Codex IX-Chapter 4

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As they walked away from the skyship and the voidgate, Orensland piped up. “To Hillsdale, then?” asked Orensland. It had been over two years since they had been there, mere weeks after they had first met. Sanjin and Aestus had never even been. It had been such a different group all those years ago—Jenika, Rynn, and Amara with them.

“To Hillsdale,” said Khaska. “I am much intrigued by the mystery intimated by Kyria’s letters. We should help, if we can.”

“And then I can teleport us to Rhun,” Sanjin said. “There’s some chance of mishap in the spell, but we have a few weeks to get it right. Amelia did want to be there when Harrison was resurrected, and he ain’t going anywhere.”

“So what, we just going to march into town here and present ourselves?” asked Aestus.

“Perhaps I could do some scouting,” Orensland said. “Assess what I can before we head into the situation.”

Eryx (DM)
How would you all like to approach Hillsdale and this situation with Lady Adria (who you are never able to scry on) and her step-daughter, Kyria? I should not as I was prepping this part of the adventure I realized I had to make some minor corrections in the letters. Here they are again.

The second to last one has been changed. The folks of Hillsdale aren’t all just zombie-like pod-people, but they are all completely infatuated with Lady Kyria.

You have some time to think about it, Hillsdale is about a days journey. You were able to bring your horses on the skyship.

Crosis
So… just throwing this out there… Adria has (probably magical) charm, possibly related to seduction. She's running her own little fiefdom outside of the public eye and has anti-magic scrying of some kind applied. Sounds like a succubus in hiding to me… which fits the profile for Urziana. I vote we go in prepared for her to be a succubus, even if she's not Urziana specifically. It sounds like she has the whole town in her thrall, so any confrontation would need to be out of the public eye, and we should guard against being charmed.

Thoughts?

Thev
Well! A potential Urziana! That definitely gets Khaska's ears to prick: this could be what he's been searching and preparing for. Hyrmaphridion mentioned that striking down Urziana with Kvanir would break Tawru's contract, freeing his soul; he doesn't want to botch this potential opportunity.

As a player, I'll admit my ignorance about how to dispel a charmed effect (which we might well need to do), as well as how to protect against getting charmed. (It looks like Khaska does have Calm Emotions, but it only lasts for a minute.) What means do we, as a party, have to defend ourselves, as well as to sneak in undetected? Can a succubus see through a Hat of Disguise? …Could Orensland sneak up and assassinate her with Kvanir (haha)?

Eryx (DM)
Correction: Hyrmaphridion and Thakillestra said that killing Urziana with Kvanir would heal the sword, not Tawru. The sword's corruption was a by-product of Tawru's deal, but he entered into it with full knowledge. Such deals can only be undone by getting the devil who holds the contract to agree to release it. Usually in exchange for some deal the devil believes is a better one.

Charmed is a condition. Here are the rules for it.

You have read the entire Codex Demonicus entries on succubi and incubi when you perused the library of the Maramos Coven. You would know everything from the Monster Manual about succubi and incubi.

As far as tactics against a succubus' charm ability, anything that increases wisdom saves would be of use, but there's no way to completely block it. Bless or Resistance are the only things that spring to mind. Maybe Heroe's Feast. Enhance Ability and Guidance don't help with saving throws.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin would point out that charming an entire town would be well beyond a normal succubus' ability. So either this is a particuly powerful being, she has help, or something else is at work here.

Thev
At this point, Khaska thinks it would be best to approach this the way we did Arkenos at first: Orensland could scout out the town as invisible/incognito as possible; meanwhile, we could watch him through the crystal ball so that we'll be able to see if anything goes wrong and we might need to intervene or provide a diversion.

Eryx (DM)
Crosis authorized me to roll for him for his scouting expedition.

Stealth: Rolled 10 (with advantage, needed Reliable Talent) + 15 bonuses + 10 Pass Without Trace = 35 total.
Investigation: Rolled 20 + 13 bonuses = 33 total.
Deception: Rolled 10 (with reliable talent) + 8 bonuses = 18 total.
Insight: Rolled 6 + 1 bonuses = 7 total.

“That sounds reasonable,” Khaska said. “But do not engage with Adria. This is a scouting expedition, not an assassination mission.”

