5e Planescape: Tales of Devotion

And So It Begins

Enter Sigil

The journey of our valiant adventurers begins as they emerge from the woods on the more gently sloping side of an old gorge left behind by a now dry river. On the other side, the steeper cliff seems to house a cave opening at its base. Moreover, judging by the rocks on both sides of the opening, it has been cleared only recently from behind said rubble. With no other adventuring parties in sight, the party makes its way to the opening and finds the silver tiara embedded with fluorite which definitely belongs to the kidnapped princess Clemence von Patafian. Dantalus Creed, the half-elf bard, secures the item while Kade from the Order of Deneir, a paladin, vigilantly observes their surroundings for any signs of life. He sees naught but a lone bird taking flight from the woods on the opposite side, and so, the adventurers enter the darkness of the cave, now illuminated by a torch prepared by Sterling, a fighter and once a member of the city watch. As the party vanishes from sight, the shadows grow deeper alongside the dyeing of the light in yellow and orange hues as the sun slowly begins to set.

While Sterling and Vanhedra, the dwarven ranger hired to guide the rest in this wilderness, inspect the trail left in the dust-covered floor of the cave, unwittingly destroying said evidence in the process, Dantalus creeps further into the cave. His nose irritated by the dust being set in the air by their entry, the half-elf feels a sneeze coming and attempts to hide it to little avail. For a split second, time freezes as the half-muffled sound of the sneeze echoes through the cave. It seems no reaction is prompted for the time being and thus, everyone advances deeper into the cave. Teera, a tiefling sorceress, remains sensitive to any reaction by the denizens of this cave to the earlier heralding of the party’s arrival and indeed, now that they are deeper into the cave, she can hear a smooth, vaguely human voice murmur in what appears to be common but using expressions she has never before witnessed such as ‘yugoloth’. Once everyone goes silent, they are able to reaffirm how this voice echoes from deeper into the cave. Once again, Dantalus takes the lead, covering his face with cloth this time around, having learnt from his mistakes. At first, it seems the cave is coming to a crossroads but one path is but a short dead end.

However, the other path seems to occasionally be lit by short bursts of purplish light. Advancing with care, the party arrives at a spot where the natural cave gives room to clearly man-crafted architecture. What is more, they are staring down on a number of tiles, each etched with an ancient rune in the Infernal alphabet. Dantalus throws a rock on the tiles and it rolls across but no reaction seems to have been prompted. According to Kade who for some reason knows Abyssal, the language of demons, the three markings replicated across the floor in seemingly radom patterns would correspond to the ideas of heat, belovedness, and elders, respectively. Both Teera and Dantalus know Infernal which would attribute the same runes with polar opposite meanings: ‘siin’ for ‘forsaken’, ‘tien’ for ‘cold’, and ‘ris’ for ‘child’. Despite being convinced of this being a trap, the party has no option but to advance, and thus, Vanhedra the dwarf takes the first step, on a ‘tien’ tile. Everyone may be holding their breath, but… Nothing happens. Emboldened, the dwarf advances and is forced to take cover after their second step into the patterned hallway as bolts of eldritch energy launch from the floor. Having avoided injury, the dwarf continues forward, harassed by a barrage of arcane blasts. Before he manages to take the last step to the other side, Dantalus, who followed their guide’s lead, uses the dwarf as leverage to run across this hallway using the left wall as footing.

At this point, both Dantalus and Vanhedra have made it across, in that order (much to the chagrin of the dwarf). Dantalus continues forward where he sees a pair of doors ajar. From between these doors, the half-elf can peek at a circular room with some kind of an altar in the middle. The earlier noises seem to have alerted the fiend inside but they continue chanting in whispers… To whatever sinister end they have in mind. Neither of these people on this side of the hallway find any sort of mechanism to disarm the trap, but they do notice how one of the ‘safe’ runes used by Vanhedra seems to actually have been broken by what they surmise was a rock falling from the ceiling. The rest must follow lead, despite not having the faintest clues as to the pattern they should follow (if one exists). Growing weary of the wait, Vanhedra beckons to his animal companion, the ever loyal boar. Following its master’s lead, the beast attempts to charge across, only to be shot down by a violent and sudden barrage of eldritch energy. With what seems to be an accusatory one last look at the master who betrayed its trust, the boar draws its last, wheezing breath on the cold stone floor and perishes. The smell of burning grease fills the air.

