Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 40

Sunday, Patchwall 16, 552 CY (50 AN)

Croitus, Dhavita, Marguerite, Resh, Southie, and Thava walk through the streets of ruined Kiris Dahn, heading toward the Kiris Estate at the other end of town. Various construction crews bustle around the settlement, a mix of humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings. Amid the mix of peoples, they notice the dwarves seem to have two characters about them — some are singing work songs and seem to enjoy their labors while others toil in silence with sullen demeanors. Dhavita recognizes the latter dwarves as hailing from Anhak, and knows them as skilled craftsmen despite their dour natures.

The group is in the midst of discussing their plans — Croitus senses that the ring he seeks is to the northwest while the Kiris Estate is to the northeast — when they are interrupted by a cry of, “Why, it’s little Margie Patenaude!” A burly dwarf emerges from the crowd and is introduced as Thainan Torranol. After chatting and awkwardly making introductions, he inquires about their business. Dhavita explains that they’re lost and hope to purchase a teleportation scroll and make use of the local circle so that they may find their way home. Thainan again directs them to the Kiris Estate, and then takes his leave so he and the travelers can all return to their business. He starts to return to his construction before he appears to remember something and rushes off toward the Kiris Estate.

Although his abrupt change in direction makes the group nervous, no one wants to raise suspicion and so they head toward Croitus’ ring. He leads them to what appears to be a ruined market district where several Anhak dwarves work. A ginger-headed dwarf woman, apparently their foreman, greets the travelers and asks for their business. They say they’re surveying, and Southie indicates he’d be interested in purchasing a stall — are they for sale? The woman says the ownership situation in town is a bit complicated, as three factions are currently vying for the town and each claims legal precedent. The Tain merchants of Sorgforge claim the town under a form of salvage rights, the Kiris nobles claim it under familial right (although they currently don’t quite have the funds and political influence to enforce the claim), and a cleric of Bahamut came to town with a force of paladins — he claims that since the town was liberated by a priest of Bahamut, the town should rightfully go to the church. In theory, a magistrate from Scandshar is supposed to arrive and resolve the dispute, but he hasn’t arrived in the past couple of months, so she’s not expecting a resolution any time soon. The group thanks her, Southie posts a note laying claim to one of the market stalls, and they search for the ring.

Unfortunately, Croitus spots a heavy iron ring on a chain around the neck of one of the Anhak dwarves. The dwarf apparently found it and thinks it would make a good gift for his nephew when he returns home, but Croitus expresses an interest in trading for it. The dwarf initially does not wish to part with it, but after some back-and-forth, Croitus negotiates for the ring by offering an emerald, and Resh offers a gold idol he obtained in his travels. Satisfied, the group leaves the market. As they do, the dwarf woman bids them farewell, and Southie asks if she would be interested in investing in his company. When she expresses an interest, he explains what Freedom Unlimited, Ltd. represents — namely, the violent abolition of slavery and the acquisition of money — and offers her shares of stock. Realizing that they’re in the safe deposit box in Jepson, he directs her to his offices in Duchy Jepson, and says she can find his employees there even if he is not around. She seems wary when it sounds like his business isn’t terribly formalized, but she thanks him and the group finally manages to pull him out of that awkward conversation. Dhavita chides him for giving away too much information, but he says he does not intend to stay on this plane of existence much longer, so it matters little to him.

The group finally makes its way to the decrepit Kiris Estate where they are stopped by mercenaries guarding the front door. When the guards inquire about their business, they again explain their desire for teleportation spell scrolls. The guard says he thinks he heard something about them, and asks them to wait a minute while he goes inside. Resh makes light conversation with the remaining guard while also looking around for an ambush that never arrives. The guard indicates their presence is necessary, though — they still get goblin and kobold attacks from time-to-time, and the occasional thief. Among others, they’ve caught a kobold and a tiefling relatively recently. Instead, the guard returns and says they’re out of teleportation spell scrolls, but they expect more tomorrow — teleportation spells are the most commonly-used spells in town. They ask if any wizards currently have such spells memorized; the man goes back inside before again returning, this time with a merchant. The merchant explains that the magicians on staff would have to rest to prepare such a spell, so they’ll have to wait until tomorrow anyway. Since they plan on doing business with the Tain family, however, he’ll gladly see to it that they have a free room for the evening in one of the abandoned houses. The travelers agree.

