Six from Gate Pass - Chapter 4: The Mad King's Banquet (War of the Burning Sky)

Gregor

Villager
Chapter 4: The Mad King's Banquet

It has been over a week since you defeated Lee Sidoneth and his conjured hurricane. The city of Seaquen is devastated, but in this time of trial its people have unified to defend each other. They now know that Ragesia is still a threat, even though far away, and this motivates them to join the war effort. It will take a long time to rebuild the city but your actions in securing various magical items, such as the Decanter of Endless Water and the Lyre of Building have gone a long way in assisting with reconstruction and sanitation. The people look haggard, but a passion and spark burns within them now and refugees and common folk alike have banded together to help one another and put the city and the resistance back into fighting shape. In some strange way, Lee's storm accomplished the opposite of its intended goal: it has unified rather than shattered the city.

Thankfully the weather has been glorious. Though cool due to winter, the sun shines and barely a cloud floats by in the sky. Boats have returned to the sea to fish and hopefully even some trade will return now that the Elven fleet has limped away to lick its wounds.

You spend this week as you wish: studying in the library, training, crafting, performing, etc. Everywhere you go a citizen is slapping you on the back, asking to shake your hand or buying you drinks. The wealthiest patrons of the city have even pooled gold and given it to the Lyceum on your behalf in order to ensure that the leaders of the resistance can reward you properly. You are undeniably heroes and various names for your party begin to crop up: The Storm Lords, The Windswept Companions, The Knights of Seaquen.

Yet its not all good news. Word has come that the winter storms over south Ragesia have faded, clearing the way for the third Ragesian army to march into the Kingdom of Dassen. There is also news that their King has survived an assassination attempt.

However, for now your time is your own. You know you should enjoy it as a knock on your door from Simeon is likely just around the corner.
 

funkmamagoat

Villager
Kirio spends a good portion of the intervening week performing, finding his way to an inn every evening to ply his trade...

Looking back on the week he is pleased with the performances... and certainly the extra income is always welcomed.

OOC: I know there are simpler ways to do this, but honestly, I just LOVE seeing all those rolls...
 
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fromage67

Villager
After a night of wild excess, Lars sleeps for 15 hours straight.

He then returns to see his tutor. Lars unashamedly milks his status as a hero to extract every last ounce of magical knowledge from the Lyceum that he can. He also makes sure his pet rat attends all the lectures and demonstrations.
 

Bannock

Villager
Bannock takes the death of a party mate hard, spends the week mostly drinking and enjoying the swelling ranks of women offering anything and everything for some coin. It's amazing how disaster and mayhem envigorates the world's oldest trade, and Bannock finds that a man with a bit of coin is well sought after.

He decides to abandon his work on the heavy repeating crossbow. He's in a bit of a cynical mood and thinks to himself that he wouldn't even know how to properly use one. He decides to hang onto the heavy crossbow he took from the Ragesian soldier, preferring the idea that his equipment be paid for in the blood of his enemies. His latest adventure makes him hate Ragesia all the more.

He applies the time and metalworking skills he would have spent working on his weapon to helping the survivors rebuild the city by making basic tools, repairing broken wagon wheels, and occasionally, aiding those who want to arm themselves by making a spade into a spear or converting a heavy mallet into a warhammer or mace. The smiles on the faces of those he helps serve to elevate his mood, and he never asks for any money.

He thinks often of his father, and wonders if he still lives.
 
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Bannock

Villager
One night, when gathered with his surviving friends in a battered inn and toasting Hrimr as Kirio plays a ballad, he draws out the living weapon formerly belonging to the dwarf. It is still in the shape of a warhammer. He looks at it quizzically.

"So, how was this s'posed to work?"
 

