Codex III-Chapter 2

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Rynn came in to the inn, Ranna trailing him. He had spent another day out among the populace, looking for clues to that mystery man who had seemed so interested in he and Khaska back at the Kleithera Merchant House. Investigation had turned up some information on the man, a vagabond who worked doing manual labor for the merchants sometimes, but wasn’t picky about where he got his work. Sometimes he would work for a rival merchant organization, the Whitney and Sons trading guild, or just random shopkeepers hauling wood or doing other simple manual labor. He just took odd jobs here and there, and he had not been back to the Kleithera Merchan House since that day. “Probably somewhere off drinking himself to death” laughed one of the merchant house guards. Rynn had tried the man’s rumored haunts, but had been unable to find him so far. But, every day he put in a good amount of work on his bow, too, venturing outside in the early morning or the evening to look for the man, and then returning in the growing heat of the day to work on his bow. He was returning a little early this evening.

He found Orensland playing cards with his new friend Seth and another inn patron. Rynn sat down to join them, and after a while Amara came and sat at the table. The sorceress didn’t join the game, but sat staring off into space, stroking Kirza’s head. That is, when the bird was close enough to do so. Kirza, as usual, was hopping around, and occasionally would hop down onto Ranna’s back. The wolf, used to this, simply would give a small growling whimper, then lay her head down on her paws. Rynn usually would pick the bird up, the bird would squawk, and then go back to Amara. Then the cycle would repeat. But this time the ranger was concentrating on his hand, looking from Seth, to Orensland, and their newcomer. Orensland’s goofy grin betrayed no bluff, but it almost never did. The rogue seemed to have the same perpetual smile throughout the game. Seth was deadly serious, but the man seemed so constantly. This newcomer, though, was pretty easy to read, but he had already folded.

“Kirza,” came a soft voice. It was the waitress. “That’s not nice.” The young lady put down a plate filled with seeds, and the familiar hopped over and began pecking at it. Ranna looked up and panted at the woman, clearly pleased with the turn of events. The waitress patted Ranna on the head before moving on. Amara didn’t notice what had happened, still lost in thought, but Rynn looked up and smiled at the waitress. “Can I get you anything else, Mister Fowler?” He shook his head before turning back to the game. She patted him slightly clumsily, then walked off.

Seth smirked at him. “You in or not?” Orensland’s goofy grin got even wider, but that didn’t help Rynn with the game. The ranger frowned at them both, but lost that hand to Seth, then couldn’t keep his head in the game. The soft touch of the waitress aroused memories and feelings in his mind that he would rather not revisit. Memories of his lost wife, Juliet.

He glanced over at the waitress, and caught her looking at him. She turned away quickly, but it was obvious she had been caught. Rynn continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye, and noticed that she wiped a tear from her eye before continuing on. Surprised at this, he dealt himself out of the game, much to Orensland and Seth’s dismay. The other patron also left, leaving a small chunk of change on the table. Seth pulled out a set of dice and he and Orensland continued gambling, but with a game more suited for just two people. Rynn pulled the bow out of his pack again, using his masterwork tools to fiddle with it, but really just watching the waitress.

He instinctively noticed that she was studiously avoiding looking at him, and that her hands shook as she poured a nearby patron’s drink. It was obvious to the ranger that something was a little off with her. Something was wrong. He glanced over at where her children sometimes sat. The little girl was there, playing with a ragged doll and humming to herself. The waitress came by, stopping to check on the little girl. “When are we going home?” the little girl asked.

“Two more hours, sweetie.”

“Will Zeke be there?”

The waitress shook her head. “Not tonight, I told you, he had to go away for a few days.”

“But I miss him!”

“I know dear, I miss him too. But soon he’ll be back home.”

“Is he with that man?”

“Yes, dear. But he’ll be home soon.”

“I don’t like that man. Why does he come over?”

“Hush!” The waitress put a finger on her daughter’s lips. The child looked at her mother. “Zeke will be home soon. Don’t worry about it. Now let’s talk about something else.”

Rynn frowned, something nagging at the back of his mind. Then he turned to Orensland. “Orensland, our waitress, what’s her name?”

“Oh ho!” Seth said, grinning. “I thought you were a little dense to not pick up on that girl’s actions!” The man smiled through his ragged beard. “She’s a looker!”

Rynn shot him a glance that made the man’s grin lessen. “Hey now, what? What did I say? What?” The ranger turned back to his companion.

“Her name is Amy. Why?”

“And usually her two kids are here, right?”

Orensland glanced over, at the little girl. “Yeah. Jennifer and Zeke.”

“Zeke hasn’t been here for a while,” said Amara, still absentmindedly staring off into space. Kirza was now hopping around her shoulders, preening himself.

Orensland frowned. “I think you’re right.” He looked at Amy, then back to Rynn. “What’s up?”

“Well, I just caught Amy staring at me.”

“She’s been doing that a lot,” the rogue said. “I think she likes you. She’s always nice enough to me and the others, too.”

