The Record of the North

Reyen Afire
6 Hekatombion, 2242

The night of 6 Hekatombion found Amata, Kinaa, Asha, Collain, and Harald lodged at the sign of the Pig and Whistle when the peace was disturbed by the scent of smoke and the glow of flames. The travelers did not respond until it became clear that both the disturbance and the fires were approaching the inn, along with the sound of clashing blades. Loath to let the Pig and Whistle burn down over their heads, the several travelers armed themselves and made their way out of the inn. In the street, they found a melee quickly turning into a slaughter as a band of torch-wielding tieflings with maces harried a pair of city guards.

Narayan and Vikram were woken by this same disturbance in homes nearby. Vikram, after seeing to the safety of his wife and child, went to investigate the source of the fire. Narayan did the same, with greater ease for not having a wife or child.

Those emerging from the inn came to the aid of the city guard, engaging the tieflings and dispatching them with relative ease, despite being dazed by the arsonists’ first strikes. Narayan and Vikram approached the conflict from the west, and Narayan was struck down by the spells of the wizard who led the tieflings. After the travelers cut down the last of the tieflings, Narayan was revived by the harsh ministrations of Amata. The surviving guardsman, Captain Orable, was interrogated by others of the party. Orable, though taken aback by the travelers’ alien aspects, expressed gratitude for the rescue and answered questions readily enough. He only knew that the disturbance had begun at the Archives in the Old City, and that bands of tieflings seemed to be setting fires all over Reyen. Though wounded, he intended to take the Long Stair into the Old City to do his duty in quelling the disturbance, and seemed eager to accept Harald’s offer of assistance. Amata was less willing to risk herself without the promise of some compensation.

In the end, all those assembled followed Orable to the Long Stair after a few minutes’ rest, during which Vikram returned to the ruin of his home to salvage what he could of his research. At the top of the stair, the entrance to the Old City had been blocked with barricades manned by more guardsmen. The guards were decidedly suspicious of the decidedly non-human group, and allowed only Orable to pass. After an appeal to reason from Vikram and harsh words from Orable, the commander at the barricade allowed “the scholar and his guards” to enter the Old City. Amata and Kinaa were sufficiently displeased with the watch commander’s attitude that they were ready to wash their hands of the whole affair, but continued at Orable’s behest.

The group was brought to the Archives, which was already burning. More tieflings had entered the archives, barred the doors from within, and set fire to the building. The guards present were trying ineffectually to batter down the doors. Narayan ordered the guards aside and attempted to burn through the doors with arcane fire, achieving partial success. The door was damaged enough that the Narayan, Vikram, and Asha were able to travel into the building with their fey abilities. While the eladrin were overcoming the hazards of choking smoke and collapsing shelves, Collain, Amata, and Kinaa climbed a nearby building to jump onto a balcony that was not yet aflame. Harald stayed outside, organizing the guards to put out the flames, batter down the weakened doors, and fight the fires in the archive proper.

The adventurers inside the Archives managed to regroup after Collain picked a lock and disarmed a trap on a door. They soon encountered a tiefling wielding two scimitars, whom they pursued up some stairs. There, they found two more tieflings with scimitars and an ominous figure with burning eyes standing over the remains of four archivists and one more archivist who had not yet been reduced to remains. While the adventurers were busied with the scimitar-wielders, Harald arrived, having successfully quenched the flames in the lower stories, and the ominous figure attempted to escape through a window by climbing a rope to the ground.

Kinaa launched himself out the window, hoping to dislodge the man from his rope before he could escape, but the man was too agile, and Kinaa simply hurtled forty feet to the ground. Amata moved more cautiously to foil the man by cutting the rope, taking the opportunity to revive Kinaa with shouted commands. This tactic also proved inefficient, as the man managed to leap thirty feet to the ground without apparent injury or difficulty. Kinaa, waiting for him on the ground, was unable to stop the man, who deflected his attacks with some eldritch force. He evaded capture by dissolving into fragments of smoke and shadow that vanished over the city, leaving Kinaa with nothing but the vague and ominous words, “My name is Ashkenu. Remember this.”

After a quick inspection of the archives (during which he managed to filch a few star charts), Vikram found that the tiefling had only stolen a single book, a green tome stored in the upper room. The surviving archivist, Jordas the Blind, revealed that this was the Long Dance Codex. He placed tremendous value on the book, saying that only one existed in Arbellor, and that the archivists had been working on deciphering it, since none knew the language that it was written in. He begged the adventurers to attempt to recover the book with all haste, ordering them to take to the Arborway in pursuit of the man who had stolen it. He offered a prize of a thousand gold for its recovery. Collain seemed eager to win such a reward, and most of the others also seemed favorably inclined. The avaricious Amata, however, pressed the agitated archivist for more. The archivist was understandably displeased but seemed so desperate to dispatch the party with haste that he didn’t care to drive a reasonable bargain. He handed over a writ for seven horses from the livery stable at the sign of the Red Hand.


12th Hekatombian

We were traveling along the Arborway, managing about three leagues each day. The ground leveled as we left the highlands around the city. Dark cypresses loomed along the verges, grave-markers to the forgotten laborers who died hundreds of years before when the ancient road was born. It was chilly and intermittently rainy. We seven had come to know each other slightly better on the road as we pursued the intermittent reports of a man in a dark cloak who rode hard and changed horses often.

At around noon, riding towards Riverpass (at the bridge over the Entrepes) we noticed the smell of smoke—a large fire, several days ago as best Narayan can tell. At the verges of town we met people are sawing wood in the forest and carrying planks into the village. We passed sign to the Soldiers’ Stone, which Narayan, Vikram and Amata recognize as a memorial to Imperial Legionaries and a pilgrimage site for the Holy Confraternity of the Poor Knights of the Dusk Lady—the Dusk Knights.

An old man, seeing us, approached and told us that a man in a black cloak burnt the bridge with “fire that stuck and crawled around” and was impervious to water. Well, shit. The nearest ford was at Soldiers’ Stone, about 2 leagues distant. We set off for it, following a track out of the village and into the Ruttish Wood. By rainy twilight, we left the wood and reached open ground. A town of low, turf-roofed houses huddled in the valley below us; a white obelisk stood in its center, shining among the humble dwellings. None of the chimneys were smoking. The town looked empty. Near the center of town there was a white, domed building, probably a temple to Paela. We would have to pass through the town to reach the ford.

Scouting ahead, Collaín noticed the smell of old blood and rotting corpses. There is also an odd, metallic odor. He pried open the window of a house to find it deserted, with soot-coated walls and humble, everyday articles scattered on the ground. As he entered the town he thought he heard a very faint buzzing sound above the roar of the river and the patter of the rain. The stench of decay, and the bizarre metallic scent, grows stronger. He returns and reports back.

Narayan seemed interested in the buzzing: apparently there are rumors of giant invertebrates in the north. We proceeded cautiously into town, surrounded by the cloying stink of decay and the faint metallic odor. Narayan explored another hut. In this one, the walls were coated in something white and webby and large, lump-like cocoonish things lay on the ground. We opened one of the smaller ones to find a small child, desiccated like the mummies of the ancients. As we deliberated—stay in the town or hurry to the river—a cloaked figure approached. He seemed somehow disoriented, or, at least, he moved in an odd, slightly unnatural way. Under the shadow of his cloak we glimpsed a pale, thin-lipped face. A thin arm beckoned, and we followed through the town. In other ruined houses we see hints of other cocoon-like masses.

