Summary

The party question Barret and split up. One half takes Barret to the Temple of Artemis in Damascus, and the other half keeps watch on the factory.

Synopsis

We pick up where we left off: with Sasha holding a knife under Barret's jaw. 

Azu explains that the Cult of Hades came to Caesar and offered him the chance to defeat all his enemies, and thus brought the monsters upon Rome, pushing Rome into true evil. However, there hasn’t been a Cult of Hades since then — the Meritocrats abolished them.

Hamid asks Barret to tell them more about the Cult of Hades, and Grizzop asks if they’re the squizzards, to which Barret wonders what a squizzard is. The party explain, and Barret tries to look at Sasha, but can’t. 

Sasha asks what the Cult wants. Barret explains that they presumably want what they’ve always wanted: world domination. Hamid asks what the arrangement was with the squizzard with whom Barret was working. Barret replies that it was that “aid” who incapacitated him. Hamid is getting frustrated by Barret’s vague answers and sass — his hand turns into a claw, and then back into a hand.

Barret explains that a long time ago, an older crime lord bequeathed him the aid of the squizzard, and Barret found him very useful. Hamid notes that Barret seemed to have found out only recently the Cult’s true level of power, given that he was trying to hold the Cult back against them in Cairo, and asks Barret if he would like to expand on how that relationship changed over time. Barret replies that he would not, and Sasha presses the knife further into his throat, cutting skin. Barret explains that the Cult was happy to offer aid to him until the party went “stab-happy” and reduced the already-small numbers of cultists. 

Hamid asks Barret what the Cult’s goal is, and tells him that he should give up his attitude, given that he’s under the protection of the party. Barret says that the Cult suggested that he contact the party in the first place, with regards to the Serpentines. They also originally “proposed the disappearing” of the children in Other London, including “Rooftop Charlie” and a child whose name began with “B.” The Cult have been working with him for thirty years. Sasha gets upset with Barret for providing the people who were turned into brain fuel. Barret says he didn’t know, though he suspected. Sasha walks off, furious. 

Barret gives an “edited highlight reel”: the Cult had been advising for a long time, and once the Simulacrum appeared, their advice became more insistent, and Barret realizes only in retrospect that many of his ideas weren’t his own. When the party began their investigations, Barret did some of his own and realized he’d been underestimating his aid. Things escalated, and Barret was found to be more useful as a hostage.

Azu asks if the Cult is running London now, and Barret is surprised that they haven’t been keeping up with the news. He and the other crime lords have lost most of their territory, although there have been no factions in this war: it was just chaos. 

Grizzop concludes that if the Cult of Hades knew about the Simulacrum, they must be inside the Meritocrats. Barret says they definitely are, and that he’s also infiltrated the Meritocrats. Hamid gets a list of Barret’s contacts in the Meritocrats. Barret warns that the Cult is coming for them. Hamid puts the gag back on Barret and walks a little way away to discuss the situation with the group. 

Grizzop wants to kill him, Hamid wants to turn him into the justice system, and Azu is conflicted. Sasha says that she couldn’t be close to him and not kill him; she suggests giving him to Wilde. Grizzop worries about the infiltration in the Meritocrats and doesn’t believe that the justice system will work. He suggests the cults are safer, because Paladins and Clerics will lose their powers if they pledge to another god. Sasha suggests just leaving him. 

Azu casts 'Detect Evil' on Barret — she finds that he’s not pure evil in the sense of the chimeras, and less evil than a serial killer, but is a horrible human being. Azu doesn’t want to kill him, but also supports leaving him, to which Grizzop and Hamid object: he’ll either end up back with the Cult of Hades, or die a slow, painful death - a quick death would be better. 

BREAK

Azu now agrees that they should kill him, but she and Grizzop ask Sasha what she thinks they should do. Sasha walks over to Barret so he can see her for the first time. Sasha says she forgives Barret, because he didn’t care — he was never trying to punish her by taking away Brock. She’s realized that he was never as important as he thought he was, either to the world or to her; he should be locked up, and not allowed any influence on the world. Sasha senses that she’s found the one way to shake Barret.  

Sasha says that Barret should be taken to Artemis, because they’re very boring; the cults all have jurisdiction in their own temples. The Meritocrats can come to interview him, though Sasha notes that Barret probably doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. Grizzop leaves a note for the temple of Artemis. 

