Cicero has dragged Sasha and Grizzop out of the temple of Mars; Sasha offers to give him a piggyback, but he declines, and starts hobbling along quickly to the center of the city. Cicero is trying to mime to them, but it’s hard to make out what he’s trying to say. He’s trying to sneak as well, but he isn’t as good. They spot a large contingent of cult of Mars members working their way back up toward the center of the city. This is a couple hundred people, easily. They also see that the smaller squads include temple of Pluto people, but they seem to be distinct from the Mars lot.
Sasha notices that the temple of Pluto members are dressed very posh-y, but Grizzop realizes as though all of them seem to be clerics - everyone is in soft robes. They do seem to have patterned facial tattoos. It seems to be magic based, most likely for divine support, and a few of them aren’t carrying holy symbols, which seems to be weird. They follow along, getting closer to the center of the city, and then Cicero grabs the two of them and takes a hard right.
He gestures at what is seemingly a random building, and then back to Sasha. There’s a trap on the front door; it’s incredibly trivial to break, and Sasha realizes how easy it would be to be a thief in Rome. She pulls the door open, and lowers the flask of acid to the floor. Cicero is trying to push past Sasha to get inside, and she lets him as he begins checking around. He’s going through a shop of some kind - there’s a number of small perfume amphorae, about the size of a fist. This place is completely full of them, end to end, with some shelves in the middle as well. There’s some inscriptions under the flasks as well, in Latin. Neither Grizzop nor Sasha can identify them, so Sasha just takes some.
Cicero, for his part, is rifling through a few, and tosses a bunch to the ground as he searches. Colorful liquids spread out from them as they break, with some making whistling noises as they sail toward the ground. Cicero seems completely unconcerned. Grizzop realizes that they’re probably potions, and he starts looking around for healing potions. Cicero reaches up top and grabs some, looking at it; he chucks one at the both of them, and then necks one for himself. He immediately starts speaking in English, and Sasha and Grizzop both neck the potions as well so that Cicero can understand them.
Sasha asks what’s going on. Cicero explains that they’re in a bit of a situation, and Sasha says that they’re from another timeline, and that they got lost while fighting a god. Cicero goes quiet, and then Grizzop pulls out his composite bow, using that to explain that they’re from the future. Cicero just seems to take it in stride, and continues explaining. Apparently, Vindex and Galba, two commanders, have gotten their forces outside, and a fog will be going up soon. The dome is already gone, and Cicero is saying that they don’t want the two of them setting off their dragons anytime soon, which is what he’s trying to stop. Sasha says she’s down with stopping a dragon. Cicero asks what their names are again, and Sasha says that “Whosasking” is fine, while Grizzop corrects Cicero’s pronunciation of his name. Cicero continues, saying that they don’t have a lot of time because the dragons are going to be released soon. He says that you can’t just keep dropping dragons in the middle of any situation, because one day it’s going to backfire.
Sasha asks if they can backtrack for a moment, and Cicero asks her to walk and talk as they head out. She asks if Rome owns a lot of dragons, and Cicero says that ‘own’ is a strong term. Grizzop asks how many there are, and Cicero replies that there are six - which is how many Meritocrats there are. He asks about their names, and Cicero says that they don’t have any, but also that he hasn’t met them, so he really can’t say. Sasha asks if he can be a little bit quieter since they’re trying to stealth. Grizzop asks who they’re fighting, and Cicero says, again, that it’s Vindex and Galba.
Grizzop thought that those two were on the Roman side, but Cicero explains that they’re not; Vindex is leading a rebellion, and has gotten Galba on his side, which has made it a bigger problem. Grizzop asks why they’re rebelling, and Cicero says that they don’t like Rome being in charge, maybe because they have issues with the taxes. Grizzop asks if any of the cults are evil, but Cicero says he doesn’t really know what Grizzop means. Sasha cuts in, mentioning that Grizzop is really into the good and evil thing, and Cicero sounds excited. He looks a bit closer at Grizzop and asks if he’s with Diana; Grizzop responds yes, but clarifies that it’s a different version of her.
They head toward the city and Cicero explains that things aren’t that black and white, to which Sasha agrees. She says that Grizzop wants to work out who’s good and bad, and Cicero says that he knows who Grizzop can attack; he explains that he wants to let the dragons out so that they aren’t only going to be trotted out anytime there’s a disaster. Sasha thinks it’s a bad idea, but Cicero doesn’t listen to her. He says that she doesn’t understand the context, and Sasha says that she thinks she knows better than he does, and mentions that the dragons are going to take over.
Grizzop jumps in, saying that they’re from the future, which Cicero seems to struggle with, and then Grizzop explains that Rome is a wasteland, and that the six dragons rule the world. Cicero says that he doesn’t want them to release a bunch of dragons on Rome, and Grizzop asks how confident he is with his plan. Cicero says that there’s no one else doing anything about it, and that if no one else does something, they’re just going to release the dragons. He says that people have continuously been trying to silence him, but that no one’s listening. Sasha asks if he wants to kill the dragons or let them go; he says that if he could, he would kill them, but that he just doesn’t want them released.
