Exalted: Ghost of a Chance

Ghost of a Chance, Part 12
It all flows downstream

Bundled onto the Tiger’s Heart at first light, the party settled in for a two month journey west to Nexus. Willow and Mai billed themselves as a scholar and her student, while Ominous Whispers and Rami played at being nobility. Stalwart Second and Gaias signed on as thier bodyguards, respectively, and Shade was listed as Whispers’ page. Willow studied her book, taught Mai and performed other scholarly services. Second and Gaias offered to teach her the basics of combat in return for instruction on matters of the occult.

The boat made a brief stop to load cargo, resupply and exchange passengers in the trading post of Alsia to the east of Great Forks. Some of the cargo was occupied, and a rat beastman named Versalis was found and chased about by the cook and a guard. Shade stepped in, saying that she was his pet and had been with him since Marita. The steward responded that if such was the case, he would be charged retroactively for her feeding and berthing to which he agreed. Mai spoke with her in broken Foresttongue and learned she was fairly intelligent. Second and Willow taught her Riverspeak and how to read and write and she grudgingly agreed to let Willow dress her up.

Soon thereafter, each of them began to notice things going missing. The problem spread to most of the passenger list and very quickly the company steward had a very large, angry customer base to contend with. Several passengers were accused of the thefts every day and their belongings searched only to come up with nothing. Mai found a cache of the items during a casual search of the ship, but left it in place. Shade, Gaias and Second determined that Versalis had been the one filching the items when Blood Moon wasn’t able to detect any strange scent in their rooms. Versalis fessed up, but had trouble understanding why what she’d done was wrong. She agreed to gather up all the items she’d cached around the ship and brought them all back to Shade’s room. Unsure how to return them, the men called the rest of the party together. After they’d been pondering leaving the items in a big pile at various places on the ship, Rami suggested that Willow proclaim she’d discovered a “thief spirit” on board and charge a fee to banish it. Though somewhat against the ethics of the idea, she agreed and Stalwart Second sold the idea to the company steward. That evening, Willow drew a summoning circle and pretended to enact a banishment rite all the while apologizing for her rudeness to the local spirit court in an obscure dialect of Old Realm. Mai and others used sleight of hand to disperse the stolen items amongst the crowd and, several hours later, it had all been returned.

The Tiger’s Heart made landfall in Great Forks where they spent two days. Most of the party took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs. Curious where the nemissary had gotten to or if they had even followed at all, Shade searched the ship with the aid of Blood Moon. Overhearing a conversation between two of the foremen, Shade sent Blood Moon to investigate the rented slaves that rowed the ship. The soul-sucked crew were largely unhelpful, but Blood Moon reported that one of them smelled about a week dead. The nemissary in the slave didn’t respond to the presence of the immaterial barghest, so Shade left him alone for the time being. The trip from there was largely uneventful until a few days before they reached Nexus. A patrol boat from Lookshy pulled alongside the Tiger’s Heart and boarded her looking for Anathema. Everyone was questioned and the cargo was searched. Though the Dragon Blooded did find some objectionable information about the party (namely that they had scammed the steward and were associates of Typhon), they moved on shortly after boarding.

When Nexus was almost in sight, the passengers and crew began to complain of a sickness that quickly spread to everyone on board. The captain ordered the rowers to maintain a position and a warning flag was flown to keep others away and quarantine the ship. Willow and Second helped where they could without revealing their power, but when Mai continued to deteriorate Willow pulled out the stops and used her magic as well as her skill to heal her. Several days later and with only a small loss of life, the Tiger’s Heart approached Nexus.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 11
Friends in low places

While pondering reading choices in the library of Typhon’s villa, Willow found a partly completed puzzle box displayed on one of the shelves. Taking it down, she solved it quickly and felt a momentary brush of essence but was unable to determine what effect it might have had. Inside the box was a scrap of parchment with an encrypted message on it. She replaced the box and took the paper to decode in her room.