Gregor

Villager
[sblock="for Bannock"]Bannock, the weapon doesn't really seem to do anything when you wield it, nor does it mystically impart any information to you. Where once it looked like a a tree formed into a weapon: a firm piece of wood flourished with small leaves, clumps of bark and fresh shoots it lost much of its life after Hrimr's passing. The bark crumbled, the leaves fell and the shoots shriveled. However, after holding it in your possession for a full day, you found that your dreams were suddenly infiltrated one night. You found yourself back in Innenotdar forest, except as it probably once was long ago. The trees were lush, the grass green and the stream bubbling with fresh water. Birds sang and the petals of flowers and fallen leaves danced in the breeze. Sitting beneath a vast weeping willow was the dryad Timbre: the most delicate and beautiful fey creature your eyes had ever set upon. She stared into your eyes, smiling and gesturing to the woods around you as if hinting at something. Seated next to her, resplendent in etched armor was the Elven warrior Anyariel, the lover of Timbre. Beside her sat Hrimr, his hands filled with the fresh soil of a hole he was digging at his feet. You snapped awake in the morning, figuring that a vivid dream such as that was likely a result of an ale-filled evening. Yet when you got ready to head out for the day and you touched the living weapon, it sprang to life: leaves growing green and firm, the bark taught and strong and the fresh smell of a forest filling your nose. It bonded with you and suddenly grew and stretched magically to form itself into your chosen weapon. In your mind you understood everything about it and how the life of Innenotdar was now tied to your soul, much as it was to Hrimr before you and Anyariel before him.[/sblock]
 
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Bannock

Villager
Two days later, Bannock can be seen going about his business using a new weapon as a walking staff. From a distance, it appears to be a normal glaive, but on closer inspection, one can see that from hilt to blade the entire weapon appears to be made of a single unbroken piece of glossy lacquered dark wood, inlayed with patters of deep green and gold so intricate that no mundane craftman could possibly have carved it. Bannock seems completely and naturally at ease with this new glaive, as if he was born with it. The blade is long and wide and flows out from the shaft in a smooth continuous curve, with a vicious barb on the reverse side. Although made entirely of wood, the bladed portion is much denser and heavier, giving the weapon striking power comparable to a metal-headed equivalent.
 
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funkmamagoat

Villager
Kirio spends some of the intervening time shopping... About mid-week, after a particularly satisfying set he approaches the others with a large pitcher of ale "This round is on me... so I've been shopping a little, and it occurred to me that we have the means to... hire a little help, should we have need to travel fulfilling our commitments. I think we should acquire a wagon, some mules and a driver. I spoke to a merchant that could even outfit a wagon for us, build in some protection/cover in case of ambush. Even with modifications the whole thing should come in well under 200 gold pieces, split between us? Bedrolls, rations, tents... none of that need way us down. We could have bigger tents, nicer bedrolls. We could even task the driver with ensuring there are ample refreshments stored in the wagon, wine or ale for after a big fight? Cheese, bread. He could also be charged with setting up camp. We may need to travel in the service of the lyceum, but I see no need for us not to do this in style... no?"

He grins from ear to ear looking to the others for their reaction. "Should you be willing I am more than happy to make the arrangements and interview perspective drivers/lackeys".
 

fromage67

Villager
Lars, taking break from his studies, thumps his pitcher on the table. "Great idea! A beautiful wagon, with the arms of Gatepass! And 4 fast horses that we can ride. How about it? I will buy myself the nicest horse I can find."
 

Bannock

Villager
Some part of his experience with binding to the Living Blade relieves Bannock's mistrust of magical enhancement. After finding a buyer for his old magic glaive and selling it, he makes a number of trips to the Lyceum during the party's remaining days to commission some work from the academy's wizards.

Of Kirio's idea to obtain a cart and horses, Bannock approves enthusiastically.

"Sure would be nice not to hafta stomp around on foot everywhere in full plate! Err, I might not be able to pitch in so much as you all if it turns out to be on the rich side. I gave most of my coin to wizards and wimmin!"

OOC: Bannock sells his old glaive for 50% of its original purchase price, fetching 659 gp. With the 2500 in payment for their mission plus what he began with, he has somewhat more than 4000gp, which he takes to the Lyceum to commission a +1 magical enhancement bonus for his masterwork full plate armor, and he also requests the "light fortification" ability. In addition, Bannock purchases a +1 Ring of Protection if such is available. The total cost of all of these these should be 4000gp
 

Gregor

Villager
GM: Bannock, your armor alone will be 4,000gp since you're effectively requesting +2 armor (+1 enhancement and light fortification which is another +1 equivalent bonus). The ring is another 2,000gp on top of that. You'll need to recalculate. Toss me an email if you want to discuss.
 

