Codex IV-Chapter 5

This page is part of the campaign story. << Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >>

Rynn was up early the next morning, refreshed. No hangover this day, and feeling ready for the forthcoming events … whatever they would bring. He wolfed down a quick breakfast after rousing the others and was out the door almost before Fan was even finished with hers.

They were there substantially earlier than Knight Franmore, who arrived with a contingent of five other Knights, all acolytes or some lower ranks. Rider Lystria had personally requested the members of the Cult of Skyrnyn be personally delivered to her for interrogation, something that delighted Khaska. For a dragon rider to be personally interested in these goings on meant that the cult was being taken very seriously. The Adder Invictus had, according to the dockmaster, scheduled to leave tomorrow at high tide. There had been no activity from the ship all night, but the city watch patrolling the docks were keeping an eye on it.

Even so, the first item of the day’s business was going to be a surprise “inspection” of the Adder Invictus. Knight Franmore agreed with the party that such an action was warranted, given the circumstantial evidence against those on the ship. However, she was unwilling to take any of the party except for Fan with her. Fan was, once again, decked out in the tunic of a city watchman, and went off with the others.


Fan was surprised. The first mate of the ship simply let them on when a contingent of the Knights arrived demanding to be let on to search for stolen skyship crystals. The inspection went rather smoothly. There were no surprises. There were no secret compartments. There were no skyship crystals. There were no slaves chained in the bottom of the hold. Much to Knight Franmore’s shagrin, there was absolutely nothing found. In fact, the ship seemed quite empty. The first mate gave them full access to practically everything on the ship, including the captain’s cabin. There was really nothing out of the ordinary. The crew had mostly been hired here in Laishtek for a short trip-their next destination was Tidewater City and they would be transporting a large set of goods from there to the trade center at the mouth of the River of Spirits on Slyn. It appeared the captain didn’t like to keep a permanent crew, but this was not an unusual state of affairs for a large ship.

“And where is the captain?” asked Knight Franmore as they arrived back atop the deck.

“The captain enjoys her time landside. When we’re docked in port she stays at an inn. She’s staying at the Thirsty Sailor, just a few blocks from the docks, but it being the last day, really, she’ll likely be at the market. But if you want to inquire after her, Sarah Jorgensen. I’m sure she would be accommodating. We had heard of the theft of the skyship crystals, but they are not here. I wish you luck in finding them, though.”

There was no reason to stay. There was nothing to find. They did check in at the Thirsty Sailor, but Sarah and her valet had already left, though she was checked in for the next night, too. The Adder Invictus had turned out to be a dead end, from all appearances. Knight Franmore was frustrated, but there were other matters to attend to. Several of the city watch stayed to observe the ship, and the rest returned to the precinct, where the Knight acolytes were preparing the prisoners for transport to the Knight’s chapterhouse. Hopefully the interrogation of these cult members would lead to some more clues.

Amara, Virgun, and Sandgrin were all brought out in chains. Amara’s look was one of pure disgust when she saw the party. Her words were laced with venom. “I help you find the crystals, and this is the thanks I get?”

“You were overheard speaking to Mister Sandgrin, the cleric of Tiamat,” said Khaska. “Your motives are less than pure, I’m afraid.”

“Whatever. I’ve done nothing but help since I found out about the crystals, and I’m treated as a common criminal! Sandgrin and his cronies are the ones who did the stealing! I’ve helped you get them back!”

“This will all be sorted out I’m sure with Rider Lystria,” Knight Franmore said. “Now get in the cart.”

Sandgrin and Virgun had been silent since they were brought out. According to the guards, they had been silent since their arrests. Azkabar was still inside the precinct. Apparently not a member of the cult, Rider Lystria did not request him to be brought. Jenika was seething, but Khaska placed a hand on her shoulder. “We will have time to talk to him later. He is not going anywhere.”

“You coming?” asked Knight Franmore, as one of the guards secured the prisoners in the barred cart for transport. The guard secured them all to the floor, and then locked the door itself. He moved to the front where he sat next to the driver. Sandgrin and Amara’s hands had been bound tight, so they could not cast any spells. Not, thought Rynn, that an escape was much of an option, with five of the city watch and the five Knights, and then the party (Fan was still wearing the tunic of one of the city guards).

The cart wound its way through the crowded streets. The Knight’s chapterhouse, apparently, was near the central marketplace, and they needed to pass through a crowded square. Different merchants peddled their wares and potential buyers swarmed the place in these early morning hours. The cart had to move slowly as they pushed through the busy streets.

“Look out! Move!” Screams came up and the guards all turned towards the commotion. A runaway pair of horses and a carriage came barreling down a side street, scattering most people, but running over those unfortunate enough to not be able to move out of the way. Jenika saw it first and dove out of the way as it careened through the marketplace … right into the prisoner transport.

The poor horses smashed directly into the side of the barred carriage, cracking wood and sending splinters everywhere. Rynn, on the other side of the cart, ducked his head as his face was sprayed with little shards from the cart. He glanced up just in time to see the back door open and Amara jump out. “Hey!” He drew his sword and began to charge towards her. He was only able to take two steps before the cart exploded in fire. He heard a pair of shrieks from inside and was knocked slightly askew by the force of the blast.

When he turned back, Amara had disappeared into the crowd.

Eryx (DM)
Amara is gone. She was here just a moment ago, however. The cart is almost completely destroyed, and you’re pretty sure that Sandgrin and Virgun are just dead.

Spot Checks and WIS Checks, please. I’ll give any information you find in the gray box, and you can make your decisions about what to do after you get that information.

Also, I kind of made an executive decision that the Sandgrin/Virgun/Amara thing is unrelated enough to the Kaylee storyline that I didn’t want to mix them up too much. That guy is still incarcerated, and you will be able to talk to him later. This post was already getting a bit long.

DeltaWolf
Spot Check: 17 (10+7 mod)
WIS Check: 9 (7+2 mod)

Thevarou
Spot Check: 23 (18+5 mod)
WIS Check: 15 (12+3 mod)

BlackWolf
Spot Check: 13 (rolled 6 + 7)
WIS Check: 20 (rolled 18 + 2)

LadyBluemantle
Spot Check: 19 (19+0)
WIS Check: 14 (14+0)

Eryx (DM)
This will all be in the narration, but this is what you will see and notice.

The guards for the carriage have jumped free, some are looking into the inferno to see if they can save the prisoners, and others are circling around in a protective fashion.

Both Khaska and Rynn's WIS checks allow them to notice that one of the guards is missing. There were originally five Knights (including Franmore), and five city watchmen. The five Knights are all still here, but there are only four guards. Since they noticed the missing guard, both Rynn and Khaska notice a tunic of a city watchman on the ground. He has ditched it. I leave it to Thev and BlackWolf if you will blurt this out to the others.

With this in mind, Khaska, Jenika, and Fan had high enough spot checks that they will be able to see the guard slipping into the fleeing crowd. If Rynn and Khaska do not tell Fan and Jenika about the missing guard, only Khaska will be looking and only he will notice him slipping away.

None of you see Amara.

What will you do now? It is quite crowded, and most of the local citizenry are fleeing the site of the crash and explosion. The cart is burning quite fiercely.

What will you all do now?

LadyBluemantle
Fan, being, as she is, young and inexperienced and unused to such brutal scenes of carnage, will freak out. The injured horses screaming and writhing on the ground, the fire, the confusion in the crowd will be too much for her and she will spend a good couple of minutes twisting her hair with tears streaming down her face, rocking back and forth like a two-year-old.

Once she manages to pull herself together she will observe, "That's odd that the horses crashed into the cart like that. Usually horses are intelligent enough to swerve or jump, they won't willingly charge into things." Fan chewed the inside of her lip for a moment. "Unless of course they are highly trained military horses. But then, what are war horses doing hauling a carriage? No self-respecting soldier would do that to his horse on purpose."

If asked how Fan knows so much about horses she will reply, "It's all in the epic ballad *Ode to a War Horse,* written a couple of hundred years ago by the famous Slynian poet Tarafa, who died young. I have the whole thing memorized. I can recite it for you now if you'd like. There are some really good bits in it about how he escapes from…" and here they will cut her off because there is no time for the finer points of epic poetry.

Thevarou
Having noted the guard's desertion, Khaska will call out to the others so that Rynn or Jenika could pursue him. Not only would they be faster than him, but as a cleric, he feels a duty to care for the injured unless there are others that could perform that function. As need, he will aid in the quenching of the fire. While he does so, he will snatch up the guard's discarded tunic and ascertain his identity and appearance from the other guards on the off chance that he does escape.

DeltaWolf
Whether Jenika tries to follow the guard will be up to what Rynn and Ranna do, as she would be relying on their ability to track the guard down. If Rynn tries to find the guard Jenika will go with him, otherwise she will go to the aid of the others.

BlackWolf
Rynn will snatch up the tunic and go rushing off after the deserting guard that Khaska has pointed out. If Rynn loses sight of him, he'll use the tunic to have Ranna help him track the man down by scent. His goal is to capture.

Meanwhile, it seems that Amara has plotted her own escape. This makes the ranger's heart sink, as it seems more and more that Amara has betrayed them and turned to evil. Later he'll reflect on how suddenly and strangely it seemed she turned to evil, and wonder if that cleric of Nerull had anything to do with it. But there's no time for that now, and she appears to be gone. But we know her pretty well — it's this watchman that needs to be caught at the moment.

Hopefully Khaska and Fan (once she recovers) will have the current scene in hand, so Jenika would be welcome to follow (and knock this guy out once Rynn catches up to him).

Survival checks for tracking:

  • Rynn: 19 (rolled 10 + 9 bonus)
  • Ranna: 9 (rolled 4 + 5 bonus)

Clenching his fist, Rynn turned back to the cart. The fire was raging hotly. Whoever was inside was likely dead. The horses from the crashed cart were also dead, having smashed directly into the prisoner transport before it exploded. The horses for the transport were trying to get away from the burning cart behind them, but it was crushed and its wheels would not turn, forcing them to drag it along, further damaging it. Around him screams and shouts rose up—the crowd of people in the marketplace running away from the site of the … what? Attack? Violence? Trap? Prisoner escape? What was going on?

“Is everybody okay?” He glanced around to see if there were any injuries. Surely the guards would have also been injured. The driver lay on the ground, clutching his arm, a large scrape on his head. The other who had been sitting up front … there, lying on the ground, was the tunic of a city watchman. Rynn crouched down and grabbed it off the ground. “What?” He held it up.

Khaska was there, trying to help the driver up. The cleric saw the tunic and glanced around. “Where’s the other guard?” he cried out.

“There he goes!” said Jenika. “He’s escaping.” Without a moment’s hesitation the ranger vaulted from his crouching position and lunged after him, Ranna not a moment behind, teeth bared. Jenika sprinted after them as well just as one of the paladins cut the horses free of the burning cart. The horses were quickly taken and calmed by others of the city watch, but in the commotion Rynn and Jenika were the only ones who chased down the fleeing guard.

Khaska hesitated, seeing his friends rush off, but then decided to see if he could lend a hand with the injuries. The driver’s arm was broken and one of the guards who had been towards the back of the carriage was slightly singed from the explosion. A nearby shopkeeper had been injured by flying wood, but really aside from Virgun and Sandgrin, there were no serious injuries.

They, however, were dead.

“They were targeting the prisoners,” said Knight Franmore.

“Amara escaped first,” said Khaska. “Then the cart exploded. What could that have been?”

“Some fire spell? I’m not sure. Where did your companions go?”

“Chasing after the guard.”

“The guard?”

Khaska quickly explained that one of the guards had dropped his tunic and escaped into the crowd. Franmore’s lips went tight around her mouth, and she slammed her sword back into its sheathe. “We’ve been played. Rider Lystria will be disappointed.”

“Was this planned, then?” Khaska asked. But it was then that Khaska noticed Fan, standing off to the side, hands at her mouth and tears streaming down her face. Without a moment’s hesitation he left Knight Franmore and moved over to the bard.

“Were you injured?” he asked.

Fan shook her head, but didn’t speak, her eyes fixated on the scene of carnage before her. She finally spoke, but did not answer the question. “That's odd that the horses crashed into the cart like that. Usually horses are intelligent enough to swerve or jump, they won't willingly charge into things.” Fan chewed the inside of her lip for a moment. “Unless of course they are highly trained military horses. But then, what are war horses doing hauling a carriage? No self-respecting soldier would do that to his horse on purpose.”

“Where is the driver of the other carriage?” asked Khaska, almost rhetorically. “And horses can be forced to do many things, or spooked into them.”

“Still. It seems. Well, it's all in the epic ballad Ode to a War Horse, written a couple of hundred years ago by the famous Slynian poet Tarafa, who died young. I have the whole thing memorized. I can recite it for you now if you'd like. There are some really good bits in it about how he escapes from…"

But by then Khaska had located the driver of the other carriage and he left Fan to her shocked babblings. The poor man had been thrown into the transport and now lay underneath some of the burning wood and between the dead horses. Buckets of water were being thrown on the fire, and Khaska reached a hand in and gave a small prayer, invoking a healing spell to stabilize the unconscious man. “Help me!” he asked.

Two of the paladins immediately responded, helping to pull the poor man out of the corpses of his horses. His face was badly scratched and it looked like his nose was broken. His clothing was singed from the explosion. He was alive, but barely so, and Khaska’s brief spell had helped stabilize him. He would survive.

Franmore was quizzing the guards. Khaska caught the end of her interrogation.

“Ma’am, I don’t know where Joss would have gone. It’s not like him to abandon his post, but I don’t know him that well. He’s always been a bit of a loner.”

“Then,” said Khaska, “you should have your superiors on the lookout for him. In case he escapes from my friends. Tell me, since I was sadly not paying attention, what does he look like?”

Fan was still staring in shock at the scene, but as the city watchman began to talk, she sidled over to listen.


As Rynn rushed after the city watchman he was only vaguely aware of Jenika pounding after him. The man glanced back once to see Rynn’s face, which the ranger was sure was a rictus of concentration and seriousness, then blanched and continued to press through the crowd.

The man was clever, Rynn had to give him that. However, over the next ten minutes, and despite the man’s head start, Rynn, Jenika, and Ranna (tracking the scent from the tunic) were able to keep up with him. The chase was thrilling to the ranger. Here was work he could do! They finally caught up to him as he was casually strolling down a side street, having acquired a backpack at some point in the chase.

Jenika was unhappy with the entire situation, and the monk blindsided him and bowled him over, tripping the city watchman and knocking him into a wall. Rynn distinctly heard the clinking of coinage from the man’s backpack. Rynn came next, sword drawn and Ranna was next to him, teeth bared and growling low.

“Look, man! They paid me to leave her unchained! I’ll give you half if you’ll just let me go!” He glanced over at Jenika. “Okay, two-thirds, so we each get our fair share! That’s like a hundred gold each! And I can get more! I’ll get the other half tonight, on my way out of the city! They promised!”

Eryx (DM)
I took the liberty of rolling a spot check for Jenika to assist in the “tracking” of Joss. Between the three of them, they were able to keep track of him.

And … once again you’ve split the group. Khaska and Fan are back with the carnage scene with an angry and despondent Knight Franmore (and other paladins and guards), while Rynn and Jenika have run after, and now caught up to, the wayward guard. But you have not captured him yet. If you wish to force him to come with you, you’ll need to tie him up or some such. That will require combat, as he’s not going to come willingly.

