The session begins, not in a tavern, but in a teahouse. (Blame the regional taste.) The Golden Teahouse, located in the city of Rimtown in the country of Adanar, is a two level establishment, with one balcony overlooking the edge of the plateau and the mangrove forests underneath, and the other side overlooks the river. In a mostly hidden corner, Urgrim is drinking himself into a stupor on some (probably vile) rotgut and people are leaving him mostly alone. The Nobleman is seated on the top floor with a balcony level view of the river, with people bowing and scraping to please him. I am sitting on the top balcony, also near the view of the river, but not at the same table as the Nobleman. I am wearing my long leather coat, a red hat with a feather in it, and a mask, mostly because I can.
Yhennon enters the teahouse, asking around for a library or a place of knowledge or something, and not having much luck. He joins me at my table when he’s done asking around. He already knows me a little, and we know that we’re both polymorphs.
On the other side of the balcony, some … person … is making a racket, warbling a sailors’ song very off-key, generally being an obnoxious drunk. Gav is cavorting back and forth, annoying the other patrons as he takes clumsy drinks from a cup that never seems to spill. The Nobleman is attempting to affix him to the wall from across the room with the most venomous glare he can manage, with mixed results; the drunken fool does cease his song for a moment, but only long enough to snigger to himself before belting headlong and louder yet into the next verse, grinning right at five feet to the left of the Nobleman.
One of the patrons on Gav’s end of the room attempts to get Gav into trouble by deliberately moving his teacup into the drunk’s path, which Gav somehow gracefully avoids, sweeping his leg over both the teacup and patron’s head. Gav then drunkenly salutes him and walks off… After a beat or two of surprise the irritated patron hurls his teacup at Gav’s head… Unable to quite
catch the cup, Gav deflects it off the balcony to rain its contents down upon another table.
“HEY! What are you doing up there?”
“It’s not us, it’s this bloody foreigner!”
At this, the table below stands up and gets ready to come upstairs for trouble. They have to pass close by Urgrim, who advertises his “Don’t mess with me” attitude by deliberately putting his (masterwork) pickaxe on the table. Meanwhile Gav, having swept stealthily across the room, glides into a seat next to Yhennon and myself, casually flipping his glass up into the air and catching it again without spilling a drop of its contents. Intrigued, I ask my friend the mage if he can do that. The ‘drunk’ laughs and shows us the bottom of his empty cup. “Evening gents.” …He’s completely sober. “Shame about that tea, eh?” …And very smug with himself. Yhennon introduces himself, and asks the stranger’s name.
“Name’s Jagger, Gav Jagger. You can call me Gav, Jagger, Jag, Guy, Friend, [Explicit Expleting Expletive] or Hey You. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?”
“No, ‘fraid I haven’t. That’s quite the coincidence though, because my friend here is also called Guy.”
We talk for a bit. The slightly menacing crowd appears to have lost track of Gav temporarily.
A peasant enters the bar, making unsuccessful propositions to various tables of patrons. Spying this, Gav excuses himself and glides away again, dramatically and sarcastically stoop-bowing to the Nobleman as he passes. Fortunate for him, as the crowd of annoyed patrons appears on our balcony opposite shortly following his exit. As they pass by, I temporarally give myself a woman’s voice and say “Good luck boys!” Some do a quick double-take, and one appears to hesitate, apparently torn between continuing the chase and chatting with this mysterious person. As the management converges on the peasant and attempts to usher him out, Urgrim gets up, stalks over and asks why they’re ejecting him. “He’s a commoner.”
“So am I. Come on.” The waiters retreat from the grim-looking dwarf, leaving the peasant to repeat his proposition. Bowing and scraping, which the dwarf cannot and will not allow, the man informs Urgrim that his village is under attack from bandits and such. Urgrim offers to help ‘pro bono,’ and suggests they look around for anyone else willing to help.
