Codex III-Chapter 11

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When the Captain, Rynn, and Jenika returned Khaska and Amara were sitting outside the High Justice’s office speaking to another man in slightly more fancy and polished armor. Two guards stood on either side of the door. As the group approached, the man speaking with Khaska turned to look at them. The Captain immediately snapped to attention. “Colonel Abner, sir!” He saluted.

The Colonel returned the salute. “Welcome back, Captain. We were worried about you. Last we heard you had discovered the missing carriage but were still tracking this Seth.”

“Yes sir, but, sir, we have other news.”

“Veleria was a vampire,” Rynn said. The Colonel seemed unperturbed.

“We suspected as much. Your friends Khaska and Amara discovered evidence to that effect at Judge Stonehearts. Wait … she was a vampire?”

“She is dead, sir.”

The Colonel grimaced. “That’s unfortunate. She could have provided much information. And Seth?”

“He is the one that killed Veleria, sir. He left before we could persuade him to come here to the Hall of Justice.”

“He saved our lives, Colonel,” said Jenika. “Veleria was about to kill Rynn.”

“That would have been a tragedy.” He held a hand out to Rynn. “Mister Fowler, I am Colonel Gareth Abner. Jenika of Shinadoh, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you both for your assistance in this matter. Please, tell me your story. What happened after you left the other City Guards with the carriage?”

The Captain, Rynn, and Jenika all detailed what had happened. The Colonel had Amara and Khaska tell what they had discovered.

“This is disturbing,” he said. “I will make a full report to the High Justice. Please, wait here.”

He knocked on the door and waited. “Come in,” came the voice. The Colonel disappeared inside.

“If Colonel Abner is here, that means they are taking this all very seriously. He is the highest-ranking member of the city watch,” the Captain said.

They talked more about what had happened to them and the discoveries they had made while they waited. Eventually, the door opened, and the Colonel beckoned the party to come inside.

The High Justice was sitting at his large desk, the files and papers Amara had brought spread out in front of him. “I have been studying these for about an hour now, every since Ms. Palladia brought them. It was obvious that Hormon was not doing his duty as a judge, and that also applies to the case he decided this morning. The one you were involved in. I haven’t fully decided how to handle these cases, and it is late and I wish to consult with some of the other judges. However,” he stood, “I have decided on your portion of the case, Mister Fowler. It is true that I disagree with how you handled the situation with this Adam fellow. In a city bound by laws such as ours, the proper procedures must be followed. If we allowed everybody to run around killing those they thought deserved it, there would be no end of bloodshed, and I will not abide that. I hope you can understand.” Rynn started to say something, but the man held up a hand sharply. “Let me finish, young man. It is true, however, that in your vigilantism you have done this city several great services in uncovering the Shrine of Piety and now tracking this Veleria at my behest when time was critical. So, while I cannot in good conscience erase your conviction of vigilantism, for you did kill an unarmed, bound man, I will drop the fine to a single gold piece.” He reached down for a quill and ink and crossed out something atop one of the pages, writing something else in. “If you have the gold piece now, we can put this entire thing behind us.”

Rynn reached into his haversack and pulled forth a single coin. He tossed it onto the desk with a lazy flick of his wrist. The High Justice took it, and then handed it to Colonel Abner. “Colonel, make sure this gets into the city coffers.”

“Yes, High Justice.”

“Now, you were also injured, Rynn. Colonel Abner says that you have been partially healed, which is good. Downstairs you will find a cadre of city clerics with Hormon. Colonel, please show them out, and make sure Rynn is healed up on the way.”

“Yes, High Justice.”


Back at their inn, the party collapsed into a booth. The magical healing had put Rynn back to his full self, though Khaska was curious to examine the wound on his neck. There were two small scars where Veleria’s teeth had penetrated—and they would remain there forever, the cleric was quite confident.

As the party sat around the table and ordered food, that was when Amara brought out the note from Veleria’s desk. “I bet they’ll find my fake,” she said. “But we have this one.”

“So the question is,” said Khaska. “What do we do with this information?”

Eryx (DM)
Welcome back Thev and Sayya. I hope your summers are going well, and that you are settling into your new job, Sayya.

To sum up what you know:
1. Veleria was enthralling Judge Stoneheart by making him addicted to her blood.
2. Judge Stoneheart was ruling in favor of the Sendylus guild consistently.
3. Veleria is in contact with a “Lord Maramos,” and the Peaceful Children are providing unspecified services to Lord Maramos and his people.
4. There are other people working in the service of Lord Maramos. You don’t know who they are.
5. It would be well worth it to reread the letter to refresh what it says in your mind and I don’t have to keep giving you bullet points.