Bannock

Villager
OOC: No problem. Just a misintepretation of the cost structure. I'll drop the fortification. Just +1 on the armor and ring of protection for 3000 gp.
 

Gregor

Villager
At the end of your week, you are all rounded up by various messengers from the Lyceum. They find you shopping, relaxing or strolling through town and request that you follow them back to the school for an urgent meeting with Simeon. You comply, navigating the streets which are still littered with detritus and filled with the construction sounds of people putting their lives and their homes back to together. Even the campus of the Lyceum is undergoing construction work and as you cross, young students stare at you with open mouths, whispering and pointing as they get a glimpse of the heroes.

Up in Simeon's well-appointed office, you enter to see the headmaster staring out of a freshly installed glass window overlooking the harbour. Seated on some high-backed chairs around a table cluttered with maps and tankards of wine are Kiernan Stekart, the dwarf abjurer and head of the war department, Katrina who appears to have ingratiated herself enough to be present, your old friend Torrent and two other men.

The first is half-elven and clearly from the nation of Ostalin, his olive skin giving him away instantly. He is nearing middle age with a thick sandy brown muttonchop beard and he is dressed in nobleman’s finery. He keeps an exotic leather-bound case beside him, stitched with his family’s coat of arms.

The second man is human and stands tall and strong, clad in a finely made steel breastplate and with an ornate bastard sword sheathed and strapped to his back. A polished silver mask hangs from his belt and a large silver holy symbol bearing a design depicting a skeletal hand holding a measuring scale hangs from a chain around his neck. He is brown eyed and brown haired and lifts his eyes from the map to look at you when you arrive.

“Come on and sit down,” says the half-elf stranger. “I’m Balan Bastom, distantly related to the Bastom house of Ostalin. Pleasure to meet you. Simeon and I were just trying to figure out how long it had been since we’d seen a storm anywhere near as big as the one we had last week. The best we can figure was twenty-two years ago. Good job on that, by the way.”

Katrina smirks. “We owe them our lives,” she says. “Guys, we’ve got a mission for you. I’ve promised them that you won't disappoint us.”

Simeon turns from the window to face the party. "Gentlemen, you know everyone else in this room save for our new friend here," he gestures to the tall human with the mask, "I have invited him here today as I believe he may be of some help. His name is Artorias." Simeon gestures to the party. "Artorias, these are the heroes of Seaquen that you have heard about: Kirio and Arnir of Shahalesti and Bannock and Lars of Gate Pass. They were known as the Six from Gate Pass when accompanied by a fallen comrade, but new names have been cropping up for them ever since. I am personally partial to The Windswept Companions. We can continue introductions in a moment, but first I'd like to discuss why we brought you all here today. Balan, if you please?"

The large-bodied Balan sips delicately at his wine and casts a wan smile in your direction. “I suppose you are wondering what this is all about,” he says, “and I can’t say I blame you. Have you heard the recent news out of Ragesia? They’re dispatching an army to come take care of us. As soon as the mountain passes thaw on the border between Ragesia and Dassen we’ll have forty thousand or more soldiers headed our way. The downside of notoriety I fear.

“Regardless, with the damage to the town, even if the entire refugee population mustered, Seaquen can’t hope to defend itself on its own against the Ragesian army. Normally it would be a simple matter of requesting help from King Steppengard, since officially Seaquen is part of Dassen. Not like we actually pay taxes, though.” He grins.

“But the Ragesians have gone and made a non-aggression pact with the King.” Balan frowns. “We just got word this morning. An envoy from Ragesia promised that Empress Leska will not attack Dassen if their army is allowed to march through unmolested. Depending on how the weather goes, it looks like we have a month or two before our resistance is cut short.

“That’s where you, and potentially I, come in. Simeon here needs you to journey to Bresk, the capitol of Dassen, and use your persuasive skills to convince the King to change his mind. We’ve already sent ahead a courier requesting an audience for us, so hopefully they’ll be expecting us. Now, we’re not particularly keen on officially allying with Dassen, but if we pledge our magical support to King Steppengard in this war, and play to his ego about how he is letting the Ragesians bully him, I think we have a shot.”

