Codex III-Chapter 12

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Khaska woke early in the morning the 15th. The sun was not yet peeking over the horizon, but still the cleric could not sleep anymore. He got up and knelt by his bedside, praying and preparing his mind for the day, but even during his preparation he felt his mind wander more than usual. After all, today they were leaving Hammerdine, and much had transpired here. He thought back over the events of the past month or so. Zeke’s kidnapping. Catching Adam and his companions, and then watching as Rynn killed Adam. The loss of Orensland. The discovery of the Peaceful Children and the fight in the secret shrine of Nerull. Then the trial and machinations of Veleria and Judge Stoneheart. Fighting the undead at night with Seth the past week or so. Much had happened.

He looked over to his backpack and pulled out the copy of the manuscript from Likran Treewind. Though he had read it many times, he did so again, the pain in his heart renewed by doing so, yet steeled by the task ahead of him. He, of all the Maha’i, knew the truth. It fell to him to act on that truth. Laishtek was the city in which Tawru had freed the slaves. Likely it was on his way to that city or nearby that city that he had lost his paladin powers upon being excommunicated. What secrets might he uncover there? The thought simultaneously filled him with hope and trepidation. Rynn knew the secret that burned in Khaska’s heart, but he had not yet shared it with Amara or Jenika. He reflected back on what Kyrnyn had told him. “A spark alone fades, but many together create a fire.” But fire could be both good and bad, could provide warmth on a cold night or could turn a building to ashes.

As these thoughts flitted through his mind he finished packing his things, and put his armor on. After two months he felt more at home in it than he had at first. But he had seen other clerics in the city wearing such armor, and he did not feel as out of place as he would in his come city, where clerics rarely wore full plate. Yet another step in his journey, the journey that had begun back in the Niktean Wastes as he saw the vision of the dragon momentarily, during the goblin attack on the outpost. The meaning of the vision was still unclear to him, yet it was obvious that many things were still unfolding, and as he had told Amara “One’s destiny is not unraveled in a day.” There were still yet many days ahead, of that he was sure.

He was sitting on his bed when a soft knock came. “Enter,” he said. It was Amara, and he could see Ranna by her feet, so Rynn must be in the hallway.

“We should get going,” said the sorceress. The Maha’i nodded, took a deep breath, and then stood to leave.

Khaska and Rynn were in front, and both noticed that Akle was waiting in front of the Kletheira Merchant houses’s headquarters. Upon seeing them, the gnome promptly jumped down from the barrel he had been smoking on, and then had disappeared inside.

Rynn grimaced. He had a sudden inkling what Haalak had planned for them.

And he was right.

Instead of the bustle of the previous visits, the courtyard was jammed, but with the various servants and employees of the merchant house. The caravan, a load of many spices destined for Laishtek to be distributed there by airship, was lined up and ready to go. Akle was sitting on the first one, grinning like an idiot, the reigns in his hand. As the party entered, thunderous applause and cheering practically assaulted them. At the entrance to the main building stood Haalak, Laalarash, Hardal, Captain Lyndon Jespers from the city watch, Sir Destinaxe from the Knights, Arthur Claymore, formerly of the Shrine of Piety, and, to Amara’s surprise, Master Hiddel.

“What in the name of the abyss?” Amara muttered to Khaska, whose eyes looked like they were about to pop out of his skull in surprise.

Haalak waved his hands up and down to silence the crowd, and they gradually went quiet.

“Welcome my friends.” The elf was beaming, though they could see the dark circles under his eyes as they approached. “We decided to give you a bit of a going away party!” Cheers went up again, but he quickly silenced them. “You have done much good in this city, as is evidenced by many of your friends that are here today,” he indicated the gathered crowd and especially those standing with him in front of the main building. “On behalf of all of them, thank you for your service to the city, and on behalf of my employers of the Kletheira Merchant House, thank you for working with us and for helping keep our goods safe. May the gods be with you, may Fharlanghn keep the way clear for you, and may Markus bless your journey to Laishtek!”

The crowd erupted in thunderous applause and those assembled came to wish the party well on their journey. Haalak was only mildly apologetic for the fanfare. “Part of your deal,” he said to Khaska. “I know you do not wish honor for yourself, but this is what having ‘heroes’ on the payroll means. Yes, it is good for business, but I tell you, my cleric friend, it was not difficult to get these guests to agree to come and see you off. Tales of your exploits have traveled the city over, and many are grateful for your assistance. You are a good investment from my point of view,” and at this he extended his hand, “because you are actually heroes. Thank you, and may Markus be with you.”

“It was a good thing I got totally prepared today!” Amara said after they were out of earshot of the guards at the city gate. “Wore a nice outfit and everything. That was completely inappropriate.”

Jenika nodded. The monk had had a difficult time not blushing through the entire little sending-off at the Merchant House, and had said little. Rynn was walking out in front, Ranna running around, clearly picking up on the good mood of her master, who was happy to be on the road again.

“I agree that it was in appropriate,” Khaska said, “but, in the end, Haalak was right. We did much good for the people of the city. Still, such results are their own reward.”

“Speak for yourself,” said Amara. “For all the good we brought him, it would have been nice to have earned a little more coin. Though, if we ever do get better items to identify, at least we now can do so on our own.” As she said this she patted back at her backpack, which now held their newly acquired Wand of Identify.

This mercenary attitude concerned Khaska, who again, against his wishes, was reminded of the revelations in the Shrine of Piety. Something had changed in Amara, and he wondered what that was. Outwardly there was little difference. Had the clerics been wrong? Had he misjudged her? Questions stood out to the cleric as he contemplated what was ahead for him and his friends. He glanced to his left, where just over the horizon, Arkenos hung there, an immutable presence, portending the coming of the Dark Times. His thoughts remained with him as he walked in silence next to Jenika, the monk’s calm presence lending him strength as Amara moved ahead to sit next to Akle on the wagon he was driving, and Rynn disappeared around a bend in the road with his wolf.

Eryx (DM)
Thus ends Codex III-only a year after it started (in real life). Some of my plans meandered a bit in this one, and I’ll try to keep things tighter as we progress. Also, we split the group up and so at certain points we were waiting for other storylines to wrap up. I like the idea of splitting up on occasion, but in this case I think it prolonged the entire Codex by probably a month overall.

The journey to Laishtek will last a month and a half. You will journey through the crossroads at the northern end of Hammerdine’s influence, then south and east down to Laishtek, just following the roads on the map. The only character I can think of that I need something from during the journey is Rynn, assuming he wishes to continue Ranna’s training, and/or maybe make a new bow. If you do want to do that, BlackWolf, then give me the appropriate rolls.

You also now have the Wand of Identify as stated in the narration. Also, you still have Nathan’s horse from Codex I. I’m just assuming you’re using it as a packhorse for now and tying it to one of the carts or taking turns riding or something like that.

If there’s anything else I missed or that you would like to do on the journey, let me know. (You could do Gather Info checks in the crossroads city, for example, to get the news if you wanted to, or just with other passers-by, as there will be many on the road to Laishtek.)

For finishing the “quest” of being “heroes” for Haalak and the Kletheiran Merchant House, you each get 500 XP.

We’ll pick this up in Codex IV, which I’ll start to work on right now.

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