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Summary[]

Sasha and Grizzop try to get their bearings in Ancient Rome.

Synopsis[]

Sasha and Grizzop have found themselves in Ancient Rome, and have recently escaped a… party happening in the room they were in. They are currently in a temple of Artemis along with an older gentleman and have heard an explosion in the distance. The gentleman looks over at them, panicked, and says something in Latin, gesturing for them to stay here before running off after it. Grizzop asks what they should do, and Sasha decides they should help people; Grizzop doesn’t sound enthused, because they’re Romans and are evil, but Sasha says that they should still help them. 

There’s another explosion from a different place in the city - opposite directions, and Sasha chooses to run after it, saying that Grizzop can do what he wants but that she’s going to help people. Grizzop ends up following here. It sounds like it was a large explosion from very far away; as they run through the city, people are panicking, trying to figure out what’s going on. The streets are getting more and more crowded. Both Sasha and Grizzop notice that there’s a certain amount of guard presence being a thing, with a lot of clerics and paladins on the street. Even as they get out of the temple district and toward the edge of the city, there’s more than they’re used to. 

They make it to the trade district with a number of confused people, but there hasn’t been another loud noise to determine where they need to go to. A large amount of horns start trumpeting around the city, and Sasha rubs her temples. Grizzop asks if they’re lost, but Sasha snaps that they’re not, because she doesn’t get lost. At the horns, the civilians start to move more quickly, running back to their carts and stalls. It’s a very controlled panic. Grizzop says it doesn’t seem good, and Sasha says that Grizzop seems judgy, and that it’s probably fine. He reminds her that this is Rome, pre-fall, and that it probably isn’t going to be alright; he suggests that they hide. 

The sound of marching comes toward them, and they both hide. Grizzop hides in a barrel, and Sasha hides in a doorway. Both of them notice a large contingent of archers jogging through the street, charging toward the second explosion; the civilians cheer them on as they go by, and Grizzop recognizes them having Artemisian symbols and regalia - they’re slightly different than what Grizzop is used to. The horns are continuing periodically. Roman legionnaires are starting to usher civilians out of the public space. 

Sasha asks if they should follow the archers, since they’re Grizzop’s lot, but Grizzop says that they’re part of the army and also, waving to his face, reminds Sasha that his being a goblin isn’t going to do them many favors. The street is nearly deserted by this point, thanks to the Legionnaires, who are evacuating the area. Grizzop says that they should follow the soldiers, since they’ll take them to the explosion, and Sasha stutters for a bit and then agrees, and they start following after the archers. The Artemisian lot runs on, and the both of them stealthily follow. It becomes clear that the evacuation process is becoming much more urgent, but it’s being carried out very effectively; the soldiers are running toward the edge of the city, and then join up with another group, starting to distribute themselves into squads. It seems to be only clerics and paladins at the moment. Another squadron joins, who may well be the Cult of Mars based on their colouring. Sasha asks if there might be a fight going on outside the city, and Grizzop isn’t sure, but mentions that it could be the Meritocrats, since historically there was a huge fight. Neither of them know what day it is, and can’t be sure if this really is the fall of Rome. 

Over Grizzop’s head, Sasha can see the rest of the city sloping downward away from them, and then the city walls. However, over the walls, larger than them, she sees a massive, enormous flying creature (maybe an eagle), and then notices a second one appear. Sasha points them out and says that they may be Meritocrats. Grizzop turns around and realizes that they’re rocs (large, angry birds). He says as much to Sasha, and then adds that if all the military forces are out and about, they can just go assassinate the head of the Cult of Hades. Sasha just holds her head, saying that she doesn’t know what they look like. Grizzop says that they’re in the temple district, so they can just look for a statue of Hades, and mentions that he knows what his hand looks like. Sasha says that he’s out on manoeuvres, but Grizzop says that they don’t know that for sure. Grizzop says that she’s the one who wanted to help people, so why not kill one of what he thinks are the big bads, and then asks what else they can do. Sasha responds that she wants to try and find a way back. Grizzop asks how, since Prague doesn’t exist, and Sasha says that they just need to find someone who can teleport them back to the future. 

