Champions of the Kydemones, Episode 6 By Jonathan Lipps Aug 4, 2022 Listen

The Tehokivi sat among a pile of other jewelry and necklaces, looking every fantasy gram the orb of untold power that it was. The party was in shock; what was it doing here? How did we happen to find it? Our search for Leolin had opened up into much bigger vistas. World-changingly dangerous ones. Fenn was suspicious, and spent some time investigating the orb and the surrounding stones. Based on his extensive religious and magical training, he identified a number of items related to the Chemosh cult, but no sign that the Tehokivi was some kind of illusion. After a quick council, we decided that we needed to take the Tehokivi with us to get it out of the hands of the Chemosh (who had already been inciting much of the violence in Nauem---something we now knew must be part of some much bigger plan). Fenn warned everyone not to touch the orb with bare hands, because we didn't know enough about it. So we ripped up some party cape and Fenn used it to grab the stone.

He did not immediately die, which was good. But a loud chime went off in the building, and it was clear we had tripped an alarm. It was time to leave! We fled back towards the tunnel, hearing footsteps scrambling on the floor above us. We made it back down the ladder into the sewers, where we were able to detect and work our way around some guards who were not yet aware of our theft. In the rush of evasion, we realized we had entered the sewers in an unknown place, and could not go back exactly the way we had come. We were in a veritable maze of muck and worse than muck, and with nothing better to go on, decided to follow the sewage in the direction we thought most likely to be upstream. We came to some kind of gate that could be raised and lowered with a chain, clearly designed to control the flow of liquid in the tunnels. With strength inspired by the adrenaline of our situation, Fenn was able to pull the massive gate up a bit to be sure no river came flooding in. We kept it propped open with a metal cane and went through.

Eventually, Evendur and Fenn realized where we were in relation to Lord Eglon's palace, and at the same time what kind of danger we were in---at any moment someone above could decide to open a different gate and let part of Nauem's main river flood into the tunnels, washing away the sewage, and us along with it. We hurried to try and raise the last gate that we thought would bring us back to the chasm, only to have the chain break off! Dressed in our party garb with only the most basic implements at hand, we were able to wedge the heavy metal open only the barest amount by working Rianne's dagger underneath it. We then tried to lift the gate from the ground as a team with our fingers, and ended up almost losing a limb or two as a result. Between a rock and a hard place, Fenn decided that it was time to become the rock; with little warning, he meditated for a moment and then stepped backward into the stone of the tunnel wall. A few moments later, the rest of the party saw the gate come up! On the other side was Fenn, holding an (unbroken) chain and straining with effort so the rest of the team could scramble through. We took stock of our location and found that we were indeed on the track back to the Naga chasm.

When we got there, none of us were thrilled about the risk of running the Naga shape across the void once again. Feeling his own exhaustion as well as the pounding dread of carrying a Tehokivi stone, Fenn prayed a prayer of hope for the party, boosting morale and hopefully the likelihood of our making it across the chasm. We repeated our strategy of securing ourselves and then running the required shape in the air, one at a time. Orwin, in some kind of imaginary competition with Evendur and feeling smug after a few of Evendur's mistakes in the maze, went first, but fell, and was pulled back up by the other three. A slightly beaten and rather chastened Orwin made it across on his second try. Evendur, for his part, danced across the chasm in a single go, never breaking eye contact with Orwin and throwing in a shoulder shimmy along the way. Fenn and Rianne also made it across, though not without falling once and relying on the strength of our makeshift rope. But finally, we were safe! Or maybe in more danger than ever, for now our only way back to the Academy was to carry the Tehokivi through the middle of the most crowded place in the Inner City: Lord Eglon's gala.

We stopped by the servants' chambers on our way up to get cleaned up and repair some of the damage done to our costumes. Luckily, we still had our masks, and Orwin's inexplicable and scandalous rope outfit would no doubt fit right in upstairs. In fact, it presented us with an answer to the question of how to navigate the party undetected: Orwin could create a distraction! We needed something to ensure the eyes of the partygoers would not be on Fenn or the large orb he had hidden under his cloak. Orwin's eyes shone---he was only too ready to follow where the night had apparently been leading him all along. He burst into the main room of the party and up onto the stage. It would not be appropriate to describe what happened next, but suffice it to say, Lord Eglon's guests turned with glee to watch this next part of the evening's entertainment. Fenn, Rianne, and Evendur walked nonchalantly through the party towards the palace doors, but pretty soon it is obvious that one of Lord Eglon's chamberlains is making directly for us, and indeed he made his way to Rianne and gave a deep bow. Addressing her as "Your Highness", he requested her presence with Lord Eglon immediately. Fenn and Evendur were completely nonplussed by this, and Fenn had no wish to be drawn into whatever it was, particularly while clandestinely holding an object of untold power. Rianne turned to them and made it clear they were not required to come, and so she went on to meet Eglon alone.