If you will force him, give me initiative and three rounds worth of actions to get the guy tied up, though I wouldn’t be too worried about it with a level 4 monk in the mix. He knows it too, hence his attempt to bribe you.

Anyway, what will you all do next?

Thevarou
Knowing that Amara escaped, Khaska runs through a short list of places she may be, and then he realizes: the Adder Invictus was set to leave soon. Even though there was nothing suspicious discovered upon inspection, it is still suspicious. He'll turn Knight Franmore and say, "Sir Franmore, I believe that Amara might have run to the Adder Invictus. Pursuing her there will give us our best chance at apprehending her." He'll briefly look around to make sure the crash scene is under control, perhaps tell someone to fetch more city guard members to deal with it, and push for Kn. Franmore and the other knights to follow him to the docks.

BlackWolf
"If money could persuade me, then I'd just kill you and take it all," Rynn growls at the man. He points his sword at the AWOL guard. "You only have one option. Surrender. You will be taken back to the Knights where you will tell us everything you know. If you're lucky, they'll be merciful and your assistance will make up for your crimes."

Intimidate: 8 (rolled 7 + 1 bonus)

Not Rynn's best skill, to be sure. But hopefully there will be some circumstance bonus or maybe Jenika will give him the evil eye.

If he fails to cooperate, Rynn will attack, using the flat of his blade to avoid dealing lethal damage.

Initiative: 10 (rolled 7 + 3 bonus)
Attack 1: 5 (rolled 2 + 7 bonus - 4 nonlethal penalty), damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR)
Attack 2: 15 (rolled 12 + 7 bonus - 4 nonlethal penalty), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR)
Attack 3: 22 (rolled 19 + 7 bonus - 4 nonlethal penalty), critical damage: 14 (rolled 4 + 8 max weapon + 2 STR)

Ranna will also attack, trying to trip the man.

Attack 1: 16 (rolled 13 + 3 bonus), damage: 3 (rolled 2 + 1 bonus), trip STR check: 14 (rolled 13 + 1 STR)
Attack 2: 17 (rolled 14 + 3 bonus), damage: 5 (rolled 4 + 1 bonus), trip STR check: 10 (rolled 9 + 1 STR)
Attack 3: 5 (rolled 2 + 3 bonus), damage: 6 (rolled 5 + 1 bonus)

Once he's been subdued, Rynn will use rope from his haversack to tie the man up.

Use Rope: 19 (rolled 15 + 4 bonus)

Then we will escort him back to the scene of the crime Once there, Rynn will question him about everything he knows, including when and where he was supposed to get the rest of his money (perhaps we can be there to catch some more of this cult). If we're lucky, we'll make it back before Khaska leaves. Otherwise Rynn will still grill him before turning him over to the Knights/guard.

DeltaWolf
Jenika won’t waste words. As Rynn is talking Jenika will just leer at him…

Intimidate: 14* (14+0)

If that doesn’t work….

Initiative: 15 (10+5)
Stunning Fist:
*To Hit: 23 (18+5) *Damage: 6 (3+3)
Grapple: 22 (13+9)

If Jenika succeeds in her grapple she will hold him down so Rynn can tie him up.

"If money could persuade me, then I'd just kill you and take it all," Rynn growled at the man. He pointed his sword at the poor guard. "You only have one option. Surrender. You will be taken back to the Knights where you will tell us everything you know. If you're lucky, they'll be merciful and your assistance will make up for your crimes."

The man looked from Rynn to Jenika, who was leaning over him, face serious, hands up and raised, fists balled, to Ranna, who was still growling, teeth bared, then back to Rynn. Rynn took a step forward and lifted his sword as if to swing—he was only planning on using the flat of his blade, but that was enough.

“Okay! Okay! I surrender!”

Rynn pulled out the rope from his haversack and tied the man up. Jenika grabbed the man’s backpack.

“Heavier than I thought,” she said. Clinking could be heard coming from it.

“It’s evidence. Let’s take it back.”


Back at the site of the crash, Khaska was quickly reviewing what had happened, and where Amara might go. There was really only one place he could think of … the ship.

“Sir Franmore,” he said, catching the paladin’s attention, “I believe that Amara might have run to the Adder Invictus. Pursuing her there will give us our best chance at apprehending her.”

“You think it’s our best bet?”

The cleric nodded. “It was scheduled to leave soon. Tomorrow. If Amara has been in contact with them, and we know she has, it seems a likely place for her to make her escape.”

Fan seemed to have gotten a hold of herself. “It’s the only place we know of, really,” she said. “At this point, I doubt she will go back to the inn.”

Franmore looked at the situation. The flames had died down and the guards were inspecting the wreckage. Sandgrin and Virgun were indeed dead. Franmore’s hand was on her sword, tightly gripping the hilt, squeezing the leather so tight it could be heard by those nearby.

“Let’s go! Knights, with me. Guards …” and more city watchmen had arrived since Amara’s escape, “it looks like you have things under control here.” With that, they left.

Knight Franmore set a hard pace, but Khaska kept up easily with her. It was Fan, unencumbered by armor, that wanted to push ahead. Just as they arrived at the docks Rynn and Jenika came rushing up.

“We caught the guard and left him with the other city watchmen,” said the ranger. “He was paid to leave Amara unchained, and confessed to the other guards. We’ve got him. They said you were going after Amara?”

“We think she’s headed for the ship,” Fan said, still looking straight ahead.

“You seem rather intense about this,” Jenika said to her.

“Don’t appreciate being made a fool of. Amara’s made a fool of us.”

“I cannot disagree with your assessment, though it pains me,” said Khaska.

They arrived at the docks just a few minutes later and were at the ramp leading up to the Adder Invictus a few minutes after that. The first mate was surprised upon seeing them, and he came to the edge of the ship before they got onto the ramp itself.

“Can I help you? Your inspection this morning was sufficient, was it not? And your men have been here the entire time, keeping an eye on the ship.”

There were two city watchmen by the ramp, and one of them shrugged. “It’s true. Nobody’s come or gone since you guys this morning.”

“I’d really rather not let you on again,” the first mate said. “We cooperated this morning, but this is turning into harassment.”

Eryx (DM)
The intimidate checks worked and Joss simply came with you. Now you have all arrived at the Adder Invictus, but the first mate is not letting you on. The AWOL guard is back with his companions, and they have arrested him after he confessed.

I would also like you to give me both spot and listen checks, please. What do you intend to do now that you are at the ship?

LadyBluemantle
Listen: 19+5= 24 woot!
Spot: 12+0=12

Assuming that Fan can hear Amara, she will go after her. Fan has never liked Amara, and she is young and impetuous and will attack. The idea of Amara getting away with murder is so galling that she won't think about the consequences of her actions.

DeltaWolf
Spot: 19 (12+7)
Listen: 8 (1+7)

As things stand now Jenika doesn’t think they will be able to search the ship. However with a fugitive on the loose Franmore may be able to prevent ships from leaving until they are able to search the city (and allow time to find evidence allowing them to search the ship).

BlackWolf
Perhaps unlike the others, Rynn isn't convinced that Amara is on board the ship. He raises an eyebrow at the lack of cooperation from the first mate, but figures that guilt isn't necessarily the only reason he'd react so.

Still, Khaska is wise in Rynn's eyes, so he regards the Maha'i guess as better than most. Crouching down, the ranger will scratch Ranna behind the ears. "Find Amara, girl! Find Kirza!" He's hoping that the wolf will still recall their scent well enough to know if they are in the area (we spent quite a while traveling with them, after all).

  • Rynn Spot: 8 (rolled 1 + 7 bonus)
  • Rynn Listen: 14 (rolled 8 + 6 bonus)
  • Ranna Listen: 11 (rolled 8 + 3 bonus)
  • Ranna Track (Survival): 22 (rolled 17 + 5 bonus)

Rynn is ready and willing to help force our way on board, if it comes to that. He'll be taking his cues from Khaska and Knight Franmore.

Regardless of how this turns out, Rynn will mention that the guard they captured might be able to lead them to a few more members of this cult. Although he's upset that Amara escaped, recovering the crystals (if possible) is still his primary objective.

Eryx (DM)
Well, with a track roll like that for the sniffing wolf, and Fan's listen check, you can tell that in a minute or two, Amara comes walking by, but somehow she's magically disguised. Fan can hear the clink of her chains (Amara's hands were still chained to each other), and Ranna can totally smell her out. Amara's trying to just walk by nonchalantly, but you'll notice her. She's on the docks, not on the ship.

LadyBluemantle has already posted what Fan will do if she were to come upon Amara. So what will you other three characters do?

BlackWolf
I don't mean to be a one trick pony, but tracking is turning out to be a pretty good trick! It's nice to take advantage of my ranger's better skills when possible. :)

It will probably take a second for Rynn to realize what's going on — why Ranna is barking / pointing at this seemingly random person and why Fan is attacking. But once he realizes what's happening, he'll quick draw his bow and knock an arrow in preparation for a fight.

"Amara! I don't know what you've gotten yourself into, or why you're doing it. But you must now surrender! I don't want to have to put you down."

Depending on how the party is positioned, Rynn may try to flank around Amara to box her in. He's wielding his bow for now for several reasons, not least of which is to be able to fire at anyone on the Adder Invictus that might involve themselves.

Out of curiosity, what is this dock area like? Are we standing on narrow pier-like areas or is it more broad and open? And the ramp to the ship… could it be knocked out to prevent access (and how hard might that be, approximately)? Is the ship higher, lower, or even with the ground level?

I'll hold off on making combat rolls for the moment, pending DM request or seeing how things turn from here. But know that the ranger won't just let Amara walk away this time. He sees her as having turned "rabid" so he won't hesitate to attack — or even kill her, if it comes to it.

Eryx (DM)
Good questions about the area. You're on a long, narrow dock. 4 squares wide, by the rules. The Adder Invictus is to one side, but right across from it there are two ships (of a slightly smaller variety). There is a ramp from the ship itself, and although you could be able to move with a few of you, it does seem rather large and will be heavy. The ramp goes up to the main deck of the ship, which sits probably about ten feet above the water.

Thevarou
Khaska probably won't have heard Amara (rolled a 14 = 9 + 5), but he'll see Fan's and Rynn's responses and join in as soon as he realizes what's going on. As he's not the most agile of the group, he will position himself at the base of the ramp, drawing his scimitar to make sure that no one can board or leave the ship in any ensuing action. His first objective, however, would be to prevent Amara from escaping, and if she runs off in another direction besides the ship, Khaska will pursue. In fact, if either the people on the ship or Amara approach the ramp (and if the ship's crew shows hostile intent), Khaska will call out to the city guard on the dock to help him pull the ramp off the lip of the ship and into the water.

DeltaWolf
As soon as Jenika realizes what’s going on she will try flanking Amara (from the different side of Rynn). It seems that rushing her would be Jenika’s best option.

Fan was chewing a piece of her hair. She was embarrassed by the fact that she had frozen earlier, and was hoping to make up for it somehow. She watch as the first mate and the paladins argued back and forth. A young lady was walking by, holding a basket of apples. Fan distinctly hear the clinking of metal, but that puzzled her because the young lady didn’t appear to have any metal on her.

Rynn knelt down by Ranna. “Find Amara, girl! Find Kirza!” He stood up as the wolf began to sniff. “If she’s been here, Ranna can find her …” He stopped as the wolf ran right over to the stranger Fan had been watching and began to growl and whine, running in circles right behind her. Rynn’s brow furrowed. “What is it, girl?”

Fan’s mouth dropped and she took an involuntary step back. “It’s her! It’s Amara!” Her cover blown—somehow she was fully disguised as someone else—Amara began to run. But Fan had had enough of this. Perhaps foolishly, the bard pulled out her rapier and struck at the sorceress. She managed to strike, drawing blood, but the thrust was quick and ill-aimed, not doing much damage.

Rynn drew an arrow and nocked it, now being able to see the disguise for what it was. “Amara! I don't know what you've gotten yourself into, or why you're doing it. But you must now surrender! I don't want to have to put you down.” Rynn’s mind wandered for a moment back to Adam. Had Amara fallen so far? What had happened to her? Would he really need to put her down? The sky was darkening, mirroring his mood.

“After her!” Knight Franmore ordered. The other Knights drew their weapons and began to run after her. “Stop! You are under arrest …” But Amara was bolting, panicking, running away from them … towards the end of the docks. Fan and Jenika were both pursuing her.

There was a flash of light and a bolt of energy flew past all of them, colliding with Fan, whose body lit up with electricity, but the arc of energy immediately jumped to Knight Franmore, and from there to Rynn, and from there to one of the city watchmen, who collapsed to the dock instantly. The lightning played across Rynn’s sword and he felt the burning as its power coursed through his body. Knight Franmore grunted and dropped to one knee, and Fan simply fell in a heap. Amara stopped and turned, shocked, but then smiled, looking past everybody as the peals of light thunder dissipated.

Khaska had originally positioned himself by the ramp to the ship, in case Amara had decided to make a break for the Adder Invictus. When she had begun to run he had moved that direction, but recognized that in his armor he would not catch up to her. Now he turned. And there, about at the back of the ship, were two newcomers. They had not been there moments before.

“I would like Amara to come with us,” said one of them, a woman. “I had hoped to avoid such a direct confrontation, but her friends are more persistent than even I was led to believe.” She was dressed in a long, flowing robe, the hood drawn over her face. Next to her was an older elf, bald in the middle of his head with long gray hair coming down to his shoulders. The woman drew back her hood. She was human, with black hair … no, it wasn’t black. It was dark green. Khaska then noticed that her eyes were slightly yellow, and there were green scales going up her neck. Rynn recognized her from Godfrey’s ship, she was one of the ones that had come with the group to take the crystals. “If you wish to fight, I’m sure you will lose.” She stood there, confidently, while the elf at her side raised his hands. “My associate and I will make short work of you all.” The she glanced up at the ship. “Prepare the ship for departure.”

The first mate nodded. “Yes, sir. Do you need …”

“Thank you, but we don’t need assistance. We’ll be aboard shortly. Just get the ship ready.” He smiled and then nodded and moved away from the railing, barking orders.

The woman turned back to those who had been pursuing Amara, all of whom had stopped after the spell had been cast. There were five Knights, one (conscious) city watchmen, and the members of the party. Eight remaining combatants. Ten in all, counting those who had been knocked unconscious by the spell. The woman folded her arms and continued to speak.

“Those who actually arranged to have the crystals stolen did so against my better judgment. We made sure that you could find them, as a show of good faith. There’s no need for further violence. We would just like to go now.”

“You don’t have to kill them!” Amara voice rang out, yelling across the distance. “We were friends, once. And they have been useful to me!” The sound of the sorceress’ voice was odd. It appeared to be coming from both Amara and from the two people at the back of the ship. The green-haired woman scowled. “To us, I mean. Let us spare them one last time, and may they pray we never meet again.”

The dragon-scaled green-haired woman smiled, a broad, slightly unnatural smile that showed her fangs. Just then, it began to rain lightly. “Your move.”

Eryx (DM)
Rynn took 7 damage from the spell. Fan is unconscious and bleeding out, as is the city watchman by the gangplank. Knight Franmore took a pretty nasty hit, too. She’s pretty bloodied up.

