The Shackled City
Jarvyk Entry 28
Something about this city rots from within. In fact, a great many things likely lay in putrid piles amongst the hallowed halls of leadership. Lord Vhalantru, from what we can tell, is himself an entire pile of decay. Still, we thought it best, in our greatly finite wisdom, to seek his audience. There would likely be no solution to come from such a meeting, no peaceful one anyway, but still the avenue of city affairs still leads directly through his hands. Unfortunately, he seems to be well guarded by those foul half-orc mercs that have been given so much leeway around here of late.
The Vhalantru estate captivated our attention. Guards within would not let us seek their master’s audience directly and the gravity of our situation would not allow us to accept their position. So we spied. We set Greyjek to the task of seeking the mysteries of the place, which he did happily, and with a great frustration failed. So Ashton took it upon himself to try a more rudimentary, although magical, approach. Hidden by a shroud of obfuscation, and ensorcelled with unearthly flight, he simply peered through every transparent portal available. He took it slow, judging by the duration of his expedition, and in the end found just enough information to justify our assault. The house appeared to be occupied by a number of odd beasts, in addition to the half-orcs, not the least of which was a seemingly sequestered doppelganger. Although my own travels have not seen such creatures in action that certainly does not indicate their benevolence. To the contrary, these creatures are, as I am informed, rarely seen for their true selves. They masquerade as common folk, or fantastic royalty, depending on their situation and do execute the most reprehensible tasks on behalf of their business associates. While this individual doppelganger could have been the nicer sort, it seemed unlikely that it was here to seek out the finer points of needlecraft; unless of course you consider the euphemistic implications of such terminology. That is to say, we were probably dealing with a reputably capable assassin. Presuming that to be the case, as we allowed ourselves to do, the suspension of disbelief we afforded Vhalantru could no longer bear the weight of this new information.
So we assaulted his residence. It was not the action of choice but of necessity. We needed answers quickly. Rituals would be complete sometime soon and then who knows what evils would be allowed to roam free. If this transgression could be justified, this was that justification. As is often the case, we relied on Greyjek’s skills to formulate the plan of action. His was the magic that would grant the best level of access, directly into the lair of the doppelganger. We entered, fought, and quickly found ourselves in an surprisingly informative interrogation. Greyjek, as he is apt to do, ended the conflict with a single thought. He pressed his mind into the doppleganger’s and ended the creature’s opposition to our intrusion, with a notable reluctance. We, or rather Greyjek, questioned the creature while it was under his control, discovering a wealth of information about Vhalantru and his plans. It seems the lord recently subjected the doppelganger to a heinous experiment which merged its essence with that of a kelubar demodand. More importantly, Vhalantru was, as we sat there questioning the shape shifter, likely performing the ritual on himself in some underground chamber of the house. We got the location from our foe, had Greyjek neutralize his desires to leave, then proceeded towards our greater concern.
Unfortunately, our path did not lead directly to that end. Instead we ended up getting waylaid by the half-orcs and the other denizens of the house. A pitched battle ensued and many wounds were taken on all sides. Ashton let loose with flaming death while the grotesque floating eyes descended from the second floor and shot beams of energy in our direction, causing many wounds and perilous conditions. One beam struck me completely unconscious. It was strange, being forced into a magical slumber while deadly combat waged all around; stranger still to wake up in the same situation. We bested the remainder of the lot and pressed on towards Vhalantru’s reported location.
It took a combination of good information and powerful magic but we managed to find the entrance to that underground chamber. Fortunately, we managed to bypass the major pitfalls, quite literally, of the passages. Once beyond the major entrance we found ourselves, yet again, beset by horrid beasts; this time of the undead variety. They seemed an easy match and so we cut them down with little thought. Of course, this was not the whole of the situation and so we found ourselves entrenched in a greater battle forthwith. The beasts we slayed exploded into yet fouler ilk upon demise and with redoubled effort we prevailed. When all was said and done we found ourselves, bloody and disheveled, in the entrance to Vhalantru’s hall of horrors.
I’m not quite sure what we will find when this “lord” is revealed, but I can’t imagine it to be a pretty sight. His ritual could easily be complete and with it a stronger foe then we expect could easily await. We must focus our efforts to the task at hand, put from our minds the still greater troubles upon the surface, and finish the task before us. If Vhalantru is allowed to rise from his task to meet the public there could be consequences too vile to detail. His is an intention of malignant evil that spreads cancerous lies through the streets of this honorable city. While it is true that others seek to ruin their share of lives, Vhalantru’s is an exceptionally sinister soul, if still it can be called such. I only hope that Clanggedin is with me today, as He has been many times before, and that the truth of purpose set forth in my mind finds traction in this ever darkening material world.