Her Ladyship Ellizari the Red of Edsserish (a red dragon 600′ long) invited many from the Vale, including the Citadel House Adventurers, Verdis, Randall, and Rovert to her palace for a party (on the 14th of December) before the onset of winter. Many of them decide to attend, hoping to carry on politics and diplomacy with the power closest to the Vale:
- Rovert (TrS): Level 20 Human Necromancer (Level 4 Tower)
- Drej: Level 5 Psuedodragon Familiar
- Verdis (HuS): Level 15 Human Fighter (Level 2/3 Keep, Governor of the Vale)
- Conan (MiM): Level 12 Elf Vampire Magic-user
- Skarr: Level 6 Hawk Familiar
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 11 Human Fighter
- Neville: Level 5 Toad Familiar
- Randall (HuS): Level 10 Human Druid (Level 3 Grove)
- Polly (MiM): Level 2 Dwarf Brawler
Rovert and Conan, going to Edsserish directly from Rovert’s tower, arrive first. They are greeted at the bridge into the ruined dwarven city where their concierge lizardfolk lead them to a room in the palace itself. They inform them that a dignitary from the Emperor’s Court is present at the party and as such, their agreements with Ellizari should not be discussed, but rather the Valefolk must make out that they are guests in the midst of a temporary truce for this party.
When the Vale delegation (Verdis, Ragnvaldr, Randall, and Polly) arrive at the same bridge, they are held in a rundown shack at the edge of the city and tutored in the customs of a party such as this. They are told that it is tradition for guests at such a party to treat their host as an enemy who has graciously allowed the guest into their home with the promise of safety. They are then led to the mostly abandoned houses on the edge of the palace court where they are given a roughly repaired house in which to stay for the two night party. They are told that the festival is split into three sections: the common, wild, main party in the palace court, Ellizari’s personal party in the royal court where she lives with her hoard, and more private, small, subdued gatherings held in the gardens behind the palace. It is customary for guests to visit Ellizari at her party to be formally received, so they make their way there through the as-yet subdued main party.
Rovert is already socializing in the royal court when the Vale delegation arrives there. Verdis (who has never visited Ellizari in person, only through his magic mirror) is wearing a dragon-worshipper robe he took from the tomb under Wraecliff’s castle. While Ellizari greets them as enemies in truce, a lizardfolk wearing a robe matching Verdis’ calls out at the insult of him coming in such a robe (the Robe of the Pure Dragon), reserved only for the most important dragon servants. The lizardfolk, Gishmu, insists that Verdis return the robe. The priest and the dragon argue in the dragon tongue (which Rovert understands) with Ellizari proposing that perhaps Verdis received the robe from the God of Knowledge dragon, and that it would be the utmost disrespect to demand it from him. Gishmu apologizes to Verdis and invites him to join him and his guard in the garden for a private discussion.
His guard consists of twelve lizardfolk, one a red dragon blood infused and one a gold dragon blood infused. They find an isolated place in the garden where Gishmu wheedles Verdis for information about how the war between the Vale and the West Hill March is going, apparently trying to find inconsistencies with Ellizari’s reports of conquest against the Vale. When Verdis vaguely confirms their desperation in the war, Gishmu offers him an out: accept a powerful, empire-trusted dragon to take over the Vale peacefully rather than be subjugated by Ellizari. Verdis refuses this, but tries to probe for information about the structure of the Dragon Empire. He learns that it comprises what were once five kingdoms east of the mountains in a period where their were seven kingdoms, one of which subsumed the area the Vale now occupies. To drive his point home, he takes them into the palace and shows them a huge vellum map of the world with the dragon empire occupying its center. He again asks Verdis to accept a dragon ruler before returning the party with his guard. (Conan was spying on this meeting in bat form and informs Rovert of the existence of the map, which he later goes and copies).