Kinaa, Asha and Amata, following the cloaked man, suddenly sank into a pit—the ground was in fact merely a tissue of webbing. The two dragonborn spurred their horses to safety, but Asha was not so lucky. She and her horse tumbled into the pit along with the cloaked stranger. As he abandoned his cloak, his limbs seemed to multiply, and what had been such a convincing face under the dark hood caught the light like the brittle, shiny shell of a beetle. The creature’s “face” was no more than a chitinous plate that vaguely resembled an opera mask. We realized this in a horrible rush as the spider-thing started advancing on Asha.

He – it – shot a jet of black slime at her, hitting her on the cheek. Everyone attacked as one. It oozed a dark ichor that reeked of the strange metallic smell we had noticed earlier. Scenting its fellow’s distress, a second sidled out from behind a house, followed by several more. They move with eerie silence. After a long and complicated battle, we defeated all seven of them. It was growing darker. At Amata’s urging, we decided to skirt the rest of the town and make for the ford. As we passed a small house, we saw the corpse of a web-wrapped man in the doorway. In his desiccated hands rested a runed sword that bore the sigil of the Dusk Knights. Kinaa leaned from his horse and snatched it in a scaly hand.

After another ten minutes of swift but cautious riding, past many more ruined houses and what seemed to be a large barn full of death, we reached the low, rocky shoreline of the river, flowing slowly across the ford. Or, perhaps flowing. The ford was totally obscured by an elaborate, tent-like spiderweb, buzzing softly and grotesquely, studded with small sacks of translucent pulsing slime. The gruesome edifice swayed gently in the breeze.

On the desperate hope that the town wasn’t entirely abandoned, we decided to visit the temple and see if there were friends there. As we turned our backs on the river, a twelve-foot-tall spider burst out of the ground behind us.

The massive arthropod shook itself and gallops towards us, striking us with its limbs and scattering us through the air. As we turn to attack the monster, an arrow from the bell tower of the temple flew toward the beast and landed quivering in the mud at its jointed feet. Narayan spoke some strange words that seemed to slow and disorient the beast. In its confused state, it staggered toward Amata and grabbed her as it collapses, injuring her before she could squirm free. Kinaa circled the sleeping spider, breathing ice on it and then striking hard with his sword. Amata’s vengeful glaive and Collaín’s sword further weakened the creature. Asha finished it off.

We turned toward the temple, this time traveling in a defensible formation. Another giant spider—they moved so silently!—blocked our path. It pushed through us, wounding several with its claws and tossing Kinaa through the air with its mandibles. We rallied to battle the monster. It yielded to our assault, but as it seemed on its last legs, another five spider-men drifted out from the rain. After a taste of our steel, though, they retreated toward the temple. We killed the spider and followed.

When we reached the temple, a man with a long mustache met us in the doorway. He hurried us inside with longbow and quiver. The inside of the temple is dark, with only a single lamp lighted. Even in the dimness, though, the gold leaf on the wall opposite shone splendidly. Our host barricaded the door behind us. It became apparent that the crypt is flooded. A small wooden door in the southeast corner led to the bell tower; there were no other doors except the one we came in by.

Several men, women and children were scattered around the temple, eyeing us suspiciously. All the adults are armed, either with swords or bows. Our host introduces himself as Ugos Aleman, former innkeeper. His wife, teenage son and little twin daughters huddled in a corner. Also present were a young squire ordinary of the Dusk Knights, Squire Esteve, and Herald Mireo, a young woman from distant Cantorhill. She said she had a message to deliver to Reyen.

We knew the ford would be difficult because of the spider nest. To make matters worse, Ugos told us there was at least one big spider left. The nest will also have a Praetor in it – the leader of the group. Apparently they’ve been collecting human-nectar for their queen below the ground. There was a ferry another day’s ride to the north, but we’d lose two more days, and who knew what new terror awaited there.

Our talk with Ugos was rudely interrupted there. The young squire cried out “Thief! That’s my master’s sword!” The dead man Kinaa took it from was the squire’s master, a great knight. Haraldr confirmed that the runes on the hilt read, “In payment of debt to a good man, I, Nokkvi Sturkur, made this.” Kinaa, however, did not return his new sword.

The Herald urged us to make haste. She had a message to deliver from Cantorhill to Reyen. We further considered whether to attack the nest or try to reach the ferry, but eventually decided our best chance was to try and destroy the nest. Ugos once burned such a nest, but that was on a hot summer day. Here, it is cold and raining and the nest hangs over a river. While we wondered if flaming arrows would work, Ugos advised we wash the spider blood off our bodies, since they hunt by scent. (They are, however, stone blind.) Narayan gesticulated and the gore vanished from our clothes and skin. Since we weren’t eager to get all dirty again, we decided to try flaming arrows. Asha was soon climbing the bell tower with Ugo’s longbow and six arrows headed with oily rags. One of them hit its mark. As a flaming hole spread through the nest, several dark forms emerge from it. The web caught quickly. Over the hiss of the flames we heard the distant “plops” of the pustules falling into the river. We gathered the civilians into the middle of the temple as the wind howled and the nest sank into the ford. Eerie silence spread over the village.

Nothing happens for some time. A flash of Narayan’s light showed several spidermen squatting with their hands on the ground. True to Ugos’s words, they paid the light no heed. Narayan and Asha, in the belltower, decided to attack from a distance with magic fire and flaming arrows and injured two of the spider-creatures. As they writhed in pain, another creature approached. It was like a large albino version of the spinnermen, and seemed to be the source of a faint buzzing that, somehow, entered our minds without passing through our ears. It focused its sightless gaze on Asha, who looked increasingly disoriented. Vikram took aim at a spinnerman, but it stepped out of the way as he fired his eldritch blast. The door began to buckle as the invertebrates pressed against it, but Kinaa held it firm. Meanwhile Asha downed one of the three at the door with an arrow from above.

Meanwhile, we heard several others scratching at the windows. Kinaa struck down a second of the door group, but as he did so they crashed through and entered the temple. Amata breathed lightning toward the spinnermen menacing the windows, but missed. She stepped toward the wall and stabbed with her glaive through the shattered glass, wounding one of the creatures between its thorax and its abdomen. Ichor soaked the floor. Collaín stepped forward and threw a knife into a spinnerman perched in a window while Narayan rushed down the stairs. Asha continued showering flaming arrows onto them spider-people.

The white praetor crept closer and Vikram and Kinaa grew dizzy. Kinaa, however, stil landed a blow on it.. Meanwhile the four at the windows burst in. Haraldr, Amata and Collaín hit at them as they passed. Narayan, turning towards the door, coated the ground with ice. Two spinnermen and their praetor slipped and fell, cracking as they hit the ground. Collaín seized the opportunity and stabbed the downed white spider with his short sword. It shuddered and collapsed, lifeless. Even after its death, its victims still seemed a little dazed. With their leader killed, the spider-people moved to slink away. They did not get far. None left the temple.

