Saturday, October 31, 2020

Part 7: Mortlock Vanthampur's Precious Little Life

Rylee rushed down the stairs behind Mortlock, grumbling again about getting dragged into another fight. Most of the bystanders in the room made themselves scarce as Amrik jumped up and drew his dagger, although one large man joined the fray to balance the numbers somewhat as Mortlock shoved his way to his brother to...well...

Okay it took a bit more than that, but being the unfavorite and suffering abuse at the hands of his brothers and mother, Mortlock was itching for a smackdown.

There are only so many ways you can describe a fight (something I'm already not very good at), but one thing that happened was getting the Spined Devil to kill itself. As a redemption paladin, one of Seliph's abilities is called Channel Divinity: Rebuke the Violent (all paladins can use Channel Divinity but the different subclasses have different uses of it), which, when used, would cause an attacker to have to take a Wisdom save and suffer radiant damage equal to the damage their attack just did. It had fired a spine at Sissy and done some damage, and the way I imagine that was Seliph looking at the Spined Devil, shouting, "Hey! Knock that off!" and the Spined Devil just falling off the wall it was on, dead from...shame? I guess?

Between the Spined Devil's cessation of existence and the thug being taken down, Amrik soon found himself in the midst of...well...

Man I love using wrestling gifs

At almost the same instance, Seliph and Rylee realized that Amrik would be of more use to the party alive than dead and separately made plans to try to put him down without doing any further damage. However, because Seliph's Dexterity is at a whopping 8 and because my rolls have been absolute garbage, I was dead last in the turn order, so Rylee's plan went into effect, using the Command spell to...umm... command Amrik to grovel at the feet of the party, a spell he failed his save against and, against his will, began begging for mercy.

With the sudden awkward shift in the mood of the combat situation, Seliph decided to cast the Sleep spell anyway, under the hopes that he was weakened enough to be captured in a Pokeball fall asleep without further resistance. He was not. So the party tied him up instead.

During the ensuing interrogation, the party was able to get some more information out of him. Specifically, that Amrik's mother was working with a man named Thavius Kreeg, the ruler of the since yeeted to Hell (DM's Amrik's words) city of Elturel. She and Kreeg had orchestrated the disappearance of the current ruler of Baldur's Gate, and her goal was to repeat in Baldur's Gate what happened to Elturel, offering it as a possible exchange for power from the lord of Avernus.

Naturally, this is a problem.

The party resolved to quickly make their way to the Vanthampur manor to capture Amrik's mother and Thavius Kreeg in the hopes of stopping this plan before it got too far ahead, but this first left the problem of how to deal with Amrik. He had pointed out that taking him to the city guard would be fruitless without physical evidence. Seliph and Rylee didn't want to kill him if that could be avoided.

Faust suggested tying him up and locking him in his office, though Rylee was against that as well. As a means of expediting the process, Amrik himself offered the party a one hour head start. For one hour, he would sit in his office and do nothing towards trying to capture the party, after which no promises.

Now, I know you, as the reader, are thinking, "There's no way the party would be stupid enough to agree to that!"

And the truth is, Seliph thought about it for quite a bit, weighing the options in his mind. The man was clearly unrepentant. He would never be repentant. Ending him for the safety of others was certainly option. But he was also tied up and defenseless.

On the other hand, even if he went against his word, they'd already beaten him and his buddies once. Plus, from the sounds of things, something far more troublesome was in the works. If the party was unable to stop his mother from conducting the ritual, whatever Amrik did before he skipped town wouldn't mean anything anyway.

I'm really underselling it with these paragraphs, we went over this problem for quite a while.

But at the end, we concluded that though he was probably safer dead than alive, the party opted to leave him alive, honoring his word.

As the party left the Low Lantern, the cloaked woman before pulled them aside again.

"Sorry, I didn't get a chance to introduce myself earlier. My name is Reya. I was wondering if you could fill me in on that information you got in the tavern."

Seliph and Faust quickly filled Reya in, Reya listening intently until they came to the subject of Thavius Kreeg.

"Excuse me, Thavius is the one responsible for what happened in Elturel?! Thavius, the one in charge of protecting the city?! I'm coming with you. I am going to murder that little bastard!"

