Victor, Greg, Ralph and Ian in attendance. 9-23-2007 around 5PM until about 9:30PM. However what follows is really a summary of two sessions:
To recap briefly:
The Circus is in Darth Lom, driven there primarily by Thalin’s vague but powerful paranoia and his obsessive curiosity for the histories and cultures of this ancient land. But specifically they are there to find the Great Udamalore, a ceremonial weapon and badge of office for the clerical caste of Basharka. Due to several divine visions, received at the Temple of Montintera, the Circus has reason to believe that finding this weapon will stop Lady Tyrathect’s plot to revive an ancient evil force only known as the King in Yellow.
After defeating a gigantic toad and speaking with a retired ngoma (The ngoma are something like the bards of Udra–historians, journalists, social critics and musicians.) in the city of Kisi, they were placed on the trail of Amonis, a hero who was also hunting for the Udamalore. Ironically, Mandark had briefly spoken with Amonis in the city Mademba more than two years before.
Amonis told Mandark that several hundred years ago, thieves from Mademba had stolen the Udamalore. It has since been missing and forgotten but recently the current great priestess of Basharka, Nyathera, has offered lands and possessions totaling 250,000 gold pieces for its return. The rumor is that Nyathera is plotting to invade the neighboring caliphate of Boroko. The stories have it that ones who wield the Udamalore can raise armies and command the will of the people.
Following the trail of Amonis that the ngoma had told them of, the Circus was planning to enter the southern portion of the enormous Bida Rainforest. Amonis had planned to search for the ancient capital of the Kosan Empire within the Bida. He had reason to believe that the Udamalore might be there. To do this the Circus joined caravan to the city of Boha-Boha, deep in the foothills of the Kuba Mountain Range at the head of the Kalimara River. Boha-boha is a large city, 22,000 dwellers, and marks the western end of the united kingdoms of of Taumau and Boha.
In Boha-boha, they began making inquiries. Amonis had passed through the city 6 months earlier on his search for the Great Udamalore.
The Circus is Spied Upon
In the city there were three, possibly four, spies on the lookout for people searching for the Great Udamalore. These spies as it later turned out were working for a guerilla organization of assassins called the Cult of the Leopard.
Hilda went out to investigate the city to see if she could find someone who’d seen or spoken with Amonis. She also was looking for contraband magic. As she well knew, arcane magic was forbidden in many parts of Nyambe. Making discreet inquiries, she eventually came to a merchant who could supply her with these taboo items. But as she spoke with the shopkeeper, his expression suddenly changed and took on a darker character. He laughed, challenged her and tried to frighten her off. It seemed as if he were possessed.
But he was no match for her. Recognizing the signs of possession Hilda immediately enveloped the man in her clock of the mountebank and dimensionally shifted with him back to the inn where the circus was staying at. Thalin’s anti-scrying magic immediately triggered and he spotted the one who was spying on the circus.
Thalin immediately scryed in return. His vision revealed a leader in the leopard cult, He was busily, hastily writing a letter that said the following:
“I was discovered! There are eight of them. The masked one, Thalin, scented me and I must write quickly now.
“I have will give this note to Alif. He will call our shadows [Translator’s note: “NDalawo”] to stop these foreign interlopers that Chebo warned us against. Alif will alert all our brothers and sisters. The Great Jaundiced Lord shall return! It is a pity we have to move before we are quite ready. Preparations in Kogo are not ready but due to my failure, we have to move quickly now.
“Their magic is alien, Asimwe. Expect the rules to change.
“I regret my failure. May the Jaundiced One erase my errors forever!
“[Signed] Lord Chandu, [He stamped the letter with a stylized leopard stamp. The letter was also dated and gave the location of its writing. The city of Kogo, on the Eastern end of the Kiya Vua Samaki.]”
Upon finishing the letter, and clearly to prevent further scrying, Lord Chandu suicided with a ceremonial dagger.
Shaking himself out of the scrying trance, Thalin cursed softly. He hated when they did that!
Hilda remember over two years ago speaking with the Lord of Kogo. He was a curious man and very interested in Hilda and her expedition but, he struck Hilda as easily distracted and not the best ruler for a city. However he did speak of some trouble he was having with rebel cultists. Perhaps they were the same as these Leopard guys.
She went out again into the city. To try and find the spies that lead the Leopard Cult to the Circus. Over the next week Hilda learned what she could abut the city. Finding its more disreputable neighborhood. This she found near the tanneries, black smiths and stone cuttling yards. There was a cafeteria of sorts, Mother Kas’, It was an open air lunch room that usually served palm-wine, sorghum, chicken and yam dishes to the masons, tanners and smiths. It wasn’t especially rowdy or menacing a place but the rumor was that if you wanted to find a fence or someone of the criminal underground. Inquiries could be made here.
Dwalor decided to go searching around town himself to find a guide to help the circus find there way through the Bida. This he did with a comprehend languages spell. He went to market to make inquiries but, just when he’d found a lead, his language spell expired.
Hilda, Helga and Mandark form a stake out
Questioning locals, Hilda learns that most of the neighborhood workforce, many masons, tanners and smiths, often break for lunch and siesta at Mother Kas’ open air kitchen. This consisted of a cookhouse, an adjoining shack and large, fenced outdoor cafeteria. Mandark discretely turned invisible and took up a position near this yard. He had a good view of Hilda and Helga and the entire crowed. He strung his bow and waited for something to happen.
Hilda engaged a stone cutter, Tompo, in talk about Amonis, trying to learn what his activities were on that last day he was in town. Apparently Amonis was one to celebrate and share his victories and good fortune. The stonecutter remember a party that Amonis held at Mother Kas’ only days before he left. Helga sat with Hilda silently observing the crowd.
Helga noticed, across the yard, something subtle. A man seemed to be taking notes in a manner that was suspiciously synchronized with Hilda’s conversation. this man appeared be holding a cowrie shell to his ear, as if listening to something, and then jotting down notes. Helga, using a coded phrase, alerted Hilda that something was up then, after a few minutes, she drew on her cloak of the mountebank, left the cafe, ducked behind a gravel pile near the cafe, turned invisible and then used the cloak to dimension door right next to the man who was spying on Hilda and her. She materialized and attempted to wrestle the man to the ground. He evaded her grasp, scooped up his notes cast the cowrie shell into the dirt and attempted to crush it with his foot. Mandark spotted this and reacted immediately. He sprang into visibility, fired two magical stunning arrows straight at the man’s solar plexus. The spy collapsed in groaning pain. Helga jumped on him and held him down. This all happened within two seconds.
By this point the crowd in the cafe had risen to their feet in confusion and alarm. The cook came out of the cookhouse door shouting, demanding to know what was going on. Hilda, always slippery and glib, simple took command of the situation and talked their way out it.
They took the spy with them back to the inn where they were staying. Hilda got Stirge to stand behind her and look menacing as she questioned the spy. The spy, who’s name was , was actually quite cooperative. He said he and to others where hired by Alif to keep an eye peeled for anyone asking questions about Amonis and the great Udamalore. It was clear that the Leopard Cult was interested in capturing or even killing anyone looking for the old weapon.
Hilda asked how the spies delivered their reports. Sometimes by instantaneous and magical means and other times by a direct report to Alif himself. Hilda asked when will his next report be due. 2 wks.
Hilda wanted to prepare to meet this Alif with the full might of the Circus.
[And that’s more or less where we left it. Please let me know if I forgot anything and suggest all revisions.]