Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Part 13: Some Offers We Should Probably Refuse


So, the bird folk from the vision. One part of Lulu's memory that was jogged was their names and what they looked like.

"Yeah, they had a weird way of speaking, but their names were Chukka and Clonk! They were like big crows, but they didn't have wings, and the way they talked was by mimicking voices they heard before!"

"Oh dear gods," Faust muttered, noticing that Seliph and Kalista had similar reactions.

"What?" asked Sissy.

"Kenku," muttered Seliph.

"What's that?"

"Oh, right, I keep forgetting you're not from this world. Does your world have crows?"

"Well, yeah."

"Picture big crows that can talk but can't fly. They also get weirdly obsessive over things. I've met a few and it wasn't pleasant," Seliph added at the end of his description.

"They're not that bad," Rylee protested.

"Anyway," Lulu broke in. "We gotta go find them! They might be able to direct us to where Zariel's sword is!" She continued babbling about how excited she was to save her friend. "Oh, but I suppose you guys will want to rest before we head out..."

"Please," Seliph requested, noting the party's injuries from the previous adventure.

The evening was spent in relative silence as the party considered their next course of actions. They would need to climb down to the surface of Avernus.

To remind you, the city of Elturel is in Avernus. The sky of Avernus. It's quite a way down, with a very distinct possibility of falling. Whether just falling to one's death or falling into the River Styx is the worse possibility is a matter of debate I don't really want to have.

There were a few possibilities:

  1. Climb down one of the enormous chains that connected Elturel to the surface of Avernus.
  2. Fly
  3. Find a vehicle of some kind
Being the most straightforward solution, the party opted to try climbing the chain.

Well...let's talk about that. From the book:

Each chain link is 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, and is formed of a welded loop of infernal iron that is 5 feet thick...The chain links are covered in 1-foot-long iron barbs that make them relatively easy to move along. The posts of infernal iron that anchor Elturel to the ground likewise offer numerous handholds for climbing.

So, not exactly a comfortable experience with Faust or Sissy, but Sissy had a new ability to tap into that the party was unaware of. She began to levitate.

"I just discovered I could do this recently-" as in, last level-up recently, "It shouldn't be too hard for me to float down to the surface, but I'm not sure I could carry you guys."

The party looked at Lulu, who shrugged.

Anyway, it was around this moment that the party realized that they were in an immense amount of pain. Well, okay, Faust was in an immense amount of pain.

For you see, another aspect of the chain is the fact that due to fiendish magic or whatever, contact with the chain hurts you.

"This isn't going to work," Faust complained. "I doubt that I could even make it halfway before passing out." Indeed, it was a mathematical impossibility. Unless he jumped halfway his HP would probably hit zero not much later, and even then he wouldn't survive the fall.

Without any methods of the party realistically flying, the party had to find some other way down. Thankfully, not far from the chain was a machine fiends were using to travel from the surface to Elturel.

"That will do," Sissy said, smiling, an idea forming in her mind.

Anyway, she took point when going to claim the machine from the fiends. "You guys can leave. We're taking that."

One of the fiends closest to the group smirked. "You the toughest one among 'em? Not very convincing, and you're younger than my taste, though the other two girls might be more up my alley."

As he was licking his lips, Sissy began levitating and glowing with eldritch energy.

Slight dramatization

Anyway between that and the rest of the party making more intimidating poses than...well...the Titans screaming in pain as seen above, the fiends looked at each other and split (Sissy may have also nuked one of them, I forgot the details)

Once the party reached the surface, their next objective was locating the Wandering Emporium. Beyond a need for equipment and a vehicle to travel the surface of Avernus, an imp appeared before Kalista and suggested that she go to the Wandering Emporium to "find out where she came from", as in, to meet her father. During that discussion, Kalista grabbed the imp, demanding more information, and he mentioned that Advocati was also there, wanting to speak with Faust.

As the machine got closer to the surface, the party saw a group of fiends carrying a tied up tiefling somewhere. Naturally, the party (and by that I man Kalista) wouldn't take that lying down and...

Slight understatement

Anyway, the newly freed tiefling introduced himself as Dirk, something totally meant to be a throwaway cameo for a character in a previous campaign played by one of our other friends (the husband of Sissy's player), but uh...he couldn't make it, so basically he showed up to point us in the direction of the Wandering Emporium and disappeared.

Upon arriving at the Wandering Emporium, the party was approached by a man who introduced himself as Mahadi.

"It's so good to finally meet the five of you at last. We've been expecting you, please come in, stay a while, have something to eat. Naturally we have rooms available for each of you, and there are people who desire to speak with you all.

The party soon found themselves sitting in a restaurant making orders from a very real menu (as in, the kind that was even printed in the book.

- MENU -


- Pickled vine blight salad -

- Pan-fried myconid cap with garlic butter -

- Spicy shredded stirge sliders -


- Broiled quippers served in a port reduction -

- Roasted wereboar seasoned liberally with pepper and paprika -

- Twice-battered axe beak strips with a brandied plum sauce -

- Deep fried miniature giant space hamster, seasoned to perfection with rosemary, basil, thyme, and tears -


- Candied phase spider eyes in a raspberry liquor reduction -

- Sweet apple tart with a celestial caramel drizzle -

- Rare miniature stench kow cheese selection -

- Coffee/Tea -

One continuity gag in here that I appreciated was the fact that some monster got Boo!

The fact that meals are served here is even acknowledged. You see, I neglected to mention it until now but any food that originated in Avernus all had one thing in common: tasting like ash. I'm serious. But the food in the Wandering Emporium is different. In fact, the entire place is different. Uncharacteristically safe from the effects of being in Avernus.