What are you going to do about the letter? You planted a fake that is very likely to be discovered soon (you got the impression very strongly that Colonel Abner’s involvement means this is being taken very seriously). Just to help refresh, here’s the original with the parts you edited out for the fake one in strikeout font.

Lord Maramos,
I have bad tidings. The Peaceful Children were discovered and exposed here in the city, and in such a public way that the Knights must investigate. I know not what that portends for our dealings with them and the services they bring us. Therylassa was killed, and her idiot assistant was captured. I know nothing else aside from the rumors that I have heard. Stoneheart thinks that taking the case will garner us nothing, and I concur. Otherwise, all is well here. Those working for us or under our thrall continue to support our causes.
Veleria

Thevarou
And for the other players' information, the letter was addressed to the head of the Sendylus guild, who apparently in Sith-like fashion goes by the title of "Lord Maramos" in whatever organization he and Veleria represent.

Khaska's unsure of what to do; while he has an inkling that the High Justice and Colonel Abner would be good allies and potentially trustworthy with the information (after all, the High Justice recognized the bias toward the Sendylus guild in Stoneheart's rulings), they could also be under vempiric influence and merely be quite good actors who know how to cover up a revealed plot. One person Khaska thinks they can trust more surely is the Captain who went with Rynn and found Veleria; or maybe members of the party could volunteer their services to the guard for (at least part of) the duration of the investigation, expressing that they wish to be involved, but would rather do it under official auspices and with the expertise that the city's guard would have. That would mean that the party itself could keep an eye on the proceedings, perhaps uncovering more subterfuge.

Also, can I retroactively roll Sense Motive on the High Justice and Colonel Abner? I think it's worth a shot, and I think it's what Khaska would do anyway.

Eryx (DM)
It was brought to my attention that Sense Motive Checks are my purview.

You didn't get the impression that they were lying or covering something up.

BlackWolf
Sense Motive checks are supposed to be rolled secretly by the DM, but we should still tell you when we specifically want to use that skill, right? (And you may roll it for us on other occasions too.) Just making sure I'm clear.

"'What do we do?'" Rynn echos back to Khaska. He's no longer frustrated, so he speaks in even tones. "What do you mean? Haven't we done enough already? We've already helped the innocents of this city as much as I know how. And how are we thanked for it? We get yanked around by the chain! No matter what we do, we get reprimanded or attacked. And now we don't even know who we can trust."

Rynn is bothered by the part of the letter that says "… and the services [the Knights] bring us." For the first time, this casts doubt in his mind as to whether the Knights of the Silver Dragons can be trusted. This just makes him all the more anxious to leave Hammerdine — perhaps forever. Everywhere he turns there is trouble and corruption. Not to mention that the ranger is out of his element.

Nevertheless, Rynn won't object to further investigations/helping here in Hammerdine. He may spend a goodly portion of his time out on the edge of the city, but he'll be willing to help the group if they need him specifically. He will even go so far as to check out of the inn and sleep out there.

The thing that worries Rynn the most (at this point) is what happened to the people who left on the pilgrimages with the Peaceful Children. If it weren't for his promise to Haalak, he'd suggest that they head east to find out. So instead, he's just ready to leave with the caravan — either way he gets out of Hammerdine. Eryx, Is it still a week out? I lost track of time.

Another question for you Eryx: how far from the city does Hammerdine claim jurisdiction? When Adam was killed, was he inside their territory? If so, do they send guards/patrols to stop ambushes and highway robbers?

Eryx (DM)
1. Yes, you may specify when your character will employ the Sense Motive skill, and there are times when I roll one for you just as the DM.

2. I would like to point out that the antecedent to "them" and "they" could also be the Peaceful Children.

3. You were well within Hammerdine's jurisdiction when the ambush happened. Hammerdine's holdings extend all the way down to Lord Yellman's lands, just north of the Niktean Wastes, where you spent most of Codexes I and II.

4. The caravan is scheduled to leave on the 14th of June. It is currently the late evening of the 4th.

BlackWolf
Ah yes, actually I think your comment re: #2 is how I originally interpreted it in the previous chapter. Still, given the current events, Rynn is slightly paranoid. He hopes that the Knights are not corrupt, but every organization is now suspect.

So with #3 then, how does Hammerdine protect the people traveling through their holdings? Are there patrols? Or do they claim more territory than they actually police? Just curious.

