Codex VIII-Chapter 4

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The party looked to Orensland, shocked to see the shadowdancer’s face absolutely pale. While beads of sweat suddenly appeared on his forehead, his hands almost began to tremble. He swallowed twice before he felt like he could speak without his voice cracking.

“What are you doing here?”

Zevhran smiled. “Business, actually. Just my good fortune that my son is in town, and he may be of use to me. Please, sit. The dinner is on me.”

Orensland thought through his options. Fighting in this fine establishment seemed out of the question. They would get thrown out and … he wasn’t even sure they could win against the elder elf. Should they run? But Zevhran had tracked him down twice now when tracking should be impossible. His father sat there, looking a bit bemused, waiting.

Orensland sat down, deliberately picking the chair furthest from his father (after inspecting it for traps). There were six chairs at the table, meaning one would be vacant now that Zevhran’s companion had left. Sanjin took stock of this elven newcomer. He was not terribly impressed. The group had faced down vampire lords and black dragons and eldritch horrors. Surely they could take this lone elf. He sat next to Zevhran. Khaska shot a look over at Sanjin as the wizard sat down, but Sanjin seemed completely nonplussed. Aestus sat one chair from Zevhran, though he angled his chair a bit towards this newcomer, and Khaska and Orensland opposite their “host.”

“Order anything you like,” Zevhran said. A waiter approached moments later with some appetizers and Sanjin ordered his main course. Zevhran had the waiter bring over a bottle of fine red wine, the man uncorking it in front of all of them. Nobody else ordered food, something that Sanjin only noticed after he was polishing off his second appetizer—fish and vegetables on a small piece of fried bread. The wizard didn’t seem bothered by any of this.

“What brings you to Sethrayin?” the experienced criminal began the conversation with.

“It is a pilgrimage of private service,” Khaska said. “We wish to not discuss it in detail.”

Zevhran shrugged. “I know it has something to do with the Knights. My contact in their chapter let me know of these newcomers, and once I found out who you all were, I was very excited. A few discrete inquiries have led me here this evening.” He looked at the others. “None of the rest of you want to eat?” Orensland, Khaska, and Aestus just stared at him, watching his every move.

Sanjin was on his third appetizer. “You guys,” he said, indicating Zevhran, “he’s just an elf. We’ve faced much worse.”

“I am fasting,” Khaska said.

Zevhran raised his eyebrows, not buying it for a moment, but said nothing.

Once Sanjin’s and Zevhran’s main courses arrived Zevhran finally launched into his spiel. The awkwardness of the past few minutes seemed to subside as Zevhran told his tale.

“After I lost you in Hammerdine, clever bit of movement, by the way, son, I continued on my merry way. Crossed someone with some coin and he sent some men after me. I sent them back to him in various pieces. He decided I would be more valuable as an ally, and joined his organization. We’re smugglers and the like, but of late we have been doing more honest work. War is profitable, and the biggest war of the millenia is upon us.” He leaned forward. “We have several shipments of elven forged blades that got … waylaid on their way to the Knight’s Fortress in Sudloc. We wanted to return them to their rightful owners, the Knights. Of course, it would only be fair to be rewarded for our good efforts to help the war. They don’t seem to want to deal with us, however. So when I found out my son had an in with the Knights, I thought I’d see if he might be able to pull some strings for meself and my newfound business partners.”

“Waylaid?” Orensland asked.

“There are dishonest people in this world,” Zevhran said. “My business partners and I are just trying to make things right. But rescuing lost arms shipments ain’t cheap either.”

They went back and forth a bit, but in the end, Zevhran wasn’t willing to give them much more to go on. In the end, he dropped a good twenty gold coins on the table to cover any of the remaining cost of food—even if nobody ordered anything. “Gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me, I have to be going. I shouldn’t keep the lady waiting. If you wish to introduce me to your Knight friends tomorrow, I will be here for lunch. Again, it would be on me.”

He stood, and a waiter came over quickly with his coat and hat, which he donned. “Good to see you, son, and pleased to meet your friends.”

With a deep bow, he left.

Sanjin was still chewing his roasted duck. “That was weird,” the wizard said.

Eryx (DM)
What do you all want to do? Zevhran wants you to approach the Knights to facilitate his “business proposition.”

DeltaWolf
Sanjin doesn’t know Zevhran well, and of course Orensland’s thoughts would weigh heavy on the groups decision -but it seems entirely plausible to Sanjin that Zevhran might be doing legitimate business if the money is good enough. Not that he trusts him to not stab someone in the back if it proved profitable.

Crosis
After everybody has checked in to their rooms, Orensland would make an approximation dummy in the bed and shadowdance to the rooms of his compatriots as discreetly as possible. He would then convey, one by one and away from windows and doors, that Zevhran's presence was more than a business engagement— his father warned him that they are being targeted tonight by assassins (hurrah to thieves' cant speech). If anybody wonders how he can trust a word from Zevhran's mouth, Orensland would say, grimly, "he doesn't want some half-baked assassin to kill me before he deigns to do so himself." Oddly enough, that makes sense to Orensland, and it gives him an ironic sense of security. Zevhran is not what we should fear tonight.

I'd assume our rooms are particularly spacious and roomy— likely with multiple rooms. He would recommend we gather into a side room, make a dummy approximation in the bed in the main room, and then wait. If we were careful enough, we'll get one assassin to fight together (rather than 4 that we fight 1:1). He could shadowdance in the room as he waits— he'd position himself close to the likely point of entry (a window, perhaps) so he can move to box in any assassin.

Do you like that idea, everyone? If so, any rolls you want me to make, Eryx?

Stealth check (since there is no dim lighting): 33 (20+13)

… so basically, I'm still invisible:D

DeltaWolf
Sanjin likes the plan. He can cast See Invisibility (but only on himself). He can cast Invisibility on people if that will help. And Sanjin also has Greater Invisibility assuming he has the time to prepare it.