Suddenly, a lone cloaked figure notices the two of them, and gestures at them. They seem to have a sort-of cult of Hades vibe to them (black and cowled, etc.). One of the cult of Mars members notices and starts running over, and Sasha and Grizzop book it. They hide and manage to evade them; eventually, the cult members leave them behind and head off. Sasha and Grizzop make it back to the temple district, which is completely empty. 

Sasha asks what a roc is, again, and Grizzop explains that it’s a big bird, that it fights for whoever trains it, and that it’s not inherently evil. It’s simply a beast of war - they used to be used for carrying cargo and troops, but it’s not something that’s needed in the time of the Meritocrats. 

Sasha says that she just wants a moment where they’re not running, and that there’s always something. Grizzop says that the temples are empty and asks how long she needs. Sasha starts babbling, saying that she can’t do this, that they’re running and Grizzop wants to potentially change time by assassinating the head of a religious order, and that she was trying to get them to Artemis because she thought Grizzop also wanted to get back, but that it doesn’t seem like he does, since he’s focused on killing bad people. She starts to spiral, panicking and nearly hyperventilating, and Grizzop talks her through it, saying that they need to focus on what’s in front of them and what they need to do. He explains that he thought that they could get rid of the cult of Hades while they’re here, spread the word for what Hades is planning, and then they can figure out how to get back - but they can’t stop going. Sasha starts to shut down, a bit, saying that they should just go stab people, since stabbing is what she knows, and Grizzop encourages her, saying to stick to that. 

They start working through a plan; Grizzop is more enthused that Sasha is, pointing out a number of ways that they could get in, but Sasha isn’t very responsive, seeming a bit far away. Sasha’s the first to find the cult of Hades building and points it out to Grizzop. It’s a large and austere building, stood off to the side. There’s a large fountain in front of it that depicts some of the story of Persephone. The iconography on it is less skulls and wraiths and more muted - it has a lot to do with the seasons changing spread across the top. There’s a Latin inscription over the top; what they’re able to make out is “Pluto...forever...trust”. Sasha asks if they’re sure that they’re evil, or if they became evil after the Meritocrat incident. Grizzop says that he doesn’t know but that they know that the cult of Hades caused the problem. Sasha asks if they really do, but Grizzop explains that the Meritocrats reacted to what they did. Sasha doesn’t seem convinced. As she says this, the horns finally stop, and they see a beam of sunlight shooting up into the sky like a beacon. It starts to balloon outwards at the top, golden and shimmering, and expands, making an enormous dome - it’s most likely from the Apollo lot. Sasha says that it seems like they’re in the middle of a huge, magical war, and just wants to go stab some bad people. 

Grizzop, noticing the different name on the door, asks if they’re the same gods or if they were replaced. Grizzop says that the Artemis people they saw might not actually be his people; they might be someone else. Neither Sasha nor Grizzop are completely sure what to make of this, and they’re not sure if this means that the cult of Hades is evil, back in this time. As they discuss, the dome has finished and reached the edges of what they can see. They sneak into the temple of Hades; the doors are wide open. Architecturally speaking, it’s quite simplistic. There’s a small atrium, with a number of open doors leading off. There’s a waiting room off to the side, and then a cloakroom on the other side with a number of cowls hung up. There’s also a large tablet on one side of the atrium, written in Latin. Sasha can’t make out anything except for the name ‘Pluto’ and the word ‘death’. Grizzop doesn’t detect evil anywhere in the temple.

The entire temple is empty; Grizzop looks around for a statue or something of Hades so that he can focus detect evil on that instead. He does find some stylized depictions of things, but there’s a lack of Hades anywhere in the temple. Instead, there are numerous depictions of Persephone, looking to someone or something implied to be elsewhere. Grizzop casts Detect Evil on the Persephone iconography, but doesn’t detect anything. 