Eryx (DM)
You would know that the Hammerdine military is stretched thin these days preparing for the Dark Times. But that close to the city, there are patrols and things. Further south, like say in Lord Yellman's territories, it's most likely more of a local militia situation, though still technically under the auspices of Hammerdine.

To give you an idea of the area that Hammerdine controls, it extends south to the Niktean Wastes, North to the crossroads between Hammerdine, Pemmadhaghra, Khel Zin, and Laishtek, east to Laishtek and the sea, and west to Bailey's Point, though Bailey's Point is more trade site than permanent city, and the constant influx of people means that those who do live there are not very patriotic. When you go on the caravan, you will head north to the crossroads, and then down and south to Laishtek, following the major roads marked on the map.

Thevarou
Khaska believes that it is most reasonable to believe that the antecedent to "they" is the Peaceful Children, and is also interested in investigating. With the results of the Sense Motive checks, he's inclined to turn over the letter to the High Justice to consider along with the other evidence in the Veleria/Stoneheart case.

Eryx
I know the other two players haven't weighed in yet, so you might not end up turning the letter to the High Justice. But if you do decide to give the letter to the High Justice, what are you going to do about the fake that has already been planted?

Thevarou
Khaska would tell the truth: in case the Sendylus guild or others came looking for information, we wanted to make sure they did not get complete information. Perhaps the city guard could keep an eye on who tries to access or read the false letter, and from there gain leads on where to take the investigation.

DeltaWolf
Jenika was ready to leave, but now that a conspiracy has been reviled she feels that the group should stay and help sort everything out. She is in favor of giving the High Judge the letter.

“What do we do?” Rynn almost snapped. The ranger was clearly still bothered. “What do you mean? Haven’t we done enough already? We’ve already helped the innocents of this city as much as I know how. And how are we thanked for it? We get yanked around by the chain! No matter what we do, we get reprimanded or attacked. And now we don’t even know who we can trust.” He pointed at the letter.

"Well, we know we can trust the Knights," said Khaska. "They are Paladins."

"Are you sure?" said Rynn. He pointed at the letter. "That seems to indicate otherwise?"

Jenika looked at him, her brow furrowed. "The letter? How?"

“Read it closely," Rynn replied. " ‘The services they bring us.’ ‘They,’ the Knights.”

“Whoa!” Amara looked at him quizzically. “I never got that impression. I thought it was referring to the Peaceful Children.” She glanced down at it again, rereading it. “I still think that’s who it’s referring to. If the Knights are forced to investigate, the Peaceful Children won’t be able to continue with … well, whatever they were doing.” She folded the paper up and set it back down on the table. “Besides, we all know the Knights can be trusted. They may not always see eye to eye on everything, or completely agree on the best way to handle things, but their oaths as paladins wouldn’t leave them much wiggle room when dealing with people like Veleria and her boss, this Lord Maramos. That’s just not how paladins work. If they did, they would likely loose their powers. It’s the nature of their divine magic.”

“Amara is right,” said Khaska. “The Knights, as paladins, are bound up by their particular form of divine power. Good clerics loose their magic if they stray too far from their God’s ways. This is even more true of paladins. Theirs is a very narrow path.”

“So do we give this to the Knights?” asked Jenika, indicating the letter.

“I did not get the impression that the High Justice and Colonel Abner were untrustworthy,” Khaska said. “And I do think that we may be relying on the Knights too much. Sir Destinaxe said as much, and I do not think he was entirely wrong.”

“I think that Colonel Abner would be most interested in this letter,” said Jenika. “The fact that they are bringing in such a high ranking authority does mean they are taking it seriously.”

“Or that the corruption is endemic at the top,” mused Amara. “Then again, giving such a letter to them may be useful for us. Perhaps they would tip their hand.” She thought about it. “I say we give it to them.”

Rynn shrugged. “Fine by me. I’m kind of done here. Time to move on from this city.”

Khaska gave him a long look, but didn’t object. “It is late,” the cleric said. “I will go to the Hall of Justice first thing in the morning.”


“Under the circumstances, I cannot say I blame you for keeping this from us,” Colonel Abner said. His personal office was very sparse, but papers dotted the floor. He was a disorganized man. But the Captain Jespers had warned them of this as he took them to see the colonel. Now Jenika and Khaska stood among the various files and affadavits and writings as the colonel looked over the letter. Captain Jespers was waiting outside.

“It was addressed to Feddy Rastirman,” Khaska said. “Perhaps he goes by an alias, and is secretly this Lord Maramos.”

