Codex IV-Chapter 2

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Summer was in full force by the time they arrived in Laishtek. The breezy sea town was a welcome relief from the miles of traveling in the hot sun. The city itself was of decent size, but as it came into sight far in the distance, the dominant feature, at least from afar, was the skyship port. Several square miles of land just to the north and the west were dedicated to it. Even from miles away skyships of various sizes were shown taking off or landing. As the group got closer, it also became obvious that the skyship port area was dominated by gnomes and Halflings. There were many different clans present, trading goods, swapping stories, and generally having a good time. Rynn was reminded of the Glittersail Brothers, and speculated if they had come to this city, or if they had headed straight for the death side of the moon.

However, first things first. The party took the caravan to the Kletheira Merchant House’s outpost in the city and helped unload the goods for transport by skyship to Tir’Kon.In the city, Khaska was absolutely flummoxed by the number of Maha’i, all speaking common, and wearing Hammerdinian-style clothing. The situation was quite a shock for the cleric.

Eryx (DM)
You are now in Laishtek, and have completed your business with the Kletheira Merchant House. Is there anything specific you would like to do now that you are here? A reminder, the Library of Tebbins Ferrick is here, and I believe both Khaska and Amara had some interest in visiting it. Is that still true? Will anybody go looking around the skyship port? The port for the regular ships? Do some gather info-ing? Just relax for a day or so from the long journey?

BlackWolf
Rynn would like to sell off the extra loot that we obtained but nobody wanted. Unless I'm mistaken, we want to sell items #3-9, 11, 12 and divide up the money. But if anyone planned to take any of that stuff, speak up now! I'll let the DM calculate how much we'll get from this — some of the items (like the painting) I can't guess at.

Depending on how much money we get from the sale, Rynn may want to buy something. A magic bow perhaps? I don't think he'll quite be able to afford the gloves of dexterity that he wants.

Aside from that, Rynn will explore the city a little bit. He's mildly curious about the skyship port. He's not too interested in visiting the library, unless there would be storytelling. Speaking of which, he'd be interested in listening to some bardic tales.

Thevarou
Khaska is also curious about the city, as it is a place of legend for him. Even before going to the library to investigate, he would want to explore the city as a sort of devotional activity, looking for locations from the stories of Tawru: the docks he set aflame, the seat of government that he and the rebel Maha'i stormed. At each of these he would probably take a moment of quiet contemplation. If he runs into any sort of Maha'i religious establishment, he'd present himself as a pilgrim and ask if there is any place where he could honor Tawru or meet experts in his lore. (Note: statues of Tawru might either have two horns [representing him in the fight for freedom] or one [after the fight is won].)

You got it right that he'd be somewhat shocked at the dress and customs of the Laishtekan Maha'i (very few of him are of the Western Niktean Wastes, and are thus darker with helical horns), and he'll just grow more and more shocked as he goes along and finds them pretty much practicing typical religions, using non-Maha'i body language, and worst flaunting Jevereshkan gender roles. There are a handful of half-Maha'i in Laishtek (no quarter-Maha'i, as half-Maha'i are sterile), which are something he's never even really conceived of before.

After he's had his initial fill of the city, he'll seek out the library, but that might be in the next post (unless this one will cover one or two days).

Do I need to roll any checks for these things?

Eryx (DM)
Gather Info checks are called for, I think, to at least find some of the places you could learn about Tawru. Since this is important to Khaska, I'll have you roll two. You'll be spending at least that much time looking around. If you want to, you can roll three, but I leave that decision to you.

Thevarou
My three Gathe Info checks are 20, 10, and 16, with bonuses included.

DeltaWolf
Jenika is a little curious of the skyship port. She will take a simple look around, but she is not looking for information or anything in particular. Other then that she will just want to rest.

Sayyadina
Amara is curious about what kind of draconic lore may be found here. She'd look around any magic-related locations (shops, known local sorcerers or wizards, etc.) and peruse the library.

Still, though, this city was a place of legend for him. With his newfound knowledge, though, it was a bittersweet moment. Here Tawru had freed the Maha’i slaves. Somewhere, here, presumably, he had made his dark pact that turned him from the righteous path of the Paladin to the evil of the blackguard way. After finding an inn to stay at, Khaska excused himself to wander the city, almost as a pilgrimage. Amara wanted to visit the famed library of the Halfling explorer Tebbins Ferrick. It was said to rival even the ancient elven libraries of Dreqorun. Rynn was a little dismayed to be back in a city, after enjoying the long trip from Hammerdine, and was delighted to go with Jenika to look at the skyship port outside the city proper.


Khaska had spent several hours at the docks, just wandering. This was for two reasons. First, the site had religious significance to him. Legend had it that here Tawru had first begun his revolt, freeing slaves from their ships bound for Thanor and the death side of the moon, the group gathering momentum until all the docks were aflame with the fire of their revolution. However, he was also nearly stunned speechless by the immensity of the ocean. From the towers of Jevereshk he had seen the western ocean, but it was a thin blue line off in the distance at the horizon. In all his travels, he had never actually been at the shore of an ocean, and the immensity of it staggered him. He was also pleasantly surprised to see a shrine to Tawru near the docks, in a clear place that could hardly be missed. A basin of water stood outside, and he washed his hooves before entering.

A large statue of Tawru dominated the circular annex. There were mosaics all around the walls, starting to the right of the entrance, and they told the story of Tawru. It began with his freeing of the slave on the outskirts of town, and then went story by story as Khaska had learned in his youth. The burning of the docks. The disruption of the auctions. The sacking of the governor’s palace, and the slaying of the human governor by his own slave. And then … Khaska’s heart leapt into his throat as he looked at the last mosaic. It was Tawru, leaving the city, and ascending to the sky on a pillar of light. He did not understand. Did they not know at least the original legend? That Tawru had been slain by a Dragonrider?

He grabbed an acolyte, a young Maha’i. “Can you explain this final panel to me?” came the inquiry.

“Of course, sir. Are you from Gtarrei?”

Jevereshk.”

The acolyte's eyes widened. “Wow. So in your legends, was he slain by one of the Knights of the Silver Dragons? Here, we believe that Markus took him to live with the Gods after he left the city, his task complete. The Knights would never do such a thing, I hope you know. They can be trusted. Paladins do not slay such righteous people as Tawru.”

Her words were like ashes in his heart. So many ways of telling the same story. And yet he, of all the Maha’i, knew the truth that had never been spoken or sung. His next thought was even more startling, when he realized that the acolyte was a young girl Maha’i. He stammered out a quick thanks and took a step back, stumbling across a bench where another Maha’i was praying. Such a violation of the customs of his people! To speak to a female Maha’i! To even have a female Maha’i acolyte! He turned to go, but felt a strong hand grip his arm.

“My friend, you have journeyed far to pay homage to Tawru, who freed the slaves if you come from Jevereshk.” The voice was wavering, an older Maha’i, the dark hair of his fur turning gray, and a long wispy goatee hanging down from his chin. A wood symbol of Pelor adorned a leather strap around his neck.

Khaska nodded. The cleric smiled, and began steering him away from the statue. “I am Simtor, a cleric of Pelor.”

“I serve Teresh.”

“Ah, then we are brothers in the priesthood of our god! And what do they call you, my young friend?”

“Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven.”

“Always you outlander Maha’i have such long names.” The smile that came with this comment was good natured. No insult was meant, just amusement. Simtor took him aside, and they talked in whispers to avoid disturbing the other worshippers. Khaska learned a bit of the city and more about their version of events of the past. The old cleric was kind and gentle, but there was a bit of a language barrier, as Simtor’s speech was a mix of common and Maha’i. Still, it was not an insurmountable barrier, and Khaska felt a kinship with this older cleric.

“You are most interested in this legend, Khaska. Why is that so?”

Khaska swallowed. “I seek a way to right the wrongs of so long ago, if it can be done. But knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.”

“Knowing that knowledge is the beginning of wisdom is a wise thing to know.” Simtor smiled faintly.

Khaska returned the smile. “I do have one question, however,” the younger cleric said. “In all these depictions, and indeed the statue itself, Tawru is missing his horn. In our legends, Tawru lost his horn in the battle for Laishtek. Was it not so?”

Simtor shook his head. “Our histories tell of Tawru one-horn riding out of the setting sun and beginning the revolt that freed the slaves. He had lost his horn before he arrived. But if you wish to know true, historical details, and not just the songs that the bards sing or the depictions that the artists create, perhaps you should visit the library. There are many loremasters there who could tell you such details. As for me, such minutia is unimportant. The stories that stir our souls can be told many ways. As long as they stir my soul, then I am content. But, I am quite sure that I have never heard of Tawru’s horn being lost in the battles of the revolt.”

“Thank you for your time, Simtor. It was good to meet one as willing as you to talk with a pilgrim such as I.”

“It is good to see another brother in the priesthood. I have never met one from Jevereshk in all my years.”

Khaska stood. “May your neck never fail to stand tall, Simtor.”

Simtor stood weakly, helped up by the younger cleric. “And may our god smile on you in your journeys and your quests, Khaska.”