Seth snorted. “Really? Just treats me like any old customer.”

“That’s because you cheat at dice,” Orensland smiled at him. “And she doesn’t like cheaters. She can instinctively tell that you’re a less than honest kind of guy.” The banter was obviously in good fun.

Seth smiled back. “Just because you can’t everroll a pair when you need to don’t mean my dice are loaded.” The man got up. “Well, I’m going to hit the sack. Goodnight, folks!” Rynn waved at him and Orensland pushed some money over. Seth had to reach down to take back a coin the rogue had palmed, held it up. “Less than honest, hm?” Then he left.

“Something’s wrong,” said Rynn. “She’s been extra nice to you?”

“Oh yes, that’s terribly wrong. I hate that she always comes to me first chance she gets when I come back in,” said Orensland.

“She does that to me too. I’ve seen her get in trouble for it,” said Amara. “Serving me out of turn. It seemed odd to me.”

“I just heard her talking to her daughter over there,” said Rynn. “Her son had to go away, she said. You sometimes do magic tricks for the kids Orensland. Where has Zeke been?”

The rogue’s forehead creased. “Well, I’ve been out and about most days. I hadn’t noticed that he was gone.”

“Several days,” said Amara. “At least, since I saw him last?”

“And you’ve been here a lot,” said Orensland. “Just sitting around.”

“Master Hiddel will be sending his response to me here,” she said. “I have a vested interest in being here when it arrives.”

Kyrnyn came in the inn and spotted them, walking over to the table. His face was ecstatic.

“You haven’t been around much,” Amara said. “Enjoying your temple?”

“Oh yes, yes I have. I have spent many hours in meditation and prayer there, and in a few days I will lead a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Thakillestra the Gold, as my heart desires. But first,” he said down, practically shaking. “I have messages for all of you, from Heironeous himself! He has granted me visions, much like when I was trapped as an ettin!”

He turned to Amara. “May your appearance always match what is in your heart.”

“Whoa. Just like that, you start giving us messages from the gods,” she said, flabbergasted.

“Why not?” He looked at Orensland. “Those who travel in the shadows do not always have to serve the darkness.”

Then he turned finally to Rynn. “That which is irreplaceable cannot be truly lost.”

“May my appearance match what is in my heart? What does that even mean?” asked Amara.

“I have no idea!” he sputtered. “But my god has spoken to me again. The high clerics of my order know not what to make of it, but I must soon leave. They wish me to journey to Sethrayin, to the head of my church, so that those wisest among our number may be consulted.” He was shaking with delight. “I know not what the future holds for me, but I pray Heironeous will allow me to continue to serve as his messenger!” His smile was shining, and he quickly stood. “I must go. Thank you! Thank you so much for everything. You helped me solve my first vision. I hope the great Heironeous guides you all in wisdom and understanding, as you helped guide me.”

“Was there no message for Khaska or Jenika?” asked Rynn.

Kyrnyn’s smile faded ever so slightly. “Khaska was to know that ‘a spark alone fades, but many together create a fire.’ I actually have already delivered that message.” He looked at the group, again, a little more solemn. “Help him find his spark. I fear he will need it, though I do not know why I feel that way.” He shrugged. “Heironeous has given me the words, nothing more. Perhaps I am wrong. Jenika was to hear ‘a true person wishes the best for their friends, though the best may be painful.’ Please, tell her that.” He reached his hand out, and Rynn stood to shake it. “Thank you, my friend.” Then Kyrnyn embraced him quickly, so quickly that the ranger didn’t have time to react, finding himself being crushed in a bear hug from the human cleric. “Thank you!” He reached over to Orensland, who goofily smiled and embraced Kyrnyn. Rynn looked at Orensland, who shrugged while hugging the cleric. Amara didn’t stand, but held her hand out to be shaken. Kyrnyn barely seemed to notice her standoffish attitude, but shook her hand vigorously, actually kind of hurting her skin with his metal gauntlets. He bid them farewell, and the practically ran up the stairs to his room. A few minutes later he came down with his backpack, waved a final time, tipped a shocked Amy with a full platinum coin, and was out the door.

Amara was still holding her bruised hand slightly. “What was that all about?”


Jenika was walking back to the inn. She had spent her day visiting a monastery, speaking with some of the monks there and finding time to meditate and assist them in aiding those who lived in the surrounding slums of Hammerdine. It had been a very relaxing day. On her way she ran into Khaska, who was walking back to the inn himself. The monk paused to wait for him, seeing his tall form shining in the setting sun, his new armor glistening. She had to wait for a while, for he was shuffling along, the crowd pushing past him in a hurry, oblivious to the Maha’i, sometimes pushing past him rudely. He took no notice.

“Khaska,” she called as he approached.

He slowly looked up to see her. “Greetings, Jenika.” He smiled.

“Are you okay?” Her face creased with worry. “You are disturbed by something.”

The Maha’i nodded. “I will not lie. Thank you for your concern; not all is well, but it is something I must handle myself.”