The colonel shook his head, and folded up the letter. “Thank you, for bringing this to me. We will us it in the investigation.” He indicated all of the papers around the room. “As you can see, there is much work to be done.”

“Then we will leave you to it. Please let us know if we may be of further assistance,” said Khaska.

The colonel laughed. “You should take a break for a few days! We’ll handle it from here.” When he noticed that Khaska was not smiling, he grew just slightly more serious. “You have done a lot. Let some of us do our jobs for a change!” There was still a twinkle in his eye.

At that, Khaska did smile.


Rynn walked up to the Kletheira Merchant House’s headquarters. He had been serious when he said that he was mostly done with Hammerdine, and wished to get specific details from Haalak about the caravan, so he could just show up the day of. He had been wanting to finish his other bow, and looked like he would have about eight days left to do so. Should be just about the right amount of time. He had spent yesterday wandering around the outside of the city and it was now getting towards late afternoon today. He had left again before the sun had been even a glimmer of light, just wanting to get away. Being away from the hubbub of the city was relaxing, even if it wasn’t true wilderness he had been traipsing through. He had found a nice grove of trees and worked some on his bow alone among nature with few of the sounds of the city reaching him over the brook that gently wound its way through the trees.

It was a complete difference to see the Kletheira Merchant House’s complex. The courtyard was engulfed in chaos. Filled to the brim with various crates, boxes, carts, the place was absolutely crawling with people running about. “One of the guides?” a dwarven woman said, looking at him from her perch atop a filled cart, “your place is over there.” She indicated a corner, and then didn’t give him a second look, checking things off on a sheet of paper she was holding and barking more orders.

A man walked by, talking rapidly to another. “Had to move my merchandise here, now that they shut the Sendylus down!”

“Just glad we could help.”

“Move!” said one man, carrying a heavy sack through to place it on a cart. Rynn had to jump out of the way and Ranna had her tail stepped on as she also dodged people moving about and loading the carts up. Rynn whistled to her and they moved over to where the woman had indicated. Several people were standing around, including one elven woman feeding a hawk perched on her shoulder. Druids or rangers, by the look of them.

The elven woman glanced up. “You assigned to our caravan? Hi, I’m Lunatris, and this is Chilali.”

Rynn’s look of puzzlement must have tipped her off that he didn’t have a clue what was going on.

“So you’re not assigned to our caravan?”

“I was supposed to escort one in about a week, actually.”

One of the other men, who had been sharpening a longsword, looked up. “Oh.” He paused, then his eyes got wide. “Oh! You must be Ryan!”

“Rynn.”

“Rynn, sorry.” He indicated all around. “This mess is your fault you know,” he indicated the courtyard.

“What? How is this my fault?” Rynn was a little angry at the man.

Lunatris laughed. “You haven’t heard? The city watch shut down the Sendylus guild yesterday. Arrested Feddy Rastirman and everything. So now I guess I work for Mister Haalak.”

“You worked for the Sendylus guild?” he asked, immediately wary.

“That I did. Escorting caravans between here and Khel Zin, mostly.”

“If they shut down the Sendylus guild, then why are you here at all? Didn’t you get arrested?”

“Trade has to keep moving,” one of the others said. “And it’s not like every employee of the guild was involved in … well, whatever it was. Some nice Zones of Truth later, most of us were let go.”

“Yeah, word on the street is it was you and your friends that were involved in getting that whole thing started.” She looked at him amusedly. “So what was all of that?”

“Now, now,” came a voice, “let’s not pester Mister Fowler. I’m sure Haalak wants to meet with him.” Another man walked up, and put his arm around Rynn. “Come on. You came to see Haalak, right?”

Rynn nodded.

“Come with me.”

A few steps later and out of earshot of those they had just left, the man turned to him. “It was sure good to see you two nights ago. If you want to catch up, for old times sake, let’s meet at the Dragon’s Head Inn tonight for a drink. Eight o’clock. Don’t be late! Bring your friends if you want.” He looked at Rynn, quite serious. “I have much I wish to talk to you, personally, about. Now go see Haalak.” The man gave Rynn a small shove and then turned and practically vanished into the crowd.

Puzzled, Rynn continued into the building, pushing past various guards and employees running about.

“Rynn Fowler!” came a booming voice. It was Laalarash. “So good to see you again. We’re quite busy here, yes, yes we are.”

“What’s going on?”

“Well, with the Sendylus guild shut down, did you hear about that? Well, with the Sendylus guild shut down, most of the people who need things to be moved are coming to us! We’ve been flooded with requests and Haalak has been running around busy as a bee since yesterday afternoon. Poor elf. I don’t think he slept a wink last night!”

