Having acquired clothing and props to disguise themselves and enter the holy city of the immortal Gibron, The Kompanions of Kalador ascended the high road. Thinking that they would need more muscle, Akbar had teleported back to Castle Fuligin and returned with Pompous Maximus. The cadre was now Stilgar the Red Monk and bearer of the Hand of Ossiam the Black, Rexor: a warrior with four arms and beetle wings grafted to his body by the vile wizardry of vivimancy, Pompous Maximus: slayer of goblinkind and keeper of the Rocs of Kaladonia; Akbar: master of necromancy and the Shadow Staff crafted by the Chaos god Ba’Rotha. They were attended by their fearsome henchman, Einar the Reluctant Fisherman.
The city of the great one was sited on a mountainside, shaped by legions of slaves and mighty magic of the demigod Gibron over the centuries of his rule. The high road was a paved ramp leading from terraced level to terraced level. Each terrace held villages and farms irrigated by the canal that issued from the city center, fed by snowmelt high in the mountains. As the road gained altitude the importance and splendor of the residents of the terrace increased. At the level of the plain were the poorest. Though they had food and shelter, they had little else. At the highest point in the city was the great palace of Gibron. It was a majestic ziggurat of power starting from the plains and incorporating the mountain in its design. Many wonders could be seen from miles away. Tall white towers and roofs of precious gold shone in the bright sun. Magical light and faerie fire lit up the city in the night. It was the greatest spectacle any of the Kompanions had ever seen. Even the mighty city of Hablok was drab in comparison.
The roads were crowded with people in long white gowns. The wealthier folk wore gowns of fine cotton. The lesser wore gowns of rough linen or wool. They walked together singing songs, chanting, and burning incense as they went. Huge carts filled with bread and baskets of flowers were drawn along by teams of water buffalo. The wealthy gave charity to beggars and poor who had lined the road. Something big was going on. Not wanting to draw attention to themselves as outsiders, the Kompanions did not inquire further.
In combination with mindblank, invisibility, their disguises and a great deal of caution, the Kompanions managed to enter the city unnoticed. Even then, Stilgar observed high in the sky one of the guardians of the pass flying over. Perhaps it had reported the battle in the mountains to Gibron and they would be found out. There was nothing for it now. They would have to keep going. Up into the city they continued to the tier where the most successful merchants could be found.
They concocted a strategy to buy their way into the palace with their disguises as merchants. The party spent most of the day in tea houses. Akbar playing the part of a wealthy merchant who had been away for some time and wished to establish himself as a supplier to the palace. Eventually, they came across a merchant who appeared prosperous but not one of the fabulously wealthy. He was anxious to speak with Akbar but required discretion in their conversation. The man had a nephew who was responsible for procuring the sustenance of the lower ranking temple priests. The young man had accumulated a gambling debt which was an embarrassment to the family. Though his influence was not that great, if Akbar would be willing to come up with the sum of 1,500 silver, he could arrange to purchase goods from the merchant for the temple.
Supplies were difficult to acquire at the moment because of the Great One’s war and the holy day celebrating the ascension of Gibron to status as a god. Pilgrims were flooding the city bringing offerings and tribute to the Great One. It was one of the few times of the year that he would give his blessings in public in the great square in front of the temple. Akbar agreed to pay the young man’s debts and they negotiated a deal where Akbar would provide a shipment of goods to the temple. Arrangements were made, documents and seals given so that the companions could pass through one of the service gates into the temple grounds.
The Kompanions passed through the service gates into the palace tier of the city. Traveling with Rexor and Stilgar invisible, Einar driving the cart, Akbar walking along dressed as a merchant; the Kompanions took their goods to the temple. Everything was going well. The grand procession by the pilgrims to give the Great One the tribute was forming up in the city below. The wealthy and the important government officials (the descendents of the Great One himself) would be in loge boxes flanking the square. Priests would be on the temple steps and the great one himself would sit on a chair raised above all in the shade of the temple portico.
The plan was for the Kompanions to ambush the Great One as soon as he entered the square but first they had to prepare themselves. Akbar shielded by the cart, Pompous Maximus and Einar; Akbar began casting various enhancement spells such as haste. Stilgar and Rexor remained invisible. Their presence would cause immediate alarm. As Akbar was completing an enchantment, the young priest approached the Kompanions to collect the money promised him for providing the access to the temple. Within the land of the Great One, only those who served the immortal were permitted to possess or use magic. To do so within the holy city itself was an unthinkable heresy. Seeing that the priest was about to call the alarm, Stilgar tackled the young man to the ground and attuned to his heart beat. The lad called out and this drew the attention of a pair of halberd wielding guards.
Stilgar stopped the young man’s heart with his monk abilities, cutting the lad’s cries short. The guards approached and Akbar cast a charm spell. They were beguiled by his magic and convinced to step away for a moment as Akbar animated the corpse of the young priest. Commanding the newly made zombie to walk with them; Akbar, Einar and Pompous, with the escort of the two charmed soldiers stepped off toward the loge seating on the edge of the square. The pilgrims had been allowed in and were processing through the square leaving their offerings in a massive pile before the temple steps. The children of the Great One looked on, soldiers ringed the square, priests stood in a throng before the mighty throne on the porch of the temple. The stage was set and the Kompanions awaited the arrival of Gibron so that they might slay him and free their lands from his threat.