After five days journey west from Low Town and High toward the Porcelain Citadel, Vitus told the group that they were being probed from afar by an unfamiliar magical presence. He said he would hang back and attempt to distract the presence. [This was to write out Vitus while Judd was absent from the session. I will be sending Vitus a Love Letter to detail what went down.]
On the last day of their journey to Porcelain Citadel, the PCs came upon a lone mule grazing a few hundred feet off the road. Ivo secured it and found that the mule had a pack saddle and was carrying provisions and trade goods— the latter was bolts of fine silks from the Rainbowlands. Searching the area, Tarkov found a giant moondew, a carnivorous plant big enough to entrap a man… and the leaves were folded around something man-sized. He came to the conclusion that the man was dead, and he was unsuccessful in attempting to retrieve the body. The party added the mule to their caravan and proceeded.
As the party approached the Citadel, they encountered two people on the road guarding the passage to the Citadel. They were dressed in identical flowing robes, and each wore an identically-painted porcelain mask that completely obscured their faces. The two spoke in unison, and frequently mirrored each others’ movements in an uncanny and disturbing manner. After a search for contraband and some questioning, the guards let the caravan proceed into the city.
The Porcelain Citadel itself has the form of a gigantic human hand making an arcane gesture of power. It stands atop a hemispherical hill, surrounded by smaller buildings. At the base of the hill are additional buildings: Many painted vibrant colors and of the same architectural styles that are common in various parts of the Rainbowlands. While moving through the marketplace as it was shutting down, Tarkov came across an old familiar face: Jarobi, Jaala’s uncle. After the men greeted one another and embraced, Jarobi suddenly looked around and warned Tarkov that there were dangers around and that they should not be seen together. They arranged a meeting later that night in a tavern that Jarobi said would be safe from prying eyes. Meanwhile, Ivo and Slayton arranged lodging for themselves and a stable for the animals.
At the appointed hour, Tarkov went to meet Jarobi. As he approached the tavern, he heard someone weakly calling for help in a nearby alley: It was Jarobi, bleeding out from a savage wound in his gut… from the smell, Tarkov knew Jarobi had little time left. Cradling Jaala’s uncle in his arms, the older man told him he was attacked and left for dead by a Xulgath with black scales and a green-and-gold checkered scarf. He said he’d been trailing the Xulgath slavers who’d captured Jaala for many weeks: They are heading far to the west and need her powers as a priestess of the moon for some kind of ceremony. He said they weren’t moving all that quickly, as the appointed time still wasn’t right. He also said that they seemed to be looking for something else. At that, he passed away. Tarkov picked up Jarobi’s body and brought it to Ivo and Slayden… and also the artist Berengar. Ivo convinced Berengar that the Porcelain Princes thought very highly of death portraits, and asked him to paint one of Jarobi. (This was mainly to keep the artist from freaking out and drawing too much attention to a corpse…) Berengar complied. At that, Tarkov gathered the supplies to perform the funeral rites of his people, which involves a pyre. He performed that ceremony later that night.
The next day, Ivo networked around the marketplace to find buyers willing to pay top coin for their wares, and he found a good lead: the porcelain prince Orpheon Pentythesis had placed the order of Rainbowlander silks, and feared its loss. He was able to arrange a meeting later that afternoon. Orpheon’s office was in the penthouse suite of one of the High Houses at the base of the citadel, eight stories up. His office was well-appointed with luxurious furnishings and a balcony overlooking the lake west of the citadel. Just after Ivo had signed the papers selling the silks, Orpheon called in his senechal to remit payment in blue gold coins: A black-scaled Xulgath, wearing a green-and-gold checkered scarf! Tarkov took one look at the serrated blade hanging at the reptilian man’s belt, and knew it was Jarobi’s murderer. He leapt onto the table and attacked him with his bare hands!
As Tarkov and theXulgath fought, the rest of the party stood back, continuing to engage Orpheon in conversation. Slayton convinced the Porcelain Prince that the fight was between the two of them, and didn’t involve anyone else, and Orpheon seemed to agree. Tarkov managed to knock out the Xulgath, and everyone thought that was the end… until he then picked him up, carried him to the balcony, and hurled him over the edge! With a sickening thump they could hear all the way to the penthouse, the party all cringed and looked at the imassive figure of Orpheon. After a pregnant pause, the Porcelain Prince said, “I can make that go away for you. But in order to do that, I need you to run an errand for me…”
[At that, we kicked around a bunch of ideas and settled on: The hand is actually part of an immense hollow statue that’s now buried. Orpheon wants the party to retrieve the Ulfire Crown, rumored to be somewhere around the left foot… Next session: In the Porcelain Dungeons!]