blackstaff takes responsibility for any trouble. Then she says we’ve all done great service to the city, and offers us each a chance to ask something of her.

Page asks for more help for the city’s poor in winter. The Lady says she’s sure that the money we all make would go a long way towards helping the poor alongside the city’s efforts. Orange asks if she knows a way for him to strengthen his soul, and she tells him to live well and not die, but doubts he will pull back on his dangerous activity. I give her a flyer for the cabaret and one of my new business cards for scribing work. She says she’ll try to make it to a performance. Nevi asks for help finding apprentices, and she says she’ll send any she sees along his way. The Big Guy has no requests, and Mary Mouse is pretty quiet, too. I think he was distracted by the view. Red first asks that, should we find the stone, it be tendered to Force Grey for safe Keeping, and she agrees. Second, he asks to for the opportunity to meet further about the stones. She says she wants to give all the money back to the people, and he says he wants to prevent all out war in the streets. She tentatively agrees to include him in a future discussion. Lastly, he asks for her support with his guild proposal, and after reading it over, she agrees to get him a meeting with the Lords.

Right Where We Started, Almost

The fight breaks loose almost immediately. Remy rushed forward and dimension doored Porter out of Grandfather’s grasp to the top of the stairs. I try to slow the demons, but only manage to catch one of the froggy ones. Marybeth tosses a fireball down into the mix, and then there’s lightning, and sunbeams, and necrotic spells flying everywhere. One of Porter’s boys pushes up past us and disappears with Porter, another pops out, as well. The demons are slaughtering the rest, as we try to take down Grandfather. He puts on a silence collar, just as Remy blows his head off. It takes a bunch more spells to get rid of the demons, but when the dust clears, it turns out that Grandfather was just made of ice and snow. The demons have made off with several more prisoners, but Remy’s father is still here. Small victories.

One of Porter’s team remains, and he tries to explain that they were just trying to stop the old man. They had to kill those carrying the Dawnmother’s blood before he could get to them for his ritual. He’s the one trying to unseal a banished monster with her descendants. When we ask where Porter went, he doesn’t know, but suggest the fishery up above us and then who knows where. I can’t take us straight up, though, I don’t actually know what’s there. So, I take us all back to my house.

Remy puts Franklin in with the other families, and I stop to pray for the Dawnmother’s healing for everyone. Maribeth, Klyce, and Remy talk to their parents while the rest of us try to figure out this whole Dawnmother’s blood thing. We don’t have enough information though, we have to find Porter. I try to send a message to Porter, but he doesn’t reply. Nat sits down and scries on the man who teleported out with him, Julian Kosta. He finds Julian performing surgery on a nebulous form. The room is decorated with family portraits and paintings, it’s probably his house. They don’t live far from here, so we decide to go. Nervous, Maribeth casts non-detection on herself before we leave the house.

Arriving with a knock on the front door, we are greeted by a butler. He tell him that we’re here to help the man bleeding in his dining room. He shuts the door gently, and when he returns, politely escorts us to Porter and Julian. Remy and Gerhardt immediately step forward to look him over and get to work, and I sit down to start praying. Julian steps back to let us work, wincing every time I invoke the Dawnmother’s name.

Maribeth pulled him aside to get him talking about what they’ve been doing. I was concentrating on my prayers, but in between, I caught some of the conversation. Six months ago, Porter heard about what Grandfather was doing, so they had to get back here to stop him. Wiest was just a means to that end. Porter didn’t talk about the contracts much, but he did know, somehow, when Grandfather followed Maribeth back from death. Julian says he loves Porter, he’s a good man, and saved his life. He had explained to them a bit about the devils and demons and corrupted fae. They tried for months to find Grandfather, but eventually, had to settle for hunting his prey instead.

Then Julian went on about some thirteen towers of ruin with these big bad demons sealed away by the gods, to keep them from the human world. The lesser ones still can, but the seals hold the real evil at bay. He said that Grandfather wants to open one of them, and catch the whole world on fire. Since Grandfather can’t go after the Dawnmother herself to unseal the tower, he’s been after her descendants instead. Porter figured out a way to track bloodlines through a ritual, so they’ve been able to find their targets. They had killed eight so far, with five more in the cells. The demons took four of those, so with my brother, Grandfather is right on track to finish his ritual.