Amara is, by this point, about 20 feet beyond the prow of the Adder Invictus. Fan is right next to her, though on the ground, and Jenika is 15 feet away. Behind the monk are the remaining Knights (there are five total), and then Rynn. Khaska and the two city watchmen (one of whom is unconscious from his wounds) are by the ramp leading to the ship (which itself is 80 feet long). The ramp is slightly more than halfway towards the back. The green-haired woman and her companion are towards the back of the ship.

What do you want to do? If you’d like to do a Sense Motive, you can post those rolls. I’ll give you responses here in the gray box, but initially you don’t get a sense at all of these two being worried about the eight heavily armed people in front of them. Amara was panicky when Fan first attacked, but isn’t anymore now that she's seen her friends (?).

If you want to attack, please give me initiative and three rounds of actions.

DeltaWolf
Just to clarify, is Jenika between Amara and Adder Invictus or is it on the other side of Amara?

Thevarou
I'm a little confused as to the positioning, too. Quick sketch, perhaps, just to show the relative positions of everybody? And aren't Sense Motive checks the DM's purview - i.e., we shouldn't know how well we did on them?

And is there something going on with the stereo voices that I don't know about but that Khaska would know? Which Knowledge check would he need to roll for that?

Eryx (DM)
Khaska could probably tell there was a spell, but it's not any divine spell he knows of, so he won't be able to identify it. The appropriate check would be Knowledge (Arcana), which nobody but Fan has, and she's unconscious at the moment.

The docks run east-west, jutting out into the ocean. The Adder Invictus is on the north side of the dock, facing east.

Starting at the easternmost person, there's:
0. The ocean.
1. Amara
2. Fan
3. Jenika (Front of the ship.)
4. Knights 1-5 (including Franmore)
5. Rynn
6. Khaska and the two guards (one of whom is bleeding out from the spell). (By the ramp, which is slightly closer to the back of the ship than the front.)
7. The green-haired woman and her buddy. (Back of the ship.)
8. Laishtek.

Does that help?

Thevarou
Yes! That helps a lot.

Khaska is definitely concerned by the uptick in Amara's confidence and what appears to have been single spell that knocked out two of the party and wounded others. His suspicions were also raised by the strange concurrent speech of Amara and her colleagues; the thought that will flit through his head is that she might be controlled, at least in part, by the dragon woman. He'll make a note to look up what was going on in the library later, as it might be important.

Khaska isn't thinking that a direct combat confrontation would be advantageous; in fact, he suspects that it would be disastrous. However, he still would like to frustrate them as much as possible. [After the attack, he will not be able to conceal his surprise and dismay for a split second, but will quickly regain composure and give a hard glare, not angered, at the dragon woman.] An idea will come to his mind, but he will quickly glance to his friends to assess their status, whether they appear to be determined to do anything more. If they appear apprehensive, he will lower his scimitar and attempt to observe everything he possibly can before the ship leaves. If his companions look ready to do more, he'll cast Obscuring Mist. Then, steeling himself, Khaska will cast Bull's Strength and, perhaps with the help of others, cast the ramp into the water (whether by pushing or pulling, whichever is most convenient). While the mist lasts, he will yell to the others to apprehend Amara, while he picks up Fan and tells another to grab the unconscious guard. Once these people are secured, he will run as fast as possible away from the ship back to shore to get out of range of those at the back of the ship.

(Is any of this wise? Lol.)

Eryx (DM)
In IM with Thev, something wasn't made quite clear. The ship is currently at the side of the pier, but the ship is facing east which is towards the ocean. So Thev's plan (as currently constituted) involves running back at and past the green-haired lady and her companion.

I'm sorry that I don't really know about how big ships dock by piers. Not to be a dork about it, but I'm the DM, and in this universe, they can do that. They come in, and turn around and dock by the piers, so they're facing out while tied up, and when they leave they just sail right out. If you want to know how it's really done in our universe, here. Also, I've done a small edit above so the relationship to everything is more clear. I added 0-the ocean, and 8-Laishtek, to the order of the people in my previous post.

BlackWolf
Looks like Thevarou/Khaska have been on a similar train of thought as I/Rynn have. Unless Knight Franmore is hiding her light under a bushel, I don't think we can stop these guys. Attempts to mess with them will probably end badly — if I'm right and that was a Chain Lightning spell, then we are out of our league.

So given Eryx's latest info that we're on the wrong side of the tracks docks, I think we have to surrender Amara.

Rynn's knuckles turn white as he grips his bow. He's angry and frustrated that this cult (which he didn't even want to fight with in the first place) always seems to be two steps ahead of him. And just when he thought he'd got the best of them…

For a moment, he considers attacking. He knows it would almost certainly mean his death, but doesn't care. He could fire at the two newcomers, but probably couldn't take either one down before another spell would kill him. He might be able to slay the betrayer, Amara, to get revenge and spite the cultists — but did he really want to? Adam's image flashes into his mind again. And then he realizes that if he were to attack, all of his allies would likely be slain as well.

The ranger throws his bow down to the ground and he faces the green haired woman. "You must be Gulnith then; am I right? Go ahead and leave for all I care — I am neither Knight nor city guard. But tell me, where are the other crystals you stole?"

Regardless of the answer, Rynn doesn't have much else to say. He will fold his arms, mirroring her stance, and wait for them to sail away. Assuming Amara passes by him, he'll have a look of hurt and disgust for her.

I'm hoping that Khaska or Knight Franmore will heal Fan and the other Knight. (It seems like the paladin should be doing something after all…) But should Rynn see that no one else is moving to assist right away, he'll pull out the healing wand to rescue the dying.

At this point it seems that they will get away. So Rynn will stand in place at the docks until the ship has sailed into the distance. If Franmore doesn't rush off to tell the dragonrider, he'll say something like, "Shouldn't Rider Lystria be told about this?"

But now I'm probably jumping ahead too far. I'd like to request that the DM stop narration once we reach the point that they've sailed off (should that occur) because Rynn might just need to return to the wild for a few days to recharge and collect his thoughts/feelings…

Thevarou
Khaska, having recovered from the (figurative) shock of the lightning blast, will look around to assess the situation. Upon seeing that with a single spell their opponents were able to knock out two of the party and injure two more significantly, his confidence that they will be able to apprehend Amara will diminish greatly. He will stand pondering for a few moments, looking the boat, ramp, and dock over for any potential method of escape that would not involve surrendering Amara, but he won't be able to find one.

This doesn't mean that he will let despair show in his body language, though. After sparing a glare each for Gulnith and Amara, he will ignore them and promptly get to healing the two unconscious people on the dock (Cure Moderate Wounds), pulling them out of Amara's way. When she passes by, he will mutter so she can hear: "In time the work of evil is e'er o'erthrown."

Once he is certain that Fan and the guard are stable and conscious (by this time I expect the ship will be sailing away), he will approach Knight Franmore and ask, "Should we not inform the Riders immediately?" In Khaska's view, there might be something that still could be done; a dragon could, perhaps, sink the ship before it gets out of range.

DeltaWolf
At this point Jenika is only concerned about Fan. She will sit in an obvious way to show Amara that she has no intention of getting in her way (she is unable to throw down any weapons). As soon as Amara is clear, Jenika will rush over to Fan and carry her to Khaska.

Rynn’s knuckles turned white as he gripped his bow tighter. This cult seemed to always be two steps ahead of everybody. And just moments ago he had thought that he and his allies were getting the better of these dragon-worshippers. He brought his bow up ever so slightly and exhaled slowly, considering his options. He could fire at these two newcomers, but that seemed futile. He might even be able to fire at Amara, possibly kill her … but to what end? To spite these cultists just so he and all his allies would die?

He glanced back at Khaska, who was glancing at the ramp to the ship and up and down the dock, clearly looking for some way to turn the situation to their advantage. But there was none. The Maha’i straightened to his full height and glanced at Rynn, and gave a short nod, dropping his hands to his side. The cleric stood ramrod straight, glaring at the green-haired woman.

Adam’s face flashed into Rynn’s mind. Amara needed to be put down, but not right now. Not at the cost it would require.

Disgusted, Rynn threw down his bow. It and the arrow clattered to the dock.

“You must be Gulnith then; am I right?”

The woman smiled, and nodded.

“Go ahead and leave for all I care—I am neither Knight nor city guard. But tell me, where are the other crystals you stole?” With that, he folded his arms, mirroring her stance.

“You’ll see shortly,” Gulnith said. She looked over the gathered soldiers and Knights at Amara. “Come, Amara.”

Jenika stepped aside as Amara smirked at her. The monk wanted desperately to punch the devious sorceress in her face, but Rynn was right. Even Knight Franmore was sheathing her sword, indicating to the other Knights to do the same. Khaska knelt down to heal the guard that had fallen at the bottom of the ramp. The man was healed instantly, bounding to his feet and partially drawing his sword, when Khaska restrained him and whispered something in his ear. He relaxed, and they stepped to the other side of the dock. Gulnith and her assistant waited for Amara just at the base of the ramp. The sorceress came quickly. Kirza flapped down and landed on her shoulder just as she arrived at the base of the ramp. Behind the trio of villains the deck of the ship was alive with movement. Ropes were being cast off as they prepared to get underway.

Rynn and Khaska’s stares could easily have bored holes through a lesser mortal. But Amara simply held her head high.

“In time the work of evil is e’er o’erthrown,” Khaska muttered, just loud enough for Amara to hear. She shrugged, remaining as Gulnith and her friend ascended the ramp.

“That remains to be seen,” said Amara. “I joined the Cult of Skyrnyn back in Hammerdine, and I was glad to have helped them out here. For your aid and friendship these past months, I have requested you be left alive. Take that consolation and go. You would be wise to leave us alone.” With that, she turned and walked up the ramp, which the sailors quickly pulled up onto the ship. Jenika walked up holding the limp form of Fan, who Khaska immediately went to heal.

The first mate barked an order and with a lurch the ship began to rise. Rynn gripped the handle of his sword tightly. They were using skyship crystals.

“We finally have enough crystals to raise our ship!” Gulnith yelled down. “You will be unable to follow us, even if you wanted!”

“Don’t try to track us!” Amara warned a last time. “Next time, we won’t hold back.”

The ship was rising slowly, but surely. With the rain it disappeared into the sky within a minute, leaving them standing in the rain on the dock.

Knight Franmore turned and snapped at one of the other paladins. “Quick! Rider Lystria may be able to catch them if we tell her quickly! Go!” The man saluted and hustled off.

Rynn’s smile was grim. He was about to suggest that very thing, but recognized that tracking a skyship in this weather would be difficult, even for a dragonrider. Still, the thought of Khalisara and Rider Lystria obliterating the ship was a pleasant one to his mind. At least Franmore was doing something. The ranger was underwhelmed with her performance so far.

He turned back to look at Jenika, Fan, and Khaska, but it was then that he noticed that Fan was still on the docks, limp and soaked in the rain. Khaska was kneeling by her, and the Maha’i looked up at Rynn.

“She has made the journey to her ancestors,” he said simply.

Rynn’s heart fell. Jenika was holding her arms tightly around herself. Knight Franmore gasped, but then brought her hand to her heart and gave a small bow, saying a prayer under her breath.

Eryx (DM)
Fan is dead.

Now, before you all get more hopping mad at me, I have a metagaming announcement to make. Beth has decided that this campaign was just one more thing in her life that added a bit of stress, and she also was not enjoying it as much as she would have liked. So by mutual decision we decided to write her character out. She gave me permission to kill Fan, and so here we are. You won’t need to resurrect her or anything like that (which I think is beyond your abilities at this point anyway, even if you paid for it). It just adds a little drama to this scene. We wish Beth all the best with her pregnancy, child, and as president of her homeowner’s association, and she knows that she is welcome should she ever want to return. It’s just not her thing, so farewell, Beth. Fan’s things are back at the inn, so I’d like to know whatever your characters will want to do with those.

I have no plans to attempt to introduce another character into the campaign. Caleb will be home from his mission in like 9 months and we can bring back Orensland. We’ll just wait, if that’s okay with all of you.

For finding the two crystals, uncovering the cult’s workings in this area, and aiding the city officials in their investigations, you all earn 1500 XP. I think that means you are all now level 5. Congratulations! For Rynn’s next “favored enemy,” I give you permission as DM to choose either undead or humanoid (dragonkin) if you so desire, based on your experiences in Hammerdine (especially with Seth) and with this dragon-worshipping cult here in Laishtek, as both Gulnith and Amara were humanoid dragonkin. Humanoid (dragonkin) is a category I made up, but I think fits the rules well enough as well as this campaign.

There was also a slight edit above. I had just simply never finished a sentence in a previous post. You’ll find it above, but it now reads: “The crew had mostly been hired here in Laishtek for a short trip-their next destination was Tidewater City and they would be transporting a large set of goods from there to the trade center at the mouth of the River of Spirits on Slyn.” I mean, you don’t know if they were lying or not, but it’s something.

As a reminder, the guard who was paid by the cult to let Amara escape is still in custody (and said there was more money to be found on his way out of the city), as is Kaylee’s buddy. Rynn was also keen (at some point) on tracking the pilgrimages of the Peaceful Children through the wilderness. And you still have the offer from Godfrey (and Akle, who is now part of his crew) to take you anywhere on the moon. So there are a lot of irons in the fire, as it were, storyline-wise. What do you all want to do now?

BlackWolf
Goodbye, Beth. I enjoyed your character; she had a lot of personality, especially considering that she was so new to the group. But I totally understand how one must choose wisely how they spend their time. Good luck on everything!

Distraught. That is probably the best word to describe Rynn at this point. He will just stand there for a long time, staring blankly. Eventually he'll turn to his companions and say, "I need some time by myself. I've got to get out of this city. But I haven't forgotten my promises — I will help you on your quests. It's just … I don't know what to think anymore. I just need a little time. I'll meet you back at the inn in a few days."

After saying that and embracing his friends, he'll walk to the end of the pier and sit down at the edge. He'll stay there for several hours, huddled up with Ranna under his cloak, looking out into the rain. After that, he'll head out of the city and find a place in the wild to collect his thoughts and feelings. He is likely to develop a vendetta against Amara and these Skyrnyn cultists — and he's even on the verge of switching alignments from Neutral Good to Chaotic Good.

Game-wise, I don't mind if Rynn is just absent for a little bit. I don't want Khaska and Jenika to have to wait on Rynn. I figure they might want to follow up on some remaining items such as: Mr. Muldoon, the guard who was paid off, and learning about Tawru's horn.

As for what the group does next, I think we should get info about Muldoon (from the Knights) and then let him go back to Kaylee. We know where we are likely to find them next, and we have 3-4 months before we have to act on it. But that quest may prove difficult; Kaylee and Lady Maramos may be powerful. So in the meantime, I suggest we ask Godfrey to take us to Twilight on the Skycutter in search of the Tawruian Monastery. Based on previous narration, I believe the journey would only take about 2 weeks (one-way), so we'd have time to get back (and hopefully level again before we have to fight Kaylee).

Besides, Rynn has had it with these cities and would actually prefer returning to Twilight and the areas on the edge of the dead lands.

If that's not appealing to the group, then Rynn's next preferred option would be to spend some time trying to search the wilderness to find the trail of that last Peaceful Children pilgrimage.

Thevarou
Thanks, Beth, for playing, for however short a time you did so! Fan was a great character. I wish you luck in your endeavors! :)

Khaska is in shock. Other ventures of theirs have been failures, but none so abject as this: they were outmaneuvered by a former friend and lost a new one in the process. Khaska had been growing fond of Fan, and was delighted to meet someone that spoke his particular language; he was looking forward to getting to know her further. He'll kneel down beside her on the dock and offer the same prayer he did earlier (in the village that was being ravaged by the ettin), but this time he'll do it in Maha'i, since Fan would understand.