Musha
Oh man, that's cool. And exciting. Aestus' first reaction would be to ask Orensland when and why he went off on his own to meet up with his father to get this information, when it's very apparent that he's such a sly, untrustworthy sort. Yes, I the player, understand that it was conveyed through Thieves' Cant, but Aestus is ignorant of such things. After that, he'd try asking Orensland if his father told him WHO was sending assassins after us, appalled that anybody could be so cowardly as to send some depraved killer at them while they slept, instead of face-to-face. And how do we know this isn't just some setup by his father just to see what our abilities - and weaknesses - may be.

As for Orensland's suggested plan.. let's do it! If they run into, capture, or fight the assassin, Aestus will treat them as a despicable coward - with great disdain.

Crosis
Eryx asked a clarifying detail— I think we should gather in Aestus' room. Not sure if there are multiple assassins, thought I think it's likely. And Aestus would experience the most joy taking out his own assassin coward. "This is what happens when you cross the Fellblade!"

Thev
So, Khaska rolled a 28 on Insight during the dinner, and he realized two things: 1) Orensland and Zevhran were passing messages back and forth somehow, and 2) Zevhran seems quite serious about the business proposition, and genuine about the parts he was discussing. (Eryx, Khaska's immediately suspicious about his story; he wonders whether Zevhran's smuggling ring appropriated the blades first, instead of stealing them back from other criminals. Does Khaska sense that he's holding back or wording things… far too carefully so as to not self-incriminate?)

In any case, Khaska would probably ask Orensland outright: first, whether he trusts his father about this "business venture," asking whether any of the others found his convenient acquisition of shipments of swords too convenient, and second, whether Orensland got anything else from that exchange (being oblique himself, but clearly hinting at the subvocal messages). I'm supposing that Orensland will decline to elucidate the contents of that conversation at the moment, so we'll go with his plan to convey the information later.

As for facing the assassins, Khaska agrees that it's probably best to congregate in one room to face them, if not leave the inn entirely. (Actually, when Orensland goes to visit Khaska, Khaska can exit his room with the Hat of Disguise, looking like Aestus, and then walk to Aestus's room!) We could also see about booby trapping whatever rooms we can, while avoiding damage to the hotel. (Would his flame spells, y'know, catch the building or furniture on fire? Glyph of Warding could be fun, though I'm not sure yet what Khaska would have prepared for a day in Sethrayin. Honestly, that would be a reasonable security measure whenever the party's staying in an unfamiliar place…)

ADDENDUM: Eryx has confirmed that Zevhran's associates were the pirates who stole the shipments in the first place, now wanting to sell them back. In this case, Khaska would be tempted to arrange the introduction… but message the Knights ahead of time, probably via Sending, that Zevhran is with the initial pirates, letting them handle it from there.

ADDENDUM 2: Khaska could also let the Knights know that we apparently have assassins coming for us. (Sending is so useful.) If you'd like, he can do that, and see if there would be any help they could lend.

QUESTION: Whom among the Knights should Khaska contact, and what should he say? My thought is to notify them of the situation with an imminent assassination attempt, and perhaps ask if they'd be willing to offer support or even safe harbor. As for whom, Khaska thinks that Sir Perone might be good (he arranged for lodgings) or even, perhaps, Rider Valnala (though that could come off as highly presumptuous).

DeltaWolf
Sanjin agrees they should contact the Knights (Sir Perone probably) -they at least should know what's happening in their town. In any case Sanjin thinks they need to deal with the assassins lest the party always be looking over their shoulders.

Musha
Aestus agrees that Sir Perone would be the best contact and absolutely agrees with Sanjin to deal with the assassins firsthand. Let's not let others deal with a threat that Aestus KNOWS his party can handle easily. We will show all cowards what happens when they mess with us. Via Sending, let's see if the Knights have any sort of intelligence network in place or any such resources to track down whoever put a hit out on us.

Crosis
This might be paranoid, but Orensland hasn't completely put away his distrust of the Knights. For all he knows, it was one of their number who put a mark on his party in the first place. While he'd feel ok alerting the knights in advance to our introductions with Zevhran, he wouldn't want to mention the assassins.

Thev
After discussing the options with the party, Khaska feels that that Orensland's thoughts might have justification. After all, the Knights did arrange our lodging, and while they have a chain of command, it's not like they're beyond infiltration or bad actors. Perhaps best would be to send a message notifying them that we have some urgent information that would be of interest and would like a time to speak with someone tomorrow, ideally in the morning. That way we'll be on their calendar as early as possible, expected to show up early (if anything happens, they'll have known), and able to report on the events of the night as soon as possible. Khaska would also propose sending the message to Sir Mistretta first, as he's a lower-ranking contact who seems eager to help out and would know with whom we could speak. Depending on his response, Khaska could send another message to another knight (Sir Perone probably first).

The message would be roughly this: "Have urgent message for Knights, want to meet early tomorrow. Matters of shipping and security. Could you notify someone and say whom we should meet?"

Then, we can prepare to catch an assassin.

EDIT:

Eryx just reminded me that we're set to meet with Sir Mistretta in the morning. That takes care of the message outlined above! In that case, let's try to set something up with Sir Perone: "We have received urgent information regarding Knights' logistics and local security. Might we meet tomorrow late morning to relay information? Let us know when's best."

Khaska was staring at Orensland, who was himself just staring after his father. The shadowdancer didn’t twitch a muscle, just waiting. Khaska had seen Orensland only this serious a handful of times; it was disconcerting. The cleric was aware that there was some further communication between the father and son, having picked up on some of the undercurrents of the conversation, but he had been unable to tell what was exchanged.

As Sanjin finished his meal, Orensland abruptly stood up. “Let’s go to our rooms,” he said, turning to leave. Sanjin finished the last bite of his duck and drank down the rest of his goblet of wine, taking the bottle with him.

