Codex III-Chapter 6

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Jenika wanted to make haste, and Jago moved quickly with her. The young man had donned his own black leather armor and brought his weapons. He moved fluidly beside her as the monk made her way back to the Hawkfeather Monastery.

Amy was flustered, but Jenika was able to convince her of the danger from Orensland’s father. The waitress sighed. “Well, I guess it’s for the best. I wasn’t sure what to do here in the city anyway.”

“Orensland will pay your way at least as far as Bailey’s point,” Jago said. “We could help you find a place there.”

Jenika looked to her right, at Master Foon. The white-haired half-elf monk stood quietly, his hands in his robes. “It matters not to us,” the wizened monk said. “We want what is safe, and you would be safe here as well, even from this Zehvran. But perhaps you would not be safe out in the city, and we know you would not wish to stay here permanently. Perhaps starting in a new city would be best.”

Amy wiped some tears out of her eyes, but acquiesced. She asked if Jago and Jenika would accompany her back to her house to get their remaining things. Jago, clever boy that he was, had brought along a bag of holding. Jenika wondered if it had been his idea or his mothers.

But regardless, they left as soon as they could. At the house, Amy went through to grab the rest of her belongings, not having packed well for a permanent leave-taking of their small house. Jago stood watch at the door. It wasn’t a few minutes later that a knock came. Jago took a silent step back, and then vanished from their sight, though Jenika could barely see his outline crouched down, sword drawn. Jenika herself stepped back into one of the other rooms with a nod to Amy. If there was trouble, they would surprise it!

But it wasn’t trouble. “Amy! We were getting worried about you!” It was a dwarven woman, and Amy obviously knew her.

“Hello, Mahlana.”

“Where have you been?”

Amy took a deep breath. “We’ve been away. And, Mahlana, we’re leaving. It’s important that you don’t tell anybody.”

Mahlana’s tone grew stern. “You’re not joining one of those idiot pilgrimages, are you? Bad news, those missionaries. We should put our faith in the Knights, real flesh and blood, not their empty promises of being protected by the Gods.”

“That’s not it, but, really, we need to leave. It’s for the best.”

“You are! You’re going on one of the pilgrimages! You’re going with them!”

“I am not.”

“I never figured you for a fool, Amy. And now yours will be just another empty house, like all the others. I will pray for you and your children!” The door slammed shut.

Jenika emerged from behind the doorway from where she had watched from the darkness of the other room. Jago appeared from thin air a few feet away, sheathing his sword.

“What was that about?” asked Jenika.

Amy moved back to gathering her family’s things. “Just one of my neighbors. It might be good if they think I’m going on one of the pilgrimages. Then nobody will come looking for us.”

“The pilgrimages happen here, as well?” asked Jago. His face, normally taciturn anyway, had suddenly creased with concern.

“As well?” asked Amy.

“What pilgrimages are you talking about?” asked Jenika. The only pilgrimages she had heard about were the ones to the Cathedral of Thakillestra the Gold or some other ancient site, usually a large chapel or place where some momentous event had occurred. It was obvious that Jago and Amy were speaking of something more specific.

“We’ve heard of these pilgrimages in other cities we’ve traveled to. People who convert to a new religion or something, and then vanish.”

“That’s it. The missionaries have been here in the area before, but I never listened to them, really.” She was finally finished packing. She looked around one more time, wistfully, then pushed the two of them out the door.

Zeke and Jennifer were still concerned and rightly scared, but the monks did their best to assure them, and Jago was friendlier than Jenika had thought him to be towards the two children. The boy could turn on the charm when it was needed. Jago thought it best if he travel with them alone, since Zehvran knew Jenika’s face. The monk had to agree, and with a hug to Amy and her kids, Jenika watched them depart with the shadowdancer.

It was getting towards evening, the sun drooping towards the horizon. Jenika turned to Master Foon. “What have you heard about these ‘pilgrimages’ that people take, then disappear?”

Master Foon pursed his lips. “Sometimes some missionaries come through this area, preaching non-violence. Their message is one of non-resistance, that war begets war, and fighting Arkenos will lead to more suffering. Sometimes they speak of defensive fighting, but usually it’s more of a pacifist approach. I haven’t talked with them myself, though I heard of some who were here this past week.”

“Is their message wise? Arkenos looms on the horizon. The Dark Times are coming.”

The master monk shrugged. “The old saying is at least partially true, that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. But they gather their followers, then they leave with them. I do not know where they go.” He put a hand on Jenika’s shoulder. “You have had a rough day. Come, it is almost time for our evening meal.” He walked away.