Stalwart Second left to continue his search for the missing servant, Bikry. Following his last lead down to the docks, he found them in commotion as a body had recently washed up. Second navigated some byzantine dockside bureaucracy and finally managed to find out that the body did belong to Bikry. Wrapping the man in several cloths “borrowed” from the storage room at the clerk’s office, Second transported the corpse through town to the wooded hills outside of Typhon’s villa. There he informed the shocked Anaes that Bikry had been found in the river, stabbed to death. The pair solemnly saw him to his final rest in the woods at sundown. Second promised Anaes he would get to the bottom of what had happened to Bikry.

Shade and Whispers returned from their errand at the Guild office. Rami approached Whispers to complain that merchants backed by the Guild had been actively blocking him from making purchases in Marita. According to those he’d spoken to, he was being singled out as a guest of Typhon who had attracted the Guild’s ire for some unknown reason. Whispers promised to look into the matter and went to speak with Typhon. Typhon mentioned he was backing a certain anti-Guild Councillor and his cadre as a personal favor and that that might have attracted the negative attention. The pair could not come up with why the Guild would target only one of Typhon’s guests, however they supposed Rami might simply be the one that was easiest to affect due to his frequent activity in the market place. When Whispers asked what Typhon planned to do about the matter, he deflected her attention by asking her to attend a ball with him the following evening. She agreed and left, only realizing later what he’d done.

Shade went in search of the nemissary only to be ambushed by the same in the garden of the villa. The fight began simply, but escalated quickly, with first Shade then the nemissary using Charm after Charm. As it wore on, Shade’s personal banner filled the sky with gleaming light. Finally surrendering to ensnarement in a net of blackened magic, Shade insisted he had proved that he could at least defend himself. The nemissary laughed at him and knocked him, still bound, to the ground. Advising him to make himself scarce, the nemissary left Shade to roll on the ground and walked out of the villa into the night.

The rest of the party freed Shade from the net and took him inside to wait for his anima to die down. They Assembled to discuss their plans going forward since the presence of an Anathema had been revealed to all in a several-mile radius. Typhon explained that he was easily the biggest target since he had enemies on the council that had been waiting for him to make a mistake. Insisting that there was no reason that any of his guests should also take a fall, he arranged for passage for everyone out of Marita on a river boat bound for Nexus. After bried meetings with Ominous Whispers and Nine Willows in Autumn, he was clapped in irons and taken away. Perhaps with some small amount of guilt, Shade attempted to determine what would be done with Typhon but was unable to glean anything but rumors in the short time he had to investigate.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 10
"It would be a lot simpler if you'd just had syphilis..."

Willow and Mai perused the library for books to take with them to read in the park but were interrupted by Second who asked if Willow would examine something for him back in his room. Willow, being a masterful physician, assumed the problem was medical in nature and much hilarity arose from the ensuing misunderstanding. Examining the jewelry, Willow confirmed her belief that it was genuine and expensive but did not know how to determine who had owned it without asking either Typhon, Shade or Ominous Whispers. Believing a solution involving subterfuge to be the order for the day, Willow summoned her handmaid Mai. Mai suggested that several of the pieces could be hidden among certain people in town and those people could be observed. Depending on their reactions, they might be able to find out where the jewelry came from. Keeping back the bulk of the jewelry for later sale, Mai hid several pieces among her clothing and left to carry out their plan.

Ominous Whispers and Shade left for the offices of Councillor Senarran, their target with Shade masquerading as a simple servant for the blind diplomat. They met with Senarran and Whispers was able to quickly convince the man that his anti-Guild rhetoric was a mistake and that he needed to cease drumming up trouble in his country back home where the Guild was preparing to renegotiate their trade agreements. Luckily for the councillor, Whispers opted for civil discourse rather than blackmail or a more physical solution. The pair spent many hours discussing how the councillor might use the upcoming negotiations as an opportunity to better his country’s standing with the Guild.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 9
Cloak and dagger deals

