Thursday, February 18, 2010

Session 30 - Reflections & Deceptions

Interrogation of the doppelganger impersonating Jordan "Skink" Moord revealed little. It simply implied that they were in over their heads, begged to be let go with promises of not returning, and the like. Not bothering to waste their breath on what would obviously be hollow threats or lies, they instead focused on finding a way deeper into the compound, know that there had to be another secret door somewhere. They found the fitted stone floor of the chamber formerly occupied by their doubles concealed four pits for containing captives. Two were empty, one contained a sack filled with something and the final held a captive halfling, his fingers bound in intricate knots. Like the captives they had previously rescued, the prisoner accused them of being shape-changers. Double crossed more than they cared to think about by this point, the group was not convinced he was who he claimed to be, either. Nevertheless, they freed him from his binds and helped him from the pit.

He introduced himself as Brazzle Dedazzle, and insisted the sack of items belonged to him. Still uncertain they could trust him, Snuffy noticed a robe in the gear retrieved from the other cell, and asked him if he could work magic. With a nod, Brazzle recovered some components from his robe and drew a summoning circle. The others stared, not sure what to expect as the halfling sat inside the circle and began to chant. The circle began to glow, slowly at first but growing in intensity, finally the runes turned into pure light that flashed around his small form, coalescing into a line of light that seem to spread like a curtain out from which stepped a winged beastman of draconian visage. It narrowed its eyes dangerously at the group brandishing oversized claws that sparked with flame. The group, in turn, ready for an attack. Brazzle, lost in the ritual, almost seemed oblivious to the dangerous situation. When he realized what was about to occur, he quickly explained himself. This creature, named Talon, was Brazzle's companion. Brazzle himself, referred to himself as a Summoner. The others mistook him to mean a specialized Conjurer, but he quickly corrected them. Brazzle was a member of a small sect of practitioners of a recently rediscovered form of magic. Part of their unique skills was the ability to summon an Eidolon, a unique outsider, to be a companion, not entirely unlike a familiar.

Brazzel could tell them little about why he was there in Sodden Hold. He just remembered being led into an alley by someone he trusted only to get jumped from behind. He was knocked unconscious and woke up in the hole, his food and drink dropped down to him once a day. At one point, he had been taken out of the hole, but suspected hid food had been drugged and could remember little of it. All he could remember was being strapped into a machine while some old wizard watched, then intense pain, followed by blacking out again. He woke again in his cell. He was eager to get to the bottom of what had happened, though, and offered to help the group find their now two missing friends, Skink and Olis.

Though they did not know if they could trust him, the four were fairly certain he wasn't a doppelganger. They agreed to let him come along, if for no better reason than to keep an eye on him.

Another hidden door was discovered, leading to another room with mirrored walls, with hallways in the other three walls. The group entered, but quickly got split up and attacked by more clones of themselves inside a mirrored maze. During the fight, the shifter disguised a Skink tried to escape under Rowdy, but the half wolf's nose had returned, and he knew better than to believe it was his master's friend, and took less a less-than-kind view on her escape as he shook her until bones snapped. After brutally dealing with three, the forth Ash impersonator surrendered. The again gather minor magical longswords and high quality suits of studded leather. Their questions again bearing no fruit, Bolero dropped their captive in the same pit cell that once contained Brazzle. "As you sow, so shall you reap." The stone falling into place silenced the screams of the doppelganger. The group continued on, eventually finding the exit to the maze.

The maze opened into a vast library, and standing across from the opening stood the Faceless One! The group was unified in their angry reaction save Brazzel and Talon, both of them having no idea who he was supposed to be.

"I was wondering how long it would take you to arrive, my friends. Please, stay your weapons. We have much to discuss, but first, I must show you something." The Faceless One removed his mask, revealing Allustan beneath it. The wizard proceeded to tell them that he had always been a doppelganger. He had infiltrated the Ebon Triad and involved them to help stop the cult. He could not reveal himself until now, or his true motives would have been revealed and all he had worked for would have been for naught.

