Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 27

Earthday, Harvester 27, 552 CY (50 AN)

Croitus, Dhavita, Nobody, Resh, and Thava wait until nightfall. At some point during the afternoon, Dhavita realizes that Nobody isn’t part of the plan; she indicates she will remain here, in Vonseloth, with the Solaeque. Nobody says her farewells to everyone. Van’solessonna also bids them farewell, wishing them well on their journey and reminding them they are part of the tribe now; they may visit whenever they wish, particularly once the search for them has decreased its intensity.

The group rests for the rest of the afternoon in preparation for the night’s escape. Croitus returns to the Elven shrine to the dead, saying a prayer in an ancient Elven dialect before it, to the surprise of those present.

Early in the morning of Freeday, Harvester 28, the group prepares to leave. Croitus, assuming his normal alligator form, rides out on his horse. Once he exits the Purlieu, he notes a gang of orc mercenaries. He immediately starts whooping, shouting, and causing a ruckus, riding out of the Purlieu as fast as he can. As he rides, Croitus hears hooves thunder out of a side alley; he chooses not to focus on them, instead looking for his exit. The orcs take the bait and give chase, but as soon as it becomes obvious they cannot run down the horse, they loose a volley of arrows on Croitus’ position. One strikes the horse in the flank, and the beast begins limping.

Croitus leaps off the horse and dives into an alley, looking for transients and vagrants. He finds several asleep and tucks himself into a corner, using the hat of disguise to blend with them. An armored figure astride a horse — Croitus recognizes the armor of Sir Stígandr Hafrnsson — rides into the alley, and seeing a shifting homeless person, asks him if he has seen a crocodile-man come through here. Croitus, disguised as a vagrant, gestures to the end of the alley and indicates he went that way. Sir Stígandr thanks him and continues down the alley.

Shortly thereafter, the orcs appear. Asking the awake “bum” if he has seen a crocodile-man, he again directs them to the end of the alley. The six orcs split at that time, with four heading towards the end of the alley and the other two returning to their post.

Ten minutes after Croitus rides out of the Purlieu, Dhavita and Thava cloak themselves and go to leave. Nobody gives Dhavita her veil, and after repeating their farewells, Dhavita and Thava go to leave.

As the orcs have abandoned their post, Dhavita and Thava leave without incident. However, as they wander the quiet streets, they run into two of the orcs returning to the entrance of the Purlieu. One of the pair interrogates them as to their business, and insists on accompanying them, suggesting two lovely ladies ought not to be alone on the streets at this hour. Dhavita and Thava demur, suggesting that they must be on their way; the other orc strikes his associate in the arm, indicating they have a job to do and should not waste their time with this.

Dhavita and Thava make it to the north gate. Their packs are searched and they are questioned by the guards, who explain that there is a rumor going about that the escaped gladiators from Scandshar are here. Dhavita and Thava explain they are trying to make it into the Sylernavian Pass by sunrise so that they may picnic in the mountains, and then they are traveling onward to a cousin’s wedding — which is why they have the specialized equipment, as they are wedding gifts. The guards accept the explanation, and after warning them of the dangers and offering to escort them, they allow the pair to leave the city.

Resh waits another ten or fifteen minutes after Dhavita and Thava leave, and tosses his grappling hook over the wall. He quickly scales it, and although a distant guardsman notes the disturbance, Resh is down the wall and hidden in the surrounding trees before the guardsman can investigate.

The guard, assuming it was just nothing, continues to make his rounds.

Croitus remains in the alley for a few moments. Once he is convinced the pursuers have passed, he heads toward the market, using the hat of disguise to change his appearance when he is unobserved. When he makes it to the market, several merchants are setting up their stalls for the day’s business. He also notes Sir Stígandr, looking around the market square for anything out of the ordinary. The four orcs are here, interrogating and threatening shopkeepers, evidently to no avail. Strangely, the guards let them continue their questions.

After monitoring the scene for a few moments, Croitus, diguised as a merchant, unleashes the cadaver of Lord Book. He gives the undead only one command — run around the market and make a lot of noise. The frenzied corpse immediately does as it’s told, running throughout the market, shouting, overturning tables, and upending stalls. The guards seem vaguely amused and surprised at first before the realization that this person is causing property damage, and is a rotting cadaver, dawns on them. They move to deal with the disruption as Croitus leaves.

Croitus feels control of Lord Book wane within a few moments, indicating he was likely slain by the guards. He continues his tour through the streets, switching forms every few blocks, until he reaches the south gate. Seeing a caravan of merchants being searched by the guardsmen, he uses the hat of disguise to appear as a merchant, and slips into the throng. He turns to the merchant next to him, and joins the complaints about the disruption by the guardsmen. The other merchant is evidently too embarassed to admit he doesn’t recognize Croitus, and responds in kind.

Croitus manages to maintain the deception all the way to Castow; the merchant caravan reaches Castow late in the afternoon on Sunday, Brewfest 2.

Dhavita and Thava head maybe a mile or so up the Sylernavian Pass, and just in case anyone decided to monitor them, they move to the side of the path and breakfast as the sun rises. A few passing travelers note them, but otherwise let them alone.

Once the pair is finished, they leave the path and head west, into the mountains. To avoid Vonseloth, the hike through the mountains takes the better part of the day, but they return to the hills and plains without incident. It’s another day until they reach Castow on Sunday, Brewfest 2.

Resh makes his way south, through the mountains and hills until he reaches the plains. He specifically stays away from the road, and while traveling through the woods in the hills, runs into a gnoll scout. The gnoll threatens Resh, finally culminating in the taunt, “I hear you taste like chicken.” Resh replies, “I hear you taste like shit,” the audacity of which seems to amuse the gnoll. They agree to ignore each other.

Resh reaches Castow on Sunday, Brewfest 2. Just passing through, he makes camp south of Castow as previously discussed.

When Dhavita and Thava reach Castow, they notice that Castow’s Brewfest appears to be in full swing. They decide to check the meeting spot and find Resh, already having established a camp. As Dhavita wants to see Brewfest, the group splits; Dhavita and Thava will go to Castow and sample the festivities, while Resh will remain at camp. They say they will bring him back some beer.

When the merchant caravan arrives in Castow, they make their way to the Brewfest festivities. Croitus spots Dhavita and Thava dancing in the crowd, and he cuts in, revealing to Dhavita that he’s Croitus despite his mercantile appearance. They agree to meet at the campsite.

After they have thoroughly Brewfested, Dhavita and Thava return to camp with beer for Resh, as promised. Croitus returns with a half-keg of the local brew, although they decide to keep it for later consumption.

The quartet sets out the next day, Moonday, Brewfest 3, for Duchy Jepson.

On Starday, Brewfest 1, Southie, Manny, and Quithyra continue to make their preparations in Duchy Jepson. Southie refrains from imbibing too much on Brewfest, although he does order a keg of the local brew for the road. He also orders mugs engraved for the employees of Freedom Unlimited, Ltd. — each mug has the person’s name and position in the company. He threatens the craftsman if he makes substandard work, and also recommends investing in his company. The craftsman asks if he has official charter, but Southie is not interested in registering his business with the Duchess and her ministers.

Once all preparations are complete, Freedom Unlimited, Ltd. leaves the Duchy on the morning of Sunday, Brewfest 2.