Jenika nodded. “As you wish.”

“Though, your company is soothing. I do not mean to be rude.” He changed the subject and asked where she was coming from.

She spoke of the monastery, hidden in one of the slums of the city, but well-maintained by the monks there. She told of her day, conversing, meditating, and serving with her fellow monks.

“It is good that you enjoyed your day. I fear there are few days like that ahead for me.”

“Whether bad days or good,” she said, “all days are easier to bear with friends. The other monks in the monastery were calming to me. I hope that through your bad days, I can do the same to you.”

“It is appreciated,” said Khaska.


A few minutes later they entered the inn. The rest of the party was sitting around a table. Khaska and Jenika sat down.

“Boy, you just missed a show,” said Orensland.

“Oh?” said Jenika.

“Kyrnyn just left,” the rogue continued. “Never seen someone so excited. It was like he was opening a present from Markus himself for his birthday.”

“It was odd,” said Amara. She was still shaking her hand out and flexing the fingers.

“He had a message for you,” said Rynn, to Jenika.

“Oh?”

“From Heironeous himself!”

“So he says,” muttered Amara.

Rynn frowned at her. “We have no reason to doubt him.”

“We should not doubt him,” said Khaska. “He has already spoken to me.” Then, a whisper. “The message was for me, from Heironeous himself.”

That shut Amara up, but it wasn’t clear she believed the Maha’i.

“A true person wishes the best for their friends, though the best may be painful,” said Rynn. “That was the message for you, Jenika.”

The group discussed the odd sayings delivered in such an odd manner. Khaska was adamant that they accept these sayings as real. “Who knows what gifts Kyrnyn has received. We would do well to heed his messages.”

Amy came over to take orders, but did so quickly, without asking anything unnecessary, and not being as friendly as usual. She vanished back into the kitchen quickly. It was then Rynn informed Jenika and Khaska of what was going on with the waitress.

Eryx (DM)
I decided to push along without Sayya’s input, as it had been a week, and she wasn’t responding to emails and hadn’t been on IM for several days. I know it’s a weird time with school starting and all so there’s a lot of moving going on. And now Sayya, Thev, and myself are about to get pounded by a hurricane so … fun times.

I edited Keldarian's rider's name. Kelder, Keldarian. I must've been on a "Keld" name creation kick that day. Reading it out loud made me realize that I had done that. His name is Michael.

Orensland, with such a low gather information check, you haven’t even found someone who clearly belongs to the Hammerdinian underworld. You can roll again, if you want. But just be aware of what the PHB says about trying again. “You may draw attention to yourself if you repeatedly pursue a certain type of information.” Just saying … but then again, you are a rogue, so you probably would fit in.

Kyrnyn’s cryptic sayings are my simple way of letting you all know that I’ve got long-term plans for your characters. However, my long-term plans for the campaign involve you getting to very high level, so be patient with my ability to work in pieces of your backstory. It may be many codices before we get to those parts, but I am keeping your backstories in mind. However, if you want to go ahead and flesh out more backstory, I wouldn’t be opposed to that either. The more you give me, the more I can bring in to the campaign.

Sayya and DeltaWolf, you both still owe me a piece of world creation.

Anyway, once Rynn noticed and began paying attention to Amy, he was able to tell that she was watching him, and that she got very nervous when she noticed him watching her. Now that he’s pointed it out, the others can notice that she is stealing glances at them, and gets very nervous now that she notices them stealing glances at her. Then there’s that odd exchange with her daughter, and the fact that Zeke has not been around for several days. You would be able to remember together that the children are usually present in the evening for a few hours before going home with their mother.

If Rynn and Amara didn’t know any better, now that they’ve discussed it amongst themselves, it appears that Amy has been watching them closely, and is very nervous now that she has been caught.

What will you all do next? She will likely finish her shift and leave in about an hour. It’s about 7 p.m., and Amy doesn’t work the night shift, which goes from 8-whenever the innkeeper or bartender sends everybody home, usually about 2 or 3 am.

Crosis

Well, not much has changed. Orensland would probably give it one more shot at gathering information from the underground, and again keep an eye out for our shady friend.

Gather Information: 9 (6 + 3)

Yeah. I give up on that one.

In regards to Amy, Orensland would volunteer to follow her if that ever becomes a plan. By leaving at 8, I'd assume she is traveling in semi-daylight and that the streets will be somewhat crowded. Good blending chances, I suppose. I don't know how the rolls will work for that one, but if moving silently and hide checks are necessary, here they are:

Move Silently: 29 (18 + 11)

Hide: 12 (1 +11)

Well! I sure hope moving silently is more important.

And while we're at it, I think Orensland is enjoying his Slight of Hand performances. Why don't we have another go?

Slight of Hand: 27 (14 + 13)

Brilliant! I needed one of those.