The concierge was able to give a footman their room keys and they were escorted to the very top floor of the hotel. Each of them had their own suite, lavishly furnished. The footman asked if there were any services they would be taking advantage of while they slept, polishing armor, laundering clothes, that sort of thing. Orensland slipped him an entire gem to get him out of there (the young man’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates), and disappeared into his room.

Aestus glanced at the other two, a bit puzzled. He had never seen Orensland like this before. Sanjin shrugged. “Goodnight.” He went into his suite.

“Keep your armor on,” Khaska said.

“Okay,” said Aestus. When the cleric entered his suite, Aestus was a little confused. Something was going on, but he didn’t know what. He went into his rooms.

Khaska didn’t have to wait long. He was inspecting the rooms when he turned and suddenly Orensland was standing right behind him. Khaska hadn’t even heard him come in.

“My dad communicated a secret message to me while we were talking. Assassins are coming to kill us tonight. He warned us not because he cares but because he wants to be the one to kill me.”

“I did get the impression he was at least serious about his ‘business proposition,’” Khaska said. “Though, it seems obvious to me that he and his associates stole the weapons and are now trying to turn a profit.”

“We can deal with all that if we survive the night,” Orensland said. “I suggest we lay in wait for them, here, in our rooms.”

Khaska nodded. “Let’s go get the others.” He reached into his backpack and donned the hat of disguise, invoking its magic to look like Aestus.

Orensland ghosted over to Sanjin’s suite, opening the door and disappearing in for a moment. The two elves emerged a moment later, and the shadowdancer moved right to the doors to Aestus’ suite.

Aestus, like Khaska, didn’t even hear Orensland enter, but Sanjin was not as quiet, and Khaska certainly wasn’t. The Fellblade had the disconcerting moment to look at himself. Khaska then dropped the magical disguise.

Orensland explained the situation. They discussed their options, and came to a consensus. They would lie in wait in Aestus’ chambers, in one of the side rooms, and get the drop on the assassins.

“Should we contact the Knights?” asked Khaska.

“We’re not sure the Knights haven’t been infiltrated to set us up,” Orensland said.

“Let me at least send a message to Sir Perone requesting that we meet with him tomorrow morning,” said Khaska. “So they are at least expecting us. Sir Mistretta will be here after breakfast.”

“Fair enough,” said Orensland.

Khaska sent a message to Sir Perone. “We have received urgent information regarding Knights' logistics and local security. Might we meet tomorrow late morning to relay information? Let us know when's best.”

Sir Perone replied immediately. “Come as soon as you can. We stand ready to assist.”

They then set up the bed with pillows and the like to make it seem as if Aestus were sleeping, Khaska set up a Glyph of Warding spell and gave everybody a Maha'i password to cancel its effects should they need to. Their preparations made, they put out the lights in the suite, and waited. Sanjin was reading from his spellbooks, preparing as he could for combat. Khaska prayed silently, and Aestus tried to remain silent. Neither the Maha’i or the human could see really anything much, just what small light came in through the window which, with drawn curtains, wasn’t much light at all.

Orensland simply vanished into thin air.

“Hey,” Sanjin whispered. “That gives me an idea.” After a few minutes of further studying, he chanted under his breath and moved his hands in somatic motions. In the darkness of the room, the magic took hold. “Aestus, myself, and Khaska are as invisible as you are, Orensland,” he said.

They waited. It had been a gamble to cast Invisibility. If the assassins didn’t appear within the hour of the spell, it would be wasted.

The gamble paid off.

Despite the fact that Orensland had double and triple-checked the doors to the balcony were locked, they swung silently open, some soft light spilling into the room from the hotel courtyard.

There were two small puffs and suddenly there were two slight figures in the room next to the bed where the fake Aestus was sleeping. They both swung down with their swords silently and their blades slashed viciously into the bed, sending feathers everywhere.

Eryx (DM)
With the doors open, there is now enough light that the main bedroom is dim light, per the rules. You can all see the figures, but only Sanjin and Orensland, with their darkvision, can identify them as drow—dark elves.

Please roll initiative and give me one round of combat. You are all currently invisible. You will not be once you attack.

Here’s the setup. You are all hiding in the rather large walk-in closet just off the master bedroom. There are two assassins on either side of the bed, and one on the balcony who opened the doors for them to teleport in.

Unfortunately, none of them have stepped on the Glyph of Warding (in red on the map). Yet.

Crosis
For the record, Orensland probably would have been chilling in the top left corner of the room since he's invisible. No sense crowding the walk-in closet, since it looks like there's not much space in there.

Question about the balcony - you drew the drow right next to the edge. What roll would I need to succeed in shoving him over the edge? If it's quite likely I would succeed (small figure, the balcony edge isn't too high etc.), Orensland would try to do that. Regardless, I'd go ahead and try to take out the guy on the balcony first.

If the "push off the ledge" idea looks too risky, the good ol' sneak attack methodology sounds like the way to go. If lighting my sword on fire would negate the sneak attack, feel free to reduce the fire damage below. Overall, though, I suspect that my 21 is what we call a "solid hit" in the rogue business.

Initiative:28 (rolled 18+10)
To hit: 21 (rolled 14 + 7)
Damage: 30 (rolled 4 + 3 + [fire damage 2d6] 5 + [sneak attack damage 6d6] 18)

Thev
Oh boy! Let's hope someone can draw one of the drow out onto Khaska's glyph; he wasn't counting on them teleporting in!

Initiative: 16 (I'm glad Orensland rolled high enough that Khaska isn't the first to go!

Actions:

1. Cast Blindness on the drow to the 'south' of the bed.

2. Cast Bless (second level, to include himself), empowering each of the party members with a bonus 1d4 attack die.

3. Cast Guardian of Faith, with the spell centered on that grid intersection near the middle of the foot of the bed. That'll encompass most of the room within its 10-foot radius.