Eventually, Porter is stabalized. I send to Philomena to tell her we’re spending the night, and we all bed down around the bloody table to sleep.

In the morning, Maribeth tells us that Grandfather has moved up the negotiations with his Demon Prince threats. They’re coming to take her to Hell and she needs us to find and stop him while she’s gone. If he wins, he gets all the mana he could want, and other powers he could use and abuse. She wants one of us to go with her, to help, and eventually, we settle on Dalish, as the most knowledgable of the group. Then there’s a strange digression about Orrin and who is actually in control of him, but I don’t think it matters so much right now.

We try to wake up Porter, but he’s still to injured, so Remy suggests a Mind Palace, and Nat oblidges, leaving Remy and Klyce outside to guard us all. It works! Maribeth takes charge of the meeting and explain to Porter what is going on. She offers her conversations with him before the war as proof that she’s really herself. She explains what she tried to do with the contract, and says that she has to go to Hell soon for the renegotiation. He tries to interrupt, but she shouts him down. He has to stay here, he has to help us find Grandfather and stop his ritual so that he doesn’t get the contract back. They go back and forth for a bit, he doesn’t want her to go to hell, but she insists that it is necessary. She even tells him to listen to Klyce, and to stop murdering innocent people. He finally agrees to listen to us, but we have to get Julian to help him. The Magia have something that could help him, and Julian has to get it from them.

Maribeth steps back and now it’s our turn for questions. Nat asks if she can look into his brain when this is done, for clues he may have missed, and he agrees. We ask how many more Grandfather needs. Just the four he took. How do we stop the ritual? Kill the sacrifices, kill his followers, disrupt the ritual. Then we ask what he knows of Hell. When the separating of the worlds happened, fae were trapped on earth, starving. They require magic to live, like an addiction. Thirteen very powerful fae, in attempting to get home, achieved communion with the void in between. The void changed them and they began to feed on souls, and created Hell between the worlds. The Dawnmother imprisoned them in the towers there. There is then a short tangent into demon and devil procreation, but we don’t have time for that. We say goodbye and wake up.

Maribeth asks me to make sure Julian gets what is needed, and to keep Rictus from Porter, at least until the matter is settled. She wants us to fill Rictus in, but I’m not so sure about that. With Dalish gone to Hell, I will have to ask the others. There is a knock on the door, Maribeth and Dalish go to answer. We follow from a distance to see them off, Two thin, lithe lawyery gentlement escort them out the door, and through a portal to Hell.

Surveillance and the Police

The guardhouse at the gate to the mansion is empty. We knock politely before Nat picks the lock, at Lt. Col Dalish’s orders. We then follow his orders to approach the house, knock again, and then pick that lock, too. The house is empty. We look around and find the kitchen and banquest hall, and then the study where it happened. There are clear signs of the murder, so we spread out and search around. One of the windows is cloudy, with the smell of bourbon. Gross! He was murdered in his wing-back chair by the fireplace. There hs been no effort to clean the place, but it looks like his body didn’t rest here long before being discovered and removed.

Dalish finds holes in the walls that no one else can see. They each contain a single smooth, dark stone. Remy cannot see the hole, nor the apparent illusion covering it. Must be that spell they found first year that covers magic. It takes him a moment to find all three, but when he does, they are all surrounded by Divination magic. Nat sits down with them to identify what they are. They’re crystal balls, but they’re linked, and they record about a month. Just like in that lab where we found our friend trapped in a bottle.

She sets them up to replay the murder over the entire room, scanning through until she finds the right night. We all stand back by the door to watch.

A dark room, dying embers in the fireplace, lightning crashing outside. Wiest stands at the window, breathing burbon fumes onto the surface. He pours himself another drink, and then goes back to watching. The Black Knight suddenly appears behind him. Dalish wants to stop and go back, but I insist we watch it through first. Wiest notices, but keeps on sipping.

It’s been a long time, Sir Knight.

17 years.

Can I offer you a drink?

No Declan, this is not a personal visit. You know why I’m here.

Yes, of course.

He brings up the lights and the Red Knight is standing right in front of us by the door. I did no jump, I don’t care what Marybeth says. He is blocking the doorway, and simply waves at Wiest.

I have to know. Why do you persist? You were there, you witnessed our sins. You could have stopped us.

