Codex IV-Chapter 4

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Amara came back to the tavern they had picked half an hour after Rynn had “drunk himself to sleep.”

“I’m so terribly sorry. Thanks for waiting while I got my friend here to help him home,” Amara said to the barkeeper.

“Just git ‘im outta ‘ere,” the man said. Seemed the bartender had had a few too many himself today. The other cult member picked Rynn up and draped him over his shoulder. With a nod to the owner, he carted the ranger out the door and into a waiting wagon, in which he unceremoniously dumped the ranger.

The cart clattered through the streets. Rynn kept limp in the back, but tried his best to get a look around. Best he could tell, however, was that he had ended up somewhere in the south side of Laishtek. The seedier side of town. The other man stopped the car in an alleyway, where he then grabbed Rynn’s weapons and tossed them aside before grabbing the ranger and once again slinging him over his back.

Rynn was taken inside a building. Just inside there was a shrine of some kind, a five-headed dragon adorning the altar. When the man dropped him on the ground, Amara let Rynn’s weapons fall with a clatter to the ground. They were on the other side of the room, but Rynn would be able to get them quickly enough in his state. The man hadn’t bothered to tie him up even. A curtain marked off the spot from the next room, and Amara and the other cult member disappeared behind it. After some muted speaking, which Rynn could not make out, they came back, followed by Sandgrin. The dwarf smiled broadly.

“See! I told you,” said Amara. “He’s the one that led the raid on the butcher’s shop. Now he’s all trussed up for you. My gift to you, to demonstrate my devotion to the cause.” Amara was laying it on a little thick, Rynn thought. “Rynn Fowler.”

“We were lucky to have found you indeed that day, Amara,” came the dwarf’s voice. He knelt down next to Rynn. “And this was worth interrupting my other meeting.” He glanced up and down Rynn. “Now what are we going to do with you? Those crystals were to be my gift to the cause, but that’s no longer an option, eh?” With that, he struck Rynn viciously across the face with his gauntleted hand. The ranger grimaced, but didn’t cry out as his head rang from the blow. “We haven’t had anything to give to the cause for a long time! Cells from other cities have been great at supplying things, while we, at the center of trade this side of the continent, haven’t been making our quotas! Four skyship crystals was perfect! And you had to ruin it!” He sighed. “Well, I think that maybe I should just kill you for your trouble.”

“Sir,” said Amara, her voice suddenly sounding much closer, “is that really the best we can do with him? Just kill him?”

“Do you have another suggestion?”

“Master,” said the other man, “if the Adder Invictus is leaving soon for the Death Side, perhaps we could get him onboard. It’s not four skyship crystals, but it is another slave. They are desperate for manpower. He seems a fine strong lad.”

“Yes, perhaps that’s the best. We can get some of Gulnith’s men to come take him aboard.” He leaned in close to Rynn. The ranger got a good whiff of the dwarf's breath and the oil from his armor. “That’s a more fitting punishment for you. I don’t know why they’re burning through slaves so fast, but I hope they work you to death long and slow!”

He stood. “How long should the drug last?”

“Oil of taggit?” Amara said. “At least another hour or so. But maybe less.”

“Then we’d best tie him up and gag him. I need to get back to my friend in the other room. Virgun, make sure this is all taken care of. Amara,” Rynn could almost hear him smile, “well done!” His footsteps faded away.

“I’ve got some rope in the cart. I’ll be right back,” came the other man's voice. His footsteps also faded away as he went outside.

Amara dropped down by Rynn. “What do you want to do?” she whispered. “Shall I send Kirza to get the others?”

Eryx (DM)
It was a more, shall we say, “liberal” clan of Jevereshken Maha’i that adopted the Ravenstones. I can do that. I’m the DM!

It was never made quite clear to me how you wanted to spring the trap. So I’ve stopped the narration here. Rynn is alone in the room with Amara. How far away would the rest of you (and the city watch) be? Amara has offered to send Kirza to retrieve them. Rynn is currently unarmed, but there’s a moment here where he could grab his weapon while Virgun is outside getting rope from the cart.

What do you all want to do at this point? Or, rather, at what point was the trap going to be sprung?

Also, assuming that Rynn does want to investigate more fully the Peaceful Children, that'll be a Gather Info Check. Because, you know, you guys have been doing so great on those lately.

BlackWolf
On hearing that they plan to ship him off to the death side, a strange thought born of his obsessions crosses his mind: I should let them take me there. But then, remembering the commitments he's made to his friends, he comes to his senses. Amara needs a pardon. And he promised to help Khaska and Jenika on their quests. If I'm to return to the death side, it will be on my own terms.

"Yes, send Kirza now," the ranger answers quietly. "And grab me one of my daggers; I'll try to hide it near my hands so I can cut myself loose if needed. But let him be the one to tie me up so they don't suspect you."

Rynn isn't trained in Slight of Hand, so here's a Hide check instead (to conceal the weapon on his person): 19 (rolled 14 + 5)

The ranger will pretend to still be out of it, so he won't resist if the dagger is found. He'll let himself be bound because he knows his friends will be arriving soon. If he were to act out, Sandgrin and his "friend" might bolt before the Knights arrive. Rynn wants to catch them all — his prior apathy is starting to disappear due to talk of slaves being sent to the death side.

Bluff (if needed): 9 (rolled 8 + 1)

He'll try to take 20 on getting loose, if given the opportunity. Otherwise, here is an Escape Artist check: 9 (rolled 7 + 2)

Hmm… well, hopefully the dagger will help with that, should necessity arise. Rynn will try to be loose and ready, but won't give himself away until the calvary arrives.

Finally, in the hopes that all goes well, here's Rynn's Gather Info checks for the Peaceful Children: 9 (rolled 6 + 3)

Eryx (DM)
Amara will be sending Kirza, so if there was any doubt about her motives and her actions, I'll just say that right now. The rest of you are about to be alerted that now would be a good time to come in. What will you do?