The dogs from the factory wake up and Sasha throws the meat to them, but the dogs aren’t interested. 

Azu summons Topaz, and leaves with Hamid and Barret, who is still tied up. Hamid puts Barret’s ring and his own ring in a bag of holding. It’s a few hours before dawn, and Damascus is quiet.  

They head to the Temple of Artemis and knock, giving an attendant the note from Grizzop, though not before they get Hamid to read it himself. It reads: “Hello. These guys have got a bad ‘un. Let ‘em keep it. Thanks, Grizzop.” 

After a minute, the door opens to reveal a rugged elderly woman in full leather armour, carrying a bow; her name is Elana. She leads them down a stone hallway, past a banqueting hall, down to the back and into the basements, where there is a cell block. There are a few people in a drunk tank, including a person in similar leathers to the attendant, who is meditating on the floor. Elana opens a door at the end and Azu places Barret in a cell. Elana says that Grizzop has a week to claim him and do the paperwork. 

We return to Sasha and Grizzop. Sasha sets herself up so she has a view of the road, in case a change of guard arrives. Grizzop patrols to make sure the chimeras don’t act up. They’re mostly calm, though more active when Grizzop’s near. 

Dawn breaks, and more time passes. Grizzop hears the sounds of an approaching carriage: it’s the cabbie from before, who’s come in case the party want return to town. He denies seeing anything, and heads back down the mountain. 

We return to Hamid and Azu: Hamid explains that Barret is a crime boss, but not to let the Meritocrats interview him, because they’ve been infiltrated. Elana is unfazed. Azu says that someone may try to scry on Barret, and Elana says that they won’t be able to. Azu then explains that the Cult of Hades were after him, and Elana believes them, and says she’ll tell the higher-ups. 

Hamid and Azu head to the Meritocratic offices, and on the way, Hamid gives the rings to a trader heading far away. An attendant says it’s too early to raise anyone, and Hamid insists they give a message to Wilde. The attendant wakes Wilde, who comes down the stairs having used Prestidigitation to freshen up. Wilde is livid about the amount of “goblin paperwork” he has from Ratchet after the party’s investigations there. Hamid smugly gives Wilde the ciphered paperwork from their investigation in the factory, tells Wilde about their activities in the factory the night before, hands him the list of Barret’s agents working in the Meritocrats, and explains that the Cult of Hades exists. Wilde is shocked. 

Back to Grizzop and Sasha, where it’s mid-morning. Sasha searches the office kitchen in the admin building for anything to eat, and finds a rotten sandwich. Grizzop says that Sasha did well with Barret, especially with everything that’s been going on lately. Sasha says she realized that it would be too easy to be like Barret, and remarks that she’s stopped being surprised by things. 

The same figure from before, wearing the Panama hat, appears; he’s flanked by two people, and is waving a white flag. Grizzop asks who he is.   


Quotes

  • Barret: They [Cult of Hades] were the ones who originally proposed the disappearing of all of the children in Other London, I suppose, well not all of the children, but you know what I mean.
  • Sasha: No, I don’t.
  • Barret: Oh, yes you do, ummm…there was Rooftop Charlie. Oh, I forget all their names, and, oh what was his name…begins with a B.

--

  • Sasha: And you, you provided them brains and you knew that the brains, that the brains were going to the…
  • Barret: No, I didn’t.
  • Hamid: You provided them people.
  • Barret: Yes, I did.
  • Sasha: Who would…were made into brain fuel. And you knew that.
  • Barret: No.
  • Sasha: I’m sure you knew.
  • Barret: I suspected.
  • Hamid: Maybe he didn’t know but he didn’t care.
  • Barret: More accurate, yeah. Look as it stands…
  • Sasha: You…no, no, no, no, no…
  • Lydia: She just takes her dagger away from his throat and just walks off.

--

  • Sasha: I just, I just couldn’t, I couldn’t be that close to him and not kill him any, any longer.