“I wouldn’t dream of killing Urziana without you there,” Orensland said. Khaska stopped short. “Urziana?”

Orensland smirked a bit. “A woman who uses her charms to seduce the local lord and infiltrate his house, and then is able to slowly seduce the entire population to bend to her whims? Sounds like a succubus to me.” He shrugged. “Maybe it’s not Urziana.”

“Maybe it’s not a succubus,” Sanjin said. “From what we’ve studied about them in the Codex Demonicus, they can only charm one person at a time. Unless she is a particularly powerful succubus, something else is at work here if she has charmed the entire town.”

“Fair enough,” Orensland said. “Let me get the lay of the land.”

He snuck into town as the sun was setting, hoping to have a little bit of time to talk to the townsfolk as things wound down, and then maybe use his shadowdancing to further investigate the town.

He remember Hillsdale well enough to catch the different vibe in the town. Things seemed more run-down. People looked more wan, thinner, more pale. The roads weren’t as well kept and the bridge over the small river than ran through town needed a bit of upkeep.

He talked to some of the townsfolk, just saying he was passing through and asking about the town and where he might stay for the night, assessing various people as he moved through the closing market. Kyria’s letter seemed true, most people here seemed just a bit off. A little slower than normal. Willing to talk to him but distant, all the same.

As night fell, he decided to head for the Naughty Nymph, the whorehouse Lady Yellman had worked at. He was able to see Talia, the madam again. She didn’t recognize him, but he remembered her. She had gained even more weight in the intervening years and used even more make-up to cover her wrinkles. Her hair was a darker color, obviously dyed, and she was much more deferential to Sundamar, the elf who owned the establishment, than she had been before.

Orensland was able to pay for an evening with one of the older whores, but when he got into the room with her he shut her down before she could even remove a stitch of clothing.

“I’m not here for any of that,” he said, “deftly swatting her hand away from her body. I’ll pay handsomely for information and a bit of cover,” he said. She seemed surprised, but nodded.

“As long as I’m paid,” she said.

He inquired about Lady Yellman, about how she had come to work at the Nymph. How she had seduced the Lord of the lands after his wife had passed. It had been an unusual situation. He had not condoned their establishment and the local constables had rather consistently been pressuring them. A few weeks after the former Lady Yellman had died, and shortly after Adria had begun working, Lord Yellman had come to the Nymph, asking for a night with one of the women.

“I remember it well,” the whore said. “He only had eyes for Adria, no matter how the rest of us tried to catch his attention. A few weeks of nightly visits to her and he up and proposes to her. She’s been Lady Yellman ever since.”

“So his wife died about the time Adria came to town,” Orensland asked.

She nodded.

“And what’s she been up to lately?”

“She’s been helping all of us,” she said, and her face lit up. “The Dark Times are coming, and many of us are scared. She’s been reassuring us about the military of Hammerdine, how Michael and the different officers will make sure we’re protected. Honestly, it’s been a great reassurance. She’s become quite a good leader of our little community. We reward her well.”

“How’s that?”

“Oh, she gets the best clothes, the finest foods. Every night there’s practically a pilgrimage to the estate to attempt to get her to eat food from everybody who’s a good cook in town. We’ve come to love her.”

“She sounds like a wonderful lady,” Orensland said. He turned the conversation away from her, asking about different people in the city to make it seem like he was interested in the community as a whole, and thought that he was moderately successful at allaying suspicion from the woman.

“Alright,” he said, passing over another few gold. “I’m going to leave for a bit, but I’ll be back. I need you to be my alibi for a little while. There’s more gold in it for you when I get back. Probably 30 minutes or so.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re not going to cause any trouble, are you?”

“Nope. Just looking around, but have reason to want to avoid being seen.” He passed over another few gold. She took it, and nodded. With that, he ghosted out the window.

It didn’t take long to get to the Yellman estate. The sunlight has all but vanished now, and he was able to cloak himself in darkness, turning invisible.

His “alibi” had been correct. There were still people at the estate holding now cold dishes, various soups, cooked turkeys, cakes, breads, desserts, fine wines, fruits, and many other food items. He arrived just as Lazlo, the butler, came out to announce that Lady Yellman had her fill and would not be eating any more this evening. There was an audible groan from the group, and they began to file away.

He noticed two beggar children near the estate entrance, asking and begging for food as the people moved home. None gave any to them.