Second and Rami concluded that the jewelry Second had found was genuine, very expensive and very likely stolen. Rami could not decipher the documents, but recognized the characters as Guild correspondance. Believing Whispers to be a Guild agent – though she had never confirmed this – Rami proposed he would ask her and Shade about the documents. Though unable to read them, he was able to identify five separate documents by their penmanship and took one sheet from each document up to the library where Whispers and Shade studied. Claiming he had been approached by “a friend”, Rami asked the pair for help reading the documents. After Rami left so they could discuss in private, they discovered that all five sheets were parts from different documents and all seemed to have a common theme: blackmail information on Guild members. They surmised that Rami’s friend had come across one of several courier’s drops or that the documents had been stolen by a Guild agent and separated for safe-keeping. Summoning Rami again, they told him they could not return the pages because they needed to be returned immediately and would make sure to keep his name out of any official inquiries. Whispers and Shade left to return the pages, asking if the documents they belonged to were missing. The archivist was unable to find the documents and a full scale audit of the archives began. They left their information so they could be contacted again if need be. They then returned to the villa to continue their work.

The following morning, Gaias, Second and Willow (who had been woken up too early by her estimations) examined the bones and determined that they likely belonged to Gaias brother. Gaias’ ability to spy through walls was also revealed to the other two and he was given a stern warning not to use it inappropriately. Rami pulled Second aside to discuss what Shade and Whispers had told him the night before. Second asked Rami to examine the jewelry for enchantment or traps, though he didn’t find any. Second and Gaias then went speak with Typhon regarding their deal in his office. After some harsh words, Typhon agreed to give the release Gaias from his oaths and allow him to keep the remains of his brother so that they could be properly buried. Gaias apologized for his earlier behavior thanked Typhon.

After their deal, the group gathered for a more civil breakfast at which Typhon offered them a formal tour of the grounds. Both Ominous Whispers and Willow paid particular attention to the methods their host had used to ward his home and possessions. Several interesting books and paintings were discussed and Typhon took his leave to return to his work at the Council Hall in town.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 8
Why can't we be friends?

Shade returned to Typhon’s villa and had a conversation with the nemissary in which he was told to look out for an odd-looking stranger who would ask him for a favor and told that the nemissary wished to train him to defend himself from this stranger. Whispers returned soon after and the pair began looking over the documents she had requested from the Guild archive regarding her target in the upstairs library.

Stalwart Second had been spending the morning exploring the grounds when a very frightened servant pulled him aside and asked him for help searching for a fellow servant that had gone missing. The servant had apparently been fired and skipped town the night before the party had arrived, but his friend didn’t believe that story. Second examined the man’s former sleeping quarters and inquired at Typhon’s office if anyone there had seen the man or had an idea where he might have gone.

Gaias, returning from purchasing several small things, began practicing using the daiklave they had picked up while escaping from Karuth Vlan. Typhon returned home and called Gaias into his office where he revealed that the earthly remains of the Abyssal Bones of the Ashen Phoenix had come into his possession. Typhon was unaware that Phoenix was Gaias’ brother, but knew that Gaias had been trying to see the Abyssal was properly buried. Typhon gave the remains to Gaias in exchange for his word that Gaias would not do harm to Typhon, Typhon’s employees or his guests. Gaias hid the remains and left the villa to get drunk and pick a fight.

That evening, everyone but Gaias gathered together for a dinner in the smaller dining room. Rami began a discussion about their proposed journey to Thorns which devolved into a shouting match and nothing much was resolved. It was made apparent that Second did not trust Typhon at all and that Whispers did not much like Second, either. The dinner guests left, discovering Gaias had been leaning against the wall outside though it wasn’t known that he’d been listening in on the conversation. Typhon discussed with Whispers the deal he’d made with Gaias and led her up to the library where she and Shade continued to study into the night.

Gaias pulled Second aside and told him about recovering his brother’s bones and the deal he’d made and asked for advice. Second was unconvinced that the bones belonged to Gaias’ brother and the pair resolved to ask Willow her opinion in the morning. Second asked his permission to speak with Typhon on the matter which Gaias gave. Second and Typhon then had a terse conversation in his office in which Second gave Typhon an ultimatum: release Gaias from the deal they’d made earlier and allow him to keep the bones or Second would never consider trusting the deathknight at all. Typhon agreed to discuss the matter with Gaias in the morning after Willow had had a chance to look at the bones.

