It has been nearly a month since the party returned to their home after rescuing Ardwen Toldara, preventing an international incident and preserving the tenuous peace between the Empire and the Southern Provinces. Ardwen told a tale of kidnapping at the hands of the aboleth’s thralls. She was drugged for the majority of her captivity, but believes that she caught a glimpse of Beluth, the Palace of Fortuity proprietor, during her time in the sewers. She did not know him by name, but she described the half-mask he always wears to conceal his old facial injury. When the party told the Dragonnes of the strange goings-on at the Palace of Fortuity, the Immortal Overlord had no choice but to initiate his own investigation. When the Dragonnes uncovered evidence of the aboleth-worshiping cult, and were able to tie it to Beluth, House Rohamari was disgraced and Beluth himself, fearing imprisonment, disappeared into the wilderness. All is right with the world, except for that bounty that’s likely on your heads after uncovering Beluth’s scheme and shaming House Rohamari.
Your erstwhile friend and housekeeper, Lady Constance, has grown fond of the boy Arday (the child from the charms stall that you took in during your investigation of Ardwen’s disappearance) during the past weeks. He is a bright child, if quiet, and she hopes that she may be able to adopt him if she is ever sufficiently on her feet financially. She has had a mysterious gentleman caller recently whom she has not yet introduced to the party. She tells you only that he is a lesser noble, older than she, and someone she met through Elam.
You said farewell to your companion Argenta, but have made the acquaintance of a relative of hers by the name of Pellucid. He arrived with the Ambassador’s delegation from Kassantia, and appears to have enjoyed himself so much in Punjar that he didn’t go home with the Ambassador. You believe he intends to return to Crieste when you attend the ceremony to be held in your honor in less than a week, in Kassantia.
Kassantia is the “winter capital” of the Empire of Crieste. Since it’s summer now, that merely means that the boy-emperor will not be in residence. Travel time to Kassantia is about a day by fast ship. If you decide to attend the ceremony, you should send a messenger bird to Ambassador Toldara, so that he may arrange lodging for you.
You know that Kassantia is the second-largest city in all the Northlands (Punjar being the largest) and it is probably the most renowned for its grandeur and beauty (since Punjar has little of that). It holds the Winter Palace, the Royal Academy of Sorcery, and is also home to the mysterious Ordo Arcana, in a tower known as the Howling Fane. The Ordo Arcana is an intensely secret magical cabal, whose members are rumored to meet on every full moon, wearing masks to conceal their true identities even from each other.
Kassantia is also home to the Imperial tribute fleet, which sails the seas gathering gold and exotic wonders tithed by the Empire’s far-flung colonies. The fleet typically takes 6 months to complete a circuit of the colonies, but the precise sailing schedule is a carefully-guarded secret to protect the fleet from the pirates that lurk off the Empire’s coast.
While you had planned to attend the ceremony, a message arrived this morning that may make you change your mind. The slim note is from the Lord of House Malhaven. He desires a meeting with you, in order to properly thank you for your service to his House, and to discuss future opportunities in his employ.
The party decided to meet with Lord Malhaven and hear what he had to say, because they didn’t want to risk offending him.
The Lord is extremely pleased to see you all again. He purposefully shakes each of your hands, telling you that you have done his House solid service, and he would like to reward you with further opportunity, if possible. He has several schemes, as all nobles do, but the first thing he wishes you to undertake is more of a mission of rescue.
One of Lord Malhaven’s nephews is being held in the garrison lockup by the notoriously corrupt Dragonne Captain, Lady Raveynos, who captains the Southwatch garrison. One of Malhaven’s spies reported: One of the guards patrolling the Souk overheard the young man (Cade Malhaven) arguing with a shopkeeper, who had accused Cade’s (veiled, female) companion of lifting an unusual ring from his stall. Cade insisted that the ring had been a gift, from him—that it had never been for sale at all.
When the Dragonne intervened, a scuffle ensued. When Cade refused to pay a bribe, he was arrested. The girl and the shopkeeper have since disappeared. The ring is, Malhaven believes, one that Cade had been given by his mother Brianna Malhaven (the Lord’s deceased sister-in-law). The girl was probably a daughter of House Indragi, name of Ola. She and Cade were expected to announce their engagement shortly. The spy did not get a clear look at the young lady, as her veil obscured her features, but he did see a shock of flaming red hair when her hood slipped in the scuffle. Ola is known as much for her beautiful red hair as she is for being the daughter of the most grasping, greedy high noble in all of Punjar, Lord Indragi.
The captain that holds Cade is well-known to enjoy torturing her prisoners. Cade has not been convicted of any crime, and it is unlikely that he will be, given the lack of witnesses. There is, however, a significant risk that he will come to harm in the cells of the Southwatch.
The party had also received an offer from the Sewerkeeper’s Guild of Punjar, asking them to conduct an inspection of some newly opened ancient portion of the Punjar sewer. The group has declined to consider this offer.