His pickpocket skills came in handy, and as the beggar children dejectedly began to move off they discovered him standing there, a loaf of bread and a few pieces of fruit in his hand. He offered them up, and they took the food greedily. It was then that he recognized them. They had tried to rob Khaska and Rynn all those years ago, the girl acting as a distraction as the boy snuck up on them. He had later given them some money, his ethic of giving to the poor and taking from the rich all but demanding he do so. They had grown up, the young lady now about eight, and the young man probably just on the cusp of manhood.

“Crystal,” he said. She stopped gnawing on the piece of bread in her mouth.

“Who wants to know?”

“A friend,” he said. “You come here every night?”

“Most of the time we get this,” the boy said. “Sometimes we manage to persuade someone to give us some of the food.”

“What do you think of this arrangement,” said Orensland. “Why all the special treatment for Lady Yellman.”

Crystal shrugged. “She’s nice enough. Even to us. But we gotta eat, and all this food gets wasted when she doesn’t eat all of it.”

“This was a typical night?” asked Orensland. “This many people?” The young boy nodded as apple juice dripped down his chin. “There’s no way a single person could eat so much.”

“I know, right?” the boy said.

Orensland looked at where the crowd had vanished into the distance. He looked at the children. “Which of the food tonight looked the best to you?”

“Oh, the turkey from Rachel. She’s the best cook in town, I think. Uses her dad’s magical spices in some of her cooking.”

“He approves of that?” asked the shadowdancer.

“He died last year,” Crystal said. “Rachel still maintains his magic shop, but she’s not the wizard he was.”

Orensland remembered Rachel and her father, Kaleb. He was sad the old man had passed on.

“Well, where do you two sleep?” asked Orensland.

“Like we would tell you,” Crystal said.

“Fair enough. Where can I meet you. I bet I can get you that turkey,” he said.

“Mister,” the boy said, “you get that turkey, and I’ll be your friend for life.”


“Best friend for life,” the young man said, stuffing his face with turkey. They were in an alley nearby the Moosman magical shop and the two famished children were devouring the turkey with abandon.

“Anything else you can tell me about Lady Yellman,” Orensland said.

“You seem very interested in her,” Crystal said.

“I am,” Orensland said. “She seems to be taking advantage of the townsfolk, and I don’t like it. She doesn’t deserve her money.”

Crystal’s eyes widened. “I remember you,” she said. “You knew about the bait and switch we’d use when we were younger.”

Orensland nodded. “You have a good memory.” He flashed a few gold coins. “And I still have a soft spot for orphans.”

Crystal turned to her brother. “Filip, let’s tell him about the place in the wine cellar.”

“Oh,” Orensland asked.

Filip nodded at Crystal, then turned to Orensland. “Lady Yellman doesn’t sleep in her bedroom anymore. She always goes downstairs into the cellar at night, alone.”

“How do you know this?”

“I helped set it up. She needed some day laborers to clean out one of the wine cellars. I helped move some things out.”

“Did you move anything in?”

Filip shook his head. “No. She paid for some men from Hammerdine to come set something up. You can see the stairs down there from the back, sort of through the kitchen. I was trying to see if I could sneak in and steal any of the leftovers one night and saw her go down. She didn’t come up until the morning. I noticed that there’s never a light at her bedroom anymore, and put two and two together.”

Orensland flashed he hand again and 10 gold appeared on the ground in front of them. Their eyes widened.

“You have been exceptionally helpful,” he said. Then he up and moved around the corner, vanishing as he did so.

It was easy enough to return to the Naughty Nymph and his room. The whore was still there. He had only been gone about an hour.

She was sitting on the bed, dozing, when he came into the room through the window. He cleared his throat, and she awakened.

“Thank you,” he said. He dropped a number of gold on a bedside table. “Your services, and company, are much appreciated, but I think I’ll be staying at a regular tavern for the remainder of the evening.”

He left the building, and returned to the party on the outskirts of town to give his report.

Eryx (DM)
The vibe Orensland has picked up is “cult.” Like, everybody seems to really like Adria. She’s the “Dear Leader” of Hammerdine, and is rewarded handsomely for it. The people don't seem magically charmed, necessarily, but definitely very solicitous of Lady Yellman.

