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The Westgate Campaign Chronicles - serial

Carlo-One

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The first underground chamber they found themselves in had a large bloodstain on the floor – an old, dried-up one, which however still didn’t bode well, as Darrow said. Shanni’s expert eye noted that the both the pull chain leading to the surface and the sewer gate at the chamber’s exit had been operated recently. Rahnee said she would take center in their marching order, telling Dermot and Darrow to wing her, as they moved deeper into the sewers.

Dermot inched the first gate open and then slowly advanced, along with Rahnee and Darrow, the dwarf trying as best as he could to be quiet in plate armor. The ranger heard something chittering ahead as they reached an already-opened door. Entering the next chamber, they ran into several giant spiders, but successfully avoided being bitten by quickly dispatching the creatures. Shanni hung back during the encounter, complaining afterwards that she did not have her bow with her.

The petite rogue then investigated a passage with an old spiderweb which fell apart at her touch, leaving her unsure if their quarry had passed that way. The party followed it until they reached a closed doorway with vines covering it, which struck Shanni as weird. Dermot confirmed that nothing appeared to have moved through the door recently. Darrow, checking the door, thought he saw a trap.

Returning down the passage, they found another walkway out of the spider chamber, as Rahnee lit a torch and Dermot moved to check the closed door at the end of it. The ranger checked the handle and the floor, also running his finger along the ground in front of it. Shanni observed that the light would shine under the door, but Dermot said it couldn’t be helped. The scene was repeated as they moved down the dark, smelly sewer walkway to the next door grate, but this time Dermot waved away the torch, trusting his senses.

In the chamber beyond, the ranger confirmed that the trail had come to an end, with its exit door untouched. A pull chain to the surface, pointed out by Darrow, offered another exit and Shanni quickly climbed up. Rahnee mentioned that she had been down there previously, but did not remember where they would come up.

She and her two other companions followed Shanni up to street level, where they read a sign informing them they were in the Harbor Loop – the same district they had started in – which provoked some curses. Nearby lay the Bleth noble, naked and unconscious with a large lump visible on his head. Rahnee took off her cloak and covered him, as Dermot and the others fruitlessly searched the area around them for any sign of the attackers.
 
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Carlo-One

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Rahnee’s ministrations managed to rouse the now partially-clothed lordling, who clutched Rahnee’s cloak to him instinctively. Darrow, looking out for his companion, handed over his own non-magical cloak to the still-woozy man, so Rahnee could take back her enchanted one. Rahnee asked the noble if he was Anubin Bleth, receiving a slow grunt and an affirmative answer. She told him that they had found his man knocked out, as he leaned against a wall for support and moaned about his head.

Despite his poor condition, the embarrassed Bleth noble refused Rahnee’s offer to accompany him back to his quarters; his main concern was that they tell no one about what happened to him. Questioned by Rahnee and Dermot about the circumstances of his kidnapping, Anubin admitted that it had been the first time he had met the woman used as bait. He also confirmed that his guard had been hit by a spell.

Rahnee flatteringly encouraged Anubin to further tell his tale. To the accompaniment of Shanni’s snickers, he described how he manfully battled at least a dozen ruffians before being knocked unconscious. Wrapping the borrowed cloak around his midsection with as much dignity as he could muster, the Bleth noble thanked them for rendering assistance before striding a bit unsteadily off into the night.

The four adventurers debated what to do next, then decided to see if they could turn up any more information about the gang that had taken Anubis Bleth. Darrow bantered with a nearby House Ssemm guard, who mentioned that a group had come by a while ago, looking like they were carrying a passed-out drunk friend home. However, it was too dark to get a good look at them, or where they went off to, the guard said. Darrow nonetheless gave him a gold piece for his trouble. Meanwhile, Shanni chatted up a prostitute on a corner near the Rosebud Outdoor Tavern, trying to find out more about the woman with the Bleth noble.
 