Rictus killed the king!

Yes, but why? The King is dead.

The King is Dead. I am not. Would you prefer to stand or sit?

Wiest starts casting a spell, but the Red Knight makes a move which ends his spell before it begins. The Black Knight pushes him into the chair.

Can’t blame a man for trying. The King would have made slaes of us all. We did what we had to do.

The Black Knight kills him in one smooth strike through his chest and the chair.

The King is Dead. Long live the King. Come, we must leave quickly.

And they do.

We go back over it again, more slowly, and picking out details as we can. They have no marking on their armor, but his sword has the royal insignia and the knight’s code engraved on it. He could have been a royal guard or a member of the family. Our official history lessons say that they were all killed with the King or driven away. Looking closely, we notice Aranea watch the whole event from the fireplace. Neither of the knights look at her, so it’s hard to tell if they knew.

Nat scans back through the two weeks before the death. She is spying on him several times in the week prior to his death. He doesn’t have many guests, but Alleria does visit him once. They only converse in small talk, though. Perhaps they were messaging as we do. We skip ahead to after his death. Two hours after the knights leave, a servant discovered his body. Thirty minutes after that, the room is swarming with mages. Aranea checks in from the fire a few times while the mages are around, but no one notices then either. Thirty minutes after the first mages, Prime Illusionist Pyrus arrives. He takes some blood, investigtes the wound, and authorizes removal of the body. The next day, around noon, Diedre arrives in haggard condition. She investigates and casts some spells, but leaves after ninety frustrating minutes.

We need to go see if there are any royalist histories left. Maybe in that library were the tree grew. First, though, let’s check the rest of the house. We find a few magic things, some armor, a mirror, and a ring. There’s some arguement about stealing from a dead Prime, or more specifically, from that dead Prime’s very angry daughter. Nat identifies the mirror as being able to trap souls. Remy says the armor is of a Royal family or their personal guard. Right, whatever, let’s go!

Should we tell Rictus? Why? He’s a jerk and he already knows the Black Knight did it. What about Alleria? We could ask what they talked about. We head for her office at the Tower of Justice, but the door is closed and the office empty. Nat goes in anyway, and gets the note she left her. She’s addressed this one to HeyHey and says she is busy, and can’t help, but we should be sure to attend the deliberative.

We head back across to the city. We head back to my house on the way to everywhere else. Philomena is waiting there and is pretty annoyed at Klyce, who explains he was just trying to protect her. While they talk, I head up to check on Gerald and warn him about spies in the fireplace. It’s kinda fun to scare him, but he really is trying to help. When I come back down, we head out to see Inspector Poissant. Only he’s not an inspector anymore. He’s been promoted to Chief of Police and he’s down at headquarters now. Oh, okay. That’s almost all the way back to the Petals… Not today.

We head over to the Bronx to look for the library. Only, it’s been demolished, and tenaments are being built on the site. The foreman said mages helped remove things and burnt a lot of it. Frustrated, and in disagreement about going to see Poissant now, we head over to get Philomena’s parents. They aren’t terribly thrilled with the idea, but they pack a bunch of luggage and allow us to escort them away. Her mother is looking much better these days, so there’s that at least. The boys pick up some newspapers on the way, and find a bunch of strange stories of abductions and cults warring in the streets. Once we get everyone settled and clean sheets in a private room for Philomena’s parents, we take watches and sleep for the night.

We are all very happy to wake up in the morning unmolested. So happy, we barely argue about heading down to the Police Headquarters to see Chief Poissant. Using Dalish’s military authority, we ask to see him and are passed from receptionist to receptionist until we get to his office. We sit to wait for him, and he arrives a short while later with several officers in tow. He is quite happy to see us, and we offer him congratulations, and he thanks us for helping him get where is is today. He invites us in, dismissing the officers who had come with him.

We ask him if he’s seen the inverted Dawnmother symbol, but he hasn’t. Dalish explains the cult and Marybeth asks after missing persons cases. He says it’s been two months of homeless people disappearing right off the street. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and no clues to who is doing it, and no bodies turning up dead. Nat explains the vision she had of the cult sacrificing people and their bodies turning to smoke. We ask about the new church in Brooklyn, but he says the Tree Area polices themselves. After couple messages, we decide to show him Marybeth’s brother. He hasn’t seen him, but asks if we can find out where he is supposed to be through our military connections. So, we know where to start looking.