But with that Natural 20 for Investigation, Orensland was able to find Crystal and Filip and discover that Lady Yellman spends most nights down in the basement of her mansion, in a room that’s been converted into … something.

I spoke with Crosis, and he would like another evening to investigate what is down there. He'll wait until dinnertime, when he can be certain that Lady Yellman is occupied.

Relevant Rolls for this next section.
Stealth: Rolled 10 (again needing reliable talent) + 15 (bonuses) + 10 Pass Without Trace = 35 total.
Investigation: Rolled 11 + 13 (bonuses) = 24 total.
Lockpicking: Rolled 19 + 10 (bonuses) = 29 total.

It didn’t seem that there was any particular imminent danger to anybody, so the group decided it would be worth waiting another day for Orensland to try to get a look at whatever was going on in the basement. He would go in the evening, when they could be certain Adria was otherwise occupied. The party made camp for the evening, able to find a relatively secure copse of trees in which to bed down.

The next day was boring, waiting for evening, but worth the extra day, they all felt. Once the sun began to dip towards the horizon, Orensland left once again to visit the estate just outside of Hillsdale.

There being more light this time, he was able to assess the building better, and it indeed looked more well-kept than the other buildings in Hillsdale. The white alabaster walls gleamed as if newly cleaned, and the grounds were meticulously kept. The cyprus trees that led to the front entrance gently swayed in the wind as people began to gather. Orensland saw Crystal and Filip assume their same spot, waiting to see if any of Adria’s rejected food would be served to them. Probably about an hour before sunset, the front door opened and Lazlo came out. Orensland had to strain to hear, but was able to make out what the butler was saying.

“Lady Adria Yellman thanks you once again for your generous support of her. You are too kind.” He then bowed and stepped aside as Lady Yellman emerged from the mansion. She was wearing a very fine silk dress with a matching cape, ornate jewelry apparent even from this distance, earrings and necklace glittering in the fading light. She moved from pilgrim to pilgrim (that seemed the appropriate term) and inspected their offerings (also seemingly the appropriate term). She began to make her selections, pointing to a few of the people present who seemed overjoyed. They moved into the mansion, and it was at this point that Orensland moved towards the back of the estate.

Getting into the kitchen was easy enough, as there were no servants there preparing food. He silently opened the door to the stairs down to the basement, grateful that there was mostly darkness down there, and then turned himself invisible as he went down the stairs.

He inspected quickly the various rooms, mostly foodstuffs and storage spaces, until coming to the end of the long hallway. The door here was locked, but a few moments with his thieves’ tools and he heard a click, letting him know the door was open. He listened at the door for a moment, and, hearing nothing, opened it and went it.

The former wine cellar (he could see the marks on the floor where the various metal shelves had once stood) had been expanded from its original dimensions. A small staircase dropped down into a larger room with a vaulted ceiling. Candles and torches lit the space, and the walls were covered in paintings of various races all engaged in different kinds of debauchery. At the end of the room was a pillow on the floor before a prayer altar. Before that stood a large golden bowl, and just beyond that a large stone statue of a handsome humanoid, dressed in sweeping robes, a smile adorning his face and sharp goatee on his chin. He had small horns on his head and instead of feet he had cloven hooves, and in one of his hands he held a staff, a claw clutching a human skull atop it.

Orensland was thoroughly creeped out by this. He inspected the large bowl and was almost unsurprised that there were charred human bones in it, took one final look around the room and then left.

He was successful in getting out of the mansion, his investigation having only taken a few minutes. He could hear Adria’s laughter from the main dining hall, laughter echoed stiltedly by the others around her, as he shut the door to the kitchen and crept away, the sun just now touching the horizon.

He returned to the camp with the others just as twilight ended and full darkness descended and gave his full report.

Khaska was deeply troubled. “The statue you describe is that of Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells and chief of all devils therein,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that Lady Yellman secretly worships him.”

Eryx (DM)
For someone as educated as Khaska is in religion, the identification of the statue of Asmodeus is so easy a roll would not even be necessary.

It appears that Lady Yellman is a worshipper of Asmodeus.

What would you all like to do next?

DeltaWolf
Sanjin thinks the party needs to be open to the possiblitity that some of the townspeople have been converted to Asmodeus and not just enthralled. Also it might be possilbe to meet with Lady Yellman if we bring her an offering.