Ashbourn studied the surroundings as they talked, and subtle clues let him see that the room was nothing more than an illusion, and behind one of the figment bookcases was a large contraption of an unknown sort, and Skink was strapped into it. The monk leapt into action just as the Faceless One/Allustan offered to prove himself by casting a spell for them. The room exploded as a ball of fire erupted in their midst, coming not from the wizard before them, bu from the other side of the room.
Battle erupted, the wizard, now appearing as the wizard that had tortured Brazzle, hurling spells at the group. Ash freed Skink, who warned him of traps only to stab him when his back was to her-another doppelganger! The monk quickly conveyed his displeasure to his assailant. Ardynn and Brazzle sent Rowdy and Talon to attack, but a trap opened up beneath the dog, sending him to the spike below. Talon took fligh.t and engaged the wizard. Snuffy summoned a globe of silence on the wall behind the wizard, rendering him unable to cast spells. The shapechanger responded by turning into a hulking brute of an orc, drawing a frosty greatsword from his back before flying into a furious rage. Bolero took a path around the trap only to discover another, dodging it just in time to save himself from a fall. Ardynn found a position close to the battle, wove a spell of transposition, and magically whisked Rowdy closer to the melee while she took his place in the pit.

Ash, Draconflagrion roaring for blood in his head, charged into the melee, and soon the raging barbarian shapeshifter was surrounded. Transforming one more time into an elderly priest bearing the standard of the Cudgel, he sent out a wave of retribution, negative energy striking everyone around him, then dove into a skillful roll to try and escape. There was nowhere he could run fast enough, and in moments the battle was over, knocked unconscious to the stone floor.

A search revealed a hidden door behind the throne the doppelganger had occupied. Inside was a bedchamber, and bound and gagged on the bed was Jordan Moord, She expressed her anger with Ashbourn for taking so long to find her. She revealed that she had been taken while sneaking out of the Dark Moon Monastery after the monk had left her. She explained that she had climbed over the wall to go to mass at the church of Pelor. She had intended on being back before she was missed, but was abducted by someone disguised as Ashbourn. She had been placed in the machine like Brazzle had, but had seen what happened after. The wizard, she said the others called him Telakin, had removed a gem from the device, and stared at it for several moments before telling her things about herself he should not have known.

One Telakin they found a frost greatsword, a ring of protection, a scroll of fireball, a wand of cure moderate wounds, and an enchanted circlet. A thorough search of the room revealed some coin, an odd magic carpet that constantly changed in a variety of geometric patterns, a scroll with dominate person, several forged and original documents of a variety of types, and a full length mirror of a magical but unknown nature. A simple reflection greeting Snuffy and Brazzel, but to Ash it seemed the shadows of many dragons lingered behind him, and Draconflagrion could be clearly seen, the spirit of the red wyrm superimposed over the monk. Ardynn saw herself as a woman of undecipherable, but clearly older, face. Skink told them Telakin would pose before the mirror and admire himself, telling her how perfect his true form was. The group checked for themselves, and revealed that he was indeed a doppelganger, though there was an obvious physical difference from the others that had seen. On Telakin's forehead was a strange symbol. The group discovered one other item-a note that read:

"I have a task for you, thrall.

There are some troublesome minds that must be removed. They may have a connection to our former guest, Filge.

Meet me at the junction beneath the cold forge and I will give you the details."

The letter was signed with the same symbol that was branded on the doppelganger leader.

A study of the machine back in the previous chamber revealed it to be a jumble of tubes, hoses, and mechanical parts. It was too complicated for any of them to understand, but they found several high quality gems, all exactly the same in size and cut, that seemed to fit in a slot on the apparatus. Skink confirmed that the emerald was the one he had removed after using the device on her. The powers of the doppelganger had been seemed he was able to mimic the abilities of everyone he impersonated. Was it possible the machine gave him the ability to do so? Not certain of its actual purpose, but doubting it could be for anything other than trouble, they decided to destroy the machine lest someone else find it and use it to harm others.

Sore, battered, and exhausted, the adventurers began to make their way back to the streets, their shapechanging prisoner in tow.