As a result, the food was delicious. And don't ask me what everyone ordered because I don't remember.

Anyway, as the party continued their meal, Kalista was approached by a fiend, saying that her sister would be seeing her shortly.

Not her father. Her sister.

Anyway, she wasn't sure how to react to this and asked Seliph to go with her.

Arriving at the destination Kalista was summoned to, Seliph and Kalista tried to proceed in, but were stopped by the receptionist of the office.

"Who are you? You weren't requested," she said rather forcefully to Seliph.

"I'm here to support my friend in case something weird happens."

"The meeting isn't going to be quite like you expect."

"Is it going to be what she expects?"

"Honestly, no. But it isn't exactly possible for you to join on this meeting."

Before Seliph could press further, Kalista broke in, "It's fine. What exactly am I supposed to do?"

Kalista was led into a small room by the receptionist, who took out a small wine glass and filled it with some liquid from a bottle. "Drink," she said. "You will fall into a brief sleep, during which you will be able to commune with your sister, who is currently in another location.

Kalista raised an eyebrow, shrugged, and drained the glass. Thankfully, the receptionist was being totally honest, because when Kalista blacked out, she could very well have been captured or worse. Instead, she awakened in a void that looked similar to the room she was sitting in, chair and table included.

Seated at the table was another tiefling.

So here are the main points that came up in that conversation as far as we know. Kalista didn't make a single Insight check or really press the "sister" on any of these points so no telling just how much of this is actually true, but here we go.

  • Kalista's former love Raul was targeted by Kalista's sister for cheating on his wife, his soul stored in a soul coin (which is the prime legal tender in Avernus)
  • Kalista's services were requested as part of joining the family business, including but not limited to incredible power (and a shiny new dagger) in exchange for serving as a temptress against unfaithful men, after which she would kill them and feed their souls to her father, an important archfiend by the name of Belial
  • Owing to this, Kalista's soul belonged to said archfiend, and she'd find herself serving him in the Nine Hells once her mortal life was over
I know what you're thinking. "Gee, that sounds terrible!" And you're right.

So anyway Kalista said yes and found the sweet dagger in her pack once the conversation was over and she rejoined the waking world, her sister's instructions echoing in her head.

Kalista's new abilities include the aforementioned dagger as well as the ability to shapeshift at well. And she immediately began abusing it.

Skipping ahead a little bit, everybody but Seliph met with a devil here.

  • Faust met with Advocati again and was given a Ring of Mind Shielding to Rylee's chagrin (as well as Hadar, who as we'll see later isn't taking the sudden call screening well)
  • Rylee also met with Advocati who tried to tempt her with the possibility of seeing what Faust was up to but she said no
  • Sissy met with a devil who, upon realizing her pact with the Genie, began talking to her about the possibility of working together but the conversation was interrupted by Seliph and Kalista returning. We'll see if that comes back up again.
The party stayed with the Wandering Emporium overnight, mostly happy to have their own separate rooms, although Kalista in particular found the solitude a bit much. The silence brought forth thoughts and memories, the kind that she had been trying to drown out ever since Raul died. The fact that, due to her contract, her soul belonged to hell left her particularly divided. On the one hand, she'd already done plenty of bad things up to this point, so why is this any new? But on the other, she'd always kind of hoped that the future was positive.

Without thinking, she wandered outside, hoping to be able to talk to someone. As luck would have it, Rylee was out with her dog, and Kalista quickly caught up with Rylee to ask her a few questions.

"Something's been on my mind lately...do you think I was always going to Hell?" Kalista asked sheepishly.

"What do you mean?"

"You're religious. You probably have a good idea of who goes where when they die. I've never really followed a god or religion, but I've done a lot of things that would probably have me going to a bad place."

"I don't know for sure. I know you're never stuck on a path if you don't want to be on it."

This conversation went back and forth for a bit before Seliph, who also happened to be out and about at that time, wandered into the conversation.

"Oh, I wanted to ask you as well!" Kalista quickly turned towards Seliph. "Do you think you're going to Heaven or Mount Celestia or wherever goodie-goods like you go when you die?"

Seliph...well...gave this expression.

Eyes darting between Rylee and Kalista, Seliph thought for a second, then shrugged. "I don't really know. I mean, yeah, I'm a paladin and everything, but I also did some scummy things when I worked with the Fist. I don't particularly have a favorite god, but I mean, I'll gladly go to one of their domains if they find me worthy. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, just...wondering," Kalista muttered.

Unconvinced, Seliph pressed. "Kalista, you're not normally this shy. What's the problem?"

"No judgment?"

Seliph looked at Rylee, who nodded. "I can only promise to try."

It was at this point that Faust's player chuckled and said, "Yes, we're finally at the awkward, 'Mom, Dad, I did something wrong,' talk."

Anyway, Kalista came clean about everything, finishing with the statement, "I mean, I was pretty sure I was going to Hell anyway, may as well take advantage of the family name, right? But...I feel like I made a mistake."

Seliph looked at Rylee again. Again, the look of, "What am I supposed to do here? This wasn't in the simulation!"

Rylee started. "I wouldn't say that you going to Hell was guaranteed, but..."

Seliph added, "The contract is a problem."

"There must be a way to get out of it," Rylee said, hopefully.

"I dunno, fiends tend to be pretty thorough in their craft of screwing over their clients," Seliph said with a shrug. "Still, we're already working on reversing one fiendish contract. Another probably won't add that much work. Still, not much we can do tonight. Let's try to get some rest. We've got a long journey ahead of us."

And while this was actually the beginning of the next session, this is where I'll call the post because it feels like a good place to pause. Next time, we finally get to see these Infernal War Machines, as well as Faust finally snapping.

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