DeltaWolf

If Khaska believes in what Kyrnyn said, then Jenika won’t knock it, but she herself would probably forget Kyrnyn’s message before the day is out.
As for the waitress, Jenika thinks that someone, not her (she is not good with the words in which she speaks, CHA= 11), should just ask the waitress what her deal is, and offer any help needed. If the group decides that sneaking is necessary, Jenika would want to go with (or replace) Orensland. The idea of Orensland stalking a woman creeps her out, and she would be clear on that!

Hide: 5 (1+4)

Move Silently: 10 (5+5)

Ok, but that is sneaky for a kick-butt monk!

Crosis
Orensland would probably take offense to the distrust suggested. He would remind her Orensland's divine direction- that one who dwells in shadows is not inherently evil. He'd probably swear on the women's safety or something else of the sort. He's slightly surprised that Jenika would still demonstrate such a lack of trust after everything they've been through together as a group.

Thevarou
Khaska's still in his his semi-haze of disturbed thought by this point; he'll only snap out of it after a few days. He'd be unlikely to notice the things that are going on with anything more than a sense of impersonal detachment. If anyone asks how he knows that Kyrnyn's messages (or at least the one to Khaska) must be divine, he wouldn't have qualms explaining that Kyrnyn's words were a Maha'i phrase that he hadn't heard out of his out home tribe, even amidst other Maha'i - let alone humans.

When Khaska finally does come to grips with the information he's been struggling to assimilate, he'll come to the conclusion that he will have to tell Sir Reitman about the whole situation, and ask for help from the Knights to find Tawru's Horn and Sword. (Want to RP this conversation, Eryx?) He'll also ask his friends to come along as he searches, if they want; he would want company on what he would otherwise consider a very lonely quest (by nature of quests in general; he thinks they just are naturally lonely). First place he'd want to go: Laishtek. :)

BlackWolf
Rynn will take Jenika's advice and start with a straightforward approach. He'll just ask the waitress what's going on. "Is something the matter? You seem preoccupied with something. Does it have to do with Zeke? We noticed that he's been gone for a few days. Is there anything we can do to help?" (DM, feel free to split up those sentences as it makes sense for dialog.)

Here are a couple skill checks to help with the situation:

  • Gather info: 20 (rolled 17 + 3 bonuses)
  • Diplomacy: 12 (rolled 9 + 3 bonuses)
  • Sense Motive (to be rolled by DM)

If the direct approach doesn't work, then I agree that Orensland should follow to see what's up. Jenika and maybe others can go with him for backup, but should probably keep a good distance.

As for longer term plans, Rynn will be happy to help Khaska with his quests, whether that means a trip to Laishtek or the Tawruian monastery near Twilight.

DeltaWolf

It's not that Jenika doesn't trust Orensland. She just finds the idea creepy. But to be fair I did have a weird metal image when I posted before.

Sayyadina
So it turns out there's a girl on the first floor of my entryway named Amara. The world is an interesting place!

Amara is curious about why Amy appears to be so interested in her, but aside from trying to ensure that she isn't followed when leaving the inn she's not terribly concerned. If others decide to follow Amy, Amara will certainly inquire about their findings, but she isn't at all inclined to follow Amy herself. In general, as long as her own business isn't being impeded or spied upon, Amara isn't that concerned about what other people do/say/think, at least those not in positions of influence.

With regards to Kyrnyn, Amara is quite amused by his statement, but if others were to ask why she was smiling she wouldn't elaborate. Thevarou and I have RPed a conversation between them re:Khaska appearing shaken, which I will send to you shortly. For now, she's more interested in her studies and making more/stronger connections with the Knights if possible than leaving Hammerdine again, but she is also mindful of the dragon's advice that experimentation will prove more useful than pure study, and that's more likely to happen elsewhere.

Amara chimed in after his brief explanation. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say she’s been watching us for a time, and now she’s been caught, so she’s nervous.”

“Still. We don’t know why she is watching us,” Orensland said. “I think I should follow her home tonight. See what's going on.”

“What?” Jenika seemed genuinely startled. “Why? Someone should just go ask her what’s going on. No need for you to follow a single woman back to her house.”

Orensland looked at her askance. “Remember what Kyrnyn just told me. Not everybody who moves in the shadows serves the darkness. She would be safe.”

“I think that Jenika is correct, however,” Amara said. “Someone should just go ask her.” The sorceress was looking at the monk as she spoke, but Jenika held both hands up in front of her, as if warding something off.

“Hey, not me. I’m not the one you want to send.”

“We don’t have to send anybody,” said Rynn. He nodded his head towards the kitchen, where Amy was emerging with plates of food. “She’ll be back with your food in a bit.” It took Amy several trips to serve a few other tables, bringing a wineglass and cups to a merchant and his table, dinner to a few others, and then stopping at her daughter’s table momentarily to speak to her before finally going back to the kitchen and returning with the orders for the party’s table.

“Here you go, Khaska and Jenika,” she said, placing steaming plates of food before the two of them. Khaska didn’t even look up at her, lost in thought about something.