The Squire and the Herald departed for Reyen. Our party, along with the Aleman family, struck off toward the ford. We heard a sound like the clash of arms to the southeast and felt the ground vibrate beneath us, but nothing more happened as we left the town. We rode across the ford, whose swift water was sullied with the remnants of the foul nest. Once across the river, we turned again towards the Arborway. The Aleman family left us, going south toward the bridge, where they had friends. We continued on our way, hoping the cloaked man hadn’t got too far, and that no more ill would befall us that long, rainy night.

The City of One Thousand Things

Traveling onward along the Arborway from the abandoned village and its dead spinnermen, the intrepid party found Asha missing one morning. They spent some time searching the surrounding marshes but found no sign of the Eladrin. The bogs in turn proved too much for Amaya’s constitution, and she became miserably ill.

Still, the group was able to reach the gates of Ripenso without further incident. The guards at the gate were perhaps effective at regulating traffic flow into the city, but they proved largely unhelpful when questioned about the possible arrival of Ashkenu. When Vikram cajoled, threatened, and offered to bribe them (after their prompting) they were willing to arrange any meetings the group thought would be helpful. Their attitude towards and knowledge of strange tieflings (“Stick ‘em. The less they bleed, the older they are.”) demonstrated how unlikely they were to have kept track of the movements of a single man.

Fortunately, at that moment a young girl—tiefling, to judge by the smell of ozone and brimstone about her—emerged from the Slough, the tent city around Ripenso, and offered her services as a guide about the city. Liaz initially demanded a silver to show them the City of One Thousand Wonders, but Vikram saw through her greed and talked her down to a more reasonably five copper, two of which were paid in advance. She was able to point out the various areas of the city, from the Copper Market to the posh Barrows. More importantly, she was familiar with the shadow city of Ripenso’s underworld, the most likely place to find knowledge of Ashkenu’s travels or any attempt to sell the book he stole.

The man to see would be Black Jaquard, but of course luminaries of the shadow city would not be so easy to meet. Liaz led the party to the disreputable Giant and Lion tavern, where they found one of Jaquard’s lieutenants, the aptly-named Balendin the Fat. The big man demanded 20 silver blooms for arranging a meeting, but again Vikram’s experience proved invaluable. He shamed Balendin into lowering the price to a mere 7 blooms and threatened harsh repercussions if the money should simply vanish. The deal complete and a meeting arranged for the following day, the group followed Liaz to the Rogue and Jackal Inn, apparently one of the better establishments in the City of One Thousand Inns.

On the way to the Rogue and Jackal Inn, Liaz’s continued her stream of description of the city and shared dire rumors of the Arcénne’s return and resumption of the Wailing Throne. The arcane former ruler of the Northmanu once led them in a war against the Floran Empire with aid from the dark powers of the Duat. Defeated, he has become something of a bogeyman in Arbellor. If his return is true, it could spell the final death knell of the remnants of Floresan (along with perhaps much of the civilized population of the north).

The inn dispelled any dire thoughts. The halfling proprietress, Katarin den Nolwen, made the party welcome with offers of food and beds and, critically, baths. She explained business was slow with war and other threats, and was not terribly surprised to hear of the spinnermen that the group had slain. Most of the party took the opportunity to bathe in shifts, with only Narayan eschewing the warm water for his own arcane cleaning. The rest of the group took the chance to soak and talk amonst themselves—particularly Vikram, who stayed in the tub for hours.

Before bed, the party dined and learned from the serving girl Verinne that the odd old man Obert who left during their meal was often given charity by Katarin. Liaz also delivered the news that their meeting with Jaquard would take place at the Silent Dog the following day and that a white tankard would be the signal. The group retired for the evening, with young Collaín managing to entice the other serving girl, Saissa, into his bed.

Narayan was awakened in the night by a scream downstairs followed by ominous silence. He hastily awakened the rest of the party and the crept to the top of the stairs, where they could hear voices speaking Telwani and feel an unnatural chill in the air. Sure enough, when they charged down they found five rime-covered Senion figures with tattered clothes and tattered flesh. Behind them stood a black shimmering shape whose only distinct features were its winding graveclothes and black claws. There had been no warning that Ripenso was the City of One Thousand Horrors (or at least six)!

The band leapt into combat against the creatures, which Narayan identified as shades raised from the Duat. Kinaa charged against the things but found them much less solid than they appeared—though their blades were solid enough. Haraldr stood guard against the stairs and Narayan launched blasts of fire against the shades, setting the inn ablaze. Collaín rushed up the stairs to warn the sleeping Saissa, but two of the Senion things rose through through the ceiling and into the second floor, cutting the half-elf off from his companions. Vikram went back up the stairs and the two battles, above and below, proceeded.

Haraldr kept the Eladrin mage behind him safe but took many wounds doing so. Kinaa, meanwhile, managed to slice her way through the lesser shades to the other creature and, with effort, dispatch it. Without their leader the shades proved less certain, and they eventually succumbed to the spells and swords of the group. At the end of the battle the shades had faded back into the dark realm from which they had been called and the bloodied group found the rest of the inn’s staff dead of cold and claws. Narayan, the only one to escape the battle unscathed, used his arts to quench the fires raging through the inn and the group variously returned to sleep or awaited Liaz.

When the tiefling arrived, Vikram grabbed her and threatened her, but it quickly became obvious that she had no ties to the attack, to Ashkenu, or to the dangerous tiefling elements. The group offered her more payment in silver to handle the watch and the rest of the fallout from the damaged and depopulated inn. The party then set out with her for the Silent Dog, where they immediately received the signal white mug and ascended to the second floor.

After surrendering their weapons to guards, the group met Nemed, a mute Senion, and Black Jaquard himself, a dragonborn who quickly voiced his Blasphemer sentiments. After discussion of Ashkenu, the book, and the search, Jaquard revealed that he had once been a slave in Sargoth and knew Ashkenu there. The elusive tiefling, a priest of the Ebon Flame, was something of a fringe element, either heretic or saint depending on who voiced the opinion. He sought the Blind Whisperer, a poem or prophecy, and perhaps the book was linked to it.

Jaquard offered his help in pursuing Ashkenu for a price well beyond the willingness of the party to pay, but then agreed to a trade of sorts. The city of Ripenso, as the Eladrin knew, was built atop the sunken remains of the ancient Eladrin city of Vimanas. Its prince, Mihira Everbright, supported the Incarnate King Esfandera, but was murdered by his brother Candrodaya Halfface during one of the cyclops’ assaults on the city. Legend holds that Mihira was flung from the Tower of Sorrows where he died, but a “fey gentleman” of Jaquard’s acquaintance believes that Mihira remained where he died. The dragonborn offered his aid in exchange for the retrieval of the dagger the slew the long-dead ruler.

The party agreed, and Jaquard offered the information that the basement of the Riveren’s Guild offers access to the ruins and, most importantly, a (relatively) clear path to the Tower of Sorrows beneath the current king’s palace. This will, of course, require some means of access to the mystic fraternity’s guildhouse, but such things can be arranged—subtly or by force. Afterwards the party can contact Jaquard through Obert, who is, as it turns out, less “touched” than Varinne and Katarin believed.