He entirely understands Rynn's desire to leave the city, as he wishes to have some time to himself, some time without constant danger. Though he feels that it is his duty -to himself, his people, his world, his gods- to face the hazards of the world, he is now wondering whether he should be more wary about entangling others in his quests. He does not want the unsuspecting to take on those risks. In the next few days, he will either be in the library, researching the spell Gulnith cast, the Cult of Skyrnyn, and anything there is about Twilight, Treewind's monastery, and other matters of Tawru. When he is not in the library, he will be searching for any information about Fan's identity; he sees it as his responsibility to find them and inform them of their daughter's passing and courage. He also agrees with Rynn about Muldoon: extract what information can be found, and then let him go.

When Rynn mentions that he would like to accompany Khaska to Twilight, Khaska will feel both a frisson of excitement and a twinge of apprehension. On one hand, he wonders whether it would not be better to investigate the Peaceful Children now, since they are on the right continent; on the other, he knows that it would be preferable (and more courteous) to take up Godfrey's offer as soon as possible. Not a small amount of apprehension comes from an uneasiness at the prospects of flying and crossing an ocean (Khaska has never been on a body of water or in the air!) and dread at all the terrible rumors he's heard about Thanor throughout his life. However, he knows that Rynn is relatively knowledgeable about the Death Side, and will decide to go search for the monastery.

Eryx (DM)
Thev, can I get three Gather Info Checks? Same goes for anybody else who would also wish to ask around about these various things, even for when Rynn comes back into town.

The spell will be easy enough to discover. It was Chain Lightning.

Thevarou
Gather Info Checks:

  • 19 = 17 + 2
  • 20 = 18 + 2
  • 9 = 7 + 2

BlackWolf
In his time in the wild, Rynn will contemplate the cult of Skyrnyn and the vampire stuff we learned about in Hammerdine. He'll think about how Amara betrayed the group, and begins to form a grudge. Yet he also thinks about what Khaska said about Tawru and Adam — could Amara be redeemable, or should she be killed?

He'll also contemplate his experience in civilization. He's been most comfortable out in the wild, but is now beginning to understand the dangers of the urban environment. To that end, I've taken a level in Urban Ranger.

When he returns, he'll help Khaska with gathering info. But his main focus will be to find out anything he can about the Cult of Skyrnyn. He specifically wants to know who the remaining cultists in the city are (if any) so he can start hunting them. He'll ask the Knights & city guard (especially regarding Joss), and he'll search more generally too: taverns, markets, guilds, etc. He's willing to spend up to 5 gp in order to appropriately "lubricate" any potential leads with alcohol.

Gather Info Checks (roll + 8 bonus): 25, 13, 23, 13, 27, 9
(3 the DM asked for, plus 3 more for Rynn's specific searching and possible Urban Tracking).

In my mind this is all background stuff that he's doing — doesn't necessarily need to be narrated, though I'll defer to the DM. As I said before, I'm okay with having him disappear for a bit while the others sort out what we should do next.

DeltaWolf
Jenika doesn't know what to do now. With Fan's death she will want to spent time alone. And like always will go with the flow of what the party wants to do.

So are there only three players now?

Eryx (DM)
Yes, there are only three players right now. I'll just adjust things as needed so that combat encounters aren't more difficult than they need to be.

I may have hammered the characters a little harshly in this chapter. I didn't want to make you all despondent!

I would like to know two things:
1. What, specifically, did you want to do about Joss? Are you going to wait until you're all back on your game to inquire with him? Or were you planning on trying anything today? Maybe just Khaska today? Or are you just going to leave him to his fate? Only BlackWolf mentioned him, so I wasn't sure if the group had reached a consensus.

2. Was the consensus on Mr. Muldoon to get the authorities to release him? (It was never made clear to me that consensus was reached.) How will you track him if you do so? Or were you going to let him rot in prison and just take over Kaylee's contract in a few months?

Thevarou
1. If no one else goes to investigate Joss, Khaska will. He suspects that Joss's error is simply be a bit of greed and gold-loving, but does not want to miss anything that might lead to uncovering more information about this cult. He'll ask a few pointed questions - "Did you know Amara before she paid you?" "Do you know of Skyrnyn or Gulnith?" - and judge his reactions, either by Sense Motive or, if anything's particularly suspicious, a Zone of Truth spell the following day.

2. Apparently, Khaska can scry now! So that might be a method of tracking him in the future. However, it might be a good idea, as was mentioned earlier, for Jenika to impersonate Kaylee; it is possible that both the Peaceful Children and the Cult of Skyrnyn could be further revealed if we do so. Further, it would give Jenika an epic quest! Khaska would move for Jenika to take over Kaylee's contract and keep Muldoon in prison as long as the law would permit (three or four months, though, would most certainly be within the bounds of justice).

Eryx (DM)
Unfortunately, Thev, I was reading the rules wrong. I mixed up the spell level/character level thing. Khaska can't cast level 5 spells until he's a level 9 cleric. (Which I think is really stupid and which they should have found some way to use different vocab for one or the other.) So Khaska cannot scry yet. :(

Edit: 3. Also, what do you want to do with Fan's body?

Thevarou
Ahhh, I wondered if you'd read it wrong! You'd think that with the care they went into to design the game, they could have said "tiers" or something.

What would be the rites of bodily disposal common in human communities? Would there be a way of keeping the body accessible so that the Ravenstones could retrieve it at some point, or Khaska could deliver it to them? If there's no means like that, Khaska might just allow the authorities to deal with the body, offering any help he can.

BlackWolf
Rynn doesn't really care about what happens to Joss now — the city authorities can handle his punishments. But when he returns he will ask about the cult (either Joss directly or said authorities).

As for Mr. Muldoon, Rynn doesn't care. I think that's a decision that Jenika needs to make. Personally, I think we should let him go. We won't need to track him because we know where they'll be heading (assuming they'll take up the contract). I'm not sure if the Knights will hold him indefinitely anyway. And even if they did; although we could possibly assume the contract, that wouldn't help us deal with Kaylee.

So my vote (as a player; Rynn will just shrug) is to have them let Muldoon go. We'll head to Twilight, where we will hopefully find Tawru's sword. Then we can return and try to deal with Kaylee before Lady Maramos arrives.

As for Fan's body or possessions, Rynn doesn't care as long as she's given a respectable treatment.

Thevarou
Eryx informed me that Godfrey would be willing to make a small detour toward Pemmadhaghra to drop Fan's body with the Ravenstones; once that is determined, Khaska will cast Gentle Repose as soon as he can on her body so that it will be preserved until they can deliver it.

And Blackwolf/Rynn has a point: may as well deal with Kaylee when she comes. What's Jenika's vote? She's the one that will have to decide the matter.

Already kneeling by her body, Khaska looked to the heavens for a moment, offering up a short personal prayer, but then inched forward and placed his hands on Fan’s feet. The prayer came easier to him than it had back in that small village just north of the Niktean Wastes. He was already familiar with the changes he would have to make for it to be adapted for a human, but he still spoke in Maha’i, aware that Fan would have understood.

“May your feet never know injury from the road,
“May your knees never know the strain of steps,
“May your legs never tire from the journey,
“May your stomach never know the pains of hunger,
“May your chest never know breathlessness or cramp,
“May your shoulders never droop under the yoke,
“May your arms never know the limpness of decay,
“May your neck never fail to stand tall,
“May your mouth never thirst for water or kind word,
“May your nose never sense stench,
“May your ears never hear crying or lamentation,
“May your eyes never know darkness,
“And may Markus conduct you into the everlasting hills,
“And may you there never know aught but happiness.”

He then knelt forward, touching his nose to the dock, and whispered the final benediction.

He rose to his feet, his heart as heavy as the armor around him. He looked at the others, the remaining Knights and his two friends. “What shall we do now?” he asked. He was vaguely aware of a small crowd of people gathering.

Rynn had been staring off into space, still looking at the last place they had been able to see the Adder Invictus before it had vanished into the low clouds. The storm was growing worse, but the ranger was unmoved by the rain whipping into his face. “I need some time by myself. I’ve got to get out of this city. But I haven’t forgotten my promises—I will help you on your quests. It’s just … I don’t know what to think anymore. I just need a little time.” At this, he finally stopped staring and turned towards Jenika and Khaska. “I’ll meet you back at the inn in a few days.” He reached out to embrace the cleric. Khaska still found this custom slightly strange, but he wrapped his arms around the ranger. Jenika, despite their bad experience two nights previously, also gave Rynn a small hug, but then Rynn and Ranna walked off into the rain towards the end of the dock, disappearing before they got too far and the rain increased in intensity.


Jenika hoisted up Fan’s body. “Is there a place we can leave her body while I investigate where she may have come from?” asked Khaska. “Her family should be told of her bravery, and her passing.”

There was a local morgue where they could keep her body for a day or two, but no longer. Khaska knew that there were spells he could cast to prevent the body from decaying, which may also be of use.

As they reached the edge of the dock a wave a fear washed over them, a similarly debilitating feeling as they had encountered with the displacer beast attack. The sky blackened for a moment as the serpentine shape of Khalisara swooped down low over the docks, flapping his giant wings, Rider Lystria hunkered down against the rain. The fear lasted only a moment since the dragon was moving so quickly, not leaving even enough time to react before he and his rider were gone.

Rynn, sitting at the edge of the dock, wrapped in his cloak with Ranna, also felt the fear and watched as the great dragon swept skyward. He grimly smiled. He doubted they would be able to find the ship … too much time had passed and the weather was atrocious for tracking a skyship, but he held out a small degree of hope.


Khaska reached the city watch precinct with Knight Franmore, but the paladin immediately left to go back to her chapterhouse and make a more full report. Jenika had broken off with Fan and one of the other Knights to take her body to the morgue. Joss, the rogue city watchman, was chained up in a cell, and was being questioned by the precinct captain, a dwarf in no mood for games. Khaska was led inside, where he had questions of his own.

“Did you know Amara before she paid you?” the cleric began.

“Amara? Who’s that?”

“The woman you let free.”

“Ah, with the white hair? I didn’t know who she was. I just had an interested party pay me a handsome fee to leave her unchained and give her a ring.”

“Ring?” asked Khaska.

“Mister Khaska,” said the precinct captain, “we’ve already been over this with him.”

“I would hear it myself,” Khaska responded. “This man let Amara escape, and a friend of mine has died because of it.”

“Dead?” Joss was genuinely alarmed. “Now, I had nothin’ to do with any of that!”

“Tell me of the ring.”

“Gold ring. Some symbol on it.”

A suspicion descended over Khaska. He turned to the captain. “Are Amara’s things still here?” The dwarf nodded. “She may have a similar ring.”

Indeed it was. The symbol on the ring of Amara’s was the same, at least Joss thought so, of the ring he was instructed to give her.

“It is a symbol of this cult. Do you know of Skyrnyn? Gulnith?” asked Khaska.

“I don’t know who that is. I just got a hefty sum from a freaky lady with green hair and was told to keep the white-haired one unchained. I was told to keep her free and that they would take care of providing the opportunity for escape. When that happened, to avoid questions, I was to run, and get out of the city.”

“And there was more money to be collected on your way out?”

“Yes.” Khaska was unamused.

“Why are you being so cooperative?”

Joss shrugged. “Because you got me. I’ve been a city watchmen enough to know that you cooperate, sometimes they go easier on you. Better than clamming up. Captain Redale here will throw the book at me if I do that!”

Captain Redale said something in dwarven, a harsh guttural sounding phrase. Joss laughed. “See!”

“And how, Joss, were you to get the extra money?” asked the captain.

“I’ll only tell you that if you promise to go easy on my sentence.” There was some haggling about that, but eventually the captain gave in and said he would do what he could.

“A laundress, name of Irina Heppler, had the rest of my money. I was to meet her at a specific place, then get out of town. But she’s probably gone now. It didn’t sound like she would sit around waiting for me for hours on end.”

“And what was your plan after that?” asked Captain Redale.

“Plan? I’d have like six hundred gold! Go set up somewhere! I hear Cyriest is a nice place, on the edge of Lake Dukibi, right smack in the middle of the Tlerian empire? Nice place for someone like me to disappear. Lots of trade, yet pretty stable. Get some women, some wine, find work on a ship, much safer on the lake than on the oceans, and I got me some sailing experience. Be a nice life.”

“Well, your nice life cost us the lives of two highly-prominent prisoners as well as the death of one of this man’s friends,” Captain Redale motioned towards Khaska.

Khaska stood. “Greed bores a hole in one’s heart that gold can never fill.” He was done. He left as Captain Redale finished up. The dwarf came out a few minutes later.

“I’m sorry about your friend,” he said. “We’ll try to find this Irina Heppler. Normally I wouldn’t, but you can come along when we go to interrogate her. Your friends, too.”

“That is most kind of you,” said Khaska. “Now I have to return to my inn. I must find where my friend was from. We only had known each other a short time, and I must try to find where her body should be taken for its final resting place.”


Jenika arrived back at the inn after Khaska, but took her dinner and immediately disappeared upstairs. Khaska understood her desire to be alone. He sympathized with it, but the fact remained that she and Rynn were not going to be of much use for a day or two. With resignation, he told the innkeeper what had transpired. The plump Halfling woman was deeply sympathetic, and gave him the master key to both Amara’s room and Fan’s room.

Unsurprisingly, Amara’s room had little in it. The sorceress’s things had been confiscated, and the group had been given them now that she was gone. Fan’s things were hastily thrown down. She wasn’t one for tidiniess, or had been in a rush. Her nyckelharpa was in the corner, and Khaska was reminded of her skills as a bard. She had not wanted to disclose her last name for some reason, and that thought made him ponder anew the possibility that he might not find anything to help identify her.

Inside her haversack he found various odds and ends, but one was a red, leatherbound book. He hesitated a moment, but then opened it. Any secrets Fan kept would be his alone, but if he could find her loved ones, if she even had loved ones, he needed to investigate.

The red book was her diary, and he flipped to the end. The last entry contained everything he needed to know.