“Amy,” Rynn said. The young woman turned to him.

“Yes, Mister Fowler. May I get you anything?”

“Nothing in particular.” He leaned forward, and whispered to her. In the growing din of the inn’s interior, the whisper did not travel far. “We were just wondering if something was the matter. You seem preoccupied.”

Amy started, and the looked down at the floor. “Oh, no, I’m fine really.”

It was obvious to Rynn that she was lying. She steadfastly refused to look him in the eye, and clenched her hands together nervously.

“You are clearly not, and have been watching us.” He reached out to gently steady one of her clenching hands. “Does it have to do with Zeke?”

At that, she jerked her hand away, as if burned. But she didn’t say anything.

“I noticed that he hasn’t been around for a few days,” said Orensland. The rogue was playing with a coin, as he had done so to entertain Zeke and Jennifer. “But Jennifer still likes my tricks.”

She grabbed the rag from her hand and polished a portion of the table, making as if she were busy helping clean it up. “I would rather you not get involved,” she said. “You will just go to the city guards and …” she began to cry a little, small hiccups that nobody else would really notice. “I’ll never see Zeke again.”

Orensland’s face went from concerned to dark in an instant and he dropped the coin to the table where it hit with a loud clang. His deft fingers swooped to pick it up before it stopped wobbling.

Rynn leaned forward. “What can we do to help?”

“Nothing,” she looked at him. “A few days ago a man came to my house. I’ve never seen him before. He and some of his friends took Zeke quickly and quietly. I was supposed to watch you, not get the local guards involved, and give him a report every night.”

“Hey! Can I get some service over here?” someone yelled.

“Report on us?” Amara said. This clearly alarmed her. “Why us?”

“I don’t know. But I have to go. These tables don’t wait themselves. I’ll be back to get your plates when you’re done.” Amy shuffled off.

The group almost immediately turned back to each other. “She needs our help,” Orensland said, all sense of joviality gone.

“But how? Why?” Amara said. “Who wants to spy on us? We’re … we’re nobodies!”

“There was that man at the merchant house,” Rynn said. “He was deliberately looking for me and Khaska.”

“Well someone wants to know about us,” Orensland said. “But why?”

They talked about it for a few minutes, when abruptly Khaska stood, his plate half-finished. “Excuse me please.” His departure was so abrupt that nobody thought to stop him. He was practically up the stairs as Amara followed him.

A moment later Amy came back to grab the cleric’s plate.

“When you go home, this man is waiting there?” asked Rynn.

Amy glanced at him. “He usually comes well after the sun has set. But please, do not do anything. Just leave it alone. If the guards get involved he said they’ll kill Zeke.” She vanished into the kitchen.

A few minutes later Amara came back down the stairs, but Khaska was not with her. The rest of the group was discussing what was going on.

A short story written by Thev and Amara that took place upstairs while the rest of the group was talking with Amy and amongst themselves.

Eryx (DM)
Well, there you have it. From what you can tell, Zeke is being held and his mother has been ordered to spy on you all. Involvement with the city guards (according to Amy) will get Zeke killed. Based on how she phrased some things and the details of their initial encounter, this man has friends as well.

What will you do? It’s now about 7:40, so she’ll likely be leaving shortly. Khaska is still up in his room.

Crosis
Alrighty! That's more exciting!

Well, the plan in my regard is to stake out her house. I think Jenika would be ok with that

Thevarou
Khaska, as is now very obvious, is extremely out-of-sorts, and really has no desire to talk about why; he is also still in his room, meditating and not overhearing any of the conversation in which the details of Amy’s predicament are being discussed. Someone would have to go talk with him for him to have part in this; otherwise, he probably won’t come down for the rest of the evening.

However, if someone does go try to retrieve him, Khaska would attend to the friend politely at first (he’d be more comfortable with Rynn), though his thoughts would very apparently be elsewhere. However, when the visitor explains the situation– and especially the disturbing fact that the party’s presence has somehow provoked someone into kidnapping and extortion, Khaska will feel a strong sense of duty calling him to respond to Amy’s plight; his self-doubt will escalate as well as he wonders whether he should have ever left the Wastes, if such negative things are going to happen. Nor will his sense of duty relieve him of his mental turmoil: he’ll just translate it into a sort of fatalistic determination, conversation more laconic and pointed than his usual, and – given the particular incitement of his despondency – an unwavering determination to go out of his way do what’s right and constant second-guessing as to his motives and whether what he is doing IS right.

(Whew, if you need help with Khaska’s reactions or conversation, just let me know.)

BlackWolf
Rynn will suggest that they say a few things for Amy's benefit; things that might interest our unknown enemies. If the guy at the Merchant House is involved, then perhaps they care about what goes on there. Maybe we can chat about the bandit reward or taking a job with the caravans; just so she has something interesting to report to them.

Also, it might not be a bad idea to start making suggestions like, "Haalak said there was a great inn on the other side of town, maybe we should move there to see more of the city before we leave." If the enemy thinks we'll no longer be patronizing Amy's establishment then perhaps they'll let Zeke go.