Through the Rivermen's Guild
21 Hekatombion, 2242

After leaving the Silent Dog, the party immediately headed for the Rivermen’s Guildhall, situated at the border of Weapontake. It became obvious that the exotic, travelworn party was too visible in this more upscale neighborhood, so the group retired to a nearby inn, the Cast Helm, while the less obvious Collain made a more thorough reconnaissance. The Rivermen’s compound was imposing, protected by a high wall and red-liveried guards carrying ceremonial swords. Though the travelers could likely overpower what protection there was, it seemed a stealthier approach was called for. It would not be wise to anger an entire city while trying to attend to the more pressing matter of pursuing Ashkenu.

Collain stayed long enough to observe the changing of the guard at the end of the day, noticing that the ceremonial guards were replaced with plainer men in plainer gear, and that a few dogs were let loose to wander the area between the walls and the guildhall itself. The group favored a quiet way to enter the guildhall that would not leave it immediately obvious that an intrusion had been made into the guildhall. It was decided that the guards would be plied with wine and the dogs with meat, in order to gain access to the guildhall somewhat quietly. Vikram made the attempt to encourage the guards to drink by the simple expedient of pretending to be very drunk, very generous, and very lonely. The deception was enhanced by the fact that he was, in fact, a little drunk. It didn’t take much cajoling to convince the guards to share some of the fortified wine he had with him, and soon the guards were quite merry, and then quite asleep. Collain picked the lock to the smaller sally-port set into the compound’s gate, and the group proceeded into the court of the Rivermen.

Collain pacified the hound that came baying around with some bits of sausage, and the group proceeded to one of the doors to the guildhall, which Collain promptly unlocked. The hound attempted to follow the group into the guildhall, hoping for more meat, and was rewarded with the opportunity to chase more bits of sausage scattered into the courtyard while the party proceeded unmolested.

Inside, the guildhall seemed to consist of a large meeting hall with wings extending off to either side, presumably with smaller rooms for conducting less public business. The meeting room was decorated with tapestries depicting more or less stylized images of the rivermen and their work with the great locks.

Behind one of these tapestries, a hidden door was discovered, leading to a stairway that led, enticingly, downward. At the bottom of this stairwell, the group found the door to a large round chamber. Kinaa entered first, to explore, and quickly discovered that the chamber was trapped. Dozens of tiny poisoned needles flew out from niches set into the walls, bombarding those who had (foolishly) entered the chamber. Throwing themselved to the floor, the party avoided further barrages while Collain disabled the trap. A closer examination of the chamber revealed that the Rivermen’s Guild was paying host to a cult of Vaena, the Floran goddess of travel and merchants. Having revealed their presence by setting off the traps, Collain decided it’d do no harm to steal some of the cult’s more valuable religious paraphernalia.

Meanwhile, much of the group had gathered around a trapdoor leading into a shaft that presumably, led down into the undercity, if Jacquard had provided good information. The group spent a long time discussing how to sound the depth and travel safely down it, and on the wisdom of attempting to leave the way open for them to return by this path. Kinaa, impatient with this, simply began to climb down the wide, slippery shaft without the assistance of rope or light. He reached the bottom safely, a fair distance, at least several dozens of feet below the cult’s chamber, and lit torch to see that he was standing near the top of a vast cavern. The structure he was standing on was a tower that was embedded partly in the wall and ceiling of the cavern.

The faint light of the torch revealed little about the chamber, but for the vast size of it. But the vague shadowy ruins of towers and buildings spread below him on the silt-lined floor of the cavern revealed to him that this was indeed the city they’d been looking for. So, Kinaa signalled to the party above by waving his torch, and the rest of the party followed more carefully. Thus they arrived in the ancient city of Vimanas.

Under Ripenso
21-23 Hekatombion, 2242

Peering out into the darkness of Vimanas, Narayan searched through his memory of the city to try to get his bearings. Eventually, he recognized the Tower of Speaking, actually three towers built into each other. The party decided to descend from their current perch and attempt to make their way toward it. This was easier said than done. The delvers had climbed down onto the balcony of a tall building, which was still sound, but the floor of the room that opened onto the balcony had rotted through, leaving it a sparse collection of sound supports. Kinaa attempted to navigate a way across it, only to crash through to the floor below almost immediately. Fortunately, the lower level was sound. Luckier yet, Kinaa’s fall had cleared enough space for people to make a safer transition, with help from above and below.

Here they discovered a surprisingly fresh Pried corpse. The halfling could not have been dead for more than a matter of days, a sharp contrast with the ancient, mildewed, and rotting city around them. The group speculated that the Rivermen may use the shaft above to dispose of bodies, or that the Pried had found his way here by other means. But the huge gash that had eviscerated him had clearly come from a sword or other blade. It evidenced that the ruins were not completely abandoned or completely safe.

They made their way to the lower parts of the tower with no further incident. There they faced an interesting choice. They could climb down to the level of the street and attempt to make their way through the piles and drifts of silt and brackish water (and likely quicksand), or they could attempt to clamber over the roofs and through the windows of buldings just above the level of the silt, braving the dangers of unsound buildings and the physically taxing feats of climbing and jumping that this would require. Ultimately, it was decided to take the latter course, and the group made slow progress, with Narayan in the lead.

The Dagger Delivered - The Prophecy Revealed - The Chase Continues South toward the Marshes

The party rested at the top of the Tower of Sorrows for a “night” despite their obliviousness to the position of the sun. The rest was welcome after the struggle with the undead but they slept and meditated uneasily in the dim, thick air of the undercity. A brief discussion suggested that they prefered to emerge from the unknown door in the House of Might rather than definitely springing out from a floor board of the Palace. They moved quietly and carefully, keeping their distance from the huge, skeletal cyclops that stood motionless in the garden. They crunched over the fallen skeletons of Eladrin soldiers and through the gates of the House of Might.

Past the empty barracks’ beds, up the spiral staircases to the modern iron hatch in the ceiling of the tower. Kinaa, Amata, Vikram and Collain gathered under the hatch and shoved. With a sudden, sickening creak the hatch exploded open. As the party climbed through the door, they emerged into a dusty, spicy air that filled a small, dark hallway. By the light of Narayan’s witchlight the bodies in the alcoves of the hallway appeared pale and green. It was from them that the spices emanated, and tar too.

Suddenly the door at the far end of the corridor burst open and a woman bearing a holy symbol emerged, backlit by torchlight, to drive them away in the name of Cyprissar. When it became apparent that the intruders were quite alive, the Priestess changed her attitude. Seeing that some Eyrie-born were among the group, she offered an exception to the rules against the presence of the uninitiated in the bowels of the temple. In exchange, she demanded that the Dragonborn swear on their Dragon Gods to locate her brother, Yustan Vinter, who was taken as a slave several years ago, and to convey to her whether he be dead or alive, and the price of his freedom. The party waited in a small hidden closet for a long time as the Priestess explains away the incident to the temple guards, then they were led into the open air in initiate’s robes.

