It’s always interesting when a plan comes together. One thing that there’s no denying, with a little shaping, the mayhem potential of this group is quickly approaching legendary. We’re going to need a round table if this keeps up.
There was a fight with an ogre thing who took our statue. While the researchers were whipping up a tracking spell, we did a quick pickup into a ghost pocket of the Nevernever, and a delivery with a bit of damage to Anita‘s car, and a toothy demon thing that tried to get fresh with me. Beyond that, well, I don’t know if it was 30 minutes or less, but we completed the task.
From there, we went back to get Marion and her tracking spell. Piling back into the cars, the crystal led us across town toward the Fort Worth Arboretum, and the Japanese Gardens there. We made amazingly good time, maybe due to the brief detours through the Nevernever to avoid traffic. Along the way, we got more research information about the ogre, and ways to make him weaker.
It occurred to me that maybe we should have used the car ride to come up with a plan. At least beyond “Follow the crystal, when it stops beat up anyone who doesn’t let us have the statue back”. When we got to the gardens, it was a confusing entrance. We marched up, all 8 of us, and asked to buy tickets. Unfortunately, we’d arrived late enough in the day that they were closing some and didn’t want to sell us any tickets. That just wasn’t going to work, but I was terribly confused (no doubt so was the teller), when someone else piped up that we were here for grounds keeping. Next thing I knew, all of our appearances had changed to look like groundskeepers. The teller still wouldn’t let us in without a fuss, and started to call her supervisor on the phone. I got impatient, hexed her phone system, and while she was distracted by malfunctioning technology, we just went inside. She probably would have followed us, if her door hadn’t jammed.
Inside the garden, the crystal led us forward briefly, before disconnecting from the ogre. We projected the path forward, and it led toward a clump of buildings across some flowing water. With magic what it is, crossing the water could have broken the connection. We quickly investigated, and found…exactly nothing of note. Along the way, we looked at the last few people still in the gardens, and a few of them seemed odd. On closer look, some of them were faceless demon things standing lookout for something. Definitely a positive indicator when looking for trouble.
From a vantage point on the balcony of one of the buildings, we noticed several construction contractors guarding the walkways on both sides of an empty island in the lake. Immediately, we grew suspicious. As a group, we stealthily navigated around them to see what they were guarding. Nah, I’m kidding. We stomped over, got in a staring contest over which group had to leave the garden, then got into a brawl with them that left some guards disabled by swords, others fleeing the rampaging grizzly bear. We did try something new in having Kuji go up and tell the remaining guards to leave or die. They left, but we’ll never know if they succumbed to honor, or if the bear running up behind him was just too much for them.
Across the bridge to the island, we found a portal to the Nevernever. Which always puts me in a great mood. Charging forward, we entered a little pocket dimension built to look like an ancient Japanese dojo or something. Complete with shadowy paper walls and lanterns. I snuck ahead, with the group coming along behind “quietly”. Ahead of us, we could see a sickly light and hear a ritual going on. Between us and it, though, there were dark shapes seemingly just on the other side of paper walls. In trying to figure out what was behind the paper walls, we found a secret room off the main hallway. There was an idea to rip the wall and look for a sneakier way into the main room. Instead of more space, we found a black void of well, nothingness. Don’t get any on you. Oh, there were also shadow monsters trapped within the paper that were freed.
Tyler used his faith to hold back 2 of the 3, and as the 3rd tried to breath a poison gas at us, I walled it off with a field of spirit. We backed out of the room, holding the monsters at bay, and shut the door behind us. There was a chance that the creatures couldn’t break through the paper, since it was their prison before. Fortunately, it seemed to be accurate, and we warily proceeded to the main room.
In the main room, it was a challenging sight. In the center of the large room, was a circle of power, inside of which was our statue, the pearl we’ve been looking for, the head of security for the Chinese ambassador that we sent packing, and about a dozen people having their souls sucked out and pouring into the pearl. Outside the circle, just to make things more interesting, were over a dozen assorted demons, all mesmerized by the ritual in progress. Additionally, our prior adversaries were in the room. The ice lady and the ogre were of special interest to our group. Our group hatched together a plan quickly, and coordinated very, very well.
On the count of 3, several things happened, more or less perfectly ambushing the ritual and the demons in the room. Bastion gave a mighty bear toss to the nearest demon, sending it through the circle of power, breaking it and coating the caster inside with many gooey bits. As an extra bonus, he actually dropped the pearl focus of the ritual. I took a shot at him, and critically injured his head. Anita used her glamours to make a dozen grizzly bears spring from thin air and distract the demons. Simon charged the ice lady with a machete. Tyler used his holy touch and sword on nearby demons. Kuji started slicing and dicing demons, working his way to the center ring. Marion started trying to figure out how to lower the protective circle permanently and safely.
Chaos broke out then. Little fights went on all along the room, and inside the circle, the stored up energy was starting to backlash among the victims still inside. The fighting went on, with the ice lady slowing Simon down before getting a blast of fire from Marion. Tyler and Bastion dispatched a couple demons. Seeing the bargain holder down, several of the demons decided to call it a day and left, including the ogre. Kuji took out a couple minions on the way to the circle, but stopped short of stepping into the bug zapper. Marion and I determined that an item of power could break the circle, draining it’s energy harmlessly. Fortunately, we had one to use. Kuji sped over to get the jade sword we got from some bad guys. I didn’t feel bad about losing it, since it was just filled with tracking magic. He failed to break the circle, but Tyler was able to use it to sunder the force field, sending a surge of energy out that vaporized several demons.
Marion and Simon vanquished the ice lady, with him yelling something about spring coming the whole time. Bastion, Kuji, Anita, and Tyler finished off the rest of the demons. I scooped up the pearl, and Kuji finished off the ritual caster decisively. I was able to control the discharging energy a bit, and redirect it back into the victims. Once quiet settled, we were forced with deciding what to do with the spoils. The pearl was headed back to the mobster’s house. We didn’t want to leave the statue here in the pocket dimension with a door to demon land, but also didn’t want it to be anywhere near the pearl. After much debate while first aid was being done to those who needed it, we conceded to take the statue to the same warehouse that the book of nothing was dropped off at. One of the victims was Lucian, so that solved the mystery of where he disappeared to. He was battered, but after a shower and a good night’s sleep, he’ll probably be mostly fine.
The mobster was thankful for the return of the pearl, and promised us a favor in the future. Awfully “barely within the limits of courtesy” considering his false accusation and threats to kill us, but what can you do? In the end, everything turned out ok, and some people learned enough from their time in the Nevernever to get some progress on things they were working on. I’ll sure look really hard at any contractors who come to upgrade Anita’s floor on the hotel, though.