Eryx (DM)
DeltaWolf, this chapter is all you. Amy and her family have gone with Jago. Jenika did not spy Zevhran tailing her and Jago, and she’s reasonably sure they will be safe. Jago looks like he can handle himself anyway.

However, you have now learned about these “pilgrimages.” To sum up what you have learned:
1. Sometimes missionaries come through preaching their message of non-violence.
2. They leave town with their followers.
3. This has happened enough that Mahlana would say “And now yours will be just another empty house, like all the others” to Amy.
4. Some of these “missionaries” were seen recently in the area, but Master Foon doesn’t know any more than that.

Will you investigate? If so, I’d like a Gather Information check from you. What steps, specifically, would you take, to investigate?

Edit: Also, for rescuing Zeke, the encounter with Zevhran, and getting Amy and her family safely out of the city, you earn 1250 XP.

DeltaWolf

Gather information: 1(1Rolled+0Mod)

So I'm guessing Jenika didn't uncover anything… Honestly I don't know what to do at this point.

Eryx (DM)
Haha, a 1. Fantastic.

Lucky for you I have contingency plans. Answer the following question, which I posed above: What steps, specifically, would you take, to investigate? Will you go to the market to see if the missionaries are there? Investigate abandoned house near the monastery, like Mahlana indicated were there? Ask the others in the city you know? (Come to think of it, I bet Haalak would like a report at some point, but that honestly didn't occur to me before now.)

I figure a Gather Info check is mostly asking the general populace for info on the city. At this point in the story, you know a few people who might be able to help that aren't the general populace.

Also, according to the PHB, a Gather Info check takes 1d4 +1 hours. You've got several days before the rest of the party returns (five, to be specific). So I'll let you roll again if you want once per day (four rolls left). But keep in mind the PHB's injunction that trying too much to find out information may draw attention to yourself.

DeltaWolf

First Jenika will talk to Haalak, or leave a message if he is busy (she doesn't really want to talk to him, she is not the chatty type). She will be sure to mention the following; How they saved Zeke, how they set fire to the place. The arrival of Orsland's dad, which resulted in the leaving of Zeke and his family (if Haalak cares), more importantly why Orsland will not be accompanying the group with the caravan we promised to escort. After all that she will mention rumors about missionaries and gently inquire about them.

Afterwords Jenika plans on visiting the monastery and asking about the missionaries and anything related to them. Then, depending on what she learns (if anything), she will poke around that abandoned house near the monastery.

The following roles are for when she snoops around the house;

Move Silently: 15 (10Rolled+5Mod)
Listen: 23 (17Rolled+6Mod)

Hopefully that is plenty to go off of for now. Things may change depending on what she finds out.

With Orensland gone, Jenika found she was missing the rogue. This somewhat surprised her, but she didn’t have time to dwell on it. There were things to do.

First, she went to the Kleithera Merchant House to report on what had happened with regard to Zeke’s rescue. Haalak himself was unavailable, but Hardal spoke to her to get a full briefing. He was slightly miffed about Orensland just leaving, but Jenika assured him that Zevhran looked to be enough trouble. What with the arson and all, the dwarf eventually agreed that it might be best of Orensland skipped town. If Zehvran took off after him, that would get rid of the one witness they were sure knew about the arson.

When asked about the pilgrimages, Hardal seemed to know about them, but scoffed. “They’ve come into the city now and again. Seem to only focus on the poorer parts of town. Sometimes I get wind of it from one of our guys. Missionaries come through, talk to people. Hold meetings. Win converts. Then they leave town.

“It’s a bad idea, if you ask me. The Gods help those that help themselves. Leaving to go to somewhere that isn’t even known? Foolishness. Lucky for us the pilgrimages don’t travel south. One of our caravans ran into a pilgrimage headed east of Hammerdine, on their way to Laishtek. But it only happened once, because heading to Laishtek without using the main road is a much longer trip. Our guys had been detoured from the main gate on the north side, some new construction project that shut it down for a while.” He snorted. “Fools. Hope they didn't get lost on the 'shortcut' to Laishtek.”

He had nothing more to offer on the subject, so Jenika thanked him and then left. The monks at the monastery were also not much help regarding the missionaries, nor were the citizens of Hammerdine that she asked. She was able to find out that a number of people in the slums around the monastery had gone on these pilgrimages. Mahlana’s off-hand comment was true, though. There were many abandoned houses, their owners having just left. Jenika decided to look into them; perhaps there was some clue left behind that could help her.