Carlo-One

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Later that evening, after exhausting their leads in the Harbor Loop, Rahnee, Darrow, Dermot and Shanni arrived at Aerikoth’s house outside West Gate. As Darrow started banging on the door and calling for the wizard, they spotted Aerikoth’s raven familiar Zeluth outside. The bird flew down and perched on the doorsill, squawking a greeting, or possibly a challenge.

Rahnee spoke to the bird, asking if his “friend” were home tonight; in response, the raven moved its head from side to side. She then asked the bird if he would take them to his “friend” and got a squawk of avian laughter in response. Losing patience, Darrow pounded on the door and continued loudly calling for Aerikoth, as Zeluth peered down curiously at the group. After some debate, Rahnee scribbled a quick note for Aerikoth and left it in the door jamb. The four then headed back out into the night, with the weather turning for the worse. (Evidently the wizard was not home, as I cannot imagine him putting up with the door pounding and general ruckus outside his home. Did he sneak out to enjoy the revels anonymously, without his companions? Or have some other appointment to keep on this festival night? --C)

By this point it was near midnight, although the city-wide revelry was still in full swing. Having heard rumors about disappearances from the nearby Shore district, the four adventurers decided to head there after wandering around for a bit, to see if they could catch someone in the act. The thundering and lightning became worse as they found themselves in Westgate’s poorest quarter, looking for a place to set up an ambush.

Dermot pointed out a sputtering, abandoned campfire near some huts, so they started to spread out around it. The ranger pulled out an empty bottle of booze to use as a prop and Rahnee set about mussing her hair after removing the hood of her cloak. Meanwhile, Shanni pulled her own magical cloak around her and became one with the shadows.

The petite rogue had barely settled into a hiding place, when suddenly she gave out a loud shriek and started running back to the campfire. A tall skeleton warrior wielding a greatsword followed her and was engaged by her surprised companions. Darrow and Rahnee closed with the skeleton and after some hard fighting were able to return it to being a pile of bones. Rahnee caught her breath as Shanni led Dermot and Darrow around the corner of a nearby building, where the rogue had originally seen a pile of bones and the sudden appearance of the undead fighter.

As the three were examining the bone pile, a patrol of thugs accosted them, saying they had received reports of a group of adventurers sneaking around the area and that a loud shriek had been heard. Darrow and Dermot managed to bluff the patrol, denying there was anything amiss; Shanni caught herself just in time from mentioning the animated skeleton. The patrol departed with a veiled warning that they would be around, in case of any problems. The three adventurers then returned to Rahnee, who joined them in searching the wet and muddy area for any more bones.
 

Carlo-One

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Having found the original skull pile, but nothing more in terms of evidence, Rahnee insisted on trying to track any movements associated with it and the skeleton warrior. Darrow, Dermot and Shanni were not very optimistic about this, but let Rahnee pursue her goal. Instead, they found a local Shore resident to interrogate. Fearful at first, the man relaxed a bit when promised some gold. He mentioned the Shore Patrol gang had been in the area for as long as he knew. However, lately the residents had stopped going out alone at night, as those who did disappeared, sometimes leaving blood but no body behind.

Making a circuit of the area, the three adventurers found a cave entrance set back on top of a hill. Dermot thought it led to the sewers, so they decided to enter it. Inside, they found a relatively fresh corpse with multiple stab wounds. They presumed that this was a more mundane kind of victim than what they were looking for, so departed the cave.

The three went looking for Aerikoth again at his home and at the Gatereach Inn, with no luck, so headed to the Rosebud Outdoor Tavern once more. The bartender denied having seen a wizard that evening, so they again reached a dead end. Nevertheless, they did not give up and returned to the area outside West Gate to see (again) if he was home; he was not. With nothing better to do, apparently, they found a nearby sewer entrance and descended into it. After some further wandering around and more than one encounter with denizens of the sewer, they chose to call it a night and headed back to the Gatereach.
 