Thevarou
Hmm, Maha'i hippies, eh? No wonder Khaska hasn't heard of the Ravenstones; he may have only heard of the clan that adopted them in hushed tones and with heavy dollops of disdain. :P

How far do you want us to go on this post? It's really unfortunate that the gathering of information went so badly; now we'll have to find another cover story for finding the ship if Amara pulls through this event and shows no signs of treachery or bad faith.

At Kirza's signal, the city guard would emerge from hiding and block all exterior entrances to the building to ensure that none escape (that includes rooftops if they're conjoined). With exits secured, those left over, including Khaska, Jenika, and Fan (dressed, if possible, in city guard garb) will enter the building, free Rynn if he is not already free, and attempt to subdue any who resist arrest. Sandgrin is the primary target. Anyone else have a thought?

DeltaWolf
Jenika likes Khaska’s plan. She will suggest that they divide into two groups. The main force should enter through an obvious way, while a smaller group containing Jenika, Khaska, Fan, and some guards (if there are enough) enter the building through a less obvious way (such as the roof, window, or backdoor).

LadyBluemantle
I imagine that this smaller group would be positioned close enough to be able to keep track of what is going on in the building.

This scenario will bring out a lot of Fan's anxieties; the waiting part before they actually storm the place will nearly kill her. She will fidget and mutter old song lyrics under her breath. In this case, I believe she will choose a nice Maha'i ditty. This may annoy her comrades and when they ask her to stop, she will blush and feel absolutely mortified.

She has several spells at the ready and is itching to use them.

BlackWolf
Maybe the term "adopted" is just the shorthand that the Ravenstone family uses, and the Maha'i have a different term for it?

LadyBluemantle
Fan isn't much bothered by the semantics of "Adopted" vs. "Fellowshipped," vs. "Whatever." She just knows that her family spent a lot of time hanging out with a bunch of Maha'i when she was little.

“Yes, send Kirza now,” the ranger answers quietly. “And grab me one of my daggers; I'll try to hide it near my hands so I can cut myself loose if needed. But let him be the one to tie me up so they don't suspect you."

Amara whispered something to her bird, which flew out the slightly ajar door, then went to retrieve one of Rynn’s daggers. While she slid it out of its sheathe, a strange thought crossed Rynn’s mind as he pondered what he had just heard. They wanted to take him to the Death Side of the moon. I should let them take me, he thought. It was a strange thought, born of his current obsessions. He wanted to discover what was going on over there. Vampires. Death cults. Slavery.

Finding Juliet.

But then he thought of his new friends. He had made promises to Khaska and Jenika to help them—Jenika with Kaylee, and Khaska with his quest to redeem Tawru. This was not the time. If I’m to return to the Death Side, it will be on my own terms.

Amara handed him a dagger, which he quietly slipped under his legs, doing his best to hide it. Virgun re-entered the room, moving to tie Rynn up with the rope he had collected from the cart.


Khaska was about to tell Fan to hush. The bard was muttering the words to a Maha’i ditty under her breath, clearly antsy as they waited for word from inside that building. But, his manners asserted themselves, and he didn’t say anything, drawing strength instead from Jenika’s silent, unmoving presence a few feet away. Just then Kirza landed atop Khaska’s horns, squawking something unintelligible. With a start the cleric realized an error in their plans. Kirza only spoke elven.

None of them did!

He looked at all those with him, and they were all staring at the white raven with equally blank, confused stares. Fan smacked her head. “My mother always told me I should have learned elven.” Khaska looked up, well, as much as he could, at the bird perched atop his horns. The bird was clearly agitated, and flapped off, heading back to the dwelling, then circling back.

Khaska drew his scimitar and pointed ahead. “Let us go!” Knight Franmore led a few city watchmen to the front door, while the party and one other city watchman went to the back door.


Virgun didn’t didn’t get very far in the process of tying up Rynn before the door burst open and Knight Franmore burst in with her companions. Virgun stood up quickly, drawing his sword. “Stop, and drop your weapons. You are all under arrest!” Franmore said.

Seeing that he was clearly outnumbered, Virgun dropped his sword to the ground with a clang. Seeing this, Amara muttered something under her breath and darted into the next room, sweeping aside the curtain and blasting the room with a casting of Color Spray. A cry sounded from inside. “Sorry, Belim,” she said. Then she said something to him that Rynn couldn’t quite make out as he got to his feet. It sounded like draconic to him as he cut cleanly through the half-done cords that kept him tied. He jumped through the curtain just as Amara stumbled back into him, blood running down her face from a deep cut. Sandgrin was on the other side of the room, making for an open door, a mace in his hand, almost tripping over the prone body of another man who looked like he had collapsed from where he had been sitting at a table.

“Sandgrin is going out the back door! Quick! Cut him off!” he shouted.


Khaska, Jenika, and Fan were standing outside the back door of the dwelling when it burst open and Sandgrin came rushing out. He looked around them, startled, then darted through an opening between Jenika and Fan.

Eryx (DM)
I must admit I giggled when I realized that Kirza can only speak elven, and that none of your characters could. A good Sense Motive roll from Khaska solved that problem, though. He was able to get a hunch (DC 20) that Kirza was calling them to action!

Rynn is still in the front room of the building. From Amara’s description, there’s another exit from the next room. That exit leads right into the alleyway that Jenika, Fan, and Khaska are in.

Please roll initiative and give me the actions you will take to try to stop Sandgrin, who seems intent on just running. As he moves past Jenika and Fan, those two will get an attack of opportunity if you decide to take it.