The party had agreed that within twenty minutes of Orwin's "performance," we were to meet outside the palace and head back to the Academy. After what was happening with Rianne, Fenn wanted to leave immediately, alone if need be, to get the Tehokivi to a safe place. Evendur convinced him to wait until the end of the twenty minutes, however, and so they settled down to see whether Rianne would return. For her part, Rianne was brought to Lord Eglon on his dais, still on his strange insectoid legs and wearing a happy leafy crown on his bulbous head. Together they went into a private room filled with the exotic pleasures that constantly surrounded Lord Eglon. He, it turns out, had recognized Rianne as Litou, and by her slender crown, as Litou royalty no less. (The rest of the party had interpreted this as just one more fancy gala accessory). Eglon appeared to be keenly interested to know who Rianne was and why she was in Nauem. She tried to dissimulate, but had to eventually tell Lord Eglon some version of the truth in order to satisfy his perceptivity. Rianne, unbeknownst to the others, was in fact a Litou princess, but her parents had been dethroned by her uncle, and she had fled when young to avoid whatever fate might await her as a result, eventually finding a home with the Kydemones. Lord Eglon was very quick to offer Rianne a much more attractive patronage than that of the Academy, declaring that all of Nauem would be accessible to her, and without the constraints and duties of a religious order. Rianne perceived fairly easily that Lord Eglon's real goal, based on all the chatter in the city about him making rulership claims, was to form some kind of international alliance to strengthen his political position. This was all very interesting, but of course Rianne was also conscious of her friends and the Tehokivi. So she made replies positive and open-ended enough to satisfy Lord Eglon, and was eventually able to beg leave of the ambitious lord.

She rushed back to Evendur and Fenn. The latter in particular was growing more impatient and anxious with each passing second. They looked to Orwin. It had been twenty minutes, and he was lost in some kind of dance performance, in the spotlight of the party. It appeared to suit him, but it was time to leave. So the three left and made their way back to the Academy. Fenn paused at the entrance bridge, in the pouring rain. It was currently deserted. He whispered to his companions that he was not yet sure we should take the Tehokivi stone directly to Tarala. While he trusted her implicitly with the leadership of the Academy, having an apparently world-altering stone of power in a makeshift sack at this side suddenly brought all the implications of that trust to the fore. Evendur agreed, and added that he believed Tarala wanted the stone for herself, despite her outward signs of support for Lady Almara (who was the one overtly trying to find the stones for the sake of preserving the Academy and its relations). Rianne was aghast, even angry that we did not march right to Tarala and offer up the stone. Evendur, in response, produced a letter which he claimed was from Tarala to him, representing a secret mission wherein he was supposed to try to find one of the stones if he could, and to bring it to her directly without telling anyone. Unfortunately, the letter was written in Thieves' Cant, a cipher which the others could not understand. Fenn began to say that this is simply why we should not be hasty, and should assure ourselves of everyone's intentions before giving over powerful objects, when he noticed that his friend Torbin Yaris had paused and was watching them from up above, on the Academy gatehouse.

Luckily, at this point Orwin showed up, flush from his time at the palace, and effuse with commentary about how much they loved him there. It provided cover for the group to act as if they had just been waiting for Orwin, and from there they went to Fenn's chambers to have a longer discussion. The first order of business was clearing up some questions: how was Fenn able to meld into stone (no surprises here, it was part of his long training with the priests of Mekail)? Why did Lord Eglon pull Rianne aside? After these revelations were completed, the true order of business began. Fenn, still holding the Tehokivi, proposed the following: that we should form a blood pact, sworn on each one's deity, not to let anyone else know of the Tehokivi's existence, and not to allow anyone else to take it, without unanimous agreement. Such a strong suggestion immediately put Evendur's back up, and he told Fenn there would be no conversation until Fenn let go of the Tehokivi himself. After some back and forth, Fenn decided to put the orb in the centre of the group. The resulting conversation was tense and in many ways antagonistic, with all the usual sorts of arguments coming up: "what makes us more trustworthy than Tarala? Why should we trust you, Fenn/Evendur/whomever?" and so on. But Fenn held firm: we should agree to become the custodians of this treasure, not because of our superb moral fortitude or capability, but because by taking the stone, it became our responsibility first and foremost, and so it is up to us to keep it safe until at least we are satisfied it is going to the right hands. Because it seems like the fate of humanity might just depend on it.