As detailed in the e-mail "Wanted: Flameproof Leader"

Rayson, char-Leader, meets his first fireball (of the non-chocolate variety), and doesn’t live to talk about it.  Naturally we don’t want a replacement.  Or more succinctly put, “We don’t want someone good, we want you!”

Following this adventure we are on the threshold of 5th level, but not quite there.  I’m told the total is 9876xp unless you’ve spent on item creation.

After fighting rats and ratmen in the streets last week, we head to the bell tower—reported to be laden with the things.  Upon arrival, Pox tries to put his shoulder to the door, but does so weakly enough that the bell keeper thinks somebody was knocking and opens the door.  Rayson uses fast talking and physical force to gain access.  We bombard the old man with stories of being in danger because of rats.  He goes back to his room.  As everyone works their way up the stairs, two of us hear the old man ringing a bell in his room; a likely warning to anyone upstairs.

The next few minutes are filled with Rayson and Pox trading off the knocking down of doors and the slaying of Dire Rats and WereRats in an effective machine-like motion.  The rest of us, in a narrow hallway, just stand behind them and wait for trouble that we can interact with.  Along the way we take one captive; a young were-rat that pleads with us not to kill him.  So he becomes luggage.

At the top we find a room in which the rats and ratmen hang in the rafters.  They try to take out the front line with darts.  Rayson and Pox do their combat by climbing into the rafters and smacking them until they fall down to us either whole or in multiple pieces.  We try our ranged attacks (Javelins, Magic Missiles, the occasional summoned animal).  Copan keeps interrupting their spellcaster’s casting attempts.  Eventually there’s only one rat left and he tries to flee, whereupon Rayson uses his special expanding staff (not that one; the steel one) and rides to the very top where the guy is trying to escape.  There, he encounters two gargoyles and wisely comes back down to us.  The gargoyles don’t pursue.

The wererat’s carcass is found outside.  Victim of summoned creatures?  Gargoyles?

The guards help us turn the place upside down and we find a few goodies.

Rumors around town include the fact that the mayor isn’t making any public appearances for some reason; he hasn’t been seen in a few days.  Also, the guard captain is missing.

We send a message that we want to meet the mayor.  We also manage to follow a trail of Whitlesse (our benefactor) to Shuma, the local and quite renown, blacksmith.  The lady dwarf tells us about the guard captain having been there and Whitlessee having been there.  The latter is supposed to be across town at the Crown Inn.  We head that way and as usual, a funny thing happened…

Out of nowhere this strange gelatinous form coalesces and turns into an enormous worm-like creature with tentacles around its maw.  It appears directly in our path.  Mavin spots a wizard on a distant building; something the rest of us cannot see and target.  Rayson orders us to go after the wiz while he and pox tackle the worm (Called a “Wyst”).  The Wyst however proves to be just plain nasty.  The ensuing fight is quite long and involves many, many events.

·         The Wyst, at various times, picks up and dangles Pox, Rayson, Zuka, and a summoned Hippogriff while trying to jam them into its mouth.  One time it has all four.  Glutton.

·         Rayson uses his staff (you know the one) to keep the mouth open.

·         The wiz tries to flee but is pursued by both a summoned Hippogriff and by Mavin & pet, the only folks who can keep up.

·         Mathius just hangs back and peppers the wyst with tiny little magic missiles, often to minimal effect.

·         The wiz finally holes up in a building; a “weird book store” down town, where the characters and a hippogriff try to gain entrance.

·         Finally the Wyst falls and the rest of us rush to the book store.  There, as we circle the place the wiz launches a fireball that badly burns many, and puts the torch to a couple nearby buildings, but that literally cooks Rayson to death.  He’s well past dead, just as Robert has to leave anyway.

·         Inside the place is an ewy gooey mass of eyes on the floor that fights with the summoned beasts.

·         There then comes that moment that comes in EVERY single fight we’ve had as a group; The one where one or more want to run and one or more opt to stay and finish off the enemy.

In this case both choices are reasonable.  Fleeing would make total sense; come back with more firepower.  Staying would mean we have a shot at finishing the bad guy who is undoubtedly injured.

What happens, as Jeff explains it, is that we basically back-to-backed two encounters.  Our would be killer was supposed to get away but couldn’t manage it so we immediately roped in the second encounter at the book store.

The wiz turns out to be level 8.  His fireballs were 8 die fireballs, his monsters summoned via Monster Summoning IV.  What’s more, he has a small cabal of guys upstairs assisting him when Zuka comes up stairs with a group of town soldiers and a coin with a silence spell on it.  Problem is he can’t get close enough to use it on the wiz as the cabal and soldiers form a skirmish line.  The wiz summons yet another Wyst, which does lots of badness.  One of the soldiers takes  bathroom break, but comes back out to fight later.  There’s a lot of jockeying for position, and more amusingly, a frenetic passing of the “silence coin” from place to place.  It goes out a window, around behind the building, onto a javelin, carried off by a bird, dropped to the ground, and so on.

The group finally pull back and vacate the building and nearly everyone chases after the fleeing wizard.  He finally meets his end in a failed jump across from one building to another,  kissing the cobblestones below.  Meanwhile the Wyst has decided to vacate the building and Mathius stands at the end of the street, baiting it with magic missiles as it slowly edges down toward him.  By the time it reaches the end of the street and Mathius is further away, it at last vanishes (I can only guess the summon duration was over).

In all, even with the indecision, it was a colossal effort and a testament to persistence.  We are the heroes of town, despite having burned three buildings badly.  Turns out the book store was filled with Alienists (cthulhu-style cultists).  People around town have been afraid of them and unwilling to speak up.  Between this and crushing the wererats, who were basically muscling people for money, we are greeted warmly around town, including a party to celebrate.

Well, the celebration is short-lived, as it turns out that meeting with the mayor is held up.  Seems he instead has a speech to give to town.  We show up and his speech is quite interesting.  Seems he’s locking down the town.  This interrupts our plans to ship the body of Rayson to Krestible for resurrection.  I think we should find a local voodooist and bring him back as zombie Rayson.  Anyway, the mayor is also ordering the shutdown of anything fun, such as the fair, and the shut down of the temple to Pelor.  And I think he’s also ordered all the local puppies be kicked.

The Crown Inn has indeed seen Whitlesse, but he was only there a day and then checked out.  We try and track where he’s been and ultimately come to a dead end.

There have been disappearances around town, but they are totally random.  One of the areas we investigate is near some warehouses.  One warehouse is fine, and protected by sigils on its doors, but the two neighboring warehouses are abandoned, thus implying it is ground zero for something.

So currently we must…

1.       Find a way to raise Ray, Char-Leader.

2.       Find out who is pulling the mayor’s strings (He does not seem to be enchanted or evil, so probably blackmail of some kind, me thinks).

3.       Find Whitlesse.

4.       Assist the Pelorian temple.

A plan is in the very vague stages involving seeing the Pelorians and assisting them in return for the rezzing.