BlackWolf
Rynn's initiative: 9 (rolled 6 + 3 bonus)

Seeing that the Knights have things in-hand within the room, Rynn will rush over to grab his quiver & bow before runing after Sandgrin. As he emerges into the alleyway, he'll whistle for Ranna then sick her on Sandgrin. If there is an opportunity where sufficient plants are nearby, he'll cast Entangle. He'll fire his bow if an opportunity presents itself (and there aren't bystanders who could be hit). Worst case, he'll keep chasing after Sandgrin to avoid letting him get away.

That all, of course, is only necessary if the rest of the party is unable to stop him. Looks like there are several possibilities: a Hold Person spell from Khaska, a successful Stunning Fist from Jenika, or a plain ol' trip attempt from anyone. Should Sandgrin be stopped as he exits, Rynn will try to block the alleyway to prevent further escape attempts. He'll draw his bow and order Sandgrin to give up.

If things come to combat, Rynn probably won't get more than a round in. So here is just a single round of combat; I can make additional rolls if needed.

  • Rynn longbow attack: 22 (rolled 14 + 4 base + 3 dex + 1 mwk), damage: 8 (rolled 6 + 2 STR)
  • Ranna attack: 8 (rolled 5 + 3 bonus), damage: 6 (rolled 5 + 1 bonus)
    • (I was going to have her try a trip here as well, but the only way such a low roll will hit is if Sandgrin is already pretty disabled.)

I hope somebody hits him well enough to draw blood at least — that's always useful if it comes to tracking. :)

DeltaWolf

*Opportunity Attack:
*To Hit: 17 (12+5) *Damage: 10 (7+3)

*Flurry of blows:
*To Hit: 23 (17+6) *Damage: 4(1+3)
*To Hit: 21 (15+6) *Damage: 9 (6+3)

I didn’t know how many rounds I should do. So If necessary I can add more rounds.

Thevarou

  • Initiative: 10

The hold person spell idea is a good one, and as Khaska sees that Sandgrin is trying to escape, he'll cast it. (Do I need to roll anything for that? I forget.)

In the remaining two rounds he'll attack with his scimitar:

  • To hit: 16 = 12 + 4
  • Damage: 3 = 1 + 2
  • To hit: 22 = 18 + 4
  • Damage: CRIT 16 = 2*(6+2)

(I may have done the calculation wrongly on that last crit damage roll; is it normally (2 x d6)+bonus or 2x(d6 + bonus)? )

Lady Bluemantle
Upon hearing Amara's Elven-speaking Bird, Fan slapped her palm to her face and mutter to herself, "My mother always told me I should have learned Elven."

Initiative: 16 + 2 = 18

Fan will cast Hypnotize on Sandrin. After he is neutralized, Fan whispers to Jenika that she (Fan) thinks something fishy is going on, and that she doesn't fell that Amara can be fully trusted. But of course you all already knew that.

Lightning-quick, Jenika punched at the cleric, but her fist merely smacked against his armor, and just like that he was past them. However, Fan immediately began to sing a low, humming sort of song, and Sandgrin stopped in his tracks, turned slowly, and looked at her. His mouth hung open, and his hands, still holding his mace, dropped to the ground. Her Hypnotism spell had worked.

Rynn burst out of the door, Ranna close behind him, arrow nocked and at the ready. But nothing needed to be done. The group quickly spread out and surrounded Sandgrin, as a few of the city watchmen arrived, coming from the front of the building. Fan’s Hypnotism spell lasted long enough that, when it wore off, he was surrounded. He tensed up when he saw this, but staring at the seven people around him, he gave up, and dropped his mace to the ground with a clang. He was quickly taken into custody by the city watch.

“Amara was injured. Khaska, maybe you should go heal her,” said Rynn.

Fan actually was closest to the door, having not moved as she maintained the spell, and she entered the room first, Khaska following her.

Amara was standing across from the man who had previously been lying on the floor. Apparently he had recovered from Amara’s Color Spray spell. The sorceress’ hands were up, prepared to cast another spell if need be, but the man was quickly backing away, hands in the air in a gesture of surrender. He backed right into Knight Franmore as she came out into the room. The paladin immediately grabbed him and pulled him through the curtain. “Sergeant!” she could be heard saying. “Take this one too!”

“Why? I haven’t done anything wrong. I was just here paying Mister Sandgrin a visit! I’m just an old family friend.”

“Come with me, sir,” the sergeant said. “We’ll get it all sorted out.” It was obvious that the sergeant didn’t believe a word of it, his world-weariness clear from his tone of voice and his sarcasm.

“We have captured everybody, it would appear,” said Khaska. He sheathed his scimitar.

Then Fan piped up, pointing at a backpack in Amara’s hands. “Are the crystals in there? Did you find them?”

“In where?” asked Amara.

“In that backpack,” Fan indicated the backpack to the side of Amara. Amara glanced down at it, startled. “Oh, this.” She paused for a moment. “I hadn’t checked.”

Fan and Jenika, who had just entered, glanced at each other. Neither fully believed Amara.

“Well, are they in there?” Rynn asked. The ranger seemed oblivious, and Khaska reached down to grab it, placing it on the table. He looked inside, pushing aside some pieces of paper that fell out and fluttered to the table. The Maha’i dug around for a moment, but then shook his head. “They are not in there.”

“Well, that’s disappointing,” said Amara, who then left the room, heading to the front of the dwelling.

Fan grabbed Jenika. “Can you come with me for a moment?” the bard asked. Jenika, puzzled, came with her outside.

Fan looked down sheepishly. “So, I overheard Amara say something. It was in draconic. Do you speak draconic?”

Jenika finally turned her full attention to Fan. “No.”

“She said ‘Gulnith sends her regards, you incompetent whelpling.’ I think Amara’s here as part of an act. It almost sounds like she outranks Sandgrin to me.”

