Dark Days in Sion - Act 3: Scene 2



Act 3: Scene 2


Continent of Akhenaten

Kingdom of Vulkh & Surrounding Region; Year 3500 - 11th day of Mid Spring

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Act 3: Scene 2 Recap.

The original Scene 2 was deleted from a corrupted database here on ENWorld. This is a quick recap.

Aletia Moonborn: Descends into the cellar of the Red Sands Inn with Kayote Burlock. Kayote introduces her to associates of his who run The Contest, a bloodsport held in the hidden fighting-maze beneath the Inn. These associates included Broulgrune, Apstock and Orric. The Man in the Iron Mask fights in The Contest for the right to eat. He is held in a cell beneath the Inn by Kayote who conceals his identity and past from the public. He reveals to Aletia that The Man in the Iron Mask once served The Black Network. Kayote and his daughter, Rhea Burlock created The Contest to mock and taunt The Black Network with their prisoner. The Black Network regularly sends agents into the Inn to disrupt The Contest and possibly rescue The Man in the Iron Mask. Kayote and his associates capture these agents for interrogation, after which they force them into The Contest to suffer horrible death's, further angering The Black Network.

Aust Thale: Returns to
Jabbar's Trade Shop after his near-death encounter with Chuth. He answers the door when Seargent Abdul of the Town Guard arrives to question the recent fighting in the streets and their arrest of Noro's agents who intended to burn down Jabbar's Trade Shop with casks of Alchemists Fire. Aust explains (Backed up by Jabbar) about how the thugs dropped their casks at the sound of the Vulkrie's horn of alarm and how he followed them through the alley's and encountered Chuth.

Billanverthorne Varenneth:

Burrai Steelborn:
Has a meeting in the cellar of
Jabbar's Trade Shop with Jabbar discussing The Black Journal they stole from The Black Network. Jabbar explains that the Black Script used in The Black Journal can only be safely read (or translated) by a truly evil being. Options are discussed about evil beings in the area that Jabbar is aware of, including a maimed Dragon named Hadus'Mento, a Beholder, a Lamia, and an Ogre Mage.

They also discuss how it would be wise to support Cabarda's
Thieves Guild Master Rasul against Noro and his evil alliance with the Cult of Vermithrax who are apparently plotting to launch a raid on Cabarda from below ground. There were also discussions about the possibilities of the new diggings within the cave network beneath Cabarda. How far do the tunnels go? How far can they be made to go? Does Noro plan to connect Cabarda with the Undercity of Masaeus to the east?

Burrai is also asked by Avar to accompany him into the stormy night to seek out the pair of Sundered Dwarves who approached Aust earlier seeking out Avar.

Ersun Durim: Remains in the cellar of
Jabbar's Trade Shop, petitioning to be part of Jabbar's plans. Yet as an underfolk, and being rather tight-lipped about his own secrets it is unknown how soon he will earn the trust of the others?

​ His fate and whereabouts remain unknown after he moved away from the camp outside
The Restless Sands Inn.

Svexyn & Wrenwil: Enter
Kumbakarna's cave and face the captured demon Kumbakarna kept for those who walked the path of blood. Luckily they managed to defeat it rather easily with Ordechai & Alic's help. They begin trading food with the Hill Tribe as they bed down in the cave and prepare to meet with Kumbakarna to present their gifts the next morning. Ordechai's friend and merchant, the one blinded by Kumbakarna for lusting after his wives, is also brought in by request of Ordechai to share their supper.

...to be continued.
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At Jabbar's Trade Shop

Aust Thale returns to Jabbars Trade Shop out of the lashing rain, bleeding and distraught. He stumbles against the door, smearing bloody fingers against the invisible runes to disarm the magical wards before he opens it and collapses within. Avar and Billanverthorne are quick to step to his side with wide-eyed looks. Aust expected to see Avar of course, he and Jabbar dropped off the Neferese-female prisoner earlier before the night went very-very wrong. The other elf beside him however is a stranger, but at this point Aust is so gladdened to be back safely he is willing to accept a new face at-face-value. Billanverthorne is an elf, elves usually conduct themselves respectfully towards each other.

"Aust! Where in the nine-hells have you been? Where is the prisoner?!" He exclaims.

Aust Thale said:
"She's Dead, I killed her. There was no choice. You should have warned me she was a wererat!"

Avar: Looks aghast.

Aust Thale said:
"YES! Where is Jabbar? He needs to hear this as well. In the middle of moving her body, I ran into another surly bunch delivering late night reserves of ale to the tavern next door. Only it wasn't ale. It was an ugly half-drow named Chuth and some hired-help looking to burn something down, likely this place. I framed them for the girl very loudly on the street. They scattered, and I followed them. He mentioned Noro to his guys when he didn't realize I was within earshot. His guys panicked at the Vulkyrie's horn. Chuth tagged one of them with a poison touch of some kind. The Vul guards got a couple of Chuth's goons and I put an arrow into Chuth to keep him from cutting them down. Probably didn't do them much of a favor. The Vulkyrie will interrogate them. Probably eat them or put them on slave duty for the trouble. Chuth is tough. He peppered me with a poison crossbow. Dunno what happened afterwards. I left in a hurry. Hopefully the Vulkyrie ate him. Not counting on it though."

Aust steadies himself, and he rises from his chair. Reaching first for a thick rag to protect his hands, he pulls the were-rat's poison dagger from his pack and the poison crossbow bolts from his quiver, placing them on the table.

"Dagger is the girl's. Bolts are Chuth's. Careful with them. All are poisoned. The bolts are particularly nasty. Now, would any of you possess a healing potion or two? Or perhaps one of you possesses healing spells? Actually, at this point, I'd settle for a bottle of wine."

Avar summons Jabbar and the Rhat upstairs. A few pressing questions are asked and answered. Ren the Rhat breaks the sad news that Aust has unwittingly cursed himself touching the unholy symbol of Vermithrax when he searched the prisoner earlier. He warns that before long the curse will run its course and he'll endure a terrible fate. Jabbar offers to take him to the neighboring Temple of Ishvar at dawn to ensure he is cured.

Suddenly the discussion is interrupted by a loud knock on the door, the sort of knock that resounds with authority.
Jabbar asks Ren, Billanverthorne and Avar to hide in the cellar. He then opens the view-port revealing a patrol of town guards on the street with sergeant Abdul and his lackey standing in front of the door. Jabbar opens the door.

"Sergeant Abdul! So glad to see you! There is trouble in the streets tonight!"

Sergeant Abdul: Nods, eyes flicking towards Aust. "May we come inside? We have questions." He says immediately noting the bloody bandages and general wounded look of Jabbar's partner.

Aust Thale said:
"Yes Sergeant, right away." Aust says deferentially. "Please come out of the rain.""

He acted natural, which was to say, his actions and motions were calm and deliberate. Fear was a luxury. His study of the Drow, particularly Drow males, had taught him a certain philosophy regarding survival. In their matriarchy, males were some mix of sex toy, soldier, and slave. Yes, yes, there were frequent exceptions to this rule, but exceptions were about pragmatism, not the ideal. Aust had thought about that a great deal when he disappeared from his family. Sparing his parents the inevitable war among siblings. Leaving the elven lands for Vulkh. For all practical purposes, it was exile. Being self-imposed didn't make it any less so. You figure out how to survive, and you adopt a serenity about the choices you make and don't make.

Aust was a marked elf. He was hunted. If it wasn't the Vul, it would be someone, or something else. If the rhat was correct, barring a minor miracle or major blessing from a priest, he was going to become and remain a lycan. Or worse. Noro would likely want his head on the same platter as Jabbar. Chuth would undoubtedly want his pound of flesh. The worst the Vul could do would be to torture and kill him. At this point, if lycanthropy was the other option, perhaps being tortured long enough to turn would work in his favor.

~High Ones.~

He wanted to speak, but he knew better. They were vain creatures who demanded submission. He would comply. After all, the guards accompanying them were doing their jobs. He would do himself and everyone else in the room a favor if he gave the Vul exactly what they wanted. Abdul always seemed honorable. Opening the door was compliance. Invitation was respect. Silence was...fear. And that's what they wanted. So be it.

~Silence Aust. Be quiet.~

He gave Abdul the opportunity to speak.

Sergeant Abdul:
"Tell me how you got those wounds?"

Aust Thale said:
Aust takes the briefest of moments to think about his response, only half listening to Jabbar in his exchange with the Sergeant. Jabbar's heart is in the right place, but he isn't paying attention. The Vul outside don't care about his gods, or Abdul's. They care about order, and more specific in this instance, what the hell dragged them out into the rain. The poison still lingering weakness in his system, he eyeballed Abdul and his retainer, and he made a decision. He would give Abdul a goal. Something to hunt. Something that would get and keep his attention. As for Aust? He was in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. He cut Jabbar off before Abdul had a chance to fully evaluate what Jabbar said.

"Jabbar, could you get me some water?"

As Jabbar moves to do just that, in a stoic, deliberately calm, truthful voice, Aust turns and replies to Abdul, " I followed the wrong people because, to paraphrase something you once told me, that I am an impetuous, nosy elf." Aust pauses a moment to collect himself, looks at Jabbar, then at Abdul, and Abdul's retainer, bringing them into the conversation. "I left earlier to hunt down some wine and got caught in the rain down the street where I ran into a late night ale delivery. At least that's what I thought. I heard yelling, and the Vulkyrie horn sounded, and the workers dropped their loads and fled. I followed them but didn't hide well enough. I should have known better. I heard the horn, but something wasn't right about them. I felt compelled to find out more. I shouldn't have. I should have kept looking for wine. One of them popped me with a crossbow. I ran as quickly as possible back here."


He drinks the water Jabbar has provided allowing himself to slouch a little, intentionally, so as to allow his real fatigue to mask the withholding of information. No lies, really. Just an abridged version of the facts. "He shot me with a poisoned bolt too!"

When the Sergeant invariably asks Aust to describe who he saw, Aust provides a description of Chuth with no mention of his name nor saying the words "Half-Drow", but emphasizing those features. Aust allows Abdul to come to the conclusion that this attacker is Half-Drow. And when he does, Aust becomes dark and brooding.

"Sargent, I will tread delicately here. Trust me on this. If indeed this fellow has Drow blood, even the Vulkyrie have cause to worry. As soberly as I can say this, there are few foes as relentless as motivated as the Drow. As an elf I know this for a fact. They can slaughter an entire town, even perhaps a city, in one night! And if they have one spy in our midst, undoubtedly there are more. Be careful."

Sergeant Abdul: (Sense Motive Check: =7, Fail)

Sergeants Lackey:
(Sense Motive Check: = 19, Fail)

At some point the sergeants lackey starts to interrupt your tale with questions of witnesses shouting of murder, but Abdul gestures for silence and says.

Sergeant Abdul: -Chiding his lackey- "Nevermind that, I believe what he says."

Sergeant's Lackey: Stammers with disbelief. "But sir! We can't ignore evidence of a possible murder!"

Sergeant Abdul: Glares. "What evidence? Some spots of blood in an empty wheelbarrow and claims by witnesses who were either indoors half-asleep or half-drunk in a tavern at the time? This elf actually saw something dangerous with his own eyes! If he says there are Drow prowling the streets, who are we to disbelieve him? Everyone knows how much surface elves and dark elves hate each other. He would not lie about of a threat so great as that, to do so would shame himself and his whole race."

Sergeants Lackey: "But sir! They're smugglers! Of course they'll lie!"

Sergeant Abdul: "Enough! I'll have no more discourtesy from you!" He barks.

Sergeants Lackey: Glares at Jabbar and Aust for a lingering moment before he says "Yes sir!" through clenched teeth as he turns and exits into the street.

Sergeant Abdul: Takes a quick breath and says. "Forgive my men... we're a bit on edge tonight. I don't know if every part of your story is true, but I'll bet there's more truth to it than not... and I thank you for the warning! In return I will give you a warning of my own. Those barrels dropped by those thugs weren't full of ale at all... it was alchemist's fire!" He states with dread.

Jabbar: Gasps quickly reacting as the sergeant would expect. (Bluff Check: =18)
"Alchemists Fire!" He states angrily honestly expressing that emotion.

Sergeant Abdul: (Sense Motive Check: = 10, Fail) "Yes indeed, it's anyone's guess what they intended to do with it exactly, but there can be no doubt great destruction would result. Alchemists fire is highly regulated in this realm, especially in town limits, for good reason. That much of it could start a raging inferno regardless of the rain!"

Jabbar: Nods, playacting, but he knows better, having bought and sold much of it in his trade... only whatever is coated by the oil would burn in the rain. If Noro's thugs intended to burn down the whole town with it, they'd need dozens of barrels in a storm such as this. But for now he holds his tongue and lets the ignorant sergeant make his presumptions.
"Thanks be to Ishvar that you found it before they could use it!"

Sergeant Abdul: Nods with pride. "I felt his guidance lead me to your doorstep. Somehow I knew there would be answers here. I'll be sure to mention your cooperation to the captain when I make my report later. Keep inside and lock your doors!" He says in farewell ready to make his leave.