Khaska turned to leave. He had been comforted by Simtor, and that was good. The thought of the missing horn troubled him slightly, though. He knew that, according to Treewind’s confession, Tawru had left Hammerdine with his horns intact. If indeed Tawru, Tawru one-horn, as they called him here, had arrived with the horn broken off, that would mean he had lost it between Hammerdine and arriving at Laishtek.

“Khaska?” Khaska turned back. Simtor beckoned him closer. “If you wish to know more of the story as the scholars of history would tell it, perhaps you should inquire at the house of Lord Minna Dalal.” The elder cleric leaned in close. “It is whispered that Loremaster Onasus himself is currently visiting our city, and that Lord Dalal is his gracious host.”


Jenika and Rynn wandered the streets, aimlessly heading for the skyship port. Laishtek was a big city, but not nearly as big as Hammerdine. It didn’t take them long to find their way from the inn they had selected to the edge of the city. There were no walls, and the city just kind of petered out as the land rose slowly away from the sea. The mud and brick buildings gave way, slowly, to more rudimentary buildings made of wood, and then eventually to tents and skyships and carriages. Very soon the majority of the people around them were halflings and gnomes, but, oddly enough, many of them were heading in the same direction. A quick inquiry got a response that there would be another training exercise soon! Jenika and Rynn glanced at each other. It was obvious from the gnome they asked that what a “training exercise” was should be self-evident. So they followed the crowd as the tents gradually gave way to more and more skyships, and eventually to the larger ones.

The crowd was growing larger and larger by the minute, mostly gnomes and Halflings, but also Maha’i and humans. Rynn even saw a handful of elves and even a few dwarves. Just as they reached the point where the large crowd was gathering, a large shout of glee went up as two skyships shot up towards the clouds. Rynn and Khaska stopped, arrested by the scene unfolding before them. The two skyships dodged and weaved, trying to outflank the other. Occasionally a flash of light would erupt from one or the other as spells would leap back and forth. Bets were being taken on which of the two would win, but eventually the larger one got the upper hand by doing an abrupt turn mid-air that seemed to turn the ship on its very side. That allowed it to climb rapidly and soon it was sailing above the other. This, apparently signaled the end of the match, and the crowd gave thunderous applause.

“They’re fighting?” Rynn asked a halfling mother nearby, holding an infant child.

“Of course not! Just practice. The Knights recruit heavily from our race for the air navy they are assembling. It is a great honor to be selected for service. And Teadric Ashworthy has yet to loose this year!”

The winning skyship was sweeping over the crowd, cheers rising up as he flew over. Jenika and Rynn got a decent look at a Halfling hanging from the rigging of the ship, hat in the air, waving for all his might. He clearly knew how to work the crowd.

But then, from in the distance, a huge creature rose from the ground. The crowd gasped, and grew quieter for a moment. Teadric began yelling commands, and his ship sped towards it. Rynn squinted into the sun. A black dragon, atop it the form of a Knight of the Silver Dragons. The skyship had the wind at it’s back, and it raced towards the giant creature, which was diving towards it. The dragon opened its maw and a line of acid spewed from it, but the ship unexpectedly dropped to the ground. The acid flew overhead, and nets seemed to leap from the deck of the ship up to wrap themselves around the wings of the creature. They were made of mere rope, and the creature snapped them like pieces of small string, but the crowd went absolutely berserk. In one pass, apparently, Teadric’s ship had “downed” the dragon. The creature hissed in anger as it banked to land where it had come from, a sound still heard even over the roar of the spectators, but the man astride it pumped his hand at the skyship.

Many in the crowd were going back to their places, but, intrigued, Rynn pressed ahead. Jenika followed him to where the two skyships had landed. There were many people crowded around Teadric’s ship. There were almost none surrounding the other. A woman in full plate armor, a dragon orb bouncing from her neck approached. A gnome jumped down from the losing ship.

“I am sorry to have disappointed you, Rider Lystria. I have failed for the last time, it appears.”

“Not all are called to such tasks, Godfrey. There are other ways you might serve, as we discussed before.”

“Indeed. If you think it necessary, I will donate some of the spare crystals from my skyship. I do but want to serve the Knights and your cause.”

“Then I will send some Knights to collect them. The dwarves are in need of them to construct their great battleships. Tomorrow morning. Have them ready.”

“Perhaps, though I cannot serve you as a captain, I could still find a place as a naval officer of some sort.”

“We will see. It is not your desire or willingness that is in doubt.” The gnome nodded.

Jenika was confused. If Rider Lystria was here, then where was her dragon? Ah. There. She pointed it out to Rynn. A tall human, long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, and with a long goatee, was standing back a ways from the crowd around Teadric’s ship. His clothing was all black silk, embroidered with silver lining, and looked very expensive. Very soon the crowd noticed him, and most of them shyed away, moving in parabolas away from the man, obviously afraid. Teadric, however, was not.

Khalisara!” he called out. “I captured you!”

The man grimaced. There was a slight edge to his voice, and its tones indicated something much darker and sinister than a mere human. Parts of his draconic identity were seeping out. “Are you sure your real chain nets would be able to contain me? Don’t be so sure, you impudent little Halfling.”

“Well, I don’t make them, but I trust our dwarven friends.”

“Such faith in your allies.”

“Faith in my allies is what will help us win through the Dark Times, great one.”

Khalisara laughed, and again his voice seemed deeper, more rich, and not quite human. “The captured strength of the chromatic dragons is what will help you win through the Dark Times. Nothing else.”

Rider Lystria beckoned and Khalisara bowed to Teadric, obviously mockingly. The Knight and the dragon left, walking away.

Eryx (DM)
Khaska has learned that Loremaster Onasus is in the city, and even knows where he is staying. What do you wish to do about that, if anything?

Rynn and Jenika have a chance to talk to Teadric or Godfrey. Or even Rider Lystria and Khalisara, if you desire. Or random members of the crowd, if you like, but the crowd is thinning, and you get the impression you could talk to one or both of these captains. What will you ask them if you do speak to them?

Amara is off selling the loot from the displacer beast’s lair. She discovers that the last potion is a potion of fox’s cunning. She’ll also visit the library and discover that there are almost daily recitations of the ancient ballads collected from the world over. Tonight is a recitation of an ancient elven love story, The Tale of Druil and Ethanara, but there will be others on the other nights.

For selling items 3-9, and 11-12, as BlackWolf said and Thev agreed to over IM, you are able to get 1793 gold. That’s 449 gold each, rounded up because I don’t care.

For record keeping purposes, who will have in their inventory:
1. Potion of Shield of Faith +2
2. Potion of Resist Electrical Energy +10
3. Potion of Jump
4. Potion of Mage Armor
5. Potion of Fox’s Cunning
6. Ring of Feather Falling
7. 2x Scrolls of Obscuring Mist (Khaska or Amara only).

I know you’ll likely actually just keep them in the bags of holding, but if you want to prepare for combat or something, it’s just nice to know where they’ll be. By the way, I looked over my loot notes again, and I lied. It's a Type II Bag of Holding. You're still fine on luggage space. The loot dice have been kind to you in that way.

Thevarou
Khaska would deferentially thank Simtor for his tip, as he wants nothing more than to hear what others know and say about Tawru. He would ask Simtor whether he would need any sort of recommendation to visit Lord Dalal, then remember that he has a letter vouching for his character from Sir Reitman, which he supposes he could use if questions are asked or identification required. When admitted, he will attempt to listen without drawing undue attention to himself; and if the opportunity presents itself, he would try to speak with Loremaster Onasus himself, if possible privately.

BlackWolf
Rynn doesn't have anything particular to say or ask. He's just taking in the sights. But if he notices Godfrey looking depressed, sad, or alone, then he'd go over to say hello and ask about it — just to be nice.

  • Spot: 26 (rolled 19 + 7)
  • Sense Motive: to be rolled by DM

Rynn takes his share of the cash, but unfortunately he doesn't have enough for the gloves of dexterity. So he'll just exchange gold coins for platinum ones, and buy a few more silver pearls to offset. As for the items we are keeping, Rynn will take the potions of Jump and Mage Armor since those are ones he might have use of. He'll also take the ring (unless someone else wants it?). He isn't much interested in the rest, but will carry anything the party doesn't want to sell.

Eryx (DM)
Godfrey will indeed seem depressed, sad, and alone. Anything more specific you want to ask him or say to him? (There doesn't have to be.)

And in conversation with BlackWolf, I reminded him that the pilgrimage of the Peaceful Children pilgrimage was sent to Laishtek. However, since it was mentioned way back in Codex III-Chapter 6, he had forgotten it. As a courtesy, I remind you that Laishtek was explicitly their destination, and you are now in Laishtek. Do with that what you will.

DeltaWolf
Jenika would be fascinated by the display of airships. She would be interested in talking to the winning airship captain (or even the losing captain) about airship strategy, particularly concerning “netting” a dragon.

Thevarou
Thanks for the reminder about the Peaceful Children. I'll keep that in mind for Khaska in the close future. If he sees any shrines to multiple gods, it might recall it in his memory as well - naturally working it back into the plot :)

The crowd was thinning out, dissipating to go back to the city or to their own skyships and tents. There was a group still gathered around Teadric, though, and Jenika moved off to listen to him. She was utterly fascinated by the display and wanted to know more about the tactics and techniques used in aerial combat.