Travels on the road are uneventful — the groups only pass a few merchants and travelers — until Croitus, Dhavita, Resh, and Thava meet Southie, Manny, and Quithyra on the road on Earthday, Brewfest 6. The groups catch up — Southie notes Nobody is not with the group, and explains his plans to abolish slavery and the deities with Freedom Unlimited, Ltd. (although he keeps the Creation Forge to himself, as a proprietary secret). He recommends investing in his company. Dhavita remarks that Quithyra seems to have gotten herself into quite the situation; she is aware of the company she keeps, but notes that she really cannot pass up the opportunity. Croitus, Dhavita, Resh, and Thava seem amused by Manny’s eccentricities, although after be comments on Dhavita’s vampiric heritage. Southie reminds him that he ought not to reveal hidden information, or at least not do so for free.

Southie gets to the business at hand — asking if he can reference Croitus’ books, as they may have important information. Manny explains that the Terrible Old Man was referring to books owned by Lord Candle, and that Southie already purchased the items he needed. Southie wishes he had mentioned this earlier, but Manny replies that he did not know why they were traveling west.

Returning to Manny’s apparent gift for secret information, Croitus notes that he and Manny will have to discuss matters in the evening. When it comes time to discuss watches, they decide to take shifts of two — Croitus and Manny, Dhavita and Thava, Resh and Southie. They move off the main road and decide to make camp for the night.

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Session 26

Waterday, Harvester 26, 552 CY (50 AN)

The night passes in the Black Moor without incident. Southie and Manny prepare to disembark on the morning of Waterday, Harvester 26, so that Southie may return to Duchy Jepson.

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.

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Session 25

Starday, Harvester 22, 552 CY (50 AN)

Southie retreats from the gnoll encampment and manages to lose his pursuers. He returns that night to deal silent death as they sleep, taking out sentries and slitting throats. One gnoll — a priest or warlock by its general demeanor — awakens before Southie can get to him, and it casts some curse that rusts and pits Southie’s resplendent magical armor, rendering it useless.

Southie maims him, and once the other gnolls are dead, he returns to finish the job. Slowly.

Perturbed at the damage to his armor, Southie camps for the night and resolves to go to Duchy Jepson the following day to have his armor repaired.

On Harvester 23, Southie awakens early and begins riding back to Duchy Jepson. He travels to the blacksmith to get his armor repaired, and happens to hear a couple of passers-by talking about yesterday’s wedding. He asks the passing townsfolk about whose wedding, and one of them answers that it was two women. The one had a foreign name. A bit of pondering yields Dhavita and Marguerite. The feast was fabulous.

A little crestfallen, Southie goes to the Addled Alchemist to have a drink and see if he can find the others. Not seeing anyone, he asks the barkeep, who explains that they left this morning. Headed west, he believes. Southie notes that’s toward Vonseloth, where Nobody was going to search for her people.

Once his armor is finished, and content that he has some idea of where the others headed, he attempts to head north again, towards the Black Moor.

It takes him two days to travel to the Black Moor by boar, and he arrives in the late afternoon of Harvester 25. He immediately notes the change, as rugged mountains crowd around a tree-choked marsh. As he enters, he hears the change as insect life buzzes about and the croaking of frogs and peepers sounds throughout the swamp. A hive of fat, red bees buzzes in one of the trees. A small, crumbling boathouse sits prominently near the entrance of the swamp, and Southie investigates it, finding several mouldering old sleeping bags, a few greasy coins, and a rusted dagger.

Content that there is nothing in the hut, he continues to wade through the swamp. Deeper in the Black Moor, he catches sight of movement as a small, diminutive humanoid, evidently made out of plant material, charges out of the brush with a spear. It launches itself at him, but he effortlessly cuts it in twain.

That’s when he notices the others, all crowding around, but they seem unwilling to come closer given his apparent prowess.

As Southie continues north, deeper into the swamp, he eventually catches sight of a large boathouse, evidently overlooking a small lake. The plant-men retreat as he approaches the building. He ties his boar to a post and approaches the crumbling building, catching sight of movement as a tiefling, clad in armor and carrying a spear, looms out of the shadows. He has a full head of hair, his horns are intact, and he has all of his teeth, but apart from these factors, Southie would swear it was the same tiefling he met in Duchy Jepson earlier in the week. The tiefling does not seem hostile, however, so Southie lets him be.

Southie inquires about the tiefling, and whether he is the Terrible Old Man, but the tiefling indicates he is not. He has not been called by his name in a long, long time and has no name — where he was once one, he is now many. From that, Southie decides to call him Manny.

Southie inquires as to how he became the boatman leading to the Terrible Old Man’s hut, and he indicates it is just what he does. A calling rather than a job.

Not willing to leave his boar, Southie and the boar pile onto the Manny’s rickety boat, which somehow carries the trio across the pond to the hut on the opposite shore. While riding, Southie inquires about any tips when dealing with the Old Man; Manny merely replies that Southie should not attempt to fight the Old Man, for if he does so, he will lose. Southie admonishes Manny to not eat his boar, no matter how much time passes, lest he become very angry. He then enters the hut.

A crooked, bent old man in shabby robes with stringy hair and wretched teeth answers — the Terrible Old Man. When Southie asks, he indicates he has many names, but is sometimes known by that one. Southie decides to call him “Terry.” He invites Southie within and offers him tea. Southie accepts, and the pair discusses business.

The Old Man seems to have some prior knowledge of Southie, indicating that he knows of his desire to destroy slavery. Southie responds that his aspirations are bigger, extending to the gods themselves; the Old Man acknowledges this. He offers to tell Southie’s fortune — 1 gp for a simple fortune, or 100 gp to tell it with the deck of many things — but Southie says that the concept of Fate is just another form of slavery, and he will not submit. The Old Man indicates he appreciates Southie’s integrity.

Southie inquires about where his comrades can be found, but the Terrible Old Man is not omniscient; that information can only be determined by telling Southie’s fortune. Southie refuses.

The Old Man also makes some oblique reference to caves in the mountain face close at hand, although they have been sealed by the wizards of the tower.

In keeping with his goal, the Terrible Old Man offers him a treasure map. An old map from the days of the Arkhosian empire, this map shows the location of a secret Creation Forge, left over from the Turathi empire. Creation Forges were first developed by the dwarves during their durance to the giants — something that greatly interests Southie — and were used most recently during the Cackledread War to create the warforged. However, the empire of Bael Turath also experimented with Creation Forges; one of them is close at hand, nestled in the mountains. Additionally, the map also depicts the fane of a loathsome idol; communing with the idol, using a particular ritual, will answer any question.

Southie expresses an interest in the map, and the Old Man charges him 100 gp. Southie pays, and the Old Man notes that there are probably materials still within to make roughly two dozen warforged, but beyond those supplies additional materials — iron, stone, and wood — will be required. He also recommends securing the services of an alchemist to monitor and run the Forge.

Southie also wants to know the information of the idol, and is interested in that ritual. The Old Man also sells it for 100 gp; he gives the ritual scroll to Southie, recommending that when he goes to visit the idol, he brings a friend along.

Southie thanks the Old Man and returns outside. Since they have already established that Manny is free to do as he wishes, Southie asks if Manny wants to adventure with him. He agrees, but noting that it is late, recommends they camp here for the night. Southie agrees; they will head out in the morning.