Just then, the city watchmen came by with their three prisoners, all shackled. Sandgrin, shot them a dirty look, and who spat something venomous at Fan, and in draconic. The bard grimaced, and she looked angry. The word translated to roughly “a woman abused and discarded by a dragon” and in draconic it had extremely negative overtones. Sandgrin was quite incensed. Amara was following the group, and the sorceress clearly was shocked by the comment. However, it appeared the sorceress did not notice that Fan understood the insult. Virgun came next, two guards at his side holding his arms, despite his being shackled. Next came the man Amara had knocked out with her Color Spray spell. Well-dressed, he seemed out of place in the procession. Jenika gave a sharp intake of breath. She recognized that man!


Khaska was putting the items back in the backpack. “We should give this to the officers. It might be evidence.” Rynn reached over to grab the slightly crumpled pieces of parchment that Khaska had first discarded in his search. Before he handed it to the cleric, however, he began to read it. Khaska noticed this, and leaned over, looking over Rynn’s shoulder. “What does it say?” the cleric asked, perfunctorily, before just reading it himself.

Kaylee,
I am grateful that you have accepted my invitation. Despite the assurances of my associates in this venture, I wanted to find independent bodyguards. You and your friends came very highly recommended, and I will pay the sum of 1000 gold a month for a suitable cadre of your associates to be my bodyguards. I would prefer that you join them as well, as your reputation precedes you. As is customary for such arrangements, some of the pay will be given up front when I arrive. Our agreed upon initial price was 2000 gold, but I want to up that to 3000. Your pay will begin on November 1st and the remainder will be given you upon my safe return to Darkcrest.
My initial offering is generous, because, unfortunately, I have been delayed and will be unable to meet until later than expected. Please have your men in the small village of Uptide, on the eastern side of Gallidus, South of Laishtek, on December 5th. I may even be later than that, depending on how easy it is to find transport for someone with my particular needs, and how easy it is to travel at night as winter approaches. I have included another note which should help you once you arrive at Uptide, where you will find a cell of the Cult of Skyrnyn, and which will aid your involvement with my future work with the Cult.
Yours,
Lady Loraine Maramos

There was another note.

To all cell leaders of the Cult of Skyrnyn,
The bearers of this letter are to be given full admittance to all activities. They will be acting as bodyguards to Lady Loraine Maramos, of Darkcrest, who represents a faction with which we are doing serious business as we prepare for the Dark Times. Failure to comply with these instructions will result in your being stripped of your rights as cell leader and deportation to The Citadel.
Rickas Yrthraz
Supreme Wyrmhead

This was sealed with a stamp of red wax with the symbol used by the dragon worshippers, but with a small variation on it.

Eryx (DM)
The plot thickens.

A few points, to clarify:

1. Jenika recognized the well-dressed man as one of Kaylee’s companions when Raelin was killed. He was the non-fighter one who suggested that she be finished off after Kaylee subdued the monk and killed Raelin. For more details, you should reread Jenika’s backstory. It appears that the man did not recognize Jenika. He’s busy trying, unsuccessfully, to talk himself out of the predicament he’s in.

2. And though there is a member of the city watch now posted outside the dwelling, it appears that your discovery of the backpack was unnoticed as of yet. They are busy with the prisoners, and have not (yet) made a full search of the dwelling.

3. Amara has left. Fan’s good hearing, and her understanding of draconic allowed the bard to understand what Amara said to Sandgrin. In private talks with LadyBlueMantle, she said that Fan would tell Jenika in private, still unsure of her place in this group. So as part of your post, DeltaWolf, I’d like you to say whether or not you would suggest telling the others. For now, though, Khaska and Rynn do not know what was said. If you’d like to post a “if I find out, this is what my character would suggest,” that would be fine.

4. When Fan looks at the letters, she'll know that the variation on the draconic symbol for "worship" indicates a superlative. Given that the symbol is the sign of this dragon worshipping cult, it would make grammatical sense for this to indicate "supreme leader of the cult."

What do you all want to do now?

LadyBluemantle
My first question is: how the frak did Amara get away? Did we just let her leave? That was kind of stupid of us.

Does Fan know about Kaylee and all the drama associated with her? It seems like this is a good opportunity to infiltrate the Cult by impersonating Kaylee to get in with the higher-ups. But then, we don't know where the real Kaylee is now, nor how to find Lady Lorraine. It could be risky. And we still don't know were the other crystals are, so it seems like this whole thing was a bust, in the sense that we did not achieve our objective in retrieving them.

Eryx (DM)
When I said "Amara has left," I was unclear. Sorry. She's taking off with the city watch and Knight Franmore, but that entire group hasn't even finished walking past Jenika and Fan yet. Amara hasn't "gotten away" yet. If you wanted to confront her now, you can still do so. Jenika and Amara, in particular, are wary of Amara. (They succeeded on their Sense Motive checks about the backpack.) Rynn and Khaska are not more than they were before.

Also, one thing I forgot. Thev, roll a Knowledge (Religion) check.

DeltaWolf*
Jenika will sugest that Fan tells the others what she heard, otherwise she is too preoccupied to worry about Amara. As I see it there are two possibilities as to what Jenika will do next;

If the others do not communicate what the letters say then Jenika will discreetly go with the knights and try to talk to the man she recognized and question him about Kaylee; where is she? What are her plans? Anything she might get out of him, and she will use force just shy of battery (or more if she is able to avoid being caught by the guards). She would be in a very bad mood.
*Intimidate: (16+0mod) Reminder she has +5 for sense motive

If the others do communicate what the letters say (specifically about Kaylee) then she will tell them about the man she recognized, express her desire to question him and ask for their help. She would be angry enough to chew nails.

BlackWolf
First off: great work, team! Though the plot is definitely thickening, and we haven't found the crystals, I think we're doing a good job with what we have control over. And I feel like Fan is quickly becoming part of the team. :)

Rynn is disappointed that we haven't found the crystals yet. He'll make a search of the rooms for them, along with anything other useful clues. He'll take 20 on the check, if possible. Otherwise:

  • Search: 11 (rolled 7 + 4 bonus)

If Rynn is told about the new suspicions regarding Amara, a worried frown will set in on his face. He won't question the information — although he doesn't know Fan very well yet, he has no reason to mistrust her. He's just upset because he had decided to give Amara the benefit of the doubt, but now doubts are piling up.