How's that sound?

DeltaWolf

  • Initiaive: 3
  • Cast Chain Lightning at the middle one -then arcs at the other two
    • DC: 17
    • Damage: 42

Musha
Aestus will move towards the one to the north of the bed, so he can reposition to the others very quickly should he need to, and attack. He feels great hatred towards these cowards who would only face them in the dark while they would be unarmed and at their most vulnerable. He won't hold back.

I'm not quite sure at which point Aestus would lose invisibility, after his first attack, or after he makes all 3 attacks, so I will roll advantage for all 3 and let Eryx decide which to use. Even if he loses invisibility after his first attack, he's attempting to trip on his first attack and, if successful, will continue giving him advantage on the rest of his attacks. Aestus would understand that for an assassination on this party to be successful, it would have to be highly coordinated and there are probably other assassins in his friends' rooms attempting their kill at the same time, otherwise they run the risk of having their target's friends come in and interrupt. Thus, he will save his action surge for if/when more show up.

If he can't ignite his axe without giving away his invisibility, he would wait until just before attacking to ignite it. But if his flaming axe would also be invisible (per the rule, "Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person"), he will use his first bonus action on his offhand attack.

The numbers before the slashes are my first rolls, 2nd numbers are 2nd rolls from advantage:

  • Initiative: 7 (rolled 5 + 2)
  • Attack 1 To Hit: 15/24 (rolled 2/11 + 9 + [Bless]rolled 4/4)
  • Attack 1 Damage: 24 (rolled 8 + rolled 4 + 5 + [fire damage 2+1+1+3]7)
  • Attack 2 To Hit: 26/16 (rolled 14/5 + 9 + [Bless]rolled 3/2)
  • Attack 2 Damage: 31 (rolled 5 + rolled 6 + 5 + [fire damage 4+4+5+2]15)
  • Attack 3 To Hit: 11/21 (rolled 1/8 + 9 + [Bless]rolled 1/4)
  • Attack 3 Damage: 23 (rolled 4 + rolled 1 + 5 [fire damage 1+5+5+2]13)
  • Bonus Attack To Hit: 30/16 (rolled 18/3 + 11 + [Bless]rolled 1/2)
  • Bonus Attack Damage: 12 (rolled 2 + rolled 3 + 7)

If a melee attack against Aestus misses, he will use his Riposte reaction.

These cowards will die. If the party wishes prisoners, they best let Aestus know.

EDIT: I just realized that the Glyph of Warding might be in Aestus' way. Is he able to maneuver around it?

EDIT: Eryx informed me that my target(s) became paralyzed before I acted, thus I will not be tripping or disarming, and all my hits will be crits. So I have added additional rolls and adjusted the total damage above.

Orensland, hidden in the shadows, smirked. With his darkvision, he could easily tell that these newcomers were drow. They would have to ascertain how a trio of drow assassins had made it all the way to the center of the city and into Aestus’ room. But, first things first.

These assassins were about to have a very bad evening.

He could see the confusion registering on the two bladed assassins faces as the feathers floated around them, and decided that his attention would be better focused on the one who had somehow come to his balcony and opened the door. He whispered the command word to bypass Khaska’s Glyph of Warding and stabbed the male drow in the chest.

The man choked on some blood, but managed to mutter an incantation. His eyes turned inky black and Orensland felt his mind cloud, but then the rogue shook the magic spell off and withdrew his sword. The man crouched down, staff in hand.

At the same time Khaska cast Blindness on one of the assassins, and she fired a crossbow bolt into the walk-in closet they were hiding in, but the cleric managed to block it with his shield. It bounced off with a ping! and fell to the floor as Aestus rushed out.

The other assassin leapt to intercept him but just before they met a flare of light erupted from the ground, triggering a Hold Person spell. The drow woman couldn’t even cry out in pain as Aesutus began to work her over. Just as he finished, a bolt of lightning arced from the closet, lighting up the room as Sanjin’s Chain Lightning arced from the drow fighting Aestus to the other two. Thunder echoed through the air.

Orensland smiled. He didn’t mind the attention. But just then he felt another bit of magic take hold of him and he felt feverish and weak. His attempts to hit the drow man in front of him suddenly lacked punch as some spell sapped his strength.

Eryx (DM)
Here is the situation. The Glyph of Warding was triggered by the north assassin, who is paralyzed. The south assassin is currently blinded as well. (MVP to this round goes to Khaska.)

Orensland is at 75/102 hitpoints.
Everybody else is still at full health.

Please give me one more round of actions. Just one round, please.

Crosis
Hey Eryx, you may want to update the "current chapter" to this one now :)

Ah, wizard folk. Well, let's see how this ends.

Orensland will do his best to not deal an immediate killing blow (such as chopping off his head). He'd aim for putting the drow in a state where he's unconscious and essentially rolling death saving throws. We can talk, briefly, about whether or not to stabilize him. I personally would like to interrogate one of them, though perhaps the blind assailant is a better option. To be discussed post-battle.

When the battle is over, we should check if there is any indication they are Cult members (such as a membership ring). The drow in the Citadel were supposedly not participants in the religious nature of the Cult, but it's worth checking.

To hit: 17 (rolled 10 + 7 mod)
Damage: 11 (rolled 2 + 3 + 6 (fire))

Eryx (DM)
Yeah, I realized that Chapter 3 would be enormous if we kept going, so I decided to add a chapter break in. I've fixed the top bar now. Thanks for the reminder.

Edit: Also, if I could get all of you to give me 3 d20 rolls that I will use as needed for your various saves in this combat, that would be great.