Meanwhile, back in Duchy Jepson on Harvester 23, Croitus, Dhavita, Nobody, and Resh say their good-byes to Marguerite and Sati and head out on the open road. (Dhavita, for her part, spent the night with Marguerite, singing many of the old songs she likes to sing. And that she knows Margot likes to hear.) Despite intermittent rain, it is a relatively uneventful journey. Dhavita does dream, however; her first dream on the road is similar to a previous dream, wherein the Scandshar Watch and representatives of the Peacocks arrive in Dawnslight. This time, however, the Scandshar Watch hears the news that both Geoffrey and Marguerite Weogora have fled a week ago — Marguerite in the evening with five travelers, and Geoffrey a day later with some of his retainers. They left no slaves behind — although Dhavita gets the distinct impression that they have been integrated into the population of Dawnslight. Lord Key then indicates that the only person whom they can find connected to these events must be incarcerated, and she turns to Zafira Shulud. Zafira is about to flee, but realizes the futility. They clasp her in irons and head back toward the direction of the Bloodstone Crags.

She has another dream over the course of several days — a grand masquerade ball wherein everyone is swept into the dance. The dance is Vonseloth, and the travelers are welcome — but a shadowy figure lurks on the periphery of the ballroom, and the figure has a peacock mask. Spies are everywhere.

Dhavita makes certain to inform the others of both of her dreams.

On the afternoon of Harvester 25, they encounter a half-elf merchant. He is apparently heading from Castow, on the road to Vonseloth, and informs the travelers that Castow is run by a knightly order dedicated to the trade and fortune goddess Avandra — coincidentally, the same fortune goddess apparently sending visions to Dhavita. They thank him for the information and purchase some rations before moving on.

The travelers arrive in Castow late in the morning of Waterday, Harvester 26. Dhavita travels to the local temple to pray while the others rest briefly at the local inn, the Drunken Bishop. Once they reconvene at the inn, they decide to move on so that they may arrive in Vonseloth around nightfall.

Croitus, Dhavita, Nobody, and Resh arrive in Vonseloth shortly after sundown, and after gaining entry, they inquire about a mid-priced inn, and the guards recommend the Solitary Monk. To the chagrin of the others, Croitus asks about the location of the Solaeque Purlieu. The guards direct them to it, towards the eastern portion of the town.

A brisk ride on horseback finds them in the tenements and shanties of the Solaeque Purlieu. Doors stand open on buildings, and the families within appear to be preparing for bed. In the central plaza, there stands a modestly-sized tree, and several eladrin and elves stand around it. They appear to be chanting in Elven, some manner of ritual prayer. Croitus gives his helm of languages to Dhavita so that she may understand what is being said. A few of the elves look at the newcomers, but it is the shaman leading the chant who pauses when she sees Nobody. Calling her “Dar’amaraltria,” she says that she has returned to them. Nobody indicates she does not recall herself, and the eladrin druid indicates she is ileneth (literally “no name” or “unnamed” in Elven). Speaking in Common, she introduces herself as the druid Van’solessonna, the leader of these people. She asks about what happened to Nobody, and Nobody explains her capture and enslavement. Croitus, again to the chagrin of the group as there may be spies about, offers that they were responsible for the “troubles” in Scandshar as a direct result of assisting Nobody’s freedom.

Van’solessonna, pleased at these proceedings, indicates that as they are friends of Dar’amaraltria, they are part of the tribe and may come and go as they wish. They will find some traditions that are a trifle odd to city-dwellers; their belongings are communal, and their doors stand open. If you wish to speak with someone, enter their house. If you need something, borrow it at your leisure. While the travelers are in the Purlieu, however, they are free, as are their horses. She unhitches them and whispers something to them; the horses remain without further prompting.

Although they were just engaged in evening prayers, Van’solessonna believes this is cause for celebration. The Solaeque bring forth whatever food they can spare for the feast, and the music and tale-telling continues well into the night.

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Session 24

Freeday, Harvester 21, 552 CY (50 AN)

Having organized the preliminary parts of a wedding ceremony, Dhavita and Margot decide to inform their friends and associates. They first find Sati, so that Dhavita may tell her of the wedding plans. Sati asks if the wedding is as sudden to Dhavita and Marguerite as it seems to her; Dhavita says it was. She seems pleased at the development, though.

Khuna and Margot find Croitus next as he returns from wallowing in the river. She tells him of the development, and though he seems uncomfortable with the prospect of being at a modestly-sized celebratory gathering, he makes some vague assertion that he will be there. Wandering through town, Khuna and Margot spot Nobody and Resh, returning from their hunt. Upon informing them, Resh says they will speak with the local butcher to have this prepared for a wedding feast. Nobody asks if she may attend adorned as her people traditionally do for weddings; Khuna agrees.

As Khuna and Marguerite begin shopping for appropriate wedding outfits, they run into Vianibrar, who says he has heard the news and is quite happy for both of them. He asks if he may borrow Marguerite for a few hours to assist her in wedding preparations, and Khuna and Marguerite both agree. Khuna then continues to shop for herself.

Preparations continue until just before sundown. As Dhavita and Sati approach the field to the east of town, they note that a woven mat of leaves and grasses — Nobody’s handiwork, as is later noted — has been placed before an archway that has been erected, and Abbot Aelius is there to receive the wedding party. A small but notable crowd has gathered, largely appearing to be scholars from the university. Croitus, Nobody, and Resh are all present; Croitus appears to have acquired some manner of ill-fitting and gaudy outfit, while Nobody is nearly nude but for the flowers and leaves she has braided into her hair.

Dhavita approaches Abbot Aelius, and after a brief pause, Marguerite and Vianibrar walk across the field. Marguerite is clothed in a long, cream-colored jacket with a similarly-colored top hat, blouse, and skirt, accented in orange. An orange veil, attached to her top hat, covers her face. Vianibrar walks her to the archway, then takes his place beside it, sitting cross-legged and unslinging a sitar from his back. He briefly apologizes, claiming it’s been a while since he played the sitar, and then begins playing.

Abbot Aelius keeps the ceremony relatively short, opening with a brief prayer and quickly offering a renunciation of any previous marriages entered by the two present. They exchange vows — Dhavita about how she didn’t know that a relationship could be like this, Marguerite about how Dhavita’s love freed her — affirm their marriage, and kiss.

Afterward, the feasting begins. As Nobody and Resh commissioned a large amount of food preparation, the feast continues well into the night, even as additional people arrive having heard about the growing party on the edge of town. Headmaster Jepson presents Dhavita and Marguerite with a gift: two red bezoars, or toadstones, to be used as bindi; Dhavita and Marguerite accept them thankfully and adorn them immediately. Dhavita and Marguerite speak to everyone in the crowd, making introductions. Croitus, having apparently heard that wedding gifts are traditional, awkwardly gives the pair a large cooking pot. They accept it graciously, and as he seems lonely, Marguerite asks if he wishes to dance; he declines, saying he is fine by himself. When asked, however, Nobody deigns to dance with Dhavita. Apparently, during the night’s proceedings, the group makes quite an impression on Ianrry Chandler, Captain of the Guard. He notes that if they wish to remain in Duchy Jepson, he might have jobs available for them with the local guard. Resh expresses an interest.

During the proceedings, Nobody makes a point of introducing herself to Vianibrar’s tattooed friend, evidently named Ekaterina.