Rynn glanced over at the lone figure of Godfrey. Several members of his crew were disembarking, and he was giving them halfhearted compliments and thanks. The gnome was clearly disappointed, and was doing little to hide it. The crew seemed resigned, but still friendly enough as they also disappeared. Eventually Godfrey was alone, and he clambered up the rope to his ship.

“Godfrey!” the ranger called, with a glance back to see that Jenika was still in the crowd gathered around Teadric and his ship.

The gnome stopped. “Yes?”

Rynn was slightly at a loss of what to say. But he approached, and just decided to introduce himself. “My name is Rynn Fowler, and I just wanted to come say ‘hi.’”

The gnome seemed slightly puzzled for a moment, hanging on the rope ladder as his ship hovered a few feet above the ground. “Godfrey Botspringer, at your service.”

“So, what was that we just saw? A training exercise, someone called it?”

“Aye. The Knights sponsor combat training. They’re recruiting for their air navy, as the Dark Times will soon be upon us.”

“And you volunteered?”

Godfrey nodded. “We can volunteer our ships, and we come here and are taught some of their air tactics—the dragons can actually be a little useful in that—and then there are competitions. Like today.”

“And how do the competitions determine who serves in the air navy?”

“Winners and losers,” the gnome snorted. “And since I’ve just lost my third straight bout, my ship and I have been eliminated from ever serving in the navy.”

“I heard your conversation with Rider Lystria.”

“It’s always been my dream,” he said, “to fight the evil armies of Arkenos in the air, but now it won’t happen. I’ll donate a few of my crystals to the cause, keep enough to make sure my ship is still usable as a merchant vessel or something, but then I’ll head to wherever the wind takes me. I doubt they’ll have me.” At this, he actually began to cry, his eyes tearing up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bottle of fine wine I was saving for a special occasion. I suppose the death of my lifelong dream is a good enough reason to get drunk.” He finished clambering up the ladder and disappeared over the railing.

Rynn looked up at the ship. He knew well what it was like to loose the rest of your life’s plan. The pain of losing his Juliet renewed itself in his heart, a hollow, empty feeling that, though diminished by the years, he knew would never go away. Godfrey was probably feeling that same feeling right now, and he did not envy the poor gnome.

The gnome’s head poked over the railing again. “Unless, of course, you wanted to share the bottle with me. I’d be glad of the company, since nobody else seems to be volunteering.”


A little ways away Jenika was listening with fascination to Teadric. Mostly he seemed full of himself, discussing how he knew that he would win and that he had proven his worth to the Knights once again! Most of the gathered crowd seemed to be fawning over him, and there weren’t a few Halfling ladies vying for his attention.

“So, how did you manage to drop so fast?” The crowd grew a little quieter as Jenika finally was able to ask her question. She glanced around as many of them turned to look at her. “I mean, when you captured the dragon. Or whatever you call it.”

“Downed,” said Teadric. “That’s the term we use. You don’t try to capture things in the air. You try to down them. If they’re high enough, then you don’t have to worry about them any more. Even a dragon the size and skill and strength of Khalisara would be killed if he fell from a sufficient height. I take it that you have never seen aerial combat, Miss …”

“Jenika, of Shinadoh. So how did you drop so fast?”

“It’s the crystals, of course!” His ship was actually resting on the ground, and he moved over to a spot on the deck. Only his head was visible from Jenika’s point of view, but she saw him tweak something and several spherical devices rotated horizontally, each with a glowing crystal in its center. The ship rose a few inches, and then he rotated the devices back and it rested back on the ground. “When they’re flipped one way, they are buoyant. So to land, you just flip them the other way a bit until the weight of the ship drops it down to the ground slowly. That’s the secret.”

“So when the dragon came at you?” she asked. “You just covered them up?”

“Head of the class!” he said. “Not many ships can do a maneuver like that. But the Kipper Elba has been made with the finest materials that the Ashworthy clan could assemble. After that, it’s just a matter of launching the nets at the dragon, but Mister Caden here is the best shot on our moon.” He indicated a tall human man next to him, and the man took off his three-cornered had and bowed to the crowd. “Khalisara and Rider Lystria like to ‘surprise’ us sometimes during training. But I and my men were prepared! As we will when the dark moon converges with ours, and we destroy the armies of evil that will descend upon us!” At this, there was much cheering.

Jenika tried to ask another question or two, but the thinning crowd was having none of it. Teadric was already working them up into another cheering frenzy, boasting of his prowess and his skill at flying. Jenika glanced over to where Rynn was speaking to the other she made a move to head that direction, but then felt a hand on her arm.

“Hey, sorry he cut you short.” It was the man with the three-cornered hat. Caden? “Maybe I could answer some more of your questions? It wouldn’t do for such a lovely lady to go away … unsatisfied. I’m Jeremy Caden. And you are Jenika, did I get that right?” He flashed her a smile.

Jenika asked him further questions, and he obliged. He even invited her up onto the ship to get a personal tour as the crowd began to disperse further. He showed her the sails, talked about the winds and how to use them to maneuver the ship, teaching her briefly about tacking, beating, jibs, sails, the ropes they used to keep themselves anchored to the skyship should they be shook off, and many other things. She was delighted at being shown around so closely. Teadric was off himself a few minutes into their tour. One man remained on the ship with them, a burly dwarf smoking a pipe near the prow, staring off into the sunset.

As they finished the tour, Jeremy jumped down from the ship and helped her down, taking her hand as she also leapt down. “Was that satisfactory?”

“I didn’t expect to get a full tour of a skyship,” said Jenika. “Thank you!”

“You are most welcome. Now, would you like to join me back at my camp. I’m sure we could rustle up some wine to make the time pass more … smoothly.” He gave her a dazzling smile.


Khaska, after giving his armor a quick polish to look more official, came to Lord Minna Dalal’s house in the late afternoon. He presented himself at the doorway, and showed them his missive from Rider Reitman. This caused a bit of a stir, and he entered the house apparently just as dinner was being served. Lord Dalal himself came out, a Maha’i dressed in fine purple silk robes that hung loosely around him. He asked what business Khaska had from the Knights.

“I fear you may have misunderstood me. Though I am acting with the personal blessing of Rider Reitman, I am not an official envoy of the Knights. I was led to believe that Loremaster Onasus was staying with you, and came to request an audience.”

“Ah. Well then, come and join us for dinner, won’t you? You can speak to the Loremaster afterwards.”

“I would be honored.”

The servants, several humans among them (an unusual arrangement for Khaska), quickly made a place for him. It was immediately obvious who Loremaster Onasus was. The tall, slender man stood up and inclined his head when introduced, but didn’t say anything. His long blonde hair fell down past his shoulders, and he had on some relatively simple robes, though with a very expensive-looking brooch on one side. His green eyes rested on Khaska, sweeping over him in a moment, as if sizing the cleric up in just a single glance. The cleric was vaguely unsettled by this, but introduced himself and made his request known. Loremaster Onasus nodded, but then settled back into his chair. First things first, apparently.

Khaska sat down at the meal table, and was suddenly struck by the oddity. He had learned something of human manners in his brief encounters with them in the Niktean Wastes, and had observed Amara eating with the clear training of nobility, but this meal was clearly beyond his training in etiquette. He was able to carefully watch his host and the other guests, and did not think that he made too many errors, though he was self-conscious about his eating the entire time. He did not eat much, and hoped that was not considered rude in this culture.

After the dinner, he and Loremaster Onasus were taken by one of the human servants to a small room. The room was dimly lit, and had several good chairs in it. The walls were lined with shelves, and there were books and scrolls resting on them. It was obviously a private library of Lord Dalal.

“Please, sit, Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven.”

Khaska’s eyes widened. He had only used his name once, as he had been introduced to the dinner guests. It was rare that someone could remember it on the first try. He sat down in a chair with a low back. “Thank you, and I am quite impressed that you remembered my full name. Our names are difficult for most others. Do you have experience with us Jevereshkans?”

Loremaster Onasus settled into one of the other chairs, his movements slow and deliberate, yet with an economy of movement that Khaska found almost beautiful to watch. “I have spent some time with your people in the Niktean Wastes. It was …” he smiled coyly, “… many years ago.”

“I cannot say I have reciprocated. I have not had many years of life yet. How long ago were you there?”

“Long before your father was born. What brings you here to inquire of me?” The loremaster appeared to be eager to get to the heart of the conversation, but Khaska felt no rush. If anything, the man’s bearing and actions gave him more pause than anything else. But he pressed ahead.

“Astonishingly good fortune, on one hand. I had heard whispers of your name in Hammerdine. But I also wished to ask you a question about the lore you know, or several, if that is acceptable.”

“You may ask me whatever you like, but,” he raised a pointed finger, “are you willing to do an even exchange? If I ask you questions, would you be as willing to speak to me as you want me to speak to you?”

“I do not know what questions I could answer, but I will strive to do so.”

