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3.5 Knightfall's Aerie of the Crow God [Kulan] (IC)

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
Caerth nods. He is not very good with planning, being more comfortable living in the moment like nature tends to do, so the druid lets his companions take over the practical side of things.

He sits down, waiting for the signal that they're leaving. Despite his inclination to live in the here-and-now, ponderings about his mentor arise in his mind. What did they mean, he is not what he seems? Is Aeron not a druid? But then how could Caerth learn from him the secrets of druidic magic and even transforming into animals? It made no sense.

The half-orc shakes his head, dismissing the thoughts as a distraction. He will deal with Aeron when the time comes. For now, they have a task to fulfill, a demon cult to destroy. That is where his priorities are, right now.
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Phar keeps his own council as the issues discussed are not directly his. He does nod in approval however and once the maps are available he rejoins the conversation. "This is most helpful, but Hornauer is no sage of threats." "Death?" "Bad?" "Big Bug?" He frowns in disgust as the lack of scholarship offends his sensibilities. "And Book? That could be very interesting, but how many? What kind. Nothing for it to go and see for ourselves. At least we are forewarned."
yes, we sure know about that bug. what troubles me is the room next to the rooks labeled eggs. I don't think those are chicken eggs.
"Hornauer did say that his ratwere lady created them," Aureus notes over Phar's shoulder. "She may have a very literal mind. And yes, I think eggs are rook hatchlings."

Caerth frowns, then moves over. A bit more rude than he intends, the half-orc demands to see the map.

"Must be rook eggs. Underground nests? Those are certainly not natural," he mutters before handing the map back to Quinn. The map itself makes slightly more sense to the druid, as he realizes that the notes refer to how a rat would categorize things it encounters. 'Death' is either a lethal danger or a corpse, 'bad' is danger or unsafe to eat, and 'big bug' would have to be a really big creature if a wererat or dire rate feels the urge to describe it as such.
"It seems the rooks you fought are in league with these cultists," Sir Balorix says. "We should be careful. They may be aware of us, even now."

JustinCase said:
"This will do," he says, nodding gratefully to Hornauer. Then Caerth turns to his companions.

"So when will we be ready to head below?"
"Do we need to give Hornauer a little time to clear out lest we end up tangling with some of his 'people'. "
"I think so. We need to get supplies anyway."
"I agree. We must be better prepared." The tall hutaakan rogue looks at Sir Ghal. "More soldiers? Who else can the Lady spare?"

"We're already stretched so thin. We're going to have to call out the local militia for sure now, although that won't be many and most of them will have to watch over Carnell while the best soldiers come here to deal with these cultists. Carnell isn't even considered a true village. The Senate's last official census put the community at only 90 to 100 people. And that was years ago."

"How many others soldiers can you gather?" The paladin asks.

"Three to five," Sir Ghal replies. "That would include Sir Gareth, Wieland, as well as Mr. Walmsley," He looks at Phar. "That's old man Timmins that hangs out at the inn." He sighs. "If we could count on Mr. Bronzethegn, it would be as high as six. But I doubt the old dwarf will leave his forge unguarded. Plus, he's the head of the militia. The other two are younger guards who help with the manor. They're both quite green. Meridith is the tougher of the two. She's good with a bow. Brutus is a bear of a boy and he'll be a great warrior someday, but he's never been in a major fight." The young knight looks at the paladin. "He'd be better off helping the militia. If he comes here, I don't think he'll survive."

Caerth nods. He is not very good with planning, being more comfortable living in the moment like nature tends to do, so the druid lets his companions take over the practical side of things.

He sits down, waiting for the signal that they're leaving. Despite his inclination to live in the here-and-now, ponderings about his mentor arise in his mind. What did they mean, he is not what he seems? Is Aeron not a druid? But then how could Caerth learn from him the secrets of druidic magic and even transforming into animals? It made no sense.