And while that's not how the session ended, the next two sessions really had the content of a single session for a few reasons outside of the group's control, so I'm going to go ahead and combine those two sessions into one entry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

That Weird Hunting Village Sidequest in Yakuza 5

Yakuza is a weird series. I don't think that's something that can quite be overstated. It's like a Russian nesting doll of insanity that starts off seeming like GTA but in JAPAN to the uninitiated, while each layer deeper reveals something stranger and stranger, with each quest and each game one-upping the last. This is a series that involves themes of government corruption as well as Japan's struggles with international and domestic crime, taking those themes very seriously in the main plots, but then has side stories of your character entering a slot car racing championship that plays out almost beat for beat like your standard shonen anime series. What I'm saying is, this is a series whose tone is all over the place, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

So let's talk about the hunting village sidequest in Yakuza 5. Spoilers for the Taiga Saejima section for anyone who cares.

The thing about Yakuza 5 was the fact that, along with having the most playable characters in one game up to that point in the series, each character had large substories that weren't related to the main plot. As substories, they're entirely optional, but provide more content for players to sink their teeth into while giving each character something to do as a means of breaking up the main plot (whether or not that was a good idea is still kind of up in the air with fans), so it's not like Saejima's time in the hunting village is completely out of nowhere, but still.

After escaping from prison during an assassination attempt, Saejima finds himself at the mercy of a huge bear, which he proceeds to fight off with his bare (heh) hands (did I mention this series is nuts?). However, badly hurt and exhausted from the escape (as well as woefully unprepared to deal with North Japan's brutal winter cold), he passes out, accepting that he and the person he escaped from prison with aren't likely to survive the night.

Of course, that's not what happens, as Saejima awakens in a ramshackle old shack, having been rescued by an old hunter who resides in a small village in the mountains whose main livelihood is professional hunting (which I was surprised to find is actually legal in Japan, considering how strict their firearm laws are). They largely subsist on what they're able to gather from the mountains, selling or trading surplus goods to a travelling merchant who acts as a go-between...between the village and the nearby (well, relatively speaking, considering it's a remote mountain village) city of Sapporo.

Anyway, what follows is a small chain of quests, both mandatory and optional, where Saejima returns to the mountain to save the man he escaped with from the bear he fought, now identified as the Yama-Oroshi, named after the creature from Japanese folklore. Over the course of the storyline Saejima gains the trust of the villagers and uncovers some secrets from nine years before (as of course, no small town can exist in fiction without some sinister things hidden under the rug).

And it hits a point where it stops being mandatory. Saejima and his friend Baba can just opt to head for the city once the road clears and never look back, but the game leaves quite a bit of content for any curious players to chew on, complete with new gameplay mechanics around hunting animals, using hunting firearms and traps, and exploring and rebuilding huts up the mountainside as a means of helping the village.

I won't give the rest of the story away as it really did take up quite a chunk of my Yakuza 5 playthrough, but like...I've heard Yakuza be called a "Japan simulator" before, but I didn't realize the lengths the series would go to just to explore weird, obscure facts about Japan. I mean, obviously the story is a work of fiction and I'm sure some things are embellished for the sake of drama, but like...a very Japanese video game that takes place in Japan and deals with very Japanese themes and issues...also found the time to go into hunting in Japan, and while it didn't really seem to be making any arguments for or against it or Japan's notoriously strict gun control laws, it also didn't shy away from portraying hunting in all of its aspects, positive and negative.

Like, it gets into the ethics of trophy hunting and sport hunting where people don't use the game they've killed, the complex issue of pest control (something that actually is a bit of a problem in North Japan due to fewer people getting hunting licenses, boars and bears are a real danger for people travelling that part of the country), and others. It would be so easy for the game to lecture you on these subjects with a narrow worldview, but it doesn't. It just shows the subjects at play and lets you make your own conclusions based on the information given.

I'm not really sure where I was going with this. Yakuza is a weird series, and I love it.

