In Rome, Sasha has returned to awareness, and decides not to join the fight, but rather look for the hostages. She sees there’s a route down from the roof to the highest floor, and drops down through a hole in the roof, but there’s a creak from the floor beneath her, then a peal of thunder. The corridor is empty. Meanwhile, Azu fights the squizzards, who try to weaken her with a spell, and Hamid takes stock of the situation, realising that the atrium continues for a while, then reaches a dead end because the back of the building has collapsed. There is an empty corridor opposite to the one that’s currently full of Azu and the two figures. No matter the direction he faces the wibbly-wobbly from, it’s always facing him, and he realizes that it’s a Gate spell that’s broken in a very strange way. He asks Azu where Ed went, and she answers. The two squizzards disappear in a flash of light and thunder.
We return to Grizzop, who makes his way down a crudely-hewn tunnel looping back towards the pub. Reaching a door behind which there is muffled conversation, he knocks and declares that he’s “here to see the Harlequins” and pushes a letter under the door. They push the letter back and tell him to go away. He refuses, saying he needs to get to Rome.
The door opens to reveal a very old woman, who takes one look at Grizzop and shuts the door on him, locking it. Grizzop kicks in the door (and the old woman behind it) and sees the woman and “kiddy’s first revolutionary group” in the beer cellar: a fourteen-year-old, the husband of the woman who answered the door, and a hefty-looking woman. They all look terrified, and the old woman immediately says she surrenders (and tries to recruit Grizzop to their cause.)
Grizzop demands they send him to Rome. The old woman, who’s the only one who speaks English, turns to the others and they all have a conversation in Arabic between asking him questions. Grizzop further explains that he needs to go help his friends. He produces the letter from the man who led him to the secret entrance, and threatens to kill them all if they don’t send him to Rome.
The old woman gives Grizzop three gold, and Grizzop offers to give them 500 gold if they get him to Rome now. They’re scared and confused, and don’t know how to fulfill his request. Frustrated, Grizzop asks if there’s any better Harlequins that he can talk to, because these guys are clearly amateurs, which offends them. Grizzop goads them to “prove” that they’re actually competent.
Back to Rome, where Azu is swinging her ax in the empty air. Hamid shouts for Ed into the portal, which Sasha hears, so she runs into the atrium. There’s no response from Ed. At his request, Sasha ties a rope around Hamid, which Azu holds as Hamid gently steps into the portal. Azu and Sasha watch him walk in and disappear in the same way as Ed; as soon as he disappears, Azu feels the rope go from taut to slack. Azu pulls on the rope, returning Hamid just as he felt he was about to make it to the gate. Hamid, thinking Azu was overreacting, tries again: this time, he thinks he sees Ed on the other side, frozen mid-change away from him, before Azu pulls him back. Hamid concludes that Ed is trapped between the two planes of existence, out of space and time. The group, sticking together, search the villa for hostages.
Back in Damascus, the Harlequins are having an increasingly heated argument; Grizzop puts 100 gold on the table, then another 100, then another 100. He takes coins off the table one by one as they argue. Eventually, the old woman tells Grizzop that they can get him to Rome, but needs time (it’s about 2pm at this point). They agree he’ll meet them the following morning at dawn on a street close by, marked on the Harlequins’ map. Grizzop promises that if they don’t show up, he’ll hunt them down individually and get his money back; he fires an arrow with holy fire into the ceiling to make his point, and leaves.
For the rest of the day, Grizzop prepares for Rome, buying 10 potions of Cure Serious Wounds (for 7500 gold, leaving him 2400 gold) as well as 1 holy symbol of Aphrodite, 3 holy symbols of Artemis, and “Schrödinger’s Adventurer’s Kit" (rations, tents, ropes, compasses, etc. for 250 gold.) He then checks in on Wilde and tells him he’s heading off in the morning. At first light the next morning, he goes to the point on the Harlequins’ map.
Back to Rome, where they’re searching for the hostages. Looking around the villa, they realize that it’s not a “big secret base full of death monsters” — it’s empty, old, and manky. However, they notice glints of lights and colour, which they eventually realize are tiny copies of the gate. Sasha notices a couple of bigger ones; they’re denser closer to the main atrium. Over the next couple of hours, she spots a couple with different angles on Ed (still frozen), and a larger one with a glimpse of Ishaq, in a sitting position with a blindfold on (also frozen).
Sasha, Hamid, and Azu go find Einstein and explain the situation to him and show him the gate and the gate shards. Einstein is excited that he can cast normally inside the atrium, and experiments by creating flowers and setting them on fire. Azu tries to Channel Positive Energy; however, when she tries to reach out for Aphrodite, she reaches the same sad presence as before, and instead deals damage to the party. Azu is knocked out, and Einstein shakes her awake, telling her she’s terrible at healing, but Azu and Hamid disagree.
Hamid asks Einstein whether he can cast gate, and Einstein says “technically, yes”, insists he’s competent, and tries to appear like he’s working through the problem. Hamid pulls Sasha and Azu to one side and asks them what they should do. Sasha suggests she go into the gate; Hamid suggests they open a different portal to the same Gate. Einstein says that he could do that, but it would be unsafe. Sasha suggests they teleport to Damascus and pick up Grizzop. Einstein says they need to figure out where the portal is, and asks if they have a planar specialist with them (they don’t). Sasha is bored and goes to look for a squizzard with Azu.
