The Northlands: Day of Fates

The Beginning

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.

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Into the Southwatch Garrison
7/16/10

After some debate, the party agreed to rescue Cade Malhaven from the Southwatch Garrison. They sent a message to the Kassantian Ambassador, letting him know that something had come up. They would attempt to make the Day of Fates ceremony to be honored for their part in his daughter’s rescue, but if they were delayed it was unavoidable.

Pellucid and Sverra made use of their people skills in asking around the Souk about the garrison and its prison. While they heard many tales, they were unable to find anyone who had actually been inside the prison personally. They were able to confirm that bribery is a common practice in the Souk, and it seemed that the people feared to speak out against the Southwatch Dragonnes.

Dale attempted to visit Cade under the pretense of being his spiritual advisor, but was unable to get past the desk clerk and into the dungeon. He did have some limited success observing the distribution of the guardsmen and in investigating the inhabitants of the tower. There were 6 guardsmen marching about on the grounds with 2 drill sergeants, 2 archers on the towers, and two guards by the gate. There was a small guard house beside the keep, housing an unknown number of guards. The keep had one guard at the door and a clerk at a desk on the first floor, and had two more floors above it. Lady Captain Ravenyos makes her home inside and is very proud of the 3 stained glass windows on the third floor where her study is.

Some of the other party members inspected the walls around the tower that border the City of the Dead and the Black Swamp, and determined the best places to scale the wall.

After completing what investigation they could, they formulated a plan to gain access to the garrison tower. Sverra and Pellucid found a rowdy bar and bribed some of the patrons to start a disturbance outside the keep walls. They also recruited some beggars they felt could be induced to use the keep as target practice. They waited until nightfall. While the rest of the party went around the back of the wall, Sverra started the riot with a blazing starfall to one of the towers, starting a minor fire. The slingers joined in, smashing one of the large stained glass windows. The party took advantage of the guards emptying out the front to climb the wall in the back of the keep. Sverra met them, using teleport to climb, and then the entire group climbed to the top of the tower. They gained access to the top floor through one of the large windows.

Unfortunately, the clerk was up there, and called for guards upon seeing the party enter. A fight ensued. The clerk turned out to be a wizard, and fairly well-trained. The two guards who answered his call were simple muscle. Brash and Dale found the wizard extremely frustrating, as he managed to magically elude them several times. Sverra kept one of the guards busy. They finally did subdue the two guards, but the dwarf underestimated his swing a bit and cut the wizard completely in half, splattering Dale in blood and guts.

The party removed the guards’ surcoats and tied them up, placing them in one of the ‘tower’ rooms at the corner of the keep. Sindorei took the wizard’s robe, necklace, staff and ring, having determined that he was wearing something magical but not wanting to take the time to determine precisely which item it was. They placed his body in the room with the guards. They placed a cabinet in front of the door, hoping it would hold the guards in there long enough for them to complete their descent of the tower.

As Sverra peered out the window to the courtyard below, she saw that the riot appeared to be winding down as people fled the clubs and shields of the garrison guard. The party prepared to move down to the next floor of the tower.

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Inside the Tower
7/23/2010

The party hastily stowed the prisoners in the closet and took what might be magical from the broken body of the wizard, then peered down the stairs to see if they had been detected.

Sverra sent her dragonling down to aid them in their reconnaissance. The floor directly below them was clear, but the familiar spotted a group of guards coming up the stairs from the first floor. They were about halfway between the first and second floor. Upon receiving this report, the party moved to intercept, and a battle ensued with the guards on the landing to the second floor and the party above them on the stairs.

Sverra took out some of the less-capable recruits with a spell. Brash worked his way down to fight face-to-face, and Pellucid leaped over the railing toward the landing, making the jump easily. the groups traded blows and arrows for a little while, until another group of guards appeared from below. One of them, a sergeant by the looks of him, shouted at the group to stop fighting in the name of the law, and ordered the other guards to put away their weapons and follow him to the second floor dining hall. He wanted to negotiate with the party, and guessed they were there to rescue Cade Malhaven, having seen the priest attempt to talk his way in earlier that day. His name was Mykal, and did not appear entirely hostile to the idea of getting the young noble out of the tower.

Pellucid took advantage of the lull in combat to make a break for the stairs, and ran all the way to the bottom, where he discovered a dungeon that contained the Lady Captain, her torturer and his assistants, and several prisoners. He shouted some impertinence at Captain Ravenyos, who laughed and ordered him arrested. He surrendered to the guards, who disarmed him, and yelled up at his compatriots that he was being captured and what he had seen below.

Cursing, Sergeant Mykal and his squad hurried down with the party. Sverra and Sindorei hung back. The captain ordered the sergeant and his squad to put the priest in one of the cells, as she had heard about him earlier in the day and knew he was likely here to cause trouble. As Mykal approached Dale, he whispered at him to follow his lead, and started to march him past the Lady Captain, only to free him and attack his mistress from behind.

Pellucid broke free of his captors and used his psionic abilities to confuse the one holding his weapon into attacking his cohort. He shouted out that the weapon was cursed and that only he could wield it. His bluff worked, and the guard dropped it on the floor, startled. The ardent picked up the blade and joined the melee.

Sverra checked the door on the first floor, and finding it barred from the inside, moved downstairs to join the fight. She joined Sindorei and Brash at the base of the stairs and they began to take out the remains of Mykal’s squad, who had chosen to fight with the Captain rather than their sergeant.

After a long, drawn-out battle, all the Dragonnes were dead save the Sergeant. The prisoners began to bang on their cell bars, and Cade called to the group: “Friends! I am over here. You come from my uncle? Tell me, is there any word of Ola? She was taken away as well, but she is not here and I fear for her life!”