Carlo-One

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The morning of Ches 20, Aerikoth entered the Gatereach Inn and stood quietly by the doorway, letting the rainwater drip from his cloak. Jandrico Swift greeted the wizard and informed him that his companions were in the other room. As he walked over, Rahnee turned to him and asked when they would be meeting with the folks in red, as she put it. Aerikoth greeted her, Darrow and Shanni, noting that Dermot was not present; apparently the ranger had another meeting. Shanni, pouting a little, said that Aerikoth wouldn’t know, since they hadn’t seen him since they found the Scarlet Company. The wizard confirmed that he was not aware they had a meeting with the adventurers.

Shanni explained that they had found the halfling fellow named Slipster at the Empty Fish. In response to a question from Rahnee, who also apparently had not been told about it, Shanni said she was almost certain he said the meeting would be at sundown back at the inn. Darrow, who along with Shanni had apparently been drinking at the time, seconded the (slightly fuzzy) recollection. Aerikoth remarked that the company had previously met with Jamal there.

The wizard then began to mention that he had been informed about their seeking him the previous night, when Shanni interrupted, complaining about being tetchy from being assaulted by walking skeletons and having wet clothes from fishing for skulls in the river. Speaking of skulls, she asked Darrow if Dermot left him the one they had found. The dwarf scratched his head and declared that the ranger must have held onto it, which made Shanni even more irritated.

Rahnee, aside to Aerikoth, explained that they had been down to the Shore district, where they had been attacked by a skeleton with a “bloody great sword” that appeared near a pile of skulls, as Shanni described it. She and Rahnee then recounted the rest of their expedition, including searching for the skulls in the water after Shanni had kicked the pile of them into it. Darrow was more sanguine about the affair, declaring that it got the blood flowing, anyways. Shanni ended the tale by describing the encounter with the Shore Patrol thugs, who according to her just told the group not to do anything naughty and buggered off.

The petite rogue, still fixated on the skull they had found, dug out a piece of charcoal and some parchment. She then drew a facsimile of the pattern of indentations on the skull and passed it to Darrow. The drawing showed four indentations on each side of the skull, spaced roughly evenly apart in a shallow semi-circle. The dwarf slid the paper on the table, spun it a little bit, then plunked his hand on top of the markings, pointing out how the finger marks matched – almost like somebody had taken the skull in their hands and squeezed it like an overripe turnip.

Aerikoth mentioned that it was not the first time the company had encountered something like this. The wizard explained to Shanni that when they had battled the lich Asknakzeroth, one of his towers also had skull piles that when approached would summon a skeletal warrior. Rahnee also recalled the incident, being the only one remaining of the original company, besides Aerikoth, to have been there. Aerikoth declared that it took some skill in the Necromantic Arts and was intrigued by the fact that the skull had been left in a public area. The group then indulged in various speculations about why that had occurred.
 

Carlo-One

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Just as Aerikoth was saying that he would like to see the part of the Shore district where the skull had been found, Shanni gave him a strange look and asked if there was blood on the collar of his robe, gesturing at a small dark red stain by his neck. As Rahnee leaned forward to look at the collar herself, the wizard reached up and grabbed his collar, pulling it out so he could get a better look at it. Rahnee, grinning, cracked a joke about his raven familiar Zeluth dribbling his breakfast on Aerikoth. The wizard, seemingly taking it seriously, arched an eyebrow and said that he did not recall.

Frowning, Shanni looked at Aerikoth and pointedly said that the others had been all over the place looking for him the previous night, when the wizard evidently was not at home. She then bluntly asked him what he had been up to. Taking a deep breath, Aerikoth replied that he had been informed of their looking for him; he had been summoned away for a time, perhaps the stain was from then.

Shanni followed up, still suspicious, telling him that they had found someone who had been robbed and said he saw a wizard with the group who did it. A cryptic reply from Aerikoth about individuals in the area who wished a word from him was all she got in response. He apologized about not going into details; the wizard termed it not a prudent endeavor at that time, asserting it was for the benefit for all of them. This hardly satisfied the rogue’s curiosity, but Rahnee reacted with a smile, teasing her longtime companion about his always enigmatic ways and saying that she would always have his back. Darrow seemed to care little, just asking that Aerikoth let them know if his business was going to bite them in the arse.