  • Bluff Check: 12 (rolled 11 + 1 bonus)

Regardless of what we say at the table, Rynn will want to take action. We need to be careful because they have a hostage. I agree with Orensland following Amy discretely. We need to find out what's going on and see the faces of our enemies. At least one other party member should go along (if not all) to serve as backup, but not get too close (since none are as sneaky as our rogue).

DeltaWolf
Jenika thinks Rynn’s idea of giving useful information is good. But she thinks the group needs to assume that after Amy’s usefulness is gone, that he/she will kill Zeke. Also she would want to be very careful how we approach this problem, that is to say if Orensland does follow Amy he must not get caught! That could also be bad for Zeke.

Jenika thinks that it would be best not to try to make any moves until we know more. Perhaps gather information on the kidnapper and his “friends”. In fact Jenika would suggest that Orensland use his talents to try to gather information.

Crosis

Well, I just found out that "cancel" at the bottom actually means "save." In other words, that post up there should be ignored, as it is not finished.

Generally, what Orensland would do if staking out Amy's house were necessary would be to go to her house in the middle of the day, find an appropriate hiding place, and get settled. If the creepy man only comes at night, I should have a well-established hideout that would let me see his face, and maybe even catch a word or two. In fact, if this were the plan, maybe we could plant information with Amy (discreetly, of course) that would cause the stranger to betray his intentions. Like Rynn was saying, give her information regarding the reward money, what our intentions are, etc., and then maybe after receiving the information Orensland can pick up on what interests the stranger most.

Do I get a bonus for hiding and move silently checks if I have time to find a hideout (seeing as I'm hidden and don't have to move/make noise)?

“Giving them false information is a good idea,” Jenika was saying. “But we need to be extremely careful. If you get caught,” she addressed Orensland, “that could be very bad. Also, we shouldn’t actually go anywhere until we have more information on this guy and his friends.”

“Planting false information might also get Zeke into more trouble,” Amara said, sliding into her chair.

“Doesn’t have to be entirely false. Maybe we’re thinking of taking a job with the merchant house, like Haalak offered.” Orensland was all business, his jovial attitude having vanished the moment he realized Zeke was in trouble. “Escorting caravans and the like.”

“But we turned that job down,” Amara rolled her eyes at him.

He leaned forward. “But maybe we’re rethinking the offer.”

“It would plant seeds that we’re going to be working with the Merchant House again,” said Rynn. “It might open possibilities for us to find out more about these people.”

“I still want to follow her home tonight,” said Orensland. Jenika started, but he held his hand up. “This is what I propose. I’ll follow her tonight, just to see where she lives. Then tomorrow I’ll go by during her shift and find a good place to hide where I can observe the house without being seen. That’s when I’ll get some more information on this man and his friends, and by then Amy will have some ‘new information’ to share with him.”

“I’ll still come with you tonight.”

“You would be welcome. Even tomorrow.”

“Having a friend nearby would be a good thing,” Rynn said.

Orensland turned to Jenika. “I’m going to go outside right now, so my following isn’t as obvious. Coming?” The monk stood up, cracking her knuckles, and the two of them left.

Rynn and Amara stared at each other. “A disturbing turn of events,” he said.

“Yes it is. What kind of people threaten the life of a child?”

“People that should be stopped,” he said. He glanced at the stairs. “Should we go get Khaska?”

“I think he would be better left alone tonight,” she said. “I’m not sure why, but I very much got that impression.”

“Very well then.”

The well-educated sorceress from Eskele and the wandering ranger from twilight didn’t really have much to talk about together, but the silence wasn’t awkward either. Amy finished her shift and was out the door in a hurry, dragging the little girl with her.

It was about half an hour later that a well-dressed girl came in, glanced around the room, and found Amara. She walked right up.

“Amara Palladia of Eskele, I presume?”

The sorceress stood. “Yes.”

The woman straightened. “I am here to inform you that you have been accepted as an apprentice to Solus Hiddel. He formally requests your presence tomorrow morning at the beginning of first watch.”

Amara beamed. “Thank you! Inform Master Hiddel that I will be there.”

Orensland and Jenika came back about an hour later. Amy’s house was a little ways away in one of the slummier parts of town. It was actually only a few blocks away from the monastery that Jenika had visited earlier that day. The monks served the people of the community, and it was close enough, she speculated, that they might even know Amy.

Amara left early the next morning, just as the morning light was beginning to assert itself in the sky. She was gone before anybody else was even up. Orensland made sure to sleep in, and he came down for breakfast just as they were about to stop serving it. He and Seth, who had also apparently stayed out late, ate together. Rynn was putting the finishing touches on his bow, and Jenika was all but pacing in anticipation of later that day.

