Sept. 22nd, 1866: We wake up still in Rome (in our line of work, you never know). We have breakfast in the CH (they have REALLY good food in this country!), and I decide to keep my profile low while in Rome. I do tend to stick out a bit, and we want as little chance as possible to tip off our enemies on what we have planned.
We get to meet a few more members of this House; in particular, Mr. Falco (the acting weaponmaster) agrees to help us get properly equipped for our upcoming adventure. The CH has a decent assortment of specialty ammo for guns and bows, plus a few really interesting melee options. Falco rustles up a crazy-looking Egyptian axe-dagger thing for me (VERY scary-looking).
Even better, they have a fully-operational weapons shop here! The weaponsmiths love my tomahawks, and agree to craft me a few more for specialty situations (I get a iron one, a silver-infused one, and a gold-infused one). Aldo gets a bit of time in their gunsmithing room and modifies his pistol into a cartridge-fed revolver. Now that he does not have an evil critter running through is mind, he seems to have really come around on his crafting!
While we were downstairs in the practice room (I was showing off my lariat skills), a very attractive older lady strolled into the room carrying a hand-and-a-half sword. She is mad as only siblings can make one mad, so we assume that she is another Sphinx. This is proven true as she proceeds to demolish a target dummy. Mercer (a younger but VERY bright member of this House) mentions that she is the older of the four Sphinxes, the Guardian Veronica.
Sept. 30th: We head to the boat. Aldo is thrilled to be cruising across the Med during storm season! We get to meet the youngest of the Sphinxes (youth being a relative term for immortals), Fredrica. Everyone is a bit nervous (especially Aldo), as this is a big event. But it is a good kind of nervous; rarely did I feel so good about going into battle in my life. I am surrounded by fellow warriors (not really soldiers, as most have had no real formal training) who are also friends, heading off to fight a foe I know needs killing.
This is the life!
Oct. 1st: We set up to enter the Library. Marcus has guessed our destination by now, but is still ready for the trip. Bia says to expect practically anything in there, specifically various undead, demons, and probably large vermin. So, knowing our luck, that will mean spiders. It ALWAYS means spiders. Veronica is teamed with us to get us in and help clear our entryway.
More magic doors and we are in. Veronica immediately tells us that she has to get moving to start clearing, so we bid her farewell. Knowing how these things work, I recommend that we set up for the incoming attack; these critters have not had fresh meat in a while, so we pretty much KNOW they are incoming. true to form, we get attacked by some undead lord controlling walking corpses and a thing Sergei called a “ghul.” Short work on them (it is nice to not be ambushed for once!), and Sergei claims the crown and staff from the leader as spoils. On the way out, we see Veronica fighting a demon of some sort, so the guys give me a second to shoot the arm off of it with Songrid.
If this bow was a real girl, I would marry it.
We start making our way through as silently as possible. Sounds of combat start ranging around; who knows how many groups are invading this place today? We hit a small garden area full of undead trees (yes, you read that right) fighting a pack of gold-colored lions the size of horses. As they are calling our tactics, we know that they are sentient. One lion is off to the side badly injured and hoping to not get noticed. Sergei decides to risk the combat to get over to heal him up, which he does. When the lion (Faernor) hears of our mission, he agrees to go with us as a guide, as he knows the area where we are heading pretty well. We were told by the Sphinxes that their relatives would be around, so we give him the benefit of the doubt.
FINALLY! SPIDERS! Our path takes us straight through a room just CRAWLING with spiders seemingly infused with shadow magic. We get to work playing exterminator on some swarms of spiders (think ant swarm; now make the ants silver dollar sized spiders) when a few spiders the size of small dogs slink into view. I take one out, Marcus engages, two, and Sergei bashes a swarm with his new staff. Mine dies, Marcus is dancing around his, and Sergei’s dies only to come back to life as a ZOMBIE SPIDER SWARM.
I use that phrase with all humility. A ZOMBIE. SPIDER. SWARM. And now it moves out to protect it’s new master, Grand Warlock Sergei.
Well, that goes about as well as I figured it would. Sergei decides that this staff would be better off shattered against the wall (it explodes into a burst of sickly green energy) which fails to affect Sergei. All that is left is a feather (which we claim after the fight for later identification).