Thev
Well, that's not good at all!

I was delayed in response because I was at a loss — I didn't know what of practical use we'd learned from Orensland's reconnaissance. Chatting with Eryx helped me see that we knew her daily activities, so if we wanted to cast spells to learn more about what's going on, we could. He also assured me that we'd roll saves against any mind control sent our way — I was worried that whatever was going on in the town could have worked on entirely different principles.

With that clear now, Khaska thinks it would be a good idea to go into town and clandestinely cast some spells (perhaps during the food selection?) to figure out what's going on with Adria Yellman — Detect Magic, Detect Evil and Good. Khaska would, of course, enter the town disguised as a human, a traveler passing through if anyone asks. That should give us some more to work from.

Beyond that, Khaska would like to see if we could find and extract Kyria Yellman from the town; she evidently held out against whatever's at work in the town longer than most, and perhaps can be "awakened" once more. With her knowledge, perhaps she could assist in our investigation and plans. (I wonder if we could present a cover story if discovered, or simply use one from the get-go — perhaps a suitor come for her hand?).

Crosis
Short on time, but Orensland loves all of Khaska's ideas, especially trying to free Kyria. He would suggest we figure out what spells are being used first. Speaking of, has Orensland seen her anywhere in his spying?

Eryx (DM)
Looks like the plan is to head into town and give an offering to Lady Yellman during her food selection for dinner. I would like the following rolls from each of you:

Deception
Insight

Further, I would like to know what spells you would each like to cast. Most of the spells useful in this situation can last for 10 minutes, (though True Seeing lasts an hour and isn't a concentration spell) so I would assume you try to cast them ahead of time. Still, I would like a Sleight of Hand check for anybody doing so. Orensland, what will you be doing, if anything, to make sure you are not recognized since Lady Yellman has seen you before. (Khaska will be using the Hat of Disguise, per Thev's last post.)

Aestus, as a paladin, can Detect Good or Evil but for just one round. He does not, however, have to say any verbal components or make any somatic movements to cast it.

Also … what will you be offering her?

Thev
Khaska would move for the party to by bystanders, curious visitors, during the ceremony; Khaska doesn't have culinary or magical skills (yet) that could offer something sumptuous. (We could pay a local handsomely to make something for us, if needed/wanted.) He also would like to remain out of the limelight as much as possible.

Given that Aestus can cast Detect Good and Evil without external manifestations, Khaska would be happy to let him do so; meanwhile, Khaska would cast Detect Magic. (He can cast Detect Good and Evil as well, if needed.)

Here are the rolls:

Deception: 19 = 17 + 2
Insight: 26 = 16 + 10
Sleight of Hand: 7

DeltaWolf

  • Decption: 14
  • Insight: 19

Sanjin will indeed cast True Seeing, however he will offer to cast it on Khaska -otherwise he will cast it on himself. Sanjin will also cast Detect Magic -it never hurts to have another set of eyes.

  • Slight of Hand: 5

That’s all the useful spells Sanjin has, unless you want me to animate some dead :)

Crosis
Orensland will hide nearby rather than join the group - his wisdom saving throw was never the best anyways. Because the crowd could quickly turn into a lynch mob if things go awry, he'd be read to cast his spells (such as darkness) or shoot his crossbow. If the party moves inside, he'd cast pass without trace and follow as best as possible.

  • Stealth (with advantage): 11 + 15 26

“So we going to go kill her?” asked Aestus.

“We are not yet sure of the nature of what we face,” Khaska said. “Perhaps we could get closer to her during one of her evening dinner selections. Between Sanjin and myself, we ought to be able to ascertain more clearly what Lady Yellman’s hold over these people is.”

Detect Magic?” Sanjin said. He nodded. “She would have to get within 30 feet, but I think we can swing that. Would help identify any spells she has going at the moment. I can also cast True Seeing. That’s got a much longer range, if she has some kind of glamer on her.”

Aestus swelled with pride. “With my studies from the Knights, I have learned to Detect Good and Evil at will. If she is a fiend, I will know.”

True Seeing lasts for an entire hour,” said Sanjin. “Do you want it, Khaska, or shall I cast it on myself?”

“Oh,” Khaska said. “Me, I think. That’s very generous of you.” The wizard shrugged.