Dear Diary, 
After several failed attempts, I have finally insinuated myself into a group with the intent of making a “name for myself.” Which is stupid, anyway, and I'm only doing it because my mom is making me. I mean the whole “search for fame” thing, is dumb. The people in the group are actually kind of cool.
That one guy, Jeremy who I wrote about before, was hitting on other women, too, not just me. The only other girl in the group was the victim of his nefarious advances. Things were about to get really ugly when I used the ol' nykelharpa charm to make Jeremy go back to his ship. So I kind of saved them, because I'm awesome. If only my mom would let me use my awesomeness to open a magic shop instead of tramping through the wilds! Is awesomeness a word? I suppose it is now.
So in the group I've sort of joined, there is this guy Rynn. He's a ranger, just like Yargast the Weary from The Ballad of Yargast and Drenoddah. He even travels with a wolf, just like Yargast did! Her name's Ranna. I kind of want to pet her and give her treats, but I'm afraid that she might bite me if I try. I like how self-assured he is; that kind of makes him like the Leader of the group, if there was one, which there isn't. I think I may be in danger of developing a crush on Rynn. The way he talks is just how I always imagined Yargast would sound. I only wish he would bathe more often. He's probably too old for me, anyway, and I'm no Drenoddah. Sigh.
Then there's Jenika, a monk. I really admire her. I can't help but think she's the kind of daughter that my mom wishes she had – brave, adventurous, a “Lily of Steel.” I can totally imagine her storming the gates of Grondmar's castle single-handed. I think there is much I can learn from her.
Khaska is a Maha’i from the Wastes, The Land of my Childhood. Well, early childhood, anyway. I was six when we left. He seems a bit more put-offish than the Shaddhi, but that’s okay. It’s nice to be able to speak Maha’i to him. I think mine is pretty rusty, but he seemed polite enough about it.
They have this friend, Amara, who used to be part of their group but isn't any more. Her name is Amara and I really don't like her at all. She seems snooty and stuck up. It's probably because there was that one character in The Song of Trenyr named Amara. Man, I had so many nightmares after Dad told me that story! So far she's living up to her namesake totally betrayed us all today. It's like this: She's been working with this cult and we managed to track them down and find some skyship crystals they stole. They didn’t want Amara to know that I was joining them, so I was disguised most of the day in the tunic of a city watchperson, but tonight we set a trap for the cult members and caught them in their nefarious deeds! They arrested several of them, and it was my knowledge of draconic that helped get one of them put away. I'm glad I decided to learn Draconic, but I really should have learned Elven, too…but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, I don’t think the one guy was actually a cult member, but he was in cahoots with them, that’s for sure!

So I’m really excited. I'm a bit nervous about some of the stuff the others want to do - they want me to act as a double agent. In all the songs, double agents die at the end. I can't very well set up my magic shop if I'm dead, can I? And what would little Yehoshua say if I never came back? I hope he's doing ok – no one from the family ever contacted me after that last message. But they'd say something, woudln't they, if things weren't all well at home?
But I digress. I think this group will be good for me. What I mean is, I think this will be a good way to prove myself. Maybe if we can stop this cult then I can finally get enough renown or money or whatever will satisfy Mom. I’ve never wanted to be heroic, but she went on and on about, “The daughter of Theodard and Leanda Ravenstone needs to prove herself!” Whatever. They should have sent Orthan, he's been dying to get out into the real world since he was three. It's silly that I'm the one out here, and he's home in Pemmagadhra babysitting the chickens.
We're on the cusp of something really interesting, I can feel it. I hope I will get home, soon. Until then, I'll just carry on and do my best, just like Dad always said I should. 


The Ravenstones. Even a Maha’i as ill-informed of the goings-on outside the Niktean Wastes as Khaska had heard of them. He grimaced. There had been stories about the Shaddhi all his life, how loose they were with the traditions of their people. But now he knew of her family, and where they would be. Pemmadhaghra. He smiled. Her family would know of her bravery and her sacrifice. Perhaps he could get Godfrey to aid in taking her body to her family, whether as a stand-alone trip or something else.


The next morning, the cleric’s prayers were interrupted by a knock on the door. He came to it and found Simtor standing there.

“Simtor!”

“I heard about what happened on the docks yesterday, and wished to come see if I could offer solace and comfort.”

“Your company would be most welcome. Will you join me in my prayers?”

Khaska and Simtor spoke and prayed together. Khaska made sure to prepare the Gentle Repose spell, as he was planning on casting it on Fan’s body at the morgue. He would do every few days, so that she could be returned to her family with as little change as possible.

The clerics spoke, and Khaska was glad of the company. Then Simtor asked his help on something. “Several that were there on the docks or on nearby ships said that you gave a benediction over Fan’s body, and that it was beautiful. I would learn this benediction from you, if that would be appropriate.” Khaska gladly taught him the words, and the older cleric repeated them over and over until he had them memorized. To Khaska the very room seemed a sacred place, with the two clerics speaking to each other of rites and rituals, of holiness, and of friends long gone.

The older cleric accompanied him to the morgue, lending him strength by his presence, helping him see the broken, lifeless body of Fan lying on a slab. He cast the spell on her, and watched as the magic settled in.

“I am glad you came with me this morning,” Khaska said.

“I will be at the shrine where we first met,” Simtor said. “Should you need anything, please come. We have evening prayers as the sun sets. You would be most welcome, even if we do not worship according to your custom.”

“Perhaps I can learn from you, as this morning you have learned from me.”

Simtor smiled, and with that, turned and left. Khaska took a deep breath, watching the other Maha’i cleric depart. Then he turned. There was investigation to do. The city watch had not yet found where the laundrywoman was, so he began investigating other things on his own.

Discovering about the spells employed by the cult members the other day was easy enough. Chain Lightning was what had been used to kill Fan. The weird echo from their voices was likely Message, which was usually used for whispering messages, but would accurately transmit as loud as you cared to make your voice to the other person.

He searched and talked about Twilight and the Tawruian monastery at the skyship port. Many Halflings and gnomes had visited the place in their nomadic travels. It was on the other side of the planet, but eventually he was able to find someone who had been there recently, just a few months ago.

“There’s trouble in Twilight, I tell you,” the gnome said. “Why do you think I came here? Used to work for Bjorik and Sons Trading Co., mostly small stuff, private transports and quickly needed transactions, things like that. My ship is small and fast! Perfect for such things. But with the trouble with the local goblin lord, the miners have had more and more troubles keeping their quotas, and Miss Redhair didn’t have much work, even for me. So I came here to meet old friends, swap stories, and see if my ship and I could get more work!”

“What are the local goblins doing?”

“Attacking! Used to be that Kagu the Cunning would harass the miners a little, but nobody ever got injured. Well, not seriously, anyway. But the last year or so … well, the goblins have started killing people. Still plenty of miners, but now they need armed guards, hazard pay. It’s just slowing the whole thing down.”

“And do you know of a monastery there, built many centuries ago by the Knights of the Silver Dragons?”

“Eh? A monastery? By Twilight?” He laughed uproariously. “What a terrible place for a monastery!”

“It was abandoned over a hundred years ago.”

“Ah! Well, that might be the very place that Kagu lives now! Big old stone building several leagues outside of the city itself, alone atop a plateau. Always seemed a bit out of place, and now I guess I know why. Who knew?”

Khaska was unable to discover anything else relating to Twilight or to Tawru. He saw neither Jenika nor Rynn that day.

However, the next morning, the ranger was sitting at a booth in the inn’s bar. Khaska sat down across from him. Jenika joined them a few minutes later. Somberly, Khaska let them know of his findings about Fan and her family, as well as what he had learned about the magic employed by the cultists, and about Twilight.

Rynn was saddened by the news about Twilight. The ranger had spent some time there, and knew about the area fairly well. Kagu’s stepping up attacks seemed an unfortunate turn of events.

They checked in with the precinct, and this time Captain Redale had news for them. “We’ve found the lady that Joss was to get his money from. We wanted to send some people to go question her. Do you want to come? I know you’re all involved in this, what with your friend dying and all and your other friend joining them. When we arrest her, the Knights wanted to talk to her too. And we're still holding Azkabar Muldoon, until we get to the bottom of all of this.”

Eryx (DM)
I made my first Khaska-ism! Okay, Thev helped a little, but it was tweaking my idea. “Greed bores a hole in one’s heart that gold can never fill.” It’s good.

Beth wrote the diary entry for Fan, her last contribution to the campaign. Thanks, Beth!

You all get Amara’s leftover gold. 1280 gold to divide between the three of you, so that’s 427 each, because I don’t care about the rounding. Her ring was taken from her, so she left that … now you have a gold Cult of Skyrnyn ring, though it is too small for any of Khaska’s fingers, even his thumb. Rynn or Jenika could wear it, though on different fingers. It wouldn’t be that much to have it resized to perfectly fit someone. 5 gold and a day at a jeweler.

Captain Redale is about to send a few city watchmen to arrest Irina Heppler. Do you want to go with him, or suggest an alternative, or wait here for her to be brought back? She just runs a laundry business near the docks, and keeps pretty regular hours. Redale isn’t expecting a lot of resistance. What do you want to do?

BlackWolf
Rynn will go with them and listen. He'll hang around the back of the group and not try to get directly involved. He's interested in knowing if she's actually a cultist and if so, what other info on the cult they can get. Specifically, he wants to know whether taking out their leader, Sandgrin, has effectively destroyed their cell, and if there are any other members still around.

Rynn is still keen on going to Twilight, but first Jenika needs to decide what to do about Kaylee's associate, Muldoon. While the ranger is waiting around town, he'll keep working on his Gather Info skills (as part of representing his leveling up) and try to find out anything more about the cult. (Eryx, do you want me to make more rolls? I had some pretty good ones before — did they yield any good information, or have you yet to use them?)

If no one else minds, Rynn would like to take Amara's ring. He's not much for bluffing — nor can he speak draconic — but having the ring might assist here and there with his efforts to gather info on the cult.

Eryx (DM)
I have not used your rolls yet, BlackWolf, but sorry for not saying so in my last gray box post.

DeltaWolf
Jenika is itching to catch Kaylee, and it seems that following Muldoon is the best way. However she will be relaying heavily on Rynn to do so. I am assuming that none of the party has a spell that works like a "homing device", however it seems likely that Ranna will be able to track him, but if necessary we could put some strong odor upon him.

BlackWolf
DeltaWolf, are you saying that Jenika wants finding Kaylee via tracking Muldoon to be the very next thing we do? Because if we go to Twilight, we're going to lose the trail — even Ranna's nose isn't good enough to pick up the scent after a month or more. My thinking is that we would just let him go (not even trying to track him right now), and then try to find Kaylee in the village called Uptide around November (see the note to Kaylee from last chapter).

If Jenika is determined to track Muldoon now, and if Khaska is willing, then Rynn will happily help. As a player, I think I'd rather go to Twilight next just so we can try to resolve the Tawru quest before we get involved with Lady Maramos — who knows what will happen then? But I'm flexible, if you/Jenika are determined enough — your character certainly has the potential motivation and that can be really fun to explore.

If it turns out that we try to find Kaylee now, I suggest that we just follow Muldoon. He doesn't seem like the type who would just go traveling the world by himself, so maybe we can join whatever group of travelers he goes with. He doesn't know Rynn or Khaska, so maybe Jenika could just wear a hooded robe/cloak (or other disguise) for a while. Who knows, he might even accidentally give us some valuable info!

Eryx (DM)
Without attempting to sway the decision one way or the other, I'd like to point out that you all have Amara's things, among which was a scholar's outfit. I'm sure it would fit Jenika well enough. I only mentioned the money and the ring, but you have access to the rest of it as well. It's all on the google doc.

Thevarou
Khaska is in accord with Rynn regarding Irina: he would like to tag along to ascertain whether Irina is a cultist, discover whether there are more in the city, and find out anything else about the cult that they can. Rynn can certainly have the ring for his investigations; hopefully he can pass off as a novice or initiate who isn't yet steeped in draconic lore.

Khaska is disheartened to hear that the monastery might have become a warlord's fortress. Not only is he not fond of goblins, but it is tantamount to desecration and will make the quest to search the monastery significantly more difficult. Thus uncertain as to what the party would find on the other side of the moon, he is more open to following Muldoon and dealing with Kaylee; who knows whether they would arrive in Twilight and not be able to return in time?

The decision, however, depends on both Jenika's preference and the capability to travel to Twilight with Godfrey. Will he still be in Laishtek in several months' time? Would there be a way to find him if not?

Eryx (DM)
If you followed Muldoon on foot Godfrey would not be around by the time you got back. He's offered you a free ride anywhere, but that doesn't mean the offer is good indefinitely in this one location. But he doesn't yet know where he's headed. He's still thinking through options. I will say that you don't have to use his offer to get to Twilight right now, as an example. He said he would take you anywhere. Sounds like there are two votes for Rynn to get the ring. You can get it resized for you at your convenience, but that will take a day and cost you 5 gold. (Right now it would only fit on Rynn's little finger, which, to be clear, wouldn't necessarily seem out of place. People wear rings on various fingers all the time.)

Thevarou
So if we don't take advantage of Godfrey's offer right now, we might have a hard time finding him again. That pushes Khaska more toward the journey to Twilight for the time being, returning to Uptide to catch Kaylee.

Or we could split the party… :D

Just kidding!

DeltaWolf
The death of Fan would bring a lot of hard feelings to the surface to Jenika, and so she would be filled the need to track Kaylee sooner rather then later to tie up loose ends and allow herself to finally find closer. That being said, it sounds like Rynn and Khaska would be wanting to go to Twilight. Jenika has enough self discipline that she can be talked into being a little more patient to see Kaylee (plus she isn't exactly looking forward to seeing her).
Therefore I will go out on a limb and say that the group will probably be wanting to finish up things here and take up the opportunity to go to Twilight.

DeltaWolf
To be honest as a player I don’t really care what the party does. It seems to me that the party wants to go to twilight and Thevarou has made a good point.

So if the other party members don’t say anything then Jenika will want to let Muldoon go and follow him to Kaylee.

If the other party members make the points that the players have posted then Jenika will be convinced of the wisdom to take the offer to go to twilight now. In which case Jenika does not care what happens to Muldoon (he was always a means to an end anyways), as the party has a good idea where Kaylee is going to be.

If I have failed to answer a question that someone has, let me know and I will be more then happy to answer it. Otherwise the vague, “what does Jenkia want to do?” will continue to get a vague response.

“I would love to come and hear what she has to say,” said Rynn. “I hope their cell has been broken up by the death of their leader.”

“If this Irina is a cultist, there may yet be others in the city,” said Khaska. Jenika, still mulling over the events of the past few days, merely nodded assent. Captain Redale himself led the squad, assisted by a single Knight.

Irina Heppler’s laundry service was near the docks, and it looked like it was mostly for sailors’ clothes and for repairing torn sails. She was grimy, coated in sweat and water from washing, and was sitting in a small courtyard with a large sail when the squad came in, a few needles sticking out here or there from the sail as she repaired a tear in it.

“I suppose you’re here about Sandgrin. That right?”

Redale gave a start. “Yes,” he said. “How did you know?”

“He was never that bright, and I knew he’d be caught sooner or later. Rumors started a few days ago, and I put two and two together. Was always reluctant to give him my share of the gifts for the cause.”

“And what is your cause?”

“Won’t tell you.” She wasn’t even looking up from her work, focused on the repair work, her stubby fingers flying as she sewed. “I haven’t done anything wrong. You might not like it, but I make an honest living, and what I do with my money is my own business. I choose to give it to Sandgrin. Though, I don’t know what became of it since then.”

“So you admit to being a member of the Cult of Skyrnyn!” the Knight asked.

“Yes. What of it? My beliefs are my own.”

“Not if they cause you to commit crimes!” replied the paladin.

“Are you daft? Hard of hearing? I have committed no crime. You want to drag one of your clerics here. Cast a Zone of Truth! You’ll find I’m right. I give my money to Sandgrin for the cause.”

Rynn was troubled. “The cause” was a phrase that Amara and Sandgrin had used repeatedly when he had been “captured” for the sting operation a few days ago. What was “the cause?”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to come with me, ma’am,” said Redale.

“On what charges?”

“Conspiracy, to begin with. We’ll work from there.”

“I’m not coming.” She still hadn’t moved from her spot, though the other workers were clearly getting nervous. Several of the washers strewn around the courtyard had stopped their work, the suds from the soap still on their hands.

“Yes you are!” Redale motioned to two of the guards and they moved forward. Irina sprang up as they approached, giving one a shove. The man was unprepared for it and fell, but the other quickly grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her. For all her fiery temper, she was no match for a trained soldier.

