Waterday, Harvester 26, 552 CY (50 AN)
That night, in Vonseloth, Croitus, Dhavita, Nobody, and Resh continue their revel with the elves and eladrin of the Solaeque Purlieu. Although the others feast and drink, Dhavita gets incredibly, sloppily drunk and spends thousands of gold pieces on a necklace for Margot. Later in the evening, Van’solessonna, the Purlieu’s Nyarmamaitar, offers to induct the travelers into the tribe via ritual tattooing, as they are obviously friends and family to now-returned Dar’amaraltria. Nobody asks to also be inducted so that she may start to re-integrate with the Solaeque. Croitus declines, on the premise that their tattoos may interfere with the wards that keep his warring gods at bay. Dhavita and Resh both agree.
Nobody receives the calligraphic symbol of the tribe upon her chest, while Resh receives it upon the right bicep. Dhavita goes to a secluded place so that she may be tattooed on her inner left thigh.
The next morning, Harvester 27, the revelers begin to awaken. Croitus awakens first, and plants himself at a shrine for the dead to contemplate their plight. Nobody and Resh rise around the same time, and as they prepared, they see a cloaked figure enter the Purlieu. The elves are tense, but still welcoming. As soon as Croitus sees a newcomer, he places the hat of disguise on his head to assume a human form. The figure removes her hood to reveal herself as Thava, the dragonborn whom they freed from the pits two weeks ago. She greets them, and indicates that she has come to warn them — mercenaries are looking for them, and having determined them to be in the Solaeque Purlieu, are waiting outside for them to leave. Apparently, they have not yet entered so as to prevent an incident between the government of Vonseloth and the Solaeque Purlieu, particularly as some of the mercenaries are apparently orcs.
Dhavita awakens toward the end of this, and her head still abuzz with drink, is pleasantly surprised to see Thava. She asks how things have been — Thava’s tribe apparently left this region, as it has been some time since her capture, so she ended up settling in Vonseloth for a bit — and then Thava informs her of the situation.
Discussion ensues, although it is interrupted as another figure approaches — Sir Stígandr Hafrnsson, the knight whom Croitus and Nobody met in Duchy Jepson. He recognizes Nobody, calling her, “the eladrin that doesn’t know anything.” He recognizes some of the assembled party as people often described with Croitus, although not seeing Croitus himself, asks if he is around. The others stonewall, and so Sir Stígandr tells them to pass along the message that he’s looking for Croitus and wishes to speak with him. Sir Stígandr then leaves without incident.
With that interlude over, the group continues their discussions. Nobody will remain with the Solaeque. When night falls, Croitus, Dhavita, and Resh will go their separate ways — Croitus will ride out on one of the horses as a distraction, and then use the hat of disguise when he loses his pursuers. Dhavita will sneak out in the confusion, accompanied by Thava, while Resh will scale the wall around Vonseloth.
Having gone their separate ways, they will meet again in Castow in a week’s time, and then return to Duchy Jepson. Anyone who misses the rendezvous in Castow knows to travel to Jepson as the ultimate goal.
Dhavita, still muddling through last night’s festivities, has not yet noticed that Nobody will not be traveling with them.
Southie and Manny’s journey to Duchy Jepson is uneventful, and they arrive on the afternoon of Freeday, Harvester 28. Southie, wanting to procure an alchemist, travels to the Wizard’s Tower, eventually being directed to see the Headmaster. The Headmaster seems surprised to see him and his ragged tiefling companion, but asks what he needs. Southie explains that he wishes to hire an alchemist for a possibly dangerous expedition. He gives few details, but the Headmaster says he will try to gather some alchemists that might meet Southie’s needs, although it may not be until tomorrow. Southie says that will fine, and tells him that he will be set up in the Addled Alchemist.
Before they leave, Manny tells the Headmaster he is laboring on the “demispell.” The Headmaster looks at Manny as though he is not entirely certain how to respond before Southie pulls Manny away, telling him it’s rude to reveal people’s innermost secrets.
Southie goes to the Addled Alchemist and spends the afternoon drinking with Manny. Manny, for his part, seems to get stranger as he drinks, delving into weird, esoteric philosophy. When it comes out that Manny is not accustomed to the touch of a woman, Southie decides to hire him a prostitute. They retire to Southie’s room — running into Marguerite on the way, who seems initially alarmed before settling on disgust at the trio — so that Manny can have the opportunity to practice physical love at Southie’s direction.
It’s a very strange, uncomfortable night. Although the young lady, named Strawberry, demands a hefty 600 gp for her services — largely given Manny’s eccentricities, although Southie’s commentary likely does not help — which Southie agrees to pay.
The next morning, Southie and Manny arrange their papers in the corner of the Addled Alchemist. Southie, apparently having procured an old pair of glasses, perches them on the end of his nose. They wait throughout the morning before a young, robed, female dwarf enters the bar, looking around before heading in his direction. Southie introduces himself as the President of Freedom Unlimited, Ltd. He introduces Manny, and the dwarf introduces herself as Quithyra Wyrmsbane. A recent graduate with the University for the Study of the Arcane Arts and Sciences, Quithyra is seeking gainful employment, and thinks Southie’s adventuring company sounds interesting. Although she obviously finds Southie and Manny a bit odd — she declines Southie’s “employee incentive” of hiring prostitutes, and does not fully understand his line of inquiry regarding an “elf that leaves the company” — she is willing to listen despite the fact that Southie is pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing, claiming proprietary agreements. However, she manages to piece together given his needs, his talk of historical records, and the possibility of dungeon delving that he is probably talking about a Creation Forge. She asks if that’s true, and he does not precisely confirm, although his lack of response confirms it for her. She says she is very interested and accepts his proposal. They agree on 200 gp per month, with more to come if the deal is lucrative, and he has her sign a contract indicating he is not liable for any incidental injuries that may occur on the road. It has obviously been handwritten in his scrawl, and despite looking at it askance, she signs it. Manny insists she signs in blood, and although Southie asks if that’s necessary, Manny assures it is, so Southie insists. She hesitates, then cuts her hand to make the appropriate signature.
She says she can start first thing in the morning, after she has purchased supplies. Southie informs her that he has business to the west, towards Vonseloth, before they go to the research site, so they will travel there first. She agrees.