Having finished the exploration of the library last session, we need to do some planning if we have any chance of surviving the next part of Strange Aeons. This was expected to be a quick finishing off for levelling up (we are now 12th level), and maybe buying a few things before heading off, but we got the idea of actually asking some questions of the priests and others here to try and prepare before we headed to places most unsafe.
12th Gozran, Toilday
We’ve spent the last week or so shopping, getting our gear cleaned up and training. There was also time to do some research and planning, since though we had a vague notion of where we needed to go next to find Lowls, we weren’t entirely certain. We knew that he had headed for the slaver city of Okeno on Stonespine Island to the south. It was apparently a dangerous place, full of slavers, thieves and pirates so it wasn’t going to be a safe place.
The city is full of gnoll slavers, one of whom is Biting Lash who was Count Haserton Lowls’ contact there. She was known to be paranoid, but one of the more successful slavers. From what we could determine from the priests here in Katheer, the Hyena Princess Njano was one of the most influential and civilised traders in the city, so she might be a good starting point for finding out how to find Biting Lash.
Whilst we were trying to find out about Okeno, the city magistrates had been trying to get Mackian Mun into a state where they could put him on trail, and had been asking us for detailed information on his crimes. Though I hadn’t wanted him attacked and killed when we finally caught up with him, I was more than happy to provide whatever evidence we could to ensure he paid for this crimes.
This had also given us an opportunity to talk to him, though his state of mind wasn’t that much better than when we had spoken to him before. Catiana was willing to provide ‘psychological pressure’ on him, with Gregor leading the interrogation. He was rambling about things that we were vaguely aware of, but we finally got him on track.
Lowls is heading for the Parchlands, a place somewhere in Casmaron, but it is a dangerous journey made harder by the presence of giants and scorpion folk in the region, so he is seeking guards, guides and slaves to help him on the journey. He has a deal of some sort with Biting Lash apparently, and he was due to meet her in her fortress – a great circular tower outside of the city towards the mountains. According to Mun, she has a ‘flesh pit’ which is full of extra planar slaves.
Whilst talking to us he kept mentioning the Ustalavian witch Ariadnah, whom we had come across a long time ago when we were at Thrushmoor. He wants to see her face, because he is in awe of her due to her ability to cheat death. He seems fascinated by the concept of death, or at least the avoidance of it, and seems to ‘take’ to my sister Catiana in a most unwholesome way. Catiana managed to restrain herself, and got him to draw a map of where the fortress of Biting Lash was, as well as a picture of Biting Lash herself. My sister seemed somewhat different than before – more focused than she has been, more willing to interact with others. I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or bad.
Whilst this conversation was ongoing, it came to my mind that there was a book of forbidden knowledge about witch cults down in the library. I don’t recall how I knew that – presumably I’d noticed it whilst we were looking around, but the memory seemed quite clear. I told the others who didn’t question my knowledge, and we headed back down to obtain it and check it out. On the cover was an engraving of three naked women dancing around a pole. Possibly that’s why I remembered it.
Inside was discussion of various matters, including some details on Ariadnah, who went to Casmaron to prepare a place for her god. That research led us to an investigation of Elder Signs, which we discovered were capable of banishing elder gods. The clockwork eye that Ray carries, a gift from Ash whom we met in the Dreamlands turns out to be an Elder Sign.
So now we know where we are going, we know who we need to find, and we have both a map and a picture of our target. We also have some more knowledge of the threats we may be ultimately facing. We’re probably about as prepared as we can be. Katheer is probably going to be the last safe place we see for a while.