Aust Thale said:
~Abdul is a good man. Few of those, it seems, these days.~

Aust replies, in closing, "Thank you, Sargent."

For a moment, Aust contemplated sharing some information about the were-rat /girl he had dispatched and to whom Abdul was no doubt referring when he mentioned the wheelbarrow and the drops of blood. Abdul mentioned no body. Unsettling and curious. He needed to fill in Jabbar on the details of the night, as well as inquire as to who the girl was.

Instead, Aust politely and respectfully allows the encounter with Abdul to end. No doubt Abdul's retainer would keep an eye on this place. Well enough. Aust needed to process the night's events. He admired the guards' dedication to law and order despite his having absolutely no use for it himself. He reminded himself to stop and offer a pint to the retainer and especially to Abdul upon his seeing them again. He sits silently for a moment after Abdul's exit. Then with elven quiet he met Jabbar's gaze and walks past him, placing his left hand on Jabbar's right shoulder in thankfully and apologetically, and contemplates the basement.

Aust: Speaks to Jabbar, quietly "This is just starting, isn't it?"

He picks up his cloak and hangs it to dry on a hook close to the fireplace and sets about stoking the flame a little.
He goes to where he had laid the contents of the were-rat's small pouch/pockets. The baubles she carried. The poison dagger (he is very careful with it). He sets Chuth's crossbow bolts down on the table next to it equally as carefully. He gathers some mead, a potato, and a carrot from the cupboard. Still no wine. He sits quietly, assessing the damage the bolt did to his bow when it pinned his hand to it (if any).

He speaks to Jabbar quietly without looking at him, focused on the bow, "Jabbar, I'd like to speak to the Rhat again, please, and I think you and Avar will want to listen to that conversation also. We should discuss what has happened. Might as well include your new Elven archer as well. I trust we will need to be acquainted before the morning."

When the group comes up from the basement, Aust is mildly surprised at the others (Burrai and Elloral). He introduces himself calmly, asking his pardon for his poor manners. He mentions in passing to Avar that two dwarves were looking for him, and he describes them, including the cheeky one. He describes with more detail his encounter with Chuth as he told Abdul, adding Chuth's name and the capture of Chuth's men and Noro's complicity in the failed attack. He then turns to Ren and Jabbar.

"Abdul said there was a wheelbarrow and some blood. No body. That's not good. She's supposed to be dead but she is a Wererat and its possible she survived. Who was she? If she is aligned with Noro as this half-drow assassin is, what kind of blow back can we expect? For that matter, what is Noro thinking? He must have not have his wits about him!"

Part 1 of 2, ...will be continued.
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At Jabbar's Trade Shop

Ren: Flicks his whiskers in disdain "Noro embodies the phrase, 'no honor among thieves', a spawn of former ways when many roguish groups vied for dominion over these streets. After master Rasul unified them, promising greater-prosperity-through-peace, excessive violence and interguild-corruption was harshly punished, which, ironically put hedonistic thugs like Noro in high-demand. His willingness to spit in the eye of guild-law earned him silent-admirers who retained his services as an enforcer with hefty purses of coin and other bribes."

"Noro's reputation for backstabbing served him well. Each time Rasul called for a reckoning against Noro, demanding that he be brought before the council in chains to answer to a vote-of-execution, Noro's promise of retribution against any who dared to vote against him kept the council's tally under the required majority. What's worse, Noro made a mockery of any other form of punishment inflicted on him; be it lashes, torture, hard-labor, or public-humiliation. His hatred of GuildMaster Rasul is such that it only makes him stronger and more determined to endure such mandates."

"Noro revels in defiance of guild-law because he views GuildMaster Rasul as his arch-enemy & rival. Nothing Master Rasul says holds credit in his mind, regardless of how much sense it makes. The final straw for my master was Noro's complicity in another guild-leaders death. About a year ago Noro attempted to seize power over a murdered guild-leaders territory. By guild-law of course, he could only adopt a guild-leaders position with a majority vote of the council, a vote he had already arranged for with bribes. The only thing that stopped his ascendence was my masters staunch refusal to allow it. Master Rasul's vow against the council if Noro was not exiled on the spot was the only thing that forced Noro from the Thieves Guild Hall that night."

Burrai Steelborn said:
Burrai suppressed a snort. The Rhat couldn't have made it sound more like a petty power squabble if he'd read it out of a book - history was little with tales of the underworld enlisting help to keep the crime rate from escalating. If it wasn't for this Noro's veiled threat of blood on the streets of Cabrada, well he'd probably try and keep Jabbar from getting involved. Except that....
Burrai Steelborn said:
~If there is more news of the Black Network, their movements or sightings, it stands to reason that the local thieves guild would be a good source of information. If I can get this Koyote on board, with his extra leverage with the Devils, and perhaps Cabrada's thieve's guild in my debt....~ It was a tantalising prospect. So far his plans only extended as far as information gathering and reconnaissance. But with access to resources, an underground network and a mercenary company...he could see the story unfolding before him. Hazy in its details, true, but it was there nonetheless.

"It seems your Master Rasul places much store in stability. Wise man. I've read many a tale of a crime lord too greedy to stop his expansions from bringing the whole guild down around his ears."

Ren: "Unfortunately Noro's exile, while dramatic, didn't accomplish much. Technically no one in the guild is allowed to shelter, aid or do business with him; but that hasn't stopped him it's only forced him further underground. Despite my masters best efforts, failing health and old age have weakened his grip on the council. With retirement long overdue, more than a few of the other guild-leaders view Master Rasul's seat of power with envy and scorn. It is obvious to all the guild is weakened with indecision about his successor. Noro obviously feels the time is right to launch an attack, but none of us imagined he was capable of the things Aust has seen. Association with the Cult of Vermithrax and drow-blooded killers is despicable to the extreme, even for him!"

Burrai Steelborn said:
"This cult of Vermithrax, do you think they might have already infiltrated the city, waiting for Noro's signal? Or would we have time to deal with him before the cult could be summoned?" He wasn't sure he cared either way. Either would by another footnote in history for Burrai Steelborn....

Ren: Wrings his hands together nervously, eyes turned inward as your question entreats a vision of horrors. "If they are already here among us, I lament to call myself a rhat and faithful servant of my good master without knowing!" He mutters, stepping over to lean on a chair. "We rhats take their evils quite seriously as so many of my kind end up in their numbers it's a constant struggle to maintain integrity within our families and good relations with the rest of our breed. Everyone of us are warned and educated about their evils from a very young age."

Aust Thale said:
Aust's mood grows darker, feeling the weight of the curse for a moment. "Noro deserves the worst fate imaginable coming after my home. Let him burn in the same alchemist fire he plotted to use against us! Lets trap him in the caves and burn everything. His followers. The wererats. All of them!"

Aust grows darkest at his last comment. "Chuth is another matter. I wasn't embellishing when I voiced concerns about the drow to Abdul. His presence isn't about a were-rat power grab. I'd be surprised if he is about any kind of local power grab at all. He's here for something else. Something darker. I'd say take him alive and interrogate him, but that is the finesse approach; I think in this instance, only a taste of real horror will weaken him enough to reveal his plans. Let HIM touch the unholy symbol of Vermithrax. Let HIM start to grow fur, big teeth, and a tail!”

Elloral: Creates a Magic Circle against Chaos around the talisman of Vermithrax, to help prevent any unknown powers it may possess (such as scrying) from working (at least for the duration which is 1 hour and 20 minutes.) As soon as that's complete, Ren reacts to the story about the deadly-encounter with Chuth,

"Chuth the half-drow! Several enemies and rivals of Noro have died since his appearance in town a few month's ago, some of which were masters to my brother rhats. They were the first to speak to this dangerous cutthroat you describe. Myself and master Rasul put the word out to our informants around town to report his whereabouts and activities to us if they ever spotted him. We also learned Chuth normally lives and operates in Masaeus where he has a deadly reputation as a wildly-expensive assassin and master of poisons. If it's true he's now serving Noro, I'm frankly surprised Noro can afford him."

"Word is Chuth has been seen at The Goblins Goblet tavern on several occasions. That tavern is a regular watering hole for seedier patrons of the arena who aren't welcome at The Cursed Cup. The Cursed Cup is owned and operated by Dwarven followers of Vergadain, I doubt very much Chuth would show his face there! The Goblins Goblet however is run by a thuggish Half-Orc named Urgan."

"Urgan is known for his greed... always bragging about how the arena will make him rich. He tries to arrange betting schemes with some of the regular gamblers at the arena, but he's too foolish to realize they work for us! Urgan used to allow our pick-pockets in his establishment in exchange for a cut of their takings. That stopped after he decided it was more profitable just to lure his own customer into a back room and club them over the head instead. If anyone's willing to let someone like Chuth have regular meetings in their tavern, it's him, so long as there's a fat bribe in it for him."

Jabbar: Scowls.
"Urgan is a piece of filth, but formidable. He's got street-smarts aplenty and his own thugs to back him up. If Aust or myself ever walked into his place he'd know right away to be on his guard. He expects a certain type of scummy customer; someone without honor or scruples."

Avar: Speaks up.
"I could go. Sundered dwarves aren't known for high moral values." He smirks.

Ren: Shakes his head.
"Doesn't matter, you're a dwarf. Urgan lost a bet to the owners of The Cursed Cup recently and decided he hates dwarves. He won't serve your kind anymore."

Elloral: Scoffs

Ren: Turns once again to plead with Jabbar.
"I know master Rasul has a mind to make an ally of you Jabbar, and that desire should only get stronger once he hears about this plot. Can you really afford to shirk that idea now that we know whats at stake?"

"It is not so much that Ren. Of course I will do whatever needs to be done to keep the town safe, but beyond the necessities of present circumstances I'm not free to make alliances with whomever I wish. I carry an ancient family name with ancestral expectations along with it. Besides that, my own network of clients and informants will crumble if they hear I am in league with a thieves guild; fearing I'll use their secrets to undermine and blackmail them the way thieves guilds frequently do."

"None of that will matter if Kyser, King of the Wererats & lord of the Undercity of Masaeus, has a mind to sack this town!"

"I'm not yet convinced that he does? We don't have any actual proof about this attack, yet... all we know for certain is the Cult of Vermithrax is up to something and they're likely in league with Noro. If King Kyser actually does have plans to sack this town it would lead to open war between himself and the Vul. Whether he succeeds or not, is sacking this town really worth that sort of risk?"

"I believe it's more likely the cult itself is behind this, autonomously. After all, they can't be completely beholden to King Kyser can they? Powerful as he is, he's still not their god correct?"

"Correct. Vermithrax would never allow his authority to be shared like that. Burrai has also just reminded me to consider the wisdom of keeping that unholy talisman here with us? I can't say I can think of any good reason to do so, but if we insist on it, we need another way to shield against its magic besides that spell I just cast which will only last a little longer than an hour from now."

"I do have something that will do nicely for that purpose. Down in the cellar I keep a box enchanted with an anti-magic field to prevent Vulfear agents and their like from detecting any magic items I hide away in my cellar."

Elloral: Nods.
"That should suffice, but why are we even considering holding unto it? Surely nothing good will come of it. More will come looking for it!"

Jabbar: Shakes his head.
"They won't try anything tonight, not with the Vulkyrie stalking about in such a foul mood. This Chuth fellow is the one who should be worried, thanks to what Aust said to the sergeant. Between the Vulkyrie, their Vulfear informants and the town guard, I expect Chuth's gonna regret he ever saw Aust before long.""We need to return to the smugglers caves, that much is certain. How long we wait and when we go back is up for debate. I say we make all the preparations we reasonably can to ensure we have the upper hand before we face a battle with the likes of wererats. I need time to call in some favors and ask some allies for help."

"Such as Master Rasul!" He blurts out on que.

Jabbar: Nods.
"Certainly. Whatever help your master can offer is welcomed. Cabarda has been his home a long time, I'm sure he's as keen to defend it as I am. But honestly Ren, how can you be sure any orders he makes to his subordinates in the guild aren't gonna find their way to Noro's ears? That bastard obviously already suspects we've seen too much. That's why he sent his goons to burn us all alive! The last thing he wants to hear is rumors about half the city rallying to stop him. If that happens before we're ready to face him, he may launch his attack sooner than already planned, and whatever preparations we've managed to make up to that point might not be enough."

'In two days time there will be an eve of the full moon. If Noro is indeed planning an attack with the aid of the Cult of Vermithrax we'll know to expect him in the smugglers caves, overseeing final preparations on that evening. What we need to decide is what our plan is going to be to thwart that attack? We'll need to return to the smugglers caves, that much is certain. How long we wait is up for debate. I say we make all the preparations we reasonably can for a tactical advantage against the wererats before we chose to do battle. For now I say we rest and act tomorrow."

Billanverthorne said:
Bill speaks up, trying to unify the party's direction, and give them a sense of purpose.
Billanverthorne said:
"Jabbar is absolutely correct. We do need rest, and some of us also need healing. Let's spend the rest of this night doing that."