They entered town, Khaska using the Hat of Disguise to appear human, and, at Orensland’s suggestion, went to one of the inns to get a room for the night as part of their cover. The elf spent a few minutes chatting with the folks in the dining room during the afternoon, setting the stage for the party knowing about the daily evening ritual of meal selection. When the appointed time came, Sanjin cast True Seeing on Khaska before they left their rooms, and then the party went to go watch this ritual.

Khaska was dismayed at the sight of so many townsfolk streaming towards the Yellman estate, bewitched, perhaps literally, by this worshipper of Asmodeus. Sanjin was bemused at the sight of so many gullible fools, and Aestus worried about how he, as an initiate of the Knights, should act in this situation. Orensland snuck away from the party to watch from nearby, the shadowdancer cleverly vanishing from sight as they turned a corner near the edge of town.

Despite the fact that it was unbearably hot and that there was a torrential downpour of rain, there were still about thirty townfolk who came out, their dishes collectively smelling wonderful. The party hung back, and when Lazlo came out to announce Lady Yellman, he was holding a very large umbrella.

Khaska and Sanjin waited until this moment to try and surreptitiously cast Detect Magic, but unfortunately the nearest townperson saw them. “Hey,” he said. “What are you doing?”

Thinking fast, Khaska turned to him and held up the symbol of Pelor (his human form was still such a cleric as himself). “Saying a prayer for you good folks that the person most in need of the honor will have their meal selected.”

“Oh, alright then.” The man turned back. Khaska breathed a sigh of relief. His deception had worked.

It was right then that Lady Yellman came out, following Lazlo just to the edge of the covered porch so as not to be in the rain and asking the people to come up one at a time. It was a curious thing, Khaska noted, to be able to see the glamer. He could both simultaneously see Lady Yellman, the form he was already familiar with, as well as her true form, that of a succubus. Although succubi were said to be beautiful, he did not find her overly so. Perhaps that was a combination of shock at seeing this form of her and the fact that she was not deliberately trying to appear attractive in her true form at the moment. Her wings folded behind her back and her face seemed more bored than anything.

In any event, Orensland had been correct. She was a succubus. Now the real question was … had they stumbled upon Urziana?

He whispered to Aestus and Sanjin. “Succubus.” Aestus’ face hardened a bit, while Sanjin smiled bemusedly. The wizard also cast Message to Orensland, surreptitiously sending the same word to him.

None of the party could see the hidden Orensland, of course, but the rogue gave a small fist pump. He had been right!

They watched as the different townsfolk approached one at a time, allowing “Lady Yellman” to inspect, and sometimes sample, their dishes. As she neared the end of her inspections, she did notice the three of them standing in the back, just observing.

“Newcomers,” she said. “Visitors to our fair town?” The townsfolk, who had mostly been engrossed with watching her, turned to see whom she was addressing.

Eryx (DM)
Khaska’s insight roll was high enough to immediately ascertain that she is suspicious of the party, but not overly so. She’s playing friendly, but there is an underlying wariness as she assess the situation. Aestus is now close enough to detect that she is, of course, a fiend.

What would you all like to do? What do you say in response?

Thev
Khaska would speak as closely to the truth as possible: "We had friends pass through some time ago and learned of the town's hospitality, and our interest only grew when we heard of its new lady and the culinary masterpieces she inspires."

Addendum: Eryx asked for a Deception roll with advantage: 17 + 2 = 19

DeltaWolf
Sanjin will try to follow Khaska's lead

  • Deception: 6

huh :|

Crosis
Orensland isn't present, but he'd prepare a distraction for if things go sideways. He'd have explosives rigged at the house where people won't be near, if possible. Probably more of a molotov cocktail kit at the ready, but you get the idea. He'd be ready to cast darkness or silence as needed, and have his crossbow at the ready.

Khaska cleared his throat, sticking to the truth as best he could and speaking for the group.

“We had friends pass through some time ago and learned of the town's hospitality, and our interest only grew when we heard of its new lady and the culinary masterpieces she inspires.”

Lady Yellman laughed, a light pearly sound that Khaska found all the more disconcerting coming from a succubus. “I am proud of the work my people have done in preparing for the Dark Times. That they reward my leadership such is a joy beyond measure.”