As Dhavita seems hesitant to leave Marguerite after just getting married, the group agrees to postpone the journey to Vonseloth for a day.

The next morning, everyone awakens to find the tavern serving leftovers, as there seem to be plenty. So that Khuna may spend the day with Marguerite, the others decide to get provisions and horses for the journey tomorrow. Resh, however, does note to Khuna that it seems a bit odd for her to be so emotional about her former slave-master. He admonishes her to tread carefully.

Nobody also runs into Ekaterina, who apologizes for any curtness she may have shown at the wedding when Nobody asked about her tattoos. She received her tattoos from the same source Nobody received some of hers, revealing a large tattoo of a peacock on her back. The adventuring party known as the Shields of the Sorrowfell purchased her freedom in exchange for information she had, and now she works with them. Things are better now, but the past is still something they carry with them.

The rest of the day passes pleasantly.

Meanwhile, back on Harvester 21, Southie rides north. As he rides, he catches sight of a piece of paper stuffed underneath his saddle. Reading it, it appears to be a note from Croitus, indicating that he still wishes to aid Southie’s cause, and that if he returns after their tasks are complete, he will assist him. He stows the note and continues on his ride. While passing through farmland, he is ambushed by a small raiding party of gnolls. Although his dire boar is wounded in the battle, Southie makes short and bloody work of the gnolls, torturing the last to death when he will not reveal the location of his fellows’ camp. He impales two of their severed heads on his boar’s tusks as a decoration, and then rides onward, trying to track the gnolls, concerned that they are threatening Duchy Jepson.

He quickly becomes lost, and camps the night in an unfamiliar field.

The next day, he manages to track the gnolls back to a large encampment containing, perhaps, several dozen. When he finds it difficult to approach without being seen, he leaps into the fray, hoping to kill a couple of gnoll guards before they can raise the alarm.

They are brutally slain, but one summons the others before being killed.

Southie then retreats to a defensible position in the hills. The gnolls, armed with bows, fire volleys of arrows at him, but he manages to find cover. He then charges into the fray, killing a handful of gnolls before catching sight of their chieftain and challenging him. He orders another volley of arrows before charging through the throng to meet Southie. They regard one another, then enter battle.

Although the gnoll chief is a potent warrior and manages to disarm Southie, this prompts Southie to tackle him to the ground and begin biting him, savaging him with his sharpened teeth. A bite to the thigh becomes fatal when it severs the femoral artery.

As the gnoll chief gasps his last, Southie rises and tells the gnolls he is their chief. They are evidently not cowed by his display of force, and shower him with a volley of arrows, which he only narrowly escapes. He retreats to plot his next move.

View
Session 23

Earthday, Harvester 20, 552 CY (50 AN)

Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, Southie, and Vianibrar continue discussions regarding future plans. Marguerite and Sati remain, but say little. After further discussion, Nobody reveals her weariness of protracted fighting; she wishes to be done with it. She hopes now only to find her people. Southie takes this very personally, again reiterating that he thought they were a warband, but they evidently are not. The others indicate that they wish to help her find her people, as they owe her that much; Southie argues that since she will not help the abolitionist cause, they owe her nothing. Vianibrar, indicating they appear to have more to discuss, takes his leave. The argument finally ends with the apparent consensus that Croitus, Khuna, and Resh will assist Nobody in the search for her people, traveling to Vonseloth to the west, while Marguerite and Sati will remain in Duchy Jepson. Upset by this turn of events, Southie sulks and drinks in the inn while the others go their separate ways. Croitus goes to rest by the riverbed while Resh returns to the Wizard’s Tower to sleep. Nobody goes to find Vianibrar, who is presently speaking with Darstina; Nobody learns that Darstina will likely return to Scandshar on the morrow on some errand. Vianibrar expects The Pentad will take the refugees back to their homelands tomorrow as well. Khuna spends some time with Margot while Sati goes to see if the refugees need any further assistance.

After drinking a little, Southie leaves to see if he can purchase a mount. While initially looking for horses, he does find a dire boar for sale that seems serviceable. He purchases the beast, along with barding and stabling for the night. While he is waiting, he is approached by a disheveled, grimy tiefling. His head is shaved and his horns have been filed down to the skull. He indicates that Southie has questions, questions that can be answered by the Terrible Old Man. Such as how to kill the gods. This interests Southie, who inquires about Godenschemering; the nameless tiefling replies that it may be found in the mind of an orphan boy, far across the ocean. The tiefling further indicates the Terrible Old Man lives in the Black Moor swamp to the north. Southie notes that this sounds suspiciously like a trap, but the somewhat deranged tiefling insists it is no trap. Southie says he’ll kill him should he find it to be otherwise, but deciding to let him go, he gives the tiefling a gold piece for his trouble. The seemingly confused tiefling swallows the coin; Southie grabs him and tries to shake it out of him to retrieve it, but finally allows him to leave in disgust.

The group rests for the remainder of the day. Having the opportunity to do so, Dhavita explains what Marguerite saw earlier, regarding her need for blood; she explains what little she knows of her vampiric heritage. The next morning, Freeday, Harvester 21, Dhavita and Margot are awakened by a single, firm pound on the door. Marguerite and she discuss matters for a moment before Khuna quickly dresses and answers the door. There is a note on the outside of the door, pinned to it with a standard-issue Scandshar Watch dagger. Scrawled in Southie’s hand, the letter reads thusly:

SONG B IY IRD,

I tHoght wE wERE WArBand LiKE FAmily Maybe? But IS clEar, WE ARE not. WE ARE Not 4 four EacH othER, but evEryONE FoR THEmselvEs. WE ARE Not WARBAND and I am A Problem four you

I WIll NO loNGER BotHEr You WILl purRsue Own goALs as REST of GRoup doES HOPE YOu HAppy WITH WIFE.

Best,
SOUTHIE

Somewhat nervous at the potential confrontation, Khuna and Marguerite decide to go to down to the common room. Southie is there, already eating breakfast. Khuna addresses him again, trying to explain that a disagreement does not need to mean that the group is dissolved — just as Southie has things he wants to do, it is perfectly acceptable for others in the group to have goals they wish to accomplish. Southie, however, argues that it seems the group is not committed to the anti-slavery movement, and will go their own separate ways.

After some of this back-and-forth, Croitus, Nobody, and Resh eventually filter into the Addled Alchemist. Nobody sits away from Southie, while the others discuss plans with her. As the conversation becomes more heated between Khuna and Southie, Croitus invites Marguerite to sit with him. Nobody and Resh, having decided to go hunting, decide to go out front and prepare. Southie finally storms out of the Addled Alchemist.

Southie passes Nobody and Resh along the way, and Resh indicates the plan to go hunting, and asks if Southie wishes to join. He declines, retrieves his boar from the stable, and leaves Duchy Jepson through the north gate.

Nobody and Resh leave to go hunting while Khuna decides to search for houses in preparation of returning and living in Duchy Jepson. Croitus decides to accompany her and Marguerite. As the members of the group each performs their respective activities, they see The Pentad ascend into the air, apparently ready to take the refugees back to their residences. There are few unoccupied buildings in Jepson, but in speaking with some of the local builders, she commissions a two-story stone house to be built. Croitus requests a hut to be built on the property, so that he may have a place to stay occasionally; Khuna agrees, and Croitus insists on paying a notable portion of the total purchase price. Marguerite asks about Khuna’s mother, and so Khuna goes to ask Sati what she wishes to do about a house. She is typically nonchalant, and says if she can stay in the Tower for the time being. Perhaps she will save her money and purchase a house of her own?