It is night outside, and the party wandered for several hours looking for a familiar street. The air was thin, at least compared to the undercity’s musk, though new smells of dung and human waste confronted them here. At last they found their way to The Cast Helm, pounded on the door for entry, and stumbled into their rooms to collapse, soiling the clean linens.

After a breakfast of grittlecakes, the party divided the coins they had found and ran their errands. A debate took place in which the option of counterfeiting the dagger by replacing it with another was weighed and rejected. They were concerned that handing the dagger over to Jacquard’s client might bring more trouble but could not conclude a better plan, and knew well that they hadn’t the gold to make up for it. Each party member took up the dagger with varying reactions to the sudden sense of their blood relatives’ pumping blood by their ears. Collain lamented the fact that the dagger might be the only way to track down the family that had abandoned him.

Desirous of speaking to the Loyalist Tieflings of the city, the party went down to the Slough to find Liaz and ask her for assistance. Although she had been bruised in her last investigations of the Tieflings, a little extra coin from Kinaa made her eager to take the group to Lord Droette, who had apparently expressed interest in meeting them. Liaz led them through the city and into the marble quarter, explaining that Droette is a friend of King Galaferey, who tolerates Droette’s religious eccentricities, and that Droette lives in “one of the finest palaces in the marble quarter.” Tree shaded avenues and guards bearing the black bear and amaranth of the city accentuate the luxury of the marble district, and Droette’s villa palace lived up to the claim. Communication through the guards and a representative soon leads the party through the gardens and into the northern dining room of the house.

The room is cool, shadowed, with a long table lit from above by the sun in high windows. At the one set place was Lord Droette, a Tiefling in his early 40s with entirely black eyes and long canines. A conversation ensued in which Vikram and Droette discuss Vikram’s astronomical researches, and Droette noted that there are “cells” within his religion that sometimes burst out into violence. One of these, he said, must have been responsible for the violence in Reyen, oppressed as they were by the purity laws. When he said that he was unsure who the party was following, all who heard him thought him to tell the truth. The group then revealed Ashkenu’s name to him, and he seemed not to show recognition, but suggested that he didn’t think his compatriots would be involved with someone from Sargothine. The end of the discussion covered information dealers in the city, and seemed to suggest that Droette was aware that the party had been in contact with Jacquard.

Back at the Cast Helm, the party spoke with Liaz, who noted that a number of men at arms and knights had left the city while the party was underground. The soldiers had gone to assist the Cantor in war. The Drunkard then arrived, to arrange a meeting at sunset at the Tower of Parting. The party scouted the place in the afternoon, a lovely spot with cliffs on three sides, a lovely waterfall and a nice view. Having checked out the location, they returned to the inn and Collain took one last use of the dagger before they headed out to deliver it to its new owner.

As the sun set, Jacquard arrived with an Elven swordsman and an Eladrin woman in a black cloak. The cloak was over military garb. Brief talk about the loveliness of the view and the awfulness of the undercity moved quickly into business. Amata and Jacquard sparred verbally over the hatred between Blasphemers and Dragon worshipers, with Jacquard saying that he finds the rivalry unimportant and useless, dangerous to the Dragonborn because it takes their attention away from real threats. Vikram questioned the woman threateningly about what her use of the dagger would be but receives only a promise that her business was personal and would not threaten the party. When Vikram handed her the dagger she seemed to look west, as though the dagger forced her mind in that direction.

At Amata’s demand, Jacquard began to speak of what he knew. He delivered a Low Fleuresian translation of the prophecy and explained what he had heard from an innkeeper in the south pit. Apparently some Sargothines with tattoos of black eagles (the symbol of the emperor’s bodyguards) had rented a room in his inn for several weeks, leaving on 17 Heckatombian, about a week prior. They were accompanied by an older man, presumably Ashkenu, and a youth, Celid son of Cignar, the best guide for the marhes of the battlewashes. Jacquard predicted that given the prophecy of slepeing legions mentioned in the translation, Ashkenu was probably heading for an old Sargothine Fort named Dab Khazat, eight weeks southeast of Lycon that possesses an extensive mausoleum.

Jacquard also let the party to know that the Emperor of Sargoth is dead and that the Ebon Council has met to select a new emperor, and that the Eagle Scepter mentioned in the prophecy is the personal sigil of the Emperor of Sargoth. Kinaa then asked the Blasphemer about guides in the marshes, and Jacquard named Ives Marshstrider as one of the best.

After Amata had finished staring down Jacquard and demanding that he swear upon something he cared about (Paela and Cyprossar, he chose) that he had told the party all that would be of use to them, the party left first at the information dealer’s request. Desiring to know more about the woman’s intention for the dagger, the party waited at the bottom of the steps leading to the tower. When an hour later the three descended, Jacquard was disappointed but resigned to see the group there. Amata let him to know that he had nothing to fear, and Vikram interrogated the woman, learning that she sought her daughter who she had Sained some time ago. Before the party left, Amata demanded her name, and she said it was Ishwara Glowworm, and that her daughter was named Gaia.

Errands the next day, selling antiques and dividing coin, and then a trip into the Slough to find Ives Marshstrider, a hokey fellow with a rural drawl and a spear for stabbing stuff. The party decided to pay him an additional thirty gold pieces for his services in battle, and an hour later they had retrieved their horses and were riding south with Ives and his mule, making quick time toward the marshes.

Two Orc clans, both alike in Dignity
3rd Medegetneon

3rd Medegetneon, one week after leaving Ripenso, the party was pursuing Ashkenu into the Battle Washes, guided by Ives Marshstrider. They left the horses at Three Crossings before entering the jungly swamps, which were thick with low-hanging branches, vines, insects and reptiles and occasionally opened into broad empty savanna-like expanses of marsh. It was slow going under the hazy head of an early summer sun.

Ives led the way to passable ground. At the evening meal, he explained that not far south lay the last town on their way: Veron, a one-time fort. He advised the adventurers to stop in for supplies there, since food and drinkable water were hard to come by in that region. He also warned of the dangers of the swamp, chief among them the major clans of orcs whose territories shifted regularly.

Come sunset, they reached a low hill rising out of the flat wetlands. A town clung to the top – a crumbling bailey with a palisade around it. The rooflines of a few mud buildings were visible above. Collain and Narayan noticed a loose ring of fires around the hill-town with a few scattered humanoid forms. Ives hoped they were peat-cutters, but said it was unusual for the town to have such activity outside the gates. Perhaps, he speculated, they were orcs.

As they considered the situation, a party left the palisade and made for them. There were some 12 of them and they carried a red banner. As they passed a fire to our left, another squad with a yellow banner joined them and moved our way. They were clearly well-armed, but the party still couldn’t tell whether they were orcs or humans. Narayan and Vikram suspected the former, but whoever was approaching did not appear to be hostile yet. And besides, Ives doubted they could be outrun.

