Having despatched their assailants with swiftness and ease, the party somewhat begrudgingly followed Izador’s lead in tying up the loose ends by carrying the corpses of their foregone enemies to the puddles they had previously evaded. With a heave, Izador flung the first body toward them, and indeed, a pseudopod of ooze and filth slithered its way to the corpse from one of the puddles and dragged it inside like a rag doll filled with twigs and juice being pulled through a straw. As unnerving a show as the cracking of bones and splattering of bodily fluids provided, the rest also unloaded their victims near said puddle while Izador explained how sometimes the puddles on the road in the Hive Ward would open as portals to the Plane of Ooze and drag in careless people.
The rest of the tour was over soon enough: the party hurried through the rest of the Hive Ward, over the Ditch, and into the Lower Ward. Izador introduced to them the remaining factions present in these areas, from Xaositects to the Doomguard, and led everyone to the door of what appeared like a private lodging if anything, promising to take them to a tavern where the adventurers would be able to get their well-earned rest. Hushing the slightly belligerent drow inhabitant of the house with a quick kiss on the cheek, Izador lead everyone through his quarters and into the bedroom where someone was still hiding under the blankets. Opening the wardrobe, he revealed yet another portal, allegedly reacting to the red of his skin. Everyone made their way through, into the inner balcony in the first floor of the Thorny Bush tavern – a homely enough locale for these poor primes, save for the fiendish customers and an undead beholder clad in roses for decoration.
Everyone made their way downstairs where they spotted a few more customers: a group of three bugbears and a mysterious stranger sitting alone by the fireplace, clad in a hooded cloak hiding their visage. Moreover, a huge, stout redhead woman seemed to be manning the bar, ordering around a group of orcish waiters. Izador introduced this owner of the place as Rosie, and Teera explained the party’s circumstances to her in detail. Sterling, on the other hand, grabbed a few tankards of Ysgardian mead and made his way to the mysterious stranger, offering a drink which was not so much refused as ignored. Dantalus, having been offered some commendation as well as free mead, had already seated himself on the other table by the fireplace and began warming the atmosphere with tentative notes from his viola. Vanhedra ordered some goat milk and whatever was on the menu (boar, it turns out), and things would perhaps have calmed down, had Izador not decided to test his luck with Rosie’s beholder game as the hapless tout was immediately reduced to a pile of ashes inside of the marked area, leaving the party without a guide.
While Dantalus was taunting both the bugbears for having rudely replied to his queries and Vandhedra for the heck of it, Sterling kept insisting on establishing contact with the mysterious stranger. In the end, he resorted to looking inside of the hood and even throwing it back, causing the stranger to immediately disappear in thin air, leaving behind only his thick, dark grey cloak which was promptly snatched and stashed away by Teera. In the end, Sterling ended up gobbling all the mead he had brought, leaving him more than a bit tipsy as he followed Teera who wanted to ask the fiends they had seen upstairs about the one who had escaped. As it turned out, the two were bickering about some nonsense over whether ‘yugoloths’ could be trusted in ‘the Blood War’. Of the two, a fly monster seemed more than a bit cross over the topic and the insults of the other fiend, a purple-skinned and bare-chested muscular humanoid with green tentacles or pseudopods growing from his chin. This fly thing established telepathic contact with Teera once she turned her attention on the two of them and promised to reward her, were she to somehow lure the other one in the toilet area of the tavern.