The other prisoners are: A woman dressed in a colorful robe and a lot of costume jewelry, calling herself Etienne; a madman who does not speak to you; a dark-haired man with cold grey eyes who calls himself Aturo; and a halfling rogue named Gan. The sergeant picks up the keys lying on the torturer’s table, and indicates that the madman and Aturo should probably not be let out, as they are genuinely dangerous. The others are relatively harmless—Etienne is a fortune-teller that the arresting guard suspected of cheating patrons (possibly himself) in the market, and the rogue was arrested for pickpocketing.

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Making Their Escape
7/30/2010

The party released all the prisoners save Aturo and the madman. Cade immediately began to talk about Ola, saying that they had both been arrested but that she had not been imprisoned in the dungeon.

Mykal, when questioned, tells the group that the captain wasn’t considered a very good officer and that there were all kinds of rumors circulating as to how she had been made captain, maybe blackmail, maybe having some connection. He also tells the group that most of the guards were also, like him, pretty new recruits.

They start looking through the tower for clues about the captain’s supposed history of taking bribes, and also about anything specifically relating to Cade. They find a magic mace in a crate among some other mundane weapons. They also find several potions. Sindorei spills some ink on the visitor’s log, obscuring the entry about Dale’s earlier visit to the tower. He also messes up the desk’s contents so it looks like the ink spill happened accidentally.

In the kitchen, they find some staff cowering under counters. Sverra tells them to stay hidden and the party leaves them unharmed.

On the top floor, they see an elven man who is leaping out the top window (broken earlier upon their entry). Mykal identifies him later as Dunn, the captain’s spymaster. Dale recalls him from his earlier visit to the garrison. They realize that too many people have seen them, and it is definitely time to make their exit. They perform a quick search of the captain’s study, finding two empty storage areas, and one that is open and contains an empty chest. Sverra takes an illuminated book from the captain’s desk, it looks to be a volume of fairy stories. Sindorei finds a stack of paperwork and they decide to take it along and study it later. Dale finds a secret compartment in Ravenyos’s desk, which holds some money and a couple of bags of gems. It looks as if it may have held more at one time, the compartment was not nearly full.

The group, along with the freed prisoners, leaves the way they came in. Down in the courtyard, they avoid the ruckus in the front and give the gypsy and the rogue a handful of coins each, and ask them to lay low. The two are grateful and agree to do so. Etienne (the gypsy) tells the party she owes them a favor, and that if they have need of her, they may seek her out in Smoke.

Mykal has thrown his lot in with the adventurers, since he is certain he was spotted fighting against the captain. The group tells him they are planning a trip to Kassantia, and ask him to come along. He accepts, but says he needs to stop by his house to warn his family and pick up some things. They agree to meet at the Malhaven’s manor.

It is late, but Lord Malhaven is pleased to see his nephew and unconcerned about the time. He looks through the papers and finds a report there that seems to indicate Ola and Cade had been under surveillance for some time. Cade is again insistent that Ola needs their help, but in the absence of any real clues, Lord Malhaven agrees with the party that it might be best that they make themselves scarce in Punjar for a while. He suggests they might want to make arrangements for their household as well (the Lady Constance and Arday) and agrees that a trip to Kassantia sounds like a reasonable escape from what might become an ugly situation in Punjar. He agrees to keep in touch, and will certainly pass any important news along to the party. Mykal arrives to meet the group, and they head off to New City.

Arriving home, they relate the story of the night’s events to Constance. They offer to take her along to Kassantia, or to set her up in a new house, in her name, here in Punjar. She wavers briefly, perhaps thinking of her new beau, but ultimately decides she is safest with her friends and that she will accompany them to Kassantia. They will also take Arday along. She begins packing trunks and chests for their trip, and recruits Mykal and Pellucid to stay behind with her to pack while the rest of the group goes about securing passage on a ship as soon as possible.

There are no boats leaving until morning, so the group returns home, deciding it probably would be safe to spend one more night in their rooms, and help Constance finish packing. They are prepared to leave for Kassantia at dawn.

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Across the Sea
8/6/2010

Early the next morning, the party and their household (Lady Constance and the boy, Arday) made their way to the docks to meet the ship captain they had chartered passage with the night before.

As they were beginning to load their belongings, they were approached by a contingent of the Southwatch guard (strangely out of its jurisdiction) and the captain of the squad tried to prevent them from leaving Punjar. Sindorei disguised himself as a deckhand and continued to help load their possessions. Sverra took Arday quickly aboard the ship. Pellucid took the captain aside, and after some conversation and a small exhange of cash, he agreed to let the party go on unmolested, despite the vociferous protestations of one of the guards (who bore a striking resemblance to one of the guards the party had left alive).

Captain Burke and his first mate were relieved that they were able to set sail without further incident. As dusk approached, though, the lookout spied a ship on the horizon with crimson sails—the Blood Eagle, with her notorius captain Howling Jane and her well-known crew. Captain Burke consulted with the party, should they flee or fight? Fight was the decision, and as the ships closed amidst cannon-fire and clever manuevers, the crews prepared to fight.

A brief battle ensued as the ships met. As soon as they were grappled together, Brash leapt from the Silent Star to the deck of the Blood Eagle, gathering the pirates to him in a storm of swordplay. Sverra summoned up a storm to try and blow some of the pirates overboard, but had only slight success. In the end, Howling Jane and her first mate, Jack Fargloom, surrendered rather than face death at the party’s hands. Dale went among the injured pirates, saving whom he could. The prisoners are shackled in their ship’s hold, which the party has commandeered. In the captain’s quarters, they found some treasure, as well as several maps that Jane refused to talk about.

The party is piloting the Blood Eagle toward Kassantia with the assistance of the crew of the Star. They should reach Crieste in another day and a half or so.

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