Orensland made sure that he and the monk were out of sight when Amy arrived for her shift. They left soon after making sure she was at the inn, to go find a place where they could be nearby, yet see Amy’s house. It was decided that Orensland would be close to the house, and Jenika a little ways beyond him; he keeping an eye on the residence, she keeping an eye on him. In the heat of the afternoon, few people were out in this part of town. It was relatively easy to find hiding places. In these slums, few people paid attention to what they were doing. Just two more people in the sea of lost souls in this part of Hammerdine, and people minded their own business.

Orensland hunkered down on a rooftop across the road from Amy’s hut, waiting. He took swigs from his water bottle as needed, but had picked a spot that was shaded for the rest of the day as the sun dropped from its noon zenith to dip towards the horizon.

As it got towards night, Orensland perked up. Amy should be arriving soon. And yes, just before the night enveloped the sky, she appeared with Jennifer in tow. The two of them disappeared into the house, a hut, really, and Orensland sat up. He glanced down the street to where Jenika had hidden. The monk was still there, hidden among some crates. Now they just had to wait.

It was not terribly long. Soon a man came to the door. He had an unshaven face and was wearing dark leather armor. He moved quickly and surely to the door and gave two swift knocks. Amy opened and let him in. Orensland glanced up and down the street, but could see nobody. He quickly dropped his rope down the side of the building and in moments was on the ground. He crept quietly to a spot just under one of Amy’s side windows. Hopefully Rynn and the others were able to plant the false information. Then he leaned against the wall, carefully, to listen to what was being said.

“ … they were going to take a job with a caravan.” That was Amy’s voice.

“Did they say with which trading guild?”

“The Kleitherans.”

“Very good. Did they say when?”

“Not that I could hear. But they also think they might move to a different inn.”

“Oh? Why?”

“To see more of the city before they leave, I guess.”

“So they won’t be leaving immediately. That’s good to know. My employers will be pleased.”

“Have I done what you asked? When will I see my son again?”

“Soon,” he said. His voice felt oily, and Orensland felt dirty just listening to it. “You’ve done well, though. This is good information. I knew we could count on you.”

“Please, I just want my son. Whatever your employers want, Rynn and the others are leaving. I will not be able to help anymore.” She began to cry, and Orensland clenched his fist around his short sword’s hilt, his fingers turning white.

“When we’ve dealt with these people, then you may have your son back. We need to make sure your information is accurate. If they leave, and if they escort one of the Kleithera Merchant Houses’ caravans, then we will see.” There was the scrape of a chair. “You have been most helpful. When they are dead for interfering with the plans of my employers, I will see if we can release your son.”

“Is he well?”

“He is,” the man said. “You have my word on that. You have nothing else to report tonight? They didn’t speak of anything else.”

“Amara has apparently been apprenticed to another sorcerer in the city, and they were speaking of how to spend the money they had received as reward for killing a criminal.”

“Jonathan of the Wastes,” he intoned. “He was working for my employers, too.” The chair scraped again, and Orensland could tell the man was getting up. “We’ll probably kill them when they escort a caravan out of the city. Then you’ll have your son, at the cost of their lives. Everybody is happy. You will have your son. My employers will have driven another nail in the coffin of the Kleithera Merchant House, and I will have my money from them. I hope that’s to your satisfaction.” The chair was pushed across the floor, and as Amy began to sob the door opened and closed. When the man didn’t come by his way, Orensland counted to ten and then crept forward, peeking around the side. The man was well on his way down the street, but seemed to not be paying much attention.

Eryx (DM)
I’m going to pause here just in case Orensland wants to follow this mysterious man. However, you have learned a few things.

1. They now expect you to move inns and take a job with the Merchant House.
2. His employers are trying to kill off the Merchant House (but you didn’t get the impression they wanted to, say, massacre the employees).
3. Jonathan of the Wastes worked for his employers.
4. When you leave the city with the caravan you’re theoretically escorting, the employers will try to have you killed.

Jenika heard nothing, but can see Orensland.

What will you do? If you two decide to go back to the inn and inform the others, then the others can post and give their input. But if you decide to follow, I’ll need Hide and Move Silent checks from both of you.

Regardless, I guess, everybody can post what they want to do with this information. I just might not be able to narrate that part quite yet depending on what DeltaWolf and Crosis decide to do.

Crosis

Frankly, knowing Orensland, he would follow the mysterious man. While he is aware that such an action would put Zeke in danger, he also doesn't trust this man to keep his word. In other words, Zeke is a dead boy if he is not saved soon. Plus Orensland is impulsive anyways. While following, as long as my move silent and hide checks are not affected, Orensland would keep a loaded crossbow behind his back. In a desperate situation, we would probably subdue and interrogate him for information.

Having just learned that you do those roll checks, Eryx, I will let you do them. Jenika, I assume you will follow Orensland.