With their course of action set, Croitus, Khuna, and Marguerite pay masons to begin construction, which they estimate to take around two months. The hut should only take a day or two to finish. They are welcome to avail themselves of the inn in the interim.

After Croitus takes his leave, Khuna asks if Marguerite wishes to be married — if such a thing is possible, given her current marital status. She says that this is a somewhat sudden development, although she has considered it. She is not entirely confident in her ability to settle into the domestic life after spending her whole life in the aristocracy, but as Khuna notes, she managed an entire household. Just the two of them should be relatively simple in comparison. After some consideration, Marguerite agrees.

Khuna and Marguerite ask around and are directed to Abbot Aelius, a priest of Pelor, currently in the vicinity of the Wizard’s Tower. They find him, and Khuna explains that they wish to be married, although Marguerite is technically already married to another. The marriage, however, is almost assuredly done. Abbot Aelius says that something can likely be done regarding the matter. He asks if there are any particulars to the ceremony, and Khuna indicates she just wants it done simply, in one of the nearby fields. She does request fire be incorporated into the ceremony, as per the traditions in her homeland of Nadhi. Aelius agrees, and they agree to meet in three hours for the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Nobody and Resh scour the surrounding fields and woods and manage to return with two large boar that they suspect will provide good feasting that night.

Southie, for his part, begins heading to the Black Moor to the north…

View
Session 22

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.

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Session 21

Earthday, Harvester 20, 552 CY (50 AN)

Khuna awakens with a jolt. Margot, sleeping next to her, awakens at the disturbance. After inquiring, Khuna explains that she has dreams — visions, of a sort — and she believes the Peacocks and the Scandshar Watch are coming for her. Despite it being early morning, Khuna decides to gather the others; they quickly dress and go down to the common room of the inn.

In the common room, three figures sit around a table. Khuna recognizes Darstina Tallcrippler. Sitting with her is the elven bard she previously saw in the inn. She does not recognize the other woman, a slender, light-skinned human wearing traveler’s garb. Her exposed skin from the neck down is covered in tattoos.

The elven bard and Lady Marguerite recognize each other, and he rises to greet her. He ascertains that her companion must be Dhavita; he expresses that as someone who “escaped the slave pits, bloodied the nose of the Peacocks, and seduced the most beautiful woman in Scandshar,” he is already fond of her. They talk briefly, and he notes that he believes her nameless eladrin friend is sleeping within the refugee camp. Before parting, she introduces herself officially as Dhavita, and he introduces himself as Vianibrar.

Khuna finds her mother, Sati, at the refugee site. She asks if Sati slept at all — some, she replies; she wanted to see if there was anything to be done — before looking around for Nobody. She finds the eladrin lying on the ground in meditative repose. Nobody awakens at her and Marguerite’s approach, and Khuna explains that she has had a vision of the Peacocks tracking them through Dawnslight. She does not know if they are coming this way. Additionally, Zafira Shulud is with them.

After further discussion, they decide to get the others. Nobody will go find Croitus, presumably down by the river, while Khuna will go to the Wizard’s Tower to find Resh and Southie.

Nobody leaves Duchy Jepson and approaches the river. Near where Croitus usually lurks, she finds a man in plate armor sitting on a rock, sharpening his sword. In the pre-dawn light, she can vaguely see a black shape floating in the river — likely Croitus. The armored man has his back to her, and so she stands, waiting for him to turn around or address her. After a few minutes, the man continues sharpening his sword, but addresses her, asking what she wants. After determining that he is apparently there to speak with Croitus — the armament certainly doesn’t make it seem like a promising conversation — she stonewalls his questions, positioning herself in the river between him and Croitus. She makes a half-hearted attempt to bathe herself, while still fully clothed, largely to make enough noise to make certain Croitus is aware of her presence. She stares at the knight all the while.

Croitus eventually emerges from the river, and addresses the knight. He puts his sword away as he answers, explaining that he is Sir Stígandr Hafrnsson, a devotee of the Raven Queen. He is there to ascertain certain things about Croitus, apparently operating on the assumption that Croitus is a devotee of the dead god Nerull. Croitus explains that he is not, that he escaped the accursed god Gauna that created him and adorned himself with tattoos of the deity in opposition to free himself from his malign god’s influence. He cannot guarantee that he would not serve Nerull or anybody else in the future, but it would be his choice. After discussion, the knight says he will need to contemplate this. He is certain they shall meet again. With that, the quixotic knight takes his leave.

Finally alone, Nobody addresses Croitus, explaining what Khuna told her. He thinks they will need to perform more research on these matters. They head to the Wizard’s Tower.

Meanwhile, Khuna and Lady Marguerite approach the dormitory reserved for Croitus, Resh, and Southie. Khuna knocks on the door, and is answered by a somewhat sleepy Resh. She explains the details of her dream, and asks if he has seen Southie. He has not. She says he is probably fine, and she and Marguerite continue on their way to address the Headmaster. Resh returns to bed.

Only he find he cannot sleep; Southie preys on his mind, as he often does. Resh rises and decides to start his search at the inn.

Resh finds the innkeeper and three figures at the Addled Alchemist — Darstina, a tattooed woman, and an elven bard. He greets Darstina, noting that she seems to be around whenever they need to leave in a hurry. He asks the innkeeper where Southie is staying, and upon learning the room, goes off to speak with him.

He knocks on Southie’s door, and Southie tells him to enter. He does, finding Southie standing at his window, looking out over the town. Southie indicates to him that he had a glorious dream last night, and as a result, he has come to the conclusion that he wants to eat the liver of a noble or a wizard — someone who doesn’t move around much, so the liver gets fatty and flavorful like that of foie gras. He concedes that he won’t eat any of the wizards in this town, but it’s something he now desires. Hopefully soon.

Resh informs him of Khuna’s dream, and indicates that she is at the Wizard’s Tower. He agrees to gather. Going downstairs, Southie notices the fancily-dressed elven bard and addresses him, asking if he has owned any slaves. The elf replies that he is actually head of the largest abolitionist group in the region. Southie then inquires after his rank or noble title, and upon learning that he has none, turns to the bar and completely ignores him. He orders a lightly-seared steak and ale to tide him over, then he and Resh go to the Wizard’s Tower.

Khuna and Marguerite arrive at the Headmaster’s office. As they enter, they learn the Headmaster is not within; instead, it is the severe, dark-haired man who was there last night when The Pentad docked. Introductions are made, and he introduces himself as Magister Remegni. They discuss matters, and she describes her prophetic dreams, describing the one she had last evening about Dawnslight. He makes further inquiries, and determines they do not know precisely what time her vision is supposed to occur.