“There are many stories the world over. I am sure you have a few that you can share with me. But we will answer your questions first.” He waved his hand. “Ask away.”

Khaska took a deep breath, but this kind of thing was getting easier for him. He thought ruefully of the shyness he had in talking with strangers even a few short months ago. “Many years ago, there was a man of my race, a high warrior, sent as emissary to the Knights of the Silver Dragons; his name was Tawru Khimmak Tova Nem Rujdha. I am certain you have heard of him, but I am curious as to what you have heard concerning the final month of his life, from his desertion of the Knights at Hammerdine to his … death.” Then, perhaps realizing how vague his inquiry had been, Khaska concluded. “Pardon such a large question.”

“That is a large question indeed. I have heard many things. The Order of Faris Attineen thinks he was a god reborn, the reincarnation of Markus fulfilling another part of his divine destiny. The people of this city think he freed the slaves and disappeared into the heavens. Your people think he was slain by a Knight of the Silver Dragons. Perhaps you could be more specific about what you are asking.”

“I apologize. Here in Laishtek people know much more than I ever expected they would know.”

Loremaster Onasus raised his eyebrows. “This was the place where he freed the slaves. That's a rather important event in this town's history.”

“Indeed, but still it surprises me. I feel that in order to ask my question I should reveal my purpose: I seek to find the relics of Tawru, his lost horn and his sword, and any knowledge that has been lost to the tales of my people. Just today I was informed that Tawru was already the One-Horned when he arrived to free the slaves, and did not lose the Horn in combat. Would you happen to know of the fate of the relics?”

The loremaster’s face had fallen as Khaska had spoken. He sighed. “So you are one of those.” He leaned back in his chair. “From the best records, Tawru had already lost his horn when he arrived. There are many legends around it, but legends are legends, and many of them do not ring true to me. He left with his scimitar, and whatever happened to him, I do not know what befell it.”

“Ah.” Khaska sat a moment in contemplation. “I hope to be able to reconcile my people with the Knights before the Dark Times are upon us. But I should not have supposed that searching out the relics, which might give me credibility and repute enough to accomplish that reconciliation, would be simple.”

Onasus shook his head. “No. Many have tried over the years. You are not the first, clearly. But you are chasing myth and rumor and legend. These events were hundreds of years ago. What makes you think the sword and the horn still exist? Would the sword not have rusted by now? Would the horn have not returned to the earth wherever it fell?”

“I know not. If myth and legend are my best hope for healing past wounds before they are gashed open farther, I must try to serve my people and my world.”

“Your sentiments are noble, Khaska, but I feel I must be honest with you. I feel this is a fool's errand. A quest taken by some bright-eyed youngster who has never traveled far from home, who is chasing the stories of his youth, and who has no idea how to actually go about completing the quest in the real world, when it probably cannot be completed at all.”

“That is probably true. What would you recommend?

Loremaster Onasus’ face had a surprised look for a moment. He straightened and leaned forward.

“Huh. I had not thought that you would handle such harsh truths so … calmly.”

“I know I am young, even for my people. But as it is said, ‘it is for the young to adventure, and the old to advise.’”

“And advise you I have. I certainly qualify as old.” There was a twinkle in the loremaster’s eyes at that quip. But it vanished for a moment, and the green eyes bored into the cleric as Onasus grew serious again. “But what I cannot understand, Khaska, is how you managed to get a personal missive from Rider Reitman himself to aid you in this quest. Tell me, how did you come to know this Dragonrider so well, and how did you convince him to give you such a note?"

“Well, that is a story, though a small one. While I was working as an interpreter for a trade party in the Wastes, Sir Reitman stopped by our trading post with his dragon in pursuit of a fugitive; that was how I first met him. He issued an invitation for us to visit the Hammerdine Chapterhouse of the Knights when we arrived, and we took him up on his offer. I also told him our story of Tawru and expressed my wish to learn more, and in his library I found another story, much more worthy and dangerous than my history.”

At the mention of another story, Loremaster Onasus’s eyes lit up even more. Khaska found himself half disturbed by their intensity, and half mesmerized by them at the same time. “What story did you find in his library?” the loremaster asked.

“The story I found was a testimony of Likran Treewind of Hammerdine. If you are as old as the rumor says, you might have met him. He was the head of the Hammerdine Knights to whom Tawru pledged fealty, and whom Tawru left during battle to free the slaves at Laishtek—here.”

“I know of him.”

Khaska got a slight sense that Loremaster Onasus knew more about Treewind than he was letting on, but it also seemed as if he was merely being evasive as he had with regard to the inquiries as to his age earlier. The cleric continued. “And you will know why this is a dangerous story. After driving back Tleros, Treewind sought out Tawru and found him on the road from Jevereshk to Laishtek. However, Tawru revealed that his paladin status had been stripped from him by the Knights upon his desertion, and in desperation, he had turned to the evil gods for the power to accomplish his purpose of freeing the slaves. It was Treewind who slew Tawru, though he kept the truth hidden ever after, preserved only in the testimony I found. It was a harsh blow to take for me, and it is a dangerous story.”

The loremaster’s eyes narrowed. “A variation on the theme of your people, however. Do you have proof of this story? How did you 'find' it?”

Khaska pulled out the scroll that Dragonrider Reitman had given him. “The original is in the library of the Knights in Hammerdine, but here is a copy Sir Reitman made for me.” He handed it over.

Loremaster Onasus took the scroll gently and slowly unraveled it. His eyes darted quickly across the page, his mouth moving as he read it to himself, so quietly that Khaska could barely hear.

"Hand me the missive from Rider Reitman, please?" Khaska produced the personal missive and Loremaster Onasus glanced back and forth at both the scroll and the sheet of paper, obviously comparing the two. "Reitman wrote the copy himself, it appears." He rolled the missive up and handed it back, then continued to read the bigger scroll. His face livened at first, dropped later on, then his eyes widened, and finally his lower lip even quivered, but just for a moment. He took a deep breath as he rolled the scroll up, an obviously practiced maneuver. He paused for a few minutes, then looked up and spoke again.

“Why do you think this is a dangerous story, Khaska?"

“Because its truth depends on the teller. Told by an enemy of my people, or by someone of little repute, it becomes a lie, and healing is made harder. Told by a friend, or someone of high repute, it can change my people, and help them see that we are all one world. I wish to tell the story, but as I am, I am young and ignorant, and none would listen.”

The loremaster was quiet for a few minutes, his green eyes boring into Khaska. When he spoke, it was much quieter than it had been. “And this is why you seek the horn and the scimitar?”

Khaska nodded. “Yes. Nothing else would demonstrate my sincerity and honor to my people more than that.”

There was another long pause. It was unnerving to have those piercing green eyes staring at him, but Khaska also noticed a shift in the man’s facial expression. It softened, slowly, as he thought and as the silence of the room enveloped them again. Then he spoke, yet still softer. “Khaska, I have misjudged you. At least slightly. Here I thought you were another young adventurer out to prove his worth to the world for fame and fortune. But I see that is not true at all. It is true that you are young. But you have a … depth about you … a sincerity that I find all too lacking in many.

“However,” and at this, the loremaster smiled. “You come asking me about the sword of Tawru, when there are many clues to its location here in the very story you share with me.” He held up the scroll.

“In my ignorance I must have overlooked them.”

“Likran Treewind, it says here, used Tawru's scimitar for his personal weapon for the rest of his life. And apparently he spent the rest of his life at the Tawruian monastery.

“Yes. Was he buried there as well?”

“As far as I recall. This tale explains many things that have puzzled me since Likran's abrupt departure from his position as chapter head of Hammerdine.”

Khaska did not fail to notice that the loremaster had used Likran’s first name, as if familiar with him. In that moment, staring across at the handsome man, whose eyes were still the arresting green and who seemed to glow with an inner fire, Khaska could believe that he carried the weight and wisdom of his rumored centuries. In that moment, Khaska believer all that was ever spoken of this loremaster.

“So you did know Treewind, to some degree,” said Khaska.

Onasus straightened. “He was a good friend. I had hoped that he would not become a dragon rider, for they are usually very mobile and it is difficult to stay in touch. However, his self-imposed exile served much the same purpose. I never saw him after he left to establish the Monastery. I always meant to visit, but alas, have not done so."

“I am sorry. I wish I could have known him, as he seems like a truly good man and a faithful friend.”

“I imagine you will now journey to the monastery. If I gave you a token, could you leave it on his grave, or, if that cannot be found, at the ruins of the monastery themselves?”

“I would be honored to do so,” the cleric said.

Loremaster Onasus took off his brooch, a fine piece of gold work embedded with jewels, and handed it to Khaska. Khaska took the brooch, touched it to his forehead and chest, and placed it in his pouch.

“And what do you wish me to do with your story?” Khaska did not miss the emphasis on “your.” The ancient loremaster, this purveyor of stories and mysteries, was giving it to him to decide what to do. The thought was slightly astonishing.

“I feel that it is a sin to ask a storyteller to not tell a story, but that is what I would ask. I will pray that someday soon you will be able to work your art with Tawru's true history.”