He'll ask the group what they should do about it. His personal preference would be to tell Knight Franmore about it. That way the group can avoid personal confrontation with Amara — if she's going to play double agent then maybe we can still benefit from it. But on the other hand, the Knights can question her ("One of our guards heard you say…") or better yet, maybe try to get info out of Sandgrin or Virgun.

Aside from all that, Rynn still wants to find those crystals. The only remaining lead (at least that I/Rynn can recall) is to locate the ship named Adder Invictus. And even if there aren't any crystals, we might be able to find out more about the slaves and such. Rynn will encourage the others to help search — he still worries that he's a "known element". Nevertheless, he'll try to find out what he can without raising too much suspicion:

  • Gather Info: 4 (rolled 1 + 3 bonus) Sigh… So much for that attempt…

Rynn will definitely mention the letters to Jenika (though he might not yet realize that the Kaylee in the letters is Jenika's Kaylee). I think we should ask the Knights to allow us to make copies (forgeries?) of these letters. I'm most interested in what Jenika will want to do about Kaylee. This may represent a chance to track her down. Seems like there are a few options on this front:

  1. Interrogate Mr. Well-Dressed and find out where Kaylee is now.
  2. Work with the Knights to let Mr. Well-Dressed go, then follow/track him back to Kaylee.
  3. Work with the Knights to let him go, and give him the notes (or copies) such that Kaylee will go to Uptide (and we can hopefully find her there).

In any case, Rynn will suggest to Jenika that they let the guards do the interrogation — no need for that guy to realize who Jenika is.

Other random thoughts:

  • Apparently there is a "lady" Maramos? I wonder if she's the same as "lord" Maramos, or perhaps his wife?
  • I wonder if we should try to investigate and/or locate Uptide ourselves?
  • I like LadyBluemantle's idea of taking the notes ourselves and impersonating Kaylee. It seems like Kaylee and Lady Maramos were negotiating here for the first time, so if we infiltrated they might not know the difference. And that would also mask our ignorance of the cult. Depending on how we handle things, we might have to pass up the chance to find and deal with Kaylee though.

So… that's what I've got. Thoughts?

Thevarou
Well, let's start this with a bang:

  • Knowledge (religion): 27 = 19 + 8. That information had better be good!

Given that Khaska has been perhaps the most suspicious of Amara since the revelation of her alignment, he will feel vindicated in his worries when informed of her harsh words for Sandgrin. He agrees with Rynn that the best initial course of action would be to inform Knight Franmore, in hopes that she might be able to arrange covert surveillance on Amara, who might be betraying her fellow cult members in order to gain rank herself (after all, we see how well traitors would be treated from the information in Lady Maramos's letter). He also agrees that copying the letters would be a good idea - possibly turning over the copies to K. Franmore.

However, as noted, if Amara is going to play the double-agent game, we might as well do the same. Here, Fan might be a wonderful asset, as both Khaska and Rynn would raise eyebrows (Rynn is a known enemy of the cult, and Khaska's a rare Jevereshkan in Laishtek). In fact, what might be best is to have Jenika impersonate Kaylee and meet Lady Maramos. While Lady Maramos would probably be none the wiser about one monk being replaced with another (unless she has a good Sense Motive ability), Jenika's acquaintance with Kaylee could lend itself toward a more convincing impersonation. Now the challenge would be to pull off this swap behind Amara's back.

And while we're at it, Khaska may as well help Rynn search for the Adder Invictus:

  • Gather Info: 13 = 11 + 2

Eryx (DM)
I'm assuming that, as posted, your characters will share all their information with each other. So Rynn and Khaska know about the confrontation in draconic between Amara and Sandgrin, and Jenika knows about the letters regarding Kaylee.

We can sort out exactly how you want to handle the Lady Maramos thing in December later-it's only August, you have plenty of time to decide how to handle that entire situation. The campaign started in April. For now, it seems the consensus is this (I just want to make sure I'm getting it right):

1. Tell Knight Franmore about the letters and about Amara. Ask if she/the city watch would be willing to tail Amara, as apparently there is double-crossing going on.

2. Make copies of the letters. (Forgeries?)

3. Search for the Adder Invictus. To this end, I would like all who would go do so to roll Gather Info Checks as well as Spot Checks.

4. Have the local law enforcement handle the interrogation of Mr. Well-Dressed, Sandgrin, and Virgun. However:

5. You have to pick between the three options that BlackWolf outlined, however, as they are mutually exclusive.

6. I guess this means that you do have to partially decide how you want to handle the Lady Maramos thing in December now, and what you will do about Kaylee in the meantime. 1) Will you have Jenika pretend to be Kaylee (seems there are three votes to do that)? If so, will you go looking for Kaylee now- (2) either following Mr. Well-Dressed, or (3) getting the information from him and go after her yourself? Or will you (4) let him rot in jail and have Kaylee have no idea what's going on because he never showed? Or (5) wait for her at Uptide?

I just want to be careful, because much of the future will hinge on the next few posts and I don't want to leap ahead without consensus.

LadyBluemantle
Fan as a double agent, hm? If this suggestion is put to her she'll turn pale and reply:
"Me? A double agent? I dunno…I don't know anything about these guys. And it seems really dangerous. But then…if it would help the cause…" her voice drops into a low murmur as she studies the laces on her boots, "My mom would probably think it was pretty heroic and whatever…" When she looks up, she bites her lip and furrows her brow, but says resolutely, "I'll do it."

One problem with this idea, though: Fan's dealings with the sorceress have produced a deep and viscerally emotional distrust of Amara. Playing at being a double agent may force her to pretend to be Amara's friend, when in truth Fan thinks the whole world would be safer if we just shot Amara and have done with it. I say "problem," but really this fact would just make things more interesting.