Seated at the bar immediately behind him, Gav spins ‘round and claps his hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. “I’m in.”
“Pro bono?” Urgrim asks.
“Sure.” Pause, frown. “…Well, all right, I might want some feed for my mule.” Pause. “…Well, and for me.”
The peasant quickly and gladly offers food. Gav glances over at his shoulder at his fan club emerging onto the ground floor, smirks, and quips at the dwarf, “Up for a good bar brawl?”
“Oh aye,” he replies, cracking his knuckles. The two hustle the peasant out the door, with Urgrim handing him his pickaxe and instructing him not to lose it and to wait there.
Yhennon and myself observing curiously, the two reenter the teahouse, where a crowd of ruffians with blue arm bands (the SkyFist gang, not the Blue Arms of Doomriders fame) are waiting to beat them to a pulp. “We don’t want your kind here, foreigner scum.”
There’s a little bit of general taunting, followed by the lead SkyFist attempting to throw a punch at the dwarf. It would have been a spectacular hit… if it wasn’t thrown for human height. As is, it completely misses. Urgrim responds with a critical unarmed strike to a very natural place for him to punch. Every man in the room winces in instinctive sympathy. (To satisfy reader curiosity, this does include me at the moment.) Gav joins in enthusiastically, breaking into the same sailor’s song, perfectly in tune. He throws a couple punches himself before putting someone in a headlock and crowing “It’s on, lads!”
Urgrim throws another critical hit to the same area of the next guy in line. Morale of the next
guy breaks, and he flees. Quickly. The man Gav is grappling flops to the ground, taking Gav with him and allowing his buddies easy kicks. Gav sweeps the man’s head through one set of feet, dropping another body to the ground.
The Nobleman suddenly sweeps past Yhennon and myself and jumps from the balcony down to the ground floor, landing on another group’s table (sending tea in all directions, but he’s a noble, so he can get away with it). He sweeps over to the brawl. “No no, it’s not polite to kick a man when he’s down,” he calmly declares with a fist to the face of one of Gav’s attackers.
Yhennon and I are watching this unfold, and he encourages me not to jump in and do anything stupid. He creates an ice slide and we go around the side of the building. I re-enter the room and try to startle people into breaking and running off… only to realize that I haven’t trained Intimidate. And my roll is low. It’s hard to intimidate people by yelling “HEY! LISTEN!” in a high, squeaky voice.
Urgrim tackles another fighter into the bar, flipping him over and into the barkeep. Caught suddenly between him and the Nobleman, one ruffian tries to get a better angle on the fight by jumping onto the bar and onto the second-floor balcony. SOMEONE punches him in the face as he lands. It might or might not have been a ninja. We don’t know. Regardless of what hit him in the face, he plummets back down to land about where he started from. The Nobleman reaches down, pulls him to his feet and holds him in a Full Nelson facing the dwarf. About this time I arrive and punch out the last prone opponent Gav is wrestling with. The swashbuckler picks himself up, dusts off, sweeps a drink off the closest table and prepares to enjoy the spectacle to come as the dwarf winds up.
The owner of the drink he swiped promptly sweeps Gav off his feet, catches his cup out of the air and pours said drink out on his face. Gav’s response it to bark a laugh. “Thank you sir, may I have another? Nice sweep, by the way.”
The other man smirks. “Crane style.”
CRUNCH! The dwarf knocks the poor soul held by the Nobleman into unconsciousness. He MIGHT need those ribs. "I hate bullies. Stop being one."
We are quickly and quietly ushered outside by the management. “Thank you for taking care of that. Now get out.” Urgrim gave the barkeep half a luna (dwarven common currency, used pretty much everywhere) per unconscious fellow.
The peasant starts babbling about his village. After genuinely shaking the Nobleman’s hand, (“Never met a noble who enjoyed a good brawl. Like you better already!”) Gav spontaneously and rather rudely lifts my mask and peers at the face beneath, so we don’t notice that the peasant has stopped and is looking up at the sky in horror. When we do notice, we see sparks and ice dancing across the sky. Dark clouds cover the sky from horizon to horizon. Lightning is flashing.
