Much has happened since the last time we encountered our plucky band of transients. Vivec of the Materialists rebellion group has been captured and disarmed, and everyone has managed to meet up again except for the perennially detailed Garamond. Will Garamond ever see his friends again? Will the party search for him in a never-ending game of tail chasing? Will Gent completely forget he has a super important item quite literally hiding up his sleeve? Find out this week, in Dungeon World
- Eoghan & Cana - half-elven ranger and devotee of the nature goddess Syldaeri and his fuzzy wittle friend
- Dorrance - human fighter and defiler of plumbing everywhere
- Felicia - night elf bard who still manages to be here after all this time
- Garamond - human paladin and devoted dad, forever(?) separated from the group
- Gent - human wizard who is thoroughly sick of this city's shit
- Gnur - the pint-sized pile of barbarian frenzy
Previously, Dorrance had been hired on as the head of King Octavian's security force and tasked with bringing in the head of the Materialist rebellion, Vivec. With the aid of Felicia and Eoghan (while Gnur made annoying noises), Dorrance managed to apprehend and disarm his quarry. And by disarm, this clearly means he managed to blow her arm completely off her body when he cracked the gem in her fire mitten. Gent was able to dispell the residual magic she had cast and they seemed to stabilize her physical condition before moving her.
Prize in tow, the assembled group wandered up through the richer areas of the city and up into the king's castle. The king's medical staff and an armed escort took the unconscious Vivec to have her grievous wounds tended, while the party tried to convince the king that his Prelate and the head of the Arcanists guild are planning some kind of coup. The king is unconvinced but seems a bit rattled as he was unaware that there had been any arrests or deaths at the prelate's house the night prior. Tavi allows the assembled party to investigate the royal prison to gain entrance to the old tunnels - presumably walled off to keep out rats and all manner of nasties. Felicia used her fire mitten to blast a hole in the wall - thankfully Gent helped and kept her from needlessly blasting her arm off of her body. A few minutes later Gent, Gnur, Eoghan, and Felicia were headed into the dark depths of the long forgotten tunnels. Dorrance departs from the group to go destroy another toilet.
Garamond awoke to the shocking feeling of cold water dousing his barely clothed body. He slowly became aware that he was chained to a chair in some kind of underground strongroom. Prelate Cephus sat opposite him and was rather testy about being robbed of his magical shield, almost killed, and having his enchanted sealing stamp stolen. He begins to get suspicious that Garamond may be more trouble than he's worth, however with the assurance of a compulsion enchantment from Felix, the pair decide to charge Garamond with the assassination of King Octavian.
Garamond requests some time to commune with Utar and seek guidance on this path, which is subsequently approved by the prelate. Guards lead Garamond to a small chapel of Utar in the Prelate's residence, where he is allowed to pray. Utar shows him that his path does indeed lead toward the king, however it also reveals that the influence of Ratu has infested the prelate. Garamond reports to Prelate Cephus and High Arcanist Felix that he will head to the King's chamber and carry out his mission.
Upon his release, Garamond is equipped with his armor and the prelate's precious shield - given that he may need to call upon divine commands to pass into the king's chambers unfettered. He is briefly detained at the guard outpost while the king's guard seeks an audience with their lord. The guard posted in the waiting room keeps looking over at Garamond, while simultaneously trying to look like he's not looking. One mother-of-all stink eyes later, and the guard shows Garamond a crudely drawn cartoon depicting himself, Gent, Eoghan, and Felicia as enemies of Redrock. The soldier trips all over his words as the original royal guard returns to escort Garamond up to the palace.
During his trip, he is led past the infirmary, but fails to recognize the body of Vivec being tended to by the nurses. The guard seemingly doesn't know who she is, just that she was brought in by some kind of hired mercenary crew.
Upon entering the king's chambers, Garamond instantly recognizes Jim, holder of the empty box previously containing the Prelate's enchanted seal. The ensuing conversation does little to assure Tavi that Garamond has arrived with virtuous intentions and seeks only to unravel the traitorous plot of the prelate and high arcanist. The king calls for an arcanist to verify Garamond's claim that Felix had tried to compel him to kill the king, however the Arcanist chose to lie to the king and insist that there was no enchantment.
