The Empty Keg

Session 37

Recap

Upon sighting the bone tower of Khin-Oin and the Great Lift which descends into Morglon-Daar, the Empty Keg withdraws out of sight to plan their next move — taking refuge in relative comfort thanks to Barnaby’s recovered Dragonmark while Jack finishes crafting demonic weapons and armor. The company decides to simply approach the slums surrounding the tower as if they belong there, trusting that false bravado will repel any attack. As it turns out, they seem to be correct as they are not openly threatened while walking among a throng of twisted half-humanoid demons. Jack locates the Lift Master and opens negotiations with him; by claiming the rest of the company are his slaves, he talks the demon down to the equitable price of 3 soul larva.

Hoping to distract Barnaby, Jack sends Azera to take him outside while he tries to negotiate an exchange with the Lift Master. As the company leaves, however, a disfigured, ugly wretch wearing sackcloth approaches, gesticulating with both his humanoid arm and his tentacle. Identifying himself as Skrumbum, he claims to have overheard the party and offers them a deal — unlike most of the rest of the city, he has a use for gold and especially gems. For a mere few thousand gold, he will take them to his “secret” lift on the other side of Skagtown, the slums, and take them into the city without fuss or customs fees. Joshua suspects a con, or perhaps is simply repulsed by the repugnant little creature, but eventually the others overrule him and agree to Skrumbum’s terms (after talking him down to 5000 gp for the trip). On the way, Skrumbum explains to Barnaby how soul larva and residuum are the currency of the city, and that gold and gems are only worth it to him because he can trade them with a few strange looking half-orcs that make regular, if infrequent, trading trips.

Skrumbum’s “secret lift” is little more than a rickety dumbwaiter with miles and miles of decaying ropes and pulleys, but the company risks it. The journey is harrowing, and takes all day, but eventually their guide sets them down in Beggar’s Fall, the poorest district in the city, where they immediately receive black looks from the inhabitants. Skrumbum suggests that they head for the Cinnabar Shadow, the only place in the district which rents rooms — “it’s the enormous mushroom, you can’t miss it!” With a cackle, the demon starts to pull himself back up the cliff face. Barnaby heads directly towards the largest mushroom building he can see, and slows down as it takes him down a blind alley. His instincts are correct. When he turns around, his path is blocked by two huge malgodemons. Out of sight, a voice calls out: “Right on schedule. Get ’em, boys! Take the female; angel slaves are worth a fortune!”

The muscle does it’s job — the malgodemons move to flank while the braxarat, a horrible flayed monstrosity, heads directly for Azera and grabs her by the throat, it’s face twisted into a leering grin. Azera’s eyes flash — the demon has made a terrible miscalculation, as whatever power Azera channels is stronger near the Blood Rift, much stronger. Spitting out abuse, the thing staggers backwards, but its fate is sealed by the deva’s curse. The rest of the Keg converges on the demon as one, and while it tries desperately to channel the pain it feels back, the braxarat’s head is taken from its shoulder by Barnaby within seconds. The rest of the ambush does somewhat better — Azera is spent, and the malgodemons begin to spirit her away, bashing her into unconsciousness while their leader, which appears as little more than an amorphous puddle of black slime, attempts to engulf Jack and then Joshua.

Gnome trickery is too much for the slime demon, as Jack escapes and then blows an enormous hole in the creature. It cries out for surrender, but Joshua is not in the mood and continues to bring the thing down. While Barnaby stops the malgodemons from taking Azera away, the slime demon flees for its life. It’s movements are completely unpredictable — sword swings, thrown weapons, eldritch blasts all fire at where the thing should have been, but never was. Joshua makes a last ditch effort, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, but comes up short and the demon makes its escape. Despondent, Joshua’s pride is further savaged by Barnaby’s taunts, after he ministers to Azera.

Searching the corpses, the company comes across a few larva in curious coin form. While the Cinnabar Shadow is right near them, the Keg decides that Beggar’s Fall is not where they want to be. Consulting their map, they try to navigate to the trade district, but make a wrong turn and find themselves in a slave market. Azera is terrified, and before any slavers can turn their eyes on her, the party beats a hasty retreat. No one seems to be able to find their way, for instead of the market district the company finds themselves outside a five story building built from the bones of death titans, still pulsing with necrotic energy. Spilling out of the establishment, which proclaims itself to be the Howling Devil, are all manners of demons, drunk and roaring with laughter. Inside, succubi and incubi ply their trade. More out of dread curiosity than anything else, the company enters the building.

Inside, the Howling Devil caters to the exotic. Dancers, drinks, drugs, and gambling go on in every corner, in every secret niche and private booth. The noise is overwhelming. Slack-jawed, Barnaby is approached by Madame Xiat — a squat and fat, toad-like creature wearing heavy eyeshadow and lipstick around a distended mouth full of fangs. Gushingly, she refers to him as “Packaos” and offers him his usual suite of pleasures. Uncertain of how to respond, Barnaby is swept away to the penthouse and pulls Azera with him. Meanwhile, Joshua is offered a drink called the Tears of Rashak, made from the tears of deva — it is salty, but he immediately begins to feel incredibly mellow and pleasant. Jack keeps his ears open for rumors and hears about a series of tremors in the chasm that has everyone concerned. At the same time, he marks the gambling tables where a well dressed rakshasha seems to be cleaning up the competition.