Bill's countenance hardens, as he continues:
"In the morning, I need to meet with someone, on an urgent matter of business. His name is Jarahdrin, and he is very connected in this city. I doubt he would be able to provide any direct help, but he may have information that will aid us in our endeavors. Speaking with him was my primary reason for coming to Cabarda in the first place. I cannot fail to attend this meeting."

Bill looks at Jabbar.
"Given all of the events that have transpired tonight, from the Hobgoblin ambush, to the scuffle in the caves, the skirmish with Kong, etc., I do not feel it wise to attend the meeting alone, in a city I am unfamiliar with. Neither do I wish to show up with several armed persons accompanying me. Given that Jarahdrin knew my father, and knows who I am, do you think he'd agree to meet us here, or in some other safe location where we can all congregate? I don't like the idea of splitting up, especially since our purpose is unified, and our enemies are abundant."

Bill adds,
"Once I've met with Jarahdrin, I would like to accompany you to meet Rasul; If we plan to return to the Smuggler's Caves, we'd better do it in force. Perhaps Rasul could lend us a few 'retainers' to assist us? I know that a few of us here can hold our own in a fight, but I do not like the idea of being overwhelmed by a far-superior force. I'd also like to go into those caves with magical protective spells already having been cast, and carrying a healing potion or two, if that could be somehow managed. And if we're to be facing wererats, some silver weaponry would be in order."

Lastly, Bill concludes his comments with a warning:
"Make no mistake, my friends. When we return to those caves, it will be for the purpose of killing. We cannot afford to show mercy; the enemy will offer us NONE. It's kill or be killed. The wererats are utterly evil, and will do their best to destroy us. Noro's heart must be equally dark, if he is dealing with the likes of them. And Noro's minions are evil as well, if they would so readily swear allegiance to a murderer who deals with wererats. NO ONE in those caves deserves your mercy!! If we do this, we must commit ourselves to a grim duty; not one of the enemy can leave those caves alive. When we go there, we go there with the purpose of battle. And that battle will be to the death. Is everyone prepared for that?"

Burrai Steelborn said:
Burrai sat in a chair slightly too large for him, feet dangling and inch above the floor, hands pressed together in prayer and against his lips. He listened, thought, planned, prepared. The players and pieces coalesced on the board, and he applied all his instinct and intelligence to the problem. It wasn't so different from planning a battle, or an insurgence - just that the time frame was longer, the factions larger and more disperate, and the goals of all parties more complex than simply surviving the upcoming battle. It felt familiar, comfortable. Exciting.

Burrai mentally shifted a couple of pieces around on the board. A pattern began to form, a weave of actions that, properly executed, might tip the whole situation into their open palms. Truth was most plans lasted only until the first arrow was fired, but that was no reason not to make them. He waited for discussion to die down, still and motionless as rock. Sometimes even conversations needed tactics and timings....

He rumbled into the quiet.
Burrai Steelborn said:
"Battles are often fought and won by those who pick the terrain. Here, with this amulet, we have a way to choose the terrain - no general worth their weight in regolith would turn down such an opportunity. So here's how I see our situation." He took a moment, checking the game-board he'd built inside his head.

"We have, currently, four enemies. Firstly is the Vul - we want to keep these from the board whatever happens, and so we shouldn't do anything that might alert them. This, as we all have experience in, is reasonably natural to us. Second: Noro. This is our focal point: Our goal. With him toppled, most of our enemies fragment and lose cohesion. Routed if you will. He has allies though. And that brings us to our Third and Fourth factions. The cult of Verminthrax provides a problem with its muscle and numbers. I agree with Jabbar that this Kyser trying to sack Cabarda is unlikely. More sensible would be to install a ruler of the underworld here - and most people know underground organisations tend to be as much functioning parts of any town as the rightful rulers - and have that leader beholden to you. But it is a risk - and so I would guess Kyser will send enough support to achieve Noro's goals, but not risk any more. We aren't in Noro's goals, and so potentially they aren't as heavily supported as they might be. Which brings us to the amulet."

Burrai takes a breath, looking around the room, trying to gauge reactions. It was difficult. The night's events had pushed a lot of people outside their comforts, which could easily make them eager or dismissive dependant on their personalities. Which he knew too little of to make assumptions.

"The best way to defeat any larger force is by isolation. With the Amulet we can potentially lure a piece of Noro's strength and either, as Ersun says, destroy or neutralise it. Divided, Noro is weakened. And because we know the time and location, thanks to Bill and Ren, if this Rasul want's to strike, then is the perfect opportunity. If we can weaken Noro, then Rasul will have no better time to re-establish his control. It will take coordination, yes, but our and Rasul's goals here coincide, and it is a perfect opportunity. Rasul will know if he believes he still commands enough loyalty to topple Noro on even ground without these wererats to back him up....."

"Which brings us to our Fourth and most unknown enemy. Chuth. He's a wildcard, and therefore could prove to be the marble that shatters the pick. Jabbar has a point that thanks to Aust here, he will have much to fear from the Vul. Right now, like them, we don't want him on the board. So it seems to make sense to entangle the pair, well away from the smugglers caves. And that, I believe, accounts for all the variables we face. We are not many, but we are enough to apply pressure in plenty of places."

He stood now, walking in a loose circle before his chair, hands behind his back, head bowed in thought.
"By that assessment, I see the following actions we need to accomplish in the next two days before Noro makes his play for control of Cabarda." He held out one hand, counting the points out on his callous, scarred fingers. "One: Alert the Vul to Chuth's presence, and set a trap. Two: Draw Chuth into that trap, in a place preferably as far away from the smuggler's caves as possible. Three: Assess the size of the threat posed by the cult of Verminthrax - this will decide whether we ambush and neutralise them by force, or by misdirection. Four: We meet with Rasul and convince him of the need to strike at Noro at the time and location of our choosing. And Lastly, considering the larger threat the Black Network poses, we should reach out to any potential allies we might have. Bound into our plans over the next two days, the likelihood of their help in the bigger fight grows."

He folded his hand into a fist and let it drop. He picked out people individually.
"If this Chuth is hiding in the Goblin's Goblet, out of all of us, you or Bill represent the best chance of getting close enough to turning both the Vul and Chuth against each other. The right rumours spoke in the right places are often the most effective, and that tavern certainly sounds like one of the right places. Similarly, Aust and Bill seem to possess the best skills to scout out the Cult of Verminthrax and assess their strength. It certainly isn't me." He makes a gesture to his heavy armour. "Jabbar is already under summons from Rasul, and so seems best placed to broker an alliance to add their strength to ours. Meanwhile, Jabbar mentioned someone called Koyote, who might prove to be a powerful ally. As I have had dealings with the mercenaries of Cabarda, more than once, and have a name he may well know, I shall seek him out to see what aid we can illicit from him against both Noro and the Black Network in the future."

He paused, eyes closed, breathing deeply and checking all the moves he'd plotted out on the board of his mind. It seemed to fit, but one couldn't be too careful.

"So these are my suggestions. What do you all think? Obviously we have a little time - Bill has business to attend to also, but thankfully not too much is time critical. Who is this Jarahdin Bill, and do you think he might be able to prove an asset in our endeavours? But Bill is also right; we have an opportunity here to strike a heavy, decisive blow to Noro and gain incredible infulence in this town. We should not shirk from it...."

......and if it worked, Burrai Steelborn would carve yet another mark into history that scholars and bards would find it hard to ignore....

Billanverthorne said:
Ponders these remarks for a moment;
Billanverthorne said:
"Do we know if Kong or any of his men frequent the Goblin's Cup? If so, an unknown Elven Archer showing up suddenly and poking around might raise a few red flags, after our little alley encounter. One of his men saw me, albeit only briefly. I think that perhaps Aust, or maybe Ersun, are the best suited among us for such a 'finesse' operation as rumor-starting. I am what military commanders often refer to as a blunt instrument."

Bill runs his fingers through his hair once, brushing his bangs away from his face, before continuing: "As for scouting the cult of Verminthrax, I'd think Ren the best suited for such a thing, although I will gladly accompany him as a bodyguard. I can sneak around a little, but I do rattle somewhat, because of all the metal I wear. I'm better at hiding in wooded areas than I am in underground environments. And my role as a scout in my army days was "hiding from a distance," i.e., long-range observation, not close-quarters reconnaissance."

Bill pauses, before saying: "As for Jarahdrin, he is a wealthy merchant, and was a good friend of my father's. He and my father both were researching the Black Network, and Jarahdrin was using his skill as an amateur historian and student of obscure lore to help my father in his endeavors. The Black Network killed my father because of what he discovered about them. My father left a notebook in his study that contained much of that information; however, all but a scrap was burned up by a Black Network agent. My hope is that Jarahdrin will be able to tell me the contents (or perhaps most of it, anyway) of that notebook. The two of them shared information between themselves, it is likely that Jarahdrin knows firsthand what the missing information is."

Avar: Speaks up to make a further point.
"One thing I know for certain is Chuth is not serving the Black Network. Surface goblinoids do not tolerate those of drow-blood, unless they are forced into servitude one way or another. I know this for a fact because there were no dark elves holding the whips at Skull Mountain when my clan was enslaved for two hundred years!" He states while clenching his fist.

Gasps and regards Avar with awe.
"So it is true! Dwarves were kept alive at Mt Gythmora (original name of Skull Mountain) after the fall!"

Avar: Nods bitterly.
"My relatives speak of those years as 'the centuries in chains'; as they were forced to maintain the stronghold and continue tunneling and mining for their monstrous overlords. These tattoo's..." He speaks to the broken chains around his lower neck "...are a reminder never to forget what they endured. Referring to is as 'forced-labor' is too kind a term, it was hell! Each one of them was brutalized and spat upon for almost half a lifetime."

"I heard rumors about a clan who claimed to escape the dark halls of skull mountain long after it fell under the sway of evil. I could hardly believe it because I never got the chance to speak with any, until now..." She swallows. "Tell me, why have you not sheltered with the other clans?"

"For two reasons. Firstly, sundered dwarves lack the respect of our hillfolk and mountain kin. There has never been room for us in your halls. We survive living on the fringes of society, taking shelter with men like Jabar who share our commitment to abolish evil! Secondly, we remember with despair how many mountain dwarves are still there _willingly_ serving the Black Network, betraying their own king, kin and kith! We've learned from bitter experience to only trust our own."

"Dwarves should stand together!"

"Aye they should! If your clans had rallied again to a purpose after Torgrimm's defeat, we might not have suffered so long!" He states with a clear undertone of accusal. "It is only by great sacrifice that we eventually escaped, vowing to kill any creature of the black network we came across to avenge the deaths of so many who did not survive!"

"We took to raiding their camps and hideouts, killing dozens, for little purpose..." He states sadly. "The Black Network can afford to lose dozens of scouts everyday. Our victories changed nothing except to ensure they never ceased hunting us! We even tried dissuading their agents with acts of brutality after capturing them, making examples for those who might follow... but the truth is the Black Network does worse to their own who refuse to obey orders."

"Still we remained steadfast in our vow, hoping our example would motivate others to join our cause. We called forth for your clans to rally to our banners, but our emissaries were turned away with ridicule and scorn. Even after all that's been lost you are still too proud to consider shedding blood for our sake!"
He spits angrily, clearly getting heated.

"Avar! Enough of that! Elloral and Burrai and are not to blame for those plights! They are strong allies, have you not seen and heard enough to realize that?!"

Avar: Nods curtly.
"Forgive me. I speak from weariness, and a broken heart. At times I feel I must speak for the woes of the dead. A solemn duty for those of us left in my clan who are still living. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Burrai Steelborn and his wise advisor." He states with deference.

Elloral: Tightens her lips.
"Good! Burrai and I are not your enemies! We also know the shame of betrayal by our fellow dwarves, the pain of loss of friends and loved ones to the evil designs of the Black Network; and how it feels to be hunted by their beasts and their scouts. We're on the same side!"


What do you do? If it is your desire to simply bed down and rest... you can find space in the cellar below or the upstairs storeroom. There is plenty of bedding, candles, lanterns, food and drink stored away in the shops provisions. Tubs for washing are also available, with the means to heat water here on the hearth in the common room. I should not have to point out the wisdom of setting up a watch (preferably peeking from a window) in case any other foes decide to disturb your slumber.]

*Note: I need to go back to edit this post later and add the proper text-colors... unfortunately my list of text-colors-by-character was lost when I tried to transfer data off my hard drives so it needs to be recreated.

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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth

"Yes," Bill says. "Let's get some rest. I need to be in top form for my meeting tomorrow." Bill heads downstairs, to sleep on a cot in the secret basement. Unless Jabbar would prefer him to sleep in the storeroom.

Bill is only 3 points down. He will re-wrap his bruised ribs before resting. HEAL CHECK: 1d20+4 = 11.
Bill will memorize READ MAGIC x1, DETECT MAGIC x2, and SHIELD x2 for the day when he awakens.

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Beneath the Red Sands Inn

Kayote breathes deep, still angry, but resists landing further blows on the priest. Instead he steps past him to the door at the end of the corridor which is not locked. This door opens to reveal a large room, about twenty feet by thirty feet, well-illuminated with lanterns, smelling of freshly cut wood, cured hides and smelting iron.