Just as the king is beginning to accuse Garamond of lying to him, Dorrance bursts into the king's chambers to announce the destruction of his latest adversary. He greets Garamond warmly, taking much of the growing tension out of the air. Garamond utilizes the distraction and commands the arcanist to admit his lies to the king. Satisfied that Garamond has been telling the truth, the King has his guard restrain the arcanist. The arcanist reveals that Felix has been getting up to some nefarious practices, and the King reveals that the rest of Garamond's friends had traveled into the tunnels in hopes of finding him. As the arcanist is led away to be questioned further, another guard rushes in to inform the king that some kind of malevolent force has attacked the infirmary, and the king charges Garamond and Dorrance with investigating and stopping whatever that might be.
Down under the city's surface, the group comes to a fork in the tunnels. Off to the left they hear "bats" and off to the right Eoghan spies a patch of fresher blood on the ground. Gent supplies some invisibility for Eoghan, and Eoghan scouts off down the right tunnel. He comes across a guarded door, and attempts to lure off the guards so that he can see what's so important. After deftly tossing a pebble and trying to lure them away, one of the terrified guards turns to the other and just goes "It's bats"
The second attempt to distract the guards goes much smoother, and the guards go to investigate the noise further down the hallway and away from their precious door. Eoghan spies Justin McShane, imprisoned in some sort of device which is suppressing his magical ability. Eoghan retreats and the party investigates down the other hallway.
The tunnel opens up into a much larger chamber hewn neatly out of the rock. A leafless tree extends upward toward the domed ceiling, cradling some kind of altar in its gnarly roots. As an invisible Eoghan investigates the altar, he's able to make out various holy symbols including one for Utar - defaced with blood. Felicia notices some kind of tentacled mass above Eoghan in the tree just as it springs downward to attack the invisible ranger.
As the adventurers cut at the mass of tangled black tentacles they find that there are no weak spots, and any tentacle not completely destroyed will be able to form an entirely new one of these creatures given enough time. Gnur adds additional chaos to the battle, somehow managing to haul himself and Eoghan both up into this spoopy tree. Some of the creature's tentacles had retreated into the tree's roots, and subsequently extended to control the tree's limbs with thin filaments of their bodies. The tree begins to twist and move, with a tight enclosure of branches and black ichor quickly forming to trap both Gnur and Eoghan. Gnur accepts the sweet embrace of his new tree overlord, while Eoghan quaffs the potion of Spectre's Touch given to him previously by Gent and slips down to the ground below.
Felicia regales the crew with many pop hits from the 80s, 90s, and beyond, while Gent zaps a few bits of this creature and inspects the altar. He finds that a strong enchantment has been placed onto the defiled sacrificial altar using runes scribed in blood, however he is able to suppress the spell temporarily and prevent additional creatures from being drawn to this location.
As Gent and Felicia tangled with some of the remaining tentacle creatures that had regrown, Eoghan summoned his willpower and forced the fiery heat from his swords out of incorporeality and directly into the base of the tree. The tree burned, and the tentacles whistled in pain and distress. Eoghan used the last of the magic afforded to him by the potion to fly around and crash into the last remaining large mass of tentacles and push it into the burning tree trunk. Gnur slipped free from his tree cocoon, and the party finished dispatching any remaining pieces of the monster. They chose to leave the chamber the way they came, but once again heard the whistling call of more tentacle monsters drifting through the vaulted tunnels as Gent's magical suppression on the altar began to slip.
Back in the king's palace, Garamond and Dorrance go to the infirmary, where they are greeted with a grim scene. Nurses and guards lay on the ground, eyes milky white with horrific raw gashes all over their bodies. The living guards are all severely shaken and cannot properly describe what it was that attacked them, just that it was headed toward the king.