The half-orc shakes his head, dismissing the thoughts as a distraction. He will deal with Aeron when the time comes. For now, they have a task to fulfill, a demon cult to destroy. That is where his priorities are, right now.
Twenty long and loud minutes later, Hornauer steps out of the tower with a gleam in his eye. He is decked out in better clothing meant for travel and carries a bundle of goods on his back. He walks with an old staff that reminds Caerth of a picture he saw in one of Aeron's old tomes. He notes that Hornauer looks like any other adventurer he'd encounter on the road, except maybe a bit dirtier.

Soon after, a tall female form steps out of the tower. It is obviously Lycia in her human form, although she is concealed completely by a heavy cloak with a deep hood. Her eyes gleam red from deep within the hood. She walks with ease and grace and a wicked looking sword on her hip. She also carries a bundle on her back although it isn't as organized as her mate's.

The sight of her makes Sir Ghal a bit uneasy.

"We're ready to go," Hornauer says, matter-of-factly. "Our brood will find their own way, but they will remain as close as possibly to us as they can."

The paladin nods. He leads the way down the long winding stairway back to the grotto and the boats. A handful of smaller rats travel down the steps behind their... parents. A few of them squeak along the way, until Lycia hushes them. Elijah and Sir Avanth are waiting when you arrive. They have the boat prepared to cast off. Soon you are on your way back to the beachhead with the wererat and his mate. The journey is quick but it feels like it takes forever. Everyone is happy when the boat pulls into the dock. There isn't anyone to greet you, although you can see and smell wood smoke coming out of the stack on the old wharf-shack at the end of the dock.

Quinten is likely inside, staying warm and cooking a hot meal. It smells like roasting meat.

"Hungry," Livia says with more vigor than a normal human would.

"Please don't eat anyone, my love," Hornauer insists as he helps her out of the launch. She sighs and steps out ahead of you.

The paladin follows suit and strides down the dock. "I will, warn, young Quinten that we have arrived. Sir Ghal, go ahead to the manor and tell Lady Pendour that we have returned and what we have learned." He looks at Hornauer. "While you are my guest and are not obliged to speak with her, it might help with your desire to remain in the Strandlands."

"We will see," the wererat replies. "For now, Lycia and I will stay here near the beach."

"As you wish," Sir Balorix says. "I will go to speak with her in your stead." He looks at Caerth and the others. "It would be wise that one or more of you stay with them. We don't want the locals to trouble our new friends."

"I will stay with them," Aureus says.

The paladin nods and heads towards the shack with Sir Avanth. Sir Ghal orders Elijah to head to the inn and speak to Sir Gareth. He heads down the dock behind the two older knights while Elijah runs ahead. The paladin ducks into the shack while Sir Avanth stays outside. Moments later, Quinten pops his head out and waves at you with big grin on his face.

"I have food, if you like?"
 

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
*growl gurgle growl*

Quinn is reminded of the need for nourishment as his body reminds him rather verbosely. His mouth remains silent for the moment - although his body does not remain silent.
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
As he hears Quinn's stomach growl, Caerth laughs softly. It is good to do so, as the tension had built up in the boats, and the half-orc smiles at his companion.

"Hungy? I guess we could all use something to eat."

Turning to the others, Caerth hesitates. Clearly indicating the wererat couple, he says, "Do you think Quinten would welcome us all?"
 

Scotley

Villager
On the boat ride Phar does his best not to stare at Hornauer's staff or mate though his is mightily curious about both. "Indeed, I could use a repast. And I would prefer to stay here with Aureus in any case." He turns to Quinten. "What do you have cooking? Enough for all?"
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
*growl gurgle growl*

Quinn is reminded of the need for nourishment as his body reminds him rather verbosely. His mouth remains silent for the moment - although his body does not remain silent.
As he hears Quinn's stomach growl, Caerth laughs softly. It is good to do so, as the tension had built up in the boats, and the half-orc smiles at his companion.

"Hungy? I guess we could all use something to eat."
"I could eat," Aureus says with a toothy grin.