One wall holds racks of wooden planks, posts and sheets of leather and hide. Before these materials are leatherworking frames and woodworking tools. One corner of the room has a small forge with crates of freshly-made weapons, iron-nails, hinges, grates, and manacles. The forge keeps this room uncomfortably hot as you step inside. Another corner has a large table for seating six and another corner has bunks for six, some chests for personal possessions and a bath. The final corner has another door.

Inside the room are three dwarves and two rhats. One dwarf is busy at the forge (facing away from you) pounding away on an anvil with only a leather apron hanging over his broadly muscled torso, cord-like veins popping out of his neck and forearms. This one keeps his whole head clean-shaven with a thick, unkempt black beard, sans-mustache, swaying under his jaw. He looks to be nearly middle-aged by dwarven standards and clearly a master of his trade. Across his back a large tattoo is written in highly stylized dwarven script... which unfortunately you cannot read you don't speak dwarven. This dwarf doesn't seem to notice your entry at all, so concentrated he is on his craft. You are also curious how the sound of his hammering didn't carry into the corridor, perhaps a muting enchantment on the door or the threshold?

A second dwarf, younger than the smith, stands before a work bench crafting a chest out of wood and iron, a fine piece by the look of it... except for all the stiff coil-springs and sharpened steel spikes he looks to be fitting inside it. A trapped chest, very-deadly by the looks of it! This one is more handsome (not that an elf would usually call a dwarf handsome) with reddish-blonde locks and an elaborately-braided beard. Beside the chest is a small pile of apple-cores. He notes your appearance with a wave and a smile. Beside him the pair of rhats (which you gather must be helpers) are fitting a falchion's blade inside a wooden box for another trap capable of chopping through a skull as easily as a melon. Both rhats also note your entry immediately, staring curiously, whispering to each other without trying to be rude about it. Both are seemingly too well mannered, or well-trained, to speak up before their master does.

The last dwarf is clearly the oldest of the three... seated at the far end of the table in a brown robe. Leaned against the wall beside his chair is an ornate staff topped with a perfect sphere of polished brown quartz. This elder is currently crouched over the pages of a thick spellbook laid out across the table, running his fingertips across the script revealing rings on every digit. He peers up from the pages as you enter, furrowing his wrinkled brow with annoyance. Atop his balding head, speckled with liver-spots, sits an ornate bronze skull-cap bearing intricate runes. His great grey-brown beard drapes all the way down to his waist, with at least a dozen bronze beads hung throughout.

Kayote: Steps aside for you before he shuts the door and immediately introduces you.
"This is Aletia Moonborn, much like family to my dear friend Vallio. These dwarves hail from the home-of-my-birth, the Kingdom of Barossa. The craftsman working on the chest is Apstok, or 'Apple' to his friends..."

Aletia said:
The pale young elf gasped in quiet astonishment as the secret workshop and its inhabitants were revealed. Now this was interesting! ~What an unusual place to conduct business. What interesting workers he has.~
Aletia said:
She also took note of the chests and their seemingly violent purpose, taking a mental note to remember... take care should some future day come, when a great chest of treasures might allure and seduce. ~They say greed has a price, perhaps this is to what they refer!~ Dwarves. She'd never had much to do with their kind, yet Vallio had oft encouraged her to keep an open mind, to make her own decisions on matters of shape and size when it came to humble and potentially “good” folk.
Aletia said:

"Presumption is dangerous young Aletia, with ages-a-few beneath that belt there will be temptations to draw on false knowledge, to recall old debts and misgivings, and let them dictate to you. No Aletia, you my girl are a free spirit. The moon falls on all. It is action and a sound mind that makes one's life meaningful. Not flowing down a river of preconception and arrogance."

That's what he'd said many years ago, when the elven girl had giggled and mocked at the first sight of a gnome. The short little fellow was a marketeer selling rough uncut stones. She regretted it shortly afterwards. The Aquamarine was wondrous, yet as revenge the little-man had refused to sell, not even one small morsel. It was unsettling how these old memories, insignificant at the time, seemed to float back with a great sense of potency.

Apstock: Grins and makes a slight bow, sliding his hands behind his back producing two ripe apples out of thin air... one of which he lazily chomps into and the other he playfully tosses towards you while he says. "Pleased to meet you!"

Kayote: Continues
"The smith at the anvil is Orric. Pardon his deep-concentration, he's deaf and hates to be disturbed..."

Elder-Dwarf: "He isn't the only one!" The old wizard at the table cuts in with a rude tone.

Kayote: Answers with a side-long stare towards the elder-dwarf.
"That crusty specimen over there is Broulgrune. He isn't long for this world, might not need to bother with introductions so far as he's concerned..."

Broulgrune: Guffaws. "Smart words from a Kayote so long-in-the-tooth!" He quips. "I'll outlive you yet, and you can bet the little elven lass there will also!"

"She'll outlive us both no doubt." He states with resignation. "How goes progress on tomorrow's contest?"

Broulgrune: Shakes his finger. "Hah! You come down here empty-handed and expect answers? Where's the Tejj?"

"I drank it all you old-goat! I've had some sad news."

Broulgrune: Hmmphs "The hospitable thing would be to offer you something from my own cellars..." He says reaching into his robe producing a bottle of fine rum from some sort of extra-dimensional storage space. "But I'm not that hospitable as you know... so we'll add the cost of this fine Barossan Rum to my next fee!"

Kayote: Smirks
"Nothing fine ever came out of your pockets, but of course I'll need to drink something to tolerate your company..." He states with plain sarcasm, leading the way over to the table.

As you sit, Orric's peripheral vision finally takes note there are visitors as pauses mid-swing and turns to stare, panting and breathing heavily. Kayote looks in his direction and nods with acknowledgement. Orric glances at the elf, looks confused but unconcerned... and places his hammer beside the anvil strolling over to the living area to drunk his head into the bath, toweling himself off.

Kayote: Takes the offered bottle from Broulgrune and grabs a cup already on the table. As he pours Broulgrune speaks to Aletia.

"Aletia is it? Forgive our manners. We aren't accustomed to a ladies presence here."

Aletia said:
“Oh no kind Broulgrune,” she replied, making sure to meet eyes with all of Kayote’s friends as she continued, “please forgive me, for disturbing your so exacting and masterful work.”

It wasn’t the time to ask a barrage of questions, she held back, wanting to speak of the wondrous cut of quartz, who had done it, with what tools, for what purpose they chiseled and sweat over blood-stealing chests, how long they had worked here, and on and on. No. She chose to carefully ask her questions one at a time, and gauge Kayote’s demeanor after each.

Kayote: "How goes progress on tomorrow's contest?"

Aletia said:
That was what had really pricked up her ears. Was this contest linked to Kayote’s first “task”? She had to know.

“I am a new arrival in these lands, please, share with me, what is this contest to be held on morrow’s day?”

Aletia said:
~If it is a drinking contest, they would be a force to be reckoned with. Somehow I suspect something more mischievous~

Broulgrune: Raises a pair of very bushy brows in surprise to your question. "You haven't heard of the contest?!" He smirks, shifting his eyes to Kayote. "What kind of host are you not to tell your guests about your inns biggest attraction?!"

Kayote: Snorts.
"I take no pleasure from the contest, you know that. It's simply a means to an end."

Apstock:"And yet it's helped make your inn wildly popular and kept our pockets full of coin!" He grins stretching his arms out to Broulgrune and Orric indicating how much they all appreciate the wealth. "Besides, there's still a gladiatorial arena in town last I checked. What's the difference between 'the contest' and what they do in the arena?"

Kayote: Frowns at Apstock. "Gladiators are honorable warriors. Omar Drehd was the best of em. I've told you before how he..."

Apstock: Interrupts. "Aye you've spoken of Omar at least a hundred times! But even a great warrior such as he was helpless against a sharp dagger in his sleep!" He exclaims. "His murderers didn't care about killing him honorably, why should we worry about how we kill them?"

Kayote: Suddenly slaps his hand on the table as he glares at the ginger-haired dwarf who jumps with a start. "IT MATTERS!" He says in a near-shout. "Don't speak as if you understand this contest just because you make traps." He huffs. "You didn't make the man in the iron mask. I did!" He states jabbing his finger towards Apstock and himself for emphasis. "What he is now, therefore, is a dark reflection of me." He says disgustedly. "His sins are now my sins... Every kill he makes, lessens the state of my soul!"

Orric: Steps over to the table and sits across from the pair of you, completely oblivious to the nature of the conversation. His chair creaks under his great bulk of muscle. He looks to each of your faces in turn, expecting to see lips moving, but Kayote's last words brought an awkward silence to the table.

Broulgrune: Clears his throat. "We've talked about this before old friend. We agreed to continue for as long as it takes until the master of the man in the iron mask comes to free him."

Kayote: Looks to Aletia, anger still simmering beneath the surface, but also embarrassment, even shame.
"Forgive an old man his ranting. It's been a long night and I've drank too much..." He says in low spirits.

Apstock: Frowns. "It is my fault. My tongue often outwits my good sense."

"No it is I who should apologize..." He says hoarsely. "As I said, I received some sad news tonight, it's put me in a dark mood. I am in no shape to keep good company."

Orric: Frowns and makes a gesture with one meaty arm apparently asking for more.

Kayote: Looks to Orric and sighs.
"It is my dear old friend Vallio. Aletia here has informed me he died recently, of poison!"

Orric: Clenches his jaw. He makes another gesture, chopping his hand down against his other hand.

Kayote: Shakes his head.
"No friend, we are not seeking revenge. We wouldn't even know where to look to find it? Aletia suspects the dark elves are behind it."

Orric: Nods slowly in understanding, looking to Aletia now and makes a gesture of a question, pointing at the table.

"She's here because Vallio asked me to look after her. She wants to help us."

Orric: Seems to not like that. He makes another gesture of a question pointing around in a vague circle.

Kayote: "She doesn't have anywhere else to go Orric. She's lost her family too."

Orric: Huffs and glares towards Kayote, making a gesture towards everyone and shaking his head drawing his finger across his throat.

"He thinks its a bad idea to be with us because bad people want us dead." He explains to you before he answers back. "She's not as weak as she looks Orric. Her father was Athias-the-drow-slayer, a great warrior. She also learned sorcery from Vallio himself."

Orric: Seems to ponder that and shrugs, making another gesture to one of his eyes.

"He says he'll have to wait and see before he's convinced." He translates and smirks. "Why do you think I brought her down here?" He states back to Orric.

Apstock: Speaks up. "Enough of this talk, the poor girl is mortified!" He says with empathy taking note of your expression. "If she's here to help, at least explain what we're up too."

Kayote: gestures to the second door at the corner of the workshop. "That door enters an underground maze originally designed by the mayor as a private spectacle for other debaucherous merchant lords. When this building became the town hall, no one else had any use for it. When I took possession of the building, I had half a mind to remove the maze and expand the wine-cellar, but it turns out my sons enjoyed it so much I didn't have the heart to destroy it." He states. "Now that my sons are dead, we use it for an entirely different purpose, pitting challengers against the man in the iron mask."

Apstock: "And there's no shortage of those!" He quips. "Each week we accept two new challengers, modifying the layout of the maze each time, creating new traps and chests-of-items for whatever unfortunate fools dare to enter. We only have two rules about challengers. First they can't be spellcasters, second, they can't bring in their own equipment. At first _we_ had to pay to bring challengers into the contest. Then after an audience built up we started asking for a 10gp fee... that quickly doubled into 20, then 40, and now it's up to 400! Even so, we are booked weeks in advance."

Kayote: Adds.
"Most of the money generated from the contest actually happens in betting, handled upstairs by Rhea herself. By the time a contest has ended we've usually netted anywhere from several hundred to several thousand gp... much of which is lost in taxes of course."

Apstock: "Yet thanks to Broulgrune, no one up there has any idea who we are or what we do behind the scenes to make the contest happen." He says with a smile.

Broulgrune: "That's because my magic allows them to spectate the contest remotely. Allow me to demonstrate..." The old wizard says grasping his staff and muttering incantations until the quartz sphere at the top begins to glow. He then reaches up one hand to grasp it, a rainbow of light escaping between his fingers before he seemingly absorbs the magic, transferring it into his body as he closes his eyes and reaches his hand across the table, opening his palm, facing upwards, revealing a glowing sphere of pure magic.

The elder dwarf continues to mutter causing the sphere to enlarge until it's an opaque glowing orb easily thrice the size of the quartz sphere on his staff. You feel its light as much as see it, feelings its rays tingle against your skin, but it is false light and thus has no warmth. A myriad of colors and shapeless blobs seem to ebb and flow across its surface as the dwarf's bushy brows knit tighter in concentration.

Suddenly you see yourself, watching yourself in the orb, and then you see yourself at the table seated with the others as if you were a fly on the wall. Apstock takes the opportunity to make a face at Broulgrune who grumbles something in between the words of his spell. Orric yawns, apparently bored with a demonstration he's likely seen at least a dozen times before. The fly-on-the-wall perspective inside the orb maintains while the vision moves over to the door and passes through it.

