5.3 Chasing Ghosts
This recap covers the events that transpired before, during, and after the awards ceremony, centering around the actions of the Black Opera's very own Ghost.
Winners and LosersThe morning of the second day of the Annual Guild Showcase was already off to a rough start with Biggles' dream attack, but got even rougher as the threat level of the Black Opera was steadily increasing as the day went on. In fact, it escalated to the point in which Biggles felt compelled to check up on his allies whom he believed might be targeted as well. First, he and Vrinill would visit Petchra, who was fine and all ready to go for the concert later that nigh (purple sequin suit baby!). However, the situation took a dire turn when the Cradlers went to see Fatima, who was supposedly feeling unwell. That was an understatement as the dwarf was definitely not doing well considering she was missing and dare I say, kidnapped. The hours leading up to the final ceremony were tense. Biggles was worried sick, and as the time drew near, he was approached by security personnel who had been well-informed about the threats he'd been receiving. Preparations were made to protect Biggles, the Queen, and the judges at all costs, and security was ramped up significantly. Even the Loyal - as controversial a character as they are - pitched in in response to the prayers of the Ardent Crown. They created a dome where no magic can pass either in or out around the stage. Everything would be okay, right? Well, before we answer that question, we have to find out who won the Showcase. I mean yeah, a CLAMS member Namhee went missing, and VORE's diviner is still gone, but thousands of gold were at stake as was a fancy trophy! The Queen and the judges all made several speeches and were handing out all the little awards before the main event. And wouldn't you know it, SKRUNGUS got first place! VORE came in second, and CLAMS came in third! Congratulations to our protagonists! Now it was time for business. Members of SKRUNGUS spread out to cover as much ground as possible throughout the market center. People were in the air, on the ground, and in the crowd. Biggles, Umeiri, and Vrinill, in all their bedazzled splendor, would be the closing act for the concert. And when it was their turn to play, Biggles first got another win in the form of unlocking another Reverence ability, followed quickly by an unwanted guest. Ghost. Clad in chaotic clownlike attire and with a mask resembling a goblin, the man took center stage. His cronies - mask-switchers and other performer types of the Black Opera - swarmed onto the scene, gleefully causing panic and mayhem, but not violence (yet). You see, Ghost wasn't quite there, and was in fact operating an illusion to speak directly to Biggles. Fatima was in his possession, and all he asked for was a simple hostage trade. Biggles for Fatima. And to prove this, he forced the dwarf to send a tearful sending spell directly to the sasquatch (but she also slipped in some clues about her location). That was the final straw for Biggles. He didn't snap. He didn't fight. He broke. He began walking offstage and towards a fate unknown because he couldn't stand to put Fatima in any more danger. No one wanted this, not even the dwarf herself. Vrinill, Umeiri, Zhu Zhuwei - all of SKRUNGUS begged the bard to stay. To fight. And when he took his final step towards the awaiting mask-switchers, everyone was broken. Especially Ghost. Who was assassinated right then and there. The emblem of Sharaka etched itself onto the sky. His illusion shattered and the yellow drained from every masked Black Opera performer in the area. Bodies began to fall, and a different type of hell broke loose. The mask-switchers were on a spell chucking rampage, going completely berserk and firing off spells at random. SKRUNGUS, ever prepared, hopped straight into action. The mask-switchers were dealt with, as were the priests of Sharaka who created the emblem. During the fight, Gilvir of CLAMS was acting strangely, which prompted a harsh interrogation of the drow, thus beginning Operation: Rescue Fatima.
GhostbustingThe first order of business was finding out where Fatima was being kept. A scrying spell, though successfully done, only came up with Fatima being in some sort of cave with running water. Judging by the sound of breathing, she was alive but curiously not alone. The pitch black darkness made it impossible to derive any more info from the spell. The mention of lead that the dwarf communicated to Biggles was the only other clue, and from there, SKRUNGUS went right to work. Some people stayed up in the city, like Badice and her entourage, and helped the royal guard to clean up the mess of now-liberated kidnapping victims who had fallen out of the sky. She also went to interrogate the living priests of Sharaka, but that quickly proved a bad idea when one of them started mutating or becoming possessed and had to be put down. Gilvir was rounded up and was not able to recall anything about jumping up on roofs and running off; he had been unconscious for quite some time instead. Was this somehow related to the Black Opera or Sharaka? Biggles, Vrinill, and other allies including Tamrynek from VORE (who was adamant in finding his friend) traveled down to Dark Feng for clues. Gam-gam and the Prophetess proved useful once more, able to aid our heroes in finding the exact location of Ghost's hideout. All it took was a little thri-kreen distraction and some fungal sleuthing. Unfortunately, the secret tunnel was a vertical shaft with a puzzle door at the end, so reinforcements were needed to access the hideout. The group, disappointed in the fact that they could not immediately rescue Fatima, went to rest and regroup now that a more formal plan could be enacted. The next day, it was off to the hideout for most of SKRUNGUS. Primarily using shapeshifting and stealth to get to the puzzle door (as SKRUNGUS is wont to do), they re-enacted a silly scene written in a strange language. When the door opened, no one really expected the entire place to be a dump. I mean, it was a dump with all the carnage leftover, yes, but it seemed to have been always a dump considering all the weird junk stored in the large cavern. The party was well aware of the fact that Sharaka and her cult were Ghost's murderers, and so they were not shocked to run into a few priests still lingering around searching for clues. As to their goal, that remained unclear. Regardless, in usual fashion, the party managed to clear out the cavern and thoroughly explore it with a few bumps and bruises, but nothing lethal. Eventually, their investigation turned fruitful, revealing a secret chamber in which two figures lay, huddled together, but still very alive. Fatima, and a kobold wearing the garish Black Opera getup minus the mask. A wave of relief washed over the party as the two kidnapees were escorted back to Fengqi. However, so many questions remained. Why was a sileni woman wearing the Ghost mask, and why was the mask taken, presumably by Sharaka's cultists? How long has this kidnapping operation gone one? How do these masks even work? Scattered hints and clues point to a sinister answer for all these questions, but for now, all that mattered was that Biggles was safe, Fatima was safe, and SKRUNGUS is the number one guild in all of Fengqi.
- The feud between Sharaka's cult and the Black Opera continues, and it lead to the assassination of one the Opera's top leaders.
- Some of Sharaka's cultists have the ability to sacrifice themselves to transform into sort of horrific monster. Taranga points this out, but he does not know the mechanism behind this.
- Black Opera masks are made of aground up bone paste that is sculpted to create each mask.
- Investigators are still stumped by the exact magical enchantments done on the masks that allow them to control minds. However, they do heavily suspect high level enchantment and necromancy magic was involved.
- The Black Opera must have been kidnapping for several decades at least, considering the age of many victims and their anachronistic memories.
- Sharaka's cultists now possess Ghost's mask, forcibly removed from the sileni woman who wore it.
- Skej is a kobold bard from Cradle who was portaled into the wrong place at the wrong time. He greatly admires the Shifters, and was a great comfort to Fatima when both were trapped in the hidden chamber.
09 May 2022
- Grand Prize for 1st place at the Annual Guild Showcase (includes 5000gp and a fancy trophy)
- An official Queen's Banner for earning the title of "Banner Snatcher"
- A magic-infused banner care kit for all your bannerly needs for earning the title of "Ban Favorite"
- A build-your-own-bot kit for creating a mechanized re-summonable familiar (does nothing in combat) for earning the title of "Little Ying's Favorite"
- Full purple sequin performance lewks
- A new Reverence ability - Sanjo, that provides a powerful buff as long as Biggles is not interrupted.
- Several cups worth of tears
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