JustinCase said:
Turning to the others, Caerth hesitates. Clearly indicating the wererat couple, he says, "Do you think Quinten would welcome us all?"
"He's had no problem with me," Aureus adds. "I think it will be okay."

She heads down the dock just as Sir Balorix steps out of the old shack. The old knight says something to Sir Avanth before nodding to the hutaakan rogue as she approaches. Balorix heads towards Carnell while Avath sits down on an old wooden chair, quite at ease. Quinten gives the aged knight a plate of food.

Hornauer seems content but his mate is uneasy. He notes her discomfort. "I think it is best that Lycia and I take shelter under the dock on the beach. We'll take some food if that man is offering, however."

"Yes, meat." Lycia hisses while holding her stomach. "My babies need meat."

On the boat ride Phar does his best not to stare at Hornauer's staff or mate though his is mightily curious about both. "Indeed, I could use a repast. And I would prefer to stay here with Aureus in any case."
Hornauer and Lycia move, cautiously, down the dock until they are less than five feet from it. Quinten disappears back inside and comes out with two plates piled with cooked meat and boiled vegetables — white tubers and red roots. He offers them to Hornauer with humility. The wererat steps forward and takes the plates. He shifts quickly back to his mate who sniffs at the food, wary, before eating. Soon she has eaten the meat from both plates.

Scotley said:
[Phar] turns to Quinten. "What do you have cooking? Enough for all?"
"The meat is a mix of sand spider legs and sheep's gut," Quinten replies. "The vegetables are local potatoes and red field carrots."

"Sand spider," Aureus says. "Like the ones that killed your uncle?"

"Those exact spiders. The leg meat is edible, but chewy. There was no sense letting it go to waste. A couple days in a brine and then roasted over a fire, and it's a good, cheap meal."

"More, more meat?" Lycia pleads.

"Sure, I have lots."

"Raw?"

"Uhm, sure, if that's what you'd prefer," the young wharfkeeper replies.

"We will be down on the beach," Hornauer adds. "It's better for us, more, open."

"I will bring you more," Aureus says.

The wererat and his mate head off of the dock and down to the beach. They take up shelter under the dock. Hornauer begins scavaging for anything to protect them from the elements. Once Caerth and Quinn joins the group by the shack, Quinten offers them all plates of food and the comforts of his shack. "Or you can eat out here. I have more chairs that can be brought out."

"I will help Hornauer and Lycia. Make sure they are comfortable." Aureus says. "Are you sure you have enough meat?"

"Plenty." He takes Aureus inside the shack.

Soon Aureus comes out with a large metal bowl filled with brined, raw spider leg meat. She nods to the others before heading down to the beach. You note that Sir Avanth has finished his plate and is now dozing under the sun. He doesn't seem concerned by the presence of the two shapechangers on the beach. Quinten has more than enough meat for everyone, although the meat is quite heavy. The vegetables are very good but he has only enough for all to have one portion. He even has a large jug of homemade berry wine, which has quite the kick. An hour passes. Hornauer comes back up onto the dock once Lycia is settled. Aureus stays with Lycia to watch her sleep. Many of the ratware's brood have gathered around her, but she and Hornauer keep them off the dock and away from the shack.

"I am thankful for your hospitality," Hornauer says to Quinten. The young wharfkeeper hands the wererat a full glass of wine with a smile and a nod. "My kind are not well thought of in the Strandlands," Hornauer adds.

"I've never had issues with shapechangers. Neither did my father, even though my grandfather was an infamous Silverman. My father broke with tradition after he learned that not all werefolk are evil. He choice did lose us our Family Crest, which is why he and Uncle Yorick had to take up more down-to-earth professions."

"What was your grandfather's name?" Hornauer asks.

"I'd rather not say," Quinten says glumly. "We changed our name to escape that awful legacy."

"As you wish," Hornauer replies. He looks at the young wharfkeeper with some trepidation. That is, until the young man offers up more berry wine.