We keep on smashing spiders, noticing that there is some kind of portal in the back of the room. Probably for reinforcement, so we get ready for a lengthy siege. But this is not meant to be; a cart-sized creature with the body of a rather lovely lady and the lower limbs of a spider cautiously makes itself known to us, hiding behind cover to avoid the firepower we bring to bear. And, calling off the attack, it asks for parley.
It takes us a bit to find a language that we all speak, with translation needed for me. She says that she is perfectly willing to let us pass to save further attrition on her children; besides, she would rather us fight and kill her neighbor, the Scorpion Lord. (OF NOTE: That guy sounds very unpleasant). We ask Faernor his opinion of her, and he says that she is a known evil with a history of betrayal. I ask Marcus his opinion, and he says, “I say we shoot her.”
That sounds GREAT to me! Songrid sings out, catching the demon squarely in the shoulder (and by surprise!)
(OF NOTE: I know, we technically broke parley, even though we never really agreed to formal parley. But she was a demon and a known betrayer. And a spider. Creatures bereft of honor can expect little from me.)
Combat is rejoined! Marcus and Faernor both move into melee with her (cover be damned), harrying her every move and preventing her from shooting webs (which she can and does do). Now totally on the defensive and not prepared for the combination of old school melee prowess and rapidly approaching .45 slugs from Aldo, Faernor claims the final hit on her, swiping her head from her shoulders. The remaining spiders scurry off, with only Marcus taking a hit during the fracas (which is good, because that one hit was enough to damn near take him off his feet!). Aldo heals Marcus up (we want to save Sergei’s power for possible offense), and I claim the spider-lady’s scalp full of silken hair and poison glands as spoils.
I did not notice any lady lions with Faernor’s pack, but if there are a few, he is gonna be the stud of the month with this story!
We dash through a few large hallways, avoiding this Scorpion Lord (he also might have decided that anyone who could make that short of work on his neighbor might not be worth the effort!). We hit one hall, finding Bia and Veronica in merry combat, leading a squad of mummies (!!) against what looks like a many armed snake-lady (later identified as a Marilith demon, and possibly the one that is on our List!) and her posse of snake-themed aggressors. Seeing that the Sisters had them on the ropes (I cannot imagine that they were ready for that organized of a counterattack), we dash past into the room of scrolls we were looking for.
Imagine a room. Make this room vaguely octagonal and about 50’ in diameter. Along the walls are shelves full of scrolls. And the shelves go up out of sight into the foggy area above, at least 20’ above. Make the scrolls in many different languages as well, all of with are probably no longer recognized by any normal mortal.
Now imagine that you are a stranger to these lands. Even better, a Apache/Cherokee mongrel from the Americas. You are well-versed in languages, but would rather do almost anything than research with writing. And you are looking for ONE SPECIFIC SCROLL in this room.
It is enough to make a grown man weep!
Lucky for us a creature wandered into the room at that moment. To be honest, I imagine he had been following us for a time. He identified himself as a collector demon, but one who had chosen to stay when the Library was closed, and was allowed to do so by the Sphinxes. He helps us find our scroll, like a good librarian, and seems honestly flattered when we offer to speak his name positively to the Sisters. I need to remember to ask some of our smarter associates about this phenomenon. Can demons ever become honest or good, at least to the same extent as a human can?
We head back to Bia and Veronica. They have just routed their attackers and tell us that the other book (The Song Thief, by Evil McEvilPants) has left the Library. As our warning beacons for the other group have not gone off, we have to assume that their mission was a success. We head with the Sisters to an exit and portal out.
We land in Rome, of all places! Not only that, but this exit is about 100’ from the entrance to the CH! Veronica mentions that this is a safe exit but rarely a safe entrance, hence why it was not used to get us there. Falco and Master Garza meet us at the door and we drop off the scroll. It is going to be researched a bit before we try to use it to stop the Altarpocalypse. Aside from that, we head to the baths, some food and relaxation, and possibly a tour of the city. The soldier’s work is done!
As of today, I feel that my new brothers and I have found our pace. We work well as a team, cover each other’s deficiencies well, and (aside from a few debates as to strategy) move through our tasks smoothly. I look forward to finishing this task and destroying or deactivating the altar, but I also look forward to getting back home. We have a House to bring back from the dead, and not as a ZOMBIE SPIDER SWARM.