As discussions continue, Croitus and Nobody arrive, followed in short order by Resh and Southie. Khuna continues her description of events, and her concerns that the Peacocks are somehow tracking her by way of sympathetic magic. Southie does not recall Zafira having harvested any piece of her to use in sympathetic magic, and Remegni assures her that a Sending ritual does not normally allow scrying. In fact, Duchy Jepson is protected by wards that prevent against scrying — the Sending reached Khuna as it is not technically a divination ritual — so she should be safe here. In terms of the Peacocks or Scandshar attempting to go to war with Jepson to retrieve the escaped gladiators, that is also unlikely. They probably suspect it, but without proof, they would be hard-pressed to indulge in all-out war. Additionally, while they would probably win a protracted engagement with Jepson, any conflict would likely be too costly to merit, particularly for such a small target. Instead, Scandshar and the Peacocks will likely just attempt to capture anyone they can use as a scapegoat — like Lord Weogora, given that he bears responsibility for Khuna’s crimes as her master — and publicly execute those people as a heavily-publicized victory.

As a lull approaches in the conversation, Croitus inquires about his own issues with devotees of various gods, and Remegni directs him to Sir Krizaut, loremaster of the library. Croitus takes his leave to begin researching.

After further discussion, Nobody, Resh, and Southie go downstairs to the mess hall to get breakfast; Khuna and Marguerite remain behind to inquire about the possibility of sending a message to Lord Weogora in Dawnslight. Remegni indicates it is possible, particularly with the Sending ritual, although the components for such would cost around 400 gp. He says he will see about gathering them. Khuna thanks him, and she and Marguerite leave to join the others at breakfast.

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Session 20

Earthday, Harvester 20, 552 CY (50 AN)

While Khuna is quickly bandaging Croitus’ wounds, he devours his regrown toe to accelerate his recovery. Southie prepares to move forward to meet the travelers, but Khuna recalls him. Margot explains that she wants no more bloodshed, but Khuna suggests he doesn’t understand such things; she merely explains that as her singing makes Southie happy, letting the soldiers live would make her happy. He seems displeased, but accepts. Croitus reanimates the dead treant and commands it to hold at attention next to the fallen lookout. In all respects, it appears as a tree, albeit one that has been damaged.

As a group, Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie, along with Lady Marguerite and Sati, move into the brush and woods to hide. As the torches approach, it becomes apparent that the travelers are a group of guardsmen and soldiers, complete with dogs and horses. Lord Weogora leads them. The group notes that the dogs and horses seem spooked.

The soldiers examine the body, and seem to conclude this man was killed by the tree by the side of the road, possibly a slumbering treant. They give it a wide berth and continue down the road for a brief ways; once they determine there is no trail, they return to the road near the tree. They are about to fan out when the tree rattles to life, booming that they interrupt the work of “the children of Nerull.” Croitus is surprised, as he is not controlling the tree at the moment. For emphasis, the treant swipes at the throng of soldiers, knocking down three of them with mortal blows. The soldiers retreat at this time, returning to the village.

The dead tree gestures and the three fallen soldiers rise. It and its retinue lumber over to the woods, where it addresses the group, although it seems to be addressing Croitus in particular. It tells him that he has ignored his duty, but he has work to complete. Once it has delivered its message, it collapses into a pile of branches and sticks. The three dead soldiers shuffle into the night.

Resh searches the fallen lookout, gathering his signal arrows. Noting that the airship stopped its advance once Lord Weogora and his men appeared, he fires another signal arrow. It begins moving again. As it moves, the group discusses Nerull — some among them recognize the name of a dead death god, betrayed by his mortal consort who stole his divinity and became the Raven Queen. The spelljammer eventually comes to a stop, hovering above the road. A rope ladder drops, and the group begins boarding. Resh carries the fallen lookout’s body up to the ship with them.

Upon meeting Gloomblight Spellweaver, Resh explains what happened to the lookout, and Khuna introduces Lady Marguerite and Sati. The group then readies themselves for the journey, with Nobody going belowdecks to drink and Southie lashing himself to the mast.

The journey past the clouds is uneventful, but as they reach open space, Croitus is standing on the poop deck when a towering figure appears behind him. A pale-skinned humanoid female wearing black robes and bearing black-feathered wings and a fiery scythe descends behind him, swinging her scythe. He backpedals out of the way, but falls over the back railing, hanging on with one hand. Khuna sends Margot and Sati belowdecks both for their own safety and to fetch Nobody, while Southie immediately leaps into the fray as Resh fires arrows at the angelic figure. Its robes seem to repel most assaults, although Southie’s brutal strikes find purchase in the creature’s essence. Croitus manages to hang onto the railing with one hand while trying to fend off the angel with his spear, although his task is significantly easier as Southie’s assault seems to distract the creature. It turns its full attention to Southie, dealing him a grievous injury with its divine scythe, although he stands his ground, launching at the thing with his axe. When Nobody emerges from belowdecks, she launches herself at it, but its strange robes repel her assault. The lapse in its attention gives Southie the opportunity to cleanly separate its head from its shoulders; before it dissipates, he addresses the angel, saying, “Tell your master come the Southie revolution, the Raven Queen is the first against the wall.”

Once the commotion dies down on the deck, the ship returns to normal operations. Khuna treats Southie’s injuries. Gloomblight Spellweaver inquires about Croitus being an angel’s target; he explains that he does not know, merely that it likely has something to do with the tribe that used to take his pronouncements as prophecy. He will have to research further. Gloomblight offers his assistance if he is able.

Upon returning to the Wizard’s Tower, Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie, along with Margot and Sati, all disembark. There is a pale man they do not recognize in Headmaster Jepson’s library, and Gloomblight approaches him to speak. The group goes their separate ways to rest; Croitus goes down by the river to speak, Nobody goes out to the refugee camp to sleep beneath the stars, and Resh returns to the dormatories reserved for their use. Southie goes to the Tower library, attempting to research the Raven Queen and deicide — his information on the Raven Queen largely matches what the others said, although on the topic of deicide, he learns of a legendary dagger called Godenschemering. Supposedly made by the primordials to slay the gods during the Dawn War, the weapon was never used. It allegedly lies somewhere in the world, although rumors place it all over. Once finished for the night, he goes to the inn to get a room.

Khuna goes to the inn with Margot and Sati to reserve rooms; Southie also decides to get a room at the inn. Khuna makes certain to reserve a room for her mother as far away from her as possible, so that she and Margot can enjoy being together once again.

That night, Khuna dreams of Dawnslight. A contingent of soldiers from Scandshar approaches the gates, indicating they have legal authority to seek Lord and Lady Weogora for arrest. The guardsmen fetch the magistrate, Shaward Torranol, who explains that Lady Weogora is gone — a group of five adventurers came through and apparently left with her and one of her handmaidens. The soldier inquires to his group if they heard that, and a woman — pale, dressed as an aristocrat — says she did. The woman is accompanied by several thugs, and one familiar figure — Zafira Shulud. Zafira inquires as to whether the terms of her arrangement still stand; the woman replies that as she has not yet helped them find her quarry, she is owed nothing. Perhaps she will be charged in their absence? The woman then turns back to the magistrate and says she wishes to speak to Lord Weogora.

She approaches his inn room and enters. Lord Weogora seems surprised to see her, and suggests she is, or appears to be, the infamous Lord Key; he lunges at her with his rapier, but her body appears to melt away from the blow. She retaliates by somehow forming her hand into a strange, plastic mass like a large bludgeon, striking his rapier hand with the fleshy club and breaking it. He curls inward to clutch the hand, but uses that as an opportunity to reach for his boot dagger. He lunges at her, and her flesh again twists and warps away from the blow. She catches his arm with the undulating blob, and commands one of her henchmen; he advances with a hammer and breaks his other hand. Collapsing and howling in pain, she orders her henchmen to drag him away.