Crosis
My 3 D20 rolls:
13, 2, 11

Musha

  • Attack 1 To Hit: 14/30 (rolled 4/20 + 9 + [Bless]rolled 1/1)
  • Attack 1 Damage: 28 (rolled 4 + rolled 8 + 5 + [fire damage 2+1+5+3]11)
  • Attack 2 To Hit: 16/29 (rolled 5/18 + 9 + [Bless]rolled 2/2)
  • Attack 2 Damage: 23 (rolled 2 + rolled 2 + 5 + [fire damage 2+4+2+6]14)
  • Attack 3 To Hit: 30/26 (rolled 17/15 + 9 + [Bless]rolled 4/2)
  • Attack 3 Damage: 17 (rolled 4 + rolled 2 + 5 [fire damage 1+1+2+2]6)
  • Bonus Attack To Hit: 28/29 (rolled 13/15 + 11 + [Bless]rolled 4/3)
  • Bonus Attack Damage: 13 (rolled 5 + rolled 1 + 7)

D20 x 3:
19, 11, 16

If the paralyzed drow woman falls to his blows this round, Aestus will move toward the spell caster on the balcony and finish his attacks on him.

Thev
Hooray for defensive spells! :D

I also think that Aestus's rolls might need to remove the Bless effects. I accidentally gave three rounds of actions above instead of one.

At this point, Khaska's going to cast Hold Person at 3rd level, targeting the non-paralyzed drow (female, balcony).

3d20:
8, 18, 7

DeltaWolf
Sanjin will cast Ray of Frost at the one further into the room

  • To hit: 14
  • Damage: 12 Cold Damage

He still managed to strike the drow in front of him, and the shadowdancer could tell this spellcaster was hurt, but the drow’s eyes remained inky black. He cast another spell but pointed at the associate of his who was paralyzed, and the woman regained her ability to move and began to defend herself against Aestus, dodging and weaving while her inky black sword tried to find a way through his defenses. She managed to strike him once and as he gritted his teeth against the pain darkness enveloped him. Unable to see where her next attack came from, she again managed to stab him.

Khaska cast another spell, Hold Person, on the spellcaster and the one fighting Aestus, who was now enveloped in a pillar of darkness. Both of them seized up, frozen. Khaska was happy for a brief moment before he was also enveloped in darkness. He could hear the other assassin enter the closet with him and Sanjin and could tell that the drow woman was trying to attack the elf wizard.

Aestus took his best shot, unable to see. He missed twice, before realizing that the darkness around him had a limited area of effect. One his head was out he could see his quarry, paralyzed again before him.

Two blows from the Fellblade and she collapsed to the floor, blood fountaining from her wounds across the feather-strewn floor.

Aestus moved on the spellcaster. He smiled at Orensland … who suddenly looked like he imploded with a small puff, and vanished. Some new shadowdancing trickery?

Sanjin hurriedly cast Dispel Magic and the darkness that had enveloped him and Khaska vanished. He found himself staring at the cold eyes of one of the drow assassins.

Eryx (DM)
One of the reasons that I ask for only one round of combat is that … things change a LOT in a combat like this. I’ve tried to ask for clarifications by text or whatever when your stated course of action no longer makes sense. Would you like me to continue to do so? Shall I just ask you for one round and stick with your posts (thus giving me a slight advantage as the NPCs can adjust more readily than you)? Adjust on the fly (I don’t like this because I don’t want to play your characters, and it’s weird trying to suss out tactics against myself)? Pick MY tactics before the round begins so that we’re all making sub-optimal choices? What do you think? I’m trying to balance a realistic combat with moving forward quickly.

Aestus is at 56/116 hitpoints.
Orensland is at 75/102 hitpoints. None of you know where he is at the moment.

Here is the situation. The drow in the closet with Sanjin and Khaska is still blinded, and you can see the square where Aestus is has been marked to represent the darkness created by the assassin that he felled.It only takes up that one square.

Please give me one more round of actions.

Thev
I like you updating us if the action no longer makes sense!

At this point, Khaska's going to cast Harm at the female drow assassin near him. If she fails the saving throw (CON 17), not only does she take full damage, but her HP maximum is reduced by the amount of damage she takes.

Harm: 14d6 = 50

Crosis
I spoke with Eryx about what happened to Orensland, and I believe all I'm allowed to say is that he is out of commission for the moment. So no rolls, though the thought "man, I should have just pushed him over the ledge" is likely flitting through his mind.

DeltaWolf
I appreciate being able to rethink Sanjin’s actions with updated information.

Sanjin will cast Hold Monster (Level 5) on the Woman in front of him.

  • Wisdom Save: 17

Musha

  • Attack 1 Trip Attack To Hit: 18/26 (rolled 9/17 + 9)
  • Attack 1 Damage: 29 (rolled 7 + 5 + [fire damage 5+3]8 + [superiority]9)
  • Strength Save: 17
  • Attack 2 To Hit: 23/11 (rolled 14/2 + 9)
  • Attack 2 Damage: 13 (rolled 2 + 5 + [fire damage 3+3]6)
  • Attack 3 To Hit: 14/24 (rolled 5/15 + 9)
  • Attack 3 Damage: 14 (rolled 5 + 5 [fire damage 2+2]4)
  • Bonus Attack To Hit: 28/27 (rolled 17/16 + 11)
  • Bonus Attack Damage: 10 (rolled 3 + 7)

If the opportunity presents itself, he will use Riposte and/or Sentinel Attack reactions.

Khaska immediately cast Harm on her, and he watched as the divine energy from his spell sapped her strength and ate at her health. But then she began wildly hacking at the wizard, hitting him. At the first blow, darkness enveloped Khaska, and he heard Sanjin cry out at a second blow, and then the sound of the wizard crumpling to the floor of the closet.

The spellcaster in front of Aestus shrugged off Khaska’s Hold Person spell just in time to defend himself, but it made little difference against the skills of the former vampire gladiator. Aestus yanked his feet from under him with a vicious strike from his battleaxe and then proceeded to pound away at him, landing several more blows. The drow was savaged, leaking blood all over the balcony, but was not yet down. Aestus heard shouts from below and spared a look. People in the courtyard of the Golden Cask had noticed the combat, and were shouting and pointing.