“Let go of me!” Another soldier brough forward irons to bind her hands.

“You are to come with us. Rider Lystria will interrogate you personally!” the Knight said.

“Rider Lystria!” Irina said, startled. The shock of the announcement was such that her mouth stayed open for a few seconds. Then she nodded. “Why didn’t you say so? Let’s go!” She had been kneeling down as they shackled her hands behind her back, but bounded to her feet the moment she could.

Jenika and Khaska glanced at each other. That was a sudden change in mood.

The chapterhouse of the Knights in this city was more towards the skyship port, a good hour’s walk away. Despite her obvious discomfort and having her arms bound, and her heavyset body, and the heat, and her dirty clothes soaked in sudsy water, Irina seemed to want to make better time than even the city watchmen and the Knight.

Rynn, Khaska, and Jenika were let in with Captain Redale and the Knight who had accompanied them. “Rider Lystria will want to speak to you as well,” the captain said.

Rider Lystria was wearing just the simple robes of an acolyte, and there were inkstains on her fingers as they entered the room she was in. Khalisara himself, in his human form, was lounging on a couch off to the side, reading a book. He was dressed in different clothes than they had seen before, at the skyship port. This time it was all white, with gold trim. He looked very out of place, a nobleman in a garrison, a member of the higher classes condescending to live with peasants. Rynn felt self-conscious just being in his presence as the dragon’s eyes swept over all of them, assessing them in a glance.

“Captain Redale,” Rider Lystria began. “Thank you for bringing …”

The moment Irina was led through the door, she burst from her guards and fell to her knees, facing Khalisara.

“Oh great one! I am honored to be in your presence. I ever hope that the cause will be successful and that you will one day be free from your enslavement!”

Khalisara dropped the book down a few inches, his eyes fixed on her from across the room. Everybody else had gone silent. “You wish to free … me?” Again, his voice was slightly off, a deep human voice with overtones of something darker, more power, more sinister. “How intriguing.”

“You work to free Khalisara?” asked Rider Lystria. She waved the guards out, and they left, shutting the door behind them.

“That is our cause. That is what we hope to accomplish! You have enslaved the dragons! With no good dragons, you have turned against everything they stood for and reduced yourselves to slavers, hoping to accomplish with brute force what virtue alone should be able to accomplish.”

“You do know that if he were free he would kill you without a second thought?” asked the Rider.

“Well, not now,” came the silky voice from across the room. The dragon had stood, and had taken a step towards Irina. “She’s intrigued me. Besides, I wouldn’t kill everybody here anyway. There needs to be those to tell the tales about me, right?” With that he laughed, and the laugh morphed between a human laugh and the half-dragon voice that occasionally slipped out.

“Be quiet!” Rider Lystria snapped, her hand going to the Orb of Dragonkind around her neck.

Khalisara stopped laughing, abruptly. He glowered at Lystria for a moment, then sat back down on the couch.

“How would your cult succeed in this task?” the Dragonrider asked the quaking dwarf woman on the floor.

“I do not know all the details, fiend!” At that, Captain Redale took a step forward, but Lystria brought her hand up and signaled him to stop. “We give our money to our leaders, and there is some plan to help free the dragons. I know not what it entails!”

“I don’t believe you,” Lystria said. “Unfortunately for you, we have been tracking this cult for a long time. I am going to cast Zone of Truth. If you do not answer all of my questions completely and thoroughly, I will turn you over to the authorities and they will imprison you for conspiracy to steal and commit murder!”

“And resisting arrest,” muttered Captain Redale.

“And resisting arrest,” Rider Lystria echoed. She turned to the party. “The murder is that of your friend. I am terribly sorry for the loss of this Fan. I was unable to find the ship yesterday. It will have traveled too far to catch easily now, but now we know to look for it. Word will be spread through all the chapters of the Knights, depending also on what I find out here.”

She didn’t even wait for a response before moving toward Irina. Captain Redale jerked her to her feet. The paladin muttered a prayer, invoking the spell. She seemed to glow slightly for a moment, and all three of the party felt its influence, even from across the room. This was no surprise to Khaska. He knew that Dragonriders were powerful paladins, and the spell would extend for some area.

“Now!” Her voice was sharper. She was in no mood to play now. “Do you know more about the plans of the cult?”

Irina was clearly struggling, and did not answer. Her jaw set.

“If you don’t answer me, you will be in prison for a very long time.”

“You think you’re so righteous, but you’re the worst. Yes! I know more! We’ve been collecting gifts, hording money, stealing from your grain stores and water collections for years!”

“Why?”

“To buy their freedom!” Rider Lystria backed up. Khalisara laughed, but he shut up at a glance from his Rider.

“You intend to buy the freedom of the dragons?” Rider Lystria’s voice was strained. She was very nearly snickering.

“At least some of them. Or some eggs. Something. If nothing happens, they will all die! You will be the front lines of a year-long war with the Arkenos forces! All of the metallic dragons died last time! And we will be in a world with no more dragons!” Irina began to cry. “You will be responsible for the genocide of the most noble race of creatures, even if all the remaining ones are evil!”

“Your concern is touching,” Khalisara said.

“You will be dead too!” Irina wasn’t finished. “But the remaining Knights. The ones who survive. The blood of all dragonkind will be on their hands! The death of an entire species, and for your own selfish goals! Enslavement! Entrapment! Death! Are these from the Code of the Good Dragons? I fear you should trade your shiny armor for black armor!”

“What about slaves?”

“What about them?”

“Does the cult do slave trading?” Rider Lystria was pacing now.

“Not that I know of. Sandgrin thought it would be stupid and draw too much attention to us in this city.”

“So it was suggested?”

“I guess so. He mentioned it to me once when I gave my tribute to the cause.”

“What about the Adder Invictus? Do you know of that ship?”

“Never heard of it before.”

“A woman named Gulnith?”

“I don’t know who that is.”

“Sandgrin was your leader. Who did he report to?”

“I don’t know.”

A few more rounds of questions like that and it became obvious that Irina’s usefulness as a source of information was at its end.

“Anything else you want to say before I release the spell?”

“I didn’t do anything against the law. I may believe in the cause, but I got mouths to feed at home. I donated what I could, but I never did anything else. I don’t know what the others did.”

“Others?”

“There are others in the city. We don’t have meetings though. Sandgrin is a cleric. I’m a laundress. Anybody who believes in dragons can join! Anybody who thinks your vaunted Code is a farce! Anybody who wants these ancient, noble creatures to survive the Dark Times! Anybody who believes …”

“That’s enough. Thank you. Captain Redale, take her and lock her up. We’ll discuss charges later.”

“Great one!” Irinia shouted, again dropping to one knee. “It had been an honor.” The captain grabbed her arms and hoisted her to her feet. “I haven’t done anything wrong! I swore to it! You know I’m telling the truth!” But the captain opened the door and dragged the screaming dwarf woman out.

Rider Lystria turned to the group. “You’ve had dealings with this group for a while. One of your friends was a member, this Amara. You went with her to capture Sandgrin, but he is dead and she is gone. What can you tell me about the cult that Irina may not have known? She is not evil. I would have sensed that.”

“Just stupid,” growled Khalisara.

Eryx (DM)
This seemed like a good place to stop for a few reasons. Now you know something about the Cult’s overall goals. They intend to bribe/purchase freedom for the dragons in some sense. Rider Lystria has gotten much from Irina, but it’s obvious by now that she was a low-level cult member, and she’s not even evil in alignment. Though she’s clearly zealous in her belief that the dragons should be free.

The Zone of Truth spell is actually still active. I assume that you will tell Rider Lystria everything that has happened. But do you have any questions to ask of her? And yes, BlackWolf, I still have not used your Gather Info Checks. If you’d like to amend specifically what he’s looking for in light of this new information, that is okay with me.

Regarding our long-term plans for the campaign, specifically the next Codex, there are two questions that I feel DeltaWolf needs to answer more specifically. But we have a few more posts here in this Codex to work things out and wrap up the deliberations. You are right to point out that I’m sometimes vague in my questions, but I don’t want to force you into a pre-arranged path, either.

1. What should we do with Muldoon? There are many options: Let him go. Give him his letters back. Make copies of the letters and give those to him. (Or keep the copies yourselves?) (That has not yet been done, by the way, since we kind of dropped the Muldoon storyline for a bit, but it’s still a possibility.) Track him. Or not track him, since you do know that Kaylee will end up in Uptide by a certain point. Could Rynn impersonate being a cult member? (Muldoon will not recognize him or Khaska, and you could even disguise Jenika.) Does Muldoon want a “ride” back to where he’s headed (using the offer to get one free skyship trip does not mean you can only use it to head to Twilight)?

2. Does Jenika want to chase Kaylee now? I know the answer is “yes,” but that is a means to an end, as you point out. If you go to Twilight, you can get there and back to Uptide in more than enough time, and have the added bonus of dropping Fan’s body off in Pemmadhaghra. Heck, you could probably send Fan’s body alone as the “free trip” if you want to be that magnanimous. Akle and Godfrey would be totally okay with that. You could go after Kaylee now. You could arrive in Uptide well ahead of her and prepare an ambush. (There is a Cult of Skyrnyn cell there, do with that information what you will.) There are lots of options. I’m not trying to be vague so much as I’m trying to leave you with all of those options.

I want you to play the character. If the character is motivated enough and wants to go after Kaylee right now, I’m totally fine with that, as are both Khaska and Rynn. This is a personal matter for Jenika, and the group will go with her decision should she feel strongly about it.

Thevarou
Irina's willingness to comply when informed she'd be meeting with Rider Lystria piqued Khaska's curiosity at first. Having an hour to stew over her remarkable change of heart, he wondered if Rider Lystria might have had something to do with the cult. While this would have evinced a terrible lack of subtlety on Irina's part, but it could have been possible. The seed of doubt was enough that when Irina revealed the nature of "the cause," his natural aversion to slavery was tinted with enough distrust to make his stomach sink. For as much as he was uncomfortable, he sympathizes to a degree with that goal of the Cult of Skyrnyn: he doesn't feel that creatures should be enslaved. However, he's not bold enough to raise any questions or comments when 1) such sympathies are now associated with criminality, 2) there's a dragon in the room, and 3) he wants to mend relations with the Knights as much as possible. He also is not stupid, and realizes what chaos freeing the dragons might bring. (He won't voice any of these sentiments for a while, when he's certain he's in private with Rynn and Jenika. I'll say when.)

He has, thus, a few qualms about telling Rider Lystria more about the Cult, but he overcomes those quickly by remembering that despite their somewhat good purposes, the Cult is going about them in underhanded and terrible ways, and shows little concern for others' lives. So many people died, even of their own number, that Khaska will turn over the information R. Lystria needs.

Regarding what to do next, if Khaska has a conviction that a trip to Twilight will allow them to return in time to intercept Lady Maramos and Kaylee in Uptide (which, according to Eryx, he probably will), that is what he will recommend the party do. That would allow them to deliver Fan's body as soon as possible to her family and also let them take advantage of Godfrey's offer while it is still convenient. He sees it as efficient planning, though, not as a manner of getting "his" quest done first.

BlackWolf
Rynn will tell what he knows about the cult; he has a tendency to be straight-up and honest with people, after all. Although Khaska hasn't voiced it yet, Rynn agrees with his line of thinking. Both groups actually have noble goals, but how they achieve those goals are morally questionable at best. Irina's arguments really don't have a leg to stand on; and unknown to her, we know that there are other dragons free… Also, Rynn is curious as to how the cult believes that "buying the dragon's freedom" would help them survive the war.

Rynn doesn't have many questions for Lystria. He'll idly ask about dragon eggs and wonder if they might be a target of the cult. But mostly he's still interested in leaving town, so he'll ask about what the Knights intend to do with Muldoon, and whether they'd allow forgeries of the notes to be made.

Given what my brother posted earlier, it looks like we'll be headed to Twilight. Rynn will encourage Jenika to let Muldoon go for now, the man will probably be confident when he thinks he's gotten away. We should let him take the notes — either the originals or the copies, any suggestions? Then we'll try to track them back down at Uptide in a few months.

While waiting around town, Rynn will continue to gather any other information he can about the Cult of Skyrnyn. He'll take note of any members for potential future use. But given Irina's devotion, he'll now be more interested in finding out what they really do with the money.

Thevarou
Unless we're going to alter the notes in any way, Khaska thinks that they should just make copies and return the originals to Muldoon.

DeltaWolf

If this post is late then I am sorry. Yesterday I came home from work and had to crash!

As indicated Jenika does not care what happens to Muldoon at all. She will not make any comments at all to the knights.

Jenika would say that she wants to return Fan to her family. Then she will want to go to Twilight. All this contingent that she is assured that she will be at Uptide when Kaylee gets there (she likes the idea of setting a trap for Kaylee, but only if they can achieve their other goals).

FYI Jenika is forceful when it comes to her sense of justice. However when it comes to personal desires she will defer to what others what to do. The exception would be Kaylee –however in this case she is willing to put her off because; 1 she doesn’t want to see Kaylee, 2 she will be able to settle things later.

Khaska spoke up first, and explained everything that had happened with the cult since they had arrived. Rynn and Jenika filled in as they went. From the first encounter with them on Godfrey’s ship to the raid on Sandgrin’s house (and secret shrine to Tiamat) and Fan’s joining, keeping tabs on Amara, and finally Amara’s breaking free. Rynn showed her the ring he had gotten from Amara. Rider Lystria showed it to Khalisara, who confirmed the significance of the rune—the draconic symbol for “worship.”

“This cult is dangerous,” Khaska finished up. “They have no compunction to achieving their goals in any manner, even killing some of their own to do so, and with no regard to the lives of others.”

“The slavery is what most worries me,” Rider Lystria said. “Though apparently the cell in this city wasn’t involved in that. Slaves would be a good bargaining chip, it’s true. Prisoners, I guess.”

“Slaves,” Rynn chimed in. “When I was pretending to be captured, they mentioned that they were actually using the slaves somewhere on the death side.”

Rider Lystria frowned. “The other dragonriders and I have been trying to stop the slave trade on that side of the moon for years. Decades. It’s very difficult, though. If one slaver is stopped, two more spring up in his place.”

“It appears the cult is joining with other evil people, though,” said Jenika. “We found evidence that they are working with a group out of Darkcrest. They seem to be linked to vampires somehow. We are going to try to intercept a former compatriot of mine that will be escorting one of these people in their dealings with the cult.”

“There are many vampires on the death side of the moon,” said Lystria. “The cycle of the sun makes for a safer environment for them, more freedom.”

“That would make sense, depending where they were,” said Rynn. “In some places I bet the sun is only visible for a few hours a day.”

“You’ve been to the death side?” asked Khalisara.

Rynn was quiet. He hadn’t expected to be answering questions from the dragon. He looked at Rider Lystria, who nodded for him to answer.

“Not that deep into it, but that’s where I began my training as a ranger.” The dragon was already reading his book again. He had made substantial progress on it in the few minutes they had been here, flipping the pages at a very fast rate.

“So what do you intend to do with Muldoon?” asked Rynn.

“That’s the gentleman that was arrested with Sandgrin, but wasn’t a cult member, right?”

“Yes,” said Khaska. “We have notes of his that link him to the cult, but only superficially. Our guess is that he works for a mercenary, Jenika’s former compatriot. She will work for the cult, if she gets the notes.”