The wizard did go on to share one detail: he had been informed the previous night that House Cormaeril was no longer welcomed in Westgate, and he was promised that if the company undertook their complete removal from the city, they would be very well rewarded. Rahnee said she assumed this was from someone other than their current contract with Urdo, Aerikoth giving a small nod in response. Following some debate about the morality of such an endeavor, Shanni and Darrow then mentioned the fact that they thought they had found a back way into Cormaeril Castle. (So yet another - however brief - effort of the company to ascertain their wizard's outside activities passes by. This one even featured a bloodstain on his robe. On the other hand, certain other members were rather tardy with their own revelation that a meeting had been arranged with the adventuring company they were supposed to be removing from the city for House Urdo. Having boozed it up at the spring festival the previous day seemed to play a role in Shanni and Darrow's obfuscations, due to their somewhat hazy memories; I doubt this was the case with Aerikoth, given his abstemious nature. --R)

It turned out that during the previous evening’s sewer expedition, Dermot, Darrow and Shanni had stumbled onto a secret door in the sewers that went right into the Cormaeril's basement. Darrow and Shanni said they believed they could find it again. Darrow related that Dermot had slipped in and saw a bunch of red armored guards. Later, the group stumbled by the castle’s main gate and Dermot said he was pretty sure it was the same type of armor worn by the gate guards.
 
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Carlo-One

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The remainder of the daylight hours of Ches 20 were spent by the group cleaning up and otherwise preparing themselves for the meeting with the Scarlet Company at sundown. By late afternoon, Aerikoth, Darrow and Shanni had gathered in the back room of the Gatereach inn. Rahnee was out arranging various things for her "Veranbrok" project, while Dermot had decided to stealthily check the grounds of the Empty Fish inn, the designated meeting place, to see if anything was out of place. Shanni took the opportunity to mention that their upcoming meeting with the mercenary company was likely to be a trap, asking the other two how well they knew their counterparts.

Darrow referred to the fact that they had helped them out on a job some time ago. Putting it metaphorically, the dwarf said that he'd say hello to them on the street, but wouldn't let them kiss his sister – if he had a sister, that is. He also did not trust the hin farther than he could throw him. Aerikoth was relatively sanguine about them, recalling that Darrow had invited them to his bar fighting event. Shanni said she remembered two of them from there, the halfling and one “pleasing fellow”, the fighter Juril.

She then related that she had bumped into Juril the previous day while out fetching her dress. The fighter had asked her, specifically, to stay away from the meeting as he was fearful for her life should fighting break out. When pressed for more details by Aerikoth, Shanni shrugged and said that Juril was certain there would be trouble, which to her meant that the Scarlet Company were going to attempt to take them down. She knew that the mercenary company’s employers, the Cormaerils, viewed the party as an obstacle to their plans in Westgate. Aerikoth was less sure that their intent was an ambush, the wizard considering the Empty Fish inn an odd place to set one up.

As they were discussing the possibility of an ambush there or at a site on the way, Jandrico Swift approached them. The innkeeper politely explained that he did not pry into the affairs of his guests, but had noticed a certain unease among the group, citing Dermot’s determined mien as he headed out of the inn earlier. Noting that these were uncertain and dangerous times, Jandrico mentioned that if they needed any “insurance” he might be able to arrange some – for a price, naturally, since such things cost money. He said that he was sure that they were all capable of handling their own business, but felt that he still owed them a debt from their rescue of Janatha. He would need a few hours’ notice and some coin, should they wish to take him up on the offer. Darrow in response said that they might need insurance, and he definitely needed a drink, ordering an ale from the innkeeper.