Then another spell hit Aestus. His vision grew dark for a moment before he steeled himself against the magic, resisting its effects. He was quite certain that spell had not come from the drow now at his feet, and the drow women in the room didn’t seem the spellcaster type.

There was another player at work here.

Eryx (DM)
DeltaWolf, you never gave me rolls that I could use for saving throws, so I rolled for you. You successfully resisted the drow poison on the assassin’s blade, but were still felled by the attacks. Your AC is only 11? You should work on that; even still blinded (and thus with disadvantage) she managed to hit you every time.

Please give me a Death Saving Throw for Sanjin.

Khaska, you are in darkness. You don’t know whether it’s the sort of dark boxes you saw being used on Aestus a round ago, or a new Darkness spell like the one Sanjin dispelled.

The hitpoint situation is unchanged for everybody else. Orensland is still nowhere to be seen, but Aestus’ keen sense of the combat has made him realize that there is a 4th assassin casting spells. You may give me a Perception Check, Musha, to try and find this spellcaster.

Here is the situation. Nobody has moved, but please note the nifty new icon for Khaska. Thevarou has spent some time in his furlough painting a very very awesome portrait of Khaska. I hope he’ll link it for you all to see.

I will be in Utah visiting family for the next few weeks, so we’re in no rush to get your responses. It would be nice to have them by the 5th of August, when I will return. I will update the gray box here if something pops up, but I’m not going to take the time to play out the entire next round of combat while on vacation.

Please give me one more round of actions.

Thev
Khaska would cast Healing Word on Sanjin, but it apparently requires Khaska to see him… which, at present, he can't. Drat.

In place of that, he'll use a bonus action to cast Spiritual Weapon (4th level), targeting the drow nearest him, and his action to cast Spirit Guardians. If he can also exit the closet, to get the other drow Aestus is fighting within the Spirit Guardians 15-foot radius, he'll do so.

Spiritual Weapon: 9
Spirit Guardians: 23

[Edited because Eryx brought to my attention a bonus action rule I was unaware of!]

Musha

  • Perception = 11 rolled 4 + 7. Hardly impressive, but I will shout to the others, "There's a fourth drow coward here! Find them!"

I will try to finish off the one in front of me, then move onto the one immediately threatening my friends. Unless 11 is enough to find the unseen one and Aestus assesses them as a bigger threat. Whoever Aestus goes after once his current target is dead, he will attempt a Trip Attack on his new target.

  • Attack 1 To Hit: 28/27 (rolled 19/18 + 9)
  • Attack 1 Damage: 20 (rolled 8 + 5 + [fire damage 6+1]7)
  • Attack 2 To Hit: 12/26 (rolled 3/17 + 9)
  • Attack 2 Damage: 21 (rolled 8 + 5 + [fire damage 2+6]8)
  • Attack 3 To Hit: 23/14 (rolled 14/5 + 9)
  • Attack 3 Damage: 10 (rolled 1 + 5 [fire damage 2+2]4)
  • Bonus Attack To Hit: 14/29 (rolled 3/18 + 11)
  • Bonus Attack Damage: 13 (rolled 6 + 7)

Not knowing which attack(s) will finish off his current target and which attack will start on the next target, I've decided to roll for the Trip Attack separately, to be added to the damage of the attack, as appropriate. If his first attempt to trip misses, he will attempt a 2nd time.

  • Trip Attack attempt 1 damage: 9
  • Trip Attack attempt 2 damage: 7

DeltaWolf
I was unaware you needed me to give you saving throws…

  • Death Saving Throw: 10 Success!

Crosis
Orensland is currently out of commission, but just posting to let you know I've seen this and wish you guys the best of luck.

“There's a fourth drow coward here! Find them!” Aestus yelled out as the drow in front of him stood and blasted him with a Witchbolt spell, the dark lightning arcing from the caster’s hands to play across Aestus. The drow stepped away, trying to flee, but Aestus caught him with his axe and pulled him in face to face. “You leave when I say you can leave!” Two more quick blows finished him. “And you die when I say you die.”

With that, Aestus rushed to help Khaska and was horrified to see the remaining drow woman stab the unconscious Sanjin and then turn on Khaska. The cleric cast a new spell, his prayer to Teresh invoking something perhaps more appropriate from Bahamut, as many tiny silver dragons appeared around him, his Spirit Guardians attacking all their enemies. The drow woman’s eyes widened in fear as Aestus charged at her, and he yanked her legs out from under her in one motion before smashing into her twice times. Just before he dealt the final blow she yelled something in a language that none of them understood, and then was silenced by Aestus’ axe cutting deep into her chest, killing her.

“Where is Orensland?” Aestus asked.

“I don’t know. We need to find …” Just then, Orensland popped back into the room, space suddenly unfolding and the shadowdancer appearing where he had been.

A buzzing sound filled their ears as a swarm of locusts appeared in the room, the small insects biting at their flesh … “the other caster!”

Eryx (DM)
Sanjin was stabbed by the drow assassin while already down, which means he has failed two death saves (and succeeded on one).

Here is the hitpoint situation:

Sanjin—2 death saving throws failed, 1 death saving throw succeeded.
Aestus—13/116 hitpoints.
Khaska—61/80 hitpoints.
Orensland—56/102 hitpoints. Welcome back!

The mysterious caster has filled the room with Insect Plague. I’ve tried my best to indicate which squares are filled with the insects. Luckily the reach of the spell does not include the square where Sanjin is resting. The square just to the south of Sanjin is also unaffected by the insects.

Here is the map of the current situation. I hope it is clear where the Insect Plague is and where it isn't.

I would like everybody to make a Perception Check/Insight Check (your choice) to see if you can determine where this remaining caster is. If someone is able to determine this, I'll post here in the grey box so you can all decide your next actions accordingly.

Aside from that, what do you want to do?