--

  • Sasha: I…I forgive you, Barret. You didn’t care. All this time, you didn’t. And I think that’s ‘cause no one cared about you. You know, it didn’t…you didn’t care about Brock. It wasn’t to punish me you took him away, you just…didn’t care. You didn’t think there was anything worth caring about. I think you should be locked up. I don’t think you’re as important as you thought you were. You should be locked up and not know what’s gonna happen next, and know that you are not important for what happens to the world, or to…to me, cause you’re not. You’re not important. Just a man on the floor. We’re gonna tie you up. Strap you to a camel, like luggage. And we’re gonna take you to a boring place. Probably Grizzop’s lot, they’re a bit more functional. And you’re gonna get locked up in a boring room. I mean, their architecture is so dull, it’s hard even to hide. And then you’ll stay there and you won’t know what’s happening next and it won’t…it won’t matter.

--

  • Hamid: We need to get a message to Oscar Wilde, he was last at the Meritocratic offices in Cairo.
  • Guard: Oh, Wilde? Oh, I can go wake him.
  • Azu: Oh, he’s here? 
  • Hamid: Yeah, get him, get him.
  • Lydia: Do not give him time to prestidigitate. I want that hair crazy!
  • Alex: The guard jogs off. And then you hear the sound of approaching footsteps. You hear approaching footsteps stop. You hear a mutter, the sound of prestidigitation. And then you hear them finish walking down the stairs. Wilde sees you both, looks livid. He is staring daggers at both of you.
  • Hamid: Morning!
  • Wilde: Why do I have thousands of reams of goblin paperwork from Ratchet? Why is my office, well, someone’s office, filled with what must take 20 years worth of administration to even begin to understand. What did you do?
  • Azu: We’re uncovering a conspiracy.
  • Hamid: We thought you’d have employees to deal with it for you.
  • Wilde: [breathes heavily] Yeah, but not - [sighs]
  • Hamid: We’ve got more.
  • Wilde: Great.
  • Hamid: We’ve got, like, a whole Bag of Holding filled with more paperwork. This one’s ciphered!
  • Wilde: Oh, fantastic! Great. I’d invite you to my office, but I can’t fit!

--

  • Hamid: Also, up the hill there’s an army of probably a thousand robots, you know, ready built simulacra…
  • Wilde: Oh my god…
  • Hamid: …guarded by a dozen manticore, or similar creatures of pure evil.
  • Alex: He sits down.
  • Hamid: They were in a guarded complex, we’ve taken out the guards but currently there’s just two people up there watching this entire thing.
  • Azu: It’s a bad place.
  • Hamid: We’re gonna go back up and help them out. Maybe send some help, and a demolitions team or something. Thanks Oscar!
  • Azu: Very helpful.
  • Hamid: You’re right, we are doing good work, nice of you to say so.
  • Alex: He’s honestly speechless for the first time.
  • Hamid: Oh! Here’s a list of agents that Barret Racket had inside Meritocratic forces.
  • Wilde: Excuse me?
  • Hamid: It may or may not be complete.  
  • Alex: He just holds that.
  • Azu: Oh yes, and the Cult of Hades may have infiltrated the Meritocrats.
  • Hamid: Oh, yeah, turns out Cult of Hades exists after all, they’re the squid-wizard things that we’ve been dealing with for a while. They’ve been in our reports.
  • Azu: And they want to take over the world.
  • Alex: He loosens his impeccable tie.
  • Wilde: Okay…
  • Hamid: We’ve been up all night, it’s been a long day if I’m honest. But we’re gonna get back to it. Thanks for your help!

--

  • Grizzop: Oh, also, well done for all of that, that’s uh, you did…that was good. The whole Barret thing.
  • Sasha: Just sort of realized…that it would be a bit too easy to be…like him. You know? So…just, you got options, right?
  • Grizzop: Yeah, life’s complicated, innit?
  • Sasha: You’ve got options.
  • Grizzop: Yeah. But no, you did…good job, I know you’ve been through a lot recently, so, that was probably the last bit of big information just to suddenly literally teleport into your lap, so…
  • Sasha: I’ve stopped being surprised by things.

Dice rolls and Mechanics

Everyone makes a knowledge religion/local check about the cult: Grizzop gets nat 1 (religion), Sasha gets 13 (local), Azu gets 25 (religion), Hamid doesn't roll

Azu casts Detect Evil on Barrett.

Sasha makes a sense motive check on Barrett: 15

Sasha and Grizzop make perception checks: Sasha gets 17, Grizzop gets 21

Sasha and Grizzop make perception checks to notice the man appearing: Sasha gets 29, Grizzop gets 21

Plot Notes

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