Having been alerted to the true danger of the trap, the rest hesitate. Sterling is the next to make their way through, despite having been hit by a number of bolts. In one last leap, they avoid any unnecessary steps on the trapped tiles. Having no opportunity to help his animal partner any more, Vanhedra cures the worst of the injuries the fighter sustained on their way across. This leaves only Teera and Kade stranded. While the tiefling sorceress had intended to make their way across in as few steps as possible by jumping across whatever tiles they could and being carried by Kade the rest of the way if need be, she is stopped by fear and an accidental bump on the dungeon’s wall when gathering momentum. Many plans are considered, with Dantalus surveying the actions of the fiend in the next room. It seems whatever it was trying to accomplish is now finished as there is a sudden outbreak of pearly, white light, which is soon dimmed by the source seemingly being grasped by the fiend.

Having no time to waste, Kade attempts to make his way back in order to help Teera across if necessary. However, his jump falls short and releases yet more eldritch blasts, one of which hits the back of the paladin’s head, catching them unprepared. He collapses on the floor on the other side – still alive but clearly hurt by yet another hit. By now, Kade has the identity of the party’s target figured: some centuries ago, a fiend called ‘Sitri’ arrived seemingly out of nowhere and attacked the free people of the free city of Schildheim. While not fluent in Infernal, the paladin still remembers how this creature’s name consists of the runes etched into the tiles of this hallway. Despite being armed with this knowledge, the party does not know whether it is of any relevance or not: thus far, starting with runes other than the one at the beginning of the name seems to have been safe. Because the blasts hurting Kade when he made his way back seemed to have visibly exhausted the amount of magical energy streaking across the floor, Vanhedra finally places his bets on a desperate gamble to completely drain whatever power is left in the trapped floor by making his way back. Once the dwarf reached the corpse of their companion, he decided to try and minimize damages by using it as bait instead. Despite the boar’s corpse being desecrated by being flung around, it seems not to activate the trap. Instead, Vanhedra is forced to risk himself some more until the magic finally runs out and the only light remaining is Sterling’s torch, tugged in the corner of the hallway and set on the rock Dantalus threw when they first arrived.

Teera and Kade make their way across. Everyone is gathered once more, and the furious paladin storms the door, behind which the fiend and the princess await. At first, he sees nothing but darkness and the fiend’s young, pale, and famished face in the pure light of what appears to be a jewel on his palm. The thing taunts its hunters, telling the party how they should not follow it as it turns its back on them and absconds to yet another hallway on the other side of the circular room. The adventurers follow in its footsteps, with Dantalus and Vanhedra taking the lead. Once the torch illuminates what lies in the middle of the room – a foul stone altar with poor princess Clemence lying on top in her tattered white dress – Kade makes his way to the princess and ascertains whether they were too late. It seems the princess is definitely alive, despite her vital signs being faint, and so, the paladin grabs her and flings her on his shoulder. Everyone then follows the fiend which had vanished behind a corner. The hallway they enter is pitch-dark and surprisingly long. After giving chase through the unchanging darkness, the adventurers finally see a source of light at the end of the tunnel. However, they realize something is wrong too late, as everyone stumbles through the portal, with Sterling at the front.