How well does Jenika know Monsieur Well-Dressed? Does Jenika have a good enough idea of his character to know whether interrogation would yield the information required? Does his knowledge of Jenika and our team's knowledge of our role in Amara's capture make him dangerous enough to warrant neutralization? (ie imprisoned in a tower for all time/ transformed into a newt/ dispatched to Mandos, as it were)

Here's an interesting alternative that I came up with ten seconds ago: What if we make copies of the letters, but make (ahem) "edits" so they reflect the information WE choose? Then instead of giving Kaylee et all a free pass, it would direct cult leaders to imprison her (or similar) and hand her over to us (or something.) We could easily take a hot wire and place the super-awesome seals on the new parchment with no one knowing.

DeltaWolf
Concerning the letters, first we need confirmation that the backpack belongs to the Kaylee’s associate, which shouldn’t be too hard. Assuming that it is his backpack then it is reasonable that he is supposed to meet up with Kaylee (to give her the instructions). LadyBlueMantle’s suggestion to edit the letters would be too dangerous, it must be assumed that he has already read the letters and if he found they had been changed then it would alert him to our intentions. All Jenika cares about right now is Kaylee. She either wants to get her whereabouts from this man or “let him go” and follow him to Kaylee.

BlackWolf
Getting Kaylee's whereabouts from this man directly seems unreliable to me. And it would potentially tip him and Kaylee off that we're coming for them. And DeltaWolf has a good point about the letters — the man may have read them already.

So I suggest that we make copies of the letters. And as long as we're making copies, we might as well make them forgeries just in case we ever need them. Of course, none of our characters are much good at that… so maybe we should ask the Knights if they know a "professional".

I suggest that we ask the Knights to keep Mr. Well-dressed locked up while we finish investigating the Adder Invictus and try to find those crystals. Then they can give him his stuff (including the real notes) and let him go. We'll be ready to follow him — Rynn is always ready to do some tracking! At least we can find Kaylee and see what she's up to.

Speaking of the Adder Invictus, here's the spot check Eryx requested (Gather Info was rolled previously):

  • Spot: 17 (rolled 10 + 7 bonus)

Thevarou
Khaska concurs with the group consensus on this one. Let's keep Mr. Bienvestido locked up for the time being, find out where we can get reasonable forgeries of the letters, and investigate the Adder Invictus in the meantime.

Since Khaska already rolled a Gathe Info check, here's the Spot Check: 20 = 15 + 5

LadyBluemantle

I know this is like a week overdue…but… Here's the Gather Info Check: 10 + 3 =13

And Spot (Do I do that? I rolled it anyway, and if it's wrong, just disregard.) : 5 + 0 = 5

“I’ll bet that’s Jenika’s Kaylee,” Rynn said. Khaska nodded at him. “And ‘Lady Maramos,’ I’ll bet she’s related to Lord Maramos.”

“We have many enemies,” the cleric said. “And they work together, it seems. We must be careful.”

Just then, Jenika and Fan came back into the room from the back door. The monk was nearly frantic. “The man that Amara knocked out? I know him! He’s an associate of Kaylee’s, and they’re getting away right now!”

“Getting away?” Khaska was alarmed.

“Well, the Knights are leading the prisoners away.”

“Amara seemed pretty keen to get going, too. She’s headed off with them,” said Fan.

“Jenika, he’s still working with Kaylee,” said Rynn, handing the letters over. “Apparently as her go-between between some new clients.”

Jenika read, and as she did her eyes grew wide with surprise and then anger. Fan cleared her throat, and the monk waved her on. “Tell them what you told me.”

Fan told the others what she had overheard. Rynn’s face darkened. He had given Amara the benefit of the doubt, but now the doubts were piling up. “Gulnith seems to be related to the ship I heard about, the Adder Invictus. But it seems that Amara has double-crossed Belim.”

“Well, she’s on her way off with the Knights,” said Fan.

“Now we know where Kaylee will be!” Jenika was almost triumphant, interrupting the conversation.

“Not if she doesn’t get these letters,” said Khaska. “If they are never delivered, we will not know where she is, and she will not know of her new ‘contract’ with this Lady Maramos.”

“Maybe we should make copies of the letters,” said Rynn. “Like you did back in Hammerdine.” Jenika handed them over to Fan, who began to read.

“Not me,” said Rynn. “I’m sure I can’t do that well enough. Amara was confident in making forgeries. I was not.”

“Nor I,” said Khaska.

“Guys, if Amara is double crossing us, we need to keep an eye on her. Like, right now!” Fan was a little insistent on this. Then she snapped her mouth shut, realizing that perhaps she had been too forceful with her new friends.

“You are right, of course,” said Khaska. “But of all of us, you are the one to be able to watch her. She does not know who you are.”

“This draconic rune is different,” Fan said, pointing at it. “It indicates a superlative, so I would guess that this guy is the leader of this cult … wait! Me? You want me to tail her?” Fan gulped a little. “I dunno. It seems really dangerous. But then … if it would help the cause.” Her voice dropped into a low murmur as she studied the laces on her boots. “My mom would probably think it was pretty heroic and whatever …” She looked up, bit her lip, furrowed her brow, but said resolutely, “I’ll do it.”

“Tell Knight Franmore about our discovery, and that we intend to make forgeries. Ask perhaps if she knows someone who could do a better job than us,” said Jenika.

“We will catch up with you at the precinct,” said Rynn. “We’re going to poke around here and try to look for this ship first.” Fan nodded, and then ducked out the door. The group of Knights was just disappearing around a corner a few blocks down, and she was able to keep up with them.

Rynn turned around. “They probably left a guard or two. Let’s see if they want to help us out searching the place.” The ranger was right, two members of the city watch remained outside the front door. The ranger informed them of his desire to search the premises, and one of them came in with him.