You blink inadvertently as the tone and distance of what you see suddenly changes to mimic that of darkvision revealing a strange maze constructed of posts and planks that stretch from floor-to-ceiling. As you watch the vision moves through the maze, turning around dozens of corners until you're thoroughly lost and somewhat dizzy.

Apstock: "Much of it is freshly constructed, and you'll note the presence of random chests and secret chambers..." He says as the orb takes you through a false wall into a hidden chamber. "Challengers begin with nothing, as does their foe. They must find whatever they can use to defeat him from within the maze. The contest continues until only one survives. Yet the man in the iron mask remains undefeated after several years and dozens of battles."

Kayote: Mutters.
"Winning battles is the only way he earns his next meal. So long as he wants to eat he'll keep fighting."

Meanwhile the vision moves through the maze to another door leading into the rear of the same cell the priest was standing before just minutes ago. Yet just when it would seem you would glimpse inside...

Kayote: Growls.

Broulgrune: Dispels the clairvoyance, opening his eyes again. "Each table upstairs has a polished stone sphere like this one." He gestures to his staff "Through those they can tap into my clairvoyance. They even have the ability to manipulate their own viewing angles, though of course I limit their range of vision to just the maze."

Aletia said:
'Overwhelmed, bewildered, blown away,' might have been words for it. Aletia listened to the discourse, all the while keeping control of her tongue and desire to ask but a myriad of questions. Her wide green eyes, furrowing brow and tightly clamped lips probably told the story though. She was as much surprised as shocked, in awe, and strangely evermore curious about the facts revealed, and those also that still lay concealed.

She had no doubt that Vallio had called folk "friends" from all walks of life. Simple shepherds. Council members. A breeder of fine dogs. The wife of a grain merchant. A stray cat that lived under a bridge not far from what was once called home. Everywhere he trod the man seemed to strike up friendships, yet all the while he'd seemed nothing but lonely till she'd walked by his side.

To date, Kayote was by far the most unusual of his past comrades. ~A man not to be underestimated as just an old and thick-veined drunkard~ she thought to herself. What had just been explained to her was complex, required the talents of many, and skills that she'd once have denied possible. All this work. All this skill. All this planning was to one end, coin. Or was it? The young elf pondered on the as yet unspoken, how this "contest" of sorts must bring some kind of reward and safety, popularity even, that no doubt kept his Inn in fine regard.

There was a pause as Aletia let it all sink in, before finally she smiled and said, "I am most honored to be allowed to see your work and learn of these things," before nodding and adding, "you have my word, on Vallio and all the good he was to me, that I shall never speak word of these things to anyone. You bring me here in deep trust, and you must know that I will respect this privilege."

She looked to Broulgrune, "it is... truly incredible. A power that I've not once before learned of, nor heard of. You are no doubt a master Sir, and I thank you for opening my eyes. It is true that threads of sorcery flow through these veins, but I dare say my arts are simple ones, born of a life on foot, wandering with aim to see the world and let it find me... a purpose so to say. As such, my enchantments lie in the domains of protection and stealth. Vallio honed these skills with me, to ensure my safety... to create options... should one day I need to remove myself from harm."

Turning now to Kayote, Aletia continued. "That said, as Master Burlock may surmise, I am far from useless if trained by Vallio's hand. We all have our strengths, and mine were honed to watch as eyes, to learn, and to strike from range and never be known. I hunt under the moon, yet until Vallio's death knew not what I hunted."

"Kind men, I would be honored to serve you and your purpose here for as long as you will have me. Tell me, what do you need to know of me? What is it that I can do to serve in your great contest? I can craft bows and fletch arrows as good as any man, yet I dare say, your maze seems more a place for death at arms reach."

Kayote: "We'll have to wait and see before we're convinced." He remarks plainly.

Aletia said:
"You are wise to question. Why would you trust the words of a miss-placed young elf till now unknown. Tell me, how may I convince you? Name the tasks you wish to grant me, and I will serve you as best I am able. What I do not know, let me learn from you. I promise not to distract you nor pepper your ears with a ladies endless questions, yet for what I can learn in this work, I will be endlessly grateful."

Respect. Admiration. A sprinkle of flattery.

Aletia's words had been well-chosen and seemed to have melted some of the ice with Kayote's secret "crew". They were accepting of her as-yet-undefined role; something she owed to her link with Vallio, to elven gracefulness of voice and more prominently, Kayote's apparent leadership and respect for the craftsmen. She was now included in something; mischievous, artistic, and with ample opportunity to grab new knowledge firmly in both hands.

The details of exactly what she’d signed up for were still paper thin, undefined, transient and hanging in the air, but she would not dig deeper yet.

In the pause as she awaited a reply, Aletia took a bite of her apple and wondered...~They trust me with all this, yet they hide the Man with the Iron Mask from view. Who is he? I sense a morbid story... perhaps some past foe of Kayote who now lives a life in chains? For all they reveal, there is much still unspoken, yet I will be quiet on this, and save that question for some later day. I did after all, request a roof over my head and some work with which to pay it, and herein it seems may lie my new duties. They see a frail young woman... I can not spite them for that, yet Apple, he seems a good sort, a man of empathy and kindness perhaps. He alone makes this place just a touch warmer in spirit and in heart. Yes. I can do this, and there isn't exactly a choice is there?
Aletia said:
Is this to be honorable work? Righteous?

Probably not. The concept of unknown and otherwise good men losing their lives in this money-making scheme created a somewhat bitter taste, but she lapped it up none the less. Vallio had entrusted her to Kayote. She'd made her feelings and desires plainly obvious, and it had all lead here... to an unlikely group and an unlikely project in an unlikely place.

Knowledge. Safety.

These were the two greatest things of which she had asked, and as the introductions were winding up it seemed both would be satisfied.

She would do the best she could, and take all that she could in return.~

Broulgrune: Accepts your compliment with dignity. "I was a head-wizard to chief Oslock Stonebones for neigh a century! My magics helped defeat the duergar menace from below that threatened to destroy our stronghold of Brolforge."

Apstock: Rolls his eyes. "Oh no, not this story again!"

Broulgrune: Glares at Apstock. "You weren't even a twinkle in your papa's eye back then Apstock! Just because you grew up in relatively peaceful and prosperous years doesn't mean it was the same for myself and my generation!"

Apstock: "I am well aware of your heroics old one... if you can call staring into one of your magic visions heroic..." He snickers "...but if you were half as great as you think you are, you'd still be a head-wizard would you not?"

Broulgrune: Waves his hand dismissively in annoyance. "That has nothing to do with my talents, it's politics! This upstart general who elected himself chief, Korag Foeslayer, is no ally of mine! I advised Oslock many times not to go along with his plans and now Korag is having his revenge casting me out! Oslock was the last chief carrying the bloodline of Halgrat the founder when his own nephew, Grath 'The Builder', died. The fact they both passed without an heir is a sad chapter of our history."

Apstock: "Oslock was not the last descendent of Halgrat the founder. Grath's sister Rega had twins, Rogal and Ragar. They are already of age to rule and likely to supplant Korag before long."

Broulgrune: Snorts "Rogal and Ragar are not _direct_ descendents. The line of Halgrat is broken, Oslock said so himself on his very deathbed! If you ever spoke at length to Rega like I have, you'd agree we'd all be better off well away from her offspring!" He snorts.

Apstock: Sighs. "I care not for the woes and worries of the rulers. I am but a humble craftsman, yearning for the days when all dwarves return to the ways of simple-living..."

Broulgrune: "You have the right of that at least... you are simple-minded!"

Orric: Chuckles loudly, amused at the remark at Apstock's expense.

Kayote: Downs his cup and speaks up again. "I tire of too much idle talk. Aletia and I will return in the morning to check on final preparations. That is enough work for one day, see that you get some rest yourselves."Apstock: Addresses Kayote. "We mean no offense for your loss." He says to Kayote and Aletia both. "I apologize for my long-winded friend here..." he says with a glance at Broulgrune. "There will be more time for serious talk on the morrow."

Broulgrune: Ignores Apstock and addresses Aletia directly. "You are a brave soul, your yearning to be useful does you credit. If Kayote says you will join us, that is enough for me. Kayote is as good a judge of talent as anyone."

Aletia said:
"Thank you Broulgrune, I too trust Kayote's judgement." She looked to Master Burlock with a small smile, nothing too over the top, but just enough for him to know that she was pleased.

He would surely know why.

He was giving her purpose.

He was preventing the gnarly hands of despair from pulling her down... down into a spiral of tears and regret.

"It is so good to meet you all!" Aletia said nodding to the group and then waiting for Kayote to take the lead.

She longed to breathe the night air and feel the moon buried above cloud. A brisk walk to clear her head perhaps. A silent prayer. It depended on what would happen next.

Kayote roughly stands, weariness evident in his bones and unsteady posture as he leans heavily on his cane, turning from the table without a word, holding the door open for Aletia before he leads her down the hall. The priest he struck in the gut with his cane has gone, replaced by another, sleepy-eyed and none-too-happyy looking.

"Carst, keep the prayers loud and repetitive tonight. I want the prisoner especially anxious and restless the night before the contest!" Kayote barks at the second priest. The barossan-priest nods curtly, respectfuly but none-too-friendly.

From the number of doors here in the hall, it seems likely there are three cells and and three private rooms for priests employed by Kayote. As you near the end of the hall you hear the priests words pick up a fervor and cadence appropriate to prayer as he starts to recite verses from the Book of Pentos in the background that echo around you as you start to ascend the stairs.

Kayote: Mutters at you.
"I keep three priests here reciting prayers day and night in shifts. The Man in the Iron Mask deserves no peace!" He growls, stomping up the stairs with angry purpose before breathing deep and coughing to catch his breath at the top of the steep steps. He pauses before the door touching a magical stone inset into the bracing which projects a fish-eye's view of the area outside, ensuring no chance of ambush. All you see in the lee of the looming outer wall is a buffeting wind and the wet spray of rain as the storm picks up strength.

Kayote turns to glance at you with an idea. "Since you are so eager to prove your worth, and yet-young-enough to endure this in-climate weather without complaint, would you do an old man a favor and deliver an invitation for me?" He asks, pulling a small scroll from his robe sealed with wax and a red-ribbon.

"This is for Jabbar Najafi, the smuggler I mentioned before and a very old friend. I'd wish very much to share his company at The Contest tomorrow. It would do you some good as well to meet him, he is the only other soul who understands the evil nature of the black network as much as I do. Jabbar lives above his Trade Shop near the East Market. Take your time and familiarize yourself with the streets of this town, but be on your guard. There is so much yet for you to learn." He states with the challenging tone of a mentor, handing over the scroll.

[Aletia: what do you do?]
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Ersun staying up

He finds that weariness is overcoming the party, and further planning would be a tedious work right now. They have unified their purpose and it seems Jabbar and Rasul will ally, although in more hectic circumstances than he first imagined. It also seems Ren does mean to spend the night, and report to Rasul in the morning, or maybe take Jabbar along at once. It is somewhat uncomfortable, and as far as he understood Rasul meant to meet tonight, and was waiting at a prearranged place. He seems like a wise man, so Ersun hopes he returned home safely, and did not jump to hasty or wrong conclusions about what happened to him and Ren. Although, he should have enough informants to get a rough picture about tonight's events.

"Yes, we should rest now, and then rise early to arrange who does what exactly." at this he glances at Jabbar and Ren most importantly. "We should also set watch, should we not? We can assume the alarm scared off any enemies, but then again, it only takes one more invisibility potion to catch us off guard. The rain... " he pauses and a little to stare at the phenomenon outside. It is such a strange and wondrous thing, water just falling so widely from and endless, ceilingless sky. "only offers advantage against the Vul, and not just by out perspective."

"If Jabbar trusts me with it, I can take the first four hours? I have darkvision and have rested recently. Time, is different here... it would do me well to get adjusted to it anyway. Just give me a basic layout of the house and where to find you in case something does come up." he inquires Jabbar.

Once the question of setting guards is done he motions Ren over for a quick discussion, and he whispers to him. He has a sending stone to Thiara, it is not a direct line to Rasul, but if Ren things it is for the best if they send a message about what happened tonight and what they are planning, it is still an option. If Thiara gave one to him, then he safely assumes they also share a pair. In Ersun's opinion, just having him learn about the wererats and their operations right now instead of in the morning could be much useful for getting prepared.

If there are no more discussions to be made, and people begin to settle, he starts to think about his journal. He wonders about what to write into and how exactly. What to omit from it, if anything, and what could be the results from it. He decides to write it as if it was indeed just a journal, and write it honestly. Mostly honestly, as he does decide to leave out that Thiara gave him a sending stone, rather he writes in broader strokes, and more about the impressions he got. When there is peace and quiet, he will open the book's lock and begin penning it down.