Unable to sleep, Second left to follow up on his earlier investigations. At the docks, he found a man who said he’d seen the missing servant. The man said the servant had seemed to be waiting for someone and had appeared very frightened. Second was able to acquire the satchel he’d dropped when he ran away in a fright. Inside were hastily packed clothes, documents written in a strange cypher and a large amount of gaudy looking jewelry. He returned to the villa to ask Rami for advice on the contents of the satchel.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 7
Rest for the weary

The party journeyed through the night, neither stopping to rest nor eat and arrived in the early morning at the ferry to cross the Gray River. Before arriving, they stashed their Artifacts in the carriage to avoid suspicion. Typhon paid their passage after convincing the ferry owner that the nemissary was part of his retinue and would bring no harm or ill luck. Rami spent the ferry ride with his head hanging over the side, a decidedly sickly shade of green. Willow offered friendly advice, having nothing pharmaceutical to calm his stomach. Rami asked her if she were capable of summoning a spirit if she knew it’s name, to which she replied that she could but would rather wait until they had managed to get free of Typhon’s hospitality. Typhon singled Gaias out for a private conversation and asked him how he had managed to kill the Abyssal called Phoenix, why Gaias had chosen to transport his body through the Underworld and what the final fate of the corpse had been. Gaias responded with half-truths and careful facts, concealing that the Phoenix was his brother but admitting that they’d fought before and that the first battle had been when Gaias exalted. Unsatisfied, but further informed, Typhon left the matter alone.

When they arrived in Marita shortly before sunset, Typhon led them all to his villa and welcomed them to treat it as their own home. The cold, haunting place seemed to rejuvenate him but was generally considered by all to be rather creepy. The chamberlain of the house was introduced, several servants were assigned to assist Ominous Whispers and to show everyone to their rooms and tend their needs. The servants were all pale, quiet, and kept their faces blank and pleasant, but Stalwart Second noted they seemed to fear Typhon. Typhon excused himself, saying he had to attend to business.

Everyone carefully selected their rooms, which were all similarly appointed. Willow, moved by his weakened state, kissed Rami soundly in the hallway. Speechless at first, he promised he would rest and needed no further special attention. Willow tended to Second, who spent the rest of the night entertaining the servant who had come to keep him company with wondrous stories. The servant brought in others and food and drink and it became a small party before long. Willow excused herself to take a very long, very hot bath. Gaias, contemplating his actions and his future alone in his room, was approached by Rami who looked rather weak. Rami confessed to a problem and, asking Gaias for his discretion and help resolving that problem, the pair left the villa without a guide or escort. After a few hours in town, they returned. Willow tended to Gaias’ remaining wounds and retired to her own room for rest and relaxation with Mai. Willow went to check on her patients later in the evening and found the party being broken up by the chamberlain and Gaias still awake in his room, brooding. She left him with an offer of a friendly ear and kind counsel should he want it and went back to sleep.

Whispers and Shade, accompanied by a few of Typhon’s servants, left the villa at dusk for the local Guild office to check in and receive their alotted pay. The servants remained outside while the two introduced themselves to the local chief officer. Whispers checked to see if there were any open contracts she might fulfill while in Marita and accepted a job to negotiate with a Councillor who was pushing to end his country’s contract with the Guild. Whispers requested records of the Guild’s past dealings with this country be sent to the villa for further perusal the next day. Back at the villa, they discussed the job and waited for Typhon’s return. Late that night, they spoke with him and he agreed that there would be no problem with them performing work for the Guild while staying at the villa so long as they kept their “business” to themselves.

