So we're looking into somewhere new to play, maybe one of the local game shops? Or we could find someone with enough space and invite them to join the gaming group, as a trap to play at their house maybe. Those were the options we discussed after verifying that no one actually had room (except for Murdock whose parents go to bed too early for that to be a good option when they aren't on vacation).
After running off the undead, the party kept a vigilant watch for more undead, but the rest of the wraiths had apparently buggered off, so instead they just ran into Thor'den, a miner cat who'd been searching for Armitage to give him more money. He handed over the pouch of gold coins (which the squirrel-satyr thief, who we are calling Sadie, lifted from him as he put it into his pouch of holding without anyone noticing except for Serene, who kept quiet about it for the moment) and got filled in on the general situation. Since it seemed interesting and/or dire, he agreed to accompany the party for the moment, acting as their guide through the miner cat tunnels which were significantly less mazelike from his perspective.
With a guide, Armitage felt confident heading for one of the major work-sites, near one of the pillars holding up the city, bypassing the secondary site that they'd been heading towards when they were jumped by undead.
As they approached the pillar, they heard two groups arguing. Armitage, Thor'den, and Sadie approached, while the others waited out of sight around a corner. The pillar was a huge magical pillar, ten yards across -- but magical, not nullfied. Surrounding it was a team of mages from the Golden Circle and their assorted equipment, monitoring the situation. Facing them was a quartet of 'templars' from the Church of the Mother -- not heavy knights really, but holy warriors mostly wearing (highly magical) light armor.
The mages' position was that they'd been hired to fix this low mana zone, and they were going to do it, damn it. Their reputation depended on it! Also, they'd been promised 20% over normal enchanting fees for work done in the process, and since the low mana zone kept coming *back* they were going to have to enchant a huge network of dedicated powerstones linked into a huge enchanted item that would continually re-restore the mana to the nulled area.
The templars insisted that it was the time-honored tradition of the Church of the Mother to fix these null zones -- they'd been doing it for sixty years, and had a proven (and secret) technique for doing so. The mages were doing it wrong! They needed to go away so that the church could perform its secret ceremony and actually fix the problem. Also, WTF is your hand doing in my belt pouch, Sadie?
Armitage convinced them not to smite Sadie on the spot (although he let them tie her up). He was mostly interested in learning the secret ceremony! "Sure, we'll tell you about it, if you swear a magical oath not only to never ever tell anyone about it, but to aid us in our work." He agreed immediately, and was taken off and sworn to secrecy.
When he came back, he tried to point out all the flaws in the technique the Golden Circle mages were using. They had answers, but answers that would make their work more expensive and take longer, which was sort of the point -- he didn't want them to finish and leave too soon, since the templars had given him until the mages were gone until he'd be forced by his oath to help with their ceremony.
He also collected a strange crystal shard near the pillar, that matched the shard he'd found at the crash site -- which confirmed his suspicion that the people from the crash site were probably responsible for this suspiciously targetted null zone, at least.
Armitage: "I'm going to go off and find a better way to fix this."
Templar: "Don't go far! *smirk*"
Armitage (around the corner): "Okay, guys, we need to find a really evil satyr. Someone we wouldn't mind torturing and kidnapping."
Carnelian: "Are we planning to torture them?"
Armitage: "No no, but we're not going to do anything *worse* than torturing them."
Carnelian: "Are we going to do something *better* than torturing them?"
Armitage: ".... no?"
Carnelian: "Are they going to be able to move their big toe afterwards?"
Someone suggested the necromancers -- there had to be necromancers around, to make all the undead -- and Armitage decided that they would be fine candidates. Thor'den thought that the best way to get them out of the city -- the necromancers were probably in the graveyard, everyone decided, which was outside the city walls -- was to take them down to the active mining tunnels, which would be safer than these abandoned and apparently undead-infested ones.
So down they went, into the abyss beneath the city. At the bottom of the spiral staircase -- that started out looking like an enclosed underground staircase, then morphed into a staircase winding around a support pillar, then the pillar vanished and left a rickety fire-exit style staircase spiralling down into the darkness -- was the massive stripmine where the miner cats who lived in the city usually dug for powerups. It was deserted. When they found the exit, Thor'den saw that there was warning tape warning of a huge rockfall hazard in the strip mine, and telling everyone not to leave the tunnels below -- apparently the miner cats knew about the attempted sabotage of the city's magical pillars, and were worried it was about to fall on their heads.
So they hurried into the tunnels, were welcomed through the checkpoint (which was there to stop undead or possibly terrorists, not upstanding members of the community like Mister Armitage), and headed through inhabited tunnels to the 'railway line' outside the city, from which they could find an exit and go looking for graveyards.
There, they found a promising looking tunnel -- someone had broken through the wall into the railway, and behind it was a cramped, twisty, branching passage dug through dirt. Since they were outside the city, the magical compass was working (instead of always pointing towards the central tower) and they tried to follow it, assuming necromancers would probably be the ones with lots of magic.
The good news was that they found some dumping grounds full of bones -- bones of all sorts of woodlanders, but no *skulls*. This was definately the necromancers' work! The bad news was that the tunnels kept leading them in the wrong direction, and they could hear the clattering hiss of thousands of bugs moving around nearby, echoing everywhere. Serene thought that it sounded like the glow-beetles, and sure enough when they turned back, they saw a glow around a corner.
Armitage had a solution, though -- a wand of *control glow-beetle* that he'd made after running into them too many times! He convinced the lead swarm to transform into a bear and block the passage, then they ran around looking for an alternate route... and found one, although they ran into two more swarms on the way. One, he controlled with the wand again, ordering them to go back 'where they came from' so that the party could follow. The other they basically ran from.
Until they arrived at a creepy graveyard, full of glowing bugs everywhere, and dug up graves. It was in a valley, and hidden from view from the city by a suspiciously thick and persistent mist. It definately looked like the sort of place necromancers would live!
Armitage panicked at the sight of so many glow-beetles, and used a time-stop item to throw all his grenades in every direction -- which killed a bunch of bugs, and woke up all the skull spirits! But Serene had already made everyone (including Sadie and Thor'den) immune to poison, so the skull spirits could only scream and fly around them impotently, as they ran in the direction the compass pointed.
The compass led them through ranks and ranks of inactive zombies, standing around apparently without standing orders, and into a largish mausoleum, where their bright light instantly blinded everyone inside -- the six black-robed figures who might be wraiths or necrcomancers, the six hapless satyrs tied up and stacked near the wall, looking terrified and/or unconscious, and the templar there who'd apparently been talking casually to the necromancers as the party ran in.
Armitage pointed yet another wand and time-slipped the templar, then jumped into his space to keep him from coming back. Sadie and Carnelian hid, Carnelian planning to go free the tied up Satyrs. Serene watched invisibly through the roof, not wanting to get into a fight against either templars or necromancers, since she was undead. That left Gamble and Thor'den (and Armitage) to face off against the enemies!
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... and we'll actually do that fight next time.