Khaska was standing in the front room in front of the altar, which he was seeing for the first time, having come in the back door. “Tiamat,” he breathed.

“Who’s that?” asked Jenika.

“The evil dragon god. The sworn enemy of Bahamut, the god of the metallic dragons.”

“Amara did say she worshipped ‘the dragon god.’” said Rynn. “I wasn’t aware that there were two of them.”

The group searched the dwelling. It was Rynn that found a secret compartment under Belim’s bed. It contained a fine suit of armor made from dragon scales. “That means he’s a cleric of Tiamat for sure,” Khaska said. “That’s the ceremonial garb for members of her church.” He held up three brooches, each one apparently made to be affixed to the armor. “He’s not very high ranking, though. Each of these is for a single rank in Tiamat’s hierarchy-Custodian of the Copper Chalice,” he indicated an brooch of a copper goblet, “Defender of the Silver Shield,” he indicated a silver shield, “and Warden of the Electric Mail,” a final brooch designed to look like a blueish-gray mail shirt.

“Knight Franmore and the Captain were going to come back after the prisoners were locked away,” said the city watchman. “Should we keep this for them, or do they need to be told immediately?”

“I don’t know that it’s pressing,” said Khaska. “Just inform them when they arrive. More to interrogate Belim with, I would think. Tiamat’s clerics are usually up to no good, like their master.”

In that same secret compartment was a chest with a lock on it, but when Rynn went to pull it out it became obvious that it was empty. Lifting it between himself and the city watchman, they shook it. There was nothing inside. There was nothing else in the house aside from various personal items of Belim’s.

“I think we should go look for the ship now,” said Rynn. “We know what its name is, and the name of one of its crew.”

“I wanted to go interrogate Kaylee’s friend,” Jenika said. The monk cracked her knuckles.

“He is not going anywhere,” Khaska said. “Let us first investigate, and then we will go to the precinct. The sun has long since set; I doubt they will be letting him out tonight.”

Anxious, Rynn set a fast pace to head toward the docks. This time it was merely a matter of looking for the ship, and even in the night there were plenty of torches and various people milling around. The docks, even at night, were busy.

Khaska was able to ask a dockmaster about a ship by that name. The man consulted a ledger, and then pointed them to a particular dock. And there, just a few boats from the end, was the Adder Invictus. It was a sleek ship, its hull made from some kind of dark wood, likely a kind of oak that Rynn knew grew on the Death Side of the moon. Its masthead was a snake’s head, forked tongue lolling out eternally, eyes facing forward at the head of the long ship. This was a much bigger boat than the skyship of the Glittersail brothers, or even most of the skyships from the skyship port. Even the large one captained by Teadric was about three-quarters the size of this one. There appeared to be nobody on, but the group didn’t want to get close-Rynn especially, as he represented a known enemy of this group.

“We should go tell Knight Franmore,” said Jenika.

“I agree. Perhaps the crystals are aboard the ship,” said Khaska. Just then something caught his eye, and he glanced back at the ship. A white raven fluttered down and banked around to the back of the ship. The cleric squinted. “Was that … ?” He took a step forward. The bird had disappeared, but in a few moments it came back, flying away from the ship and back towards the city. Alerted to its presence this time, the cleric studied it. Rynn and Jenika both noticed what he was looking at, and followed it as well.

“I think it was,” said Rynn.

“Kirza,” muttered Jenika. “Good. Now we have to go back to Knight Franmore, so I can talk to that guy! Let’s go!”


Fan followed the group and managed to catch up within a few blocks, though Amara was towards the back, and Fan didn’t want to rush ahead of the sorceress. So she merely followed at the very back, watching the entire time. The well-dressed man kept trying to talk his way out of the situation, but eventually one of the city watchmen gave him a hard enough cuff on the back of his head that he shut up, sullen. When they got back to the precinct, the men were quickly stripped of their armor and deposited in a cell somewhere in the back. Amara sat, impatiently, in the front, a guard at her side.

“If it’s quite alright,” the sorceress said when Knight Franmore came back, “I’d like to be going now. I think I’ve proved my sincerity, have I not? Must I stay here now or am I free to go?”

“Wait one moment,” the Knight said. Then she motioned for Fan to come over. The bard moved quickly and the two women went around a corner to talk away from Amara. “Where are your friends?” Fan quickly explained everything—Jenika, Kaylee, this well-dressed man, the letters.

“If he has done nothing illegal here in Laishtek, they may have to release him. But what should we do about Amara? I fear I have little reason to arrest her. She has been a great assistance to us in capturing these criminals.”

Eryx (DM)
First off, I apologize for the extreme delay. The end of the semester blues are upon me! Actually, I think they’re all over enough now, so I should be back to posting more regularly at this point.

One thing that was never made clear to me was if you would tell Knight Franmore and the city watch about Amara’s draconic to Belim. Amara was right, though. By all appearances, she has turned state’s evidence and gotten people arrested that needed to be. Will they want to hold her? Can you convince the Knights and the city watch that they need to hold her? How would Fan make that case? Or will she just continue to trail Amara after she leaves?

And the other three of you have discovered the location of the Adder Invictus, and also spotted Kirza coming and going from the boat.

What do you all want to do now with this information? Will Fan tell Knight Franmore about her suspicions of Amara? What will you all do now that you know where the Adder Invictus is? Remember, that it was scheduled, according to Amara, to leave the day after tomorrow.

Thevarou
Khaska definitely thinks it beneficial to inform the Knights of Amara's double agent status (treachery? double-treachery, since she turned over a member of her own organization) and the location of the Adder Invictus. It would be especially important to reveal to them that this group is associated intimately with Tiamat; while a couple crystals might warrant a search of the ship, perhaps proving them to be enemies of the peace and government -as well as being associated with the now-nefarious Peaceful Children, perhaps attached to some slave black market- would warrant seizure of the ship and deeper investigations of the cult. If Jenika does not convince the Knights, Khaska will attempt to do so, mentioning Kirza's appearance at the ship and challenging them to reveal Amara's alignment, if necessary.