I ask him about the knights. He is staying well and clear, especially after Diedre came and threatened them to send her any reports they might have. He wants nothing to do with our lot. Then he offers us drinks, just as the wall explodes behind him.

Two demons with claws for hands, and three boney devils come storming in from outside in the middle of broad daylight. Oh Dawnmother! This is getting out of hand! We immediately get Poisson out of the room. I whip up a storm outside, and the boys to their best to keep the lights on. Eventually we put them all down. But the office is a disaster, and the attacks are now public.

Devils in the Library

Breakfast is very chaotic. Marybeth says our attackers should not have been working together like they were. They’re from different factions. Warring factions, even. She hasn’t ever found information about them in the library, but has learned from her contacts. When Klyce joins us, Nat asks about using her dreams to could guide us. The Knights and Aranea attacking the clones? Or, could the cult of the not-Dawnmother have something to do with Marybeth’s Grandfather. What about the Library dream, is there something there we need to find. Is it Grandfather who burns the book, or Marybeth.

Remy interrupts, asking Dalish about getting us more mana and spell scribing materials, so Dalish and Gerhardt head off to see what they can get.

Then we devolve into discussion of our military service, the government, and what if they split us up again. But Nat pulls us back on course with her Library dream. It could be that we have to go in and stop Grandfather, or it could be that we need to go burn a book before he can get to it. We have to find him, could we scry on him without just finding Marybeth? Can we somehow break the bond between them? Marybeth wants to think about it, she’s worried about us getting hurt trying to save her.

Dalish and Gerhardt return with 20 motes of mana, but no more scribing materials. This kicks off a discussion about resources. Wizarding, as always, seems a very strange thing to deal with. Glad I don’t have to do all that.

Marybeth pulls us back to the library. She wonders if she can find a future book about how we solved this problem of her Grandfather. We have to stick together, so we decide to all go to the library. I try to convince everyone to stick together and pick one goal, but they just won’t listen. Marybeth, Remy, Gerhardt and I head off to look for the future answer. Nat, Klyce, and Dalish head off to try and specifically find the burning book from Nat’s vision. We all write in the books, and head off in two opposite directions.

We walk for a long time, and eventually come upon a tower. The pull leads us up quite a few levels, but what we find there is only soot and ash. Everything on this level has been burnt. Written in the ash are two words: Too Slow.

Then a loud shrieking noise rips through the air. I pull away from the group, looking for where the attack is coming from. Remy pulls up light to see better. Marybeth and Gerhardt prepare for an attack. Suddenly, there is movement at the windows around the tower, and purple spines come shooting in at all of us. From the stairs come two large creatures who immediately attack. Remy dimension doors away with Marybeth, and they turn on Gerhardt and me. I fall under their blows, but Gerhardt revives me inside a wall of force. The creatures are gone, and I grab his hand and dimension door us all the way back to the Library entrance in one jump.

The others aren’t there. I send to them, but somehow they’re still in the tower. Gerhardt and I wait, but I’m barely alive, we can’t go back. We dont wait long, what if the things come after us? Gerhardt and I leave the library, there’s nothing we can do to get back to them in time.

A short time later, the rest of them pile out of the Library, bleeding, but alive. Gerhardt sets to work, patching up wounds, while Remy explains that they wanted to make a deal with him. They were only after Marybeth. They didn’t seem to care if they died, as though they would just come back again. We try to ask Marybeth, but she says she can’t talk about them. Klyce asks if she could talk about a hypothetical contract, instead of her own, but she won’t. Nat says her other planar contact always tries to make deal with her, too. Marybeth says this is different because the contract was made by her Grandfather, long before she was born. Remy explains that they offered to let him take the debt of 200,000 souls, but he refused. Klyce asks if Marybeth can set up a meeting, and Remy suggests bringing a lawyer along. They’ve got to be violating terms of the contract, surely we can get them to stop?

Marybeth says she has a handler, and spoke to them the night before. Soemething is happening, some sort of revolt or civil war. There is chaos wherever they are, more than usual. We ask if she can talk to them again, we have to figure this out. Maybe we can help settle things? She says she will try.