She looked around. “I prefer to dine alone, but once I have made my selection of food, then perhaps,” now she spoke to the gathered townsfolk, “you could offer your wares to our guests and take it to their inn. You are staying at the …”

“The Traveler’s Haven, my lady,” Khaska responded.

She glanced around at the gathered people, some of whom were obviously put out at the possibility their hard work would go to these strangers, and not the Lady of the town. She smiled again, and although Khaska could see her devilish real smile, he could also see the glamered human woman’s smile. “I would take it as a personal favor to me,” she said. Smiles came to the group and the mood shifted immediately.

Aestus was amused. “She’s very good.”

She made her selection and then beckoned for the remaining townsfolk to show their wares to the party. “I hope you enjoy,” she said, going inside. Then she paused, turning back. “I would like to think our reputation for hospitality precedes us, but I would take it as a personal favor to me if you would not spread word of our little tradition here. It would be uncouth of others to show up expecting to take advantage of the hospitality and graciousness that you have inadvertently stumbled into tonight.”

Khaska nodded. “We will speak highly of your town, but in generalities,” he said, ever the diplomat. “Enjoy your meal, my lady.”

“You as well.”

The party had their pick of food and, wouldn’t you know, within a few moments Orensland walked up. “What did I miss? Did the lady already come out?” he said, feigning a late arrival.

Eryx (DM)
Khaska’s passive insight is high enough that he can tell Lady Yellman/the succubus wished to get them away and quiet about the town village as surreptitiously as possible. She’s not worried about the group—their ruse of just being travelers passing through appears to have worked. She never got close enough for Sanjin’s Detect Magic to analyze her.

You have your pick of a variety of offerings for dinner tonight. For this post I would like both what you would like to eat (make something up, it will be available) and then of course what your next steps are. You have discovered that not only is Lady Yellman a worshipper of Asmodeus, she is also a succubus. What would you like to do, after eating a delicious meal?

Eryx (DM)
Through texts, Musha has selected to eat "Lamb that's been marinated in a soy sauce, apple, and ginger sauce." It's based on jingisukan, a favorite dish from his mission.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin will eat a stake and cheese sandwich with onion (Philly Cheesesteak) -which was my favorite thing to eat on my mission to Pennsylvania.

Sanjin was hoping to determine if the town was under some spell, or if some members had been converted to Asmodeus, or if the people just were fans of her through normal charm. But I guess that was a long shot.

It seems we will have to be less conspicuous in the future. But I wonder if there is anyway to get in contact with Kyria Yellman.

Eryx (DM)
While Sanjin did not get close enough to Lady Yellman to magically scrutinize her, you were close enough to some of the townsfolk to realize that at least the ones within your range of Detect Magic were not under any kind of magicaly spell or influence.

And while my question was not "what is your favorite food from your mission …" now I'm really curious what everybody's favorite food from their mission was! (Chicken parmesan sandwich/General Tso's chicken here). Your favorite mission dish does not have to be what your character eats in this next post.

Thev
Sorry for the delay! Khaska would probably be surprised to see something from his home amid the offerings: a puree of desert melons, seasoned amply with mint and served in a bowl for drinking (or scooping, if a spoon is needed).

As for favorite mission dish… spinach canelones were pretty good (savory crepe wraps) and many varieties of empanada (cheese and onion; caprese; diced beef, egg, onion, green olive, and raisin…).

Crosis
Honestly, Orensland would try to filch as much food as he can without acting suspicious and sneak it to the poor around the town, including the two helpful youngsters. For food ideas, how about a goose with cranberry sauce. I doubt they'd have Taiwanese street food lying about, but if they did he'd have a 抓餅 or two with ham, cheese and egg cooked on top. :)

As for next steps, I have a couple ideas. For one, we could try to barter for Tawru's soul at this point. Anyone know if we can contact the big bad Baltham fellow? Even if we don't know this is the exact succubus we're looking for, we say we think we found her, and would happily trade her head for Tawru's soul upon verification that it is Urziana's head. Just to make sure our bases are covered in that regard.

As for how to actually get said head… Idea! Orensland lights part of the mansion on fire. As do-gooder citizens, we arrive to help put out the fire. In the chaos, we sneak down to her secret cellar of doom or somewhere she's expected to be alone (perhaps take a chapter out of the assassins handbook and wait in her bedroom?), buff ourselves up to protect against charming, then ambush her?