Grizzop says that dragons are really intelligent, and that they could just go and talk to them, maybe Apophis. Sasha seems much more hesitant, saying that they can’t be sure that the dragons haven’t been lying to them the entire time, especially because Rome doesn’t seem to be evil. Grizzop says not yet, and Sasha keeps getting frustrated with him.
As they talk, they keep walking, and get back to the main square. There’s a heavy Mars presence around, and no normal guards around. They’re very on guard, and it will be difficult to sneak past them. Cicero gestures for them to hide behind some crates, and explains that he’s bribed one of the guards to let them in through the sewers. He starts heading down a side alley and points at a door with a lock on it. Sasha checks it for traps, finds none, and then opens it, finding a narrow, sketchy set of stone stairs that leads steeply down. There’s a nasty smell leading up from it. Cicero leads, heading down, and then Grizzop follows, with Sasha making up the rear. It’s so narrow, Cicero and Sasha are going to be walking sideways. Grizzop pins his ears back with his earrings. Cicero starts wading through, monologuing about how he isn’t crazy.
The party continues making their way through the sewers, and makes it to the other end to find another narrow set of stairs up. Cicero starts climbing up, and gets to the top, gesturing for them to be quiet. He opens the door and pokes his head through to have a look, before turning back and announcing that everything’s good. Grizzop shushes him. They step out into a corridor. It appears to be ominous; there are a lot of burning braziers and torches on the wall. There’s a mosaic on the floor that doesn’t seem to be depicting everything. It slopes down to the left and up to the right from the door they came in through. Grizzop asks where the dragons are, and Cicero decides to go down to the left. He mentions that they’ll be encountering the cult of Jupiter, and that they’re relatively fanatical. Grizzop (on a nat 1) remembers that Jupiter - Zeus - is the god of fire and explosions; basically anything that results in death, Zeus has covered. He also has a lot of sex.
Cicero explains that they aren’t going to like them having conversations with the dragons, and Sasha mentions that maybe she should just go ahead and deal with them first. Cicero asks if she even knows where she’s going, and she asks if he does. Cicero says down, repeating himself. They start heading down, and then they reach an intersection with two paths that lead down; he picks one at random. As they head down the slope, they hear the sound of voices leading up. There are a lot of alcoves in the corridors, so they can sneak ahead. They hear the distinct sound of a conversation, and Cicero says something loudly; both of them tell him to shush.
He asks for Sasha and Grizzop to do their thing. They head off, and Grizzop leans in toward Sasha, whispering that they can sneak past the guard and chat with the dragons without Cicero. Sasha asks what they’ll do if the Meritocrats have been evil the whole time, and Grizzop says that they’re not. Sasha specifies that they’re not evil according to his rules, and Grizzop says that it’s a fundamental truth, but Sasha pushes back, asking how the different gods can have different rules. Grizzop explains that detecting evil specifically is a fundamental truth, but Sasha doesn’t seem to buy it. They’re interrupted by Cicero asking how things are going, and both of them wince when he’s loud again. Sasha tells him to shut up, and then continues, but Grizzop says that it isn’t the time for a philosophical conversation, and Sasha responds that it is because Grizzop keeps trying to kill people.
There’s a massive crash as the brazier that Cicero was standing next to tips over. He gives them a gesture, runs farther down the corridor, and hides. It’s clear that the guards have heard it. The two of them hide, still whisper-arguing. Sasha says that just because they aren’t evil doesn’t mean that they won’t try and kill people thinking that it’s in their best interest. Grizzop explains that he just wants to talk to them, but Sasha says that the Meritocrats might just kill them outright.
The Jupiter guards start moving up. They’re very pompous; they have big cloaks and helms, very ostentatious, and seem to be carrying javelins (pilums, to be specific) with big tower shields. They head up the corridor, one moving further ahead than the second. Grizzop casts detect evil, and doesn’t detect anything. The aura is actually farther on the good side. They notice something dodgy about the alcove, but there’s another cry further up the passage. The one closer lowers their tower shield, looking up the corridor, and a copper blade plunges into their neck. A cult of Mars soldier barrels through the person, murdering them. Grizzop checks their aura; they’re clearly evil. There’s clearly the sound of more people up the passageway moving about. Grizzop leans closer to Sasha and whispers that that one’s evil, explaining that gods can be evil, but Sasha is still struggling with it. She says that if they do the wrong thing, they might trigger the fall of Rome, but Grizzop says that they have no idea what the wrong thing is, so they should get rid of the evil people.
