After a few drinks and being ‘asked’ to leave the bar, the party decides to scout the area where the travelling circus has set up. The streets of Paran are crowded with pedestrians, which provides perfect cover for their scouting. There are several lots, surrounded by iron gates and fencing covering one large city block. Various caravans, trade shows, merchants and the like use these lots to set up within the walls of the city in order to ply their wares. Mr Mojo’s circus has rented one such lot and has set up within the iron gates.
Using means both magical and mundane, they are able to determine the general layout of the operation:
One central ‘big top’ tent dominates the area, red and white stripes showing all who approach that it is, indeed, a circus tent. Several smaller tents are clustered to the side, opposite of the main entrance to the big top. 4 large wagon cages house exotic and dangerous animals for the amusement of the crowds, and stages line the walkway between the ticket takers stand and the big top entrance. The walkway is laid out in a zigzag pattern, which has the onlookers winding slowly through the area as they gawk at the animal cages and the performers on stage. Music, fire breathing, juggling and the like are all on display. They do notice, after using various spells and magics, that there appears to be a force field surrounding the area, just within the iron fencing.
The party debates the best course of action, then finally decides to simply come back in the morning and enter through the front gate. They try to use their symbol of authority to get past the ticket takers, but eventually just get ushered into the main line of spectators, after being told they would get a chance to speak with Mr Mojo inside.
While looking at all the wild and wonderful displays, they notice a small blur darting back and forth across the crowd, unseen and mostly unnoticed. The sharp eyes of their dwarven cleric finally catch a glimpse of the tiny creature as it pilfers from people’s pockets with each pass, going under one stage, then back across the line to the next stage and so forth.
Romdiir cries foul and attempts to snatch the beast in his iron grip. Meanwhile, the illusionist henchmen of Mr Mojo surreptitiously release the hinges on the animal cage holding the polar bear. The bear leaps out and starts devouring the horrified onlookers. The packed crowd of hundreds, shoulder to shoulder in the narrow, zigzagging walkway, starts to panic and trample each other in every direction.
Sixlet leaps into action, tossing her hooch into the air in a flashy show before intending to chug it down— but a small circus monkey leaps across the air and snatches it right out of her fingertips. Screaming in rage, Sixlet forgets all about the precarious situation and chases after the monkey and her alcohol stash.
Meanwhile, Tilly is trying to calm the polar bear down, but even though she can speak its language she manages only to enrage it further and further. Papa Stogie mesmerizes a few elderly folk into forming a human wall between the party and the polar bear, which slows the beast down for a few seconds.
Romdiir catches the little beast, and squeezes the life from it with a herculean effort. He then calls upon his deity for divine intervention, while casting a wide area Remove Fear spell that goes way beyond the ordinary boundaries of such a spell. His deity looks favorably upon him, and in one moment the entire crowd is calmed by Romdiir’s magic.
Meanwhile, Papa Stogie creeps into the bear cage and creates an illusion that he is really a sexy Female Polar bear, and tries to lure the beast back into its cage. Surprisingly, this tactic works and the bear stops its mayhem and lumbers back into the cage.
While all this is going on, Bombiir has been pursuing the illusionist henchmen who started the trouble in the first place. He manages to subdue one of them and also latches the cage closed once the bear returns to it.
Convinced of their righteousness, the party once again attempts to force an audience with Mr Mojo. Mojo makes an appearance, and once the party brandishes their trinket of authority, he becomes quite accomodating and even polite. He begs them to simply come into the big top, enjoy the show, and afterwards he will sit down and answer any questions they might have for him. Mojo uses his persuasion and some magical means, and everyone besides Romdiir agrees to Mojo’s plan. Romdiir attempts to be stubborn, but Sixlet, towering over him, intimidates him into going along with it— especially after she hears they will be served free drinks in the tent.
They shuffle into the tent and are seated in the VIP section off to the side. The show is spectacular, as Mojo weaves a tale of might and magic, heroics and adventure. He uses his mastery of illusions to illustrate each and every twist and turn with spectacular images and sounds. At one point, it appears that a massive White Dragon tears the top of the tent off and breathes down a cone of cold on the audience— only to have the frost shimmer into sparkles, while his henchmen toss silver pieces into the crowd as the onlookers grasp at what they believe to be magic snowflakes.
Bombiir has stealthily climbed to the top of the big top, just out of range of the mind numbing hypnotics and illusions. He notices that the henchmen have brought out a strange device, like a small table with some globes, tubes, and rotating gears on top. They start to crank the machine, and he gets an uneasy feeling as he notices the entire crowd falling further and further into the shared illusion. A half dozen lackeys appear from behind the stands and start leading the mesmerized children from the crowd to a flap in the back of the tent. Bombiir decides to act— grabbing a rope and swinging down swashbuckler style in an attempt to knock over the device. He manages to disrupt the ritual just enough for his fellow party members to shake off the effects momentarily.
Sixlet shouts, ’They’re stealing my babies!’ as she points at the lackeys. The crowd starts to come out of it, and the party leaps into action, chasing the lackeys and the children they are leading from the tent. Bombiir leaves the illusionist Jaymes on the ground, with a few fresh lumps. The two have tangled twice with Bombiir getting the best of it both times.
They chase the lackeys into one of the smaller tents, and are stunned by what they see: As soon as they enter the tent flap the area inside the tent expands to a large chamber, a few hundred feet across with glass walls on every side. The floor and ceiling is black obsidian rock, and the glass shields them from massive walls of flame, lava plumes, and rivers of magma just beyone the windows. They decide they must be in some sort of extra dimensional space or portal to another plane, while inside this seemingly small tent. A massive vat of blue, viscous goo is in the center of the chamber and they can see the last of the children being tossed into the goo. The children appear to be in some sort of stasis or paralysis, and are motionless inside the blue goo.
The party breaks the trinket of authority given to them by Inspector Snyder, and readies for battle…