Part 6: Baldur's Gate Sucks

SO! Rylee left to go back to her room at a local inn. Which one? She didn't say. So...though I said "You make the call" as to what happened next, your call was probably wrong. Instead, once Rylee was out of the house and everyone situated properly, Seliph collapsed to the floor, asleep almost instantly. Sissy may have spent some time combing Kalista's hair based on a comment she made the next day, but...did it really happen? YOU MAKE THE CALL.

Anyway, Rylee returned to Seliph's house the next morning to formally introduce herself and check up on how the rest of the party was doing, though she was surprised to see them even conscious considering the beating they had taken the night before. Happy to see that everything was fine, she awkwardly suggested that if they ever stood in need of a healer in the future, that they could look her up at the Elfsong Tavern. Naturally...

"Umm...about that..." Seliph stammered.

Faust continued, "We were actually banned from the Elfsong Tavern a couple days ago following an...incident...with the bouncer."

"I...see...wait, are you the ones who got in that fight with the pirates and bribed the bouncer to help you?" Rylee asked, putting the pieces together.

"I mean...we're not...not...the ones who got in a fight there," Kalista offered.

Before Rylee got much of a chance to rethink her decision to help out this ragtag bunch, Kalista continued, "Actually since you're offering, tonight we're going to be meeting with the people we saved last night, and we might need some backup."

"That...kind of puts me in an awkward position as a cleric in service to Eldath. I've sworn to never hurt another being."

"Eldath..." Seliph repeated, "That explains a lot since you didn't actually do anything to hurt the people we fought last night. That's fine, I'm not anticipating a fight, but having a cleric accompany us could help keep us out of trouble. If something happens, you don't need to fight, but if you could keep us alive, we'd be very grateful."

Naturally, Rylee wasn't sure how to process this, but considering she is a player character and the alternative means making a new character lest time that would be best spent on the main plot be wasted, along with us she came.

On the way to the Low Lantern, the party (well, mainly Sissy) noticed two members of the Fist hassling a cloaked woman in the street. Being the only one who even noticed it happening (because the rest of us rolled really badly on the perception check), she asked us to stop and maybe go see what was wrong. Naturally, Seliph wasted no time pushing his way to the Fist members, demanding to know what was going on.

"This woman's one o' those Hellriders! Y'know, the ones that made Elturel into a crater!" the guard explained.

In the midst of the struggle, the woman's cloak was torn back, revealing armor with an insignia that the the party didn't recognize.

"I just told you that wasn't us!" the woman exclaimed in return.

Seliph looked from the woman to the guardsman, and then said, "Okay, you say they're responsible, she says they're not. Do we even really know what happened to Elturel?"

"Are you stupid or something? The city is in a bloody crater. As in, it's gone. Sure, we don't know what in particular did it, but considerin' the Hellriders were supposed to be protectin' the city, seems suspicious, don't it? Until we know for sure we're roundin' up all the Hellriders and putting 'em in jail where they can't do any more harm." the guard spat back.

"Holding them indefinitely without a proper trial? That's madness!" Rylee shouted, having followed Seliph to the argument at some point.

"What do you people know about madness? Elturel is a crater and I'll be damned straight to Hell itself before I let it happen to Baldur's Gate!" the more senior guard shouted, losing patience with this argument. "Stop bothering us before I take you lot in as well!"

"I have information about what happened to the city! Please, just let me meet with whoever is in charge here!" the woman begged.

"Shut up!" the second guard shouted, slapping her across the face.

At this point, something...awoke in Seliph. That something being the Fallen Aasimar level 3 ability Necrotic Shroud. His eyes turned into dark pools, a sickly white light began to radiate out from him, his voice got really distorted, and two skeletal wings sprouted from his back (if this sounds like something that belongs on a metal album, I agree, it does).

The less senior guard, seeing this fresh Hell, collapsed backwards in fear as the beratement began.

"SIR! The woman has stated that she didn't do anything, and that she had information. That was NOT a capital offense, and you WILL apologize!"

The senior guard...well...someone needs to give that guy a raise because he's got ba-spine- of cold, hard steel, as he drew his previously stowed sword, stepped forward, and said, "All right, I don't know what in the nine hells is going on but you're coming with me!"