At Jabbar's Trade Shop

He finds that weariness is overcoming the party, and further planning would be a tedious work right now. They have unified their purpose and it seems Jabbar and Rasul will ally, although in more hectic circumstances than he first imagined. It also seems Ren does mean to spend the night, and report to Rasul in the morning, or maybe take Jabbar along at once. It is somewhat uncomfortable, and as far as he understood Rasul meant to meet tonight, and was waiting at a prearranged place. He seems like a wise man, so Ersun hopes he returned home safely, and did not jump to hasty or wrong conclusions about what happened to him and Ren. Although, he should have enough informants to get a rough picture about tonight's events.

"Yes, we should rest now, and then rise early to arrange who does what exactly." at this he glances at Jabbar and Ren most importantly. "We should also set watch, should we not? We can assume the alarm scared off any enemies, but then again, it only takes one more invisibility potion to catch us off guard. The rain... " he pauses and a little to stare at the phenomenon outside. It is such a strange and wondrous thing, water just falling so widely from and endless, ceilingless sky. "only offers advantage against the Vul, and not just by out perspective."

"If Jabbar trusts me with it, I can take the first four hours? I have darkvision and have rested recently. Time, is different here... it would do me well to get adjusted to it anyway. Just give me a basic layout of the house and where to find you in case something does come up." he inquires Jabbar.


Avar and Jabbar share a look, as if to say,
~should we trust him?~ before Jabbar speaks up. "There are likely only four hours or so left before dawn. Myself and Aust room upstairs at the top of the stairwell where the upstairs storeroom is also located. The door over there (points to the shop door) leads to the shopfront and the front door, which is also magically alarmed. The stairwell also has a side-door that opens to the stables and the worker-bunks. Please do not go in there as none of my workers have been introduced to you, and will likely react badly to a stranger, especially one of your race, entering unannounced in the middle of the night."

Ren: Glances around, looking none-too-pleased to leave his master's orders unfulfilled.
"Waiting until daybreak to meet with Rasul is a mistake! Master Rasul's disappearance from his manor will soon cause a panic within the guild. No one else knows he's left to meet with you, but the doubt about his whereabouts in general may prompt action from his enemies."

"Leaving now to meet with him also leaves my shop and workers undefended. After hearing of everything Aust has suffered, would you really expect us to do that?! This is our home! If you and Ren are going to remain here you are welcome to share the watch, but do not open the door for anyone unless Aust or myself is there to answer it."

Ren: Flicks his whiskers with annoyance, but looks to the floor with acquiescence.
"Very well."

"The rain makes it harder for the Vulkyrie to scent-by-sight, which is likely the only reason they didn't follow Aust's blood-trail back to the shop and have us all dragged away for more serious questioning." He states matter-of-factly as he pulls a chair over to the door (which opens inward) and sits with his back up against it, resting a keenly-sharp throwing axe on his lap as he drops his chin down into his bearskin cloak and shuts his eyes.

Ersun said:
Once the question of setting guards is done he motions Ren over for a quick discussion, and he whispers to him. He has a sending stone to Thiara, it is not a direct line to Rasul, but if Ren thinks it is for the best if they send a message about what happened tonight and what they are planning, it is still an option. If Thiara gave one to him, then he safely assumes they also share a pair. In Ersun's opinion, just having him learn about the wererats and their operations right now instead of in the morning could be much useful for getting prepared.

Ren: -Whispers back- "I want to rush back myself and share everything I've heard with Rasul in person, but there are two issues with that. If I got ambushed on my way back Rasul wouldn't hear about these new developments. Secondly, I'm the only one who can lead Jabbar safely into the sewers. A meeting with Rasul may never happen unless I wait until he is ready to leave. I don't want to stay, but it is the only way to ensure the task I was given actually occurs. So yes, please send a message to Thiara immediately. It is the next-best option. Rasul and I trust her implicitly!"

[Sblock=Sending Stones]These items usually resemble two lumps of unworked stone. Once per day, each stone in a pair can send a message (as the sending spell) to the bearer of the other stone. If the stone’s mate is not in a creature’s possession, no message is sent and the user knows the message did not go through. If either stone in a pair is destroyed, its mate becomes useless.


Level:Clr 4, Sor/Wiz 5
Components:V, S, M/DF
Casting Time:10 minutes
Range:See text
Target:One creature
Duration:1 round; see text
Saving Throw:None
Spell Resistance:No

You contact a particular creature with which you are familiar and send a short message of twenty-five words or less to the subject. The subject recognizes you if it knows you. It can answer in like manner immediately. A creature with an Intelligence score as low as 1 can understand the sending, though the subject’s ability to react is limited as normal by its Intelligence score. Even if the sending is received, the subject is not obligated to act upon it in any manner.

If the creature in question is not on the same plane of existence as you are, there is a 5% chance that the sending does not arrive. (Local conditions on other planes may worsen this chance considerably.)[/Sblock]

Ersun said:
Once Ren approved using the stone, as it is the current best option. He quickly composes the message in his mind, and then sends it with the stone. He takes a look at the eavesdroppers but does not comment on them.

“Greetings. Rasul awaits me and Ren in the sewers but we are stuck at Jabbar’s. Noro has wererats in smuggling caves. Counter preparations are tomorrow.”

Since the length of a message is rather limited with such devices, he had to craft it short and well. She will not expect the message, and she will only have a moment to listen, comprehend, and remember. With that in mind curter sentences with only base words did not seem like a good idea, he rather emphasised on making sure the main points get across and understood:

  • Rasul should not wait for them in the sewers.
  • Wererat aggression business right upon their necks.

*Note: Listening in on Ersun & Ren's whispered conversation in the common room will require a DC 17 listen check, and a Hide check of the same DC to not be noticed doing so. If you wish to attempt this in total secrecy from all the other players without posting it in the game thread to prevent OOC knowledge of it, simply PM me and I will set up a private room on rolz.org
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Aletia: A Word in Hand

Small pieces of Kayote’s puzzle might have been falling into place, but the whole grandiose picture was far from complete. So elaborate. So intricate in it's twisted way. From her strange encounters near Burlock’s secret maze, Aletia had witnessed more than enough to know that Vallio’s old friend was no fool or simpleton. Priests dishing out torture. Craftsmen. Magic and power she had seen through virgin eyes.

With fear and grief weighed against duty and trust, she’d made a decision. The young elf would prove herself, pit her cunning against the dark network in a search for the truth. Cunning it seemed, was no stranger to her new Master. She would learn all she could of this man’s ways, befriend his workers, prove her worth, anything it would take.

Kayote turns to glance at you with an idea. "Since you are so eager to prove your worth, and yet-young-enough to endure this in-climate weather without complaint, would you do an old man a favor and deliver an invitation for me?" He asks, pulling a small scroll from his robe sealed with wax and a red-ribbon.

"This is for Jabbar Najafi, the smuggler I mentioned before and a very old friend. I'd wish very much to share his company at The Contest tomorrow. It would do you some good as well to meet him, he is the only other soul who understands the evil nature of the black network as much as I do. Jabbar lives above his Trade Shop near the East Market. Take your time and familiarize yourself with the streets of this town, but be on your guard. There is so much yet for you to learn." He states with the challenging tone of a mentor, handing over the scroll.

[Aletia: what do you do?]

Accepting the scroll with a smile and a polite nod, Aletia looked up to Kayote’s tired and booze-inflamed eyes and said, “yes. This I will do. Consider it done Master Burlock. With care and precision, your words will be placed into Jabbar’s hands this eve. Thank you, for your trust.”

With that said, she offered him a graceful nod and added, “I shall head East and make note of what lies between here and there. I shall not dally, nor return till this deed is done.”

Was he going to give her directions? Surely not, as this was a test was it not? Well… East was easy enough. The Moon would guide her. It’s location and cycles in the dark skies like clockwork, a great silver disc upon which she had stared upon for much of her life.

Unless Kayote had more say, Aletia would tuck the scroll safely into her pack and proceed eastwards. With hood pulled over her head, keeping to the edges of the streets, she’d do her best to retain anonymity in the dark. Perhaps Crez, the tiny viper in her pack would have a meal after all.


For where there are men, there are rodentia, or so old Vallio used to say.

[Aletia will proceed East to the best of her knowledge if Burlock offer's no directions or landmarks to look out for. Rolled an Int check = 11, just in case it is of use.
Once out of view, she will cast Disguise Self (40 minute duration), to appear as a poor skinny local boy. A ragged, tired looking street dweller.]

[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link
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Aust Thale

Adding Color

~ Been a long, long night...~

Aust is exhausted...a little disoriented. And overloaded with his predicament and that of his friends, both old and new.
He listens carefully to all the conversations going on around him. The whispering of the Rhat and Ersun & Avar and Elloral.
He finishes his food, determined to get a little more of it in him.

#1 Stay alive. That means getting to this priest and removing this curse of lycanthropy.
#2 Protect their people. The slaves and indentured servants that work for Jabbar and Aust are innocent. To Noro, their are sheep to be herded, sheared, and slaughtered. They must be protected.
#3 Protect their shop. This will be tricky. A lot of angles where this could skew off in odd directions.
#4 Protect the city. x10 on the tricky part. More ways this ends badly than better.

He listens again to the whispers of the Rhat and Underfolk. Poor Ren, fidgety by nature, he appears nearly apoplectic about getting back to his master.
He has a point. But he has the benefit of hiding in the shadows or in the sewers. Aust isn't about to do that right now unless forced to.

A thought comes to him. "Ren, I have some questions for you. How similar are Rhats to Were-rats?
When were-rats turn, do they remain themselves? How much instinct takes over for lucidity or thought? And if something is out of place, how adaptable are they and how quickly? I have an idea or two. (Looks at Jabbar). But I want to know about how they work. Fight. Cooperate. And the like.

please pull from rolls or roll for me on this one. wifi is spotty, and it took long enough to get this going.

Dungeon master said:
[Sblock=Aust FATE POOL Rolls]
(FATE POOL Listen Check: = 18, Success)
(FATE POOL Hide Check: = 28, Grand Success)[/Sblock]

[Aust: You manage to overhear the whispering between Ersun & Ren without being observed doing so. Consider everything they said to each other when I called for the check to be known to you.]
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Aletia said:
[Aletia will proceed East to the best of her knowledge if Burlock offer's no directions or landmarks to look out for. Rolled an Int check = 11, just in case it is of use.
Once out of view, she will cast Disguise Self (40 minute duration), to appear as a poor skinny local boy. A ragged, tired looking street dweller.]

As you step into the downpour the force of the storm almost shoves you off your heels, tugging and tearing at your garments with cold wet fingers. Undeterred, you make your way out into the streets, most of which are packed earth with drainage ditches run over a buried sewer system; Which, by the way so many puddles and small rivers of rainwater are forming around and between the iron drainage grates, is clearly past its prime
creating little island-chains of muddy ground between porches and street corners. All around you the sounds of the storm echo and howl as the wind rattles shutters and windows, dislodges roofing-tiles, detaches signs and lanterns and the odd random pail or flower pot.

At this late hour, in such deplorable conditions, very few souls risk the wrath of the weather or the town guard. You find yourself alone, darting under awnings and rooftops as much as possible to avoid getting soaked or accosted by squads of town guards. Whenever you do catch the eye of someone sheltering indoors or huddling somewhere to stay dry they barely bother to pay you any attention. Under the spell of your magical disguise you appear to be just another street-brat who carries nothing of value. As undeserving of attention as a wet dog.

You pass by a tavern named The Fire & The Flagon, a Mercenary Outfit called The Black Lions, a brothel known as The Tart & the Tramp and another inn called Putyuks Rooms before at you find yourself near Jabbar's Trade Shop located near the Temple of Ishvar next to the Fools Gold Tavern. It is a two story stone structure with large doors suited for a carriage house and two regular entrances. The shop door is clearly marked 'closed', but there is also a rear door that probably serves as the main entrance to the living quarters.

Both the upstairs and downstairs windows are shut fast, but by the dim light peeking through the shutters and the trails of smoke curling out of its single chimney it seems likely someone is still astir inside.

[Aletia: What do you do? Your Disguise Self Spell will run out within 5 minutes.]

<Approximate time in game; 2:30am>


Aletia: A Local Discovery

Vallio trusted Burlock. Burlock trusted Jabbar. Aletia trusted that Burlock knew what kind of hours this enigma of a man might call his own.

She hadn't minded the weather so much, not with the moon overhead somewhere, obscured by dark clouds... yet still hanging in the skies as it had done for aeons.

Darkness. Poor weather. It had all worked in her favour, cept for her temporary tattered clothes now clinging tight to her skin and the sloshy puddles trapped within her well-worn boots. The places she had noticed along the way though, she committed these to memory.

~All knowledge is good knowledge, and I've endured far worse discomfort than this.~

So this was Jabbar's place. A Trade Shop. Stood outside for a moment, the young elf wondered if like her new Master, Jabbar's trade indeed spread well beyond the mask of yet another "legitimate business venture". The real question though, was how to approach this? Sneakily with caution or openly with transparency and grace? It was in her nature to go with the latter. There was already an element of trust here, if only on her part. The rest, she would have to prove... if anyone were to answer the door.

