Cakor Deth explained to the party that the ancient castle in the Big Rubble known as The Blind King’s Palace had been occupied for the past few years by a weird sorcerer from Ralios known as Artizun Spellthane and his brothers. For reasons that could not be revealed to the party, the Lunars had a relationship with Artizun, but recently there had been no contact with the sorcerer, and the authorities wanted to know what had happened. Moreover, the locals who lived near the Blind King’s Hill had been complaining of an increase in mysterious deaths (more than usual for the Rubble, at least). Splitface was therefore to lead the party to find out what had happened to the sorcerer.
The Lunars had arranged for an escort of Pavis Survivors to ensure that the party reached the Blind King’s Palace without undue difficulty. Splitface therefore led them first to Zebra Fort, where the players were able to meet Hargan the Filthy, self-styled King of the Rubble, and a lecherous soul to boot. He agreed to send the heroes with an escort only on additional terms – if the Spellthane was deceased, and the usual gang of monsters had moved in, then the party was to clear them out as much as possible and tell Hargan, so that he could take control of the castle. Splitface shrugged in agreement, and the party were give zebras to ride and an escort of what laughably claimed to be the Pavis Royal Guard.
The Survivors left the party at the base of the road up the hill to the Palace. They said they would guard the zebras until the party came back. Half way up the hill, the heroes found a corpse, which they searched. On the corpse was a note that gave a phrase to give to the “stone man.” On reaching the gate of the Palace, they realized who the stone man was – a gigantic Jolanti blocked the gate. Xaraya recited the phrase, which turned out to mean “Take me to your leader” in Mostali, and the Jolanti led them through the gate.
The Jolanti took them through a courtyard, through a throne room with a dusty throne and a portrait of an unknown king with blank eyes (the Blind King?), through an ornate but slightly overgrown garden, to a hall dominated by many stately mirrors, through each of which could be seen not a reflection, but the image of an exotic locale. All except one, which was smashed. Positioned across the smashed mirror, as if it had been stepping through it, was a corpse dressed in the distinctive purple robes of Artizun Spellthane. The cause of death appeared to be a dagger in the back, but more disquieting was the fact that the skull had been smashed open and the brains removed. Searching the body, the heroes found a scroll in an unknown language sewn into the robes, and a ring that detected as magical.
Splitface insisted that the party now try to find what had happened to the Spellthane’s brothers, even as Xaraya was intrigued by the mysterious mirrors. Returning to the garden, they found a stash of mysterious herbs in an alcove, and a series of two story rooms leading off the garden. The party proceeded to investigate several of what proved to be guest rooms, finding a few monsters that had moved in, before Grom went upstairs in one room to see what looked like a demonic chicken in the corner. Knowing a basilisk when he saw one, Grom retreated downstairs before it could see him. Splitface hefted his magical axe, muttered the words, “One barbecued chicken coming up,” strode upstairs and promptly fell downstairs stone dead. Grom was able to work out a means of viewing the basilisk through a reflection on the back of his shield using a mirror shard, and was able to slay it.
After some debate as to what to do about Splitface, Grom pricked up the corpse, pinned a note to it, walked outside, and rolled the corpse down the hill, theorizing the Pavis Survivors would find the corpse and keep it safe so that he could be resurrected by his cult so that he could continue his penitence.
Moving back to the throne room, the party found themselves confronted by a gang of mercenaries and a leader who also wore one of the magic rings. This turned out to be Diker Thane, Artizun’s brother, They seemed to be afraid of something, and Diker asked them for assistance. Diker revealed that he was struggling to gain control of what he termed Artizun’s inheritance with his younger bother, Zega Deaththane, who had powerful magics at his command. This did not, however, seem to be their main concern.
With night drawing in, Diker’s men seemed to be particularly anxious, and Diker agreed that the party could sleep in Artizun’s old Harem, and suggested that Grom might like to take advantage of the services. The services turned out to be one remaining girl – all the others had run away. She was a pretty redhead by the name of Izis, and it turned out that she had a protector who prevented her from worse exploitation by Diker’s men in the shape of a ferociously loyal great troll eunuch guard named Kag. Grom did indeed spend the night in her room, but in order to find out what had befallen her. On learning that she was being held against her will, Grom agreed to rescue her. In return, Izis gave him both a small stash of weapons that she had secreted away, and told him the secret of the mirrors – anyone who wore a magic ring could step through the mirrors into a land far away. Artizun had used this secret to obtain exotic items that he sold to the Lunars for vast amounts of silver and slaves.
When the contingent of Diker’s men who had stayed in the Harem area were distracted, Grom attacked. He turned into a whirling incarnation of the death god himself, dispatching all of Izis’ captors in a few seconds. Rousing Skye and Xaraya, they went to the Hall of Mirrors, chose a particularly exotic-looking destination, and Xaraya stepped through. She found herself in an alley in an alien city, having stepped through a shimmering plane the same size as the mirror. Xaraya took off the ring, and the plane disappeared. However, she was able to toss the ring back through the portal, even if she could no longer see it. By this means, the entire party, Izis, and her troll were able to come through.