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Session 19

Waterday, Harvester 19, 552 CY (50 AN)

Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie walk towards Dawnslight, discussing plans along the way. Eventually conceding they know very little about the situation they are about to enter, they decide to go into the village without a plan in the hopes of performing reconnaissance and developing a plan from there.

In roughly a quarter of an hour, they approach the settlement. The village is predominantly mud-and-wood huts and some attached farmland, surrounded by a low wall. Three buildings dominate the village — a large wooden building that appears to be an inn, a large timber hall that is likely the town hall, and a small but sturdy stone temple.

As the group approaches, they see someone by the side of the road, gathering saffron crocus bulbs in a basket. Khuna recognizes the human as one of the stable hands from the Weogora estates, but as she is wearing her mask and does not wish to give herself away, she says nothing.

They approach the gate, and explaining to the guards that they are travelers, are allowed entry without difficulty. Khuna does notice, however, that a House Weogora guard stands with the village’s watch, however. After some consideration, the group decides to go to the local inn for further information.

The travelers immediately notice a fair amount of activity around the inn; the place is replete with village guards, intermixed with a few Weogora house guards. The inn, the Sinter of Attention, is filled with a few miners drinking at the bar. In addition to one or two members of the waitstaff, the inn seems replete with a mix of village guardsmen and a handful of Weogora house guards. The other segment of the inn’s population appears to be servants — servants whom Khuna recognizes as former slaves and servants under Lord Weogora. At the far end of the room, near the stairs, she recognizes one slave in particular — her mother, Sati. As Sati sees the adventurers, there seems to be some manner of recognition at seeing the masked Khuna, but she says nothing.

Croitus detaches from the group and starts a card game with some of the miners using his mountebank’s deck. The rest of the group addresses the matron behind the bar, asking for food and drink. She charges a gold and they take a table. Khuna takes the moment to point out her mother, and request that no one attacks her if things get messy. While sitting, drinking, and eating, they eavesdrop on the conversations, trying to get a sense of the dynamics of the village. It appears that the miners are somewhat annoyed at the prospect of these out-of-towners, and there is a little tension, but otherwise the village is relatively quiet at the moment.

The silence is interrupted as a couple of guards descend the stairs, flanking a well-dressed man. Wearing white makeup and a fabulous wig, he looks prepared for riding. Despite his foppish exterior, however, he portrays an aura of confidence and slow-burning rage; a warrior’s spirit hidden behind brocade cloth and pancake makeup. Khuna immediately recognizes the visage of Lord Weogora as he scans the room, noting the newcomers. Southie, seeing a fellow warrior, makes eager eye contact with him; Lord Weogora nods silently in greeting, and continues on his way.

The room, having gone silent at the lord’s approach, is about to resume conversation when Southie asks, “Who the fuck was that?” The miners at the bar chuckle, while one of the servants timidly informs him that it was Lord Weogora. As he rambles on the subject for a bit, Khuna takes the opportunity to wander around the inn. Operating on the pretense of inquiring about the Weogoras among the servants, she wanders over to her mother. Sati indicates she is pleased to see her daughter is alive and well, although it probably would have been better had she not come here; Khuna inquires about Lady Weogora. She is here, currently upstairs in the rooms. Khuna asks if Sati wishes to leave this place — she would be glad to do so — and then asks for Sati to deliver a message to Margot, asking if she similarly wants to leave. Sati indicates she will do so.

Khuna then moves around the common room, inquiring with another servant or two before speaking to the miners. As previously ascertained, they are somewhat annoyed at the prospect of having these out-of-town nobles infringing on their business. They don’t quite know why they’re here, though; something to do with some deal among noble houses out west. Possibly some legal trouble related to the slave revolt in Scandshar? The miners aren’t completely certain.

As the travelers continue to hang around the inn, they inquire about rooms for the evening. The matron explains that all rooms are currently occupied, but she can give them access to the town hall for use as a common room; she’ll charge a gold piece for a night. They agree.

Eventually, Sati goes upstairs. Shortly thereafter, Southie, wanting to investigate further, also goes upstairs, but finds himself tailed by a guard. Noting several guards in the hall upstairs, and having been told several times to keep quiet, he explains himself by indicating he wanted to check on his favorite room, claiming to have been here several months previous. As he returns downstairs, he continues this charade by loudly and graphically describing a sexual conquest to the guardsman. Sati pushes past him.

Southie, still determined to somehow gain access to Lord Weogora’s room while he is away, goes outside around the back of the inn. Several guards are posted here. Southie decides to feign drunkenness and collapse in a pile of garbage, hoping to “sleep” there until there is a less active guard presence. However, the guards heft him up and drag him to the local constable’s station so he can sleep off his ale. A guard detaches from the group to go fetch the village priest. Not wanting to enter prison under any circumstances, Southie tries to convince them he’s better before finally just shoving coins at them and assuring them he’ll keep to himself. A guardsman approaches with a robed dwarven priest who blesses Southie, and then the group lets him go.

After a bit more waiting, Sati approaches the bar and orders a drink for Lady Weogora. As she does so, she presses a note into Khuna’s hand. She returns to her position near the stairs. Khuna excuses herself to one of the privies; Nobody offers to follow. Khuna enters one of the privies while Nobody waits outside. Southie returns, and seeing Nobody waiting outside a privy, asks if all is well and if he need to assist. She explains that two people waiting outside a privy is more suspicious than one, so she convinces him to return to the inn.

Khuna reads the letter — it is definitely Lady Margot’s handwriting, and starts with a lot of mushy, gushing phrases that Khuna is not inclined to repeat to anyone. It also indicates that Margot is willing to leave, and will find them tonight. Satisfied, Khuna burns the letter and then exits the privy.

The rest of the afternoon is taken with milling around the inn. Eventually, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie all move to the town hall, while Croitus continues his card game with some of the locals. While waiting for night to approach, Khuna and Resh both nap.

Khuna dreams — she floats in a vast starfield dominated by a great, floating woman emanating a soft, blue light. She reminds Khuna that Lady Weogora will not forgive her if she should kill Lord Weogora — despite what he did to Khuna, love is complicated. She notes that if necessary, it could be done without Lady Weogora’s knowledge, although a lie is hardly a strong basis for a relationship. She finally notes that Khuna must hurry, as “they” are coming. She awakens before getting any further information.

Eventually, Croitus returns — having intentionally lost a little money but having gained some rapport with the local workers — and the group waits. Nobody keeps watch outside.

Around midnight, two figures appear out of the gloom, both carrying bags. One is recognizable as Khuna’s mother, Sati, while the other is apparently a servant, swathed in a sari with only her eyes visible. Once Nobody inquires if these are the people they are seeking, and Sati replies affirmatively. She brings them inside the town hall.

Khuna recognizes Lady Weogora’s eyes and movements despite her attempts to hide herself. They gather their things and leave immediately. They make it through the gate without incident — the village guards evidently see little suspicious about the comings-and-goings of the foreign folk — and start down the road.

About a mile down the road, a lone figure in light armor leans against the tree. As they walk past, he asks if they are the ones waiting for a ship. Khuna, suspicious because of the vague warning in her dream, does not answer, but Nobody affirms this. He says he needs to signal it. He pulls out his bow, nocks an arrow, and fires it into the air. It whistles as it travels.