One hour quickly becomes two then three. Eventually, Sir Balorix returns. His face is glum. "That is one stubborn woman," he grumbles. He sighs as he rubs his temples.

Quinten offers up his chair. He heads into the shack, comes out with a plate for the paladin, and then offers up more wine from a fresh jug.

"She insists you to put us in chains," Hornauer says. He shakes his head knowingly.

"She cannot insist anything to one of my age and standing." He pauses. "As long as you and your mate don't enter Carnell. But, yes, she is upset that I haven't done so. Typical. She asks for my help and then tries to overrule me."

"Lycia and I should leave, immediately."

"You are under my protection. as long as you stay away from the populace. But, yes, we should get you out of here, eventually. Lady Pendour is sending a rider to Belporte with a message to be magically sent to the senate. It's lucky she doesn't have her own mage, or the sending would be cast already."

"The senate will send one of your kind who isn't retired?"

"Yes, I could not dissuade her."

"Lycia and I cannot stay," Hornauer insists. He stands and downs his glass. "We will rest but then head down the coast." He looks at Caerth and the others. "I know you and your friends have your own problems including your bard friend, but I hope you'll come with us."

"If you rush away now," the paladin pleads. "I cannot guarantee your safety as you travel without me guiding you. And I cannot leave yet. I swore an oath to the lady before we left to find you. While it doesn't sunder my oath to you, I must wait twenty-four hours before I can honorably leave."

"A Canon Pact," Quinten adds. "Quite troublesome those agreements, even when short."

"Aye," Sir Avanth says. "If Bal breaks it, he could lose a hand, or even his head."

Sir Balorix sighs again and shakes his head in frustration. "The worst part is that Sir Ghal stands with his lady. She seems to have a sway over him that goes against his oath to me." He looks at Hornauer. "But I give you my word that I will not let them take you or Lycia."

"Hmm, it sounds like young Ghal is in love with Lady Pendour," Quinten muses.
 
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JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
Caerth listens to the conversation, but quickly seems to lose interest. He is not fond of politics, because that's all it is to him.

"You can't stay here for long," the druid says to Hornauer. "And although I would like to accompany you to wherever you wish to go, removing that cult is more important. We have to stop the threat to the world and all living beings."

The half-orc smiles slightly. "But I would like to visit you in your new home some day. If you'd let me."
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Caerth listens to the conversation, but quickly seems to lose interest. He is not fond of politics, because that's all it is to him.

"You can't stay here for long," the druid says to Hornauer. "And although I would like to accompany you to wherever you wish to go, removing that cult is more important. We have to stop the threat to the world and all living beings."

The half-orc smiles slightly. "But I would like to visit you in your new home some day. If you'd let me."
"And I would be happy to welcome you," Hornauer replies with a toothy grin. "I guess we'll see were that ends up being."

"I'm sure I can find you someplace isolated but comfortable. At the very least, you will be a temporary guest in our home at Knightswall," Sir Balorix replies while motioning to Sir Avanth.

"Yes, it's been quiet in the lighthouse since our daughter moved into BlackWater across The Avallbyr."

"Wait, you live in a lighthouse?" Hornauer asks with some surprise.

"Knightwall was once a great fortification but most of it is in ruins now. Its lighthouse is the one structure that has survived intact through the centuries, along with some of the attached walls," Balorix notes calmly. "There is one tower that hasn't collapsed completely, but its no more than a lookout now used by the soldiers of Blackwater."

"There are some deep cellars under the lighthouse. It's nothing fancy, but we keep it clean and free from dangerous creatures," Avanth adds.

"Sounds cozy," Hornauer says with a grin. "Maybe, could we stay longer?"

"I doubt the Lord of Blackwater would be willing to grant you permanent residency, but I'm sure I can convince him to let you stay until Lycia gives birth to her pups, if she doesn't 'pop' on the road there. After that, you'll likely have to move on." The old knight pauses and rubs his chin thoughtfully. "The ruins I mentioned before are on the trail leading south past Blackwater. It's an old town called Bartan. It sits on a high hill on the coast surrounded by beach and coastal wastes. Hmm, it might be a harsh life there and it is sometimes used a waypoint by caravans, but the ruins are isolated and you'd have access to the sea and. . ."