A fat and balding human accompanied the group of orcs from the city; both groups wore leather armor. The red group (from the city) wore cloaks over their black armor and had a 4-horned skull on their banner; the other group went uncloaked and had a 6-armed, wolf-headed figure on their banner. The adventurers arranged themselves in a rough semi-circle with the spellcasters toward the back and the scaly things in the front. As they watched, the orc groups met and spoke briefly in Ugrui. Keeping what appeared an uneasy peace, they approached. Their human companion was dressed in battered, once-fine attire. He spoke: “In the name of the Montagar clan, true rulers of Veron, I bid you welcome and ask that if you come in peace you enter within these walls to help the Montagar in their struggle against the wicked Kapul.” A yellow-banner orc immediately responded by informing us that if the party joined them against the Montagar, a rich reward awaited.

Kinaa asked politely about food and water. A Montagar orc offered to equip them well from the city and provide hospitality. The orcs had not seen the party’s quarry, having conquered Veron only a few days earlier. The Kapul sneered as they retreated back to their fires.

Romagog Mantagar, son of Grodoc, offered his welcome. His yellow, goat-like eyes, shining above his white tusks, considered the adventurers calmly. He seemed young. He introduced the party to Mergegoth, a small, sallow orc whose long tusks were tipped in black. Both carried axes and wore crimson cloaks over their armor. Romagog explained that Grodoc, his father, would decide whether the party was still considered to come in peace if they did not help against the Kapul.

He led them past the fires of the Kapul, through the gate in the wooden palisade into Veron. It was not thrilling. A crumbling stone bailey with a large windmill on top dominated the town center. The wattle and daub houses were ancient and skewed, with wooden stairs leading to the 2nd or 3rd floor entrances. The streets were a slurry of mud and sewage. A large building on the left displayed a sign of a bear holding a tankard, and an orc raised a toast from the stairs. Nearby a pen, once for livestock, held the human womenfolk of Veron. Beyond the bailey stood another pen full of children. Lamentations in Low Fleurisian floated by.

Romagog led the party into a large, drafty hall of the bailey—an old threshing room, as it turned out. The windmill creaked above: it had not been a true fort in some time. In the center, candles gleamed over a huge wooden table. A thin-faced, well-armed orc, apparently the chieftain, was listening to a lavishly-dressed orc in a hooded garment.

Kinaa spoke: “You are Grodoc?”

The orc raised a hand and his interlocutor fell silent. He greeted the guests and introduced the shaman. Grodoc apologized for the state of his hall—until recently, he explained, his people had been nomads.

Two thin orcs, male and female, entered. Their skin was lined and their hair white and wiry. They had been slaves until recently—but there would be new slaves now. They carried platters of marshpig with a side of tubers. Grodoc ate first; Romagog and Mergegoth settled by the doors.

Grodoc told the adventurers that he had seen how the humans lived in the north. His clan’s numbers had been declining, down to a mere 50 raiders. The old lifestyle—nomadic hunting and raiding—was inadequate now. A human town presented a great opportunity for improvement. The humans would be freed from confinement once they learned to obey the orcs’ laws. However, the Kapul’s summer hunting grounds lay nearby. They had come to raid the Montagar, and were now camped out waiting. The newcomers, well-armed mercenaries, represented another opportunity. Grodoc had a business proposition: help with a plan to destroy the Kapul. In exchange, all the supplies they wanted.

The Montagar and the Kapul had been warring for generations. The Kapul had always been the more numerous clan, but not, Grodoc insisted, the mightier. However, in Grodoc’s youth, a disease struck his clan. Without the help of their god they were vulnerable to the Kapul, who decreased the Montagar’s numbers and augmented their own until they dominated the choice hunting and raiding grounds. He believed he could make Veron an unassailable settlement even against the Kapul. A raid against the Kapul would throw the enemy into disarray. Their chieftain, shaman, and fiercest warriors were all encamped outside the city, but the bulk of the clan remained scattered to the south. The adventurers agreed to think on it overnight.

Two orcs led the Eladrin, Dragonborn, Haraldr and Collaín to the Bear & Tankard, unceremoniously evicting the orcish occupants. The adventurers entered the taproom to find a cask of dripping ale from the bar. A staircase at the back leds up to the 3rd floor, a single large room of meager pallets. It was smelly. Options: fight the Kapul beside the Montagar, flee, try to engineer a battle without getting involved, seek peaceful resolution? If they could escape they would still be in considerable danger from both sides, and the two orc clans seemed well-matched.

As they talked, footsteps echoed on the stairway to the door. Collaín investigated stealthily. Romagog Montagar, followed by the shaman Crogguk, entered. Romagog greeted the half-elf. He and Crogguk wish to speak with the adventurers away from Grodoc. The plan, he explained, was not quite as he had described it to his father the chief.

Crogguk elaborated: “Our god Mornath Gac has revealed … a way to be. If I defeat the shaman and his apprentices in battle, ours will be shown to be the true faith.”

Romagog also wishes to seize a mate from the Kapul (for orcs it was customary to steal maidens, like his admired Julac, in raids). Meanwhile the adventuring party was to assist the shaman by killing the other shaman’s apprentices. Two clans with the same god would not fight, so if Crogguk turned the Kapul to the worship of Mornath Gac, the dispute would be settled.

Again, the party considered their options. Perhaps if they defeated both gods by killing both shamans it would solve matters? Maybe even turn them to the worship of Paela? Perhaps they could defeat the orcs with the help of the prisoned townspeople. Perhaps the raid plan would work. They decided to find out where the men were, and Collaín set off to investigate the women’s pen. However, he slipped on the stairs, and had to invite the guards, who noticed him, in for a beer. The rest of the party joined him for an interspecies drinking party.

One of the two guards spoke Low Fleurisian. He said that they successfully took the city by “killing,” under the auspices of mighty Mornath Gac who slays by night. Crogguk and the chieftain raided the city in a pincer movement by night, surprising the townspeople in their beds. On Grodoc’s insistence, as few as possible were killed. The guard thought the city odd-smelling but looks forward to his 5 human slaves.

The guards drink steadily of both beer and a foul liquor that smells like marsh gas. After a while, Kinaa cautiously walked out. The orc guards did not notice. He walked casually up the road towards the bailey, heard guards, and ambled past the inn in the other direction, wandering aimlessly through the town. He stumbled across the village’s men, tied in a swine-pen. He returns to the inn, where the orcs were drowsily working on their third bottle of swamp liquor. He and Amata found Ives upstairs, praying and none too pleased by the idea of going along with the orcs’ plans. Kinaa reports his find: about 50 men, most young, old, ill or injured. The guards drank themselves into a stupor and were removed by their annoyed fellows.

The guide wanted the adventurers to help the humans. If the shaman’s plan worked and the clans merged, the humans would be enslaved. They leaned towards the idea of following the shaman’s plan and then killing the remaining shaman in the name of Paela the Dusk Lady, whom most of the humans worshipped. Finally, they slept uneasily on the matter.

A heavy knock awoke them. Romagog was outside, sporting a fresh wound. He had been to see his chosen mate Julac, but Mergegoth paid a high price. The party announced their assent to both Grodoc’s and to the shaman’s plan, and set off: early morning, Romagog said, was the best time for raiding.