Back to Grizzop, who’s arrived at the designated meeting point. He sees someone in a big white hat and a coat; it’s the boy from the Damascus Harlequins, giving him weird hand signals. They give him a piece of paper that reads, in terribly-spelled, badly written English: “Eat this after reading. You’ll find a woman in a red coat. Ask her what time it is. She’ll tell you more.” Grizzop sighs and the kid salutes poorly, scampering off. Grizzop spots the burly bar woman in a red coat in a nearby alley, ready to walk past. Grizzop asks her for the time repeatedly, jumping off and hanging from her collar. She hands him a piece of paper that reads: “Eat after reading. A fountain’s a lovely place for a walk. Buy some food. I’m sure you’ll find someone to share it with.” Grizzop shoves the paper into her mouth. He finds a fountain 200 meters away and orders a wrap at a food stall. He walks around the fountain in a circle, holding the wrap up, wishing out loud that someone would share his food. After two minutes, someone disguised as a beggar comes up to him, asking for alms; there’s a note in their bowl. Grizzop takes the note and leaves the wrap. The paper reads: “Eat this note after reading. Sometimes, friends will bring you back to their homes for a good warm meal.” The “beggar” eats the wrap and brings them back to the pub, glancing around before going through the trap door. Grizzop, impatient, grabs the person and riffles through their stuff, which includes some unfinished English homework.
As they approach the door to the underground pub, Grizzop hears a cultured woman’s voice speaking English on the other side of the door, saying “I swear, if you do anything else of this level of incompetence, I might actually arrange for all of you to be disappeared”. Grizzop kicks down the door and sees an incredibly beautiful, well-dressed woman. They have one perfect shared moment of disdain for the Damascus Harlequins.
- "Look, I don’t know what kind of amateur operation you’re running here, but I assume, 'cause I was told somebody that can get me to Rome is beneath this pub, that you’re probably sitting on top of a proper Harlequin base and you’re maybe, like, the first test? You know like if you go into a dungeon and you find, like, a skeleton? You’re the skeleton and I want to get to the actual monsters."
- ―Grizzop encounters the Harlequin sect in Damascus.
- "A lot of things might kill me, Azu. Including boredom."
- ―Sasha Racket
- "You know how I said a while ago you tried to reach out for your god and there was no one there and then just for that moment there was but it wasn’t who you were reaching for? Oh yeah, they're very much like, “hello”. There’s no speech to you or anything, but let’s put it this way… you reach out for a little bit of healing, and what you get is a lot of hurting... If you imagine channeling Positive Energy as opening a door to a good place and letting some good things out, you open the door, oh it’s a bad place, something kicks the door and it hurts."
- Einstein: "You’re terrible at healing."
- Azu: "No, I’m not!"
- Einstein: "No, you really really are. Really terrible."
- Azu: "It’s this place, it’s...messing with..."
- Hamid: "It’s definitely the place, yup."
- Einstein: "Okay."
- Azu: "Thank you."
- Einstein: "A bad workman blames his eldritch horrors."
- Azu: "Yes, because eldritch horrors are the worst."
- Einstein: "They are, they’re terrible."
- ―Azu's healing instead deals damage to the party.
- "I mean, I could go into the gate, like, it looks frozen but what I bet it is, I once dealt with this trap, right, where it just slowed you down, super super slow, and so, like, my mate, Six Knives Jimmy, like, he went in, we thought he was dead, right, but no, it just, like, he turned up, like several years later. We’d taken his knives by then though. So we just called him Weirdly Young Jimmy."
- ―Sasha shares a story from her childhood.
Dice rolls and Mechanics
- Grizzop makes a Perception check of 10 and sees recent footsteps in the tunnel.
- Grizzop makes a Diplomacy check of 16 to convince the Harlequin group to take him to Rome.
- Grizzop makes a Knowledge (religion) check of 13 in the market to know whether he should buy holy symbols
- The party make Perception checks to search the villa for the hostages: 25 (Sasha), 20 (Hamid), 18 (Azu)
- Azu channels positive energy, deals everyone 8 damage and is knocked out
- Grizzop makes a Perception check and rolls a natural 20 to see a woman in a red coat in a nearby alley
Combat continued from previous episode, ongoing effects:
- Hamid: +4 AC from mage armor.
Initiative: Hamid (21), Squizzard 2, Sasha, Azu (7), Squizzard
- Azu: Charges the nearest figure and hits with an attack roll of 26, dealing 18 damage.
- Squizzard 1: The creature reaches towards her and touches her breastplate. Azu takes an attack of opportunity on the creature and hits with an attack roll of 20, dealing 11 damage. The creature is badly hurt but succeeds on a concentration check and deals 9 necrotic damage to Azu.
- Hamid: Moves from the entrance and follows Azu to the corridor. He asks Azu where Ed went and she says he went into the wibbly-wobbly. Hamid studies the wibbly-wobbly with a Knowledge arcana of 30 and guesses that it is a gate spell that's broken in a strange way.
- Squizzard 2: The one furthest from Azu steps forward to behind the other figure and touches them. Azu sees the creature that was touching her turn, then there is a bright flash of light and a peal of thunder right in front of her and both creatures are gone.
- Sasha: Heads down from the roof to the 4th floor. She makes a Perception check of 24 and hears rushed movement from the floor below. She makes a Stealth check to drop through a hole in the floor and rolls a natural 1. As she is jumping, she hears an inhuman cry and thunder from underneath, but the corridor seems empty.