(Jandrico's offer surprised me at first. After thinking on it some more, perhaps it is not so unusual for such a successful and at least moderately wealthy inn proprietor in Westgate to be able to arrange for temporary "insurance" for his guests. Such a service would naturally be appreciated by out-of-town merchants fearful of Westgate's reputation for thievery and could be another way to extract some coin, more or less legitimately, from his patrons. It will be interesting to see if the offer is actually taken up and in what form it would be. --C)
 
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Carlo-One

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After Jandrico departed for the inn’s common room, the three adventurers fell to discussing ways to mitigate a potential ambush. The general feeling was that the Scarlet Company was being misinformed by the Cormaerils about the past acts of Helm’s Shadows. Darrow recalled that during their previous meeting, the Scarlet Company’s rogue Slipster had mentioned a “nasty trick” performed by Helm’s Shadows, namely luring the previous House Cormaeril wizard out and killing him in an ambush. Then, just as Shanni was about to add something about the halfling, in walked Slipster himself.

He breezily greeted them, saying he had heard they liked to hang out at the Gatereach, so he thought he would come by and check it out for himself. In reaction, Darrow glanced over his shoulder at the halfling and put a hand on his coin pouch, before carefully stating it was not a bad place for an ale. After a bit more banter with Darrow and Shanni – Aerikoth remained silent – Slipster claimed he just wanted to make sure things were all set for that night. Shanni grinned merrily and quipped that they were just deciding what to wear.

The hin, on a more serious note, told them he thought the Scarlet Company might have found a way to resolve the tensions between them – as Juril had put it, he said. Darrow approved of the idea. Slipster said he thought they were all right as a group – so no reasons for tensions and such – and his company would still plan to show up a little after sundown at the Empty Fish. Shanni stated they were looking forward to it, mentioning she might even wear her new dress. She also managed to confirm that Juril would be there. The hin then turned to depart, saying he had to get some things done before they could all drink together.

Just as Slipster was heading out the door, Aerikoth finally spoke, asking for a moment of time. The hin, a little nonplussed by the wizard’s late intervention, turned back and picked his teeth with a fingernail while Aerikoth questioned what he had meant by “tensions”, claiming that there was only a desire on their part to exchange information and clear up any misinformation received. In response Slipster commented he was sure, in that case, things would go swimmingly at the meeting. (For one used to the language and ways of rogues, Slipster's actions carry a double meaning, not necessarily concerned with calming tensions between the two companies. First, the fact that he just happened to come by Helm's Shadows' base of operations, demonstrating that he knew where it was - is that really a coincidence? Second, the halfling's reference to Juril's concerns about "tensions" - the exact same language used by the fighter in the private meeting with Shanni - would also have raised my guard. It might signify that the Scarlet Company member's bid to secretly warn Shanni off had been discovered, or perhaps was even planned deliberately from the start as a stratagem, in order to deprive Helm's Shadows of her presence in any confrontation. --R)

After the halfling’s departure, Shanni bickered a while with Aerikoth – admittedly not an unusual occurrence. The petite rogue felt that the wizard’s words had only served to put the Scarlet Company more on notice that the meeting arrangements were suspect; she thought this raised the chances of them bringing additional allies. The wizard denied that this was the case, asserting that the supposed conflict was just wasted energy and thought on the part of everyone. Darrow for his part was copacetic about the upcoming meeting, believing that if the Scarlet Company wanted to bring friends, they would bring them regardless. He also pointed out that a tavern setting would mean a constricted fight, if it came to it, so it would be easy to find a choke point and hold it.
 

Carlo-One

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As the bickering was still ongoing, Dermot walked in and greeted them, asking for the latest word. Darrow and Shanni quickly got him up to speed on the potential ambush scenario at the Empty Fish, Jandrico’s offer for security assistance, and the Scarlet Company’s rogue Slipster dropping by. In return, Dermot related how he had looked over the meeting site and its surroundings. He described it as pretty typical, with some fields out back, some farms and fences to the front, streets and a well on one side and Cormaeril Vale on the other. If it came to a fight and they had to run, he said he would probably recommend the back door.