I don't think they would be happy there," Aureus interrupts. "It sounds very rugged and dirty."

"We don't mind a bit of dirt, but we won't live the wastes," Hornauer notes.

"Well, if you want to stay in Strandlands, there will be few options, "Avanth replies. "But we'll worry about that once we get you to our home."

The conversation continues on for several hours and you all enjoy the downtime. Once all the food has been eaten and all the drink has been drunk, most of it by Quinten (and Quinn) the two knights head into Carnell to gather their possessions and mounts. They come back out to the beachhead and set up a small camp near the dock in between the thorpe and the wererat camp.

Aureus stays close to Lycia. The hutaakan is concerned about Lycia and her unborn pups. She and Cruel Justice have a huge fight about the wererat his mate. In the aftermath, the hutaakan strides over to Quinn in a huff and forces the blade into the big fighters hands, "You take CJ before I throw him into the sea."

She then storms off into Carnell to put some distance between her and the demanding magical sword. Cruel Justice doesn't say anything to Quinn after the canine rogue leaves. The sword is silent and sullen. Aureus spends most of the day talking with the locals and finding out whatever she can about recent events.

Caerth, Quinn, and Phar are left to their own diversions after Quinten heads off into his uncle's old hut to sleep off the heavy spirits he shared with Quinn. He passes out on his cot and doesn't move for he rest of the day.

Just before the sun goes down, several militia members come down the beachhead to 'convince' Sir Balorix to let them take Hornauer and Lycia into custody for the shapechangers' own 'protection'. Balorix tells them to get stuffed and the exchange gets heated until Sir Gareth shows up and calms everyone down. It is a good thing he arrives in time, otherwise you might have had to draw weapons and fight the locals (*).

Aureus comes back to the beachhead just before dusk. She's been talking up the locals for hours and comes back with some interesting information to share about the latest rumors of the day.

"First, since we brought back Lord Pendour's body, there have been no more contact from the blackmailer. Whoever it is, hasn't contacted Lady Pendour. Rosey told me the rumor is that the lady suspects that it might be rival lady from the port city of Helt to the south." Aureus pauses and then whispers. "Others suspect it was Lord Ghal and that with his death, the matter will soon be closed."

Aureus clears her throat and tells another rumor. "Sir Gareth is worried about a young man named Shamus Taggart. The boy lost his father to a rook attack shortly before we arrive here. He had to abandon his family farm soon after his father was buried near the old house the man lived in all his life. Gareth is worried that the loss is torturing the boy inside. Shamus is starting to have nightmares about his father being tortured in the Nine Hells."

She takes a swig from her waterskin. "There is talk of bandits in the hills nearby and that they have been preying on lone riders traveling between here, a waystation called Hazepoint to the northeast, and the city of Belporte. The bandits are staking up the victims along the road with a written warning pinned to the victims that 'death rides these lands'."

"Also,"
she drinks more water. "Rumor has spread from the west and south that there is a large band of gnolls causing havoc near Fort Symas to the west and someplace called Elderspire that sits on the trail between here and Helt. I hate gnolls!"

"The weirdest thing I heard is a tall tale about a water dragon living offshore near an old shipwreck known as Green Star,"
Aureus shakes her head. "I think ol' Wilbur had too much to drink today."

Aureus notes their faces and goes on. "It's not all bad. Rosemergy has a birthday coming up in a couple days. She's planning a big celebration for her friends at the inn. It's a halfling tradition in these parts. We're welcome to join in the festivities."

OOC:* I'm assuming your PCs stay close to the werefolk until the 24 hours have passed.
 

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
Quinn looks hung over, even as he continues to drink water. All the various news bits finally look like they are sinking in as he eats some as well as drinks more water.
 

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