The two manly muscle heads travel from the infirmary back into the entry hall, when Garamond gets a sudden strong feeling of evil up above them. Looking up, they can see Vivec in the rafters - rather worse from the wear after everything Dorrance et al. had previously put her through. Replacing her missing arm is a sinewy appendage crafted from dark flesh with a grotesque claw at the end. Dorrance shouts at her, but she ignores his taunts, while Garamond decides to take a more direct approach.
Running up one of the grand staircases on either side of the room, Garamond reaches the top and uses his fire mitten to launch a blast at the rafters supporting Vivec. His shot lands true and she falls amongst the rubble raining down from the ceiling toward a waiting Dorrance. After taking a few wooden beams to the head, Dorrance engages her in a friendly grapple only to get a better look at her ashen face. Her eyes have gone white, and the only expression she wears is one of pure rage; any remaining thread of life has left this vessel has been supplanted by the unholy power of Ratu.
Vivec moves with speed and strength she did not previously possess, raining strikes down upon Dorrance as Garamond rushes back down the stairs to charge at her. Garamond calls upon Utar to imbue his blade with holy light and strikes a blow on the writhing mass of her new appendage. Sensing the extreme pain of her holy opposite, the possessed Vivec leaps back into the rafters, and sends a few more timbers down at the heroes as she bounds over toward one of the exits.
Dorrance and Garamond avoid the falling debris as best they can while chasing after Vivec. She has left a wake of destruction in her path, mostly bodies of guards separated from their heads. Lacking better options, Dorrance scoops up one of the heads and hurls it at Vivec as they chase her into the large hall that precedes the king's chambers. The spikes of the dead soldier's helmet dig into her side as she crosses the room toward the guards arrayed in front of the doors to the king, and she stumbles briefly. She glares back at Dorrance then turns to the guards shouting, "This man is your enemy!" Two of the guards peel off of their positions and start to run toward Dorrance in full belief of the untruth told by the god of lies.
Garamond senses the pull of his holy path and ignites his sword with further divine energy as he sprints forward between the oncoming guards. Vivec has turned her attention to the remaining guards in an attempt to reach the king and is entirely unaware of the crusader bearing down on her. Garamond strikes a hearty blow into the possessed form of his former captor, greatly hampering her strength. In a last ditch effort, Viv-Ratu barrels through the guards and smashes into the King's chambers. Bleeding out with her silver medal in sight, the hulking form of Vivec stumbles toward the king. Garamond moves in swiftly and dispatches the murderous monstrosity.
Out in the antechamber, Dorrance had been in quite a tussle with the two guards who had been turned against him. The well trained fighters managed to land several strikes on the experienced fighter, and he felt his strength failing. Hoping to save himself, he landed a heavy kick on one of the soldier's faces just as the dwarf buried his hand axes into Dorrance's side. The guard's head snapped back with a sickening crack, and Dorrance fell to the ground as his vision dimmed.
Dorrance's next vision is of a dark plane with a large set of doors ahead of him. He stands under a spotlight, where he is approaches by his personal visage of death: a tall, muscular orc wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigar. Death ponders that Dorrance may have just ended a man's life who may not have deserved it and offers the fighter a deal: stop Ratu and protect the innocent from his evil, or die. Having nothing else better to do, Dorrance figures he might as well enjoy kicking some more butts and accepts the offer.
Death looks expectantly at Dorrance, and the fighter asks, "What do you know about my magical hands?" Death appraises the human, takes his cigarette out of his mouth, and extinguishes it on the back of Dorrance's hand. The words "Get the hell outta here." ring in Dorrance's ears as he awakes back in the king's palace with the sensation of a burning pain deep in the back of one of his hands.
Garamond steps up from the fallen body of Vivec, watching the demonic flesh evaporating away from her body. The truth of her being floods into his consciousness: from the trauma of her early years, the hardening conviction that she must do anything to prevent her people from the destruction threatened by the encroaching forces of Ratu, the belief that the government is the cause of all her suffering, to the empowerment that Ratu promised her to allow her to carry out her greatest mission. It ends in an instant with the smiling face of Ratu winking at Garamond as he jolts back into reality. King Octavian is transfixed at his windows overlooking the city. The dark cloud of Ratu has advanced to mere feet outside of the city walls.