“Well, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a mercenary,” said Rider Lystria. “And releasing Muldoon would help you track down this old friend of yours?”

“She’s not my friend.” Jenika’s tone was flat.

“Ah. Vengeance will not satisfy you, Jenika.”

“Justice will, I hope,” said Khaska. He was aware of the depth of Jenika’s feelings on this subject, and wished to avoid a moral disagreement with a Dragonrider. Neither, apparently, did Lystria. She continued.

“My understanding was that the local authorities didn’t have any reason to keep him, but wanted to keep him locked up while this cult investigation finished up. Now that it has, they were just going to release him.”

“That’s what we want,” said Jenika. “We will know where they will be in the future to meet up with this official or whatever. This Lady Maramos.”

“What is your plan? Just attack your friend?”

“I haven’t decided,” said Jenika.

“Well, I wish you luck. Muldoon will be released, and given back his things, including the letters.”

“We wished to make copies of them, do you know of a place or someone who could do so?” asked Khaska.

“Copies?”

“Forgeries,” said Rynn. “If we had convincing forgeries, it’s possible we could take over Kaylee’s contract and escort this Lady Maramos through her meetings and discover more of what is happening with the cult.”

“A clever idea. Are you sure you can be the equivalent of this Kaylee? If you are not up to the task of playing bodyguard, then you may very well merely end up dead.”

“We will see,” Jenika said softly.

“I am here on a month-long assignment to train skyships in aerial combat, and don’t know much about the local city. You need to ask one of Sir Alquaban’s Knights about forgeries and such things. He is the chapter head here.”

There were a few more questions that Lystria had for them, but a few minutes later she dismissed them. Rynn noticed that Khalisara had finished his book and watched them leave, the dragon’s sharp eyes following them as they left.

Captain Redale knew a man who was skilled enough at forgery that they took the documents to him. The man charged them 9 gold, and an hour later they had their documents. Rynn’s ring served as the source for the sealed wax sign from Rickas Yrthraz, and making the extra mark to indicate the draconic superlative was easily enough done before the wax hardened fully.

Jenika partially wanted to go after Kaylee now, trailing Muldoon. However, Khaska and Rynn persuaded her that the offer from Godfrey was too good to pass up. They could head to Twilight and save months of overland travel, and it would be simple to give Fan’s body back to her family on the way. Jenika was convinced. Besides, they knew were Kaylee would be in a few months time. So it was finally decided and Captain Redale let Mr. Muldoon out, returned his things, and let him go free. He was given the originals.

Khaska and Jenika went to the skyship port to tell Godfrey and Akle about their decision. Godfrey was excited. “I had wanted to find a place where trade is going on a lot, and Twilight was on the list, so it’s perfect!”

Akle was more reserved, catching up to them as they walked away from the ship, inquiring about their reasons for going around the moon to Twilight. Khaska was slightly unwilling to share his reasons, though, for their personal nature and his secrets of Tawru. Akle seemed not to mind, really, but seemed more serious as he pulled Khaska aside, replying.

“Well, we all have our secrets, don’t we, Khaska?” Akle looked at him. “Some that we share, like what you found back where we were attacked on our way here, and some that we do not. Even friends must keep secrets from each other sometimes, so I do not mind.” Khaska had the distinct impression that Akle was implying that there was some secret that he was keeping from Khaska. The gnome gave a goofy smile, and then finished. “But whatever. If Twilight is where you are headed, then I’m with Captain Godfrey!” He disappeared up the ladder to the ship.


Rynn, however, had a few things he wanted to attend to. After Fan’s death he had spent a few days in the woods, wondering again about the weirdness of civilization, and whether he fit in. However, in his reflections, he had thought of a few things he could do in cities. Tracking in a city would be different, but he has a hypothesis of how it could be done without relying on smell or spoor or tracks or anything like that.

And so it was that he began asking questions. He inquired with Captain Redale and Knight Franmore. He asked around at jewelers, tracking anybody who may have seen a ring like Amara’s-now his, actually. He asked around Irina’s place, and even watched for a few hours. That was how he discovered another member of the cult. A Maha’i came in and Rynn’s sharp eyes noticed that he wore a gold ring with the cult’s symbol on it. He entered, then left a few minutes later.

Rynn followed him at a distance, eventually tracking him down to a lumberyard on the south end of town where business was wrapping up for the day. A large number of wooden planks—Rynn guessed for shipbuilding—were being stacked on a cart just outside the lumberyard. The ranger watched for a few minutes from across the street, wondering if he would have to keep tracking this Maha’i all evening, too. But then one of the workers stumbled on the cobblestones and fell to the ground, his leg caught under the beam. Rynn half jumped into the situation to help before he realized what he was doing, pulling the wood off the man with the help of the others. He was not seriously injured, just a nasty bruise, but the man limped off back inside the lumberyard, helped by a friend.

“Friend, could you help me stack these last four or five?” the Maha’i asked Rynn.

“Me?” Rynn was a bit startled.

“I’ll buy you a drink after for your trouble. Just a few more left and we’re driving it to the shipyard tonight.” Shrugging, the ranger acquiesced. There were indeed just a few left, and after stacking and tying them down, which only took a few minutes, another employee of the lumberyard came out and drove away with them.

“Thanks for your help, stranger.”

“Rynn, at your service.”

“I’m Hedaya.” The two shook hands. “I’m going to grab my things. I was serious about that drink, if you want.”

Rynn hesitated. Remembering what happened the last time he joined someone for a drink.

“Just one drink,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t drink any more than that.”

The Maha’i took him to a tavern and ordered them both an ale. Rynn ordered food, too, wanted to try to offset his potential inebriation. Eventually Rynn pulled out the ring. Hedaya’s eyes got a little wide.

“You are an adherent to the Cause?”

Rynn didn’t want to lie, but the alcohol in him aided his being slightly tricky about it.

“No, but I had a friend who was. She recently left town and I got her ring, and I wanted to know more about it. I saw that you had one, and wanted to ask you.”

Hedaya basically gave Rynn a rundown that they had already discovered from Irina. The Cult of Skyrnyn was dedicated to freeing the dragons by acquiring money. The money was collected and given to the local cell leader—at least, that’s how it was done here. “Sandgrin was killed a few days ago, we don’t know who did it,” Hedaya whispered. “So I’d be careful. Whatever he was collecting has surely been either shipped to the Citadel, or taken by whoever killed him. It was probably a good deal of money. I don’t think the higher-ups in the cult come by that often.”

“The Citadel?”

“I heard Sandgrin mention it once or twice. I think it’s the headquarters of the group, but I don’t know for sure. It’s at least where the offerings for the Cause are sent.”

“Do you know where it is?”

Hedaya snorted. “No. A little above my paygrade though, I’m sure. Probably hidden in some old dragon lair where it will be hard to find. Who knows?”

Rynn and he talked for a little while. Eventually, Hedaya had to leave. “Don’t want to keep the wife waiting. Hey, if you wanted to talk more about Skyrnyn, you should talk to Irina Heppler. She runs Heppler’s Laudry Services by the docks, and she’s as dedicated as anybody I know. She got me into it.”

He left a few coppers on the table as a tip and then got up and left. Rynn followed a few minutes later, after finishing his meal.

Eryx (DM)
Rynn’s investigations turned up some additional information—the Citadel, whatever that is, is apparently where the funds and donations for the Cause are taken. Hedaya seemed to think it was the headquarters for the cult, but he’s not sure. He doesn’t know where it is.

Rynn’s additional Gather Info checks yielded no further information on the situation in Twilight, but considering it’s on the other side of the planet, that’s not unusual.

Akle was clearly trying to communicate to Khaska. There was a secret message in his quip about keeping secrets from friends. “Even friends must keep secrets from each other sometimes,” Khaska took to mean “I am your friend, and have kept secrets from you.” Akle is being coy; there is something up about him.

The forger charged you 9 gold, so please deduct 3 gold from each player’s money. You now have decently good copies of the letters to Kaylee. Also, just a note, since you no longer have someone who can use the Wand of Identify, that’s going to be a problem. As DM, I suggest that we just work that out by having you only able to use the wand in a town with a sorcerer or wizard. Just have them use your wand. (i.e., I don’t want to punish you for having purchased an item for the group that you now cannot use due to metagame reasons, namely, Elizabeth leaving the game).

Also, inventory-wise, it was never made clear to me who had these items:
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 (Only Khaska can Use)

Seriously folks, claim them. I don’t want to be handing out loot just for it to get lost in the shuffle. Make sure your money is all up to date, too. I’ve just shared with you a google doc that I’ve been using to keep track of what I’ve given you.

I think that Jenika, in particular, seems a low on cash. By like, a lot. She’s also still level 4.

Is there anything else you all wanted to do before you leave Laishtek? If I’m understanding you all right, you’re headed first for Pemmadhaghra and from thence to Twilight. Rynn would know that Twilight isn’t all that big of a city. As per the DM Guide rules it’s a “Large Town,” meaning you cannot purchase any item worth over 3k gold there. So buy your big ticket items now in this metropolis before heading to the edge of the death side of the moon.

BlackWolf
I had figured that Amara took that wand with her. But I'll be happy to reclaim it; could be useful still — just have to find a wizard or sorcerer, right?

As for the items, Rynn took the Ring of Feather Falling, and the potions of Jump and Mage Armor. (I said this back in Chapter 2 and marked them on my character sheet inventory.) For the rest, if no one else wants them, I suggest we sell them. Khaska and Jenika can split that money since Rynn already took some items.

Since we will have a couple of weeks travel on the airship, this should give Rynn some time to start working on a masterwork composite longbow (+2 STR). He'll spend 200 gp on the materials for that. He'll also buy the following:

  • +1 studded leather armor (1,175 gp)
  • 1x potion of cure moderate wounds (300 gp)
  • 1x potion of cat's grace (300 gp)

After these purchases, Rynn will be ready to go. Not having anything else to do in the city, he'll hang around the Skycutter until Godfrey is ready to ship out.

Thevarou
Khaska will take the 2x Potion of Shield of Faith and the 2x Scrolls of Obscuring Mist. No use having to spend spells when he doesn't have to! The other items we can sell, I suppose.

Khaska is intrigued by Akle's insinuation of secrets, and feels that he is probably trustworthy enough a person to receive and keep secret the story of Tawru (IIRC, only Rynn and Onasus know - did he also tell Amara and Jenika? I'm having trouble finding conversations in the chapters). He'll observe him a while longer and if, after that investigation, he feels confident that Akle would honor his secret, he would share it.

Would there be any recommendations for what Khaska should get in Laishtek before he leaves? A new scimitar, for instance? Magical items? I'll take a look, but suggestions would be very welcome! :)

Eryx (DM)
Khaska has not told Jenika nor Amara. For the latter, that's probably good at this point. For the former … it might start getting awkward if you keep her out of the loop. Especially since, you know, you're actually going to Twilight now to seek the sword. Also, if you're going to start telling strangers like Akle … why not your close friends?

I've taken the liberty of crossing things off the list above using strikethrough text.

Thevarou
Ah! I though he might have told Jenika, but it is really good that Amara never heard. Sure, he'll take her aside in a private place, perhaps with Rynn there, to explain that he's going to look for Tawru's sword and horn. He'll explain briefly his motives for doing so. In fact, with Akle he'll test the waters by mentioning that they'll be searching for the Tawruvian monastery near Twilight first, then that he's looking for Tawru's sword, and then -if those were taken well, Akle's still curious, and Khaska decides he trusts him- the motives behind the journey.

In terms of purchases, he'll get an armor upgrade.

DeltaWolf
I should have the XP and money squared away now. As for the remaining 2 items, Jenika is inclined to sell them, as it seems no one wants them.

Jenika will buy the following items:

  • 1 Rope (hempen)
  • 1 Grappling Hook
  • 4 Shuriken (5)
  • Belt pouch (for which to put her shuriken in)

I understand the damage, but when throwing a shuriken what bonuses (if any) do I add to see if I hit the target?

As he wandered back to his inn, he pondered on his investigations. It seemed that many low-level members of the cult did not know about what the leaders were doing, or rather, how the leaders were doing it, even if their general objectives seemed the same. The information about The Citadel … that was interesting. He would have to follow up on it in the future. But so far his instincts had proved him right; in a weird kind of way, he was able to use talking and gossip as a means to track people down. He had been trained by Arandur as a ranger in the wild, but even in a city one could adapt the principles of life in the wild. He was satisfied with the day’s activities.

He returned to the inn as Khaska and Jenika were eating dinner. Khaska was about to leave to go to worship with Simtor and his group, but he had a few minutes left. They discussed a few things. Godfrey was still looking for a few sailors to fill his crew—many having taken their leave of him after he was cut from serving in the Jenoan Air Navy under the Knights. It would be a day or so before preparations were complete to leave. Rynn would look to purchase a few more items in the meantime, and he and Khaska and Jenika talked about what they could do in the city for a few days. Khaska expressed interest in visiting the library a few more times as he could. Jenika, however was sitting quietly in her chair. It was Khaska who first noticed the monk’s lack of conversation.

“Are you troubled, Jenika?” the cleric asked.

“Just thinking about Kaylee.”

“Oh?”

“Still seems like following Muldoon might be a good idea.”

“I thought we had decided on going to Twilight first?” said Rynn.

“We did, but … part of me still wants to rush after Kaylee right now.”

Khaska put a hand out. “That may not be wise,” he said. “A rush to confrontation. Besides, we do know where Kaylee will be in a few months.”

“We could get there early,” said Rynn. “Set a trap. Figure out what the cult cell there is doing. Gain the advantage. Wherever Muldoon is going, that’s Kaylee’s territory, likely where she lives while not being what I assume is a well-paid mercenary. I, for one, vote we set up our own territory, to gain the advantage, or at least neutralize hers.”

Jenika sighed. “I suppose you’re right. I’m still not entirely sure why Twilight holds such interest for you, though.”

“This seems the opportune time to go, with a free trip on airship to the other side of the moon,” said Khaska.

“Yes, but why Twilight?” Khaska put down the piece of bread he had been eating. He looked down at his plate. Somewhat ashamed of himself, he realized that in all their travels together these past few months, he had never told Jenika of his discovery in Hammerdine. The secrets of Tawru.

“Can we speak of these things in private?” he asked. Furrowing her brow, she nodded.

“Do you want me to come along?” asked Rynn.

“Yes. It would be good to tell this tale again, with friends to lend me strength, for it is painful, though it grows less so with each telling.”

They took their food up to Khaska’s room, where he sat on the bed and pulled out the scroll that Dragonrider Reitman had made. “I have mentioned the hero of my people, Tawru, before.” Jenika nodded.

“I remember the basic story,” she said. “Maha’i paladin betrayed by the Knights many centuries ago. Freed the slaves here in this city, correct?” Khaska nodded, then continued.

“What I have not shared with you before now is this. I discovered this in the library of the Knights in Hammerdine. This is a copy of the original. So far, I have felt to entrust its secrets with very few. Dragonrider Reitman, Rynn, in our time after the,” he glanced at the ranger, “… incident with Adam. Then Loremaster Onasus …” he held it out to her, “and now you.”

Jenika took it and read it.

“So that is why you want to go to Twilight? To seek the sword?”

Khaska nodded. “And Loremaster Onasus tasked me with taking a brooch of his to the monastery. He was a friend of this Treewind.”

Jenika rolled the scroll up. “I hope we will be successful.”

“I pray Markus grant us success, as well. But I must be going now if I am to attend the services tonight at the church near the dock. We will speak on this more later, I hope.”