“I had hoped to see him, to get information on when our caravan would be leaving.”

“Let me go see if he can squeeze you in,” the heavyset man walked off, motioning for the ranger to follow.

Haalak let them right in.

“Well, Rynn, look what you started!” The elf was practically beaming. “We’re drowning in new customers. I knew you were a good investment! Worked out better than I could have possibly imagined.”

“Having ‘heroes’ on your payroll.” Rynn almost grimaced at the term “heroes.”

“Yes indeed. You’ve been busy while here in the city. Finding out about the Sendylus guild’s machinations. Finding out about the Peaceful Children. And then uncovering … well, something else, that finally exposed the Sendylus guild, apparently. Feddy Rastirman was arrested yesterday and his entire organization shut down. High Justice Thomas informed the customers that we might be a good alternative while the investigation continued and, well, here we are, up to our eyeballs in new trade agreements, and even employees! As it turns out the Sendylus guild wasn’t all that good about paying people on time, or at least in a timely manner, so we’ve had to dip into our coffers to get things organized and make their employees at ease, but … well, things are getting organized!” He paused for a breath, and then slowed down. “And all because of you and your friends.” He was still grinning ear to ear, but his next sentence was spoken clearly and crisply. “Thank you, Rynn.”

“Will we still be escorting a caravan next week?”

“Yes. Yours was scheduled to leave on the 14th, but if you want to leave earlier,” he guffawed, “I’m sure we can find something.”

“I would have to ask my friends. I know Amara would like some time to finish her studies with Master Hiddel.”

“Well, let me know! Is there anything else I can do for you at this time?”

“No. I’ll leave you to your work.”

“Yes. Thank you, Rynn. Thank you very, very much.”

Rynn inclined his head and left. He still wasn’t sure what to make of Haalak, but decided it would be best to tell the others the offer of leaving early. There was also that unusual man who had pointed him inside. He said they had met two nights ago? Who had he met two nights …

Seth.

Eryx (DM)
The investigation looks like it’s having some substantial affects on the city. The Sendylus guild has been shut down, and it looks like a good portion of their business has been shunted over and picked up by the Kleithera Merchant House. Feddy Rastirman has been arrested, but at this point, that is all you know. If you wish to find out other information, you’ll have to roll Gather Info checks.

However, Seth has appeared to Rynn and invited him (and his friends) for a drink at the Dragon’s Head Inn tonight at eight. At least, you’re pretty sure it was Seth. It didn’t look like him, but who else could it have been. Will you be taking him up on his invitation?

Also, not to be too spoilery, but the Codex is winding down. If there are any particular things you would like to do in the city before leaving, let me know. I know Amara will probably wrap up with Master Hiddel, and Rynn wants to finish his second bow. I’ll need your roll for Craft (Bowmaking) on that, BlackWolf. Do Jenika and Khaska have any last things to do before they leave?

BlackWolf
Craft (bowmaking) check: 25 (rolled 15 + 10 bonuses)

That should be exactly enough to finish it in a week — just let me know if/when that's been able to occur. Rynn is willing to meet up with Seth, and he'll tell the others about it (of course). He'd engage in small-talk, interested in learning more about this mysterious vampire hunter.

Other than that, Rynn would mostly keep to the edge of town as per my last post. If possible, he'd also like to train Ranna on her next trick: Defend (DC 20). But the bow would take priority for now (while he's more or less stationary in the city; makes it easier to work on) so just let me know if he'd even have time to train also.

Handle Animal check: 21 (rolled 9 + 12 bonuses)

I believe that animal training takes 3 hours per day, and crafting 8, so hopefully he can do both. And finally, I wouldn't say no if you were to offer us some XP.

Eryx (DM)
Yes, with 24 hours in the day, you can spend 8 working on your bow, and 3 hours training Ranna, giving you (after 8 hours for sleep) 5 hours for miscellaneous activities.

And thanks for reminding me about XP. Sorry.

For discovering the situation behind the Sendylus Guild, Veleeria, and Judge Stoneheart, you all earn 700 XP. (500 for the "quest" and 200 for the combat/investigation).

DeltaWolf
Jenika is ready to go anytime. She does not have anything she is wanting to do before then.

Thevarou
Khaska is curious as to what is going with the Sendylus Guild and Rastirman, and wouldn't mind sticking around to help with the investigation, but given that Hammerdine's law enforcement is now on the case and his companions are restless, Khaska's willing to go on. Even so, he'll listen around to find out more before he leaves:

  • Gather Information: 6 = 4 + 2 (Bleh. Oh well.)