There is a moment of silence before something barrels out of the brush towards the signal man. A large, mobile tree — evidently enraged at the sound or otherwise perturbed at their presence — slams into the man, sending him sprawling across the path. He collapses and lays still.

Khuna makes certain Lady Weogora and Sati are well out of the way before engaging. Nobody and Southie launch at the beast with their weapons, while Resh peppers it with arrows. Croitus pulls his newly-enchanted spear. Nobody fights defensively while Southie throws himself at the creature, hacking off limbs with each swing. Annoyed by Resh’s arrows, the creature hits him with a heavy limb, knocking him off the path and into the brush. Khuna makes her way over to him to treat him. Croitus launches at the beast with his spear, but its barbed tip bounces off his heavy bark. It slams him with a heavy limb, sending him sprawling off the path. He is about to open one of his canopic jars when Southie finally slices the thing in two. It collapses and lays still.

Khuna goes over to Croitus to bandage his wounds when she spots the flicker of torchlight along the path, coming from the direction of the village of Dawnslight.

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Session 18

Waterday, Harvester 19, 552 CY (50 AN)

The group divides. Croitus continues to stay in the river. Khuna and Nobody continue to help at the refugee camp. Resh returns to his room to take a nap. Southie goes to the Addled Alchemist to have a beer.

While Khuna is continuing her work among the refugees, she feels mental contact from Zafira Shulud, who indicates that her friends are going to do something terrible and that she is in danger. If Khuna tells Zafira where she is, Zafira can come help her. She refuses, stalling and requesting further information; when Zafira’s voice repeats the query, Khuna responds, “My friends are what keep me safe. Thank you for your concern. I’m not telling you where I am.”

Khuna informs Nobody of Zafira’s contact attempt, but notes that she did not divulge her location. She notes Zafira’s assertion that her friends will do something bad on the off chance that it’s actually relevant information. After some discussion, Khuna considers the fact that waiting for the spelljammer to depart might be a bad idea, as keeping Southie waiting is just asking for trouble. Khuna discusses this with Adeptus Gloomblight Spellweaver, asking if it is possible to get underway more swiftly than tomorrow morning. He indicates the crew can be ready in two hours. Khuna agrees.

While Khuna goes to discuss this with Croitus, Nobody goes to look for Southie.

Khuna finds Croitus in the river where they left him. She throws a large stone into the river, prompting him to surface to determine what she wants. She notes her communication with Zafira, and explains that they will leave for Dawnslight via spelljammer in two hours; he acknowledges and she returns to Duchy Jepson.

Nobody returns to their suite of rooms in the Wizard’s Tower. Knocking on the door, Resh answers; she asks after Southie, and Resh says he’s not around, that he thinks he went for a beer. Nobody goes to find him, and at the suggestion that Southie is unaccounted, Resh decides to accompany.

They arrive at the Addled Alchemist to find Southie and the couple of other drunks in the bar having a loud, raucous sing along. Southie is notably inebriated, having purchased an entire keg of dwarven stout which he has been drinking by himself this entire time. They decide to stay to keep an eye on him; having a couple of beers themselves. Southie, for the most part, is relatively sedated. Nobody grabs him and holds him out a window when he starts urinating in the corner, and he punches one of the drunks in the face at one point, but otherwise manages to keep it together.

When Khuna returns and finds everyone gone, she looks around Duchy Jepson for Southie. She hears the raucous noise emanating from the inn, and decides to investigate.

Khuna finds Nobody, Resh, Southie, and a gaggle of drunks within, along with the serving staff. Southie requests that she regale them with a song; she quickly does so, which the drunks seem to appreciate. She informs the others that they leave in a little less than two hours, and also notes her encounter with Zafira. As Southie gets more riotous, slamming his axe into a table, the barkeep suggests they ought to leave. Khuna pays for the damages, and the group returns to the Wizard’s Tower.

Meanwhile, Croitus was sunning himself on the riverbank. He decides to go to the Wizard’s Tower and wait in the Headmaster’s study atop the tower for the spelljammer to leave. He sees Adeptus Gloomblight Spellweaver come through, apparently informing the Headmaster in the change in itinerary.

Back in their rooms, the group packs and Southie finishes his cask of ale. They manage to pass the two hours with no real trouble before ascending the tower to depart.

Atop the tower, they move across a gangplank to a ship, hanging from a scaffold. It is swarming with crewmen, and Adeptus Spellweaver introduces himself, explaining that he is the quartermaster and so this is his ship. After introductions are made, he explains that the ship travels faster outside an atmosphere, so they will be ascending to the edge of the atmosphere, repositioning, and descending again. The entire process will take about two hours to reach Dawnslight.

The ship takes the better part of an hour ascending, pushing through the cloud layer and finally to the inky blackness beyond. Croitus and Resh are relatively blasé about the whole thing; Croitus even basks in a sunny spot, particularly once they breach the clouds. Southie urinates off the side of the ship, but ties himself to the mask and creeps closer to the mast as they get higher. Nobody is exceedingly upset by this; she thinks it’s unnatural to leave the land in such a fashion, and eventually retreats belowdecks to drink with the crew. Khuna is fascinated, and watches the whole thing with rapt attention. At one point, a crewman pulls her back onto the ship because she is leaning so far forward; afterward, Southie ties her to the mast just in case.

Khuna asks many questions, particularly about the void of space once they arrive — Adeptus Spellweaver explains that the world seems curved because it is a sphere. Gravity pulls things toward the surface of the planet, just as it is maintaining the gravity plane of the ship right now. If one were to fall into the void, gravity would pull a small envelope of air around oneself that might last for ten minutes or so. The ship does the same thing, pulling a “bubble” of air that remains breathable for months. Elf ships are frequently organic, grown plantlife that continually produces breathable air so air is less of an issue. The edge of the solar system is defined by a crystal sphere into which the stars are set, and beyond that is the phlogiston — a breathable, highly inflammable substance between the crystal spheres. They tend not to access it all that often, however, because planar shifts have made travel somewhat difficult, and the stars actively hate the world below, because they are so alien. Although this is not true on all worlds, merely this one.

Discussing further, he notes that she is a physician and a scientist. He also notes that there is another physician on staff at the Wizard’s Tower, a Baron Hook; she may be interested in speaking with him. She is always welcome back to the Wizard’s Tower when her other business is complete.

Once charts have been consulted and the ship has been repositioned, the spelljammer descends back into the atmosphere. Khuna again watches with rapt attention as everything happens in reverse.

Adeptus Spellweaver informs them that they will arrive an hour or two outside the village so as not to spook the townsfolk. They will wait twenty-four hours before investigating any delays. The group agrees.

Once the ship is close to the ground, they drop a rope ladder. Nobody leaps off the side of the ship, tangling herself in the rope ladder and landing hard on the ground. Apparently unharmed, she dashes into the underbrush and begins angrily hacking her way into it. As the others descend the ladder, they inquire as to her agitation; she explains that it is unnatural to go so high, and she is pleased to be on the ground again. Southie investigates the brush and catches a rabbit; he flings it at her, thinking this will somehow make her feel better. She sees something flying at her and neatly cleaves it with her spear; she inquires, paranoid, as to where the rabbit originated, and Southie explains that it was his doing. As Croitus has already started wandering down the road towards Dawnslight, the others quickly rush to follow.

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