Crosis
It's good to be back! Drifting in a grey void is no fun. I assume so, at least.

Using my Reliable Talent trait, I can replace a <10 roll that adds a proficiency bonus with a 10. I rolled a 7, so replacing the 7 with 10.

  • Perception Check: 15 (rolled 10 + 5)

…though for the record, I feel like investigation (searching a room) plays a bigger role here than insight (interpreting body language) but whatever, you're the DM. :) If you feel I have a point, feel free to add +6 to the number above as I switch to investigation (21 total).

Given the nature of the spell, I think there's a fair chance that the caster is not actually in the insect cloud - I think it would hurt them as much as us. It's likely the caster is either invisible (Greater Invisibility allows the caster to remain invisible even after casting spells) or ducking out of sight (like in the nearby study). Also, it could be that the caster is making a break for it and using the cloud as cover - that seems a good use of the spell, especially given how severely outnumbered they likely are. As such, Orensland would make a run for the study/room entrance area presuming nobody else actually sees the caster. It seems the most likely location for the caster to be.

Eryx (DM)
Crosis was correct that I mislabeled the skills you could use. Perception or INVESTIGATION.

With that in mind, Orensland got a 21 Investigation result.

He suspects that the remaining drow caster might be targeting the party from outside the room, perhaps another balcony or a nearby roof or some such, but he doesn't know for sure.

Thev
Oh, the "Locust Swarm" thing is a bit of a relief! When I saw the map in the email, I feared that the room had exploded! XD

Khaska rolled an 18 (13+5) on his Perception Check, if that helps at all.

Now that Sanjin's no longer concealed by a cloud of darkness, Khaska can cast the healing spell (Healing Word, 2nd Level) he wanted to before. Sanjin regains 11 HP! (3+3+5)

If we want to keep one of the assassins around for questioning (he'd ask the party if there's a spare moment), Khaska can use his action to touch one of them and cast Spare the Dying.

If that can wait, Khaska would run through the cloud of locusts and get ready to cast Scorching Ray at wherever the last assassin may be.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin, having regained consciousness from being healed, will stand up -then attempted to dispell the Locust Swarm

  • Cast Dispel Magic (Level 5)

Crosis
Orensland, given the information he feels he has gained, will dash out of view/range (to the left, into the corner) and convey as discreetly as he can the observation Eryx indicated from his Investigation check to the others. He'd then shadowdance and sneak out onto the balcony (top right corner) to try to get a better look at where the enemy is, an effort that Sanjin's spell will help significantly if successful.

  • Stealth: 23 (reliable talent used: 4->10+13 mod = 23)

Thev
Here are Khaska's Scorching Ray rolls (5th level, so 6 rays; each includes the +9 bonus).

20; damage: 4
18; damage: 9
26; damage: 12
12; damage: 5
18; damage: 9
23; damage: 3

Assessing the situation, Orensland snuck over to Khaska, whispering. “I think the last caster is outside the room, maybe the roof or something?” The elf than vanished into the shadows.

Khaska reached down to heal Sanjin, who awoke with a start. “Whoa!” The wizard hurriedly began to cast Dispel Magic when they heard a whisper from Orensland again.

“Drow woman, two balconies over to the west. Go around, Aestus, to their front door!”

Aestus didn’t need to be told twice. He almost ripped the door to his suite off of its hinge in his hurry to get there.

Both of them were gone by the time Sanjin had finished his spell. The insects vanished as it negated the drow’s magic.

Khaska reached down to touch the nearest drow, his Spare the Dying stabilizing her.

“Good,” said Sanjin. “We need to question at least one of them.”

Khaska nodded, then rushed out to the balcony. He could see the drow caster two balconies over, just where Orensland said she would be. She saw him looking right at her, and stood up, a longsword appearing by her side, her own Spiritual Weapon, and then suddenly she lunged forward over the balcony, tumbling head over heels to the courtyard below, landing with a bone-splintering crunch. Orensland appeared behind her, but then immediately vanished in the process of jumping off of the balcony with his grappling hook attached to it.

The gathered crowd in the courtyard of the Golden Casket began to scream as the combat they had seen playing out four stories up had suddenly landed in their very midst!

Khaska reached out his hand and practically shouted a prayer to Teresh, his blazing bolts of Scorching Ray rocketing from his fingertips to burn the drow woman with white fire. He noticed Aestus appear on the balcony where the woman had been, see the situation, curse loud enough to be heard, turn, and run back inside. The crowd looked up to see where the spell had come from to see the Maha'i cleric surrounded by silver dragons blasting down to this intruder.

Sanjin sauntered out to stand next to Khaska. “Well, now it is down to her, and all of us.” He cracked his knuckles and launched a Ray of Frost at her. The ice smashed into her, coating her and the ground around her in a thin layer of ice.

Down on the ground, as the crowd backed away from the drow woman, two Knights of the Silver Dragons stepped forward, swords drawn. “Halt!” They yelled at her.

The look she gave them indicated that she did not, indeed, plan on halting.

Eryx (DM)
Here is the hitpoint situation.

Sanjin—11/57 hitpoints.
Aestus—13/116 hitpoints.
Khaska—61/80 hitpoints.
Orensland—56/102 hitpoints.

The drow woman is on the ground four stories down. Orensland is using his rope to descend, and you'll be able to get to her this round if you wish. Per your texts, you are shadowdancing and nobody can see you.

Given the angles, I've ruled that ranged attacks do NOT have disadvantage as they usually would against a prone character.

Aestus is running down the stairs. It will take him two rounds to get down to the ground floor and re-engage. There are two Knights who were in the courtyard and who have drawn swords and entered the combat against the remaining caster.

Give me two rounds of actions this time, because I suspect that will be enough to finish her off. Please also tell me what you wish to do afterwards. (You have attracted quite a bit of attention and the Knights and city guards will be arriving more en masse after the combat ends.)