Her plan for this course of action, as it turns out, was chatting up the purple devil and informing him of Sterling’s bravado and willingness to challenge this proud fiend to endure the assault of the beholder downstairs. Having already lost his nerve with the fly thing, the fiend was not ready for yet more disrespect and from some addled human-thing, no less. He stormed after Sterling who received a brief instruction from Teera to bait the devil into the loo, where the heroic guardsman indeed tried to hide momentarily. After the purple devil ripped the locked door open, Sterling pointed his rapier at the fiend without realising how Teera was sneaking up from behind and tackled the devil on top of her guardian. Immediately, an unnatural darkness enveloped the room and over the next few seconds, everything those outside could hear were the fiend’s screams and a vaguely familiar popping and gurgling sound. In the end, Sterling was revealed to remain in the loo, alone, covered in a black liquid which as splattered across the room from the hole used for one’s natural needs, looking somewhere between spooked and enlightened. For her troubles, Teera received some gear looted from the battlefields of the Blood War by the chuckling fly thing, before it left the tavern. While Sterling was being bathed with the help of a big, grey orc called Grim in the back alley, everyone divvied the spoils of his and Teera’s efforts, opting to sell most of it in the end. (Also, let us not forget how Vanhedra decided to break his vow of abstinence as a result of these superficially silly developments, ordering a whole skull-faced bottle of Baatorian whisky, best described as ‘liquid burning pain’.)
Everyone having engorged themselves in the different roasted meats Rosie provided them with, the voluptuous barkeeper emerged from the back with yet more drinks for everyone. Perhaps tipsy from the atmosphere herself, she began flirting aggressively with Kade who had mostly been sitting silently, thinking up the next step in trying to find their enemy. Despite the paladin’s initial unwillingness to indulge the giant lady, he seemed to suddenly have a change of heart. Grabbing the princess to have her placed on a more comfortable spot in Rosie’s quarters, he silently followed the lead of the tavern’s towering owner, much to everyone’s amusement, prompting more than a few raunchy comments from the rest of the company. In Rosie’s quarters, the first thing he noticed was Rosie lying on the floor, unconscious. The other Rosie who had charmed him with some vile enchantment whispered to him in a soft but masculine voice ‘One down’ before planting a kiss which drained the paladin’s very life force from him through his now desiccated lips.
Rosie returned alone, without Kade, which did prompt a few raised eyebrows but mostly more jeers aimed at the paladin who had lasted a mere few minutes by the looks of it. She attempted to invite another person to finish the job but was turned down, failing to establish a magical suggestion a second time. Shrugging, she began talking about how eliminating even one member would be enough to tips the odds in her favour as she distanced herself from the party’s tables. On the way, her form began to flow and morph, revealing the striking if androgynous figure of a bat-winged fiend – an incubus. Having shaken what he described as the hideous and clumsy form imposed on him by this assignment by an old friend but still remaining enlarged, the fiend summoned its pets from the kitchen: an albino hell hound and two death dogs. Combat was imminent.
The party was clearly disadvantaged, having been surprised with their pants around their knees. Not only had Kade been overcome by the incubus, moments ago Sterling had finally succumbed to the alcohol content of his blood and lost consciousness. Both Dantalus and Teera had to spend their first few moments of the fight kicking him awake while Vanhedra intercepted the canine assailants, calling for the help of the remaining customers: the group of bugbears. It turns out they were aching for a fight and managed to surprise the fiend with a nice, kneecapping blow out of nowhere. It was too late to distract the hell hound before it unleashed a fiery breath on the party, catching Teera and Vanhedra in the blast (both making the best of the situation with their strengths: the sorceress’s infernal heritage and the dwarf’s honed reflexes). While it did take a while for Dantalus to heal the worst lingering effects of both previous scuffles and this initial onslaught, the tide of battle slowly turned to favour the heroes. The bugbear lackeys of their big boss Jugem were slaughtered but this bought enough time for Teera to unleash her sorcerous might in a barrage of ice and fire, taking out the closes canines (including the hell hound). The remaining enemies attempted to flee with the remaining death dog dragging the body of one of the bugbears and the incubus finding itself fighting a losing battle. Before the fiend managed to make its way outside, it was ambushed by a random passer-by who sank their knives on his side. Alone and surrounded, the fiend finally yielded by dropping on its knees and claiming to give. Sterling threw a net over him as a precaution and the still infuriated Jugem knocked out the lights with the handle of his morningstar.
Fight and session over. Number of casualties: 1 (?).