Sasha, wandering around, finds a lot of what she identifies as funeral stuff. There are a number of tables, embalming fluid, etc., and then she finds a staircase leading down. There’s one body in preparation on a mortuary slab. Sasha notes that the people left in a hurry, and asks if they should leave as well. Grizzop says that the dome outside is probably a shield, and that they might not be able to leave if someone is attacking the city. Sasha says that there probably isn’t someone here to stab, and Grizzop says that they can still search and find incriminating things. Sasha finds a pot full of coins - ones that would be put on people’s eyes after they’ve passed. She scoops as many as she can into her bag of holding; there are also a few salves around that are valuable, or some velvety cloth, but there’s nothing much here. 

Grizzop heads down into the basement. It’s very cool down there and very dry. There’s a large number of bodies, laid out respectfully, and it looks like a morgue. At the very far end of it there’s a raised dais, with a large elaborate permanent layout of rituals around the slab (sort of like a pentacle, but nonspecific). There’s a lot of hanging incense around them, velvet cloths, etc. Where the rest of the temple was very simplistic, this is incredibly posh. Grizzop, upon examining it, realizes that it seems closer to healing. He thinks it could be to do with resurrection/reviving, and thinks he identifies some ritual components, but again doesn’t detect any evil.

Both Grizzop and Sasha hear footsteps outside the temple, not trying to be stealthy. Sasha positions herself with her back against the wall next to the door and can see a young-ish (30s) man wearing a toga, who is walking past the temple of Hades, not paying either of them any mind. He’s pre-maturely balding, and walking with a decent limp. He glances inside, but it’s too dark and he doesn’t notice them, and then heads off. It seems as though he also doesn’t want to be noticed. Grizzop asks if they should get him, and Sasha asks what he means. He explains that the man outside is either an enemy or an ally, and Sasha agrees to talk to him, saying that she’ll do the talking because Grizzop wants to kill everyone. 

She steps out, without daggers in hand, and greets the man outside. He looks as though he’s puffing himself up, and then notices Sasha’s weird clothing, and waves. Sasha gives him a thumbs-up back, realizes that she isn’t sure if that’s offensive, and then stares at her hands. He gives her an overly casual gesture, speaking in Latin, and it’s clear that he’s really trying to play off whatever he’s doing as not a big deal. Sasha asks him to help, speaking broken Latin, and the man hobbles over to them, gesturing to ask what they need. Grizzop holsters his bow and walks outside, not hiding the fact that he’s a goblin, although he does leave the hood over his head. The man looks at Sasha, seeming curious, and then looks at Grizzop, doing a double take, before giving Sasha a concerned look, asking if he’s okay, contagious, etc. Sasha goes over and gives Grizzop a performative hug while Grizzop snaps at the man, and then she waves again. Grizzop says he’s fine, in English. The man comes over and starts examining Grizzop from a distance, and then Grizzop pulls the hood off. He looks shocked for a moment and then comes over, looking more interested, and inspects Grizzop, not invasively. Sasha introduces herself, and the man looks excited, pointing at her and saying “Whosasking”, before introducing himself as Cicero [pronounced with a soft ‘c’ because Alex has decreed it so]. Grizzop introduces himself as well. Cicero gestures for the two of them to run away; Grizzop mentions Pluto, and Cicero points at the temple behind them, gesturing that they’ve gone. Grizzop mimes an evil face, and then a big spell, and Cicero turns, pointing at the dome shining over the city. Sasha says she also doesn’t understand. 

Cicero grabs Grizzop by the shoulders, saying a bunch of stuff in Latin, and Grizzop makes out ‘draconis’, and then asks if it’s good or bad. It’s clear that Cicero is really trying to work out what they need. As they’re talking, they hear a loud cheer from the walls of the city. Cicero starts resorting to mime. He seems to be saying that the dragons are bad, and that he’s going to them. He starts to shuffle a bit off, gesturing them to come with, and Sasha and Grizzop decide to follow after them. He keeps checking around them; each time he checks, he pays attention to the city walls. Grizzop puts his hood back up as they follow. They’re being pulled along to the temple of Mars. Sasha backs up a bit. 