After breakfast the next day, the group split up to run their separate errands. Whispers asked the servants where the nemissary was keeping itself and asked it several probing questions, as well as promising to answer any questions it had for her. Rami spent a few hours hussling the general populace in the market to pay back the money Gaias had leant him and split off to do his own shopping. Gaias purchased some armor and a weapon while Second spent his money on treats and supplies for his horse, Azagael. Willow visited the local banking office, replenished her medical supplies, incense and other amenities and went clothes shopping where she ran into Whispers. Whispers had purchased a chain mail shirt and was seeking courtly clothing for her trip to Thorns in shades of black, purple and silver. She requested they be delivered later that evening thinking that Typhon might take notice of them. Willow also purchased a weapon for Mai and a replacement for her waterproof trunk. Shade spent the entire morning researching in the Guild office library, reading what records were available on Thorns and on Typhon. Not much information was to be had on Thorns under the rule of the Mask of Winters, however he was able to obtain a catalogue of Typhon’s official and suspected holdings and local business investments. He returned to the villa where he was to meet with Whispers, only to find her still out shopping.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 6
Willow knew everything

The intrepid band delved into the Labyrinth, clambering through caves and generally doing things that made Azagael uncomfortable. Typhon led the group and, acting on a personal request from from Ominous Whispers, elected to travel along the ledge of a ravine rather than along its floor in order to avoid the strange building in which sound did not carry. In order to reach their only known exit from the Labyrinth, they needed to cross the ravine. They reached a place at which they might descend into the ravine and climb up the other side, but found the path too steep for the horse to descend on its own. The party decided to remain in one group for safety’s sake and search for another way across. After continuing for several minutes by the light of several caste marks, they left the ravine edge and entered another series of caves which eventually opened out into a large grotto.

The walls and floor of the grotto were slick with moisture, the air was thick and mildewy and carried strange echoes. At the edge of their light, they could see a large tree. From its many branches hung a multitude of bodies in varying states of decay gently rocking in a ill wind. The party split into groups to search for exits to the grotto while Willow investigated the hanging bodies. None of the rest of the party were particularly interested in approaching the tree or its payload. When asked, Typhon said that places or things that have seen much death and suffering have been known to “fall” into the Labyrinth. Shade speculated that much in the way of riches and priceless history could be found within the maze. Absorbed in their investigations, none noticed the approach of one who had followed them: a nephwrack.

The nephwrack screamed a shrill summons and awakened a slew of hungry ghosts from within the hanging bodies, commanding them to kill the party. Willow recognized instantly what the creature was and shouted a brief description to her comrades with the instruction to kill it first. When attacked by Ominous Whispers and Typhon, it summoned a darkness to hamper them. Mai was caught in the darkness with them, but she and Typhon successfully found their way out while Whispers used it to her best advantage to attack from hiding. While the rest of the party attacked the hungry ghosts, Gaias spent the last of his reserves to kill the nephwrack. As it fell, the nephwrack shattered and melted into a disgusting black ichor which coated its entire panoply and the darkness it had cast dispersed. Gaias retrieved its ritual blade and still-sheathed slashing sword, though he did not claim its soulsteel articulated plate armor. It was several moments before anyone noticed they had more company.

In the shadow of the entrance to the grotto stood a tall figure dressed in charcoal gray robes and hakama with a dull, red trim. Its face was entirely obscured by an intricately carved silver mask with ten twisted, bony horns and small eyeslits through which shone a ghastly green light. For all its imposing presence, the nemissary (for so Willow had identified it) had said nothing and gave no clue to how long it had been standing there. Willow began to ask it questions in the Old Realm tongue, with the group receiving occasional translations. When asked if it was following them, it responded in a voice that echoed its interrogator’s own, “Yes.” Asked if it cared to join the party, it replied, “I already have.” With further sparse replies, it indicated it could lead them out of the Labyrinth, though the party disagreed on their final destination. Settling for the middle ground, they asked that it lead them across the ravine. After a short walk through a tight passage that could barely accomodate the much-suffering horse and a further trek along the opposite side of the ravine, Typhon recognized their turning off point and took the lead once more.