As the party goes on, Verdis and the Vale delegation spend their time in the main party with the common kobolds of the city, introducing them to the orcish stone path game and socializing with the people. Meanwhile, in Ellizari’s party, Conan notices that one of the waiters (one that the Vale delegation noticed following them in from the main party, but ignored) has a makeup covered tattoo that seems to be that of the Death’s Shadow Cult. He tells Rovert through his undead communication amulet and then follows the suspiciously muscular kobold. The kobold tries to lose him, but Conan uses his bat form to stealthily stay close. In the kitchen, the kobold receives a boar to take to Ellizari. He feigns difficulty carrying it, but in a hidden corner stops, holding it in one hand, and shoves a pouch of something in the boar’s mouth up to his elbow. Conan assumes this is poison and goes to warn Rovert.
Receiving this warning, Rovert moves to intercept the kobold with the boar. His plan is to spill his drink on his shoulder so he can wipe it clean and reveal the tattoo, but the kobold marks his approach and dodges the spilled drink, pretending to nearly drop the boar. Rovert ask him what happened and the kobold sets the boar down before Ellizari before saying he spilt his drink and asking if he needs a new one. Rovert does request the new drink and the kobold starts away. Rovert calls after him about the tattoo and the kobold ignores him. When Rovert turns back to Ellizari she is already starting into the boar. He stops her and shows her the poison bag inside the boar. When Ellizari finally registers it is poison, she vomits on Rovert (who fails to dodge) and gasps that she has been poisoned before collapsing. Goir (who is nearby) accuses Rovert of the poisoning, but Drej argues in his defense while he casts a spell to neutralize the poison.
Meanwhile, Conan is following the assassin in bat form when he makes a run for it, climbing the wall and rushing into the main party. Skarr flies ahead while Conan chases him, telling the Vale delegation of the fleeing assassin. Randall soon picks him out in the crowd (though their are many waiters running to an fro, he is able to see through his disguise) and points him out to the others. They all give chase, but the assassin is quick and the crowds prove difficult for some of them to chase through.
Once out of the party, they gain on him more quickly, getting close to the wall of a house he has climbed onto as he reaches the top. He finds Conan in front of him on the roof and initiative is rolled. In a hail of spells and arrows and with a pull of Randall’s vine, they bring him down from the roof. He still has enough fight in him to stab Ragnvaldr with a poisoned knife before Verdis knocks him out cold. Conan cures Ragnvaldr of the poison.
Once cured of her poison, Ellizari gathers the strength to defend Rovert. Skarr soon arrives, informing the party (and Gishmu who has rushed to see what’s going on) that the assassin has been captured and is on its way. Ellizari insists on seeing the assassin and they bring him into the party as she dismisses most of the people from her court. They convince Ellizari not to eat the assassin and Rovert heals him enough to use his mind-reading means on him. He learns that they are planning to attack the Vale after this assassination succeeds. Rovert lies to support Ellizari’s story that their numbers are greatly diminished and this is their last effort. Ellizari eats him before he can say anything to tip off Gishmu.
As the party goes on, Verdis and the Tooth of Ellizari make plans for their forces to march against the Death’s Shadow Cult in their base that Rovert discovered in the assassin’s mind. They agree that the spoils of the campaign will be divided based on the number of combatants supplied to the campaign by each side.
Randall finds an opportunity to speak to Ellizari about a village she has left without food stores for winter after they rebelled against her. She has no sympathy for them, as they support poachers in her forest and thus deserve to starve, but agrees to allow Randall to bring them provisions to get them through the winter.
Verdis also speaks to Ellizari (during a time of the all-night partying when Gishmu and his people are sleeping), trying to convince her to leave the Dragon Empire and join the Vale. When she finds the idea of herself, a god, leaving the pantheon of the empire ridiculous, Verdis tries to get her permission to send missionaries into the West Hill March, but she classifies teaching her people to worship another god to be sedition and refuses.
They return on the 17th to the Vale and Rovert’s Tower. Rovert and Conan coordinate scrying and flying scouting missions to find the Death’s Shadow Cult and learn that they have secret tunnels through the hills on the edge of Rovert’s Demesne and the West Hill March. On the night of the 20th they find these tunnels lead to a secluded valley where the cult is preparing a ritual around the corpse of a giant 60 feet tall!
This was definitely intended to be a light hearted session, but the political happenings were pretty serious and we’re ready for the climax next week! I did some much better three 3s prep for this session than usual. I’ll be sharing it for supporters on Locals soon.