The cast: Palaxia, Asriel, Corva, Regina, Lazzero, Tyku, Dakash, and Maledictus.
A. New Blood (Thursday)
Your meeting with Linton Demeer left you with more questions than answers, but you had little time to ponder them, as the accuser devil Razelago appeared to you in a concealed alleyway with some news. Fex was sending further reinforcements to aid you in your efforts to undermine the Kantarian government. You met them at the Little Uskwood, where they had arrived at noon.
Dakash, a samsaran arcanist who spoke with the easy authority of nobility, immediately told the rest that he was there to be the face of the party. Asriel raised an eyebrow at this, but was forestalled from saying more by the introduction of Lazzero Dalvera, human cleric of Asmodeus, and Tyku, tiefling witch. Tyku spoke little, but glared dourly around at the group. A bat hung upside down underneath his dreadlocks, and his dark skin was patterned with tribal tattoos.
The afternoon was spent catching up the new party members on the situation in Kantaria and plotting for the future. Tentative plans were made for breaking the captured Hellknight out of Hardship’s Hearth, and in the meantime, you focused on more achievable tasks: capturing the healing supplies you knew the Glorious Reclamation was storing in the northernmost watchtower in town, meeting Linton in the woods later in the night, and sabotaging the docks.
B. Sword Tower Raid (Thursday night)
You met on the edge of the forest northwest of the watchtower near midnight that night. You were pleased to see that the number of guards on the tower has been reduced. Your efforts to stretch the already stressed resources of the Glorious Reclamation even farther has succeeded, with Nevilindor sending out troops to patrol for the Narikopolus bandits after two brutal attacks on merchants and travelers outside of town, as well as posting more guards in public places to control whatever devilry has been causing the townspeople to panic and attack each other.
Palaxia, her phantom Bob, and Tyku, all invisible, snuck into the tower while the others looked on, ready to lay down cover fire and spells in case things went sour. Lucky for everyone, the guards were not paying attention. Indeed, one, a halfling slinger, was drifting off against the crenellated walls, while the other, a Reclamation Knight, was night-blind from being too near the glowing sword statue that crowned the watchtower. Bob pushed the knight off the side of the tower while Palaxia, humming a few bars of ‘Short People’, slashed at the sleepy Halfling with her scythe. Maledictus, Asriel, and Dakash acted quickly to silence the fallen Knight, although not before she had channeled energy to harm Maledictus. Tyku, Zebub, and Palaxia finished off the Halfling, and Bob grabbed the chest of supplies.
Shouts were heard coming from the town – obviously someone had heard the knight’s scream as she fell from the tower – but you took the time to engage in some senseless brutality. Zebub dutifully flew the halfling’s body back to Regina, who carried it further into the forest and began feasting on its flesh. Maledictus cut off the knight’s head and threw it into river, and Corva knelt beside her bloody corpse and filled a small vial with her blood. Meanwhile Bob crushed the halfling’s skull into shards. You disappeared into the woods with less than a minute to spare.
C. Something Wicked This Way Comes
Further in the woods, you hid yourselves with varying degrees of success around the agreed-upon meeting place with Linton Demeer. Five minutes passed, and you began to suspect ambush; your suspicions were heightened when you at last heard not one but two people making their way through the brush to your location.
Around a tree came two men: Linton Demeer and… Linton Demeer. One of the Lintons quickly began to assuage your doubts. He told you that he was an ugothol, or faceless stalker, and part of the long line of ugothols that attacked Kantaria when Iomedae held the town against them for a hundred days and a hundred nights ???. Linton’s ancestor had thought of the arrangement, and this line of de facto ugothol leaders continued in Linton.
Instead of ravaging the town and moving on, these ugothols took on the identities of the humans they killed and lived among them unnoticed. Linton used his connections as the town healer to bleed the sick who came to him, thereby providing food for his people without devastating the population.
It was not a foolproof plan – occasionally a flesh-hungry ugothol would lose control and slay another townsperson. Linton had always used his connections with the Iomedean church and the governing council to hush it up. After all, this is Cheliax, and people went missing all the time; he simply played up the idea that they were probably dissidents against House Thrune who got what was coming to them.
However, he lamented, gone are the days when a person could disappear without a trace and everyone just looked the other way for fear of angering House Thrune with unruly questions. The Glorious Reclamation ran a much tighter ship, and any disappearances were certain to be noted. Linton confessed that he is worried one slip-up will cause the end of the ugothols’ “peaceful” existence in Kantaria.
In exchange for you allowing the ugothols to continue to live as they were, he offers you their services. With their shape-changing abilities, they could listen for or plant information, or even take on a new identity. Linton’s terms were easy for you to agree to, and you left the meeting place with new allies.
D. The Destruction of the Docks
On the way back, you decided to sabotage the docks. The docks played an important part in the town’s economy and were now being used by the Glorious Reclamation to screen traffic coming down the Sedna River. Boats were forced to dock at Kantaria, thus incurring docking fees, and any supplies found on board were appropriated by the Glorious Reclamation. Crippling this asset would do a lot of harm to the movement. Asriel used his magic to turn Palaxia and Tyku invisible as well as imbue Tyku with enough strength to carry Palaxia as he flew them both over the wall around the docks. Palaxia pointed out the spots in the dock that she had identified as weak points, and Tyku went to work, prying apart supports and cutting ropes.
They made short work of two docks, but the last was too strongly constructed. Nonetheless, reducing the Reclamation’s ability to dock ships by two-thirds was a blow.
E. Betrayal (Friday night)
The alliance with the ugothols was the final puzzle piece needed for you to attempt to raid Hardship’s Hearth and break out the imprisoned Hellknight. Linton Demeer sent with you his lieutenant, the only ugothol in town currently without an identity, who agreed to take on the appearance of Jalila Hadjara and try to conceal the disappearance of the Hellknight for as long as possible.
Exploiting your friendly relationship with Jalila and your knowledge of her feelings of loneliness, isolation, and frustration at being cooped up at the prison, you surprise her with a warm dinner that night. She is delighted to have company that she doesn’t have to order around, and she insists you all sit down and eat, even though the nine of you plus her made a squeeze in the small breakroom in the command post.
Jalila helped herself to a plate of food while chatting happily. “How are things in town? It’s been almost a couple weeks since I was there last and –“ Suddenly, although her mouth was still moving, her voice stopped – courtesy of a Silence spell cast by Dakash. Jalila paused, and her face flittered from confusion to dawning horror as your hands went to your weapons.
It was barely a fight – Jalila was overwhelmed and brought down within seconds. Palaxia collected Jalila’s keyring and unlocked the Hellknight’s cell. The door creaked open and on a bunk against the wall sat Zara Orcelani, Hellknight of the Rack. Her eyes flicked past Palaxia to the breakroom behind her, where Corva was seated on the floor lovingly flaying the skin off Jalila’s body. Zara gave a satisfied smirk.
“You…” she said as she stood, looking around at everyone. “I like you.”