The party leaps into action, surprising Mojo, his two illusionist Henchmen Bartles and Jaymes, and his half dozen muscle bound lackeys. They break the magical trinket, summoning the aid from the HCR Mage Guild. Bigby Junior materializes from thin air, and tosses three vials of magical elixir towards the party. They grab them and pocket the healing draughts in one smooth motion. Bigby Junior waves his arms and a massive ten foot hand appears, sweeping aside the lackeys and knocking many of them onto their backsides while bruising them up a good bit.
The party swarms to the nearest ones, pummelling and stabbing them relentlessly. Soon a magical duel breaks out, with Bigby and Mojo slinging powerful magics— fireballs, blasts of lightning, giant hands, and so forth across the chamber at each other, with nary a care as to the other combatants. Most of the party wisely choose to run to one side or the other, in order to avoid the carnage of the mighty mages locked in battle, but Romdiir stays behind Bigby Jr for a little while, until being scorched one too many times. Bombiir gets knocked unconscious during his melee, while Sixlet, enraged by her drink and her barbarian bloodlust, starts caving in skulls left and right. Romdiir darts to and fro, healing his dwarven brother and the other party members as they take heavy blows from magic and melee. Tilly cleverly uses her hemp rope to ensnare several of them with her druidic magic to keep them from carving up her friends.
Eventually they realize their only hope is to come together and perform a massive power move— so they decide to flip over the vat of goo and unleash a tidal wave of paralytic fluid towards Mojo. With the help of another one of Bigby’s Massive Hand spells, and Sixlet’s massive muscles in the middle, they manage to upend the vat and send Mojo sprawling. His hands clutch at midair as he tries to teleport away but he is a moment too slow, and becomes suspended in stasis momentarily.
The party goes after the remaining lackeys. Bombiir trounces Jaymes yet again who immediately surrenders and agrees to cooperate. They take some prisoners, and scour the area for clues. Meanwhile, they realize that the goo will not hold Mojo Forever, so they proceed to eliminate him for his crimes before he can regain his senses. Justice is swift with this crew. Bombiir manages to notice a strange place where the goo has flowed around a small boxy shape. He discerns it is a chest, locked and trapped- -but he successfully disarms it and quickly empties the contents. Several items of note are within, but one particular item stands out:
The logbook. Written in a strange magical script, Papa Stogie attempts to decipher it— but just attempting to read it causes an explosion of magical energy. The Logbook survives, and they manage to decode the script and read its contents. With help from Jaymes, they learn it is a log of all the stops made by Mr Mojo’s travelling circus, and all the children he has sold to agents of one ‘Lord Kojiro’. Notes in the margin, written by Mojo, remark about ‘ratboy’ or ‘dogboy’ showing up to make the payments. He also has scrawled a few drawings of what appear to be teleportation portals, that the agents from Kojiro scrawl on the floor to transport the human cargo. He also mentions an activation word is spoken to make the portals work, but does not note what that word is.
The party searches the other tents, and ends up with a tidy sum of coins, some gems that appear to be perfect for use as reagants, and some spellbooks with some useful spells within. They take their prisoners back to their barracks and proceed to interrogate them. They do notice that they are being followed as they travel back through town, one pursuer on the rooftops, and one in the alleyways.
They make it back to the barracks without being confronted however. Some unusual bloodletting occurs, and this makes their surviving prisoner talk as much as he is able to. They learn a few more things, and decide to divulge what they have learned to Sir Humphrey after Romdiir insists upon it.
Sir Humphrey is someone upset at the blood and mess, but once he learns of their efforts and what they have managed to learn, he seems quite pleased and forgiving. He tells them to proceed to Inspector Snyder’s chambers in the courthouse for a debriefing. Papa Stogie attempts to woo Humphrey – insert salacious comment about de-briefing Humphrey-, who finds this amusing and leads the prisoner off for further interrogation. He is persuaded to advance the party one months pay, which he tosses to them before he heads out.
The party decides to ignore the advice, and instead drinks and sleeps the night away. Upon the morn, they go to Snyder’s office to debrief. He persuades them to engage in a ritual, whereby they link arms, and he uses one of his many magical devices to have everyone see each others thoughts and memories. The players each see their ‘secret’ missions, and aspirations, while Snyder is able to see all the details of the encounter. He seems most intrigued, and consults with some scrolls, maps, and books while muttering to himself before he addresses the party again.
He suggests one of two possible courses of action— he says his Diviner has determined that there is some sort of cave mouth or entrance, across the Magical Barrier into Oxchaga Territory, that is linked to this set of circumstances in some way. The party can pursue this lead, crossing into enemy territory and finding out what they can. Or, he suggests they follow up with the lead found in the logbook— this Kojiro fellow, or ‘Lord Kojiro’ as he is called within the logbook. Inspector Snyder says that Kojiro owns a mid sized Reagant factory and warehouse complex here in Paran, in the magic district. It is a cluster of four buildings: a main central hub, two outlying storehouses, and a tall central spire.