First, the party went to see the chief in the bailey first. Kinaa proposed that he fight at their side, if he wished us to make this raid. He agreed and followed them to the gate, as did Romagog and his warriors. As far as the adventurers could tell, the plan was to kill the apprentices, let the shamans fight, kill the remaining shaman, and then kill one of the chiefs.

The combined forces of the orcs, Eladrin, Dragonborn and sundry crept down the hill from the city gates with the Montagar forces, which were arrayed in no particular order. Romagog said that the shaman’s tent was to the left, while the chieftain’s tent and Julac are to the right.

The adventurers followed Crogguk to the left, creeping through the tall grass toward a dying campfire. An orc with a lined, pockmarked face squats over a fire with three fellows. All wore leather armor but only the old orc’s is hooded like Crogguk’s; all carried axes. Two other orcs, with axes, stood nearby. Finally, a massive orc with white tattoos on his face was sharpening his axe in the distance: a Dead One. Collaín popped up out of the grass, flung a knife into an orc berserker’s eye, and dropped back down. The orc roared in pain and he and his fellows turned. Narayan murmured some words in the first tongue and the fire seethed up around the orcs. The Dragonborn breathed ice and lightning at the enemies, damaging them severely. Vikram zapped them too with his new Rod of Corruption. Scary . In the midst of the chaos, Crogguk charged forward against his enemy, the shaman Mugang. He shouted an invocation in Urgui and the ground shook. Mugang staggered and shouted back, brandishing his axe. As the party rushed the berserkers, Crogguk made and invocation to his god and the earth rolls. A lengthy battle took place. Late in the combat, three more orcs approached from behind (four of the original eight remained), but were quickly zapped. Both shamans were killed. The Dead One just WOULD NOT DIE. Finally and eventually, the bold adventurers destroyed it.

With the sound of battle raging around them and Montagar warriors pouring out of the city, they took a brief rest.

Framing the Fey

(NB I am missing some details. They have ellipses in their places. Please fill them in.)

With a vague plan to return the book, the party left Dab Khazat and traveled under heavy rain in the morning. They kept to the trees for dry terrain. At length them saw a dim outline of an old Floren statue, a monument for some ancient battle, depicting a legionaire with a hand raised, lights through the rain, near the statue. As they approached, they heard a man calling for help in Low Fleurisian and Farwah.

Amata called out to ask who it was, and the slender form of an Eladrin with a sputtering torch approached, then stopped when Amata asked him to stop. He had been attached by thieves, and his companion injured, he said.

When Narayan spoke, the Eladrin recognized him. It was Som Kar Sunhand, a counsellor from the City of Red Glass. His companion, a bodyguard, was well muscled, compact, with a touch of brown still in his eyes, and he stared glassily out. He was badly wounded, the gash greyish-green. Kinaa smelled and licked the wound, pronouncing it not infected but perhaps poisoned, before Narayan tended to it

There was a tensioned exchange amongst the party about helping the two before Narayan summoned a disk and build a stretcher. They put the bodyguard onto the disk and began marching toward the nearest town, taking a detour from their intended path at Ives’ guidance.

They came to a walled town, where they could see smoke rising from small houses and a larger building with a tower and a bell in the top. The bell clanged as the party marched up the muddy road toward the gate, and they could see someone beating it with a stick. Faces appeared over the pallisade wearing leather hoods, and the group could hear a cart being moved to seal the gate. The boy ringing the bell dropped behind the wall.

At length, a man with a rounded face appeared over the gate and threw back his hood. He had thick stubble, crooked yellow teeth and a missing eye. His name was Cordel the Weaver. He expressed distaste for Fay that take the young and Slavers that take all, but at Vikram and Amata’s insistance, he agreed not to let a man die in the marshes and took responsibility for the group nto himself.

They entered and made the Weaver’s acquaintance. The Eladrin travelers introduced themselves and asked after the town’s healer. They were told that the Father at the church is the closest they have to a healer, and they passed through the town, past a mill and over a stream, past clay houses with thatched rooves. The inhabitants of the town seemed ill kept, tired and sick, but not unusually so.

In the common of the town, there was a blacksmith’s forge where a thin, red-eyed man labors over an anvil and a gawky boy pulls at the bellows. To the left, there was a large wooden structure with a dirt floor and tables and chairs. It’s “The Pig’s Ear”, a drinking establishment. In front, a large, better made structure with double doors. Cordell pushes the doors inward and the group follows. A squint eyed man follows the group.

The center of the chapel houses a clay furnace that kept the inside warm. The floor was made of stone slabs with worn brown rugs that form a path around the outside of the room. Directly across the room were statues of Paella wearing a wedding dress and … wearing a tunic, their hands joined. They looked weathered, as though sometimes kept outside. There was no statue of Cyprossar, but an empty space where there should have been.

There they met a man in a greyish robe, long beard, kneeling before Paella. He got up, bowed to the statue and turned to the group. He had bright blue eyes and wrinkles from laughter. Vachel the Priest examined the wound and asked after its origin, then said he could heal it but that it would take time. The priest then prayed and said the wound would heal.

Amata had a brief spitting contest with a squint-eyed man before he stalked off in fear of her.

Most of the seating of the Pig’s Ear was outside, in what was by now mud. The door was open to let out thick wood smoke from inside. A thick limbed woman with a gap in her teeth and red hair stood in the door, wearing a skirt and an apron. She seemed afraid of the group, even as Collain attempted to smooth things over.

Inside the eatery it was crowded with tables, but few patrons. A man was doing figures in a ledger and a woman sat with a pipe. Collain, Kinaa and Amata had a drink, but Amata left when she discovered the drink was no good. Collain, Kinaa and Ives had a conversation in which Ives explained that he had heard about some war goings on from a villager to the north, and that … must never have gotten the message because they haven’t sent any soldiers.

Kinaa, Collain and Ives went back into the temple, where the two traveling Eladrin still were, with the tending priest, and Narayan and Vikram were there and speaking with Sunhand. Kinaa expressed his desire to speak with Sunhand; Kinaa asked whether Sunhand would die for his Nephew, as his Nephew seemed ready to die for him. Sunhand told him that his nephew swore to protect him, but Kinaa was unsatisfied with the answer. Sunhand told him that he would walk his path even if it were hard. Kinaa drew his sword and asked again, and the Priest angered at him, before Sunhand explained that his life is valuable and that he has been charged with responsibilities more valuable than his own or his nephews’ life.

Then Sunhand explained that he was exiled and fleeing from assassins sent by his lover, who didn’t want him to survive his exile due to personal and political conflict. His nephew woke, and the two Eladrin exchanged formal words in Farwah of greeting and happiness to still be together.

News from the town: The forces of the Arcena and the forces of the Cantor have met in Cantorhill, and reports are mixed in terms of what the Arcena’s army is composed of – undead? Shadows of fear? Pagans? Aintzelle got her nickname, Spread-Legs, from going out to find herbs and getting knocked up by a Tiefling. Her daughter, Elionor Mandrake, is the only Tiefling in town.

Sunhand and his Nephew discussed their plans to reach an unguarded seaport and then to sail for the rest of their journey to …

The group piled into the Weaver’s studio, where he had pushed all the looms up against one wall to make floor space for them. They had an angry conversation about friendship and what the group is and would become before going to sleep.