The temple of Mars seems to be locked up. He hobbles up to the front door, and whacks the door a few times. Sasha hides, and Grizzop asks if Cicero is sure about this. When no one comes to the door, Cicero pulls out a knife and a tool, and Sasha realizes that it’s a primitive lockpicking set. Sasha goes up and pushes him out of the way gently, pulling out her own tools, and Cicero looks interested. It’s trivially easy for her to open the lock, and Cicero gives her an appreciative look. He gestures both of them in, pushing the doors open, and strides into the middle of the room. They follow him, and Grizzop and Sasha both mention that they’re well on board for this. Grizzop casts Detect Evil, and gets a sense of evil in the room - it doesn’t mean much, it just means that there was definitely an evil person in here recently. 

In the middle of the room, there’s a large statue of Mars kicking the ass of the entire room. He’s in the middle of the fight with a dwarf, a human, and a centaur, and using two of them to beat up the other. Someone has taken the time to chisel spittle and a tooth flying from the centaurs mouth. There’s another tablet on the wall, with another inscription in Latin. As they’re looking around, Cicero keeps pointing up at the ceiling. There’s a large fresco on the top, depicting a recognizable impression of Rome in the center, beset by enemies (barbarians, orcs, etc). Hovering over Rome is a massive dragon, burning everyone apart from Rome. Cicero points up at it again, and says ‘draconis’ again, looking angry and upset. Sasha says that it might not be as clear cut as they thought, and asks if there was a Rome meritocrat. Grizzop asks if there might be more than one set of dragons. As they’re speaking, there’s another set of horns, with a different tone than the first. Cicero goes completely pale and starts legging it out of the temple, gesturing for the two of them to follow him. 

Quotes[]

"Also, you know, she has been unconscious I think four times in the last week so I am a bit confused about what is going on, but Sasha is worse."
Lydia

"All the best parties have explosions, Grizzop!"
Sasha and Grizzop appear in Ancient Rome.

Sasha: "We just need to have a moment where we're not running. There's always something!"
Grizzop: "Alright, well, it's empty; how long do you need?"
Sasha: "Grizzop, I can't do this! Alright, so we're running, you want to assassinate the head of a religious order and... change time, I guess? Or maybe that's the thing that starts the war! Who even knows?"
Grizzop: "We don't. Right?"
―Grizzop and Sasha disagree on what they should be doing next.

Lydia: "Four times in a week, she's been unconscious! Four times! In a week!"
Alex: "Oh, I'm seeing how far I can push this now."
―Sasha is having a bad time.

"No life that Sasha wants, that she would live with happily, whether here or in the future, involves velvety cloths."
Lydia

Dice rolls and Mechanics[]

  • Sasha makes a Knowledge (local) check: nat 1
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 24, Sasha gets 35
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Perception checks: Grizzop gets 11, Sasha gets 17
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 24, Sasha gets 25
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Perception checks: Grizzop gets 12, Sasha gets 25
  • Grizzop makes a Knowledge (nature) check on the flying things: 16
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 24, Sasha gets 31
  • Sasha makes a Knowledge (local) check: 31
  • Grizzop makes a Knowledge (religion) check: 15
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 13, Sasha gets 37
  • Sasha makes a Linguistics check: nat 1
  • Grizzop makes a Knowledge (religion) check: 11
  • Grizzop takes 20 on a Perception check to search the temple.
  • Sasha makes a Perception check: 24
  • Grizzop makes a Knowledge (religion) check: 19
  • Grizzop and Sasha make Perception checks: Grizzop gets 11, Sasha gets 25
  • Sasha and Grizzop make a Linguistics check: Grizzop gets 10, Sasha gets 11

Plot Notes[]

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