The party decides to stay here in town, and to utilize some of Bombiir’s thieves guild contacts to perform some counter spying on the shadowy figures who have been tailing them since they left the circus. Sixlet and Bombiir attempt to persuade one of the thieves guild gatekeepers, at a local brothel, to provide them with a skilled spy. Perhaps due to a foul mood or an unpleasant breakfast, the contact does not seem to be in any mood to help them. Bombiir insists on getting some aid, and perhaps wishes he didnt— because he is told that Crazy Larry (aka Crazy Garry) will help them for 200 gold pieces. Bombiir refuses to pay that amount, and the last thing he sees before leaving the brothel is Crazy Garry making the throat slitting motion with his finger while staring at him with wild eyes.
The party decides to do an old fashioned recon of Kojiro’s reagant complex. They split up and scout the area, and see that each building is roughly 100-150 feet wide and three stories tall. The warehouse buildings all seem to be linked to the central processing building, where there appears to be a showroom and store front to one side with displays of flashy reagants in the windows and lists of prices. A large central spire rises way above the main building, and has a mysterious opening about 80 feet in the air— what appears to be a doorway with no door present.
Large golems are seen holding massive iron barrels, wooden crates, and silver lined satchels, while others are shoveling piles of dragon scales, unicorn horns, fairy dust and so forth into or out of varios containers both large and small. Gnomes are seen scurrying about, directing the golems and the commerce. They also see a sign on the showroom door that says ‘mage guild members only’.
They call over Papa Stogie and his companion Sixlet to enter the store to gather further information. Upon entering, the gnome behind the counter seems disturbed to hear the name Kojiro utterred in the same context as Mr Mojo’s circus. Very quickly the conversation goes downhill, and at one point Papa Stogie brandishes the ‘Shell of Belial’ scroll at the merchant. He quietly asks them to leave, as they notice several golems setting down their containers to head towards the showroom.
Sensing the approach, Stogie and Sixlet leave the store, vowing to return. The party beats a hasty retreat back to their barracks to regroup and formulate a new plan on how to crack this latest conundrum. Upon reaching their barracks, Tilly discovers that her coin purse has been pilfered, and Bombiir realizes that Crazy Garry expects his payment, come hell or high water. 100 gold coins are missing, and he was ‘promised’ 200.
While the decide how best to infiltrate Kojiro’s complex and learn more about the mysteries of the missing children, they work on some skills and acquire some gear. They put in a requisition with Snyder and receive a favorable outcome, getting almost everything they ask for (this timeline event may have happened a little before this, but thats ok). Sixlet uses some of the gems and her fellow party members skillz to create a wild tattoo to aid in her intimidation prowess, to great effect. Romdiir decides to work on his music, which has been a hobby of his for some time, and becomes a professional musician, or bard… and Bombiir decides to bite the sling bullet and try to learn what he can about the most powerful force in Paran— Magery and all things magic. Tilly receives a special packet delivered by a crow, and upon reading the message she is asked to find a pool of still water to contact her High Priestess back at the Temple of Kinarr. She is told it is time for her to learn how to control the forces which form the basis of the power within their Druidic order— they specialize in the four elements of Fire, Water, Earth and Air. She is told to decide which one she feels the most affinity for, and she will be taught the basics of mastery of that element when she contacts the high priestess. Papa Stogie works on his beardery, and also on some more advanced magics and illusions to further confound and confuse their foes.
As they do this, they recap what they have learned so far— Zimmer, the HCR contact across the border whose cabin the investigated, was making dead drops of information to the HCR for a long time. Why was he allowed to live, and do this by the Oxchaga? Or did they fail to notice his presence? Children were being marched away, and foul tattoo magic was taking their innocence and imprinting it into bones that act as channelling devices for the tattoo bearers. At its most basic level, the tattoos mask the alignment, or the evil, of the bearer so that they can cross the Magic Barrier into the HCR. However, there may be other uses as well…
Mojo was using his traveling circus to tour the HCR, from town to town and city to city, and kidnap children from the audience while their caregivers were mesmerized. He then would paralyze the children with the stasis gel (blue goo) and wait for his contact from Lord Kojiro to arrive. This agent, always a lycanthrope of one sort or another, would pay for each child and then draw a magic circle on the ground. He would transport them through this magic circle with the use of a command word.
Kojiro has a local business enterprise in Paran, a prosperous reagant factory, comprised of four buildings- one main centrla processing building with a store front, two outlying warehouses, and one central spire rising above with an open doorway 80 feet up. Gnomes and golems seem to be the visible employees / workers at this location. Spotted behind some of the storage barrels were some magical circles, possibly teleportation devices.
A secret entrance/ cave mouth of some sort has been divined via magical means that is in some way linked to this current mystery— as told to the party by Inspector Snyder. This is around 50 miles across the magic barrier into Oxchaga Territory.
Bombiir has been asked to determine who is pulling Sir Humphreys strings and report it back to his guild, and Tilly has been asked by her Druidic Order to find out what is causing the taint in the earth magic ‘Ley Line’ that runs deep within the dirt below their feet. And, Crazy Garry wants his gold…