Crosis
Eryx and I spoke and did some rolls, I hit her both times with sneak attacks for the following damages:

37
42

After the caster is dead, Orensland will basically appear out of thin air covered in blood, will flash a grin at the Knights if they are both alive and thank them for their help. If one or both are dead, he would take on a more serious tone. He would do his best to stabilize the injured knights (hopefully they are paladins, since Orensland doesn't know much about stabilizing folk) and make sure more Knight officials make it to the scene. That could involve asking the crowd for a healer and pointing somebody out to fetch the Knights, if need be.

Regardless, he'd let everybody know that a warrior is rushing down the stairs and that they should give a wide birth to the front door.

I'm not sure how the Knights do interrogation, but they probably have some additional resources and would do a better job than us for any surviving drow. Orensland would insist he be present for that interrogation - I'd assume the party would want to as well.

Thev
Well, Orensland… seems to have taken care of the other assassin quite handily. But Khaska doesn't know that yet, so for his first action he'll cast Hold Person to detain her.

If any of the Knights below get injured grievously, he'll cast Healing Word at them, though I don't anticipate that will be necessary.

In any case, he'd call down to the Knights in the courtyard, thanking them for coming and explaining that there are multiple suspects in the room behind him who need to be apprehended. After that, he'd head back into the room to check on the status of the other assassins. If either of the other ones is still on death's door, instead of dead, Khaska will cast Spare the Dying on them as well so that they can be taken into custody.

After taking care of the assassins in the room, he'd return to the balcony to speak with the Knights if they need. He wouldn't descend to the courtyard, just to make sure that nothing happens to the assassins in his absence.

He would, with Orensland, request to at least listen to and/or observe the questioning of the assassins — as well as reach out to Sir Perone to say that he'll be receiving updates very soon, and prepare to meet with Sir Mistretta in a couple hours.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin will fire off Ray of Frost (range: 60 feet) until the assailant is out of range or down. Then he will assist Khaska with the prisoners we’ve taken.

  • Ray of Frost
    • To Hit: 16
    • Damage: 20 Cold
  • Ray of Frost
    • To Hit: 17
    • Damage: 18 Cold

Sanjin will follow Khaska’s lead with the Knights

But first, she had to deal with the shadowdancer. Orensland appeared just above her, landing astride her and stabbing downward. Blood fountained from the wound as she kicked his leg aside and slithered out from underneath him. Khaska said another prayer to Teresh and cast Hold Person, but it was obvious from the way she ducked and weaved that it she had resisted its effects.

The two Knights converged on her, swords hacking and slashing, but she managed to dodge out of the way of most of them. Aestus would have to do more training with them, thought Orensland. She ducked aside from a blow and then reached up, practically screeching a spell aimed at the balcony.

Just as Sanjin was preparing a spell, the sound around them vanished. Her Silence spell made casting impossible. The wizard frowned. That was unfortunate.

But down below, her momentary distraction from casting, combined with her need to dodge from the attacks coming from three melee opponents, gave Orensland the opportunity he needed. He stabbed her with his sword, careful to do non-lethal damage, but the blood flowed freely again. As she fainted at his feet, he withdrew his weapon, flicking it and sending a spray of blood across the ground (some of which got on a nearby noblewoman, frozen as she was in fear at the sights unfolding before her). “You probably shouldn’t cast that kind of spell when there’s a rogue right behind you,” he said, smiling.

“What in the nine hells is going on here?” one of the paladins asked. The two of them were still standing in en guarde position, facing Orensland.

“Thank you for your assistance,” Khaska called down. “There are multiple suspects here in our room that also need to be apprehended.”

“You,” Orensland said, pointing his sword at one of the gathered crowd, “go to the Knight’s chapterhouse and tell them what has happened here.”

“Do I look like your errand-boy?” the finely-dressed nobleman said.

Orensland pulled out a rag and wiped his blade, making a show of the blood dripping off of it onto the ground. He glared right at the man. “Do I look like I want to wait for an official messenger so I can write a nice letter in flowery handwriting? Maybe I’ll make it a poem.” He sheathed his sword in one fluid motion. “Go, man!”

“Yes, sir!” The man said, and practically ran away.

“Also,” Orensland said, looking at the crowd gathered in the doorway, “you all might want to move. My warrior friend is rushing down the stairs, and he’ll not want to stop to ask politely for you all to move.”

That proved to be a timely statement from the shadowdancer, as a few seconds later cries of alarm came from behind them as Aestus pushed his way through the gathered clientele of the Golden Casket. The two Knights jumped at the sight of the plate-clad fighter, but Aestus evaluated the situation and said the command word to extinguish the flames on his axe, relaxing (and slightly miffed that he had missed the rest of the action).

“What now, Master Khaska?” he shouted up.

Khaska reappeared on the balcony. “One of them lives up here, the other two are dead, killed by that one,” he said, pointing to the one on the ground.

“This one’s still alive,” Orensland said. “We have two to question.”

More guards were arriving now, city watchmen who quickly tied up the living drow, making sure to gag them tightly and bind their hands to prevent spellcasting. More Knights arrived, including Sir Mistretta, who was apoplectic that people under his charge had been attacked. Within minutes each of the party had a contingent of Knights acting as personal bodyguards. Rooms were secured at a different inn closer to the chapterhouse and guards were posted all around it. The surviving drow women were bound and carted to the imperial prison, with Sir Perone, roused from his sleep, personally overseeing the arrangements himself. He, like Sir Mistretta, took it as a personal affront that this had happened on his watch, his very honor besmirched that charges of his had nearly been assassinated. Magical messages were sent to Dragonrider Valnala, who hopefully was not too far away.

By the time everything seemed to be in hand, it was almost daybreak. With paladins and imperial guardsmen surrounding their new inn (high-class, but not as good as the Golden Casket) and posted outside their doors, the party was able to sleep.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter.

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