At this point, Simeon interrupts. “Try not to give away the town. Remember, we want to ‘offer our assistance at the king’s pleasure,’ not ‘pledge loyalty.’ We’re not joining his country, and we’re sure as hell not going to pay him taxes. We —”

Balan shakes his head. “They can try, but let’s not get too full of ourselves. We’re not a sovereign nation here. They'll likely need to say and do whatever is necessary to make sure that all the people here are safe from the Scourge. If Steppengard won’t listen, maybe one of the other nobles will."

“Anyway,” Balan continues, “back to you. As you can probably see, I am not a great warrior, nor am I an experienced traveler. I am however a trained diplomat and am willing to accompany you and speak on behalf of Seaquen if you require it. Though I have heard that the master Kirio is rather accomplished with words in his own right. The Ragesians already have an envoy in Bresk, so we should expect some trouble. Simeon has vouched for you fully. We need your help. I shudder to think what would happen to Lyceum if the Ragesian Scourge were to reach us.”
 
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The Bashar

Villager
After Balan finishes speaking the man introduced as Artorias lifts himself up from the map and moves closer to the conversation.

"We know what would happen and that's why we must succeed. The Ragesians must be stopped!

He makes a half bow in the direction of the party.

"Gentlemen it is an honour to meet you. As Master Simeon has said, my name is Artorias. I am a cleric in the service of Kelemvor, God of the Dead. I am a native of Dassen and have spent some time in Bresk. I will be your guide and travelling companion, if you will have me."
 

funkmamagoat

Villager
Kirio listens attentively as Balan explains the task at hand. "Certainly I think this is something we can assist with. Seaquen has proven generous in its recompenses, and I am certainly eager to continue this relationship."

He looks to the others for confirmation then continues "I am skilled in the diplomatic arts of persuasion, but if you feel you have knowledge that will assist then you are most welcome to join. Given Ragesia will be interested in stopping us there will likely be trouble as you say. What can you tell us of King Steppengard. Does he have the resources to stand in this army's way for us?"

"
Gentlemen it is an honour to meet you. As Master Simeon has said, my name is Artorias. I am a cleric in the service of Kelemvor, God of the Dead. I am a native of Dassen and have spent some time in Bresk. I will be your guide and travelling companion, if you will have me.
"

Kirio nods to Artorias "Greetings Artorias, I am Kirio, the effusive to some. If Simeon recommends you I see no reason to deny you. Certainly we could make use with a Cleric if our last mission is any judge! What can you tell us of things in Dassen and Bresk?"

Kirio remembers the loot they left after the fight on the wayfairer's galley and checks out the magic bag left by Giorgio's cronnies. Having no clue he hands it to Arnir to check out.
 
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Gregor

Villager
GM: The magic leather backpack that Kirio mentions was on Brutus or Setales (one of Giorgio's minions) but you didn't have time to identify it before you were whisked away to deal with Lee. Kirio is unable to identify it.

The other item being identified by Kirio was the magical glass bottle you all found in the Pyromancer's Tomb. He is also unable to identify that item.
 
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funkmamagoat

Villager
Kirio also hands the bottle to Arnir "I like trying to figure these things out, but you are clearly more skilled. It is transmutation magic, that is all I could determine."
 

Gregor

Villager
"The King," says Balan, "Is an old, experienced warrior who has a reputation for preferring negotation to combat. He unified the nation of Dassen out of a civil war between 8 other rival kings who now serve on his council. If mustered, the nation could boast a very large military force. Additionally, due to geography, there are limited places where Ragesia could invade making Dassen's numbers count for more." Balan takes a sip from his drink and gestures politely to Artorias. "Perhaps Artorias has more to share?"
 

The Bashar

Villager
Artorias nods at Balan. He puts his hands behind his back as he speaks.

"Dassen is nine independent states that were unified under the king fifteen years ago. It is ruled by the Council of Nine. The council decides all major matters in the country. Each Lord or Lady from each state has one vote on the council, while King Steppengard has three. If the king cannot be convinced to help we may have to gain favour with the council members so that the King can be overruled.

I haven't been in Bresk for a year, so I cannot say much to the political climate there. I do remember the way there and, unless there have been any major changes, will know my way around the town. I spent many years training there."
 

fromage67

Villager
"Well, I'm not much use at diplomacy, but sometimes, other talents are required." Lars cleans his fingernails fastidiously with his dagger as he speaks.
 

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