As Xaraya had suspected, they found themselves in a Kralorelan city. Being an accomplished linguist, Xaraya had picked up the rudiments of the language from Hu Bao Yi, and was able to ascertain that the city was Lur Nop. The place was extremely warm and humid, and the lack of clothing worn by the local lower orders was somewhat disconcerting, but in their armor, the party found themselves rapidly fatigued. It turned out that they were in the Foreigners Quarter, and the party was able to find an inn hospitable to westerners without too much trouble. At the Teahouse of the August Sun, the players found an ancient landlady, Lady Shang, who agreed to put up Izis and Kag for not too much money. After spending the night, the party had had the foresight to mark their way, and were able to find their way back to the alley without too much trouble. On the way, they marveled at a group of three individuals who looked like a cross between human and dragonewt, who they learned from a passer by were called Immanent Masters, followers of a mystical school that taught a quick way to achieve dragonhood. Shuddering at this thought, the party crossed back into the Blind King’s Palace.
Treading more carefully in an effort to avoid Diker’s men, the party stumbled upon Zega’s complex. It became quite clear that Zega was a necromancer, and the call of Grom’s faith led him to clear out the complex of its undead and its uncanny master. Despite being equipped with devilish necromantic arts, heavy plate armor and a hell of a big sword, the evil sorcerer was unable to stand against Grom. The Humakti was very pleased to replace his ordinary longsword with a magical greatsword. Xaraya was happy to find another of the magic rings.
Emerging from Zega’s wing of the palace, the party found great double doors that they were about to open when Diker showed up. He warned the party against opening the doors. When asked why, he said that a great evil lay within. After it became apparent that the party was going to enter whatever happened, Diker agreed to show them. Beyond the doors was a great circular temple, with alcoves filled with dark obsidian statues of monstrous creatures with savage claws and bat wings. In the center of the temple was a blood stained altar. High above were openings to the sky.
Diker explained that at night, the statues transformed into monsters called the Nighttide Dancers. When Artizun was around, there was a sacrifice bound to the altar every day (the fate of the slaves traded by the Lunars), but before him and since, the Dancers had made their way out through the openings to find their own prey. This was why every window in the Palace was barred.
The party tried all sorts of means to destroy or disable the statues, to no avail. Eventually they used magic to block the openings and bar the door, in an effort to keep the Dancers contained. Diker thanked them for their efforts, and for getting rid of Zega, and so agreed to overlook the massacre of his harem guards.
The party spent another night in the palace before rising with the intention of returning to New Pavis, but Diker offered them another deal. He had found it difficult, he explained, to enter Artizun’s tower, and offered to share some of Artizun’s horde if they could help get to the top of the tower. Somewhat confused as to Diker’s explanation, the party nevertheless agreed. Oddly, once they entered the tower, they found the door locked behind them.
Climbing up the steps of the tower, the party realized the problem. A great ape-like creature appeared, dressed in Artizun’s purple robes, ripped to fit on his body. Yet this was no ordinary ape – it teleported away and proceeded to engage the party in a magical battle up and down the steps of the tower, showing a particular predilection for fire magic. Eventually Skye was able to bring it down with an arrow through the eye.
The party then ransacked the tower, finding three magical grimoires written in a language Xaraya surmised to be Ralian, several pieces of magical equipment, and at last, a hoard of gold, silver, magic, and gems. The hoard did have the slight problem of being guarded by a magical construct of snake skeleton and basilisk head (probably one of Zega’s creations), but with their experience of fighting the earlier basilisk, they were able to take it out quickly.
Angered at Diker’s deception, the party was able to foil his attempted ambush on their return to his men’s rooms on the second story. The fight was short and swift. As Diker lay dying, he revealed that the ape-creature was called a Goonda Deek’o, from far-off Teshnos. Creatures of rudimentary basic intelligence, they are nevertheless extremely loyal bodyguards. Moreover, if they eat the brains of someone, they gain their skills and knowledge – including magical abilities – for a period of some months. An unnamed enemy of Artizun had sent an assassin against him, but the Goonda had killed him and eaten his brains. In doing so, he gained the assassin’s abilities, but also his mission, and he slew the wizard as he stepped through a mirror portal, when his magical defenses would be temporarily down. The conflict between the assassin’s duties and his own drove the Goonda mad, compounded when he gained the massive magical abilities of his former master. The Goonda honestly believed he was Artizun, and retired to his tower, thereby blocking Diker from his inheritance (Zega did not care). When Diker expired, Xaraya took the third ring of the set.
The party returned to Lur Nop, where they found Izis wearing a dragon kimono playing Kralorelan Chess with Lady Shang. They asked the aged innkeeper to guard the magical grimoires they had found rather than have them confiscated by the Lunar authorities. Returning with Izis and Kag, and laden down with treasure, the party left the Palace and picked up Splitface’s body. They journeyed to Hargan (whom they told he could now take possession of the palace) and thence to New Pavis.
Cakor was impressed at the thoroughness of their report, their conscientious care of Splitface (they missed out the part about rolling him down a hill) and most of all at the vast amounts of treasure. In return for most of the treasure, they were able to buy their freedom. They retained ten percent, including a few magical objects and the rings. On being handed back their possessions confiscated when they were arrested, Xaraya was dismayed to find all her crystals gone. Unsatisfied by the explanation that sometimes things go missing in custody, she vowed vengeance above all on Arantxa Vullen, the architect of their recent woes.
One of the treasures that they were allowed to keep turned out to be a bowl holy to the cult of Ernalda. Grom insisted on returning it to the Earth Temple, where it was received with gratitude. The priestess of the temple told him that they owed him a great favor and he should not hesitate to ask when necessary.