Codex IV-Chapter 6

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The trip from Laishtek to Pemmadhaghra was uneventful. A skyship needed no time to rest with the crew taking shifts around the clock. Rynn began work on a new bow, Jenika meditated as she would, and Khaska mostly stayed in the middle of the ship or below the deck. There was not much room down there, and during the day the night shift wanted to sleep in peace, so they were generally left alone down with the cargo. However, after a few days, the cleric got his “wind legs” as Godfrey called them, and was better able to spend time above deck. Akle spent almost all of his time on the deck, even sleeping there, and would sit on the prow of the Skycutter, his legs dangling off the front while he carved. Godfrey had made him wear a harness for such occasions, should the worst come to pass and he be accidentally jostled loose thousands of feet above the ground. The shaved-headed gnome also kept watch when he was awake.

“There it is!” the gnome cried, his keen eyes focusing on something down below. They were flying just above some low-lying clouds, which parted for a moment to reveal Pemmadhaghra—the Long Fall. The chasm lived up to the stories that were told of it. Ten miles long and only two hundred feet wide. Carved out of the obsidian rock, the city itself was actually mostly carved into the rocks in the chasm, a huge labyrinthine complex of underground paths and settlements possibly rivaling, though the Dwarves would scoff at such a notion, the great halls of the Dwarven capitol Tir'Kon.

Of late the city had grown and expanded above ground as well. Farms dotted the surrounding landscape, which was also home to several sets of ruins. On the north end of the chasm was the skyship landing area. Just as in Laishtek, it was populated with mostly gnomes and Halflings, though their numbers were much smaller. Pemmadhaghra was not the center of trade that Laishtek was, and the skyship port was really a large field with only half a dozen other ships hovering above the ground.

Jenika merely jumped off the ship, her recently developed slow fall technique allowing her to use the side of the ship to slow her descent as the Skycutter dropped to land. Khaska was the first to disembark, and even the unflappable Rynn seemed happy to be on solid ground. Ranna certainly was. Akle seemed to sigh as he climbed down the rope ladder, followed by Godfrey.

“Let me know when you find Fan’s parents,” the captain said. “I would like to pay my respects. But I’m going to find if there are any clan elders nearby. If you’ll excuse me.” He tipped his hat and then walked off. Akle followed him.

“Well,” said Jenika, “how do we find Fan’s family?”

Eryx (DM)
You travelled for 5 days to get to Laishtek. BlackWolf, I don’t mind if you take 10 on your bowmaking checks. But if you want to roll them, that’s fine.

You’re now in Pemmadhaghra. What will you do to find Fan’s family, the Ravenstones? Khaska knows that they are rather famous for being bards, but Fan’s letter said that her younger brother would be “tending the chickens.”

Thevarou
Little preliminary note: in "Pemmadhaghra," as in the alphabet, D comes before G ;)

Given that the Ravenstones are relatively famous, Khaska would suspect that even though they have apparently settled down, they'd would not be too hard to find. He will head to the nearest topside settlement (as the non-chasm parts of Pemmadhaghra are known in the local jargon, and there are several - I'm assuming the largest is near the skyship port) and ask where he might find them. I got pretty abysmal rolls, though, so I'm hoping Rynn and Jenika can help track them down!

  • Gather Info: 7 = 5 + 2
  • Search: 5 = 1 + 4

DeltaWolf
*Gather Info: 5 (5+0)

  • Search: 11 (10+1)

I wasn't expecting much…

BlackWolf
I think I'll take you up on that, Eryx, and just take 10 on my crafting checks for the time being. When I hit level 6 I should be able to eliminate the risk of ruining mats, so at that point it might be better to hope for some lucky rolls that are higher than 10. But for now, taking 10 sounds good. I think I'll add a crafting section to my character sheet.

As for the current situation, I'd agree that it seems like the Ravenstones shouldn't be hard to find. Here is my Gather Info check:

  • 26 (rolled 18 + 8 bonus)

If I can't find them from that, Rynn might try Urban Tracking later. (As a side note, I'm really happy with some of the changes I've made to Rynn in taking an Urban Ranger level. Makes him more useful in cities and apparently fills a gap in the party.)

When we find them, Rynn will be a little bit aloof. Fan's death was not our fault, but we did put her in some danger and the ranger doesn't want her family to blame him. He's not wanting to stay long in Pemmadhaghra anyway, so he'll be courteous and friendly (as his usual self when he'd not being harassed by authorities or betrayals) and whatnot without getting too familiar.

Thevarou
I feel I should add this: Khaska, upon finding the Ravenstones, will be somewhat conflicted. He'll want to maintain a somber air to deliver the news of Fan's passing, but will also be eager to meet them - and intrigued to hear about the Maha'i clan they joined with in the Wastes. If Fan's family is distraught at her death, he will tell them the story from the time they met, speaking to Fan's bravery and spirit; he might suggest she's worthy of a song, and his telling would be in part to possibly inspire one.

“They are quite renowned as bards,” said Khaska. “They will likely be well-known, even if they have settled down.”

There were several buildings near the skyship port, a bit of a small town, actually, and the party inquired there. Khaska and Jenika were not very good at discussing things with strangers, but Rynn fit right in with a pair of local rangers, and he was able to get information on a local constable, and from there to a Halfling wizard who wandered the outskirts of Pemmadhaghra frequently. The Halfling pointed them across the chasm, and after crossing on a rope bridge that was far too rickety for Khaska’s liking (though Jenika told him he shouldn’t be so scared), they crossed to the other side. There, as per directions, they were able to find the farm of the Ravenstones. There was a ramshackle hut and the fields were halfway harvested in a haphazard pattern. Farming wasn’t a strong suit of the family, obviously, but the farm did look well enough. A middle-aged woman sat in front in the shade of a tree, several young children around her. She was bouncing an infant on her lap. One of the older children was practicing a mandolin, and the woman offered various criticisms and praises, alternately (though more often criticisms) of the child’s performance.

“Mrs. Ravenstone,” Khaska ventured, tentatively.

“Yes? Oh, if you’ve come for a show, we’ll have one on Friday, as usual. Pemmhar! You always miss the rhythm there!” She clapped her hand on her thigh, beating the rhythm out again, and the young boy began to play his Mandolin again. The boy looked to be no more than ten or eleven years old, but his skill was exceptional. A family of bards indeed. “We don’t give free performances to anybody who just drops by. I’m sure you understand.”

“That is not why we have come, though I am certain your shows are second to none.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” the woman said. “Besides, you seem a bit far from home, aren’t you? What brings you out of the Niktean Wastes? Don’t your kind normally stick to the desert?”

“My story is not very important,” Khaska said. “We have come bearing news of your daughter.”

“My daughter? Oh, Fan. She went to the wastes, sent you to check up on us? Well you can tell her … the baby is fine.”

Khaska looked at Rynn and Jenika. Neither was inclined to speak really. Such bad news would bring nothing but heartache. And, quite frankly, Rynn was tired of being blamed for things that were not his fault and was wary of how the Ravenstones would react.

However, Jenika got up the courage to step forward, next to Khaska. “Mrs. Ravenstone, something has happened to your daughter.”

The woman finally stopped badgering the mandolin player. “Kids, go play behind the house, please! Pemmar, take Yehoshua.” The kids scattered quickly.

“Look!” she started in on Jenika, walking right up to the monk, limping slightly. “I don’t appreciate you coming by out of the blue like this. If something happened to Farafanellya, why wouldn’t she just write?”

“Because the world, as you know, is a dangerous place,” said Khaska. “And sometimes the stories of those most promising are cut short, tragically.”

The blood drained from Mrs. Ravenstone’s face. “Cut short?” A whisper.

“I am sorry to be the bearer of such tidings, but your daughter has died, Mrs. Ravenstone,” the cleric intoned.

She sat down heavily on her chair.

“Would you go get Theodard and Orthan? My husband and oldest son are in the fields.”

Rynn nodded and jogged off. Theodard and Orthan had seen them approach, and when Rynn began to head for them they started moving toward the house. Theodard broke into a run and simply ran past the ranger, slightly startling Rynn. Orthan was more measured, apparently sizing up Rynn, who simply told him they had news of his sister, and then turned back.

The elder Ravenstones were both crying when Rynn and Orthan arrived back under the tree.

“We brought her body with us from Laishtek,” Khaska was saying. “It is at the skyship port right now, but we can have it brought over or … whatever you would like best. I have used my magic to preserve it.”

Theodard nodded, his arm around his wife, who was sobbing into his shirt. “You are most kind, friends. We will come get Fan and bury her here on the farm. There will be a funeral for the ages! Will you stay for it? There are many who would hear of Fan’s adventures since she left us.”

“And will you tell our neighbors?” Leandra said, her voice wavering. “Tell them we will be having the funeral tomorrow night, at dusk.”

Eryx (DM)
Will you stay for the funeral? (Godfrey will certainly allow it for short stay in the city.) Also, they wish you each to speak a bit at the funeral itself. Metagaming, if your character would agree to do so, I’d like a few paragraphs at least of your “remarks.” I assume that you will have no problem telling the neighbors, but if you’d like to specify any specific dialogue that would be useful to me.

BlackWolf
Since Godfrey apparently doesn't mind staying, Rynn thinks staying for the funeral would be the least they could do. He'll hesitate to speak at the funeral, but eventually accept the family's request.

While waiting, Rynn will stick to the Skycutter and work quietly on his bow. Then at the funeral, he'll give the following remarks when asked to speak:

"I didn't really know Fan very well. We'd only just met and she was quick to find ways to help us, despite our warnings of the danger. Maybe I should have discouraged her… I regret that I wasn't able to keep her out of harms way."

Here he'll pause for a moment, then say, "I'm not much for words, I guess. But I can say that Fan was a very selfless and remarkable person. She helped us through some trouble when we were betrayed by someone I had thought was a close friend. Even through death, Fan reminded me that the world is full of good people."

In general, he'll be friendly and participatory, if somber. When asked about Fan, he'll tell as much as he can remember, but without mentioning specifics about the Cult of Skyrnyn or Amara.

Thevarou
Khaska would most definitely want to stay for the funeral, even though he does not quite know how to act around the Ravenstones. He has never experienced the death of someone so close to him before, even though Fan was an acquaintance of merely a few days. He's even less sure, however, of what to say to the neighbors, so he will probably limit that to something relatively perfunctory.

Khaska will offer to help with the funeral preparations as much as he can, and would rather spend his time before the funeral with the Ravenstones if they would permit it. In idle moments, he would volunteer to recount to them stories of his people so that they could compose new songs if they so desire (such as The Tale of Khaska and Dhezga), and would apologize if they're not exactly upbeat. He'll also tell them about Fan's final adventures, saying slightly more than Rynn - he'll mention the secret order/cult and such (not Amara), but will give no accurate information about its identity.

At the funeral, his words will also be somewhat succinct: "I only knew Faranfanellya for several days at most, but even so she impressed me by her skill, empathy, and bravery. She confessed fear at the prospect of adventure, but chose to face it and not shrink from the danger that cost her her life. But there is much bravery, and much fear; what will remain in my memory about Fan will be her smile and her laugh. I know very few cheerful stories. They are not ones my people relate after childhood. But even though this ending is one of sorrow, Fan's story will be bright as noon upon the sands. Her friendship will persist, and will serve as an example for us all."

DeltaWolf
Jenika will help however she can and will otherwise spend her time meditating on what she might say. Being poor with her words she will say, "What impressed me the most about Fan was her kindness and willingness to help others. In our short time together she was more a friend to me then even those I have known for years. I am sad at her passing but am glad that I was able to meet her."

“We would be honored to stay and participate,” Khaska said, without hesitating. He didn’t notice Rynn’s brown furrow at that, but in a flash the concern was gone. Though the ranger was hesitant, the least he could do would be to say something. To do otherwise would probably be rude to Fan’s family. “And we will inform your neighbors,” the cleric finished.

“I can attend to that,” said Rynn. “Perhaps you can take them to the Skycutter, to retrieve Fan, Khaska.”

“Khaska!” Theodard said. “A noble name! You do your namesake justice in being so kind to bring us our daughter back.”

Khaska’s ears flattened against his head as he realized they had made no introductions. “I assume that means that you know of the Tale of Khaska and Dhezga. My full name is Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven. These are my companions, Rynn Fowler, and Jenika of Shinadoh.” Rynn inclined his head and Jenika bowed. “Captain Godfrey Botspringer and the crew of the Skycutter were also comrades in bringing your daughter back to you. The ship, with your daughter’s body, is on the other side of the chasm. I will bring you there, if you would like.” Orthan ran to hitch two of their horses to a cart, while Rynn excused himself to go tell the neighbors. After a moment, Jenika followed the ranger.

Khaska, Orthan, and Theodard went to retrieve Fan’s body. Most of the Skycutter’s crew had scattered, but a few remained to watch the ship, and all together they were able to retrieve the coffin and place it on the cart. They left a message with the crew members so that all who might could come and attend the funeral, then returned. Rynn and Jenika had finished informing all of the nearby neighbors, a few of whom had turned up with meals and offers of help. The ranger was to the side of the property, sitting on a fence, trying to stay out of the way. Jenika was helping as she could. Khaska offered to help with the funeral arrangements and the preparations for the body. Since he was a Maha’i from the Niktean Wastes, this offer of help was graciously received. The Ravenstone’s spoke kindly of their time there, and the clan that had gone against tradition by “adopting” them in—the Shaddhi. Even as a stickler for the rules and traditions of his people as he was, Khaska felt that the Shaddhi had acted well, if not entirely properly, in having the Ravenstones be a part of their clan for a few years. The Ravenstones clearly had fond memories of the Maha’i people. It was during one of these discussions that he remembered that he still had Fan’s diary, and returned it to her parents, apologizing for having read the last entry in an attempt to discover more about Fan’s background.

As the sun set, Rynn disappeared, feeling slightly awkward around the family. He went back to the ship to sleep for the night and to work some more on the bow. Jenika and Khaska were both invited to stay at a neighbor’s farm in a guest room, and accepted that invitation.

By the next morning, word had spread, and neighbors from even miles away showed up. There were many condolences given, and eventually one of the nearby farmers and his sons decided to fix a fencepost that had not been properly set, and was leaning to the side. Some of the other neighbors helped, and then before the Ravenstone’s knew it, their barn was being tinkered with, their fences mended, their crops watered and weeded, their tools sharpened and repaired … it was a sight to see. By the time the sun began to sink the farm had been substantially repaired and upgraded. Khaska, being of little use in such matters, spoke with the Theodard and Leandra for much of the day. His presence seemed to calm them. Leandra herself was very griefstricken after reading portions of Fan’s diary (and Khaska had some idea why, but was polite enough to keep his thoughts to himself), and he spoke with a few of the clerics who came to pay respects about the funeral arrangements. Rynn appeared a few hours before the sunset, and pitched right in with the manual labor on the farm with Jenika and some others. The experience reminded the ranger of his hometown of Camden, and he was able to put his memories of farming with his mother to work. The Ravenstones asked each of the party in turn their experiences with Fan, and the bardic couple spoke in hushed tones after hearing the story. Between the journal entry, and the stories from the party, they had a pretty good idea of what had happened. Godfrey and most of the crew appeared just before the funeral was to begin, all wearing freshly cleaned clothes. Akle’s leather armor had been neatly cleaned and burnished.

As the sun dipped to the horizon, the clerics called everybody over and lit torches in the field in front of the house. Fan’s coffin was brought out by pallbearers, including the party, and placed in front of the gathering crowd, which sat down on the grass. There were prayers, songs sung by both the crowd (those who knew the words) and music by the Ravenstone children. Orthan’s melody was haunting, his pan pipe skill clearly on display. The elven cleric in charge, a family friend from the city itself, then asked the party if they would come and speak about their time with Fan. Jenika went first.

The monk walked up, her step light. She had been meditating on what she would say all day, even as she helped with the farmwork. The crowd was silent as she stood before them.

“What impressed me the most about Fan was her kindness and willingness to help others. In our short time together she was more a friend to me then even those I have known for years. I am sad at her passing but am glad that I was able to meet her.”

Rynn went next. The ranger had also been working up to this, and spoke clearly for all to hear.

"I didn't really know Fan very well. We'd only just met and she was quick to find ways to help us, despite our warnings of the danger. Maybe I should have discouraged her… I regret that I wasn't able to keep her out of harms way." He paused for a moment, and then continued. "I'm not much for words, I guess. But I can say that Fan was a very selfless and remarkable person. She helped us through some trouble when we were betrayed by someone I had thought was a close friend. Even through death, Fan reminded me that the world is full of good people."

Khaska placed a hand on Rynn’s shoulder as they passed. In front of the gathered group, the sun having finally disappeared completely, he spoke.

“I only knew Faranfanellya for several days at most, but even so she impressed me by her skill, empathy, and bravery. She confessed fear at the prospect of adventure, but chose to face it and not shrink from the danger that cost her her life. But there is much bravery, and much fear; what will remain in my memory about Fan will be her smile and her laugh. I know very few cheerful stories. They are not ones my people relate after childhood. But even though this ending is one of sorrow, Fan's story will be bright as noon upon the sands. Her friendship will persist, and will serve as an example for us all.”

The elven cleric then announced that the last part of the funeral would be a ballad by Theodard and Leandra. The crowd stirred in anticipation. Rynn caught a few whispers, and he gathered that this was something that happened rarely—the two bards singing together.

As they sang, he understood why. Their bardic magic was powerful. Khaska had said that the Ravenstones were great bards, and as they sang of the bravery of Fan, leaving home to prove herself, journeying to new places, and fighting the forces of evil, the gathered crowd experience the story through the power of their magic. Rynn was slightly uncomfortable on how they embellished certain details—and was unclear on how they knew Amara’s name, but Khaska smiled. He was familiar with stories and storytelling, and knew that stories and songs did not always have a completely faithful relationship with events as they actually transpired. The bardic couple’s magic clearly enhanced each other, growing in a way that moved everybody present and inspired them all. Jenika found herself reliving the last moments of Fan's life through their magic, as the ballad crescendoed to its climax. There were few dry eyes in the crowd as they finished their song. Both the music and the magic seemed to linger in the air, slowly dissipating in both the outside setting and in the hearts of all those present.

The elven cleric gave a benediction, and pointedly mentioned Rynn, Khaska, Jenika, and Godfrey and his crew in bringing Fan back to the family, invoking the blessings of the gods on all of them for their kindness and honorableness.

By the end of the prayer twilight had fully vanished, night completely upon them all, and it was then that the neighbors broke out the food. The funeral proper had been a somber affair, but the after party was definitely not. There was singing and dancing, celebrating, and much delicious food. Khaska was called over by some men smoking pipes, something he was grateful for because those men seemed more serious and in keeping with the tone he thought appropriate for such an occassion, while Jenika and Rynn enjoyed some of the music. Though the Ravenstones did not perform, there were other bards and even just some of the locals playing and enjoying themselves. Godfrey danced with another gnome lady who he had met, though Akle sat off to the side, looking pensive and not participating. The music of the after-party never rose to the level of technical proficiency of the Ravenstones, but it was fun and happy and everybody had a good time until it grew too late. Eventually children needed to be put to bed, and the natural need for sleep took over. It was well after midnight when the guests finally left, though many stayed to help clean up.

Godfrey came by, saying that he was headed back to the ship. They could leave in the morning. He and his crew departed then. Khaska looked at the other two.

“It would be appropriate to say goodbye to the Ravenstones,” he said. “But I think it best that it be time to move on.”

The Ravenstones were gracious. Leandra gave everybody big hugs, and Theodard wished them well, giving a farewell in Maha’i to Khaska that was probably a little too familiar—as if they were close friends or a relative, but the cleric did not mind too much. They left the house then, and went to walk back to the skyship port. Orthan caught them just down the road, running to catch up.

“I know that you didn’t share all the details of what happened, but I gathered you were all betrayed by a friend of yours, Amara, and that’s why my sister died.” He was seething. “Just … promise me that when you find this Amara, that she gets what she deserves, okay? Make sure she remembers Fan and what she did to my family by killing her.”

Khaska looked at the others, then stepped forward to put a hand on Orthan’s shoulder. “If it is in our power, justice will one day be served. We will continue to investigate this cult.”

“I’m making that kind of a goal of mine,” said Rynn. “Hunt them down and stop them from hurting others. I’ve studied them and will use my skills to keep on their trail.”

“Your sister was a kind person, and I will follow her killers with my friends,” said Jenika. She cracked her knuckles.

“When you do find them, will you write to me? Tell me that it is done?”

“I think we could do that,” said Khaska. “But it may be many years before the letter arrives. We know not where our searching will lead us, nor how long the road will be.”

Orthan seemed a little awkward, not knowing how to end the conversation. Rynn put his hand out, and the teen shook it.

“Goodbye!”

“May the gods be with you and your family,” intoned Khaska.

Akle was sitting on the bow of the ship when they returned. One of the moons was in the sky, giving some light.

“Yous guys are good folks, you know that?” he said. “Not many would take such time for such a thing. I's glad to have met you.” With that, he looked back at his work, continuing his whittling, while Rynn laid out his mat on the ground, and Khaska and Jenika clambered up to where the crew was fast asleep on the open deck. They were tired, but felt good. Fan was with her family now, and in a few months they would pick up the trail of Kaylee and the Cult of Skyrnyn, but tomorrow morning they would sail on. Twilight, and possibly the sword of Tawru, awaited them.

Eryx (DM)
For returning Fan’s body and participating in the funeral, you each get 700 XP. That will end this Codex and I’ll have the beginning of Codex V up in the next day or two.

It probably doesn’t matter, but the totals for the “Performance” of the Ravenstones were 35 and 33, respectively. The SRD says that kind of performance was of such a level that extraplanar beings might take notice, so it was pretty impressive, the kind of thing your characters would likely remember.

My semester is over, and I can get back to posting regularly. Sorry for the delay. I know that Thev’s semester is ending in a week, and that BlackWolf is still adjusting to being a new daddy … again. Also, DeltaWolf graduated with his degree from UVU, so congratulations! Life moves on for all of us … as (finally!) does the campaign. Thanks for your patience with me. Back to your regularly scheduled D&D postings.

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