He's also interested in meeting with Seth, hoping to find out more about his mission and the matters of vampires, the Sendylus Guild, and the Peaceful Children. Khaska was impressed by how he apparently destroyed Veleria and intrigued by his mysterious disposition.

There are only a handful of things he wants to do in Hammerdine before departing. First, he would like to send a message to Sir Reitman of the Knights, bidding farewell and thanking him once more for all his help and support. He would also like to write Colonel Abner to inform him that if the party learns anything more of the Peaceful Children on the eastward caravan trip, he won't hesitate to write back to Hammerdine and report the new findings.

With that, Khaska's attention has turned again to his quests at hand, however nebulous they are at present: finding Tawru's horn and sword. He's looking forward to travelling to Laishtek for that reason, hoping that he'll be able to find something to help him along.

Eryx (DM)
Also, I'm going on vacation tomorrow, and will likely not be able to post until next Wednesday or Thursday. Just an FYI.


Amara was utterly uninterested in going to “that place.” Khaska and Rynn were not sure why, but the sorceress specifically made mention of the fact that she would not be going to the inn, not even persuaded by the fact that they were going to see Seth. Jenika didn't have much interest in going either, but wasn’t as vehement about it. So it was that Rynn and Khaska found themselves sitting in a booth at the Dragon’s Head Inn later that night.

As it was, after they ordered something and sat around, it was some time before anything happened. Rynn was getting antsy as the time approached 9 o’clock. “Is he coming? He said 8, I'm sure of it.”

Khaska shook his head. “I hope so. Your description of his actions indicated that he was a very powerful cleric. I would speak with him.”

“He did say that he wanted to speak to me personally, though I could bring my friends. I assumed he was talking about you and the others.”

At that, a man from the next table over came to sit down. “Couldn’t be too sure that you didn’t bring some more official friends,” he said as he put his large tankard of ale on the table. “I like to work alone and don’t like official attention, so I wanted to be sure. Rynn. Khaska. Good to see you two again.”

Both Rynn and Khaska looked at the man, puzzled. This was not Seth. This man was wearing leather armor, like Seth, and a cloak, like Seth, but his face was different. A large scar ran across his cheek down his neck, and he had a full beard where Seth had not two days ago.

“Don’t let my appearance fool you. It’s me. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are many ways of disguising oneself.”

At that, both of them were able to tell that it was Seth, though he still looked very different. “So,” Rynn said, “that really was you at the Merchant House earlier today?”

“Yup. Got myself hired on as a helping hand. They need the manpower, and I need information.”

“Who are you?” Khaska said, leaning forward.

Seth also leaned forward. “The more appropriate question, Mister Cleric, is what am I?”

“Then what are you?” asked Rynn.

“I’m a Hunter of the Dead.” The two of them looked at him blankly. He sighed. “Well, that’s disappointing. I would expect that one of the two of you had heard of us. A ranger and a cleric, and neither of you have heard of the Hunters of the Dead is.”

Seth explained, in general terms, Rynn noticed, that he had once been a cleric of a small village near the Death Side of the moon before it had been attacked and overrun by a cadre of vampires. “They drained me and left me for dead. Lucky for me a … friend, was able to stabilize me. I’ve not been the same, and have been tracking undead and killing the abominations ever since. This friend, gods rest his soul, taught me how to hunt the undead. So now I do so.”

“You hunt the undead professionally?” asked Khaska. “For what purpose?”

“For what purpose?” he scoffed. “They need to be stopped. They need to be killed! In the coming years their ranks will swell even more after the war with Arkenos! If they are not culled now, then they may very well overtake us all in the years after the Dark Times.” He took a swig from his mug. “I came here tracking a vampire organization. Still not entirely sure who they are or where they come from, but I know that they traffic in slavery and other horrors on the Death Side of the moon. I knew that they had sent an agent here, but, well …” he smiled. “That’s one less vampire in the world.”

“Veleria? Was she alone?” asked Rynn.

“I had been under the impression of that, yes. Just her. I’ve been doing some digging since I first got wind of it.”

He explained that he had been in Laishtek and was first alerted to the vampire activities after discovering a kidnapping organization. Their leader of the kidnappers, under … questioning, had revealed that he was paid a handsome fee to skirt some of his victims to vampires for feeding and other uses. A bit of searching showed that there were letters back and forth from Feddy Rastirman. A little bit of searching here in Hammerdine had revealed that Feddy was sending the letters along between someone locally and the kidnappers in Laishtek.

