The Adventures of Annalax: Volume XVI
Session thirty-three was highly abbreviated, via having to move house in a short space of time. Oh well.
The party decided to ignore the tree-monster and continue the attack on the Giant Troll. Tarsin – flying on a giant summoned bat – dumped some high-grade oil over the Big Fellow, so our Cat Sorcerer could set the thing on fire. Annalax and everyone else were getting in some impressive attacks, so eventually the Troll did a runner. Overcoming his fear, it was the Ghoul who finally took the foe down. Yay.
As for the tree-monster… the Ghoul did some Detect Magic on the Troll’s summoning spell. Turned out this wasn’t exactly a summoning spell. It was Major Image.
The tree-monster was an Illusion.
Which cheered up the party no end. Annalax, as an Arcane Trickster, silently tipped his hat to the Troll for pulling it off.
The remaining trolls were taken care of, with Annalax wheeling out his sword for only the third time in the entire campaign, via Dusk Warp. Sure, it was a swing and a miss, but it isn’t every day this happens, so I thought I’d note it. Meanwhile the demons were sated with death and destruction, so they retreated back into Ember’s mind.
Then a giant explosion interrupted proceedings.
Manfrey, Arcadia’s maniacal leader, had blown up a third of the city as a demonstration. It worked too – the besieging Fae Army decided to flee, leaving the defenders victorious against all odds.
Understandably, however, the remaining inhabitants of Arcadia were not amused at having a third of the city destroyed without prior notice. The entire poor district at that. Manfrey didn’t care, of course – his plan worked, therefore it must have been a truly brilliant plan. There was a reason the war council did not want to invite this fellow to proceedings.
Annalax was rather miffed to learn that the missing third included his recently-purchased house. Noticing that Manfrey had very little popular support, a dark plan formed in his head…
You see, Annalax knows a thing or two about assassinations and coup d’etats. He is a Drow, of course. Sure, he’s a lower class Drow, so he’s always been a spectator rather than a participant, but he considers such things standard operating procedure. Manfrey – unpopular with elites and peasants alike – was walking around with a great big ‘Overthrow Me’ sign on his back. Annalax figured that a coup was coming, so it might as well be a coup that helps him and the party.
So he reached out to the war council, about the possibility of removing Manfrey from office. They were, unsurprisingly, extremely keen on the idea, since it meant power in Arcadia would revert to them. Annalax’s price? He wanted Lolth worship permitted in the city. As he sees it, he can get money whenever he wants, but spreading his faith to hostile territory? Beyond price. It turned out though, that the war council did not have the legal authority to do this. So Annalax suggested a compromise: he could establish a ‘new’ city underneath Arcadia, where Lolth worship is permitted. That worked. Huzzah.
Next step: cozying up to Manfrey. Congratulating him on his success, expressing interest in explosions, offering to purchase a couple of nice big barrels of material… and getting the party invited to dinner.
You see, this was not a risk-free operation. Manfrey was a Level 17 Artificer, with an obsession with damage-dealing. We were a bunch of Level 6 nobodies. Direct combat would be unthinkable – as Tarsin’s player noted, even if we caught him sleeping, we would have one round to kill him, or else TPK. But Annalax was not thinking of directly fighting Manfrey. He had another idea, which he shared with the party.
The party was basically on-board with this. Sure, Ember – for military reasons – declined to take any part, but he did not try to stop us. Meanwhile, Annalax also popped into the Potions Shop to get a nice, powerful sleeping draught. The store-owner did not believe Annalax’s line that he needed the draught for a large insomniac friend (Annalax rolled a natural 1 on deception), but 150 gold still talks, if you get my drift.
That night, we had some nice boar-and-spirits with Manfrey, on makeshift plates. The Ghoul easily distracted the fellow, while Annalax stuffed Manfrey’s drink with sleeping draught and psychedelic mushroom powder. Now, this was the risk in the plan. Sure, Annalax had advantage on this… but a couple of low rolls would have resulted in problems. Big problems. As it was, Annalax rolled a 19 and 20 (+11 Sleight of Hand). So Manfrey did not notice a thing, while Prestidigitation disguised the taste.
It worked. Manfrey – under the influence of the mushroom powder – did hold a gun to the Ghoul’s head, but he then passed out on the table. The rest of the party (but not Annalax, who was too busy arranging explosive powders in close proximity) looted the place. Clearly, our Drow is having an influence. Once everyone was sorted, Tarsin used magic to light the (slow-burning) fuse, and we all did a runner.
Manfrey died the way he lived. In the middle of a giant explosion. Our assassination attempt was a success, which basically meant we had pulled off a coup d’etat on behalf of the war council. Just as well, really. If Manfrey had survived the explosion, it’d have been a TPK. As it is, everyone in Arcadia merely put the thing down to a ‘tragic accident’, and the war council took charge.
As noted, Annalax was not actually doing this for money, but he did make sure that the rest of the party were paid for their assistance. Tarsin – a surprisingly quick learner on matters financial – was even able to get himself an extra large payment, via lying to the council about the number of people involved. Annalax is a terrible influence on innocent minds. To keep Ember’s conscience quiet, we arranged for him to get a share of the reward, and Annalax bought him a fresh bag of holding, to replace the one with Godriel’s corpse in it. The Ghoul, on the other hand, has gotten decidedly cold feet about the whole thing. Apparently, he didn’t realise that overthrowing Manfrey meant killing him. Which is not something that would have ever occurred to Annalax… but anyway, the Ghoul no longer trusts Annalax. Probably wise.
While this was going on, there was another development in the party, one that will have much longer-term effects. Thendwyn, our Dreamland Cat Sorcerer, decided to adopt a child from the local orphanage. Aforementioned child is very keen on guns and adventure, though given the make-up of the party, I am not sure we are doing the poor thing any favours by taking it on campaign.
Anyway, with Manfrey out of the picture, there was the question of how best to beef up the city’s defences before the Fae inevitably return. The Ghoul suggested the Wild Huntsman. Annalax was on board with this – the Wild Huntsman has helped the party out of tight spots before, and the fellow is on relatively good terms with Her Ladyship in the Waking World. Tarsin was rabidly opposed (as a follower of Shub-Niggurath, Tarsin thinks the Huntsman is unimportant). The party opted to seek the Huntsman’s assistance over Tarsin’s objections.
Which means we will need to seek out an appropriate offering… in the Mountains of Madness. Oh joy. The session ended with Tarsin attempting some sort of crazy Shub-Niggurath ritual. Well, as long as it doesn’t destroy the world, let the mad old coot try…
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