Onasus smiled. “Ah, but this tale is not over. To tell it now would be doing it a disservice. But when the tale is over, I hope that you will bring its conclusion to me. I would be honored to tell all of it, and your part in bringing it to its end, whether good or evil.” He smiled and stood up. “I hope that it is a good ending.”

Khaska also stood. “So long as I live, my part in it will be for the good. It has been an honor to meet with you, Master Onasus. May you ever tell your tales, and when we next meet, may I have tales to tell you.”

The loremaster raised his head slightly, as if in thought. “What a unique farewell. I shall have to use it in the future.”

“I do have very few tales, but for now our time is short. The Tragedy of Khaska and Dhezga will have to wait.” Khaska offered a smile. “Thank you once more.” The cleric raised his chin in respect, figuring that Onasus would know the gesture.

The loremaster also raised his head, and though he had no horns, the gesture of friendliness was unmistakable. Then, in full Jevereshk Maha’i dialect, Loremaster Onasus spoke. “May your feet never know splitting from the road, Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven.”

Khaska was slightly astonished at his command of the language and his knowledge of their blessings. But he knew how to respond. “May your legs never tire from the journey, Loremaster Onasus.”

The loremaster gestured towards the door, and Khaska opened it. They visited briefly with Lord Dalal and his wife, the other guests had left, and Khaska thanked him for his hospitality and apologized for any unintended discourtesy. One of the human servants showed him out, and he left after saying his heartfelt thanks once more.

Eryx (DM)
I’m sure the brief conversation with Godfrey wasn’t as long as the tour, but we’ll just say that Rynn didn’t join the tour, even if you turn down Godfrey on his offer. Speaking of which …

Will Rynn take Godfrey up on his offer to share a bottle of fine wine? Or will you let him drink it alone?

DeltaWolf, roll a Sense Motive. I’ll post the results here. Does Jenika want to go back to Jeremy’s camp for some wine to make the time pass more … smoothly? I should note that your description of Jenika is that she is easily flattered, and he's been buttering her up ever since he came down from the ship to talk to her and personally answer her questions.

Thanks to Thev for another successful IM role-play between Khaska and Loremaster Onasus.

Amara has been in the library researching draconic things, and is going to the library tonight for the recitation of The Tale of Druil and Ethanara. Khaska will be joining her, as per IM with Thev.

BlackWolf
Rynn couldn't possibly turn Godfrey down and leave him dejected. He'll grab hold of the rope ladder and head up to the ship. Half way up, he'll command Ranna to 'stay' down there (unless there is some ramp or something she could use to easily climb aboard?). He will also glance over to where he last saw Jenika and try to wave to her or something so she knows he isn't just disappearing on her.

The ranger is wise enough to realize that he must be careful to not drink too much — that problem has bitten him in the past. But he can also be quite naive, forgetting the social pressure that can be applied in these situations. Plus they'd be all alone up there, as as much as he wouldn't want to offend the gnome, it seems there wouldn't be women there — drunk Rynn has trouble with them as well.

So pushing aside his worry, he intends to just have a little drink (Godfrey shouldn't give too much to a stranger anyway, he deserves to enjoy his bottle, right?) and try to console the captain. Rynn will praise the gnome for wanting to serve… Rynn hasn't thought about volunteering himself before. He'll also remind Godfrey that once the fighting with Arkenos begins, his ship will still be able to serve and perform great deeds.

Thevarou
As Eryx noted, Khaska doesn't have much to do in this post. (Last post was great, though! Long live roleplaying.) Namely, he will attentively listen to the story being told. Do I roll a Listen check for that? :D

DeltaWolf

*Sense Motive: 8 (3+5)

As you say Jenika is easily flattered. She would go with Jeremy. However she has experience with men making physical moves on her. If he tries something she would hit him. Also she wouldn’t knowingly become drunk.

Eryx (DM)
BlackWolf, roll three times, per the rules that you gave me in Rynn's character page for handling his drinking problem. First, the Constitution check to see how drunk Rynn gets. Second, the Fort check to see if he passes out and if he has a headache the next morning. Third, for the INT check to see how much he remembers in the morning.

DeltaWolf, Jeremy will indeed make a move. He'll be drunk, you maybe just a little tipsy. If you will hit him after he makes his move, please roll a surprise round of combat.

BlackWolf

  • Constitution: 5 (rolled 4 + 1 modifier)
  • Fortitude: 10 (rolled 5 + 5 bonus)
  • Intelligence: 3 (rolled 2 + 1 bonus)

Right then… really stellar rolls here. The wine is apt to enrage Rynn over Godfrey's situation. I just hope that the Fortitude check is low enough that he passes out before he does too much damage! But the real kicker is that we may not find out right away how bad things got with that low INT check. Now I'm having troubling visions of Rynn waking up in jail or having Godfrey show up and ask for money to pay for repairs to his ship.

Upon returning to the inn, he found Amara.

“Where were you?” she asked. “I thought you especially would be interested in the recitation tonight at the library. It will be The Tale of Druil and Ethanara, an elven tragedy set between the 49th and 50th dark times. And I think you’ll really like the library, Khaska. It’s exquisite!” Her question was obviously perfunctory, so Khaska didn’t bother to ask it. Again, he was processing what he had learned from Loremaster Onasus.

“The others?”

“I haven’t seen them since we split up this afternoon. But if we don’t leave pretty soon, we’ll miss the beginning of the recitation! I was about to leave myself.”

“Then by all means, let us go. There will be other performances for Rynn and Jenika, if I am not mistaken.”

The library of Tebbins Ferrick was not just a single building. It was a massive complex filled with different buildings. People from all races mixed and mingled, and Khaska was forced to leave his scimitar at the entrance, as weapons of any kind were strictly forbidden. A small wooden token would allow him to pick it back up. Just inside the entrance, before the courtyard began to branch off, was a statue of the famed Halfling explorer himself. He was seated, with a large book in his hand and a quill hovering over the page. His face was turned upward towards the sky.

“Come on,” said Amara. “This way!”

The recital hall was about halfway full, but people were streaming in to the elegant room, which was draped with tapestries from wall to wall depicting some of the great stories and legends of the past. Promptly at eight o’clock, a Halfling stepped up on the stage and announced the performers, a troupe of elven harpists and singers from Dreqorun. The elves glided onto the stage, all dressed in simple, yet elegant robes, and carrying harps or just moving into position. The songs themselves were beautiful. The recitation took several hours—elves were not know for their brevity—telling the tale of two lovers who were separated during the Dark Times. The soldier, Druil, was captured and taken to Arkenos where he was enslaved. His young love, the lovely maiden Ethanara, was heartbroken, but stayed alive for the entirety of the thousand year difference between the Dark Times, never knowing the fate of her lover. At the next convergence of Arkenos and Jenoa, Druil returned, an ancient man stowed away on an Arkenosian skyship, and they died the same day they were reunited. It is said that the flowers that grow on their graves have never withered, a testament to their eternal love.

Khaska found it quite moving. As Simtor had said, the tale stirred his soul, and Khaska felt content. Amara, sitting next to him, kept fiddling with her ring, taking it off, turning it on her finger, things like that. It had proven slightly distracting, so Khaska had whispered for her to stop. She had returned the ring to her finger immediately, and apologized. After the troupe finished, the applause was thundering.


Jenika followed Jeremy back to his camp. It wasn’t that far, and she found the camp already bursting with song, wine, and dancing. Teadric was there with two other Halfling women. Both were vying for his attention, and were already slightly undressed. Others she recognized from the crowd were the different sailors from the ship, and they were having the time of their life as a gnome played a set of pipes and they danced, drunkenly, around the bonfire.

“Jeremy!” somebody called. There was a whistle at Jenika, but Jeremy shot the person a dirty look and they raised their hands, palms out, before slinking back to the rest of the party. Jenika took a proffered goblet of wine, while Jeremy grabbed himself a tankard. They sat down on a log to talk as the carousing surrounded them.

About an hour later, Jenika was ready to leave. The rest of the crew were getting more drunk and lewd, and it was obvious that Jeremy had had his fill of ale. He was on his third, or was it fourth?, tankard. Her wine goblet was only half gone.

“Well, thank you Jeremy,” she said. “But I must be going. Thank you again! It was great to see the skyship.”

“You’re … you’re leaving?” He slurred his words just a bit. The alcohol had taken its effect. “But we haven’t … well, we haven’t even …” At that, he leaned in to kiss her, his hands moving places on her body where they were not welcome. Shocked, she threw a punch at him but he somehow managed to dodge it. “Hey!” He threw a punch back at her, one that landed squarely in the monk’s face. Incensed now, Jenika vaulted up and punched him twice, one not landing hard because of his leather armor, but the other smarting across the face of the man. He stumbled and went down hard. He flipped over onto his back to look up into Jenika’s face as the monk stepped forward smoothly, her hands moving into a fighting position. He held his hands up in defeat, and began to scoot away in the dirt. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry!”

Seething, she whirled and left the camp to go find Rynn. She had seen him board the other ship with the gnome, Godfrey.

