Having little chance to stop Sterling’s suicidal charge back into the Nail of Dis, the party is preparing for the worst. Even if they were to dogpile the guardsman, such a solution would only last for so long, and everyone knows that their only chance to return home lies somewhere in the depths of the gambling den. When Sterling rushes headlong towards Focalor’s office, Dantalus, Erdan, and Teera skulk in the cover of the stairs and a table, ready to spring to action if the situation so demands. Vanhedra and Giggler wait outside, readying for the worst.
The only explanation provided to the Mercykillers is Sterling’s copy of the Harmonium’s rules, claimed to be a warrant justifying the guardsman’s reckless actions. Although the ruse is almost immediately recognised and the bluff is called, the Mercykillers barely have time to brandish their mancatchers before Teera chimes in with a magical suggestion, prompting the Mercykiller with Sterling’s scroll to return to the Prison alongside his partner. Confabulating a reason to the best f their ability, the Mercykiller suddenly remembers how the two of them must immediately return to their posts or risk punishment. As the two of them head for the door, Focalor’s employees begin to silently circle on Sterling and manoeuvre to bar the doors. Since Sterling is still ducking behind the counter, having been scared by the approaching Mercykiller brandishing his mancatcher, the closest waiters lose no time and begin stabbing him out of sight even before the jailers are out the door.
Hearing her dear companion’s whining, Teera momentarily forgets about waiting for the Mercykillers to leave and shoots fiery beams towards Sterling’s assailants. This causes the Mercykillers to momentarily stop and reassess the situation, but in the end, the power of the suggestion overcomes the enchanted jailer who excuses them by mentioning how they should return with reinforcements after having clocked in. Thus, the lingering threat of having to face the Red Death itself – and not merely the servants of some of its members – is averted for the time being, although everyone becomes keenly aware of how the clock is ticking and they cannot linger without risking a raid by some of Sigil’s most fearsome servants of the law. A grand melee begins.
In order to help Sterling proceed, Dantalus opens the lock protecting Focalor’s office with a ringing spell. Erdan and Teera pepper the enemies with supporting fire while Sterling crawls towards the door. Unexpectedly, something sinister slams the door open and rushes towards Sterling, brandishing a flickering pair of daggers. In the blink of an eye, the guardsman is felled, having been weakened by the opportunistic stabs earlier. Erdan, now engaged in a fight with some veiled tieflings by the door alongside Giggler and Vanhedra, breaks free and risks a few passing strikes as he hurries to save Sterling from drowning in his own blood. No sooner than he manages to force the last remaining healing potion down the guardsman’s throat to save him from imminent death, is the eladrin also dropped to the ground, dying. Dantalus who has moved to the end of the terrace in the floor above begins distractinf Focalor while Teera unleashes a powerful sonic boom from the first floor, visibly disorientating the deadly proprietress and killing the nearest waiters by forcefully knocking them against unyielding corners. As Dantalus drops down in order to provide more direct support for his endangered comrades, he finds himself on the receiving end of Focalor’s fury, being bombarded by thrown knives as she closes in, ready for melee.
Since both Erdan and Sterling remain motionless and silent, Vanhedra follows the former’s example and leaves Giggler as the only defence between a number of remaining foes and Teera as he hurries to aid the wounded. Erdan is saved by the ranger’s magic while Sterling manages to stabilise himself by other means. No such luck comes to Dantalus who has finally been engaged by Focalor and finds himself gutted by her furious knifework, only distracted by Teera’s continuous bombardment with evoked arcane energies. Focalor seems to finally have realised the real threat posed by the wild sorceress to her well-being and locks unto Teera as her next target. This gives Vanhedra time to save Dantalus in the nick of time, ignoring the imp who had appeared out of thin air by Focalor’s door to stab him before vanishing again. The bard fights his way back from the depths of Styx to buy the dwarf time by drawing one more breath, not giving up. Moreover, a major victory is finally achieved as Focalor falls to Teera’s magics, grasping her stomach and coughing up blood but defeated non-fatally, as per the princess’s orders since she apparently holds the key to finding Sitri. The very last foe, a male tiefling with a goatee and tears running down his revealed cheeks is also seemingly vanquished by Teera’s spells, although a stomp and a whimper call his bluff. However, Teera decides to save the poor soul and leaves him be as everyone mops up their wounded and manacles the now unconscious Focalor in order to take her to the Thorny Bush for interrogation despite the princess’s protests that they should immediately follow Sitri’s trail and hope to find a chance to catch their breath. As one final, booming warning, a deep voice coming from nowhere echoes through the now peaceful Nail of Dis, welcoming those who would defy what is underway to the speaker’s carnival, towards which they already seem to be drawn like moths to a flame. Utterly exhausted, they leave the Nail of Dis in order to rest, and narrowly avoid the Mercykiller squadron dispatched to intervene on the earlier situation.
In the Thorny Bush, the manacled Focalor is shoved inside of Rosie’s loo and warned not to try anything funny lest she would prefer to face the terrors summoned by darkness inside the stall. Everyone makes merry to the best of their ability before retiring for the night. Due to his pureblood elvish heritage, Erdan is the first to wake up and realise how something is terribly amiss: the barred door of the loo is open and Focalor is nowhere to be seen. It is almost as though she had invisible allies who were able to track the party unseen earlier when they brought her in and who had waited for her to be left unguarded. Cursing but knowing full well how waking up the rest would do them no good – the tiefling is who knows how long gone – he makes a half-hearted attempt at warning Sterling before deciding to wait until morning. Everyone had gone through terrors and needed to revitalise. Disturbing their rest would do no good.
Come morning when the terrifying truth is revealed to everyone, the party finds themselves in yet another conundrum. If the imp followed them to the Thorny Bush – and because Focalor definitely knows where she was taken – the tavern is no longer safe as the enemy could arrive with reinforcements at any moment. Moreover, the earlier encounter proved how dangerous a force they are facing and this time, they would likely be risking coming face to face with the even less friendly aspect of Sigil’s finest. The Mercykillers had been alerted previously and at least some of the heroes faces had been witnessed. Sterling suggests relying on the Harmonium while some others plan to use the Chaosmen as a distraction. Teera tests the cloak she secured earlier and it seems having the hood drawn causes her face to become indistinguishable. However, it is soon revealed that now that she has donned the cloak, it cannot be removed. In the end, everyone goes to investigate the situation by the Nail of Dis. Much to their chagrin, officers are keeping an eye on the place. As the party sets foot on Salt Street, Erdan notices how a number of both Harmonium members and Mercykillers are eyeing the entrance to the Nail of Dis and shoves everyone down an alley in order to avoid their attention.
After a brief peewee on their options, the rest of the party allows Erdan to go around Salt Street in order to scout ahead by asking the person at the Eye of the Beholder what has been going on near the Nail of Dis. Less than surprisingly, the red-headed and absent-minded salesperson has not got the faintest clue, so Erdan simply opts for buying himself a beholder-inspired, rubbery leather cap with fake eye stalks held together by a string. As he returns, some other options are considered – some sillier than others such as just using Giggler equipped with Erdan’s new hat as a performing distraction. In the end, Dantalus recommends buying some cheap wine from the Dead Sea tavern in order for him and Erdan to disguise themselves as drunks and sneakily catching a peek inside after a seemingly tripping against the door to the gambling den. In the lack of other even remotely sober suggestions, everyone follows the plan.
Before initiating the scouting mission, Dantalus magically disguises himself as a Githyanki to avoid drawing suspicion. He and Erdan sprinkle their clothes with cheap wine and go their merry way, singing most off-note indeed to evidence their state of stupor to any guards. Once they reach the the Nail of Dis, Erdan tackles Dantalus, feigning having tripped on his own feet, slamming the half-elf against the door. Upon getting back on his feet, the bard uses the door’s handle as a support, opening it and catching a glimpse of Focalor and the employee saved by Teera explaining the details of what had happened to a number of both Harmonium and Mercykiller officers. Attempting to infiltrate the place seems hopeless.
The rest of the time is spent bickering on their options. Apparently, Zincir works in the prison so maybe everyone should just lie in wait for him to emerge from inside the prison. Then again, none really know what the torturer looks like, and there is a good chance they might be a fiend whose physical requirements differ from those of mortals. Additionally, it seems something is amiss and in all likelihood, there is only a limited amount of time left to stop whatever the devil’s so-called carnival is. Chaosmen are an alternative although more lawful citizens such as Sterling fear it might incite a civil war. Another alternative, silently acknowledged by everyone, is giving up. They might never see their home again, but at least they would still be alive and breathing in the short term.
End of session.