Climbing through the Labyrinth’s caves once more, they made it to a small chamber with a stone archway in one side. Typhon begged their forgiveness for what they were about to see and led them through the arch. The room on the other side was covered in blood, gore, flesh and bone. Up the stairs into the hut above (precious few stopping to wipe their feet), they emerged out into the breaking dawn in Creation. Most breathed a collective sigh of relief save for Typhon, Blood Moon and the nemissary (who said nothing). Noting his discomfort, Willow expressed sympathy for Typhon who appeared genuinely touched. The peace did not last long, for the weaver Shanti stood before them in the wreckage and detritus of her mulberry garden and harrangued the deathknight for leading “that monster” to her garden. As he apologized profusely and swore to make reparations, the rest of the group surmised that the nephwrack they encountered in the Labyrinth must have followed behind Whispers, Shade and Typhon to make sure they did not come back from the trap near Karuth Vlan and caused this damage. After Whispers gratefully retrieved her ghost-seeing blindfold from the somewhat mollified weaver, the party found themselves fortunate enough to have the use of Typhon’s carriage and discussed where they would go with it. Recognizing the need to resupply and having the offer of Typhon’s villa to stay at, the group rode north towards Marita. Along the way, Rami’s discomfort and the nemisarry’s admission revealed that the two had fought each other in the Underworld. Rami had thought the nemissary to be dead, since he did not know it had the ability to move quickly from one corpse to another. Whispers and Typhon also listened at length to Willow’s rendition of the events at Three Oaks beginning with the incident at the floating bridge where she met Gaias and Howls Justice in the guise of Halvor, leaving out a few choice bits of information.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 5
They reach their limit

The escapees made it up into the hills south of Karuth Vlan and hid in a cave near the entrance to the Labyrinth Whispers, Shade and Typhon had come through a few hours before. Typhon informed them that they had perhaps a few hours to rest and heal, but then they must be on the move before soldiers from the city find them. The group talked about how they all got there, and Typhon revealed that he believed the other group had been caught in a trap intended for him alone. It was discussed that multiple capture teams were likely roaming the area and that Rami encountered one while Gaias, Second, Willow and Mai had encountered another. They guessed that the patrols did not know exactly where Typhon was supposed to exit the Labyrinth.

When it was revealed that Typhon worked for the Mask of Winters out of Thorns (and was quite cheerful and enthusiastic in his work), Gaias lost his temper and the two had a confrontation. Gaias had to be restrained after almost killing the other man (and almost being killed himself) and it was about an hour before he finally calmed down. Second spoke with Gaias about their plans going forward alone in the cave as the rest of the party had moved to a second cave to be safer (from the patrols and from Gaias both). Willow and Typhon spoke in private while she was expending the last of her essence to heal him and Rami of their wounds. Typhon indicated that he would like to know more of what went on in Three Oaks and would accept the information as a form of repayment for a debt he considered Willow owed him. He also extended to her a personal invitation from the Mask of Winters to visit him in his citadel in Thorns and an offer to escort her there in safety which she accepted.

Typhon tried to make peace with Gaias while he still rested in the other cave but to no avail. Gaias told him that his grudge was against the Mask of Winters and it was personal, after which Typhon extended another invitation to Gaias from the Mask to visit him in Thorns addressing Gaias by his full name (which he had not been given). Second questioned him as to why he was sent to deliver the invitation and what it meant. Typhon told him that he had received the order a few days prior and that he was tasked with delivering it should the opportunity arise. Gaias declined the invitation after Typhon refused to guarantee his safety.

The group reassembled in the second cave to discuss plans going forward. It was noted that neither Second’s horse, Azagael, nor Howls Justice had met up with the group yet and Second remained steadfast that he would not leave without them. Typhon argued that Justice might be dead, alive and captured, or have abandoned the group entirely and that in none of these scenarios would it be prudent to wait around for him in the Underworld. He also argued against returning to Karuth Vlan to try and cross into Creation there and offered his services as a guide through the Labyrinth to a shadowland a few hours away in the home of the weaver Shanti. There, he insisted, they could take more time to discuss their options. The longer they waited, the less likely it would be that they could find their way out of the Labyrinth again. After venturing out to seek and find Azagael, Second agreed to come along through the Labyrinth with the rest of the group.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 4
A Capture and an Escape

The navigator, Toffa, left the group to find another way across the ravine since the pillar/bridge had collapsed. Typhon stayed with Shade and the two conversed to pass the time. Whispers, left with Shade’s barghest familiar on the other side of the ravine, carefully explored the ledge she found herself on in case she should be forced to fight while the ghost dog looked on hungrily. Toffa found a second way across and led Whispers down a rough, steep path into the ravine with Typhon and Shade repeating their journey on the other side. The two groups met at the bottom and proceeded forward.