Quite suddenly, Yhennon has to make a Fort Save. He fails, being a frail old man, and he begins emptying his stomach on the earth. In the middle of the vomit is a single brilliant emerald, which is pulsing… slowly at first, and then faster and faster until it’s eventually just a solid glow. The pulsing is accompanied by a sound that eventually becomes just a powerful hum. Yhennon picks up the emerald, examining it. As the glow and hum reach a peak… the gem crumbles to dust, the wind blows the dust away, and the earth heaves. All but Gav and I are immediately thrown to the ground. We’re thrown to the ground the next round.
Yhennon is able to identify what’s happening. It’s happened a couple of times before. The Umzamo Comet has arrived. The elements go out of control and magic dies… society tends to collapse for the 25 years that the Comet is in orbit. Hell comes to the world.
With the heaving earth, we notice fire all around the city. Buildings are collapsing, boulders are bouncing around, and the sky is an odd greenish shade. The teahouse begins collapsing, and Gav and I try to help people get out. Yhennon tries to create a brace to support the side of the building. He desired to create “solid organic matter.” Instead of the braces he meant to create… it summoned three plant demons. Three spined, vined plant demons. They fall upon the remaining crowd inside the teahouse with terrible efficiency, obliterating groups of them in single actions. The walls are quickly coated --dripping-- red. The Crane Style master who tripped Gav orders his students to “Go, tell the master! I will hold them off.”
He strikes a combat pose and faces down the demons, ignoring Gav’s cry of “Are you insane? Get your butt in motion!”
We’re torn between conflicting instincts of heroism and common sense. Thankfully, the ground isn’t heaving as much as it was, so we can stand without further Acrobatics checks. Gav and I attempt to pull people through the door away from the demons. Yhennon is still a little stunned. Urgrim runs around the building to where the wall is sagging to try to distract the demons. The Nobleman pulls himself to his feet.
The wood demons overwhelm and grapple the Crane Style master and begin to pull. This… doesn’t look good. I attempt to shoot one of them to get them off, but my arrow bounces off harmlessly. Gav throws a rock, which shatters against one of the creature’s “heads.” It’s a beautiful toss, but it has no visible effect. Urgrim runs around the side of the building, pulling out a bottle of rotgut and tearing a strip of fabric from his shirt, stuffing it into the bottle neck. The Nobleman throws a bottle of wine at the closest demon. Yhennon decides, probably wisely, that remaining here forfeits our lives, and shapeshifts into a Medium sized bird and runs. The town isn’t a pretty sight. Fire, screams (“There’ll be good eating later,” his predatory animal instincts tell him) and general chaos from all directions.
Urgrim begins to light the flint and tinder, and the elements-in-chaos decide to lend a helping hand… lightning arcs down, exploding the bottle, setting everything in a small radius on fire. Urgrim thankfully, senses the lightning coming and throws the bottle, so he isn’t struck directly, though he does catch aflame. Unfortunately, his effort is one round too late; inside the teahouse, the demons rip the master apart, and one of them reels back into the wall. This, combined with the blast, weaken the wall enough for it to collapse --outward, onto the dwarf. Rather than roll Reflex to avoid it, Urgrim attempts to reduce the damage of the wall falling on him by essentially Bull Rushing the falling wall. What’s more? It works. One of the demons falls into a sinkhole that develops where the wall used to be. While the rest of us begin to rush past him (and promptly double-take) Urgrim runs and LEAPS across the pit, almost clearing it. Sadly, he doesn’t quite make it, but he trails enough flaming matter and splashing rotgut (practically oil) behind him to begin to singe all three of the demons. That entire corner is now ablaze, dealing damage to each demon and Urgrim. He is, by the way, completely calm and composed (underneath his activated barbarian rage anyway) kind of like this isn’t the first (or worst) time this has happened.