Rynn tossed and turned in his bed that night, unable to sleep. Eventually, he came out of his room, packed his stuff, and checked out of the inn just after midnight. He and Ranna made their way to the skyship port where he laid out his bedroll near the Skycutter. Akle was sitting on the side of the ship, carving something with his small knife. The gnome gave a jaunty wave before returning to his work.

As expected, it was a few days before the supplies could be gathered for the skyship trip and the crew fully assembled. Rynn stayed around by the Skycutter aiding as he could. He found he enjoyed the work of preparing a ship, though he didn’t think he had much knack for it. Godfrey was quite happy to have Rynn help, just making sure his work was checked by a more competent sailor. He and Khaska were both able to upgrade some of their equipment and armor in the city, and Jenika made a few purchases in the meantime as well. Eventually, though, the time came to leave. The city held a few bad memories, mostly Amara’s betrayal. All those months ago they had met up in the Niktean Wastes, but now their numbers were just three. First, Orensland, running from his father with the Shadowdancers, then Amara’s betrayal and joining the Cult of Skyrnyn. Just the three of them now, making the journey to Twilight.

Fan’s body was brought aboard the ship in a coffin, Akle himself had paid for it upon discovering the tragedy of her death. The crew was sympathetic to their slight detour, even when Godfrey himself laid down the law that they would be going to Pemmagadhra. Khaska still continued to cast Gentle Repose on the body each morning after his daily prayers. It seemed that all was in order.

The morning they were to leave, Rynn was up early with the sunrise. He was looking forward to traveling again, even if it would be in a skyship. He was no stranger to traveling this way, but Godfrey seemed much more relaxed about it than the other captains he had travelled with. But now it was time to move on. He sat on the side of the ship with Akle. Rynn had begun to make a new bow, and he and the gnome sat next to each other, both carving and crafting pieces of wood. Akle was still working on the carving of a silver dragon. Rynn tried to be surreptitious about it, but Akle’s work was incredibly detailed and exquisite. The ranger couldn’t help but stare sometimes.

Khaska and Jenika arrived from their inn, having checked out and prepared to go. Khaska was slightly nervous. It would be his first time flying. Jenika had been on a sailing ship, but the journey had not been difficult for her. From all reports, skyship sailing was easier than sea sailing, so she was not worried.

“There are a few more last-minute things to be put on,” said Godfrey to the party. “They should be arriving any minute, but after that I think we’ll cast off and head to the west!” The gnome was clearly having a good time, happy, and looking forward to the journey. His love of sailing was infectious.

Akle’s carving was almost complete, and Khaska and Jenika could see the serpentine form of a dragon in the gnome’s hands. Khaska walked over to the side of the ship (which was resting on the ground) to look at it.

“That is exquisite work, Akle,” said Khaska.

“Yous think so? I still don’t know if I get the head right. It doesn’t look anything like the paintings of silver dragons.” He leaned in close, whispering. “I’s like to think our saving friend would be happy with it, though. You know.” He winked.

He held it up to the rising sun, turning it over in his hands. “Maybe I’ll try for a gold dragon next, but the whiskers … that will be difficult.”

Akle looked up sharply, just past Khaska. “Trouble.” He whistled low behind him, then dropped down to the ground, leaving the small carving on the side of the ship.

Khaska turned just in time to see a small group of people arriving. They were all dressed in similar clothing, a uniform of some kind. Grayish colors, with various insignia on the shoulders. It took him a moment to realize what it signified—Skyfleet naval officers. Teadric Ashworthy was in front of the assembled group.

“Godfrey!” he called.

Godfrey appeared on the deck, walking over to the side.

“What do you want, Teadric?” His tone was frosty.

“Just wanted to see you off!”

“Well, now you’ve seen me. Goodbye.”

“Yous one of a kind, Teadric,” Akle practically spat. “What? You come here to brag about your appointment in the navy? Show off your nice new duds? Rub some salt in the wound of my friend here, eh?”

“You watch your mouth, you little weakling!” It was Caden. He was also in a new uniform. “You’re now speaking to an officer of the fleet.”

Akle smiled. “And what yous gonna do about it? Don’t matter what uniform you wear, I’d rather fly with Godfrey than any of you fancy-pants tweedledums.”

“Well, while you’re flying around transporting rocks or some such, we will be sailing the skies in defense of the moon!” Teadric said. “Goodbye, Godfrey!” The Halfling waved and then turned and left. Several of his crew left with him.

Several did not.

“So,” said Jeremy, looking right at Jenika. “You’re still here.”

Jenika said nothing.

“Not even going to say anything?”

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“Boy, you’re something else. Leading a man on like that.”

“Go away.”

“No. I’m an officer of the fleet now. Skyship port belongs to me more ‘n it belongs to you!”

“I think,” Akle said, stepping forward, “that you should leave. We’ll be on our way soon.”

“Are you threatening me, little gnome?”

“You’re very perceptive.”

Rynn had jumped down too, and Khaska was there at his side.

“Officers of the fleet don’t have to be polite, I take it,” Khaska murmured. Rynn nodded.

Akle was standing right in front of Jeremy now, coming up roughly to his waist. The effect was slightly comical, but Akle wasn’t backing down.

“Akle, come back to the ship,” said Godfrey. “We’ll be on our way soon.”

“Yeah, knowing you couldn’t hack it in the navy. Crawling back to wherever you came from!” yelled one of the other men with Jeremy.

Jenika reached out a hand to take Akle by the shoulder, to guide him away.

“Oh no! Someone here needs to be put in their place!” Jeremy yelled. “You need to respect us!”

Jenika shook her head. And that was all it took to finally set him off. He closed in with the monk and threw a punch. Jenika nimbly dodged out of the way and he missed, but with a shout his buddies began to converge on them.

Eryx (DM)
You have sold the two remaining potions for 300 total gold, so you each get an extra 100 gold.

DeltaWolf, to answer your question about bonuses and shuriken, it appears to me that it’s just treated as a standard melee weapon, since shuriken are able to be thrown by the rules. So to hit would be 3 (BAB) + 3 (STR) = 6 total. Damage is 1d2 + 3 STR (they don’t hit very hard). They crit on a 20 only. Can you back me up and make sure I’ve gotten this right, BlackWolf?

Jeremy and his buddies are spoiling for a fight, it seems. They’ve coming looking for trouble, full of self-importance and arrogance, and it didn’t take much for that to turn into a confrontation. They’re ready (and obviously looking) for a brawl, and Jeremy threw the first punch. He missed Jenika, however.

Jeremy has five other guys with him. They are armed and have weapons, but aren’t drawing them. They’re looking to put someone in their place, whatever that means, but not kill anybody.

For those of you slightly unfamiliar with the rules for combat, I point this out: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/injuryandDeath.htm#nonlethalDamage

You can use your weapons to deal nonlethal damage, but have to take a -4 penalty on attack rolls to do so. Of course, you could use lethal force. Or you can just go in fisticuff style, as they seem to be doing.

Please roll initiative and give me three rounds of actions. The only people on the ground from the Skycutter are your characters and Akle. It will be a round or two before any backup gets off the ship, but it's only Godfrey and one other sailor at the moment. The rest of the crew is off getting the last load of supplies for the trip.

Thevarou
Khaska is, understandably, disgusted at this behavior. He will stride over to where Jeremy is pursuing Jenika, placing himself between them. With that, he'll act:

  • Initiative: 7
  • Cast Calm Emotions (Do I need to roll a check for this?)

Let me know if that'll have an effect. If so, Khaska will first say to his friends, "As my people say, honor and war are brothers sworn to death. They have no honor to defend, and our honor needs no defense." He'll then direct them to simply board the ship and ignore Teadric and his crew, to whom he will say, "May you be in defense of the right moon when the time comes." He'll then board himself. If the spell doesn't have the desired effect, he will counter Jeremy's blows. Is there a combat rule for simply preventing damage to oneself (basically, in an effort to bore the enemy)? Khaska doesn't want to do anything that could be seen negatively.

DeltaWolf
Yesterday I talked with my brother and he pointed out that bracers of armor would be very advantages for a monk such as Jenika… So would it be ok, oh great DM, if I included bracers of armor in Jenika’s purchases before they leave town?

Also I was able to update Jenika’s XP and leveled her to Lv 5. Yay!

  • Initiative: 17

Jenika doesn’t want to harm an officer (even if he deserves it) so she will just go on the defense.

*Round 1: Total Defense
*Round 2: Total Defense
*Round 3: Total Defense

Hopefully real officers will intervene.

Eryx (DM)
You can have bracers of armor +3 for Jenika. That's not a problem. I've updated that in your character sheet. (I saw that you had grayed it out because you were awaiting my permission. Permission granted.)

BlackWolf
Actually, for ranged weapons (including thrown ones), I believe you use the DEX modifier instead of STR for the attack roll. So to hit: d20 + 3 (Base Attack) + 1 (DEX modifier) - any distance penalties. You were correct about the damage: 1d2 + 3 STR.

Sadly, that's a little less effective, due to Jenika's low dexterity. But it does allow you to get in a bit of ranged damage when you otherwise couldn't reach.

Rynn will hold his action, waiting to see what happens. Hopefully Khaska's spell will calm things down. But if not, Rynn won't be so passive as his companions. He will engage in the fistfight, but only targeting any that strike at our group (including if Akle instigates it).

  • Initiative: 12 (rolled 9 + 3 bonus)
  • Round 1: unarmed strike: 21 (rolled 14 + 5 base + 2 STR), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)
  • Round 2: unarmed strike: 17 (rolled 10 + 5 base + 2 STR), damage: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR)
  • Round 3: unarmed strike: 18 (rolled 11 + 5 base + 2 STR), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)

From the narration, it sounded like Ranna may be on the ship already. Rynn won't call for her, nor command her to attack or heel. So I'll leave it up to the DM to decide if she joins the fray on her own accord. She won't know to deal non-lethal damage — not that Rynn minds since they started it.

Khaska had been expecting this, and was already muttering the words to a quick spell—Calm Emotions, which almost immediately had the desired effect. Several of the men with Caden stopped in their tracks, puzzled and blinking. They would not be a problem … people affected by such a spell would not take aggressive actions.

Caden and one of the remaining men, however, were unaffected. Caden threw another punch and totally missed. Jenika dodged him completely. The other man went straight at Akle, but the gnome, surprisingly, grabbed ahold of his legs and threw him to the ground, pinning him in a choke-hold. Caden glanced at his buddy on the ground, then threw another punch as Rynn began to run towards them. Jenika ducked again. By now Rynn was with her, but Khaska’s words brought him up short.

“Honor and war are brothers sworn to the death. They have no honor to defend, and our honor needs no defense.” Rynn paused, as he himself had to shake off the affect of Khaska’s spell. Caden threw yet another punch, and Jenika simply stepped to the side. The monk seemed to have this well in hand.

“You know,” said Akle. “I think your way is better, my monkish friend.” With that, he shoved his assailant’s face into the ground and then jumped back several feet. The man, enraged, flew at Akle, who ducked under him and scooted away.

“Jeremy, man, it’s not worth it,” said one of the Calmed men.

Akle’s assailant came up from the ground, throwing a vicious kick towards the gnome, who dodged as artfully as Jenika had.

Jeremy paused again, looking around, his hands still up in front of his face. “You cast a spell on my friends?” he said to Khaska.

“There is no need for fighting,” the cleric said calmly. “I merely brought that thought to the forefront.”

The officer looked at Jenika, still posed defensively. “And you are just going to sit there and take it?”

Akle laughed. “Take it! You ain’t been dishing it!” He cackled as he dodged yet another blow. “We can do this all morning if you want!”

Jeremy took a step back. He only had two fighting men, against four, no, seven, now that Godfrey and the other crewmembers were disembarking from the ship. With that, he dropped his hands.

“You ain’t even worth it anyway.” He turned to his unaffected friend. “Let’s go. Plenty more women willing and able out there.”

Confused, the man took one look at Caden, then took a final swipe at Akle, who jumped back yet again, causing the man to totally miss him.

“Fine!” the man practically yelled. He walked back over to Caden and the others. “Gnome’s made of iron.” He was rubbing his neck, red from where Akle had him in a choke-hold. “Couldn’t break free of the guy.”

“May you be in defense of the right moon when the time comes,” Khaska said. Caden shot him a dirty look, but kept walking. The six of them turned and left, trying to look dignified in the face of the other ships and crews nearby, almost all of whom were watching them leave a fight they had started, which had then fizzled, and in which they had not landed a single blow before clearly having to retreat.

Their attempt to look dignified resulted in a lot of smirks, both from Godfrey and his crew and the others who had watched.

Just then the cart with the remaining supplies pulled up.

“Well,” said Godfrey, “let’s get these supplies on the ship, and then we can cast off!” He was smiling.

“Jenika!” said Akle. “You fight good! Or, you dodge good, anyway!”

“Thanks.” The monk blushed. “I didn’t want to harm an officer. Even if he deserved it.”

Rynn helped load the remaining supplies onto the ship, and when they were finished, was the last one up the ladder. Godfrey made sure everything above deck was secured. “It looks to be calm weather, but if it gets rough, we have to put safety harnesses on.”

The crew ran about, making final preparations, but a few moments later they were ready. Godfrey went to a box towards the back of the ship, by the helm. He reached in and turned something. Slowly, on either side of the mast, the skyship crystals turned from facing one direction to facing the other. As they did so, Khaska noticed, they began to glow brighter, but more so at the tip facing up. The ship lurched and began to rise. The Maha’i gripped the edge of the railing, watching as the ground slowly diminished.

“Unfurl the sail!” Godfrey called out, and the men did so, the large tan sheet dropping down. The ship slowly began to pick up speed as the skyship port continued to get smaller below them. Soon Godfrey adjusted the crystals to maintain buoyancy, but not to climb anymore, and the wind at their backs pushed them forward. They were on their way.

The cleric had to step away from the railing. The ride was smooth, but he didn’t want to risk a sudden jolt. Being so high was also making him nervous.

Rynn, on the other hand, was utterly fascinated by the landscape. He was at the prow of the ship with Ranna, watching the land from this perspective. He had flown by skyship before, but never quite got tired of this sight. Akle joined him, the gnome grinning from ear to ear.

“I always felt at home among the clouds,” the gnome said. “Must be my nature.”

Jenika was indifferent to the travel, but noticed that Khaska went to the middle of the deck and sat down.

“Are you alright?” she asked him.

“I am, but …”

“Airsickness?” asked one of the crew.

“I believe you would call them ‘the jitters.’ I had prepared a spell to calm myself, if necessary, but … I had to cast it back there.” He smiled nervously. “I think it was worth it. But tomorrow perhaps I will prepare it again, I think.”

Eryx (DM)
I took slight liberty with Rynn’s actions in the fight. By the time he got into combat, three men had been Calmed, one had been pinned, and Caden had struck out twice in trying to hit Jenika. The fight was clearly not going their way by that point.

For completely defusing the situation in a manner I was not expecting, and successfully beating the encounter you are each awarded 1750 XP.

That will end this chapter.

Thevarou
Before going on to the next chapter, just felt I should mention how awesome this was. Yeah, unexpected solutions!

And very good representation of Khaska's acrophobia; I should know ;)

BlackWolf
No worries, I like how it turned out too. Rynn didn't really want to fight, and the party gave us a way to avoid it. Nice!

This page is part of the campaign story. << Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >>