Codex VIII-Chapter 5

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Aestus was the first to awake, putting his armor on and descending the stairs for lunch. Sir Mistretta was awaiting him there, and let him know as soon as they were ready Sir Perone awaited them at the chapterhouse. Rider Valnala had returned as well. The innkeeper was johnny on the spot with the food, clearly putting a best foot forward. Khaska came down shortly after, followed by Orensland. All their respective bodyguards took up positions around the main room, all in all an impressive sight.

The innkeeper bowed his head as he brought over a tray of fruit for all of them. “I heard rumors of what happened,” he said. “Thank you for stopping the drow assassins. The knights are very insulted that such an attack happened, and if the knights are insulted, all of Sethrayin is insulted. Please, let me know if there is anything I can do to please you. Small price to pay for such a failure, but I am at your service.”

“You were not responsible for the attack,” Khaska said. “Why do you feel so invested in our situation?”

The innkeeper straightened. “If the Knights of the Tlerian empire have failed you so grievously, then all we Tlerians have failed you grievously. I am just a humble innkeeper, but I know my place in our fair city as well, and will act my part. My lords,” he said, bowing and leaving them to their food.

Such a collectivist mindset was foreign to Orensland. Khaska understood it slightly better, and had to explain it to Aestus.

Sanjin sauntered down a few minutes later. “So, we had many plans today. Visit a library. Do some research on Thakillestra and other metallic dragons. But I assume those are all out the window.”

“I had hoped we would be present for the interrogation of our assassins,” Khaska said.

“I think that wise,” Orensland said. “Surely the Knights have more tools at their disposals for such procedures, but we were the ones attacked.”

Khaska waved over Sir Mistretta, who assured him that the drow were bound and tied up, locked in the imperial prison, a place magically shielded and warded from outside influence. They went to the Knight’s chapterhouse from their new inn, where Sir Perone looked like he had not slept well. He informed them of the return of Rider Valnala, who was awaiting them at the imperial prison. They left to go there immediately.

The prison was a nondescript building near the imperial palace itself, but upon entering it was quite clear that it descended far down into the earth. They walked down a twisting flight of stairs for several minutes before reaching the bottom floor. The prison was nice, stonework well done, the tunnels high and wide, and enough torches at regular intervals that it wasn’t too dark, even though they were underground.

They were brought to a room where Rider Valnala and Chronas were sitting. Valnala rose as they entered. “I am grateful that you survived the attack last night. The Dragonrider Council would have me interrogate these drow assassins, but Sir Perone made your wish to join our questioning known. I saw no reason to object.” He turned to the dragon. “Come, Chronas. Your insights will be valuable as well.” Chronas stood, a fluid, nearly effortless movement of sheer grace. “Prepare the prisoners,” he said to one of the guards, who saluted and left.

Valnala stepped to a nearby table that had some objects on it under a cloth. He moved the cloth aside, showing the various items. A staff, some swords, a wand, a ring, and their various armor pieces.

“These were taken from the drow. We have identified them, and by right of conquest you have claim to any of them that you would like.”

“Perhaps after the interrogation,” Khaska said. Orensland shot him a look, but didn’t say anything.

“Quite so,” the dragonrider said. He turned to a human man sitting nearby. “This is Master Darion Tozzi, and he will be joining us.”

The interrogation room was about twenty-five feet square. Chairs were arranged for each of them already, and they all sat. From the other side, one of the drow prisoners was brought in. She was in a simple light brown robe, and her hands were kept behind her in metal tubes that Sanjin recognized were to prevent spellcasting. She was also gagged, a ball of leather in her mouth, and her legs and hands were shackled together. Around her neck was a leather collar with a single red gem in the center. She was carried by several imperial guards, and they were accompanied by several Knights. They placed her in the chair, re-shackled her to it, and then looked to Rider Valnala.

“You may remove the collar now,” he said. He then turned to the group. “It prevents magic from being used in her vicinity, but we wish to use magic means to coerce cooperation.” One of the guards removed the leather collar and took it back out the door, which was shut and locked.

“He will not go far,” Sir Tozzi said. “If he is needed, merely returning to that side of the door will prevent any magic from being used. The collar has an effective range of about ten feet.”

“A sensible precaution,” Khaska said.

“Please remove our guest’s gag,” the Knight said. With that, the guards and paladins all raised their crossbows or drew their swords. One of the guards removed it, and the drow woman began to work her mouth, obviously dry. Sir Tozzi brought her a waterskin, and she drank from it. He returned to his seat.

“Rider Valnala,” he said. “I believe you wished to begin.”

“Well,” the Dragonrider said, “I wish to rely on Chronas’ magic, actually. Chronas, please cast Dominate Person on her.”

The dragon, who had been standing surreptitiously in the back of the room without her own chair, chanted in the language of the arcane and moved her fingers, which glowed slightly with a sickly green energy. Chronas’ eyes flared with similar light for a moment, as did the drow woman’s. Her face went slack.

“Please answer everybody’s questions, dear,” Chronas said.

“Of course, mistress Chronas,” the drow woman said.

“Now,” Rider Valnala said. “Let us begin.”

Eryx (DM)
The items recovered from the drow are as follows:

A magic staff (could be used as a spell focus).
A wand of web.
A ring of spell storing. It currently has the Seeming spell in it. Likely this was how they planned to move about the city without being detected.
Two inky black longswords swords that are magic. I suspect Orensland will be interested in these. The drow shadowblades have this ability, which I have determined comes from the sword and their relationship to it. You would have this same ability minus the poison damage (because that’s not a permanent aspect of the sword, but drow poison they place on it). I might rule in the future that it’s overpowered and dial it back a little.

You are in the Tlerian Imperial Dungeon with a charmed drow assassin willing to answer your questions.
FYI, Rider Valnala will be asking about the drow’s relationship to the Cult of Skyrnyn. Your reports of the marshes deliver just yesterday indicated a sizeable drow presence. He wants to know if they are connected. Sir Tozzi will be inquiring about other drow in the capital city and other immediate dangers.

What would you ask of her?

Edit: Also, a few items of note, I've updated the pages on Thakillestra the Gold, the Cult of Skyrnyn, and added pages for Tiamat and Bahamut. I am going to retcon that Thakillestra was a worshipper of Heironeous. She is a worshipper of Bahamut.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin is most intrested in learning why the assassins attacked our group and what information they were given on us to aid in the attempt (our location, abilities, spells, etc).

Musha
This is most likely covered by Sanjin's questions, but Aestus wants to know WHO gave them the info on us. Is there a traitor in the ranks of the Knights? How did they know where we would be, even the very rooms we were staying in?

Crosis
Oh, so calling dibs on one of those shadow swords. Life for Orensland will never be the same - huzzah to being attacked by stylish, well-equipped assassins!!

In line with the above comments, Orensland would ask questions like:

1. Who sent you to kill us? What organization do you belong to, and does it relate to the Cult of Skyrnyn?

Presuming they were sent by the Cult, Orensland would want to ask the following questions:
1. What relationship do the drow/your organization have with the Cult of Skyrnyn?
2. What do you know about the Dedication event the Cult of Skyrnyn anticipates happening?
3. What do you know of the plans of the Cult of Skyrnyn regarding the Dark Times?
4. Do you know how so many dragons have managed to remain hidden for the past few centuries?
5. Do you know of any weaknesses in the Cult's fortifications in the Marshes?
(I figure an assassin might have a keener eye for such things if they had ever been there)

Questions about the drow in general:
1. Tell us of the hierarchy of your organization. Who are your leaders, and where do they reside?
2. Do you know of any other assassination attempts that are currently planned?
3. Do you know of any weaknesses in your organization's home base that could be exploited?
4. Tell us of the assassinations you have been complicit in.
(that last one you may want to save for the end, it could be a long list. But hey, somebody's been murdered by these scumbags before. Probably high-ranking ones at that, given their skill level. We'd want to know the extent of their influence on the Knights and their allies)

And finally:
1. Do you know of any traitors in the ranks of the Knights of the Silver Dragons?
2. How has the Cult/your organization been tracking our location?
3. What does the Cult/your organization know about us?
(not enough to know to stay as far away from us as possible, apparently)
4. Have you heard the name Urziana before? (if yes, we'll have some pretty obvious follow-up questions. Eryx, note that you don't have a page for Urziana created as of yet)

I know the assassins may have been kept in the dark for some of these questions, but I figure at least a few of them will give us/the Knights some solid intel. And if we get really lucky… jackpot on all of our questions.

Thev
Go figure that Orensland would come up with so many incisive questions! Here are some that might be useful:

  • What other operatives does your organization have in Sethrayin?
  • What connections do you or your organization have with arms smuggling or piracy operations?
  • Who are the members of your organization you regard as most likely to be disloyal?
  • What items, passwords, or information can you give us to that we can observe or infiltrate your organization's operations, in person or at a distance?
  • Tell us about the leaders of your organization and any friction perceptible between them.

“I ask all of the guards and lower members of the order to leave,” Rider Valnala said. “Sir Tozzi and I, with these friends, will finish the interrogation.” The men saluted smartly and left.

“Apologies,” the dragonrider said. “But I suspect there will be answers given here that we do not yet want out in the open. Sir Tozzi has been briefed on our discussion yesterday and has sworn to keep the knowledge gained here confidential until the council of dragonriders has decided how to act.”

“Let me ask some preliminary questions,” Sir Tozzi said, “but feel free to jump in after I’ve laid some groundwork.”

“Why have you come here to assassinate these heroes?” asked Sir Tozzi.

“We were ordered to by our Matron Mother.” The drow’s words were mechanical and unemotional, a side-effect of the spell from the dragon. She was merely answering the questions.

“Why would your Matron Mother be interested in these people?”

“I do not question she who is Lolth’s mouthpiece for our house.”

“Where is your house located?”

“We now live in the Zyrbryxion Marshes.”

“Where did you live before?”

“The Chasm of Endless Night.”

“Why have you moved there?”

“The great houses of our people deemed it wise.”

“Why?”

“To survive the Dark Times.”

“How will living in the marshes help you survive the Dark Times?”

“The Church of Tiamat there has great strength. They are our allies.”

“And this Church of Tiamat has many dragons in the marshes?”

“Thousands.”

“What,” asked Khaska, “is the relationship between the Church of Tiamat and the Cult of Skyrnyn?”

A pause.

“I do not know of this cult.”

“Tell us about the hierarchy of your organization,” asked Orensland.

“There are many great drow houses. I am from the House of Corandus, and ours is the greatest.”

“And a Matron Mother, she leads your house?”

“Yes. All the great houses are led by Matron Mothers.”

“You were sent here to kill us,” Aestus interjected. His rage was simmering just below the surface, his hands gripping the hafts of his weapons, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, especially with the guards gone (though with a dragonrider, his friends, and a dragon, he assumed the drow wouldn’t have a chance if some kind of violence ensued). “How did you know where we would be staying. You knew exactly what room I was staying in.”

“We were provided that information by Mother Dhunnith.”

“And where did she get it?”

“It was not my place to ask.”

“So you do not know how she knew about us?”

“It was not my place to ask.”

“How did you arrive in Sethrayin?” asked Sir Totti.

“We were teleported outside the city limits by one of our mages.”

“When was this?”

“Last night?”

“How did you get into the city?”

“We walked.”

“Were you disguised?”

“We had a Seeming spell cast on us so we would appear as normal elves.”

“How did you arrange rooms in the Golden Cask?”

“One had already been arranged for us.”

“By whom?”

“I do not know.”

“Did you arrive in the hotel and just ask for your room?”

“The pre-arranged room was ready for us.”

Sir Tozzi made a note on the sheet of paper he had been taking notes on. “We must discover who made these reservations. Why that room?”

“It would make teleporting into our targets rooms easy because of its location.”

“You could have teleported into any of the rooms?”

“Yes.”

Orensland nodded. “The could see all of our balconies from theirs. It was a good base of operations for the strike.”

“Why did you choose Aestus’ room?” Sanjin asked.

“We had been warned he would be the most difficult to kill.”

Aestus smiled and folded his arms. “You weren’t expecting all of us, then, were you?”

“We had hoped you would be unarmored and asleep.”

Sir Tozzi jumped in. “And after the assassination, were you going to just leave?”

“Yes. We had another Seeming spell available and were to wait at the same location we had been teleported in to.”

“Assassins who don’t know much, with others arranging key moments of their arrival, and who would leave as soon as the job was done,” Orensland said. “It’s a good plan.” He turned to the drow woman. “Let’s talk about this Church of Tiamat. They are the ones with thousands of dragons in the Marshes?”

“Yes.” The same as the Cult of Skyrnyn, then. Probably a front for their true nature and to obfuscate their true aims.

“What’s this ‘Dedication’ they expect to have happen?”

“That is their own affair. They want us gone by that time.”

“So you are to wait out the Dark Times with them, and then return to your homes in the Chasm.”

“That is what Mother Dhunnith has said.”

“How have they managed to keep so many dragons hidden for so long?”

“I do not know.”

“When did you find out about the dragons?”

“Thirty years ago, when our house journeyed to the marshes. I saw the dragons there for the first time.”

“Are there any weaknesses in the Church of Tiamat’s fortifications in the marshes? What is it called?”

The Citadel is well guarded by the dragons, the might of the drow houses, the armies of the Church of Tiamat, and the natural protection of the marshes themselves. There are no major weaknesses that I am aware of.”

Orensland was on a roll. Sir Tozzi was writing furiously to keep up.

“Your leaders are all in the marshes?”

“Yes.”

“Are there any other assassinations planned?”

“Mother Dhunnith will call on me and the other shadowblades if we are needed.”

“Have you assassinated anybody else?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

The prisoner rattled off a long list, but to Sanjin and Orensland it was obvious that she was speaking of various drow that had been assassinated long ago.

“And you have not performed any assassinations in the time you’ve been in the marshes?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“There is a treaty between the Church and all the drow houses. Hostilities are suspended until one year after the Dark Times.”

“So you were pulled out of ‘retirement’ just to try and kill us?”

“I am not retired.”

“You’re not assassinating anybody.”

The drow didn’t say anything.

“That wasn’t a question,” Chronas said from the back of the room. “He will only answer questions.”

“Why do you say you’re not retired?” Orensland asked.

“When we return to the Chasm, we will resume our ways. The lesser houses will try to climb the ranks and overtake our house.” He smiled. “They will not succeed.”

“You know nothing else about how the Church of Tiamat or Cult of Skyrnyn know about us?”

“I do not.”

“You were just assigned to kill us by your Matron Mother?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know of any spies in Sethrayin? Members of your race?”

“None from my house.”

Khaska jumped in at this point, until now having been content with letting his companions do the questioning. “Do you drow have anything to do with piracy or smuggling or the like?” He and Orensland shared a glance. How had Orensland’s father known?

“Not my house.”

“Do other houses get similar assignments from their Matron Mothers and the Church?”

“I do not know.”

“Would that be a safe guess?”

“I suspect it is the case.”

“What other assignments have your house received here in the outside world?”

“This is the first.”

“What do you do in the marshes?”

“Help build the defenses.”

“Can you detail those defenses?”

He did, describing miles of traps, dikes, ditches, walls, spikes, and the like surrounding the Citadel and its city. It sounded like they were just continually making traps and difficulties as far out as they could go.

With an eye towards possibly infiltrating the marshes, Khaska asked a few follow-up questions.

“Who are the members of your organization you regard as most likely to be disloyal?”

“If disloyal drow are found, they are tortured to death by the inquisitors.”

Sanjin nodded. “That’s about the shape of your society, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Lolth does not condone betrayal. Weakness is not tolerated.”

“Are there any items, passwords, or information can you give us to that we can observe or infiltrate the marshes in person or at a distance?”

“I do not know. I have not traveled outside the Citadel and its city since we have arrived. I have received no instruction on how to exit or enter the marshes.”

“Is there any friction between your Matron Mother and others? Between the Church of Tiamat and the drow?”

“There is much tension, but no open hostilities.”

“Have there ever been any open hostilities?”

“There is rumor of one drow house that chaffed under the restrictions placed on them by the Church and the greater houses. They were wiped out by the dragons before my house journeyed to join them in the marshes.”

Sanjin leaned forward, grinning. “If Lolth does not condone weakness, what will happen to you now that you have failed in your mission and told us all of this information?”

“If I am captured, I will be tortured to death. I beg Lolth’s forgiveness.”

“You won’t get it,” Sanjin said. “She seems the unforgiving kind.”

“Why don’t you pray to her for forgiveness?” Chronas said, practically snickering.

“Lolth forgive me!” The drow woman cried out loudly. “I have failed you and am unworthy!”

Horrifyingly, her prayer was immediately answered. In the negative.

The drow woman screamed and the sound of bones cracking could be heard throughout the room. Her body, bound and tied, began to warp and mutate, bursting her bands and freeing her. Her legs joined together and fused, quickly expanding into a spider’s abdomen and sprouting eight legs, polymorphing into a horrible centaur-like half-spider creature. The process took mere seconds, catching them all off-guard. Sir Tozzi screamed and backed away.

From the hallway door behind her there was a similar scream and shouts of panic.

“A drider!” Sanjin shouted.

“Lolth has given us a chance to redeem ourselves!” she said. And then she moved to attack.

Eryx (DM)
Lolth has intervened and turned the drow woman into a drider, a curse reserved for drow who have utterly failed. You will discover that the other prisoner (who was being held a few rooms away in the hallway where the prisoner was escorted in) was also turned into a drider.

Give me one round of action. Two, if you’d like to go help with the other drider. They’re both not long for this world. Especially with Chronas in the room. We don’t need to play the entire combat out. You don’t even need to roll, just tell me what you’d do.

Then tell me what you would like to do afterwards with all this new information. Sir Tozzi is happy to help, and knows the city well. You can divide and conquer if you like, even.

If there was a question I missed or something that wasn’t clear from the dialogue, that’s easily retconned back in. But I think I covered everything.

Crosis
Well, pity. We never did get to the "are there traitors in our midst" question.

Orensland would run out to help out with the other drider, probably saying something like "Well, that's disappointing. Chronas has this one, let's go help with the one outside." He'd then rush out, lighting his sword on fire (I presume Orensland doesn't have his cool new shadow sword yet), and take a few swings.

As for after, Orensland would squeeze in a word with the Knight leadership for his father. Or was he hoping for a personal introduction? Regardless, he'd say that we were forewarned about the assassins from a less savory "businessman" who asked we put in a good word for his proposed deal as payment.

Musha
Aestus would want to stay and fight side-by-side with a dragon, both to be able to witness more of their abilities when he's not on the wrong end of them and for the honor of such a fight. Though Orensland does make a great point that Chronas can most likely easily take this disgusting creature by himself and Aestus' aid would probably be better spent in the other room. Torn between both options, he will look to Khaska for guidance/instruction. As Orensland shouts his recommendation, Aestus will look questioningly at Khaska for confirmation (or for permission to stay, depending on your persepctive).

Eryx (DM)
Crosis, I thought I had covered that in the questions. I can go back and add some more detail if you would like, but basically they were told the plan (teleport here, check into the Golden Cask, kill you folks who would be in specific rooms, be teleported out) but didn't know much else. Like good assassins, they didn't ask any many questions. Sir Tozzi picked up on a few clues to further investigate, but these drow assassins couldn't have told you who knew in Sethrayin where you would be to "pull the trigger" on their attack, so to speak.

Thev
Khaska, a bit taken aback by such a gruesome display and whatever small danger it poses, would catch Aestus's glance and size up the situation as quickly as possible. It is almost certain that Chronas would be able to dispatch the drider without much effort; Khaska isn't sure about the manpower in the other room.

He'd say to Aestus, "We will call for you if we have need of assistance," and then he'd depart for the other room. Once there, he'd probably cast Burning Hands at 5th level (7d6 damage).

Khaska would be willing to join Orensland to tell the Knights about Zevhran, though he would also communicate his own misgivings despite the eminently helpful tip about the assassination attempt.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin will go with Khaska and Orensland. He will cast Hold Monster Lv. 5 (Wis Save 17) on the Drider we are approaching.

Aestus was already moving, a blur of motion as he brought his weapons to his hands. The drider moved forward, an elven longsword in her hand, lashing out at Sir Valnas who quickly parried it to the side with a stroke that was both unsheathing his curved sword, parrying, and giving a riposte. His fluid motion was a thing of beauty.

Khaska was unsure what to do, but Orensland was already across the room yanking the door open. “Well, that's disappointing. Chronas has this one, let's go help with the one outside.” Aestus looked to Khaska for guidance, and the cleric said “We will call for you if we have need of assistance,” before following Orensland and Sanjin.

Given permission to stay, Aestus moved around to the drider, bowling straight into the abomination, his arms a flurry of death as he began to work her over, ichor spraying all around the room. Rider Valnala joined him and for a moment the drider held her own between the two.

But then Chronas joined the fight. Having morphed into her half-dragon form, Chronas leapt across the room, wings propelling her forward, and grabbed the drider. The drider screamed in pain as Chronas simply tore one of her arms off and then latched onto the drider’s neck with her teeth, ripping her throat to shreds. The drider backed away, gurgling, and Aestus was surprised at the sheer violence of the moment. Then Chronas jammed her hand into the drider’s chest and simply tore her heart out. The drider collapsed, dead.

Rider Valnala, swished his sword elegantly, flicking blood across the wall, and sheathed it in one quick motion. “Thank you, Chronas,” he said.

Aestus ran to help his friends, but by the time he reached them, they had the situation well in hand. Several guards were down with wounds, but Orensland had vaulted up on to the drider’s back and was hacking away at it as Khaska and Sanjin used their magic to finish it off, Khaska bathing it in fire. Orensland was slightly singed by the spell, but the flames distracted the drider enough that he was able to land a killing blow on her, stabbing her through her chest and piercing her heart.

Khaska quickly healed the one guard who had gone down in the fight, and the man awoke, gasping in fright. Rider Valnala and Chronas came around the corner just then, Chronas changing back to the demure looking elf with the piercing eyes and tightly-wrapped hair as she appeared. Rider Valnala nodded in thanks to the group. “You acted quickly and with little regard for your own safety. You are to be commended,” he said.

Sir Tozzi also came around the corner, trembling a little. “Well,” he said, breathlessly, “been a long time since I’ve seen such excitement!”

With the prisoners dead, the party, Sir Tozzi, and the dragonrider discussed next steps. Orensland mentioned that they had been tipped off, and Rider Valnala said that seemed a more appropriate discussion to have with the local knights. He and Chronas would be leaving, again, to report in person to the council of dragonriders. “Try not to get attacked again before I arrive at the Fortress this time, please,” he said, with a small smile.

With that, Sir Tozzi had the guards escort them out of the prison. Several were happy to do so to get away from the disturbing sight of the drider body in the interrogation room.

When Khaska walked back through the interrogation room, he saw why. The sight sickened him. He asked what had happened, and Aestus whispered it to him, almost in awe of the speed and strength of Chronas in half-dragon form.

Sir Mistretta and the cadre of Knights accompanying him were visibly dismayed to see that there had been an attack, but Khaska quickly assured them all that they had been in good hands with Rider Valnala and Chronas and had been perfectly safe, all things considered. He and Orensland asked if they could speak to the chapter head, and they were all escorted back to the chapterhouse to meet with Sir Perone. The party explained the situation with Orensland’s father, though Orensland kept it vague enough, mentioning a less than savory “businessman” with whom he had had dealings before, and who wished an introduction to the Knights in Sethrayin. Sir Perone was glad to hear of the additional lead to follow, perhaps this unsavory businessman could help with the investigation about how the assassins had infiltrated the capitol city!

“Do you know how we can contact this associate of yours?” he asked.

“Er,” Orensland paused, thinking back to the conversation to what seemed a week ago, even though it had just been the previous night! “Actually, he didn’t say anything about how to get in touch with him. He wanted an introduction to you and for us to put in a good word, and warned us about the assassins.”

“If you run across him, tell him that we would be happy to speak of these stolen goods with him.” Khaska was a little perturbed at this, and Sir Perone noticed. “I am aware of the unsavoriness of this associate, and likely he is responsible for stealing the shipments of weapons he now wishes to sell back to us, but such dealings are part of how we do things in the Empire, and we do need the weapons. Several of our legions are being moved to the Fortress of Eternal Vigilance this month. Best to have them armed with the elven blades, even if it costs a little extra.

“And now,” he said, “please allow my Knights to further investigate. We take this matter seriously, and wish to get to the bottom of this. These assassins had help from inside the city, and we must find out who. You are free to do as you wish, but as you are aware, Sir Mistretta and the others will be accompanying you everywhere.”

It was only then that Khaska remembed the revelations of just the day before. Thakillestra the Gold was alive—and they had met her. They had discussed further researching metallic dragons of note before all the intervening nonsense.

Eryx (DM)
The Knights will handle the investigation from here, but if you wanted to go and help, I’d allow it. Please state what you would like to do to assist and give me the appropriate rolls. Consider it a skill challenge of sorts. Participation is not required.

In the meantime, I believe that Khaska and Sanjin wished to go do research on other metallic dragons? Sanjin had a pretty good set of Arcana and History checks in the last chapter on this subject, and Khaska had a pretty abysmal Investigation check for checking out the libraries and such, but I’d allow others to try their hand.

As a reminder, this is what Sanjin remembered about other notable metallic dragons. You were all excited to start researching all of this, and then Zevhran showed up! This is just copied and pasted from the gray box all the way back in Chapter 3.

DeltaWolf
I will take you up on making a basic History and Arcana Check for notable metallic dragons (Sanjin is proficient in both).

  • History check: 27
  • Arcana check: 25

Thev
You can see our last contact with Nir and Mirwen here: http://salvationofjenoa.wikidot.com/sending-conversations-between-codex-vii-and-codex-viii. If we do want to reach out to Nir, we should probably just say something like, > "Greetings! We have a question for Mirwen, and we can scry to converse. When would be a good time for her to speak?"

  • History Check: 13 + 6 = 19
  • Investigation Check: 1 + 2 = 3 (LOL.)

Eryx (DM)
With Sanjin's rolls there, he recalls the basics: Thakillestra and Jiveneit are the most notable gold dragons from Jenoa. Hyrmaphridion the most notable silver dragon.

He's familiar with a Bronze dragon pair, Brivos and Quillenesta, who claimed Clearwater Lake as their territory nearly a thousand years or so ago. Endaller was a Brass dragon who favored pretending to be a bard and travelled the world over until his fame grew such that his reputation always preceeded him. Itydnum was a copper dragon who enjoyed pranking various lords and ladies and political leaders, attempting to keep them humble. The elves particularly didn't enjoy her company, as they were long-lived enough that a prank from Itydnum might come to fruition centuries after the original perceived slight or mismanagement.

All of these dragons were active before the most recent Dark Times, or at least, that's what the stories about them Sanjin would know about said.

For that Investigation Check … you will learn absolutely nothing in the libraries tomorrow, Thev.

Thev
…Drat. :P

Basically, while the investigation into the assassination is going on, what would your characters like to do? Assist (then give me appropriate rolls), or do something else (describe what you would like to do, and give me appropriate rolls)? This next post might be mostly more role-playing than plot moving forward until you learn the results of the investigation (that will take several days as they track down leads).

Thev
I'm working with Eryx over IM to come up with some scenarios, so I might not have too much to contribute here! Khaska will spend some time researching and, at very least, will not find what he's intending to find. He might find unintended things, though…

Crosis
Orensland would think it would be best to re-contact his father in the Golden Cask again. We are likely being watched, and even if we weren't, it would stand to reason that we could meet up with him in the same place we saw him last. Plus Orensland would want to meet in a public place, and the Golden Cask likely qualifies as such (plus they probably have heightened security after last night's incident).

Orensland would love to help with the investigation. He would like to meet their investigative team and assess their abilities/resources. Though reluctant to do so, he would also ask his father the next time they meet for any tips that could help with the investigation. He would take any tips (or insults/banter/whatever) with a grain of salt, of course.

Otherwise, Orensland will scout out the town to become familiar with its criminal underbelly, establishing contacts and learning about possible assassination attempts.

Rolls I assume will be applicable:

  • Persuasion (with his father): 13 (rolled 10 + 3)
  • Investigation (establishing contacts/becoming familiar with the city's criminal underbelly): 31 (nat 20 + 11)
  • Stealth (as this tends to come into play): 33 (nat 20 + 13)

HOLY COW two natural 20's in a row!! I think this investigation will go smoothly. :)

Musha
Congrats there, Crosis! Nice rolls. I'm pretty excited to see what info that will give us! So Aestus doesn't have many skills to offer to even aid in an investigation; though he is certainly not against trying.

Eryx, we were told that Sir Mistretta and the others would be accompanying us. Could you elaborate on who those others might be?

After what Aestus saw in the interrogation room with the drider, he's gonna kinda fanboy over Chronas. So if Rider Valnala and Chronas are among the "others," Aestus will be giddy. But respectful, of course! During this "downtime," Aestus would fraternize with the Knights. These are some solid folks with some serious skills and Aestus would revel in making friends with several of them. From the newest recruit to the chapter head himself, he wants to start getting friendly with them. However, should Khaska appreciate some company or help looking for whatever he's looking for, he'll have Aestus' aid. Likewise, if Orensland wants to have a thug following him around, somebody of low breeding and vulgar manners who may not shrink at a little illegality, Aestus is certainly up to the task, hopefully lending some "ooo, that guy's pretty shady" credibility in the city's seedy underworld, not that Orensland couldn't handle that on his own. But hey! He's got his buddy's back.

Some rolls that might come in handy:

  • Insight: 30 (rolled 19 + 11) - I guess to ascertain how forthcoming or deceitful people are being?
  • Investigation: 21 (rolled 20 + 1) - check it out, I got a nat 20, too! Though it's not gonna help as much as Orensland's.
  • Intimidation: 20 (rolled 11 + 9)
  • Perception: 20 (rolled 9 +11)
  • Athletics: 30 (rolled 17 + 13) - in case I gotta knock down a door or arm wrestle another thug or something.
  • Acrobatics: 25 (rolled 15 + 10) - maybe Orensland ends up getting me into some trouble and I get tied up and have to wiggle out or something.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin is eager to do his reasearch. He will help his freinds if asked, but won't volunteer.

“I would be happy to assist in the investigation,” Orensland said. “I insist.”

“Very well.”

Khaska turned to Sanjin and reminded the elf of their original plans to do research at some of the available libraries. “I’d be happy to accompany you,” Sanjin said. The wizard did enjoy a good library.

Aestus was a bit disappointed he didn’t feel all that useful, but decided to stick around the chapterhouse to mingle with the Knights and make friends. He was finding himself enjoying the company of these militant knights—first in Laishtek, where he had sparred with Rider Lystria, and here, where he had sparred with many of the Knights just yesterday, making, he assumed, some friends, and perhaps a few enemies since he had handily schooled many of them. Perhaps it would be good to make nice for a little.

He was accompanied by two Knights, though here in the chapterhouse itself their presence seemed unnecessary. He went to the dining hall to speak with some of the Knights, and was able to tell the tale of what had transpired in the prison earlier that day. He spoke highly of Rider Valnala and of the speed and strength of Chronas, who he was sad would be leaving again soon.

It was during that meal with many of the Knights gathering around him to hear of his tales and exploits that an officer came in and called the gathered Knights to attention. They stood all at attention in a moment, the room going quiet.

“Rider Valnala is leaving. Come salute one of our dragonriders,” said the officer.

Aestus followed the Knights out to the chapterhouse courtyard where they all stood at attention, but all congregating near the walls. Shortly after, Rider Valnala and Chronas emerged, Rider Valnala dressed in furs that seemed far too warm for the climate. Rider Valnala was speaking with Sir Perone, but then said goodbye, giving a graceful elven bow. Sir Perone saluted smartly, hand to chest, and as one all of the Knights followed suit.

At this, Chronas walked to the center of the courtyard and changed from her humanoid form to her full dragon form. Aestus was reminded of Grilrut in the Zyrbryxion swamps all those months ago, but Chronas’ dragon form dwarfed that of the black dragon they had fought and killed. Her skin was more mottled and patched, like moss, or like sunlight filtering through a forest canopy, and her spine held more spiked growths, while her wings were occasionally tattered at the edges. Despite her obvious age, she moved with a decisive grace and a deliberate purpose that betrayed her experience and coordination. Her eyes were a deep yellow surrounding a black reptilian pupil that swept over the group. Her gaze rested on Aestus for a moment, just a moment, before she turned to Rider Valnala, who walked up her extended wing to take his place where her long sinewy neck met her body, lashing himself to the saddle and harness that had appeared magically when she transformed. She spread her wings and with a few great pumps, nearly sending many of the Knights back (Aestus stood his ground), lifted off into the air. She flew swiftly west, and soon disappeared behind one of the few clouds in the mostly blue sky.

“Master Aestus,” Sir Perone said, “if you are going to stay with us for some time, I would consider it a personal favor if you could help train some of my men. Our time with you in the sparring arena yesterday demonstrated our lack of preparation, and perhaps you could aid some of our more elite fighters in learning how to counter a warrior such as yourself.”

“I would be honored, Sir Knight,” Aestus said.


Khaska and Sanjin were taken to the library of the Imperial University of Tleros. The university itself was filled with students running to and from, classes being held out on lawns by professors taking advantage of the early spring weather, and gardeners making the campus look exquisite.

The library itself was a massive building, just a single one, unlike the Great Library of Tebbins Ferrick in Laishtek or the libraries of the Wizard's University of Dreqorun, with large windows that let in much light to the first major room. One of their Knight escorts went to the front desk to speak to a librarian. The young woman who he spoke to had rimmed glasses perched on the end of her nose, her blonde hair done up tightly with a few stray wisps by her face. They spoke in hushed tones for a moment before she jerked upright and turned to look at Khaska, a look of shock on her face. She came around the desk quickly, practically ignoring the Knight she had been speaking to.

“Master Khaska,” she said, in a near panic. “I am deeply honored to aid you. What research would you like to conduct while you are here? Our library is at your service.”

Khaska was a little puzzled by the display from this young lady, but drew himself up straight, trying his best to, once again, be an ambassador for his people. Manners were paramount, whatever her reason for being so surprised.

“We seek to learn about the history of metallic dragons on our moon,” he said. “I am looking for information about notable ones from all the different types. Thakillestra, of course, Hyrmaphridion, but others as well.” He smiled. “And I didn’t catch your name, young lady.”

“Oh,” she said. “Oh, well, my name is Rebecca Catalina. And of course you would like to know about metallics. Let me take you to a private room and I’ll go retrieve some volumes that may be of use.”

She took him to a room several levels up in the library, a bit farther from the crowds that seemed to be populating the lower levels, which were more roomy and spacious and well-lit with large windows. She opened a door and practically shooed a young man and woman out of a room with a large desk and several everburning torches made superfluous by the large window that currently let in much sunlight. “I’ll be back shortly, Master Khaska,” she said, bowing, and then scurrying away.

Khaska and Sanjin sat down, their bodyguards taking stations near the entrance to the room, but not inside, leaving them alone.

“That young lady was acting odd, was she not?” Khaska asked the wizard.

The elf shrugged. “Different human cultures, I figure.”

“Perhaps.”

They waited a long time, and when Rebecca returned she was with three different pages and all with large carts filled to the brim with books. Khaska was a little flabbergasted. Rebecca explained that these were basically every book the library had in its public collection that dealt with dragons. The ones on metallics and history, specifically, were on the first cart.

“Thank you,” Khaska said. “This will be most helpful.”

But as they tried to dig through the mountain of research, it became quickly obvious that it was not, in fact, helpful. There was simply too much to process in any kind of timely manner. Khaska was a bit frustrated by this. After several hours of poring through the books, they had made little progress beyond what Sanjin already knew about famous metallics on Jenoa.

“Perhaps we should return tomorrow,” Khaska said. “Let’s go get some dinner.”

“Agreed,” Sanjin said.

Khaska got up to open the door and walked outside to see the four bodyguards from the Knights and … many students. The cubicles and aisles of books seemed to be filled with students. Many of the students stood up at his appearance, and he could tell that whispered conversations ground to a halt at their appearance.

“Okay,” Sanjin said from just behind his shoulder, “maybe it’s not just different human cultures.”

Rebecca was waiting for them right there, and Khaska thanked her for the help.

“I hope you found what you were looking for,” she said, bowing deeply.

“We enjoyed perusing your collection on dragons,” Khaska said noncommittally. “It is an impressive one. Thank you.”

The students parted, all somewhat watching them. This made the Knights slightly nervous, Khaska noted, but none of the students made any moves towards them or did anything other than watch them leave.

This odd behavior continued through the library, though not with everybody. Some students watched them intently. Most went about their business. This continued through the campus, and then in the city itself. Some of the citizens would stop and simply stare. Khaska thought it slightly rude, but perhaps there was a cultural difference in what “rude” meant. They took dinner at a nearby tavern, a higher class establishment where the waiter treated them as normal, although the bard up on the stage switched to songs of dragons and sang an ode to Bahamut shortly after their arrival.

Just as they finished their meal, Deacon Rizzo entered the tavern, spotted them, and came over. The Knights tried to intervene, but Khaska waved him over, and they let him approach.

“Master Khaska,” said the Deacon, “if you could, Bishop Volterra requests your presence at the Cathedral.”

Khaska was puzzled, but happy to meet the bishop.

“I’ll head back to the chapter house, if it’s all the same” Sanjin said. “I’ll see you this evening.”

Deacon Rizzo led Khaska and the two Knights back to the Cathedral. It was well into night now, and there were few people in the pews, vespers having long since ended. Still, when they entered, several of the patrons noted them and watched. One of them physically knelt down and faced them as they passed by. Khaska was very confused.

They were brought to the bishop’s office, a sparse room adorned with a shield depicting Bahamut’s symbol on it, and a tapestry depicting a man surrounded by yellow birds. Behind the desk sat the bishop, resplendent in his silvery robes, a large silver chain around his neck holding the amulet of his office, which also displayed the symbol of the Platinum dragon. He was completely bald and seemingly frail, but gave a broad smile that was welcoming, despite a few missing teeth.

“Welcome, Khaska, cleric of Pelor. It is good to meet you. You have made quite a stir in the city since last night.”

Khaska and Bishop Volterra Dialogue

As Khaska left the Cathedral, he stopped for a moment to ponder the large mural of Thakillestra feeding the refugees again, thinking on the conversation he had just had with the bishop. He would return here tomorrow for services, and, perhaps, for more conversations with the bishop.


Orensland met with the investigators, some from the Knights, several from the Imperial Guard, who would be investigating. After speaking with them for a few minutes and assessing how they would be going about finding their assassins, he decided that he would be better on his own. They would be going about the investigation in their own way, but he knew that with his father around and aware of the assassins, it would be better to try to track the rumors through the underbelly of the city.

He followed them around, watching them, seeing what clues they pulled up (they were not completely ineffective), but by the evening of the first day of investigation he knew enough to get started on his own. His bodyguards told him that this evening they had made arrangements for them to sleep in a Lord’s manor, as a precaution they would be moving the group from place to place, never letting them sleep in the same place for two nights in a row.

Orensland thought that at least having dinner with his friends would be good before he struck out on his own.

He met up with them at the swanky mansion of the lord, a patron of the Imperial University. They dined with him, a committed bachelor, when he revealed the surprise that night. They would not be staying at his house, per se, but in a Magnificent Mansion, a spell cast by a wizard professor from the university. The ancient man who came to cast the spell hobbled on a cane, but his words were sure and his somatic movements graceful as he spent the minute to cast the spell.

A slit appeared in the air in the designated room, quickly widening out to a shimmering door five feet wide and ten feet tall.

“The guards will stay here in this room,” the wizard said, but you four will find rooms to your liking, and there are spectral servants, human, elven, and Maha’i, that can perform simple tasks. I will close the door once you are all in, and will open it in the morning. Noone may enter it unless I say so, and I only do so for the four of you.”

“Sounds good. Goodnight,” said Sanjin, vanishing into the door.

“If nobody can get in,” Orensland said, “why even close the door?”

“I suppose I could leave it open,” the wizard said. “But it seemed prudent to hide it.”

“Leave it open, please,” Orensland said.

The wizard glanced at their host, who nodded.

“Very well, I will leave it open. You may exit or enter as you please.”

“Your accomodations are most generous, and wise for security purposes,” Khaska said. “Come, Orensland and Aestus. Let us see this magical mansion.”

He turned to look for Orensland, but the shadowdancer was gone. Khaska smiled. “Come, Aestus. I suspect Orensland will join us when he is done with his own investigation.”

“I’m a little insulted he didn’t ask me to come,” said Aestus.

“With your armor?” Khaska said, as he stepped forward. “He can sneak better on his own.”

The guards were looking around bewildered that Orensland had vanished from the room (the door had been closed!) without them even noticing as Khaska and Aestus entered the Magnificent Mansion.


It was a productive night for Orensland. Following up on the clues from the more formal investigation of the Knights and the Imperial Guard, he was able to sneak, cajole, bribe, and investigate the situation.

First, he followed up on the clues as to who had rented out the rooms the drow assassins had used.

This, in turn, led him to a small thieves guild that considered themselves brokers between the well-to-do in the city and the seedier underbelly. He looked through a book in their collection to try and find who had paid for the rooms, which sent him looking for a particular lower noble family.

Their estate was smaller, but still had guards within its walls. Orensland was easily able to hide from them and make his way inside. Investigating the house led him to see that there were many signs they worshipped Bahamut, but under one of the statues of the platinum dragon he was able to discern the five-headed symbol of Tiamat.

He smiled. They were probably members of this Church of Tiamat. The fact that the symbol was so clearly of Tiamat probably meant they were not deceived by the front of the Cult of Skyrnyn. No, these people would probably know more about what was going on. He smiled.

Good.

He would have to come back tomorrow with the official investigators. But he needed at least a few hours of sleep. So he ghosted his way past the guards and headed back to their host’s house.


The next morning Orensland, flanked by his bodyguards, the Imperial Guard investigators, and Aestus, came to the house. The Imperial Guardsmen were a bit flabbergasted at his news in the morning, but Aestus, who had desired to accompany him, had just laughed at their bewilderment. He knew of Orensland’s skills, and was unsurprised the shadowdancer could do in one night what their top investigators would take days to accomplish.

“We should approach carefully,” the Imperial Guard captain said. “It will not do to insult a member of the nobility.”

“Nonsense,” Aestus said. “They’ll let us in, and Orensland will find this evidence, and we will be able to ask them questions.” He walked up, yanked open the gate, marched right up to the front door and banged on it so hard with his armored hand that a single woodchip came off it.

“Oh dear,” said the captain. Orensland smirked, and walked up to Aestus.

“May I do the talking,” Aestus said. He cracked his knuckled. “I think I might enjoy this.”

“Go ahead,” Orensland said. Then, thinking of what it might mean to just let Aestus have control over the situation, said “but just talk. Don’t start a fight.”

“Can I help you?” asked the butler, opening the door.

“Sure can,” Aestus said, pushing the door fully open and barging in. “We need to speak to the Lord and Lady of the house. We’re here with the Knights and the Empire’s Guards …”

“Imperial Guard,” Orensland corrected.

“Right. Go get your masters.” He leaned forward. “Now.”

“I will go get Lady Rosso.” Orensland was amused at how fast the skinny man scuttled away. By this time, the captain had joined them in the front foyer.

“What’s this about?” came a voice. A woman swept across the hallway above, short, black hair done neatly up, a single strand curled down by her face. She wore an elegant dress, red, modest, and had a black armband around her right bicep.

“Ma’am,” Aestus said, “you, or someone in your house is a secret worshipper of Tiamat, and as I’ve recently been attacked by assassins in league with them, I’m not really in the mood to be polite about it.”

She came up short on the stairway, her eyes narrowing and her voice growing cold. “What evidence do you have for this outrageous accusation?”

Orensland looked to the captain, who sighed, and beckoned.

The rogue walked quickly to the sitting room where the small statue of Bahamut sat in a nook, overlooking the couches and chairs. He picked it up and showed everybody the symbol on the bottom.

“Tiamat,” the captain said. He turned and left, and moments later the house flooded with the Imperial Guardsmen he had brought. “Consider your household on lockdown, madam,” he said, “until we get this sorted out.” He turned to Orensland. “Shall we inspect the rest of the premises?”

“Yes,” Orensland said. “I did not have a chance to inspect, for example, the bedrooms.”

It did not take long to find a small hidden shrine to Tiamat in the back of Lady Rosso’s closet.

“So,” Orensland said as they came down the stairs, “we found the shrine to Tiamat in your closet.”

“What do you have to say for yourself, Lady Rosso?” said the captain.

She stood up straight. “I have secretly worshipped Tiamat for years. My late husband didn’t even know, imbecile that he was. I had no idea that there was even a Church dedicated to the Dragon Queen until I was contacted by the Supreme Wyrmhead a week ago. I gladly arranged for rooms at the Golden Cask. It wasn’t until I heard the news about the attack two nights ago that I realized what I had done.

“But I would do it again.”

“The Supreme Wyrhmead?” Orensland said. “I’ve met him. He’s dead.” He snickered. “Actually, I’ve met two of them. They died about five minutes apart. Whoever is left, I don’t know that the Church is doing all that well these days. I’m sure he’s not as powerful as the ones I’ve already seen die.”

“Are you as dumb as all the other men? You just assume that the church leader is a man! She appeared to me in a dream, and she was glorious. Sheen scales adorning her arms. Horns growing from her head. Her body strong and still beautiful and elegant. Her hair white as the northern snows. She called upon me, knowing of my secret worship, and I answered her call!”

Orensland was feeling a bit snarky. “I watched her predecessor die. Perhaps I’ll watch her die someday too.”

“I doubt that. Supreme Wyrhmead Palladia has powers beyond your ability to comprehend!”

At that, the shadowdancer grew quiet and white.

Amara Palladia?”

At this, Lady Rosso smirked. “I see you already know the name of your doom.”

Eryx (DM)
It appears, in your rush to kill the leadership of the Cult of Skyrnyn/Church of Tiamat, you left an opening for the position of Supreme Wyrmhead. Your old traveling companion, Amara, has apparently filled that position.

To sum up the investigation:

1. Lady Rosso contracted with a thieves guild purchase rooms for a reason unbeknownst to her, at the behest of Supreme Wyrmhead Amara Palladia.
a. Lady Rosso has been a secret worshipper of Tiamat for years, but did not even know of the Cult/Church’s existence until just a short time ago. You’ll find she has a deep hatred for the patriarchal nature of the Tlerian empire, and as a widow (hence the black armband) even doubly so. Sort of as a rebellion she began worshipping the female nemesis of Bahamut.
2. The thieves guild did so, arranging the situation that the drow could take those rooms.
3. The drow were teleported into the city, where they made their way, magically disguised, to the rooms. Once they thought you were asleep, they made their way over and tried to attack you.
4. If you recall from the interrogation of the drow, they didn’t know much of the specifics of why they were to kill you. Like good assassins, they didn’t ask too many questions.

With Crosis’ (and Aestus’!) outstanding rolls for the investigation, I can tell you that this is all the information on the situation you are going to get.

In your investigation, Orensland, you tried to leave messages for your father through the various underworld connections you dredged up, but have not heard back from him.

I posted the dialogue that Thev and I did between Bishop Volterra. I’ll go clean it up later, but I wanted to get this up quickly.

What would you all like to do next?

Crosis
First reaction after getting over that shock? Ask if she can send a message to Amara to the effect of "Orensland looks forward to meeting the evil side of Amara and wishes her the best of luck on her next attempt at being a back-stabber." If I could wave and know she was seeing me, I would wave.

…on that thought, it wouldn't surprise me if we were being scryed on in some capacity. If some magic user near us can try to detect scrying, please do so, just to know if I can wave hello in a snarky sort of way.

The investigation itself can't really go further as far as I can tell - perhaps we can continue to interrogate Lady Rosso for a few minor details, such as any fellow Tiamat worshippers, but that aside I don't think she knows much more than what she's told us.

Did we say we wanted to go to Twilight next? I don't think we ever spoke with Mirwen through Nir - my father and our would-be assassins threw our plans off. On that note, now that we have no pressing business in town, Orensland would like to get as far away from his father as possible.

…Orensland also wants to explore Arkinos, but thinks it may be wise to tell Mirwen about the voidgate system before doing so. After consulting you lot, of course.

DeltaWolf
From what I understand Detect Magic can be used to see the scrying sensor used by anyone who is attempting to Scry on us (Sanjin knows Detect Magic). Also Sanjin knows Nondetection which will protect us for 8 hours, but costs 25G per cast (also Sanjin would need to prepare the spell). He is happy to cast both or either if the party wishes.

Thev
Oh boy! I was wondering when we'd run across Amara again. So was Khaska — and he's not surprised that she's insinuated herself into the leadership of the Cult in its new leadership vacuum.

That does throw a bit of a loop into our plans — how easily can she scry/spy on us? (Does she have anything of ours? Can she detect our location, in addition to seeing what's immediately around us? What else might we need to be aware of?) In any case, Khaska thinks it might be good (for the time being) to be careful about being near to people or items of particular value (especially undercover ones) for long periods of time — or, at least, cast Non-detection when we're in sensitive locations or around sensitive people.

With all that said, he's sensitive to the seer's counsel: "There are many who look like they serve darkness, but yet would be great allies. … You will find allies in the future in places you do not expect, and they will help you save our world if you can overcome your prejudices towards them." Amara has done terrible things, but it's possible (however unlikely) that she and her dragons might be allies in the upcoming fight. This will be in the back of Khaska's mind.

For information's sake, we did manage to speak with Mirwen through Nir — a tiny bit, and limited to an answer about the Dragon's Graveyard: "Cover tracks well. You will be hunted. Much danger. Stay hidden. Incognito. Graveyard dangerous. Access barred by Knights. They will use lethal force."

With that in mind, Khaska wants to stay in Sethrayin for a bit to finish up his talks with Volterra. After that, he wants to investigate the voidgate just to the east and across the bay from Sethrayin — and use it as a staging ground to explore some of the other gates we haven't explored sufficiently yet, like the island ones and the one floating above the ocean. This would also give the party a chance to visit Arkenos, if they so desire.

After that, it probably would be a good idea to begin to track down our metallic dragon friends, starting with Mirwen. Khaska also wants to keep an eye out for any new information about Urziana or Bathalm, which could involve an attempted visit or two to Arkenos…

Musha
Aestus had a blast with the knights. But he had even more fun with his buddy, Orensland, and he's very grateful for the opportunity to spend that time with his friend. Even though it was perhaps a little less savory and refined — or maybe because of that.

Aestus will continue to fanboy over Rider Valnalla and Chronas for a bit; perhaps bringing them up in idle conversation, "Seriously guys, you shoulda seen what Chronas did to that drow!"

He will also start asking the party about their previous experiences with Amara, how they felt about her, and the circumstances regarding her departure.

As far as what to do next, he will ask Khaska and Orensland if either thinks it might be fruitful to investigate, or even infiltrate, (and/or eliminate) the thieves' guild for more info. It sounds like they were the linchpin of the attack, having orchestrated it.

Crosis
And I totally forgot!! We originally came to this city to investigate the disappearance of the storm giant's wife, which was one of the main purposes of our coming to this city. I think that's part of our "need to talk to Mirwin" situation, but thought I would write that while I remembered.

Are there any means we could use to communicate long-distance with Mirwen, such as a scrying spell? Twilight is a long ways away for a simple scrying spell. In general, though, I feel like our void gate exploration would be best served with a crystal ball in hand, so I vote we talk to Mirwen first.

I also vote that we purchase a few Amulets of Proof against Detection and Location for the next few months. We want to keep the voidgate network as secret as possible, though with Amara behind the scrying she may have already discovered it in part. However, our time exploring the void gate system was brief, so it's quite likely she didn't actually see it. I get a feeling she would have sent thieves before assassins to increase her odds of getting the main prize.

Eryx (DM)
Also, Private Sanctum is a spell you should probably use liberally while you are on the Randale. (I would allow it to be cast on the ship itself, and the area would be large enough that you could encompass the entire ship wile traveling.)

You have the cash reserves to be able to get some of those necklaces. You may consider them purchased.

You were unable to find any references to the Storm Giant's mate amongst your searchings in the records from the Cathedral of Thakillestra. It would have been many centuries ago, however, so that's unsurprising.

Thev
Ahh, thank you for the suggestions of the amulets and the spell Private Sanctum! It's good to have those up our sleeves. Might there be a chance to get amulets and a crystal ball in Sethrayin? Khaska would support that.

His reasoning to travel to the voidgate is that the closest gate is a week's flight away; however, if we're able to get the materials required to stay away from scrying eyes before departing Sethrayin, we could stop by the F11 island gate on the way to Twilight!

Aestus also grew quiet, looking to Orensland for what their next steps would be. The elf was quiet, pondering this news—a powerful enemy of theirs knew them quite well and intimately. This was not good.