The merchant leads them to one of the houses in the same block, near a burned foundation and the ruins of a once-massive oak tree covered in goblin graffiti at the base. This was apparently once the local inn; some of the houses nearby were burned in whatever fire claimed them, but some of the others are sturdy. Since they’re drafty and get quite cold at night, someone should be around in an hour or so with furs for insulation. If they need anything, they can let any of the workers or merchants know. Nanarv Granitebuster is quite helpful and is working nearby in the market district, and when Resh inquires if she has red hair, he indicates they’ve already met.

Once the merchant leaves, the group discusses options, deciding that they will probably try to switch houses in the night. The next day, Croitus will see them back home, but will not travel with them, as he must discharge his duty. Dhavita and Marguerite wait inside the house while Croitus communes with the spirits in the corner. Outside, Southie and Thava casually watch their surroundings while Resh goes to investigate the nearby houses and prepare an escape route. His plan is to prepare a route through an unstable house that can be collapsed behind them as they flee. When he finds a suitable location, he gets to work.

The rest of the group is aware of the thud and the cloud of dust when a nearby house collapses. Workers and mercenaries begin flooding to the site, worried that someone was caught inside. Southie and Thava also make their way over there, and everybody sees Resh emerge from the wreckage of the house. Many of the workers are alarmed to see a kobold climbing from the wreckage, but Thava manages to keep everyone calm and one of the merchants indicates he’s a guest. He makes his way back to the group’s resting place and Dhavita treats his wounds. A merchant comes around with furs and things, and also asks for Resh to sign a non-liability document. Since Resh cannot read Common, Dhavita reads the contract for him, and then he signs with an “X.”

The rest of the evening passes uneventfully. The group decides not to switch houses so that they do not risk drawing attention to themselves. The group notices that more mercenary patrols seem to come around than before Resh’s accident, but it’s otherwise quiet. Dhavita and Southie take first watch, which passes uneventfully. Croitus and Resh take second watch, which is nearly uneventful, although Croitus apparently makes some pact with the dead to stand vigil with them. Resh asks why they have not passed on, and the dead reply that the violence done to them here has bound them to this place. They need to know their loved ones are safe to transition to the afterlife. Marguerite and Thava are initially alarmed when they awaken for third watch, but apart from the tranquil restless shades, it’s otherwise quiet.

Dhavita awakens with a start. She quickly awakens the others, and describes her dream. In the vision, Thainan and a few other merchants stand nervously around a teleportation circle. As the air above the circle shimmers, Lord Key, her four guards, and three Scandshar soldiers emerge. Lord Key admonishes the merchants to not waste her time, and they assure her that they have not — he saw Marguerite Weogora with his own eyes, as well as a dark-skinned woman, a kobold, and dwarf matching the descriptions of some of the Scandshar Six. They wait for eight other soldiers to emerge, and when they do, Lord Key asks for the merchants to show the way to the Six.

As they prepare to flee, they are surprised by a seventh in their midst — Rat, a thief Southie met outside Dawnslight. She’s very quiet and mostly sticks to the shadows, which is why the others were unaware of her. She agrees to help them escape.

As the travelers begin to flee, Croitus asks for the dead to guide them to safety. The shades of the dead stand silent vigil, pointing a way to safety — they head northwest, to the bridge crossing the river. As mercenaries stand guard, they decide to creep through the frigid waters. Dhavita, Marguerite, and Resh manage to creep across without a sound. Rat and Southie both avoid making noise but each inhales water when forced to dive and feels a bit unwell upon leaving. Croitus and Thava make too much noise, and the mercenaries begin showering them with arrows. Croitus dives into the river and follows it until stopped by a thicket of bamboo bars — he muscles through and follows the river along its course. Thava casts a spell and turns into a dragon, taking a few arrows but swiftly flying out of range.

Croitus emerges from the river to the south of the town and begins heading west, back to Dawnslight to discharge his duty.

Meanwhile, Dhavita, Marguerite, Rat, Resh, and Southie flee to the northwest. Thava follows them for a time before veering off and landing so that she can walk through the woods without being seen. They march until darkness begins to fall, when Resh marches onward to catch up to Thava and bring her back. Once Thava is reunited with the others, they prepare for a long night. They wonder why Thainan betrayed them — probably for the money — but Marguerite notes that the Tain family helped her escape. Maybe they were caught, and Thainan hopes to cut a deal?

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