With innocence, she stepped up to the back door and dropped her illusionary facade. The silk of her dress was truly sodden, clinging to the pale skin beneath as though not much more than a thin wash of dark ink. Long strands of wet jet-black hair trailed down her shoulders, and behind them her bow was strapped ready.

Crafted of her own skill, and reflecting the little light from above, Aletia's earrings jingled as she stepped forwards to make herself known. A firm first, and three attempts to tap loudly at the door.

"Excuse me. Hello?" she called out as she knocked.

[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link
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Ersun ...

Then he glances at Aust as he starts discussing wererats. He is curious what Aust thought of, and it is useful to share whatever knowledge they have of their enemies anyway. He himself gathers his thoughts as well.

Before he would add anything, he hears the knock on the door, goes still and looks towards Aust, Jabbar and Avar. His palm itches a little as he wonders if it is time to hide again, or if he should ready himself for a fight. He stretches his fingers and shoulders a little, and gives the three host a questioning look and gesture about what should the procedure be. Should they hide downstairs, prepare for action, stay still, or something else?

[They are somewhat long shots, but here are his knowledge skills in what manner they might be relevant for wererats]
(Geography, culture and behaviour as people: 19)
(Dungeoneering, underworld dweller dangers: 13)
(Arcana, the sufferers of a magical curse: 12)
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Dungeon Master said:
Saraesh stood slowly, a smugly-wicked smile cutting across his face.

Saraesh: "At last... the time has come to stop hiding!" He said tossing his wig into the flames before he leads you into the night, away from Ordechai's group. Snarls and glinting canine-eyes surround you in the dark as the large dire-jackals move in close, sniffing at you, mocking you in their unique barking yowl.

Saraesh: ignores the beasts and calls out a command. -speaking goblin- "Tuul ogaal'daan!"

Seven cloaked warriors emerge from the shadows momentarily thereafter, dressed in the same garb they used on patrol when they were observed by Folg, Svexyn and Mogan earlier; garb stained now with their blood.

Saraesh: -Speaking goblin- "Kaagaach or dhalaan!"

Slowly, the figures throw back their cloaks revealing themselves to be Hobgoblins bearing cold expressions on scowling, dishonorable faces. Each one of these assassin evidently fashions their own armor out of bits of leather and hide, strapping it around their forms with ease of movement an obvious priority. Some have bits of steel and chain over critical areas, but each one is different in how exactly they do so. The only thing in common about their appearance is the nasty scar of Herod's 'brand of obedience' burned into their forehead in such a way that its point is marked into the bridge of their nose between their yellow eyes.

Their hands are gloved, some featuring razor-sharp blades between the knuckles or at the fingertips, but each carries different weapons that vary as much as their appearance. One carries short-swords, another gauntleted-daggers, a third has hand-axes, the fourth a half-spear and a bladed-buckler, the fifth uses a spiked-chain, the sixth has a pair of picks and the seventh... the oldest of the lot judging by the grey tufts of beard around his jawline... carries a bastard sword across his back and a Pole-sword (a Chivalan version of a Naginata) in his hand.


In addition to their main melee weapons each has at least three other daggers and an assortment of bola's, darts, throwing-axes, nets, garottes and other ancillary weapons and/or tools to poison, trip, capture or maim their victims. In some places where their dark red/orange skin peeks through... you see marks of tattoo's in Herod's infernal script. These warriors devoted their bodies entirely to the mission of death and carnage. You sense their minds are already devising how to exploit the weaknesses in your plate and use it against you by how they stare.

Saraesh: -Switches to Common addressing the assassins- "Behold! Herod has sent us a mighty harbinger of his will, a tool of might and power to crush his enemies! This is none other than Kryslogious, the Slaughter Knight!" He exclaims with verve. "The time has come to finally enact our plans of conquest that have been centuries in the making! First we will capture and interrogate everyone at the inn. Those that can be turned will live, the rest will be sacrificed in our temple and lend their body parts in a trail to the trade road. Adventurers and so-called hero's will flock here to avenge their deaths at their own peril!" He adds with a laugh.

The jackals lend their voices on que and howl as the assassins regard you skeptically. The eldest bows his head towards Saraesh asking permission to speak.

Saraesh: "You may speak Cholgal Death-master, but use the common tongue in deference to our honored guest!"

Cholgal: -Speaking common- "Spy-Master, perhaps you should not so hastily declare this one to be thee slaughter-knight?! He hardly fits the description."

Saraesh: Snorts. "You question the word of a Quresh on matters of history Cholgal?"

Cholgal: "I only speak from my own, limited, knowledge Spy-Master... I have been to Chival myself and I can read, unlike some of these youngsters in our tribe..." he comments glancing left and right. "...which means I recall the words used to describe the armored terror your own scholars described in detail."

Saraesh: Nods. "It is true Kryslogious is not bedecked in his full battle attire just yet... but legend speaks of his re-emergence into our land in his original form, that of an honored Chivalan-knight in mockery of Pentos on the eve of the unholy crusade!"

Cholgal: Clears his throat. "Forgive my ignorance, I would never question Herod's will... if he is truly the one you say he his, all I ask is a demonstration of his might and commitment to evil!"

Saraesh: "It is not your place to ask anything!" Saraesh scolds. "You are merely the instruments of death, nothing more... nothing less!"

Cholgal: Frowns. "With respect Spy-Master, have I ever asked for anything before? I have a hundred slayings to my credit... visions of the demon king appear in my sleep... Herod takes pleasure in my deeds and takes account of me I am sure of it!" He says with pride. "I admit I am no cleric or unholy warrior, but we all carry the right of prophecy in his name."

Saraesh: Glares, but relents. "Very well, you have that right to challenge since he is not in fact a Quresh, but you do so at your own peril! Commanders have the right to destroy a subordinate for blaspheme against the chain of command!"

Cholgal: Smiles slightly. "Perhaps, but i have killed Chivalan knights before... and will do so again unless he goes back to his camp and personally dispatches those other travelers he came with! The way he regarded them and moved to protect them, I am not so sure he is capable of it!"

Saraesh: huffs. "You do not know those others as I do Cholgal. Ordechai has frequented my inn before and admitted to many crimes. I'm sure you also noticed he recently took a goblin as his slave? I believe he can be persuaded to join us."

[Kryslogious: What do you do? Declare actions and roll initiative if you actions can be regarded as aggressive]

Kryslogious said:
Kryslogious was not going to have him running his mouth. any unneeded attention to his cohorts was dangerous and he needed to nip this issue in the bud. "Let us demonstrate, the difference between us." he announced raising his shield for a battle.

Chogal smiled in amusement as he faced Kryslogious. The others forming a circle around the two making an arena. Kryslogious sized up his opponent who stood smiling at him with sheer amusement of the situation.

"Though it has been some time since I have fought a Chivalan Knight I do not remember any in particular being good enough to remember." he chuckled mocking Kryslogious.

It was in a flash you could see them come towards each other simultaneously but Kryslogious was just a hair faster granting him the first attack. His sword glove grasping onto Chogals breast plate attempting to force him to the ground but as he applied his strength he felt a familiar warmth coming from Chogal. It was an inviting intoxicating feeling, a most euphoric power. He knew the feeling as the blessing of Herod! Chogal was able to tear Kryslogiuous' hand from him and retaliate. He swung his bladed gauntlets at Kryslogious grazing off his armor in sparks but not penetrating. He knew though the strength behind those blows as he too at one point in his past had Herod's blessing.

'This battle is far from fair, I must end this' Krysoiguous thought to himself as he swung his arm against his opponents chest and swinging his foot behind his. Chogal slips on the loose dirt unexpectedly from such a low strength throw and finds himself staring up at the steel clad knight. Coming down with a shining silver dagger which almost seeming appeared into his hand he drives deep into Chogal's stomach and is leaves it in the wound. Chogal grabbed at the blade in his stomach and tore it free in his off hand along with another dagger resting on his belt in his primariry throwing both at Kryslogious, a heavy clang could be herd as they bounce from Kryslogious' shield.

'I need to press my advantage' Kryslogious calculated drawing his cold iron dagger and forcing it under his right shoulder plate armor, again leaving it in the wound. in a frantic effort Chogal grabs the last two daggers on his belt and attempts again at throwing them to no avail as they bounced off his chest plate and helm. It was at this time Kryslogious reached for the holy longsword on his waist and drew it fourth. As he took a swing with the blade Chogal rolled to the side stopping the hit with his shoulder pad and then retaliating with a throw of sand to Kryslogious' helm. In a quick jerk of his neck he kept the sand from getting into his eyes and sees Chogal rising to his feet. In the commotion he swings again but the enemy is quick to dodge the swing.

Kryslogious' advantage quickly evaporated as Chogal in one swift moment pulls the bastard sword and swings but the dagger in his arm causes him to swing wide missing entirely. The moment the bastard sword flew by Kryslogious he quickly let go of his shield and attempted to grab him with his left hand but Chogal sees his move coming. He spins around Kryslogious winding up a powerful swing of the blade that comes down hard onto Kryslogious' right calf. The blade hit with such force the armor crunches and bends into his flesh, a loud crack could be herd as the bone broke upon impact. The sword came back in an attempt to decapitate him but a last moment jerk just shot spark across his visor as the blade ran across the cheek.

There are mixed reactions in the crowd between disbelief and cheer as blood shot across the ground. the jackals yapping trying to jump into the arena against their handlers will.

"Chogal cant be felled by such weak hits, watch him slay this pretender!" one cheered

"A hit like that would of slain most normal men, maybe there is more to this slaughter knight!" another retorted

Kryslogious felt his chances of victory fade as time seemed to stand still, a familiar feeling of despair that has racked him for centuries had flooded his senses as he cursed Herrod for plaguing his destiny once again. 'I will end this cycle Herod, I have been your puppet for too long!' he though angrily to himself as he reached fourth with an vicious arm and grabbed Chogal by the neck. He attempted to rip himself free with his off hand but in a show of strength Kryslogious throws him to the ground and thrusts down hard with his longsword into his left shoulder piercing it deep to the bone. Chogal swings his sword specifically at his right leg attempting to put Kryslogious on the ground with him. The tip of the blade hit into the previous dent spattering more blood across the dirt but not enough to dislodge his footing.

Kryslogious comes down hard in one motion grabbing up his shield and thrusting hard on his blade again, this time piercing his left shoulder and pushing through into the sand pinning him to the ground. Chogal laughs looking at the knight

"It seems Herod's will was to prove your strength. I will join him now, as will you one day... Slaughter Knight... 'Supplicium Militare'" Chogal said as he fainted from blood loss.

Kryslogious fell to his knees leaning forward over Chogal and ran his dagger across his neck. Blood sprang fourth across his scarf and chest plate. Confirming Chogals death he fell backwards onto the ground and took in every breath of heavy air... he had won.

Dungeon Master said:
There is an odd sense of appreciation for the death of Chogal by the other assassins. They respect only strength and live to honor the king of demons and devils with their skill in killing. Herod expects nothing less. Each one of the Hobgoblin assassins slowly bows their head in deference to your superior fighting prowess. In their eyes, there is only bloodlust and awe... not fear, not regret, and certainly not sadness for a comrades passing. Chogals death in challenge to another servant of Herod, to prove his worthiness and establish rank, was a worthy sacrifice.

Saraesh: Speaks reverently staring down at the Hobgoblin's corpse. "Lord Herod, consume this soul and grow ever-stronger for it!"

Assassins: "Herod! Herod! Herod!" They chant.

Saraesh: Looks to Kryslogious "You have proven yourself worthy of our company Slaughter Knight! Chogal was the strongest of us, there is no shame taking a wound from his blade." He says placing a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds in your hand before he continues. "We have much to plan, but first, what is your opinion of those others you came with? I know Ordechai of course, but the dwarf and the other Chivalan are newcomers. Who are they?" He asks.

[Kryslogious: Gain a bonus Fate Point for your bravery. What do you do? Any attempt to lie about the identities or motives of your traveling companions requires a bluff check vs. Saraesh's Sense Motive. Roll 2d8+2 for healing from the potion btw.]

Kryslogious: Clamps his jaw with pain, sweat dripping into his eyes as he kneels down to remove the damaged armor around his right calf and downs the healing potion to stop the bleeding. (2d8+2 = 8 Hp's Healed) Gingerly he stands and speaks to Saraesh. (Fate Pool Bluff Check: = 5) "I know very little except how to swing my own sword with wrath and anger. I has yet to com to grips with mine own reappearance. Memories of this place are dark and faded for me, as are my own deeds."

Saraesh: (Sense Motive: = 9 ) Raises his voice with conviction."Have faith, all will be done as the Demon King wills it! Your presence here is proof of his great plans! Together we shall claim vast territories in Herod's name! It is our destiny!" He states with fervor.

Each of the assassins raises a blade in salute. The one wielding a half-spear with a bladed-buckler appears to be the next-in-line in terms of strength and seniority among the rest. He kneels down before Saraesh and Kryslogious to speak frankly, introducing himself as Tieg.

Tieg: "We are honored to have you here Kryslogious. As right of challenge you have claim to all of Chogal's possessions."