“But they’ve arrested Rastirman,” Khaska said.

Seth waved him off. “Rastirman was a middle-man. Don’t ask questions. Pass letters along as needed. That sort of thing. He was being paid handsomely by some anonymous benefactor, but wasn’t any kind of high official in the organization. I imagine the benefactor was Veleria, and that she was the local contact, but she took whatever secrets she held with her. The city watch has done a fairly thorough job of investigating the Sendylus guild though, even just in the last few days. Turns out they did a lot of business ‘no questions asked.’ Now that Colonel Abner is asking a lot of questions about what they were transporting.”

Khaska glanced at Rynn, catching the ranger’s eye. The two of them knew about this mysterious Lord Maramos. Apparently it was not Feddy, but yet another player in this mystery.

Seth smiled at the two of them. “I imagine that I will be able to get more information out of the investigation as it progresses, to find out my next move.”

“Now, then, to the matter at hand.” He grew serious and put down his mug, drained now. “I wanted to warn you that you may have gained serious enemies by your involvement in all of this. Veleria was a vampire, and they usually work with other vampires. There’s no love lost between many of them, but sometimes they strike back if one of their coven was killed.”

“Aren’t you in danger as well?” asked Rynn.

“I can handle myself. Besides, they have to know what I look like to track me. I would actually invite such an encounter.” He smiled and rubbed his hands together. “More information.”

“And you think we cannot handle ourselves?” asked Khaska.

“You’re clearly not incompetent,” Seth said. “That’s not my meaning. You discovered the Peaceful Children were a front for a cult of Nerull. You survived an encounter with a vampire. Working for the Kleitherans for a day helped me know what else you’ve been doing with them. But this is an entirely different matter. You, especially, Rynn, I feel have great potential. I know a bit of the ways of a ranger. I’m going to remain in Hammerdine for a little while yet. There are likely more undead threats in a city this big, and I mean to hunt them down while gathering more information on these vampires and these merchants that were working for them. I know you are to leave in about a week, but while you’re here, if you would, I would like your assistance in these hunts. I could teach you some of the ways of the Hunters of the Dead. There are not many of us, and we could use someone like you.” He glanced at Khaska. “Like both of you.”

He leaned forward. “At the very least, however, I feel we can be friends, and share information. When I mentioned that Veleria had taken her secrets with her, you both looked at each other. I have shared what I know. Are there some secrets that you would like to share with me, that may aid me in my quest to hunt down the undead?”

Eryx (DM)
Seth’s offer to teach you about hunting the undead is really nothing more than an option for Rynn to gain experience in hunting the undead as his next favored enemy, if he so chooses. I know that BlackWolf and I talked a bit while I was in Utah about your next favored enemy, and you thought it might be just humans, but by then the wheels were already in motion for this offer, and just playing the character of Seth, it’s what he would do. Also, you do now know that Veleria was working with other vampires, and that this organization has its people in at least several cities. Think of Seth as a Demon Hunter from Diablo III, but with undead. He’s looking to recruit Rynn, in particular, to the ways of the Hunter of the Dead, but even if Rynn isn’t going to go that route fully, Seth wants to spread his hard-earned knowledge of the undead and how to hunt them. I rolled a knowledge check for Rynn and Khaska, and neither of them had heard of a Hunter of the Dead before.

If one or both of you (the offer is also good for Amara and Jenika if they wanted to) went along with him for the week or so you have left, there would be no XP gain or anything like that. Perhaps one of you could write a short story. That might be interesting, but certainly not necessary.

Also, will you now tell Seth about the letter, and Lord Maramos and the apparent connection between the Peaceful Children and the vampires? He knows you know something.

And I think the next post will wrap up the Codex, unless you all decide to renege on your agreement with the Kleitherans or something weird like that. So really I just need posts from BlackWolf and Thev on this one and then we’ll move on to Laishtek!

Thevarou
While Khaska will be somewhat wary around Seth, he also feels he could be trusted and that skills in tracking and destroying the undead could be useful. The mention of slavery and trafficking on the Death Side certainly caught his attention, as he foresees the party will probably go there at some point. Khaska will accept his offer.

Khaska also feels that it would be important to reveal what the party does know so that Seth can do what he can to disrupt the networks that appear to have become pervasive.

DeltaWolf
Jenika is greatly afraid of undead and tries to avoid them when she can. She, as always, will go with what the group does -even if it includes undead.