In a snap decision, Orensland waved to Jenika to come over, and then moved out into the street to follow the man. The rogue softly padded along the streets, ducking into doorways, hiding behind carts and pillars, and following at enough of a distance that the man, despite looking around several times, appeared to never see him. Occasionally he would look back behind him, but as he was moving at a regular pace and moving into more crowded parts of town, it was not difficult to follow him. At one point, he went into a bar, but before Orensland could get close he came out a few moments later with a dwarf. Orensland was close enough to overhear a part of their conversation, but it was mostly stuff he already knew. However, he did catch the man saying “let’s go report it to our friends at the Sendylus guild. They’ll want to know.”

A block later, however, they turned into a large complex of buildings with guards out front. Orensland thought it best not to try to follow them in. Instead, he turned right and continued on. A block later he turned back and waited for Jenika, who caught up to him soon. He relayed his information to her on their way back to their inn. Once back, they told their information to the others in the group. Amara was eating dinner at that late hour, having just returned. Khaska had come down for a very late lunch (having even skipped breakfast), but had gone immediately back to his room. He was still there.

Eryx (DM)
So, I just Skyped my brother and had him post, since it was basically his show. For the record, your Move Silently and Hide rolls were 26 and 29 respectively. The man totally didn’t see you following him. And I thought it fair to assume that Jenika would follow him behind.

Now you have some additional pieces of information. The man’s employers are the “Sendylus Guild,” and he has a dwarven friend.

What will you do now?

BlackWolf
Rynn votes to move to a different inn the next morning, so as to keep Amy's veracity intact. Then we should go visit Haalak to inform him of the situation. The elf may have some information which would help us, since he's (obviously) much more acquainted with the Kletheira Merchant House. He may know of the Sendylus Guild too. Finally, he could start setting things up for us to escort a caravan — should it come to that. At the least, we make a good show of it. At the worst, we step knowingly into their trap (perhaps with a counter ambush prepared).

Any other information we can get would be good. The ideal would be to rescue Zeke and get his mother and sister to safety. The sooner the better; if we survive a caravan ambush, they might kill the boy. Perhaps Jenika can make some discreet Gather Info checks with the monks? Orensland may be able to find out more as well — where the boy is located would be best. Or Haalak with his wealth might be willing to spend a bit to scry?

Rynn doesn't want anything bad to happen to Zeke, Amy, or Jennifer. But he has an interesting viewpoint on all this due to his past. He relates things to nature; blurring the lines between sentient and animal somewhat. Innocents sometimes die, just as lambs or deer are killed. As much as he doesn't want Zeke to get hurt or killed, Rynn is a man of action and accepts the risk that brings. Not all predators are allowed to live. Whatever it is about Amy which reminds Rynn of his lost wife is quickly fanning a flame of vendetta within Rynn.

DeltaWolf

Jenika is more then willing to try to gather information from the monks (no promises):

*Gather Information: 10 (10+0 Mod)

This may seem silly but, based on the layout of the town and what Orensland saw; How possible might it be to travel into the complex of buildings by roof-top to roof-top. And if plausible then are any of the buildings two or more stories. (it may be ninja time!)

Crosis

Due to his previous attempts to Gather Information, Orensland would refrain from trying. I would stand out like a sore thumb. He supports the idea of moving to a different inn, although keeping an eye on Amy would be a suggestion he would offer. You know, see if Zeke comes back. He also supports Jenika's thought process of sneaking- and if actually entering the Sendylus Guild were to be considered, Orensland would offer pyromaniac advice. With rescuing Zeke involved. Fire is a good distraction for escaping, I would imagine.

Thevarou
Khaska would be in agreement with moving inns. At the time of the proposal, it's an effort to get him to think about anything besides what's been gnawing him for the past two days, so he'll go along with the plan until that point. He will, however, have an idea as to how to solve his problems and will garner the courage to Reitman about it (early to mid afternoon). After that, he'll be much more coherent and able to help out. He's also in favor of going to see Haalak and informing him of the situation; however, he does not want to endanger Zeke, and would hope that when Amy has no utility left for their stalkers - i.e., when she can no longer provide them with information or help them out in any way - they would let go. With that in mind, he might suggest that the party simply stay in Hammerdine until they observe Zeke's return. If this plan is not favored, he would want to investigate the Sendylus guild and any hints that there might be as to Zeke's location or how to save him, as well as any information about the enmity it has with the Kletheirans.

The group together determined a new course of action. Rynn was immediately in favor of leaving the inn, to at least give Amy’s story some veracity, and Amara agreed, suggesting an inn closer in the city to Master Hiddel’s house. Conversely, Orensland and Jenika advocated more drastic measures. Jenika even went so far as to suggest sneaking into the Stondylus guild at night to look for the boy, but Rynn nixed that quickly. “Let us at least move and go speak to Haalak. Perhaps he can shed light on the Stondylus guild, and possibly, with his wealth, scry for the boy. Then we'll see what our next move is.”

Amara left to go inform Khaska, who agreed about the situation, but said that he had some personal business to attend to the next day. After that, he would gladly accompany Rynn to see Haalak. Agreed on their next set of plans, the group went to bed restless that night.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter. We'll pick it up the next day.

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