Soon they encountered a strange house carved from the black stone of the ravine itself. Its huge structure was crumbled and badly damaged from the falling chunks of the bridge and Toffa warned them that as soon as they crossed the threshold there would be no sound. The group was unable to hear anything at all while in the house but they managed to pick their way through it. As they exited the back of the house, Toffa spotted a small group camped further down the ravine. Toffa remained with Whispers while Shade, his dog and Typhon approached and engaged the group. The ghosts they encountered were hell divers intent on plumbing the depths of the Labyrinth for treasures and secrets. They attacked Shade and Typhon, but were summarily defeated and dispersed. The group traveled along the floor of the ravine until they found another way up, guessing that it was likely a safer route than the ledges above. Toffa led them up through a complex cave system and eventually towards the open sky. They emerged in craggy hills, a land feature which Typhon was not expecting to see near the coastal city of Thorns. He rounded on Toffa for getting them lost and, through his harrangue, was able to find out that the guide deliberately mislead them. In a rage, Typhon attacked the guide for his treachery though Ominous Whispers struck the blow that killed him.

Due to some excellent pathfinding, the group journeying to Karuth Vlan made great time. The first night after the swamp crossing, Rami approached Willow to make an apology for knocking her out, tying her up and gagging her that was not well made or received. Justice also talked with Second about what would be done when the corpse of Gaias’ brother rose up. Second persuaded him to let Gaias handle it. During a cycle of scouting ahead, Howls Justice failed to report back at the appointed time. Gaias ordered the party to reduce their speed and continue on for another hour in case Justice returned. While traveling, the group encountered the tracks of a single large animal they identified as a yeddim. While unusual that a yeddim should travel alone, they found no other traces and continued on. After an hour had passed, Rami volunteered to go searching for Justice. When he also did not return, Gaias ordered a halt and the group made camp for the evening.

As Willow and Mai settled in to prepare dinner, the others spotted a blur in the distance that coalesced into a yeddim as it came towards them. When the yeddim neared, Willow realized the creature was a construct. She and Mai ran from the campsite when it fired a weapon that paralyzed Gaias and Second and disgorged numerous war ghosts. Gaias and Second broke free of the paralyzing effect and managed to cripple the yeddim-construct, but the Abyssal construct operator entered the fray. Gaias and the Abyssal battled and, though Gaias killed his opponent, the remaining war ghosts incapacitated him and Second and retrieved Willow, Mai. The ghosts piled their captives into their own cart or made them walk in front of it while they pushed it as they were unable to catch and harness Second’s horse, Azagael.

From a promontory in the hills, Typhon and Shade watched the strange procession and relayed the information to Whispers. Typhon was also able to identify a fortified city in the distance as Karuth Vlan, a city allied with an enemy of his liege. He surmised that one or more of the people in the train were Exalts due to the Artifact weaponry seen in the cart and planned with Whispers and Shade on a method to free them from the city that night. After a rendevous with a woman he knew from inside the city – one who owed him a large favor – the group obtained a jailor’s key and snuck into the city that night. Gaias, Second, Willow and Mai were taken to a cluster of holding cells where they were stripped down to their underclothes and separated into different cells. Rami, who had also been captured, called out to them and Second bargained with the guards to bring the very injured Rami into his cell in exchange for his good behavior. Rami was chained to the bars of the cell and, after a brief scuffle with a guard who had insulted him, Gaias was also chained. As dark fell, the guards changed shift. Shortly thereafter, Shade and Typhon (who had secreted Whispers away in an unused room) came in, dispatched the guards and freed the group. They retrieved their clothing from a storage locker nearby and dressed themselves while Typhon, Shade and Second went searching for the rest of their gear after stashing Rami in the room with Ominous Whispers. Gaias stayed behind with Willow and Mai.