The rest of the party is kind of in shock. Gav readies an action to leap back from any attempted grapples and hurries toward the pit to attempt to reach our crazy dwarf. It was a good decision; the demon in the pit with Urgrim immediately attempts to grapple the approaching human, sending him scuttling back.
This is one less wood demon to grab the dwarf, however, which is exactly what the other two further within proceed to do. Remember the bottle of wine the Nobleman threw at these guys earlier? Word to the wise: don’t grasp flaming dwarves when coated in alcohol and made of wood. It takes some additional fire damage. The cellars vent some flame, dealing more fire damage in the area.
I run to the side of the building, drawing rope from my pack and tying it to one of my arrows. Back at the entrance through which we escaped, the Nobleman tries to get a better look at the city (it isn’t pretty.)
Yhennon/Bloodhawk likewise tries to determine best routes of escape and keep an eye on the peasant, who is crawling away in a sort of frenzied panic.
I fire the rope-arrow to give Urgrim a path back. Gav, (wisely) unwilling to charge through an inferno and leap a ten-foot-wide pit containing a wood demon, rushes around to the entrance by the Nobleman. Rather than fight the grapple, Urgrim climbs up out of the hole and essentially helps the two pull him, readying an action with another bottle of rotgut from his bag. Yhennon changes back into human form and rushes toward me, yelling “Fire in the hole!” before collapsing like the tired old man he is.
I interpret Yhennon’s message as best I can; I crouch and shoot through the flames into the hole. Using my Fairy Godmother feat, (yes, I did just say that. Ask me afterward) I strike one of the demons in the “eye.” It is more of a spongy fungus than any sort of organic matter, and it releases spores into the air. Urgrim makes his fort save against… whatever… effect they would have. The spores, however, ignite, dealing more fire damage.
Speaking of… Fire damage keeps ticking every round when, in the immortal words of
“So once again, Probability proves itself willing to sneak into a back alley and service Drama as would a copper-piece harlot.” This is natural fire, dealing 1d6 damage a round. When Tam rolled for fire damage for everything in the room he rolled a natural 15.
The die landed on a corner and stopped with the 4, 5, and 6 faces up. One of the fire demons lashed to the dwarf dropped then and there.
One tethering force suddenly gone, Urgrim launches toward the other, and activates his readied action, smashing the bottle of rotgut squarely into the demon’s ‘face’, setting off another miniature explosion, and then
using the broken remains of the bottle to begin ‘scooping’ large chunks of its eye out.
Yeah, that’s what we thought too.
The demon in the pit lashes onto Urgrim’s legs and begins to pull. The Nobleman sees that now victory seems possible. He rushes in to strike with his scythe, but fails to connect. Gav follows him in and, activating his own Fairy Godmother feat, critically strikes a demon on a power attack, bisecting it and freeing the dwarf’s arms. Urgrim, sensing an opening, attempts to use gravity for an improvised charge, impaling the remaining demon on his pickaxe, also killing it. The three party members inside quickly vacate the building, Gav glancing at the dwarf and commenting “Crazy git!” under his breath --in admiration.
We remind Urgrim to stop, drop, and roll. “Right. I’m still on fire.” He takes the last bit of fire damage… and then, that very round, his rage wears off and he falls unconscious from non-lethal damage. (He is mysteriously healed over time by a Unicorn-style user --essentially ki-healing-- who may or may not be a ninja.)
Yhennon is utterly aghast and somewhat dazed, from a combination of the Umzamo comet’s effects and the utter insanity of his newly acquired associates. “You’re crazy. You’re ALL CRAZY!” he repeats in various levels of voice and disbelief.
Gav claps him on the back and chuckles. “Welcome to the life, friend.” He turns to the Nobleman and (ostensibly) the ninja. “So. Name’s Gav Jagger. Ever heard of me?”