As she approached the ship, she heard yelling. Ranna was still sitting under the skyship, meaning that the ranger was still there. The yelling was a bit indistinct, but it worried Jenika. Perhaps Rynn was in some kind of trouble. She quickly clambered up the rope ladder and vaulted silently over the railing of the ship to find … Rynn and Godfrey, sitting on the other side, backs against the railing, two empty wood goblets in front of them and a nearly empty bottle of wine as well.

“… ridiculous!” Rynn was saying. “Why wouldn’t the Knights accept such a good person as you?”

Godfrey let loose with a description of Rider Lystria that made Jenika blush. He was crossing in and out of common, speaking a pidgin of it and what she assumed was the Halfling language. Still, his meaning was quite clear, and it appalled Jenika to hear that. She stepped forward. “Hey!” she said, a little incensed at the vulgarities being flung the way of Rider Lystria … some of which she was pretty sure were crossing into sexual territory. It was certainly not something she was in the mood for, Jeremy having just tried to take advantage of her.

Godfrey looked at her, squinting and then opening and closing his eyes rapidly. “What’re you doing on my boat?” he asked, his tone full of menace.

“I’m here to get my friend. Rynn, time to go.”

“Not done!” Rynn said, proffering the wind bottle.

Jenika stepped forward, grabbing his arm. She was in no mood for this. “Come on! Let’s get you back to the inn.” Rynn bared his teeth at her and, to her surprise, grabbed his orcish dagger and took a swipe at her. He was drunk, on the ground, and not in a position to really do any damage. The monk dodged his blow easily, and then came in at him, pushing the dagger aside and pinning the ranger. “Rynn! Stop it!”

“You stop it!” The ranger was struggling, but he was unable to wriggle out of the monk’s arms. Jenika had him fast. “I was just here, enjoyin’ as drink wif my friend, Godric.”

“Godfrey,” said the gnome, who was giggling at the fight as he picked up the bottle from where it had rolled, snatching it up before more wine could spill out. He took a deep swig.

“Leave me alone!” Rynn snapped, his struggles still completely ineffectual.

“Fine,” she said. “You asked for it.” She shoved him down as she released him, and the ranger collapsed back against the side of the skyship, hitting his head. “I’m going back to the inn.”

Jenika jumped down from the skyship and stalked off back towards the main city, her hands clenched hard, and her glare warning off anybody who might think to approach her.


The lurch of the skyship woke Rynn up. “Of course. I just wasn’t expecting you this early,” he heard someone say. The ranger could hear someone scuttling around the deck. He had a splitting headache, and moaned a bit as he rolled over. The wine bottle sat next to his head, completely empty. The wooden goblets were still there, though they had stopped using them a few rounds into their drinking last night, instead going straight for the bottle itself. The ranger sat up.

“A little worse for wear, my friend?” asked a voice. Rynn glanced up at the speaker. It was a dwarf, dressed in shiny plate, coming over the railing. The ship had fully landed to allow easier access. The dwarf was followed by a tall elven woman with a torch, and then another human. A fourth figure just started to come aboard as Rynn turned to look at Godfrey.

The Halfling was running around, grabbing various tools and beginning to work on the crystals that were tied all around the mast. “Rider Lystria said that it would be in the morning, but I expected you to wait at least for the sun to be fully up.” It was true. The eastern sky had a sliver of light over it. Sunrise was coming, but it was still early, especially for July.

“We wanted to have them ready for a shipment to Tir’Kon on another skyship,” the dwarf said. “Sorry for the earliness.”

“It’s no problem! I’m happy to help.” The gnome looked quite flustered. He was wearing the same clothes from the night before, and his yellow hair was sticking every which way. “I just want to make sure that my ship is still functional, of course.”

“Well, if you miscalculate, I’m sure that we can supply you with an extra crystal. We wouldn’t want your ship grounded,” said another voice. Rynn, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, glanced up at the tall woman who had spoken. She was an elf, her long angular features rather striking. Her hair looked rather odd. She was holding a torch, and in the growing light, he did notice that her hair was a very dark, but with a shade of … green?

“Tell you what, I’ll give you five crystals, leaving me with three. If I need a fourth to really make things run smoothly, I’ll come to the chapterhouse in Laishtek. When is the other shipment leaving?”

“Sometime around noon. We just wanted to load the crystals up, but that sounds like a fair way to deal with it to me,” the dwarf said. “We didn’t want to wait around while you performed a bunch of experiments on the suitability of your ship.”

“Of course, of course.”

Rynn was still mesmerized by the green-haired woman. “Hey!” he said. “Your hair is green.” She shot him a look, and as she turned toward him he nearly had a flashback to Veleria. The woman’s angled face betrayed something a little more than human. She smiled at him … and bared fangs in doing so. “I do display the traits of my ancestry,” she said. “Somewhere back in the forgotten times of my family tree, a green dragon sired an ancestor of mine.” She held up her slender hand, and long black nails emerged from where her fingernails should have been. There was a golden ring on the middle finger, a peculiar symbol on it. Something about it seemed familiar to Rynn, but he couldn’t get over the fact that he could clearly see green scales on her wrists before they disappeared behind her long sleeves. He glanced at the other man, but he seemed more or less a normal human, just with leather armor and two swords strapped to his back. The ranger couldn't see the fourth figure clearly.

“That’s neat!” Rynn immediately grimaced at his own words. He supposed his hangover was still affecting him. He sounded like a child.

Godfrey was carefully putting the crystals into a chest one at a time. He had to be careful with them. If he accidentally flipped them, they might go flying away by themselves! But soon all five of the crystals were in the chest.

“Thank you!” The dwarf said. He motioned for the others to take the chest, and the elf with the greenish hair and one other, a human, lifted it up and began to move off of the skyship. It was then that he noticed the fourth person in the group, the one who had previously been behind the others and therefore blocked from his getting a good look at her. But he’d recognize the white hair anywhere, even as hungover as he was. However, Rynn didn’t have time to say anything before Amara jumped off the skyship. The other two disembarked quickly as well.

“Thank you, Godfrey! The Knights of the Silver Dragons thank you for your service.” The dwarf reached a hand out to shake Godfrey’s, and Rynn also noticed that he had on a ring with that same symbol. Of course. Now he recognized it! Amara had a similar ring!

The ranger stood and moved quickly over to the railing, watching as the group drove off in a horse-drawn cart, the chest bouncing in the back of it.

Rynn turned back to Godfrey. “Those the representatives from the Knights?”

“Yeah. Hey, you alright man?”

Rynn glanced down. Ranna was there, just off the side of the skyship, wagging her tail. “Just a little the worse for wear, as that dwarf said. You got somewhere I can pee?”

Godfrey jabbed his thumb to the back of the ship. “The hatch goes down to the lower deck. My quarters are in the back, and there’s a chamber pot in there.”

Rynn went down the stairs, and it took him a minute to find the chamber pot in the darkness of the morning. But find it he did, and was able to relieve himself. It took a while, and the ranger felt much relieved afterwards. He came out of the private room to hear voices above him. He climbed the stairs to find several armored people standing on the deck, talking heatedly with Godfrey.

“You mean those guys weren’t from the Knights?” The gnome was practically beside himself. “I just gave away five of my crystals for no reason!”

Rynn felt suddenly awake, adrenaline surging through him as he realized what had just happened. Godfrey had been robbed, and a neat job of it too, those people faking being from the Knights.

Eryx (DM)
This seems a good place to end, so Rynn can react to the situation. I will say, however, that tracking them will be pretty useless. The ground around here is quite well-traveled and the smells of cooking fires are filling the air as the dawn breaks. They have a good ten or so minute head start so who knows where they might be.

As authorized by DeltaWolf over the phone, I rolled the “combat” for him. Jenika suffered six points of damage from Jeffrey’s crit to her face, but managed to smash the man pretty hard in retaliation. That was enough to shut him up and allow her to leave. After getting a good night’s rest, she has currently 30/32 hitpoints.

Also, I’ve decided to change the mechanism for the crystals. Previously, I had it as uncovering them made them buoyant. I realized, in thinking of carrying them by hand to the chest, that wasn’t a very practical way to have them operate. I did want the crystals to be interchangeable and movable, so the new mechanism is that when flipped one way (we’ll call it “right side up”) they are buoyant, and when they are flipped the other way, they are just like normal rocks, and provide no lift for the skyships. Lifting and dropping, then, is a matter of rotating the crystals via some means, be it mechanical or otherwise. I’ve retconned a bit of the dialogue from Teadric and the descriptions above to indicate this.

What will Rynn say to the Knights and Godfrey? Further, what will he say when he gets back to the inn and meets up with Khaska and Jenika? (He does not remember trying to slash Jenika.) What will you all do when you get together again and find out what just happened go Godfrey … and Amara’s apparent involvement? How is Jenika going to react to the attack by the drunk Rynn? Will she have told Khaska (and Amara, who was there at the inn last night) about the incident?

DeltaWolf
Upon arriving at the inn Jenika would just want to be alone. Going to sleep soon after. She wouldn’t say anything to the others. But as her anger would be obvious they may notice that she is distressed. If asked, she would say that she doesn’t want to talk about it.

