Sunday, 28 Pharast, 4744
After the party recovers from their fight with the asuras, Udrexa and Rita scout ahead. They discover a torture chamber with a number of ill-used racks. Picking the magical locks of the doors, they also discover and plunder a storage room as well as workshop room for repairing torture devices.
After coming across a door that Udrexa couldn’t unlock, the party circles back around to a room they had bypassed. They discover that it is a chamber with a poor of acid in the floor and a peacock shrine in a glass case. While the party draws back, Lucia raises another group of ghouls to pull the feathers from it. One of the ghouls was destroyed by a gout of acid, and the removal of the ward appears to affect the dungeon itself somehow.
Returning to the unopened door, Udrexa continues to have trouble opening it. Lucia and Vicky realize that the magic of the door could be tricked into letting them through. Vicky casts infernal healing on herself as part of the deception and manages to unlock it.
Immediately waiting for her on the other side is a three-headed, six-armed woman who has been waiting for the door to open. The creature slices into the wizard, easily piercing her defenses.
As a killing blow drives towards Vicky, the Steward of Time intervenes. Looking older than the last time the party had seen her, in middle-age, she catches the blow with her enormous hourglass. This produces the crack that they witnessed the first time they saw her. The Steward tells Vicky that this was not her time, for the Steward still awaits her in Stethelos. The Steward then fades from view.
The three-headed woman pirouettes over Vicky and Udrexa to attack the tiefling monk. She also attempts to cast spiritual weapon to finish off Vicky, but the wizard uses her exploiter powers to counter the spell. Vicky then uses her dimensional slide to retreat back to Elle.
An adhukait asura joins the fray, flanking Udrexa with the three-headed woman. In the ensuing battle, the three-headed woman carves into the tiefling monk. Udrexa calls upon Pharasma’s blessing to deflect a killing blow. Lucia brings the monk back to full health with a heal spell delivered by Rita. Ghera casts haste on Udrexa, Emeq, Lucia, Rita and herself. Emeq charges into battle. Elle heals Vicky, who dispels several magic spells on the three-headed woman. Sondra tosses a dagger at the creature, who catches it in one hand.
After taking some hits, the three-headed woman retreats into an adjacent room. Emeq presses the attack, unleashing a hasted series of jabs before finishing her with a thrust through two of her throats. Udrexa obliterates the adhukait asura.
The party loots the remains and obtains the key to Hobbin’s cell. The party releases the avoral, who is incredibly grateful. He tells them the secret that had kept him imprisoned for 10,000 years. In his investigations of the cult, he came to believe that the Peacock Spirit and Runelord Xanderghul are one and the same.
Nestara insists that this is impossible, that the Peacock Spirit predates Xanderghul by ages, but Hobbin says that no word of the entity existed before the Runelord “discovered” it. As for why Hobbin was left alive, he can only speculate, but while he was a prisoner with a shattered mind who could find him or believe him? Lucia persuades Nestara that when they confront Xanderghul, it will verify one way or another the truth of these claims.
The party then inspects the remaining two rooms in the dungeon. One contains a collection of transcripts of interrogations the asuras conducted on behalf of the Peacock Spirit Cult thousands of years ago.
The next room appears to have been the office for the three-headed woman, Dhanishti. It includes a corner with what appears to be a vivisection table. The party takes three books from the bookshelf above the fireplace. Emeq relaxes on a comfortable sofa with the Love Stool, while Udrexa finds treasure stowed in the desk. This includes a robe of powerlessness which had been used on Hobbin. They realize it will take a combined remove curse and heal to cure him of its effects.
Vicky puts her foot down and insists that the Black Lions rest before proceeding deeper into the dungeon. She excitedly shows off her new spell, mage’s magnificent mansion. She calls forth a shimmering door and takes them inside.
A beautiful foyer with red carpet leads to a central lounge area decorated like a winter lodge, with furs on the floor and a 20 ft. high vaulted ceiling. A coffee table large enough to seat the party sits in the middle of the chamber, in features an ice bucket depression where several bottles of wine are chilling. Candelabras and a massive skylight provide illumination, as do the windows which gaze out onto a snowy landscape. Ghostly servants appear to take any loads off the Black Lions to take to their rooms.