The three men eventually found a room further into the city complex where their more valuable equipment had been taken to be sorted and catalogued. Though there were guards on the door, the scribes and other staff had left for the evening. Several of the group’s artifacts were retrieved (as well as some that did not belong to them) and Typhon stuffed a rucksack full of goods from the room as well. They returned for the rest of the party and Typhon instructed them on the exit route and a rendevous point should they be split up. Typhon left the jailor’s key in the spot his contact had agreed upon as promised and Whispers promptly picked it up to return to him later so his promise could be fulfilled if not exactly to the letter of the intent. The group managed to escape the city with no interference at all and made for the hills at best possible speed.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 3
A Time of Many Crossings

This update consists of a summary of the action from many sessions since I was too lazy to keep notes from individual sessions and, let’s face it, we didn’t get a lot done. Partly if not mostly my fault, but oh well. Without durther afo…

Gaias, Second, Willow, Mai, Rami and Justice made camp further inland from the swamp after the battle. Second informed the others that he’d secured passage for all of them across the swamp in the morning. Some time during the conversation, Willow woke up and attempted to entice them all into another bout of revelry. This ended with Willow once again put to sleep (and bound and gagged at the others’ request) by Rami. The next morning saw more of the same, but despite the distractions the cart and horse were loaded onto Calla’s boat and the party set off across the swamp.

While crossing, the group and the boat were attacked several times by voracious hungry ghosts. While the ghosts did manage to damage the barrels that were keeping the boat afloat under its heavy weight, some quick thinking on Mai’s part saved the day. Using Willow’s waterproofed trunk as a replacement barrel, they were soon underway again. Shortly before making landfall, Willow’s sensual mood faded and Mai untied her and helped her clean up her appearance. After debarking, Calla dragged her boat further downstream and headed off to make camp away from shore in preparation for returning the next day. The party assembled themselves and headed westward following Calla’s directions toward Karuth Vlan.

Meanwhile, Shade received notice from a Guild contact that his mission parameters would be best satisfied if he kept close to Ominous Whispers. It was known that Fractured Sapphire was last seen in the area and that he might attempt to make contact with Whispers. To that end, Shade followed after Whispers and Typhon who had journey for a day and a half to the south and west. All three arrived at a small thatched hut set into a hillside that was the abode of one Weaver Shanti. Typhon negotiated with the weaver to allow them to use a door in her cellar that led to a shadowland and the Labyrinth beyond. Whispers also intrigued the weaver as she had been using one of the Artifacts Shanti had made, the ghost-seeing blindfold. Recognizing it, she and Shanti discussed modifying it to better suit Whispers’ needs. Agreeing to her terms, Whispers left her blindfold (and only method of sight) with the weaver promising to return for it soon. Whispers, Shade, Typhon and the ghost guide Toffa ventured into a room like a slaughterhouse under the weaver’s hut. Through a stone doorway leading into the hillside was the Labyrinth.

The four (plus Shade’s barghest) clambered down through several caves with Whispers relying heavily on her traveling companions to assist her. Eventually, they came to a ravine which Toffa informed them lay directly across their path. The party searched along it seeking a way across. Eventually they found what appeared to be a bridge. The structure was a hollow pillar approximately 5 yards across. Its material was unknown and it was intricately carved with numerous glyphs and pictograms. Above the column was a long line of blue pyreflame along the ceiling of the cave that provided enough light to see by. The walking surface of the column had many large holes in it and Typhon, expressing his concern that it might not hold their weight, asked Shade if he would attempt the crossing alone first. In doing so, Shade tripped some sort of trap. Part of the ceiling collapsed onto the bridge and Shade. Typhon and Toffa were able to pull him free and get him across to the other side of the ravine… but they unfortunately left Whispers and Shade’s familiar behind.

To be continued…

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