A piece of pottery hits the back of Grizzop’s head and he whirls around, drawing an arrow. He sees Cicero pointing his head around the alcove, asking if things are alright, and Grizzop turns to Sasha to ask what they should do. She decides to follow the cult of Mars lot, and they bring Cicero with them because he’ll just get murdered if they leave him here. He starts to talk, but Sasha just grabs the cloak of stealth and wraps it around him, stuffing some of the fabric into his mouth as he tries to talk again. Sasha explains that the cloak is going to save his life, and threatens him, saying that if he doesn’t shut up, she’ll shut him up. They explain to Cicero that the Mars cult is here, killing the Jupiter cult members, and he whisper-shouts that this is what he was talking about - that Mars is here making a play for the main power system of Rome. Sasha explains that they’re going to follow the cult of Mars down. Grizzop turns to Sasha, saying that the cult is actually evil, and that they’re going to see what the cult wants to do and then do the opposite.
They head down the corridor, and there are the sounds of battle coming from up ahead. The corridor appears to slope downwards, but they can’t see into the next room. The battle doesn’t take long, and mostly sounds like people being absolutely destroyed. Sasha rolls a bomb down the slope and into the room, aiming for the center. There’s a large bang as the bomb goes off, and then they hear people yelling that Pluto is here and to get them. Sasha tells everyone to run. Based on the combat, it’s clear that the people dressed in the cult of Mars regalia are not actually paladins.
- Alex: "It appears to be very, what's the word? Ominous, that's the word. Lots of burning braziers on the wall and torches and so on."
- Ben: "Is it dungeonesque?"
- Alex: "Yes, but not - "
- Ben: "Are we finding some dragons? This is the wrong system!"
- ―Grizzop and Sasha head through the sewers and tunnels.
- Sasha: "How is it that all the different gods have different rules then, Grizzop? How is it that like, you've all got the things that are fundamental truths and they're all different?"
- Grizzop: "The good and evil thing is a fundamental truth of the universe!"
- ―Sasha and Grizzop discuss morality.
- Alex: "Describe it."
- Ben: "I shoot them in the chest. And they fall over because an arrow has pierced their heart."
- Alex: "This works. They die. They die supes easy."
- ―Grizzop attacks the soldiers in the corridor.
- Lydia: "I'm on 17, mate!"
- Ben: "That's very bad!"
- Lydia: "...Don't die, Grizzop."
- Ben: "Well I might, so there."
- ―Sasha's on low HP.
Dice rolls and Mechanics
- Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 24, Sasha gets a 30
- Sasha makes a Knowledge (local) check: 17
- Grizzop makes a Knowledge (religion) check: 19
- Sasha rolls a Perception check to check for traps: 33
- Sasha rolls a Disable Device on the trap: 27
- Grizzop makes a Spellcraft check: 17
- Grizzop makes a Perception check: 23
- Sasha rolls a Perception check to check for traps: 21
- Grizzop makes a Knowledge (religion) check: nat 1
- Grizzop, Sasha, and Cicero make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 23, Sasha gets a 27, Cicero gets 17
- Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 16, Sasha gets a 27
- Grizzop and Sasha make Stealth checks: Grizzop gets 24, Sasha gets a 16
Initiative: Sasha (20), Soldier 1, Soldier 2, Grizzop (12), Soldier 3, Cicero (nat 1)
- Sasha: Rolls a bomb down the corridor and makes an attack roll of 21.
- Grizzop: Activates his divine bond and grants his bow the speed and holy properties. This lets him make one additional attack when taking a full-attack action and he does an extra 2d6 damage against evil creatures
- Sasha: Ducks into an alcove and readies her action to throw a bomb.
- Soldier 1: Comes running up and Sasha's readied action goes off. Sasha rolls a 14 on the attack and the soldier brushes it away with his shield. They move up the corridor and charge at Cicero.
- Soldier 2: A second soldier charges at Grizzop.
- Grizzop: Takes a five foot step back and takes four shots at the soldiers. The first attack hits on a 32, dealing 12 damage. Soldier 2 dies as he shoots them in the chest. He turns toward the first soldier and his other attacks miss on a 16, a 17, and a 16, respectively. All three hit the shield.
- Soldier 3: Another soldier runs up the corridor to join the first two and charges toward Grizzop.
- Cicero: Skips his turn.
- Sasha: Flips through the square of the soldier attacking Cicero. She gets a nat 1 on the Acrobatics roll, and is blocked by the shield. The soldier attempts to attack her, and misses on a 13.
- Soldier 1: Attacks Cicero, and misses.
- Grizzop: Takes a 5-foot step and takes another full-attack action. He rolls a 19 on the first and hits, dealing 6 damage. He rolls a 19 on the second and hits, dealing 9 damage. The soldier drops to the floor and dies. He turns toward the final soldier and attacks, hitting on a 13, and deals 14 damage. This soldier dies as well.
- Cicero: Charges into the room where all the fighting was happening.