The first room on the right belongs to Udrexa and Ghera. Like the other chambers, it is outfitted based on what Vicky assumes her friends would enjoy. Udrexa’s room is a fully functional gym with a monk aesthetic and Minkaian flourishes such as floor pillows and futons. It also features a large, fully stocked liquor cabinet and a ton of drug paraphernalia.
The second room is for Emeq and the other members of the Love Stool. Its decor is a mixture of Magnimarian and Efreeti. An enormous bed takes up much of the room, and there is a huge ceiling-mounted mirror directly above it. The rest of the ceiling has star-themed decoration in keeping with Audrahni’s patron’s iconography. Many other mirrors are mounted on the walls around the room to help Emeq admire himself and his companions. And in a corner of the room is a fully-stiocked writing desk and comfortable chair for Sondra.
The third room has its name scratched out in this timeline.
The fourth room is for Lucia. It is modeled on a cozier version of her hut, with everything sized for a halfling. It includes a kitchenette for making teas and stews. On one side of the room is a projection of the full moon, with enough space to perform any rituals. There is also a doctor’s exam area, for the halfling to practice her healer’s craft.
Each private room has a small attached bathroom. But there is also a staircase in the common area leading down to the lower level. Smaller guest rooms are down theres, as well as a Minkaian-style public bath.
Vicky, Elle, Hobbin, Udrexa, and Ghera headed down to the bath to relax and get a massage from ghost servants.
Meanwhile, Lucia arranges a conversation between Emeq and Nestara. After some small talk, the ifrit questions Nestara about the cult’s involvement in Magnimar. She is aware of the cell led by Hira Doss, and that the cult is recruiting ambitious members of the nobility with promises of helping them achieve their goals. Emeq asks if one could walk away from the cult. Nestara hems and haws before acknowledging that any apostates would face reprisals. There are no backsies in the Peacock Spirit Cult.
Later that evening, Lucia notices that Rita is in a good mood, preening over her new appearance and eager to show off the use of her hands. Lucia asks her if this is her original form. Rita explains that no, she was something much more powerful, but she is pleased to be a demon once again. Now she can pay obeisance to Nocticula under the old way, just as Lucia pays homage under the new way.
In the Love Stool’s room, Sondra takes advantage of the writing desk to scribble down the day’s notes. Emeq, meanwhile, gives Audrahni a massage. He asks her for her thoughts on what the fallout would be for his family if Xanderghul is the Peacock Spirit and is slain. Audrahni expects it will throw the cult into chaos, and is hopeful that his family would avoid reprisals.
Emeq is worried that losing the cult’s backing could undo decades of political work by his family, which his brother might recover from but his father probably would not. Audrahni is not an expert on politics, but she assures Emeq she would be at his side if he needs to go back to help his family in Magnimar. He’s grateful to hear that.
When the rest of the party has gone to bed, Elle asks Vicky where their room is. Vicky points up to the skylight. They fly through the illusory window to the hidden room above. Vicky expresses anxiety about facing off against a god. Elle objects to that — Xanderghul is no god, just a powerful being like demons and celestials that could also grant spells but can still be killed. Vicky is heartened by that, but wonders if Sorshen and Alaznist have that same power. She hopes to eventually surpass them, but needs to know what she is up against.
Moonday, 29 Pharast, 4744
That morning, Emeq wakes early. He lets Sondra sleep and Audrahni trance a little longer and steps outside with a cup of coffee to enjoy the snowfall. He discovered that the exterior of the mansion extends only a few feet before it ends in an illusory wall. Nonetheless, he enjoys the illusion.
Once the party is up, they enjoy a nice breakfast and some tears to wine. The ghost servants provide everyone their clean laundry, with the scents they requested. Refreshed and ready, they exit the mansion and descend down the spiral staircase down to the next level of the dungeon.