Suddenly, everyone finds themselves in a place the like of which they had never even imagined. It is a city of sorts, made of different recycled materials, all the multitude of elements barely fitting together to form any sort of coherent whole. What is more, there is no horizon and no real sky either. Instead, it seems the ground beneath everyone’s feet curves slightly inward, making the streets continue all the way to above them. Besides rest of the city, the sky (if it can be called that) hosts a jagged spire jotting from the side and continuing to the side for all eternity, and a vaguely yellowish glow pulsating slowly in every direction besides. The denizens of the city seem to consist of whatever monstrous things and bizarre humanoids a fevered sorcerer’s imagination might conjure, from fiends to colourfully clad albinos. At least at first – these wonders are what catches the eye, after all.

Since Sterling has been knocked to the ground by the rest who followed him through the portal, he is approached by some local who offers him a hand in standing up. It seems the stranger is some bright red tiefling, and so, the ex-guardsman scurries away from the offer. This stranger then proceeds to introduce himself as ‘Izador’, a so-called ‘tout’. He prattles away with a strange accent, lacing his speech with foreign concepts. The gist of it seems to be that he is a guide to this city called ‘Sigil’ and would like to help the newcomers find their way around – for a price. Dantalus is the first to pick up on the name of the game and attempts to at least seemingly befriend the tiefling while fishing for further free tidbits. Izador seems to catch on, though, and while the amused tiefling is willing to drop a few gold off their price, he warns not to further stretch his hospitality under the circumstances. Sterling also tries to simply gain minimal instructions to find the worst hive of villainy he can, but it is agreed that for the time being, the best course of action would probably be to cough up and follow the local guide’s lead. Maybe that way the party would find a place to stay, while Sterling will come to know the dark corners of the city and Vanhedra whatever the closest approximation of nature there is to offer.

Thus, everyone stuffs themselves (and the princess) into a pony cab summoned by Izador and listens to him prattle further about the mysterious laws of the planes and this city of Sigil. Apparently, the city is ruled by some supreme being called the ‘Lady of Pain’ who is even able to kill gods, and beyond her, the more mundane and everyday tasks are governed by fifteen factions, each with a distinct philosophy. The cab makes it through the Lady’s Ward, the Marker Ward, the Guildhall Ward, and the Clerk’s Ward. Izador keeps introducing new places and new factions living in each. Finally, it arrives at the border of what seems to be a slum, and the driver refuses to go any deeper. Izador agrees and tells the party how they have arrived in the Hive, Sigil’s slums and home to some unpredictable as well as desperate individuals. He promises to lead the party through these slums safely and so, having little choice but to trust the tiefling, the party complies and follows his lead. They are eventually led to a narrow alleyway, and even though Sterling had noted that they were being surveyed, the party is successfully ambushed by a shady group of individuals claiming they are after Izador’s head. The leader of the group, clad in inconspicuous robes, explains how Izador owes money to someone, and he should have known better than to try and cross this person and their boss, someone described as a “benevolent” individual.

Ignoring the assailants nonchalantly, Izador asks for the help of the party in defending himself, seeing as to how they have already been associated with him. As compensation, he will give them the map they decided not to buy earlier. Everyone agrees, and Dantalus is give the map before a skirmish breaks out. It seems the leader of these racketeers is some form of a spellcaster who attempts to imprison Izador as the first thing once the fight breaks out. Failing miserably, he falls for the tiefling’s mocking taunts. Meanwhile, the four henchmen who arrived in groups of two on both sides, are being dispatched by the party’s fighters. Teera casts a chromatic orb at them but fails her shot. Instead, Vanhedra manages the first blood with a well-placed thrown axe, and Dantalus, Kade, and Sterling follow suite, each with their own weapons of choice. The grunts are dispatched of with ease, and barely any injuries are sustained as a result, but the ringleader is somewhat more tenacious. In the end, he finds himself alone and cornered and attempts to make a run for it. However, Kade compels him to face the party with his holy magic, and in the end, this debtor flings himself at his blade, laughing at how the party is doomed for having crossed the path of someone beyond their reach.

This concludes the fight and the session.

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VariSami

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