She feels betrayed by Rynn attacking her, and would project some of her anger for Kaylee on him. She would also threaten to break him should he ever pull a knife on her again. Also she would throw Rynn’s drunkenness in his face, suggesting that Godfrey wouldn’t be in that position if they hadn’t been drunk.

Thevarou
Assuming that Rynn recounts the entire conversation from the skyship, Khaska will be shocked at Amara's conniving but will also see it as a confirmation of his suspicions ever since her alignment was revealed in the shrine in Hammerdine. Knowing this, he will tell about how Amara was fiddling with her ring the night before, and will suggest going with Godfrey to the Knights to report the theft and the fact that there are impostors claiming to be Knights wandering about, providing detailed physical descriptions of the perpetrators. He will also notify the Laishtek Knights about the Peaceful Children and the sinister machinations uncovered in Hammerdine and offer his help if it is needed out of a sense of duty. For the moment, however, he wants to investigate the library; he will work out some of his frustration at Amara's betrayal by focusing on his quest.

Eryx (DM)
Two points that I forgot. It's August now, so you need to pay upkeep please for both June AND July, as per the General Campaign Rules. All of July was spent traveling between Hammerdine and Laishtek, so take that into account.

And Thev asked me if Rynn would remember the entire conversation from the skyship. Yes, he would. He's hungover quite a bit, but he's not drunk anymore. He doesn't remember much after he started drinking last night, but he does remember everything that happened this morning. He just also remembers that he had a splitting headache through the entire thing. :)

BlackWolf
First things first, I have deducted 35 gp from Rynn for upkeep. This represents him mostly being happy with the "poor" level (as is normal for him when traveling), but some additional gold for time spent in the city (Hammerdine).

Rushing over to the railing, Rynn will say, "They were just here a couple minutes ago!" But as he takes in the surrounding area, he'll realize that tracking them is well beyond his skill. Regretfully, he'll come away from the side and help Godfrey explain what happened to the real Knights. The ranger will describe the people as best he can, including the white-haired person who he's sure was Amara — but he won't divulge her name at this time; he's not ready to implicate her until he knows more about what's going on.

He'll specifically mention the green-haired woman and the ring. He'll ask if they know the symbol. And for that matter, does Rynn recall anything about it? Here is an INT check for anything he might know:

  • INT check: 11 (rolled 10 + 1 modifier)

The DM can convert that check to something else as necessary.

Once he's told the Knights what he knows (save Amara's name), he'll tell Godfrey that he wants to help and will go see what he can find out. At which point he'll head back to the inn since that seems the best place to start searching for Amara.

When he meets up with Khaska and Jenika at the inn, he'll tell them everything and ask what they might know about this. When Jenika is angry with him, he'll admit that he can't recall anything from the night before, then he'll apologize profusely (and sheepishly) for his actions. Her suggestion about his drunkenness hurting Godfrey will bite deep, and solidify his desire to set things right for the gnome.

Rynn will ask Khaska to please inquire about the symbol and the group while at the library. Then he'll apologize once more to Jenika and ask if she will help him set this right. The ranger wishes he could just track Amara, but since that's impossible, he'll have to investigate instead. He'll start with the innkeeper, asking when he last saw her, if she checked out, etc. The next lead is probably asking around the library. Another lead is to ask around the skyship port — specifically what someone might do with stolen crystals. Would they just sell them? Is it possible to track them down to a ship?

Here are three rolls to get things started:

  • Gather Info: 10 (rolled 7 + 3 bonus)
  • Gather Info: 8 (rolled 5 + 3 bonus)
  • Gather Info: 15 (rolled 12 + 3 bonus)

DeltaWolf
Upkeep 57gp.

Thevarou
Khaska paid 80 in upkeep. Also, Gather Info rolls for investigation (all include a +2 already): 14, 19, 3.

Rynn rushed to the edge of the railing, looking around in a panic. “They were just here a minute ago!” His sharp eyes took in the surrounding area, and the tension drained from his body. The area they were in was well-traveled. Already many were walking to and from various destinations, and the smells of breakfast fires reached his nose. Tracking them, though they had only been gone about ten minutes, would be impossible. With a sigh, he let go of the railing and turned back to the Knights and Godfrey. Between him and the gnome, the Knights were able to get a good description of each of the individuals. Rynn made sure to mention the green-haired woman and the rings, as well as the fact that one of the party had white hair, though he did not identify Amara by name. He asked about the symbol, which he was able to hastily sketch. None of the Knights knew what it was, but they thanked him for his information before departing.

Rynn’s mind was racing. Amara’s betrayal stung him, but he glanced over at Godfrey and knew in a flash what he needed to do. If the gnome had been depressed the previous night, after his failure in the exercise, now he was downright despondent. Rynn straightened, and clapped a hand on the gnome’s shoulder. “I’ll help find who did this, Godfrey. I promise.” With that, the ranger leapt over the side of the railing, snapping his fingers. Ranna was up in a moment, barking at her master, excited to be moving.

“Wait, where are you going?”

“To get my friends. They can help too. I’ll be back.” The ranger took off at a nice jog, Ranna keeping pace with him. The exercise helped clear his head, his legs pumping rhythmically and his breathing nice and steady as he darted through the skyship port to get back to the inn they had been staying at. He frowned as he thought of Amara. What had she gotten mixed up in? He had originally been wary of her since the revelation at the Shrine of Piety that she was evil, but had seen no need to be confrontational about it. Ruefully, he wondered if that had been the right choice.

He arrived at the inn while it was still early. A few patrons were eating breakfast, but Jenika and Khaska were not among them. He bounded up the stairs and knocked on Khaska’s door. A moment later the cleric opened it up. “Rynn? What is it?”

“We need to talk. I’ll go get Jenika.” Rynn turned to go to her door as Khaska nodded, a look of concern flitting across the Maha’i’s face. Rynn knocked on Jenika’s door. The monk opened it a few moments later. “Come to Khaska’s room, we need to talk!” He turned from her without waiting for a reply, heading over and just going into the cleric’s room after a perfunctory knock.

“What is the matter, my friend?” Khaska asked.

“This concerns all of us. I’d like to wait until Jenika gets here to discuss it.”

Jenika came in a few minutes later wearing a new set of clothes, her hair brushed a bit and her face washed. Rynn started. “What happened to your face?” It was the first time he had really looked at it this morning. There was a splotchy part by her nose, which itself looked a little swollen.

Her eyes narrowed. “I was attacked last night!”

Rynn stood from where he had been sitting. “Are you okay? Who attacked you?”

The monk stared at him for a long moment. “Well, first it was the guy giving me a tour of the other skyship.”

“First?” the ranger sputtered. “You were attacked more than once? I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I must have gotten carried away in my drinking with Godfrey.”

“You did.”

"Ah." His face fell. “I’m sorry. I’m … did I do anything?”

“You were the other one that attacked me.”

Rynn’s face fell and it was like all his manic energy from the past hour or so drained from him in an instant. He looked down at the floor.

Jenika’s voice was flat, and seemed colder than the northern wind itself. “If you ever try to stab me again, I’ll break you. I’ve had enough of friends betraying me.”

Rynn apologized over and over until finally Khaska held his hand up and stopped the ranger. “Do not let such actions come forth again, Rynn. But that is not why you came barging up here this early in the morning. What is it?”

Quickly, Rynn explained the situation. Khaska’s ears dropped practically to his head when Rynn told that Amara had been part of the group of fake Knights. “This confirms my suspicions. I had wondered what was going on after the Shrine of Piety, but, I suspect like either of you, did not want to threaten my friendship with Amara.” He sighed. “She was playing with her ring much last night at the performance. She was so preoccupied with it that I actually had to have her stop because it was distracting me. The fact that all of these other imposters had such rings leads me to believe they may all be in something together.”

“Do we remember when she started wearing the ring?”

Khaska and Rynn both shook their heads. “Sometime during our stay in Hammerdine, but I cannot be more specific,” the cleric said.

“Well, what are we going to do. I want to help Godfrey out.”

“Good,” said Jenika. “Godfrey might not be in this position if you both hadn’t been drunk and hungover.” The monk was still standing on the far side of the room from the ranger, her arms folded.

Rynn paused. He had gotten back into the swing of the conversation, but Jenika’s words brought him up short again. But then the ranger straightened and looked her right in the eye. “All the more reason for me to do right by Godfrey. Will you help me set this right? We could use you.” There was a long pause, but eventually Jenika nodded. Rynn turned back to Khaska. “I was thinking of checking out the skyship port. Asking around if there’s somebody who could fence stolen crystals. See if we can track them that way.”

“Perhaps someone at the library could identify the symbol,” the cleric said. “If you can give me a copy.”

Rynn put his hands on his body and through his pockets. “I have no paper. The Knights who came to Godfrey’s ship had some. That’s where I drew it for them.”

Khaska’s ears dropped again. “I have no paper either.”

They both looked at Jenika. She shrugged. “I don’t carry paper.”

“That would make the process of identifying that symbol more difficult,” smiled Khaska.

“Maybe the innkeeper has some. I was going to ask him about Amara anyway,” Rynn responded.