Upstairs, Barnaby barely repels the advances of three succubi working girls in the penthouse. The tastes of demons are bizarre; while the penthouse has silken beds and sweet smelling baths, there is also what appears to be a torture chamber, a room filled with small pits of fire, cold, and acid, and a full bar. Barnaby attempts to get information out of the succubi, telling the other two to “bathe” Azera, who he claims is his newest slave. He learns that Kuvu is a curio merchant in the bazaar, but the succubi is surprised to hear that Barnaby wants to meet with her.

Meanwhile, Azera bathes and learns what she can about this Packaos that people seem to have mistaken Barnaby for — Packaos, known as the Immortal, appears to be a cherubic halfling in his late adolescence. Despite having met his demise countless times in front of witnesses, Packaos always appears in the city the following day as if nothing untoward has happened. He has held the title of Blightlord twice before now, where he serves as the master of Beggar’s Fall. He is known for his quixotic nature: one day he is the soul of charity, and the next he is a ruthless killer. The speculation is that he has grown somewhat mad in his inability to die, but that only makes him more dangerous.

The Keg decides to spend the evening in the brothel, so long as it’s on this Packaos’ dime … though Jack starts to edge towards the card tables.

Treasure
9 soul larva

XP
An “honest” demon 1000xp
This is how we roll in Beggar’s Fall 1200xp
The Howling Devil 1000xp

Comments

Today Joshua fell down. Other stuff happened too.

But mostly Joshua fell down.

Hahahahahahaha.

Oh and I just ruined this demon, and my sword got enchanted, and my Dragon Mark is back! Oh and i guess Azera and Jack tried to be tricky with the souls again but they changed their minds. Whatever. Because something amazing happened.

Joshua.
Fell.
Down.

Session 37
 

I uh… heh… yeah, I guess I was feeling pretty bad about that slime fellow. Not killing him and falling again and all. And Uriel was pretty disappointed. But you know what? Feeling OK now. Really digging this tear stuff. I wonder if you have to process the tears somehow… some kind of boiling or maybe mixing or something. Or is it just direct from the source? Maybe I could try and.. no, no. I really shouldn’t do that… maybe. Or? No, no… this is nice, though. Feeling good. Feeling good. Kinda sleepy. I wonder how Barnaby managed to score us this sweet room? Hmm… seems like the kinda thing I’d normally be worried about. Maybe tomorrow.

- Joshua

Session 37
 

Azera paces back and forth, occasionally staring at her armor laid out on the chest of drawers, occasionally pausing in front of the mirror. Eventually, she sighs dramatically and sweeps out of the room.

Her voices can be heard trailing down the penthouse stairs before the door snaps shut, “Tansy, Love. I need your help.”

She returns a few minutes later garbed in an almost replica of her pajamas. Except… well… there’s a bit more sheer now than before… and red. There’s lots of red. But basically, it’s her pajamas. Just…you know… not meant to be slept in. The whole ensemble comes with pointy slippers in any case, and the deva looks a great deal more chipper for the fact.

She eyes the boys appraisingly, “My info’s out of date, and there’s a tiger down there dying to beat an angel at cards. Who’s up for some gambling? Drinks on Pakaos.”

Session 37
 

Beloved Shahryār,

We’re in Morglon-Daar now, and the experience is perhaps as intriguing as it is terrifying. I forgot how overwhelming cities could be.

You’ll be delighted to know I’m currently whiling away my hours in a whorehouse, being attended to by giggling succubi. While navigating to the Pandemoneum’s mechant district, I got us a bit turned about, and we wound up in a baud-house. Yes. Hahah.

I think the Keg’s planning to bed down here for the night. Barnaby’s been mistaken for one of the city’s mouthpieces, Packaos. We’re being treated on his tab. I’m deciding now whether or not to advise everyone to stick around for the evening; it’s an inevitability we’ll be found out. Probably by Packaos himself.

On the one hand, I’m tired of being noticed by big players that have nothing to do with our story. On the other, we might actually find benefit in knowing him. The girls keep talking about how wildly unpredictable and tired of life he is. We could use some controlled chaos on our side. And he’s immortal, I don’t know if I mentioned that. Yes… I think we’ll stay.

Mother hasn’t spoken to me since the night I was freed. I’m starting to worry about that. Especially considering I gave Niamh some of my hair several nights ago now. It would be comforting to know the hag reported the transaction as ordered.

But I should relax. I’m sure I’m just getting paranoid. I have this recurring waking dream that one of the party is going to do something to jeopardize either the codex or the blood of Khyber. I know that’s stupid. It’s not like they want to fail, but Barnaby’s inclination to run towards danger isn’t doing much to relax my fears. Perhaps if he weren’t carrying both items of import, I’d be less tense.

I guess I’m also worried that I’ve backtracked a bit in gaining the boys’ trust. But, really, it’s not worth talking about. I apologized to the offended member, and he’s the reason I’m currently enjoying a bath for the first time in over a decade.

Maybe he’s forgiven me. Even if he hasn’t, I’ll try to be a better friend in the future. It’s amazing how quickly these mortals forgive their friends. Maybe it has something to do with being short lived? That correlation bears further study.

Oh! I wanted to tell you that I’ve made a bit of progress regarding Mistress’s mission. Joshua made mention of Tikulti today, and didn’t seem opposed to talking about him. I feel now that if my intentions toward the shapeshifter are found out, they’ll be well received.

Well, my attendants are giving me funny looks. I should get back to things. I’ll check back in with you tomorrow evening.

Until then, I remain your faithful servant,
Azera

Session 37
Tikulti derekjford

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