This session was run on April 10, 2023.
The session began with the party in Byrny preparing for their expedition through the gate they found beneath the barrows south of town. While sitting at the bar in Tulip’s Roadhouse, Stranger was approached by a Sleeth wizard. She introduced herself as TicToc and explained that she had recently finished her apprenticeship to the necromancer Metrax at the Mistwind Conclave. Stranger had hear of the Mistwind Conclave, a community of wizards in the hills outside of Byrny, but he and his companions had not visited it. As her first post-apprenticeship assignment, Metrax asked her to look in to some recent disturbances in the barrow downs south of Byrny. Years ago, the necromancer discovered that an ancient city had somehow been transported to a large cave beneath the barrows. As there were people living in it who seemed unaware that the outside world existed, he created skeleton guards in the levels above to prevent tomb raiders, and other ne’er do wells, from bothering them. Recently, his skeletal guard force had been activated repeatedly in a short time span. TicToc was tasked with discovering why.
As she was explaining this to Stranger, the rest of the party was filtering into Tulip’s Roadhouse as they finished their errands. When she asked if they knew anything about who might be disturbing the barrows, Duycken was quick to jump in and announce that it had been them. When she expressed interest in what they had found, the party was quick to fill her in on the gate that needed to be closed and the “demon” they tried to communicate with in the summoning circle. She decided that Metrax would definitely want her to investigate any dangerous gates or demons and asked to accompany them. They agreed and began final preparations.
Stranger, still disturbed by the news that Padfoot, one of the hoops that had saved them during the goblin fight, had been arrested for the mine explosion, requested permission from Governor Hetalan to speak with the prisoner. The governor granted him leave to enter the dungeons beneath the keep. Stranger found the accused terrorist laying in his cell, recovering from the torture used to secure his confession. He asked the hoop why he had been arrested for the mine explosion and Padfoot explained that he had done it. When he had approached Stranger outside the mine, he saw that Stranger was placing explosives in the entrance. After Stranger left, he moved the barrels deeper into the mine where they would do more damage due to the gas buildup. Padfoot explained that the City State was sending a judge and an executioner to deal with him. As Stranger left the dungeon, he used his hoop ability to “goop” the lock on Padfoot’s cell.
While Stranger was in the dungeon, Vargr provided TicToc with the book they found in the camp on the barrows. The book was written in a language they could not understand, but notes in Common let them know that it described rituals for summoning demons. TicToc use comprehend languages to read the book and told them it was titled, “An Addendum to the Book of Ebon Bindings by Professor Joe Thompson, University of Minnesota, 1976.” It contained descriptions of several rituals for summoning and controlling demons from a plane called “Tekumel” as well as a list of demon names.
The party left early in the morning to head for the barrows. The trip took most of the day and they arrived in the late afternoon. They decided to press on and begin their work below instead of resting for the night first. Metrax taught TicToc how to keep his skeletal guards from attacking so they were able to move around the barrows with less concern than on previous expeditions.
They quickly made their way to the “demon” imprisoned in the flaming summoning circle on the first level of the dungeon. On an earlier trip, they had used detect alignment to determine that the “demon”, who appeared to be a man in red lacquered armor, was aligned with chaos, but that the good-evil axis had no meaning to him. They had also offered him some jerky to eat, but he did not seem to like it.
TicToc used her comprehend languages spell to communicate with him. They learned that he was a human named Takotl and it seemed obvious to him that they considered him a demon since he was not from this plane. He claimed to be from the bethorm (they took this to be his word for plane) of Tekumel. TicToc introduced herself as an apprentice necromancer which caused some confusion when Takotl tried to clarify whether she was a priestess of Ksarul or Sarku. Unable to resolve that particular bit of confusion, they moved on to explain the series of events that led to them killing his imp like friend and imprisoning the others in some kind of red stasis.
Takotl did not seem surprised by the “three imps in a trench coat” gambit, although he referred to his companion Itr’a as a pygmy folk instead of an imp. He told them that he had been summoned to this bethorm twice previously.
The first time he was summoned the summoning circle was not correctly formed and he, not understanding what had happened, used his wall of fire spell on those that had summoned him. They realized that he was referring to the incident at the tournament forty years ago that had resulted in the unfortunate fate of the Lady Montu. He returned to Tekumel immediately after the one who had summoned him was killed. The second time he was summoned, it was to this same chamber, he described several robed figures who attempted to communicate with him before dismissing him. The third, and final time, one of his summoners accidently strayed too close to the flaming circle and was immolated. He gestured towards the burned corpse on the floor. He was surprised to learn that the first summoning occurred forty years ago on this plane as they had been only a few weeks apart in his reckoning. He remarked that time seemed to flow differently on the two planes, but the relationship did not seem to be constant. He asked them to return him home because he had pressing business to attend to and he could not be sure how much time had passed.
After a brief discussion, the party decided that they had two options. They could try to use one of the rituals in the book to return him to the plane he had been summoned from. There was a danger that they did not know what would happen if they did not do the ritual correctly. They could also just break the summoning circle and he could return to his home plane of his own free will. This required placing considerable trust in Takotl since he could also burn them to a crisp with his fire magic once free as well. They decided they could trust him. Before freeing him, they gave him the small sphere they had used to put the imps in stasis and he gave them his mace (made of a strange non-metallic material), several alien coins, and a book in his native tongue. After wishing him well, they broke the circle and he returned to his home plane.
They made their way to the gate below the well in the ancient city. They found that someone had moved the portal stone to the top socket and the gate was featureless. They found two sets of footprints approaching and leaving the gate. Both were from well-made boots. One appeared to be from a human male and the other from either a human female or younger male. They moved the gem to the bottom, opening the gate. Sylvianna took the gem from the socket, explaining that she would bring it with her in case they decided they needed to close the gate permanently from the other side in an emergency. They passed through the gate.
They found themselves floating through a tunnel about thirty feet in diameter. They could see each other, but not communicate. The walls of the tunnel were translucent and the tunnel seemed to have been burrowed through empty darkness. They could see other tunnels running alongside theirs, eventually curving away out of view. Their tunnel was not straight either, it curved and even looped. They were pushed along it at what seemed to be a high rate of speed. Eventually, the tunnel began to narrow and they passed through a fluid mirror surface to find themselves on a beach. The waves were breaking a few meters away. Looking up at the night sky, they could see some kind or arch that dominated the heavens stretching from the south horizon to the north.