In the morning, it was discovered that Vachel the Priest has been killed; stabbed, with the bodyguard’s knife. The weaver came to his studio with a small mob, saying that if the party didn’t kill the priest, they should figure out who did and bring them in, otherwise the town will have to hang someone.

The group went out to the common in the mist to find the body of the Priest lying crumpled in the mud. Next to his right hand was a bucket, stuck in the mud; he seemed to be going toward the nearby well. There was a dagger lying in the mud nearby, stained in blood, of Eladrin make. It was the one hanging from Vidhan’s belt before.

Kinaa went into the temple to speak to the two Eladrin. According to Vidhan, the Priest took his dagger when he went out for water, and someone took it from his belt to kill him with it. They suggested that one of the townsfolk did it, taking this moment to frame the Fey and Eyrie-born for the murder.

The Eladrin pointed out that there is no statue of Ciprosar in the temple, and wondered what that might say about the town or the Priest. The group wondered whether the killer might have disliked the Priest for religious reasons.

They went to Aintzelle at the Pig’s Ear to ask her who might not like the Priest. She told them that Edward and a few other people of the town (his followers) didn’t like Cyprossar’s image being in the temple since it was supposed to be out under the stars. Edward lives just outside the town to the North, in a hut.

Aintzelle said also that one person, Salaberge Miller had a child taken by Fey, or said that’s what happened. Eight years ago, that was. Given that the general sense was that Aintzelle was too spineless to lie, the group moved on to the Mill to speak with the Miller or his wife Salaberge. They walked down the hill and hopped the stream, then went in through the door onto the threshing floor. Grain was scattered about on the stone surface and in the center, there was a tree trunk turning slowly. A large man with a mustache was oiling a gear mechanism as they came in, and a conversation with him showed that he was eager to blame the Fey for the murder. He claimed that Edward’s problems with the priest were water under the bridge, but this seemed doubtful too. After asking the Miller to fetch his wife in a half hour or so, the party left to go speak with the smith.

Speaking with the smith revealed that he and his wife were fanatical about Cyprossar, and little more. After blaspheming vocally against the Smith’s chosen god, Amata declared them unhelpful and the group returned to the Miller’s.

Going back to the Miller’s, Amata went upstairs to speak with the wife but instead ended up speaking with the Tiefling servant Eleanor. The girl gave a seemingly improbable story about the night when her mistress’s child was taken by the Fey. Amata brought the girl downstairs so that the whole group could listen to her words and evaluate them, and it became apparent to Narayan that the girl was hiding something.

After some vicious intimidation by the group, the girl claimed first that she had killed the priest, but then spilled the whole, true story. She had lied to her mistress 8 years ago about the Fey taking the baby – in fact, the child had simply died, and she didn’t want responsibility for its death, so she lied, getting her uncle, a performing wizard, to make noise while she disposed of the body of the child. Last night, her mistress, angry at the Fey, went and found the Priest, who had died of his heart troubles, outside. The Miller’s wife took the blade and stabbed the priest several times to frame the Fey.

The group then went to the temple and examined the body. It became obvious that much less blood was spilled than if the wounds were inflicted when he had been alive, and it seemed to Narayan that no magic had been used to end his life. They went to the Reeve and had the Tiefling servant explain all that had happened. Satisfied with the explanation, the Reeve suggested that the party leave as soon as possible. As they all hurried to leave and were ready to party ways with the Eladrin outside the town, Sunhand revealed, startlingly, that it was he who had Sained Collain.

After a brief planning, they decided to travel Northeast, toward …

Dungeons and Dragons and Kidnapping

To Be Uploaded

The Fall of Lycon (part 1)
20th Metagaetnion (Tharsduy)

A few days journey brought the party to the outskirts of Lycon, a city nestled in rich farmland cleared from forests around the City Mother. Here, Yves Marshstrider took his leave of the party, to return to looking after his own interests. As the party turned to approach the city, they discovered that it was impressively fortified, but poorly defended. A huge (though not particularly tall) earthwork ringed the outlying farms around the city, while Lycon proper was sheltered by a stone wall at least 80 feet tall and thirty feet wide. The city grew out from an isle in the middle of the river that held an old Floran fortress, an eminently defensible position. But the earthworks were entirely unmanned, and the walls seemed to be watched only by sleepy old sentries who offered little challenge. The whole of the city had been denuded of its men of fighting age, as Lycon had answered the cal of Cantorhill, and sent their armies north. The City Guard that remained consisted of raw recruits and those too old to march off on another campaign.

Though the city seemed largely undefended and indefensible, the party took the time to establish themselves within the city, selling what was of value and resupplying themselves. They took rooms in the Bear and Goblin, and split off on their various errands. Hilallum and Amata took pains to ensure that the egg was safely watched at all times during this. Vikram, unworried for his own safety, went into the city by himself only to be accosted by two tiefling thugs who insisted that he accompany them immediately to see a Lord Gaer-Cennath. Vikram declined, only to be answered by a blade to the gut. Vikram escaped into a crowded thoroughfare with a display of his eldritch power, and the thugs seemed disinclined to pursue.

Vikram made his way back to the Bear and Goblin, and promptly collapsed into a bed. His restorative rest was momentarily disturbed by an old man who came to their rooms, asking after sellswords to look for his missing grandson. After a brief interview, Kinaa dismissed the old man, saying they had no time for such errands.

At dinnertime, when all had returned to the inn, Vikram was approached by another tiefling, another agent of the Lord Gaer-Cennath, though not one of the thugs from earlier. This agent made a much more diplomatic request for Vikram to attend to the Lord at the sign of the Hanged Prophet. Vikram was invited to bring along any company he liked. The dragonborn were unwilling to leave the egg unattended to accompany Vikram, but Kalyani and Narayan were curious enough to go along.

The sign of the Hanged Prophet turned out, unsurprisingly, to be a nest Loyalist tieflings, complete with chains adorning the walls. Lord Gaer-Cennath informed Vikram that the Oracle of Ripenso had prophesied that Vikram would be the one to discover a way to straighten the Ways Between the Worlds, to bring about another Conjunction. Moreover, the prophesy implied that he would do so soon. The Lord proceeded to demand of Vikram that he stay to receive the support and cooperation of the tieflings in his research. Vikram protested, saying his travels were helpful in his researches, but the Lord insisted, eventually making it clear that this offer was not, in fact, an offer. He threatened to destroy everybody that Vikram loved in an effort to leave him with fewer distractions. At this, an angered and frightened Vikram left the inn with his companions, leaving behind a Lord who seemed convinced that Vikram would reconsider.

Just outside the inn, Vikram told the Narayan and Kalyani that it seemed he had no choice but to accept the Lord’s “proposal” for his own safety and the safety of the group. Narayan startled and frightened Vikram further by wondering aloud whether the Lord’s threat extended to Vikram’s wife and child.

The discussion was interrupted by the smell of burning and the sound of an army on the march, the signs of a rapid and largely unexpected approach of an army. The time the party had taken in Great Strimaya and their encounter with Sunhand had given the Sargothine Army enough time to reach Lycon just behind them. The fall of Lycon had begun.


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