BlackWolf
Rynn has no problem with telling Seth about the letter; he'll let Khaska do it.

As for Seth's offer, Rynn will take him up on it. The ranger isn't planning to become a Hunter of the Dead, but in some ways it seems like something that could be up Rynn's alley. He'll learn what he can about the practical art of slaying undead, but without any ranks in Knowledge (religion) I don't expect him to know much else about them.

Rynn and Khaska both looked a little sheepish for a moment, but then the Maha’i’s ears perked back up. “There is more information that may be of use to you that we uncovered during our investigation of Veleria. The night you saved Rynn and his companions from her.”

The cleric explained about the letter and gave the information contained therein. Seth was most intrigued. “It’s clear to me now that Feddy was just sending the letters between Veleria and this Lord Maramos. Your intitial thought that he might be Lord Maramos was a good one, but untrue. He was just a middle man. But who this Lord Maramos is, that is a mystery. Perhaps he is another figure in this vampire organization. Perhaps their leader. More troubling is the fact that the Peaceful Children were working for them. It is not unheard of for clerics of Nerull and vampires to work together. The vampires take victims and turn them, or enslave them. It is very much a mutually beneficial arrangement. I fear this may be what is happening now, much like that kidnapping ring I discovered and …” he smirked “disbanded.”

“I’m sure this same thought has occurred to the Colonel or to the Knights,” said Khaska. “Colonel Abner has the original letter now, and so the connection has been made between the peaceful children, the Sendylus guild, and at least the one vampire.”

“He doesn’t know about the kidnapping organization, but it seems to me that the vampires may very well have more than one source of victims. This is disturbing to me. Normally they are not so organized as this.”

“You do know a lot about these vampires, don’t you?” asked Rynn.

Seth nodded. “It’s why I offer to teach you what I know. The undead are a threat, and sometimes one that is less seriously considered by those in power. I fear if the undead threat is not dealt with, the entire moon could be overrun with them. Like Tjavan.”

“I accept your offer. I don’t know about becoming a Hunter of the Dead, but I would certainly like to learn some of the practical aspects of hunting them. I don’t know that much about them, really.”

Seth grinned happily. “You do not need to dedicate your life to our cause to be our ally, Mister Fowler. I will look for opportunities to teach you.”

“I would also like to join you. You are a powerful cleric, that much is certain,” said Khaska. “I too, would learn what I can from one such as you.”

“I have studied and learned from many different people,” said Seth. “A cleric is just one of the paths that I have walked for a time. I will teach you what I can. Be in your inn at sunset each night, and I will come find you and we will hunt and slay the undead here in this city.”


Jenika did not want to join them in their excursions, and Amara made it quite clear in her cold way that she was also uninterested. So Rynn and Khaska would go nightly with Seth, who would appear every day in a different disguise. Rynn spent his days wandering the outside of the city (after sleeping in) and working on his bow. He and Ranna continued to bond, and he taught her some more, the magic link between ranger and companion animal strengthened as they became more and more of a team.

Khaska wrote a formal letter to Rider Reitman thanking the Knight for his services, his kindness, and his help and support. The cleric also wrote to Colonel Abner informing him that, should they discover anything further about the Peaceful Children while in Laishtek, he would not hesitate to write back with that information.

Amara informed Master Hiddel that she would be leaving, as had pretty much always been the case for her plans. The master sorcerer was unhappy, but noticed that she had made significant advancements with her burgeoning powers through her adventuring, so was supportive.

Jenika spent more time with the monks of the Hawkfeather Monastery, meditating and conversing with them. The thoughts of Kaylee pushed their way to the forefront of her mind, and inquired with some of the master monks about how to bring her wayward sister back, should they ever run into each other again. Their answers were, to her mind, bland and trite, but she acknowledged the reality was that there was no simple way to answer such questions. Also, the monk found that she missed Orensland more than she expected. Without the elf’s quirky sense of humor the group seemed much more dour.

Rynn and Khaska were in contact with Haalak, who informed them with the incoming rush of business that it would actually be the morning of the fifteenth before their caravan was ready to depart. Rynn was pleased to find out that Akle, their little gnome friend, would be joining them again, as one of the other guards. “We aren’t expecting an ambush, but besides, we don’t need no more guards. Because, you scary Rynn!” the funny little gnome laughed at the ranger one morning in the Kletheria Merchant guild’s headquarters, which was less busy than that one morning, but still clearly overflowing. Their last week in Hammerdine was uneventful, except for the late-night excursions, and they were prepared to leave the morning of the fifteenth.

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