Earthday, Harvester 20, 552 CY (50 AN)
Khuna and Marguerite join Nobody, Resh, and Southie at breakfast in the Wizard’s Tower dining hall. Khuna brings up the prospect of what they are to do next. Attempt to deal with the deities hounding Croitus? Continue to fight slavers at Southie’s urging? Attempt to reunite Nobody with her people? Aid Resh in returning to his people, or possibly finding revenge? (Resh, for his part, seems more than happy to let his former tribesmen alone.)
Croitus leaves his research for a bit to join the others at breakfast as they discuss plans. Nobody notes that her own quest may take several human lifetimes to complete, and Khuna notes that Croitus’ issue will likely follow them no matter what they do. Likewise, they will probably continue to oppose slavers wherever they might go.
Before they can fully discuss options, a robed man approaches and asks for Khuna. He introduces himself as Professor van Hook, and indicates the Headmaster wishes to speak with her and her mother Sati. Her companion may accompany her as well. Professor van Hook leaves.
Khuna and Marguerite take their leave from the others. After a bit of further discussion, Croitus takes his leave to return to his research. Nobody decides to walk around a bit before going to the Addled Alchemist for a drink — and the hopes of finding Vianibrar to speak with him further about the Solaeque. Southie decides to go shopping, and Resh decides to accompany to keep an eye on him.
Khuna and Margot find Sati at the refugee camp and let her know that the Headmaster wishes to speak with the three of them. She accompanies them back to the Wizard’s Tower, and they ascend to the Headmaster’s office.
The Headmaster and Professor van Hook greet them, and the Headmaster makes a more formal introduction to Lady Marguerite, noting that the government of Duchy Jepson cannot officially extend hospitality to her as a Scandshar criminal. Perhaps this mess can all be cleared, and the Duchess can extend a formal greeting at that time. In any event, he has summoned them because he has two pieces of information worth noting. First, Adeptus Spellweaver will be taking the refugees back to their homes. This will be time-consuming, as he and his staff will need to ascertain whether or not the local governments were at all complicit in the slavery of their citizens before returning the refugees to their care. However, he notes this because they will be traveling to Nadhi, and if Khuna and Sati wish to return home, they may.
However, should they wish to stay, the Headmaster wishes to extend Khuna and Sati a job offer. The Headmaster understands they are both skilled physicians, likely more skilled than anyone in town. As such, he wishes to hire them as staff at the University, so that they may train others in medicine and assist the local clergy in their duties as healers. Khuna and Sati would be acting in tandem with the other biologists on staff — Discipulus Lee van Hook, and to a lesser extent, Magister Remegni — largely performing research at first, but progressing into teaching duties as time continues. For this, they will receive a stipend of 150gp per week, and are permitted to stay in the dormitories and partake of the dining hall. Of course, should they so wish, they can purchase property separate from the University. Additionally, should Khuna stay on campus, Lady Marguerite is permitted to stay with her; they would just remove an additional 5gp a week from her stipend to cover expenses.
The Headmaster notes that her associates are permitted to stay — so long as they have no difficulty observing the laws of Duchy Jepson — although he has no similar offers for them at this time.
He also mentions that he has the materials to perform the Sending ritual, as requested. Khuna pays him, and after discussion, they decide that she can use Professor van Hook’s office to perform it. He leads the way.
Along the way to Professor van Hook’s office, Khuna tells Sati how surprised she is that they’re treating the two of them like normal human beings, and not shunning them as witches. Sati notes that this appears to be a community of mages, and they do not labor under the caste system of Nadhi; things are simply different here.
Upon arriving in the professor’s office, he gives them privacy. They decide that Marguerite will perform the ritual, operating on the idea that Lord Weogora will likely respond to her. She follows the instructions on the scroll, mixing reagents for about ten minutes, culminating in her taking a vacant, distant appearance. When she returns to her senses a few moments later, she says she established contact. He was displeased, but she thinks he’ll follow their advice. She doubts they’ll see him again. Dhavita and Margot discuss this development, as Margot apologizes for all that they did to her and their slaves. Dhavita notes that they are unlikely to have met otherwise.
Once complete, they thank Professor van Hook and let him know they will consider the offer. The trio returns to the dining hall, and finding it cleared, they wander around the town to search for their companions.
Khuna, Marguerite, and Sati spot a shifty-looking Southie accompanying Resh. Unbeknownst to the others, Southie has been attempting to procure some poisons from local merchants, but has not had the best luck trying to locate the town’s black market. As they greet each other, Southie notes the guards headed in his direction. He quickly excuses himself and darts down an alley. Resh moves to go after him, and Khuna moves to run interference with the guards, but she freezes as the icy realization hits her that she hungers.
It’s rare that the craving for blood strikes her, but it occasionally does. It’s overwhelming, and as she stands in the middle of the road — jittery, shaking, breaking out in a cold sweat — the guards wander right past her, following Southie into the alley. Marguerite asks her what’s wrong, but Sati just guides her towards the Addled Alchemist. She quickly whispers something to Marguerite, then asks for a few gold pieces.
Entering the Addled Alchemist, they find Nobody at the bar, along with the tavern-keeper. The tavern is otherwise empty. Sati and Marguerite lead Khuna to a table in the corner, and then Sati goes to the barkeep and orders an extremely bloody order of pork, along with a cup of blood on the side; she pays him extra and advises him to not question it too heavily. He agrees, and returns shortly with the requested item. Sati delivers it to Khuna, who devours it greedily.
Meanwhile, Southie ducks through town in an attempt to evade the guard. He emerges, realizing that he is in an unfamiliar part of town amidst several cottages. Chickens peck in the dirt. He looks around, tries to reorient himself, and cuts back through the alleyways.
He emerges right in front of the two guardsmen, who are looking for him. One of the guardsmen explains that Southie has been asking around for poisons and other illegal substances. Asking is technically not illegal, although it is suspicious, and the guardsman tries to explain that he should probably stop. Southie counters that he’s looking for the black market in town, and naturally the guard would not know where to find it. Southie tries to convince the guardsman that the house right in front him is a black market site, even going so far as to knock and find a very confused woman. The guardsman tries to convince him to look elsewhere — say, another town — for anything illegal, and Southie finally concedes the point. The guardsmen continue on their way, and once he’s certain they’re gone, he knocks on the door again. The same confused woman answers, and Southie attempts to purchase poison from her. She initially says she does not have any, but after his persistent badgering, she says that she’ll give him a free sample. If he likes the substance, he can purchase more; if it doesn’t work, he can safely ignore it and they’ll never speak of this again. Southie agrees. She leaves and returns with a bottle of fluid, which she gives to Southie.
Feeling accomplished, Southie goes to the Addled Alchemist for a drink. Khuna, having freshened up after her hasty meal, is returning to the common room as he arrives. He greets everyone, and goes about ordering a drink. Shortly after Southie arrives, Resh bursts into the inn, wondering where Southie has gone, and being somewhat relieved to see him, drinking and sedate, at the bar.
With most of the group together, Khuna gathers them to discuss future plans. Croitus, taking a break from his research, enters the tavern shortly thereafter.
Khuna explains the job offer she received this morning, and the very real possibility that she and her mother have a place here. Southie seems wounded at this news, having assumed that they were a rather tightly-knit group, and that their goals were in alignment. Khuna tries to be diplomatic and explain that one can have multiple goals; she has no issue with helping the others attempt to reach their goals. It is merely a matter of determining what they wish to do next. With regards to Nobody’s dream of finding her people, Croitus notes that he read that Solaeque was ravaged by orcs, and its survivors were either enslaved or fled to En’amanisrahd, Vonseloth, and possibly Nainimdul, among other places. Khuna likewise indicates this is what she’s heard about the destruction of Solaeque.
Nobody comments on finding Vianibrar again to discuss things regarding Solaeque, and shortly thereafter, he enters the inn. The group calls him over, and inquires about his own abolitionist group. He remarks that they engage in some sabotage but primarily push legislation. Intelligence gathering is a particular strength of the outfit. Southie remarks that he wants to organize the slaves in a manner of revolt — Vianibrar is in favor of the idea, but is not overly fond of Southie’s methods to date. Southie notes that Vianibrar’s own methods never did him any good in the pits, a fact which he concedes.
Southie inquires about possible disruptions which could do some manner of good. Vianibrar notes that slave ships from distant lands have to come through Sorgforge, which only works because Sorgforge turns a blind eye, or sometimes does not know the cargo on the ships passing through its harbor. Slaves from within the Sorrowfell Plains are frequently gathered by the marauding raids of nomadic goblin and orc tribes. Either disrupting the port of Sorgforge or going after the raiders could be helpful, if properly directed. Southie also notes the possibility of traveling to Dawnslight to intercept the Peacock contingent and the ranks of the Scandshar Watch headed in that direction, although most of the group seems more comfortable avoiding that area.
As the group has more questions about slaving operations, discussions continue.