Kryslogious: Eyes the fallen hobgoblin with disdain, reaching down to pull his blade free from the corpse. "I shall take his bed, food and drink. Keep his weapons and armor for yourselves."

Saraesh: Nods with pleasure. "Yes! Celebrations are in order! Let us return to the temple, there are preparations to be made!"

Together you and the assassins head across the dunes surrounding the Restless Sands Inn until you find yourselves overlooking a ruin of several structures largely swallowed by the sands. At the center is a low depression. The sands are not as deep here revealing hints of flagstones. It it towards this central courtyard that Saraesh leads your group, flanked by the outlying jackals. Tieg raises his whistle to his lips and blows out a burst of three sharp tones. Immediately other Jackals emerge from the courtyard, rushing out to join the rest. Together the larger pack circle the ruins as you descend into the courtyard.

As you step unto the ancient flagstones three figures in black cloaks emerge from the shadows of the ruins. The third one, trailing a step behind the other two, holds a lantern. As they step up close the third one steps between the other two and raises his lantern high illuminating an elaborately tattooed face and the uniquely golden-yellow-eyes of his race. His tattoo's, as well as his demeanor, have a clearly sinister quality. Somehow you sense great danger from him, despite the fact he appears to be unarmored and carries no weapons. The other two beside him, still concealed within their cloaks, you sense do carry weapons.

Behind you, each of the Hobgoblin assassins immediately kneels in a small semi-circle, eyes downcast while Saraesh raises his chin with pride and addresses the one with the lantern in their own harsh language before he continues in the common tongue.

Saraesh: "Fardorbn grus, Isao... Behold! Before you stands none other than Kryslogious, the slaughter knight, come once again to fulfill the legend of his destiny!"

Isao immediately affixes you in a stare of very serious implications as the other two figures tense and shift within their cloaks.

Isao: "Es kenen nit zeyn!..." He speaks with a hiss in Quresh, before he adds in common. "We shall see... bring him into the temple. The priestess will want to see him."

[Kryslogious: What do you do?]
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth

At the point where Aletia is knocking at the door, Bill is already downstairs, disrobed, and stretched out on a rug. He is asleep as soon as his head is down. The previous day has taken alot out of him.

~Bill's Dreams: (Focused upon the memories of what he told Jabbar; his mind is ever-centered on his guiding purpose.)~


~Bill decides to reveal all of what he knows about Jarahdrin to Jabbar. ~Perhaps the minor biographical details to which I am privy might have more significance to Jabbar; perhaps these details will reveal to him something that I was unable to deduce.~

"My new-found friend," Bill says to Jabbar, "I have found the following information from credible sources: Jarahdrin is half-Ahkenaten / half-Grey Elf, son of an Ahkenaten trader named Hadi Masoud, who married a Grey Elf named Kyesti Sumoro. Jarahdrin's parents met in the kingdom of Seillon while Hadi was buying goods in the market. After a brief romance (which was highly frowned upon) Kyesti began to carry Hadi's child..."

Bill pauses a moment, then continues:

"The Sumoro family is part of the Merchant-house caste and are thus very rich and influential in Seillon. They forbade Kyesti to marry a human. Nor was Hadi or his son allowed to remain in Seillon indefinitely. Eventually they were pressured to return to Vulkh after Jarahdrin was old enough to leave his mother. House Sumoro did support Jarahdrin's upbringing with a small fortune which Masoud invested in the most prestigious boarding schools. Jarahdrin spent most of his adolescence with other privileged youths of various merchant lords and wealthy officials."

Bill refills his tea, takes a long drought, and continues:

"Meanwhile Hadi's trade business grew quite prosperous and eventually he hoped to leave the reigns to Jarahdrin when he was old enough to retire. Jarahdrin had other plans however because he was altogether enthralled with the mysteries of history and obscure lore. He had no interest in the family business but Hadi insisted he involve himself. Therefore, Jarahdrin did a fair amount of trade throughout the kingdom by his fathers side but he quickly grew bored with it and began to travel further abroad on speculative trade ventures. He did this for several years, rather unsuccessfully because he was busier investigating local lore and exploring than actually making deals happen."

Bill smiles as he concludes the brief biographical lesson:

"Eventually his father became too infirm to manage the business properly and called for Jarahdrin to take over. Jarahdrin only did so until his father passed away twenty years ago, than he left the management in the hands of a small group of merchants while continuing to collect the lions share of the profits for himself. Things have remained that way ever since and most people aren't even aware of Jarahdrins' ownership of the Masoud Trade Company... So you see, my friend, Jarahdrin is a merchant in name only, for the sake of his father's dying wishes, and for the sake of having enough money to live well and pursue his own interests, that being the obscure lore I spoke of earlier. It is this hobby of his, this passion for obscure lore, which interests me. I suspect that my father Terrandar, knowing of his knowledge, went to him for advice and consultation, once he began to discover things..."

Bill pulls two scraps of paper from his pouch. One is his father's letter to Jarahdrin. The other is the partially burned journal page.

"Read these, my friend." Bill says.


So glad you got a chance to read The Definitive Guide to the Olympian Glades of Arborea,
I found the chapter regarding wine making very amusing! Surely that could not be true!

I'm still working on your copy of The Mating Habits of the OwlBear. I'm not sure whats
more frightening, the material or imagining how someone managed to observe that behavior
so closely and lived to write about it!

I'll send it back to you when I'm finished, although I must say I hope your next
offering is something of a lighter read.



*unreadable* ...with him briefly this morning. I didn't even... *unreadable* ...my suspicions before he confirmed them. He says the enemy may sometimes know our routes before we leave on patrol. There must be spies or informants in our midst!

*unreadable* ...prove this... *unreadable* ...perhaps some of the ambushes... *unreadable* ...particular soldiers who say the wron... *unreadable*

Bill allows Jabbar and Avar to peruse the papers for a minute or two, before continuing:

"The Definitive Guide to the Olympian Glades of Arborea is obviously a reference to information gathered about the Elves, perhaps about the Gray Elves in particular.

The Mating Habits of the OwlBear is a reference to what my father had discovered about the humanoids of the Skull Mountain Hegemony.

I'm not sure whats more frightening, the material or imagining how someone managed to observe that behavior so closely and lived to write about it! This is obviously Jarahdrin expressing his concern about what Terrandar knew or suspected, and he is obviously hoping that Terrandar is mistaken, or perhaps exaggerating somewhat. I suspect that this is wishful thinking on Jarahdrin's part."

Bill gets a look of deep concentration on his face as he speaks. "I will tell you what I think it all means, in a nutshell. I think it means that the Grey Elves are somehow in league with Skull Mountain. Consider carefully the following facts:"

"1: My grandfather was killed on the slopes of Mt. Gythmora 400 years ago along with all his men. After the mountain went dark and no word was getting out the court feared the worst. my grandfather (Billanverthorne Sr.) was sent to recover a gray elven wizard sent by the court to the stronghold of Kurukshetra (capital of the former Dwarven kingdom of Whurgythmora).

2. Those same scouts reported a dwarf (matching the description of a Whurgythmoran prince named Beloch) lured my grandfather and his men into an ambush of hobgoblins. Bill Sr. managed to seize Beloch and demand he release his men, but a hobgoblin assassin backstabbed him. The rest of his men fought on and they all perished.

3. The court sent word to Torgrimm IronAxe about an inner-clan betrayal and demanded compensation for the loss of their soldiers.

4. Torgrimm IronAxe amassed an army with the other dwarf lords and marched on Mt. Gythmora.

5. The high elves called to assemble the army and join Torgrimm, both to avenge the deaths of Bill Sr., and company and prevent a strong evil from occupying the mountain. But that call to arms was vetoed by the gray elves."

Bill gets a grim look on his face. "Number 5 is what bothers me the most. Why would the Grey Elves be so reluctant to act against Skull Mountain? It is a mystery that I am hoping that Jarahdrin has already looked into... and hopefully has found answers to..."

Bill sighs, long and slow. He rubs his eyes with his fists, and then runs his fingers through his hair, the way people do when they are exhausted, and are trying to stay focused.

"There you have it, Jabbar, Avar... You now know everything that I do. I will not rest until my father and grandfather have been avenged. And more importantly, until justice has been served! I also intend to find the taint within the Grey Elf kingdom, and remove it like an amputation of a rotten limb. The vastness of their network be DAMNED... I WILL HAVE MY DAY OF RECKONING!"



First Post
~4 hours?~ Burrai thought, amazed at the racing time. The day had been long, true, and the night thick with events – and a not inconsiderable amount of frustration – yet it hardly seemed a few hours gone since dusk had crept by. Perhaps so much had gone on, his mind had been working too furiously to notice. Maybe he was to energized to feel tired; after so long in his home, and with his books, he wasn’t desensitized any more to the narcotic of adventure.

But plans were afoot now. In the morning their roughly entwined group could take their various actions, laying the bait for a meeting between Chuth and the Vul, gathering intelligence on Noro’s hideaway with the Cult of Vermintrax, convincing Rasul to stick a fatal blow to his enemy, binding further alliances with this Kayote. But all that was for the morning. For now…

His axe and shield leaned by the door. Avar sat on a chair, heavy arms folded, so different in his skin from all the dwarves he had ever met – and yet despite being Sundered, he was still a dwarf with a Dwarf’s resilience and pride. And a Dwarf’s honour.

“Avar. I don’t need my blankets for a few hours yet. Burrai Steelborn will be at your side should you wish.”

He felt his grip tighten on the twined leather of his axe’s haft, a tension spreading up his arm to his thick bicep, a strange carnal urge to swing and hew. Oh yes, tonight had been full of frustrations that a fight would ease, and fresh adventure was indeed a powerful drug….
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At Jabbar's Trade Shop

Aust said:
A thought comes to him. "Ren, I have some questions for you. How similar are Rhats to Were-rats?
When were-rats turn, do they remain themselves? How much instinct takes over for lucidity or thought? And if something is out of place, how adaptable are they and how quickly? I have an idea or two. (Looks at Jabbar). But I want to know about how they work. Fight. Cooperate. And the like.

Ren: - Answers Aust -"Wererats are the mortal enemies of Rhats. Most other races presume Rhats have more in common with wererats than other races because of our mutual affinity with rats. We consider this very insulting. The truth is our differences are far more important! Wererats tend to start life as rogues or thugs. They only work together to spite other races. Rhats are communal creatures; we appreciate camaraderie and cooperation with other races. While we are curious, polite and hard-working wererats are cruel, greedy and murderous."

"As far as their tell-tale tendencies go, wererats tend to shirk bright light and open spaces. Their character tends to be very selfish, skittish, observant, prone to envy, and back-stabbish. If you encounter them in their hybrid-form, they may seem wild and animal-like because their words are mostly growls... but remember they are still able to remember people's identities and think with reason. It is just only speaking in that form is difficult."

"Their animal form is different. In that form that they are at their most wild and primal state of mind. It is not guaranteed that they will remember people's identifies, and even if they do, they are not really aware of any desires beyond survival, stalking, searching, eating and killing. Tw
o important rules to remember dealing with lycanthropes. Firstly, silver is poison; second, they get meaner (and tougher to kill) the closer they get to their animal-form."

"Wererats have less of an established hierarchy than other types of lycanthropes, but their Alpha's (leaders) are completely dominant. If you can kill their alpha, any resemblance to discipline collapses in that group until another appears and reestablishes dominance. My best suggestions for battling wererats is to locate their alpha and kill them first, and lure them into open spaces whenever possible."


Part 1 of 2, to be continued...
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At Jabbar's Trade Shop


Part 2

Ersun said:
Before he would add anything, he hears the knock on the door, goes still and looks towards Aust, Jabbar and Avar. His palm itches a little as he wonders if it is time to hide again, or if he should ready himself for a fight. He stretches his fingers and shoulders a little, and gives the three host a questioning look and gesture about what should the procedure be. Should they hide downstairs, prepare for action, stay still, or something else?

Jabbar glares towards the door as Avar rises from his seat, frowning, hand-axe in hand.

Jabbar: Appears frustrated and very weary, holding a hand up in a gesture for patience & calm stepping over to the door to open the viewing port, calling out into the rainy dark.
(There is no lit lantern outside the door to shed light on who's knocking) "Yes?"

[Aletia, Ersun: What do you do?]


Aletia: A Word in Hand

Jabbar: Appears frustrated and very weary, holding a hand up in a gesture for patience & calm stepping over to the door to open the viewing port, calling out into the rainy dark.
(There is no lit lantern outside the door to shed light on who's knocking) "Yes?"

The young Elf was a little startled by the swift response to her tapping at Jabbar's door.

~Alas it seems someone is awake at this moon-touched hour! Traders are hard working folk, much as my dear Mother used to be. No time to ponder too deeply on that now though...~

She took a step back from the door, and replied, "Please forgive my unexpected intrusion at this late hour Sir. My name is Aletia Moonborn, a humble employee of the Red Sands Inn. If he is awake or not disinclined, I bring word for Jabbar, and Jabbar alone, if he will see me."

~A few moments in front of a warm fire wouldn't hurt either.~

[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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