But … after a moment, he realized that, despite that, they also knew her quite well and intimately. That door swung both ways. He smiled at Lady Rosso. “When next you see her, tell her that Orensland looks forward to meeting the evil side of Amara and wishes her the best of luck on her next attempt at being a back-stabber.” Then, looking around, and just in case they were being scryed upon, he gave a jaunty wave. They would have to take precautions in the future to avoid being scryed upon.


With all this new information, the authorities were able to wrap up the investigation handily. Lady Rosso’s assets and lands were seized by the imperial guard and she was convicted given a life sentence for both worshipping Tiamat and for conspiring to murder.

It was a matter, then, of what to do next. Khaska, even in his extensive conversations with Bishop Volterra over the next few days, was unable to find any extensive record of the storm giant’s visit to the Cathedral. In fact, there were a few different entries, meticulously preserved over the centuries, of beings who had visited Thakillestra when she had held court here, of storm giants visiting, but no details besides that. That investigation had also hit a dead end.

Luckily for the group, they knew another source they could find themselves. Thakillestra herself—in the guise of the elf Mirwen Taldiril in the Edge city of Twilight. The group, hiding themselves with newly purchased Amulets of Nondetection and with liberal use of the Nondetection and Private Sanctum spells (and making many plans in their nightly stay in the pocket dimension of a Magnificent Mansion still provided by the Knights), decided next to travel to Twilight to visit with Thakillestra.

But first, there was something that Aestus surprised them all with. Khaska received a summons from Sir Perone one afternoon while speaking further with Bishop Volterra. The bishop let him go, promising to continue their conversations afterwards, and Khaska came with haste to the chapterhouse.

He found Sir Perone sitting in his office with Aestus and another Knight, an older gentlemen, well past his prime.

“Welcome, Khaska,” Sir Perone said. “May I introduce Sir Costa, our master of initiates. It is our tradition that our oldest member be the one to induce new members into our order.”

Khaska raised his head in greeting. “A pleasure to meet you, Sir Costa. I must admit, though, to be confused. Is there to be an initiation?”

“There is,” Aestus said. Khaska’s eyes widened.

“You wish to join with the order?”

“As an initiate,” Sir Costa said. “He would not be bound to the order in any permanent way. Although usually initiates join a chapter and continue their studies, both martial and religious, with the chapter, it is not all that rare for an initiate to join the order as a whole and travel the world, checking in as one can with different chapters.”

“Aestus’ martial education is,” Sir Perone smiled, ruefully, “beyond our aid, as his bouts in the training arena have so thoroughly showed. But he has been talking with our brethren about other aspects of paladin life. He wishes to take this next step in his life in harmony with the teachings of our order and in adherence to the Code of the Good Dragons.”

Khaska nodded. He himself knew the tenets of the Code well, having discovered in his uncovering of the truth surrounding Tawru that the virtue of honor, from the gold dragons, had been added to the Code in response to the fall of Tawru from the order and his ascension as a blackguard. “That is honorable. Congratulations to you, Aestus.”

“Normally there is a ceremony for a group of initiates,” said Sir Costa, “but I understand that you will be leaving us shortly. So we will have the ceremony tomorrow morning in the sparring ring.”

“In the ring?” Aestus said. He was surprised.

Sir Perone smiled. “It seems more apropos than in our chapel, given our conversations.”

“Oh, right,” said Aestus.

“We defer to your guidance in such matters, Sir Costa,” Khaska demurred.

As they left, Khaska was intrigued. “What conversations have you had with the Knights? You referred to them with Sir Perone, but it seemed an inner joke.”

Aestus shrugged. “One of the first things that paladins learn is to heal others. I had hoped there would be a way to be a bit more martial, but in conversations with Sir Perone he asked me about my allies, and if I were not stronger with them, and if I would not help them be stronger by being able to heal them?”

“Wise questions,” Khaska said as they walked down the hall towards the courtyard. Several of the Knights walking by gave salutes to Aestus, as if to a superior officer. “You are well treated here, and well thought of.”

“I’ve been training and living with the Knights here for several days while you all go about other things. I’ve made many friends here. Too bad Sir Valnala isn’t here anymore, with Chronas. I’d like to get to know them better.”

“If you eventually decide to fully join the order,” Khaska said, “I’m sure you would have much chance to further interact with the dragonriders. You have met two, now, Rider Valnala and Rider Lystria. They both seem honorable paladins.”

“Yeah, and only after whupping these guys for several days did I start to feel good about myself ever since my sparring match with Lystria. She’s quite good. Anyway, Sir Peron’s questions about my allies made me think back to Alasdair, who brought me back from the brink of death when we fought,” he glanced around to make sure nobody was nearby, “when we fought the dragon in the marshes.”

“You’ve been giving this much thought,” Khaska said. Aestus beamed that his Maha’i friend was complimenting him so.

“And then I also thought to what the dragon spirit said about joining the order without any particular agenda. Figured that being a regular old paladin, not trying to be more martial, might be one way of learning from them.”

“Aestus Fellblade,” Khaska said, “your decision here seems well thought out and deeply considered. You are to be commended for making such a serious decision with the proper gravitas.”

“Thank you, Khaska. That means the world to me.”

“And you are following in Tawru’s steps,” the cleric intoned. Aestus nodded. A little wryly, Khaska then said, “Perhaps not best to follow in all of his footsteps.”

Growing very serious, Aestus nodded.


Sanjin and Orensland weren’t told ahead of time about the ceremony, as Aestus wanted it to be a surprise. But when summoned, they came along to the chapterhouse and sat down next to Khaska amidst the crowded seats surrounding the sparring pit. The doors to the pit down below swung open a few minutes later, and Sir Perone entered in full armor, followed by Sir Costas in rich robes befitting a non-combat member of the Knights, followed by Aestus.

“Kneel, Aestus Fellblade,” said Sir Costas. Aestus did so.

“Do you, Aestus Fellblade, swear to uphold the tenets of the Knights of the Silver Dragons?”

“I do.”

“Do you swear to strive for wisdom, as the bronze dragons were wise?”

“I do.”

“Do you swear to show respect to all creatures, as the brass dragons did?”

“I do.”

“Do you swear to find the humor and joy in life, as the copper dragons would?”

“You know it.”

Sir Costas seemed a bit taken aback by this more flippant response, but, realizing that Aestus was cracking a joke (a not unheard of ad-lib for this part of the ceremony), he gave a small guffaw before continuing.

“Do you swear to fight with honor, as the Gold dragons fought?”

At this, Khaska teared up, thinking of all the Knights over all the centuries who had sworn this very oath in response to Tawru’s tragic tale. He also noted that Aestus’ voice caught just a little, probably for the same reasons.

“I do.”

“Do you swear to be benevolent to all, as the silver dragons exemplified?”

“I do.”

“And do you swear to be eternally courageous in the face of evil, as all the metallic dragons did in the last Dark Times?”

“I do.”

Sir Chronas stepped forward, placing a medallion over Aestus’ head to where it rested now on his armored chest.

“Then rise, Aestus Fellblade, as an initiate of the Order of the Silver Dragons, sworn to uphold these values in your travels the world over.”

There was thunderous applause and cheering, and a few “huzzahs!” from the assembled Knights. There was much revelry, even for so early in the morning. The situation around Aestus subtly changed during the celebration. The Knights, who before had looked up to him as a friend, now saw him as one of their own, but also cognizant of his status as an initiate. He was no longer an outsider, but in some ways was now treated as of lesser rank than he had before. Nobody saluted him in the hallways, and while this bugged Aestus a little, upon reflection, it felt right. He had earned their respect through combat prowess. He could earn their respect in other ways as well.

But now, on to Twilight.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter.

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