After some spells cast in preparation for a brawl, as well as a brief staredown, the senior guard looked at his junior, then back at Seliph, and said, "Okay, I know when I can and can't win, so..." he pushed back and started shouting for backup.

Seliph, not wanting to make a bigger scene than had already happened, cast the Sleep spell on the two guards in the hopes that their HP was low enough they were rattled enough that they'd fall unconscious without any further resistance, and uncharacteristically for this campaign it succeeded. The party quickly moved them out of the main thoroughfare, just in time to noticed the eyes of several passersby on them.

Seliph, quickly realizing that some of those eyes were on him, looked at himself, seeing the sickly glow, saying, "Oh gods, what happened to me? How do I make it stop?"" After a few seconds of panic, he somehow found the Off Switch in his mind, and he was able to return to his more human form.

Faust, thinking quickly, pulled out his coin purse and scattered some money throughout the street, shouting, "OH DEAR, IT' IS CERTAINLY TOO BAD NOBODY SAW WHAT HAPPENED HERE!"

The rest of the party quickly ducked into an alleyway to talk with the woman they just rescued. Basically, she said she had more information for the party once they finished up what they were doing and would be trying to hide. As the party was heading into the Low Lantern, the woman stopped Rylee and mentioned that she'd seen what Seliph had just done somewhere before. Namely, her master in the Hellriders could do it as well. Considering Rylee was one of the only ones in the party who actually knew what Seliph did, this probably raised some concerns, but we'll come back to it later, since there's no way it would be set up here and just forgotten about, right?

Proceeding into the Low Lantern, an old ship converted into a ratty old tavern, the party found Mortlock and Vendetta seated at a table, waiting for the party. Rising to talk with the party, he said that he would show them where his brother Amrik was, give them an opportunity to talk, "say his piece" and then he and Vendetta were skipping town.

If it seems like I'm rushing, I am. There was a lot of talking in this session, and I'm already a week late in posting this.

So the party was directed to a doorway that led to a stairway into a basement area. Faust and Seliph decided to go first and try to talk to Amrik, with Sissy and Kalista following behind at a distance in case something went wrong. Rylee, hoping to stay out of any fighting, stayed at the top of the stairs with Mortlock and Vendetta.

Faust reached out with the Detect Thoughts spell as a means of detecting people's surface level thoughts, first learning that Rylee...didn't like Faust much in particular for some reason. Shrugging that off, he and Seliph descended into the chamber, where Faust was greeted with a peculiar response.

"Oh, Faust, no need to be shy. Come on down. It's time we were formally introduced."

Faust managed to hide his shock as the two of them proceeded into the chamber, where a man sat with a Spined Devil lying across the back of the couch he was seated at. I'm going to be paraphrasing this a bit since I don't remember the exact way the conversation went (so much talking...), but here we go.

"Faustie, Faustie, welcome to you and your friends! Allow me to introduce myself! My name is Amrik Vanthampur," the man announced. "You don't know me yet, but I am the one who contracted you to acquire the book, so we were bound to meet eventually. I suppose you're here to discuss that?"

Faust, confronted with this development, stammered a bit. "Yes, about that. Things kind of went awry."

"Clearly. You missed the drop, and now you're palling around with some paladin. Care to explain yourself?"

Seliph responded, "That has nothing to do with why we're here. We have some questions for you."

"Yes," Faust continued, "We had some questions regarding certain people pining after their lost gods."

Amrik furrowed his brow. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."

"Interesting," Seliph said, "Because they seemed pretty certain that your family was financing them."

This touched a nerve, as he hadn't expected them to be so loose-lipped about the whole operation. "I see...well, it must have something to do with my mother. She's the one who is into all of that. I'm just a simple money lender."

"Your name came up specifically."

Amrik, looking more frustrated than before, replied, "Okay, I'll play along. Where are you going with this?"

Seliph and Faust looked at each other, surprised they made it this far without him siccing the Spined Devil on them. May as well fully commit to this course of action, as they were likely to have to fight their way out anyway.

"I just want to know why. Why throw in with people who worship literal gods of murder, people who clearly do not want what's best for this city or its people?"

By this point Amrik was most likely trying to make Seliph and Faust burst into flames with his mind, before he smiled quite smugly. "Get out. I'm not doing this. You have no evidence on me or my family, and the Fist won't do anything because my family is more powerful than you realize, and the Fist don't care about justice, only money. I'm giving you the chance to leave. Say nothing to the Fist and leave town, and I might not send people after you."

"You won't get away with this," Seliph muttered, before Faust put a hand on his shoulders, gesturing to stand up.

As the two of them made their way to the staircase, Faust looked up, saw Mortlock, smiled, and turned back.

"By the way, we weren't completely honest about how we got our information on you. Your brother sends his loving regards."

With that, Mortlock came barreling down the stairs, and that's where we called the session. Hopefully I don't take a week and a half to write up the next one.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Part 5: Cleric Ex Clerica

Our heroes found themselves exploring the secret door that was discovered by Sissy in the last chapter. As they proceeded into the dungeon, sounds of battle rang through the halls. Faust tapped Seliph on the shoulder, suggesting, "Let's not just rush into this one, ja?"

Okay, before I continue, I want to point out, Faust has been speaking with a German accent. I'm trying to find a way to convey that through text without making him super stereotypical. Naturally, a better writer might be able to pull that off, but the truth is, I'm feeling lazy, so...there it is.

Anyway, the hallway had a small doorway that branched off to the side, which Faust used as an excuse to avoid wading into an unnecessary conflict, at least while the combatants were at their full strength. Which wouldn't be a terrible idea, except the chamber the door led into was another flooded room with skeletons floating in the water. Faust used Detect Magic to see what was in the room, sensing Necromancy coming out of the water. Seliph...well...

Yeah, Seliph pushed everyone out of the flooded chamber and shut the door behind him. Faust, well aware of how their last encounter with the undead went, did not offer any resistance. Instead, the party continued toward the sound of the struggle, where they were met with...well...quite a scene.

In another flooded chamber stood a beast of a man squaring off against a cultists, surrounded by the corpses of a few other cultists. The cultist, literal faceless man, appeared to be at his full strength, while the large man looked quite tired out. Not that that stopped him from swinging around a greatclub with seemingly no effort against the smaller, dagger-wielding foe.

Kalista tried to sneak closer to get the drop on the faceless man, scoring a rather nice attack on him. However, in retaliation the faceless man struck Kalista hard in the face, knocking her unconscious (though thankfully not killing her outright, considering this guy had the same aura of murder that the old woman from the last session had).

The cultist, realizing that he was outnumbered, broke away from the fight against the large man and escaped into another room, locking the door and preparing an ambush for the party. Seliph moved to chase after the cultist, but he was stopped by the large man resting a hand on his shoulder.

"Leave him."

Seliph tensed at the hand on his shoulder, but relaxed and sheathed his sword.

The large man continued, "Now this is quite a ragtag bunch. Why are you down here?"

Kalista quickly responded, "We're killing these cultists for hurting tieflings!"

Seliph quickly shot a glance at Kalista, "You realize tieflings aren't the only victims of racial prejudice, right?" to which Kalista rolled her eyes, before Seliph continued, "I've got this Kalista." He returned his gaze to the large man. "We're here under orders from the Fist. My personal primary objective here is saving the hostages, but we have also been ordered to deal with the cultists in the way we see most appropriate."

The large man smirked. "That would explain all the corpses. How long have you been down here?"

Faust answered, "Oh, a day or so."

"Well, regardless," the man continued, "the cult's as good as gone anyway. He's the last one, and the room he holed up in has none of the treasure, which is in that room over there," he said, indicating one of the few doors in this particular chamber.

Kalista piped up, "Treasure? Why didn't you say so?"

Seliph stroked his chin, "True, they can't do much without their funding. Okay, sounds good. By the way, we've introduced ourselves, who are you, and why are you down here?"

"My name is Mortlock Vanthampur, and I'm here because I was betrayed. These assassins conspired with my brothers to kill me. If you hadn’t come along, I’d be dead. I owe you my life.”

"Go on..." Seliph invited.

“My family is paying the Dead Three cultists to murder people in the city. Our goal is to prove that the Flaming Fist can’t do its job. Once the city stops paying them, the Flaming Fist will have less of a reason to stay in Baldur’s Gate. With them gone, no one can stand in the way of my mother becoming the city’s next grand duke. If she gets her way, Baldur’s Gate will share Elturel’s fate and get dragged down into the Nine Hells. The Dead Three cultists receive regular payments from my brother, Amrik, who runs his own moneylending business out of a tavern called the Low Lantern. My mother doesn’t expect much of me, but she thinks the world of Amrik. He’s always been her favorite.”

Faust stroked his goatee. "Well, it seems we may have a pretty good witness against the cult and those backing it."

Mortlock grimaced. "No offense, but I don't really want anything to do with the Fist either. You see, my mother is one of the three remaining members of the Council of Four, which governs Baldur’s Gate. She was instrumental in convincing Ulder Ravengard to travel to Elturel and meet with its high overseer, Thavius Kreeg. With Ravengard gone, the Flaming Fist is leaderless and vulnerable.”

Faust responded, "All the more reason you should come forward against your family. If it will truly be as bad as you say, you must do what you can to stop them."

Mortlock's frown deepened. "Well, I suppose if you're going to keep pushing like this, I can at least help you deal with my brother in some way. But afterwards, I'm out of here, and I ain't coming back."

"Deal," Seliph agreed. "Let's get that treasure and get out of here."

Faust continued, "I don't suppose you can help us in guarding Miss Vendetta here?"

"Of course," Mortlock responded.

All told the party made off with quite a bit of cash and treasure, though Seliph ended up having to be the one to carry it out in one of the large chests (though not before Kalista pocketed a bronze crown and a porcelain dragon mask.

The party emerged from the bathhouse well past nightfall as well as closing time for the bathhouse. However, once in the courtyard, they were accosted by five figures jumping down from the top of the courtyard wall. One of them stepped forward, stating, "Seems like there are some stragglers left behind in the bathhouse tonight! Well, if they'd be so kind as to return to us the treasure we are owed, we might be willing to ignore this infraction."

Kalista shouted back, "What are you talking about?"

He pointed, "That belongs to us!"

Kalista blinked. "Oh, the mask? Here, I'll just give it back."

"Not just the mask. All of it. You'd be wise to stay out of our way."

Seliph stepped forward. "Okay, if this is yours, I suppose I have no choice but to give it back."

The leader smiled. "Thank you. Tiamat thanks you for your compliance."

Seliph frowned. "Tiamat, huh...well, I guess that answers that moral dilemma." With that, he threw the box as hard as he could at the cultist. Now, this box ended up weighing over 200 pounds all told, so if it had hit the assassin, it would have done quite a bit of damage.

Too bad it missed.

The cloaked figure smiled. "Have it your way then." He turned to his companions. "Kill them."

In the ensuing brawl, Kalista and Sissy were immediately knocked unconscious while Seliph and Faust tried to do what damage they could. With his last spell slot in particular, Seliph used Thunderous Smite again, hoping to at least knock the group prone, granting a few extra seconds of time to strategize, but the head assassin stood firm.

One of the assassins attempted to land a killing blow on Sissy, when suddenly his weapon paused in midair, almost like he himself was incapable of bringing the weapon down. Shortly thereafter, Sissy somehow regained consciousness long enough to fire off a spell. Kalista gained her footing shortly after. Something, or someone had decided to help them.

Seliph quickly glanced around the fray, unsure of where the aid was coming from. Mortlock had pulled Vendetta back into the bathhouse. He himself didn't appear to be a spellcaster.

Another glance until he saw behind the assassins...a young woman, making her way towards the rest of the party.

With their sudden aid, the party was finally able reduce the five figures to two, even killing their leader, while they themselves severely wounded with only Seliph, Sissy, and their rescuer on their feet. The two remaining assassins glanced to each other, then back to Seliph, then back to each other, and then dropped their weapons, saying, "Okay that's it, we surrender!"

One even continued, "I think I'm done with Tiamat. Please don't kill us!"

Seliph calmly stepped forward, locking eyes with the scared young man. "Do yourself a favor. Starting tonight, go straight. Don't even go into taverns. That's how straight you're going. Got it?"

Somehow, some backbone must have resurfaced in the man, who responded, "Are you crazy? This is Baldur's Gate! Ain't nobody goin' that straight here!"

"Then go somewhere else!" Seliph exclaimed, clearly not up for any sort of debate.

"I....yeah, okay." The two former assassins quickly sprinted off into the night, where I'm sure they'll never bother anyone again.

Seliph shook his head, cleaning and sheathing his sword, forgetting about the young woman who jumped in to join them, until she said, "Umm, excuse me, sir, what brings a lot such as you out this late at night?"

Seliph jumped at the sudden breaking of his trance. "Oh, sorry,'s....ah...a bit of a rescue mission." He then looked at his unconscious companions, whom the young woman had already taken the liberty of stabilizing. "I guess it kind out of hand."

"Clearly..." she said.

"Oh, my name is Seliph Lyesyn. We were contracted by the Flaming Fist to deal with some cultists and save some hostages. It's...been a rough few days." He intentionally left out the part about the heist. Not really important at the moment. "These guys we just fought are completely unrelated. Just the cherry on top of the crap sundae that has become my life since I got back into town, I suppose. But...why are you out so late? Baldur's Gate isn't exactly friendly to anybody past dark, let alone a woman travelling by herself."

"Oh but I'm not alone." She pointed down the street a bit to a dog sitting dutifully, waiting for any command from its master. "My dog wanted to go out for a walk, and I heard a commotion."

Seliph scratched the back of his head. "Lucky you showed up when you did. By the way, what's your name?"

"Me? My name is Rylee Godsong, a cleric of Eldath. Naturally, I couldn't just pass by when someone clearly needed my help. Speaking of...what are you planning to do about...well, all this?"

"My home is nearby. I'll just take them there until they recover."

"Oh, allow me to help then," she said, already hoisting Kalista onto her shoulders.

"No please, I  wouldn't want to impose."

"It is no trouble. If I help, they get to safety more quickly."

Seliph opened his mouth to argue further, but relented. "Yeah, okay...Sissy, are you good dragging the chest if I carry Faust?"

"Huh? I mean, I guess, though..." Sissy has a strength of 9, so dragging is about all she's going to be able to do. We even joked about how she'd be better off dragging Faust or Kalista, though Seliph really wanted to avoid having to explain any unexplained head injuries the next morning. You know, potholes and the sort.

By this point, Rylee's player, who had joined us earlier in the week, had to disconnect from the call so we never did get around to resolving how she got home, but I'd imagine either Seliph walked her home or she felt comfortable walking alone with her dog. You make the call. For you see, what happened next is something much more important. Something I'd been waiting for since the beginning of the campaign.

Faust awoke in the same featureless void he was in the night before.

Ah, I must be dead again. Advocati is going to be upset.

However, instead, he was greeted by a different voice. One that, well...the DM himself said that he was basing this particular character (well, interpretation) off of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors (the 80's version with Rick Moranis)... so... (unfortunately this exchange was not done in song, but hey, you can imagine it if you wish)

"Faustie, Faustie, so good to hear from you again!"

"Oh, yes, Hadar, I wasn't sure if we would still be on speaking terms."

"You think I care about you making other deals? That means nothin' to me, especially when it's with someone as insignificant as Avocado or whatever his name is. I don't care about any of that. I just want you to keep killing for me. I want you to feeeeeeeeeed me, Faustie!"

Apparently the DM had been waiting until Faust actually killed someone before introducing us to his interpretation of Hadar, and Faust had managed to not kill anybody until after Advocati had restored him to life.

"Although, if you wanna stay on my good side, I am gonna need you to feed Avocado to me. Roast him up real good with the Eldritch Blast, just the way I like it. Until then, just keep feeding me, Faustie, and you'll get the things you want!"

With that, Faust slowly regained consciousness, sorely regretting not being able to get an inn for himself, to avoid imposing on Seliph as well as to continue his studies/pondering of how to get himself out of the increasingly complicated situation he'd landed himself in.