Wednesday, 22 March 2023

[CAMPAIGN JOURNAL] The Inverted Tower of Hyél Singh

I bring you news of glory and death from the City of Vultures!

Four adventurers, sworn to take revenge for the destruction of the fair city of Avendar, have conspired to track down and assassinate their penultimate target, “He Who Is Not Known”, who has so far drawn many veils of secrecy around him. By now, dead was Isomarg, Maker of Images, identified at a ball of the rich and influential, and hunted down in his own residence. Dead was Ardaviraf, He Who Slumbers Deep Beneath, roused from his drugged torpor to which he had consigned himself, and confronted and killed as he emerged to a higher level of the Underworld. And dead was Vifranavaz, He Who Walks Beyond, followed to the Crystal Palace, an orbital pleasure resort, and found already dead in the dark vacuum of space among the stars he had sought with such obsession. But the price had been high: many of Avendar’s finest agents were also killed in action, with new operatives taking their place. The sole survivor of the second team (after the ill-fated first was unmasked and neutralised) was Farzan, Savant of the Seven Mysteries (Magic-User 9, recently reaching name level), and he was joined by Bron the Elder (Fighter 8, who could calculate the exact value of any object with mathematical precision due to a strange device implanted in his skull deep in the Underworld), Tigran Zard (Cleric 7, a servant of the baleful Sea Demon), and finally Farsi the Younger (Thief 6, Farzan’s created simulacrum).

Two more foes remained: Mehersimin, the Faithful Companion, who had chosen to abandon high society and marry the dreadful Kwárü Khan, a subterranean horror whose very name was only spoken in whispers; and “He Who Is Not Known”, who had practiced complete anonymity. A few fractions of information were known: that “He Who Is Not Known” was a high-ranking priest of the Temple of Jeng; and that he had once infiltrated Avendar’s avengers under the name “Jamal”, and feigned his death when he had presumably learned what he wanted – the latter fact revealed in the mirror of the vampire-mage Riamos in his sealed tower. Divine prophecy could not find “He Who Is Not Known”, only that he was hidden even from the eye of the gods. It was eventually theorised that “He Who Is Not Known” might be using an amulet of proof vs. detection and location, and the company’s objective was thus focused on tracing the route of these items through the City’s trade networks.

In the previous episode, Bron the Elder and Tigran Zard had masked themselves as desert nomads, and visited one Lady An-Raydn, an aristocratic socialite running the most exclusive trading house on Uugen’s Market. Here they learned that these items were indeed for sale, but in such high demand that there would be a long waiting list. Bron and Tigran Zard nodded, and took a good look at the document where the lady’s scribe had recorded their aliases. The same night, a quick heist was conducted to enter the trading house, procure the document, and make a copy – and leave quietly. The names had, indeed, revealed a clue: an amulet was purchased by one Hothog Mirza, as an intermediary for the Temple of Jeng. The infiltrators were left pondering in a dark street about their next move…