The innkeeper did indeed have some. Rynn was able to draw the symbol as they asked about Amara. The sorceress had not checked out, but she had left quite early in the morning, before the innkeeper’s wife had even been able to serve breakfast to her. Amara had left with someone else, but the inkeeper’s wife didn’t remember any details about the other person. That was encouraging to Rynn; if Amara hadn’t checked out, she would likely be returning.

Jenika opted to stay, in case the sorceress came back. Rynn immediately headed back to the skyship port to begin inquiries about possible fences and what might someone do with stolen crystals, while Khaska left to go to the Knights to report the incident (and the conversation about the Shrine of Piety had reminded him to inquire after the Peaceful Children) and then to the library to inquire of the scholars about the symbol.


“Where did you say you saw this?” the Halfling scholar asked. He glanced up at Khaska, his dark eyes peering out over his spectacles.

“On a ring,” Khaska said. “A friend of mine saw it.”

“Well, he didn’t get the details quite right,” the scholar said, “but I’m pretty sure that this is the draconic rune for ‘worship.’ But maybe it’s supposed to be the mark of Skyrnyn, the last free dragon.”

“I have not heard of this Skyrnyn.”

“I’m sure what you haven’t heard of could fill many volumes,” the Halfling said. “Skyrnyn managed to evade the Knights of the Silver Dragons for more than a century after they had finished enslaving or killing the other chromatic dragons. Used his humanoid form to hide amongst the population. Eventually gathered a group of followers to help keep him hidden, but he was eventually discovered. The battle took place on Thanor, just across the North Gallidan Ocean, at the edge of lake Bilous. Several dragon riders converged on him and killed him, scattering his followers. As I understand it, they worshipped Skyrnyn, and used this symbol as a mark of their brotherhood.”

This reminded Khaska of Akle, and his suspicions that the gnome was actually the silver dragon that had saved them. But this tale also was a cautionary one … perhaps stories like this would be why a dragon would want to hide. Still, though, the Knights were paladins. They wouldn’t murder or enslave a silver dragon. Weren't they, after all, the Knights of the Silver Dragons? He thought again on Akle’s question. “What does a silver dragon need hiding from?” What indeed.

“Anyway, that’s the symbol, near enough.” The voice of the Halfling scholar brought him out of his thoughts. “Skyrnyn. Can’t think of what else it would be.”


Rynn returned to the inn in the heat of the afternoon. Several hours of asking around at the skyship port had turned up few leads. Most of the Halflings and gnomes he had asked had been incensed at the very thought of someone stealing crystals. It was apparently an unwritten law—crystals were very valuable, and were not to be fought over, stolen, hidden, or used as currency or as a bartering item except in exceptional cases, usually approved of by clan or family heads or at least captains of the skyships, who were given much latitude in such matters. There would be little market for such things. His search had turned up nothing more than that, and he had visited Godfrey briefly in his wandering through the port. The gnome was surprised to see Rynn, and pleased. Apparently he had thought that Rynn was just being nice when the ranger had stated that he wanted to help before rushing off. Rynn assured him that wasn’t the case, and said there were several leads they were following up on. Several of Godfrey’s crew were there during the exchange, and they all heartily thanked Rynn for helping.

But still, the ranger couldn’t help but feel a little dejected. Jenika’s words had cut him deep, and he was still ashamed by his actions the previous night. The hours of searching this morning had turned up nothing of value, really. Several people had claimed to see a tall woman with greenish hair, but it had just been around the city in various places. Nothing to help track her down, but now he knew that she had been around for at least a few weeks. He was still unsure if she was a local or just someone staying for a while before moving on to someplace else. He hoped that Khaska’s discussion with the Knights and visit to the library had been more fruitful than his. Upon entering the inn, he saw Jenika sitting over at the bar, talking to a woman in armor. The sting of Jenika's words still fresh, he took a deep breath and walked over to her. “Anything?” he asked.

Jenika looked at him, and shook her head. Then she indicated the woman sitting on the other side of her. “This is Hazel Franmore, from the Knights. Khaska went and told them that one of the people they were looking for was staying here.”

“Pleased to meet you, Rynn,” the woman extended her hand, which Rynn shook. “I was also interested in the incident in Hammerdine at the Shrine of Piety. Your friend Khaska told us of it when he came to our chapterhouse this morning.”

“Yeah, I had wanted to track the pilgrimage, but everybody said they broke off just before the crossroads and headed to Laishtek by way of the Martumal forest,” Rynn responded.

“Well, they haven’t been through here. The Peaceful Children are operative in this city as well, but our investigations turned up nothing. With this new news, I’m sure my superiors are watching the situation more closely and will reinvestigate. But I have heard of no pilgrimages coming through the city. With a group that size, I would have noticed it or heard of it. So wherever they go, it’s not through here.”

“Oh, also, I had heard …” Rynn hesitated, not sure how to ask about Seth’s story about breaking up a kidnapping organization, “… rumors that there was a kidnapping group here in the city a few months ago, broken up, though.”

Hazel’s eyes widened, and she leaned forward. “How did you hear about that?”

“A friend I met in Hammerdine. He claimed to be responsible for breaking it up.”

“You met him? Oh, we owe him much thanks for that work. What details did he tell you?” She leaned in closer. “I don’t want to cause a panic.”

“Vampires,” Rynn said.

Hazel nodded. “They would capture people, mostly dockworkers, migrant sailors, maybe some gnomes or Halflings from the skyship port. Feast on some. Chain up the others and then put them on ships headed to the death side. Though we broke up the organization, we’ll never know what happened to those that were sent to be slaves on the death side of the moon. Tracking them months later is impossible. The Dragonriders have been trying to crack the slavery rings on the death side of the moon for … well, I’m not quite sure. A while. But they have been unsuccessful in more than just a raid here, a rescue there.” She frowned. “Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing that slavery was still going on, here of all places, where Tawru one-horn himself began the slave revolt that freed so many of the Maha’i race.”

Khaska had arrived by then. He sat down and ordered a mug of water, drinking it down, sweat beading on the ends of his fur from the heat of the day. They introduced him to Knight Franmore, and the three of them discussed the various things they had discovered. After ordering and eating, the cleric asked what they should do. They were discussing their options when the door to the inn swung open and Amara walked in.

Eryx (DM)
To reiterate your Gather Info Findings:
1. There’s virtually no market for skyship crystals.
2. A green-haired woman has been seen around Laishtek various times in the past few weeks, but the information is scanty at best. Rynn isn’t sure how trustworthy it is, or how useful it would be.
3. The symbol is the draconic rune for “worship,” and is associated with Skyrnyn, the last free dragon. He was killed by the lake by city 23 on the Map of Jenoa many centuries ago.
4. The Peaceful Children are operative in this city, but no pilgrimages have come through.
5. The vampire group you began discovering in Laishtek was indeed working here. They would kill some, enslave others. The slaves were carted off to the Death Side of the moon, where they were lost in what are pretty extensive slavery rings.

At this point, I have an official announcement to make. SayyadinaAtreides earned her third strike, and through mutual agreement, will no longer be playing with us. Amara is now an NPC. However, have no fear, I have another player lined up. I should be speaking with her tomorrow about the campaign, and I hope to be able to write a new character in shortly. Oddly enough, this newcomer is also named … Elizabeth. Though she goes by Beth.

And now Amara is here. Knight Franmore has not yet noticed her, but it’s not like Amara is hiding. What will you do?

BlackWolf
"Amara, we need to talk," Rynn will say. He wants to give her a chance to explain herself. He feels it unfortunate that the paladin is present (for it might deter the sorceress from speaking openly) but doesn't see any way around it. If Amara tries to bolt, he'll try to stop her in order to talk.

"That was you at the skyport this morning. Wasn't it." He'll ask why they took the crystals, and urge her to help them recover them for Godfrey. Rynn doesn't have any fundamental objections about this group of dragon worshipers; he doesn't really care if Amara associates herself with them. Unless they are criminals, that is. He'll remind her that they've been though a lot together over the last four months, and he thinks of her as a friend.

Thevarou
First, tiny little note: wolves bark only very infrequently and then only once or twice at a time. Dogs are the canids that bark a lot ;)

Second, Khaska is somewhat surprised that Amara would show up again at the inn. As he know that Rynn is likely to be more level in dealing with her, he will defer to his treatment of the situation. However, Khaska will try to position himself as subtly as possible between Amara and the door to prevent any precipitous escape. Also, was their any indication as to whether Skyrnyn (any relation of Kyrnyn?) was chromatic or metallic? If the former, Khaska will be quite suspicious of Amara's involvement in any sort of worship thereof, especially since Amara has shown interest in chromatic dragons. If the latter, Khaska will be a touch more ambivalent, though he would like to know the purpose of her impersonation of the Knights and the theft of the crystals.

Eryx (DM)
Skyrnyn was a green dragon. The metallic dragons were all dead by that point. At least, that's what the legends say … but you hold evidence that there is at least one silver dragon still alive, hrm?

DeltaWolf
Jenika knows that the situation needs to be handled diplomatically, so she will let the others take lead. But she is prepared to do damage (nonlethal) if there is a fight. So hopes things won't come to that (there seems to be too much blood spilled).

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