She waited until the sun set before investigating. Most of the houses she looked into, the monks had been able to point out which ones had been abandoned, didn’t yield any clues. Most of the household items had been left, and this included clothes. It was obvious that whatever packing was done for these pilgrimages, it wasn’t very thorough. It looked to Jenika like these people had left with literally the clothes on their backs, though she couldn’t be certain of that.

However, one of the houses turned up something interesting. Buried under a pile of straw that had served as one of the beds she found a single sheet of paper. It was very finely cut, something she had not seen before, an almost exact square. The writing on it was extremely fine. She had not seen its like even in the library of the monastery she had grown up in. She glanced over it, holding her torch over it.

We welcome you, brothers and sisters! The Gods be with you as you undertake this journey. Keep your decision to yourself, above all else. We do not wish to overtly persuade others to join us merely because their friends are doing so. The Gods speak to whom they will.

Together we will journey to our chosen land, where the Gods themselves will protect us from Arkenos. Do not bring any weapons with you, for such an action would show a lack of faith. War begets war. Violence begets violence. Strife begets strife. Only by renouncing war, violence, and strife, can we be assured of the protection of the Gods!

Therlyassa. Cyndal Lane, Shrine of Piety. May 22nd.

The last line was written in hastily, and was clearly not the same meticulous handwriting as the rest of it. Jenika stowed the paper in her backpack, and continued her search, but found nothing else in that house, or in any of the others she had been pointed to. She returned to the monastery and shared the paper with Master Foon. He was able to confirm the basic missionary message, which convinced Jenika that it was an authentic document, though rather bland and non-specific. However, Master Foon was able to decipher the meaning of the hastily written scrawl. There was indeed a Shrine of Piety in the City of Hammerdine. It was on a Cyndal Lane near the east entrance to the city, not terribly far from the monastery itself and also in the slums of the city. It was a place where many gods were worshipped. The clerics there were of the kind that served many gods; it was not a dedicated shrine to a particular deity, and it was relatively new. It had been made out of an old art gallery that had fallen into disrepair decades ago as the city had shifted around it.

Eryx (DM)
Your search has turned up some basic information. The missionaries appear to have some connection to this Shrine of Piety. You discovered this information on the 20th of May. Master Foon and the other monks are unable to help you figure out what the “Therlyassa” means, though one elven monk is pretty sure it’s an elven name. I italicized the last line to indicate the switch in handwriting on the paper.

Also, Hardal mentioned that one of the pilgrimages was sighted going east to take a "shortcut" to Laishtek. There is only one exit from the city on the east side.

What will you do now?

DeltaWolf

After a lot of thought, Jenika had decided to wait for her comrades to return then see what they want to do (Khaska will probably know better how to approach the Shrine of Piety)

I appreciate your trying to give me some alone time, but things didn't seem to go that way :)

Eryx (DM)
I like that you're playing the character, and that Jenika herself wouldn't go forward with any kind of plan. If you would be so kind, I'm curious to what her specific motivation is for waiting. Is she unsure of herself? Doesn't think she has the right skill set? Wants the others there as backup of some kind? Such an explanation would help me understand the character better in the future as I write my portions of the campaign. Like when Rynn killed Zeke's kidnapper, Adam. BlackWolf explained why Rynn did it, and that helped me understand the character better.

Anyway, a thought. I would appreciate. I should be able to move the storyline forward and post the beginning of Chapter 7 by tonight.

DeltaWolf

At first I was thinking how she best would approach the situation; should she ask about the missionaries- and risk being trapped? Or should she pretend to be interested in worshiping a god of some kind- she doesn't know a lot about that sort of thing. As I pondered upon it I found myself saying, "I wish khaska was here, he would be perfect in this situation!" Her feeling is that it is best to have some sort of a plan instead of going in halve-cocked. As as best as she can figure the best plan is to wait for the group to come back and let those with the expertise handle it.

Note: While she wouldn't cry about it, she will miss Orsland and will make to attempt to hide it from anyone.

Jenika pondered on this new development as she ate breakfast with the other monks. Investigating things at a shrine. How should she go about doing it? Should she go ask about the missionaries? But that might get her trapped, with no backup. Perhaps she could pretend to be interested in worshipping a God? But, really, she didn’t know much about such things. Wistfully, she wished Khaska were around. He would know better than she what do to.

In fact, the more she thought about it, the more she thought it would be best to wait for the others to return. She nodded to herself as she cleared her dishes. Yes. She would wait for the other to return.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter.

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