BlackWolf
Rynn agrees with Khaska… the Knights should be informed about Amara. If nothing else, maybe they can watch her more closely.

In the meantime, Rynn is worried whether Kirza's appearance means that the enemy has been alerted. They might leave early, or move their contraband. Therefore, the ranger will opt to stay behind and watch the ship for activity. Jenika and Khaska can ask the Knights to not delay sending an investigation.

Also, Rynn will gently but firmly grab Jenika by the shoulder and give her this advice: "Don't be too hasty to see that guy. If that's what you think is best, then fine. But be careful in what you choose — he's our only lead for finding Kaylee."

DeltaWolf
Jenika is curious about the appearance of Kirza, but she is more concerned that the knights will let her only link to Kaylee go. However under the advice from Rynn, she will ask Khaska to come with her. She will try to let Khaska to the talking as he is far better at such things and she doesn't trust herself not to go overboard.

“Well, on that point, I have new information,” Fan said.

“Oh?”

The bard quickly explained what she had overheard Amara say to Sandgrin back at his place, and the implications that Amara was double-crossing one of her own.

“Well, then we will at least keep her overnight. It is late, and I want to sort this all out in the morning. Even so, Amara has given us little reason to hold her. Even if she double crossed one of these cultists, it may be because he was doing things the cult itself did not approve of. We still know little about them.”

“Then perhaps we should ask them. My friends will be back shortly.” Fan bit her lip. “I think.”


“If Kirza is here, then perhaps the enemy has been alerted,” said Rynn. “You two should go back and report to the city watch. I’ll stay here to keep an eye on them.”

“Good. I’ll go back and make sure they haven’t released that man. He’s my one link to finding Kaylee,” said Jenika.

Rynn reached out to touch her on the shoulder. “Don’t be too hasty to see that guy. If that’s what you think is best, then fine. But be careful in what you choose - he’s our only lead for finding Kaylee.”

The ranger found a nearby place where he could observe more or less unobtrusively, and wished them well. Then he sat, rubbing Ranna’s head subconsciously, watching the Adder Invictus. There were still no signs of activity.


Khaska and Jenika hurried back to the precinct. Fan was waiting for them out front, and filled them in. Knight Franmore had Amara kept in one of the cells overnight, but apart from Belim and Virgun, which seemed wise. The well-dressed man, an Azkabar Muldoon, was being held overnight, but as it was nearing midnight, Knight Franmore basically sent Fan away. It was late, and they had had a very busy day. Khaska insisted on entering the precinct and telling the captain about the location of the Adder Invictus, and the captain assured them they would have a some men go watch it with Rynn. But then they were summarily dismissed. “Come back in the morning,” the man said. “Knight Franmore will be reporting to her superiors then, and we will interrogate them after she receives her instructions.”


As soon as one of the city watch came by, and informed Rynn that they would be on patrol on this dock, specifically to watch the Adder Invictus, the ranger returned to the inn. There he found Jenika, Khaska, and Fan. They filled him in on the details, and all seemed to agree that it was late, and nothing more would be done tonight. The city watch were observing the ship, and Amara, Sandgrin, Virgun, and Mr. Muldoon were all incarcerated.

“Rynn. Khaska. Jenika.” A voice came. The group turned around to see Akle standing there, with Godfrey. “I hear youse been busy. Been in town a few days and already helping those who need helping. Godfrey here filled me in on the details.”

“I regret that we have been unable to find the remaining crystals,” said Khaska. “But we are still looking. Tomorrow morning, I think, we will have them in hand.”

“Wonderful!” said Godfrey.

“And how do you two know each other?” asked Khaska.

“You know how much I wander,” said Akle. “I was looking for a ship to sail on, and was pointed to Godfrey here. Some of his crew have left him, and so I signed on.” Khaska was again reminded of his suspicions that Akle actually was the silver dragon who had saved them. He was still haunted by the gnome’s question. What does a silver dragon need hiding from? “We don’t really have any place to go, so I convinced the captain here to offer yous a deal.”

“Rynn, I dunno where your travels will take you, but for returning two of my crystals, I’m ever so grateful.” He straightened. “I’m prepared to offer you passage to anywhere on the moon you wish to go. My gift to you, for being such good friends.”

Khaska’s mind immediately jumped to Twilight. It was almost literally on the other side of the moon, and traveling there would take many months if by walking or by sailing ship. But with a skyship, the journey would be … maybe two weeks. There he could find the Tawruian Monastery.

Rynn glanced at his friends. “That is a generous offer. I hope we can find the remaining crystals tomorrow, but we will have to discuss things further. I imagine we have quests that such transportation would be exceptionally useful for.”

“Well,” said Godfrey, “I’m just looking for trading work now, and that can be found most anywhere, so I’m willing to take you anywhere you want to go. You have free passage on the Skycutter any time you want. You know where to find me, Rynn.” The gnome took his hat off and swept it to the ground in a grand bow. “I am in your debt.” He put the hat back on. “To all of you, as I understand it.” He nodded at them all one at a time. “Mister Khaska. Jenika of Shinadoh. And Miss …”

“Fan,” said Fan. “I’ve recently joined with these adventurers.”

“Youse have joined good peoples,” said Akle. “I’s fought with them several times, and they are of good heart and strong will.”

“I hope I can be as they are, then,” replied Fan.

The two gnomes wished them goodnight, and then left the inn. Rynn, exhausted from the day’s activities, went to bed first. Fan wandered to a corner to play her Nyckelharpa, a short show that Jenika and Khaska listened to for a while before retiring. Fan played for a little while longer, and then retired to her own bed (having moved to this inn to be with her newfound friends).

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