Pros: We get her alone for at least a few turns and possibly end her quickly.
Cons: We have an angry mob to deal if her method of controlling the town is more… long term, not a spell dependent on her life. I suspect it's the work of her worship more than personal charm.

Or hire bandits to attack the outskirts of the town as a distraction (on orders not to kill unless necessary), or call in some old friends with political connections to do something similar. If we really want to party, how about we call in a dragon for some help? Longshot, but the image in my mind made me glow a bit. Though if we really get the sword of Tawru healed and his soul redeemed, that could go a long way to getting the Ma'hai on board with most anything in preparing for the dark times. Other people, including dragons, would want to help.

My problem is I can't think of a way around having an angry mob on our hands. So thought a metaphorical quick swift jab (sneaking in and getting her alone) would do the trick, though we should look out for wards. While contacting Kyria sounds like a good idea, I do wonder if we'd tip our hands too early by trying to contact her (especially if she's enthralled and reports any contact).

But basic idea:
1. Distraction (fire! Or attacks, whatever)
2. Isolation (get her alone)
3. Attack (don't forget to use the cursed sword to do her in!)
4. Get ready to run (have friends on standby to help? Or prepare a teleport spell?)

Thoughts?

Eryx (DM)
You are a few days from a voidgate, and any reinforcements you might want to bring in will take some time to arrive.

Regarding contacting Baltham, he's on Arkenos (according to the Spherius folk) and you know that magic conversations between the moons does not work.

Thev
I went back to full-time in-person work this week and whew did it leave me exhausted and unfocused — I entirely missed the "next steps" question!

Khaska would want to go for Kyria, but thinks that Orensland's caution is wise: it might tip off Adria, and the last letter demonstrates that Kyria might, indeed, be under her sway in some firmer fashion (though she seemed more resigned, and abruptly so, than the villagers).

He'd also never considered the possibility of trading Urziana to Baltham for Tawru's soul — that might be an exchange to which he'd agree, and which wouldn't put our souls in danger! Given that we can't magically converse with Baltham from Jenoa, what we might need to do is capture Urziana and take her to Arkenos, thence arranging for negotiation with Baltham. Khaska doesn't necessarily think that he'd repay us for doing a deed he didn't ask us to do. (Unless there's an "alive or dead" bounty out for her — something we don't quite know.)

(Of course, this assumes that she is Urziana — there's a nonzero chance of that, but we don't know how high. If we do capture and incapacitate her, Khaska would like to ask her that question — "Are you Urziana?" in a Zone of Truth.)

(Also, question: would turning over Urziana heal Kvanir as well as be a bargaining chip for Tawru's soul?)

That all said, Khaska does think a distraction, while Adria is alone, would be a good option. There might also be a way to kidnap her, too: knock her out, stabilize her, and then have Sanjin cast Teleport to the Knights' chapterhouse in Hammerdine. We'd be out of the way of any angry villagers and have backup — as well as perhaps magical confinement. (Of course, Khaska could cast Sending to warn them ahead of time of the plan and, later, immediately before Teleport.)

As we don't want to hurt Adria and she might be unwilling (and thus not able to be teleported), we could call her in after Adria is injured, reveal ourselves as Amara's friends, and say that we need to take Adria to some of our friends via magic to make sure she gets the… "attention" she deserves.

As for the nature of the distraction, a fire might be a good one! It would provide us with an opportunity for heroism — as well as an "out" (being lost to the fire). It might not trap Adria (succubi have the "etherealness" feature, allowing them to pass through things on the material plane), but it would give us the chance to corner her without interruption (and for Khaska to use fire spells against her indiscriminately, haha).

Khaska would feel bad about destroying (parts of) Kyria's home; if we could set the fire where it would be a distraction but not be too devastating, that would be better. Perhaps there's a kitchen in an outbuilding, for instance — that would be great, both as a symbolic and a practical gesture.

And for a cautious, preemptive personal request (a "line," in the language of safety tools developed for TTRPGs): I'd prefer that Khaska not be the target of sexual seduction or temptation.

Eryx (DM)
Rolls requested via texts and things.

Cross rolled a 2 for the number of meals he can steal.

Stealth Checks: Aestus-22. Khaska-17. Sanjin-9. Orensland-44.

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