This fed back into Aerikoth and Shanni’s argument, as the wizard remained skeptical of an ambush. Shanni countered by emphasizing how adamant Juril had been that there would probably be a fight, along with the concern he expressed for her not to be there. Aerikoth took the point, but still did not believe the meeting would start with an ambush. As Darrow shrugged and continued drinking from his ale glass, Dermot cut to the central question of the meeting scenario, which was how many of them would go into the Empty Fish, and how many would hang back outside.

Darrow reckoned that at least he and Rahnee should go in, as the toughest warriors, which Dermot and Shanni seconded. Shanni, returning to the subject of the Scarlet Company’s intentions, then raised the idea that even if their counterparts meant them no harm directly, what if Cormaeril had decided to take matters into their own hands? Dermot thought she had a point, while Darrow approved of the chance to bash some Cormaeril heads as a bonus.

Discussion returned to tactical planning for the meeting. In response to a question from Shanni, Aerikoth indicated that he could take two of them, with all their equipment, along with him on a teleport. Dermot therefore recommended that the wizard enter the inn along with Darrow and Rahnee, ready to bring them out if necessary. Meanwhile, Dermot and Shanni would be watching the front and back entrances for trouble; if they ended up having any of Jandrico’s “friends” along, their allies could also hang back and wait for a signal. Since Juril was already expecting Shanni to try to come up with an excuse not to be there, she believed this would match his expectations. The three inside could explain she had come down with something horrible, she suggested, and that Dermot was administering healing poultices to her or whatever.

At this point, the always-solicitous Jandrico Swift stepped into the room, mentioning that he had to be off for a while, until later in the evening. He inquired if there was anything they needed before he departed. Shanni immediately said that they thought they should take him up on his offer. The innkeeper indicated he would need to know the details of the situation – not all, perhaps, but at least what the “insurance” he could arrange would need to cover.

After some further questioning from Shanni, Jandico informed them that four “insurance agents” could be made available for them outside the Empty Fish starting an hour after sundown – for the price of 1,000 gold per hour. Darrow whistled at the figure and Dermot did a double-take in reaction. Jandrico further specified that for that price, there would be no questions asked regarding the targets; whoever engaged the party would be dealt with. (Looked at from the perspective of the "insurance" provider, in effect each "agent" is offering an all-you-can-kill service for 250 gold an hour - which for assassins seems a bargain rate. Of course Jandrico would be taking his cut off the top, so in reality it would probably work out to 200 gold received by each "agent" for the job. It is important to do the maths for these situations. --R)

Shanni, after a few more questions, sighed and mentioned that she had “a bit stashed for a rainy day” and that this was probably one of those. She was particularly concerned about the possibility of them being outnumbered. Ever polite, Jandrico told them he considered them capable individuals, so perhaps the arrangement would not be necessary. Yet, he was willing to make the offer out of trust and gratitude for their previous actions.
 
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Carlo-One

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Dermot asked Aerikoth and Darrow what they thought of the offer of additional protection, before committing himself. The wizard tersely stated that it was unnecessary in his opinion. Darrow was more open to the idea, saying that if “Beast” – his pet nickname for Shanni – thought they needed it after talking to her boyfriend, he would cough up half a thousand. This statement caused a bit of spluttering in response from Shanni, who insisted that Juril wasn’t her boyfriend. The dwarf just chuckled and sipped his ale.

The ranger somewhat reluctantly agreed to pay a share, muttering that there had better be an ambush after all, as he started counting out gold trade-bars. Shanni and Darrow also pulled out their purses, ending up splitting the 1,000 gold cost three ways; Aerikoth made no move to contribute. Jandrico collected the money and told them that their “insurance” would be at the meeting site in two hours, starting at hour 19. In response to a question from Shanni, he informed her that if all went well, the party would not even know they were there, as no direct contact would be made. He explained that any enemies who attacked them outside the building, however, would be engaged. Jandrico then excused himself, wishing them a pleasant and peaceful evening.

Dermot commented that if there was a fight, the plan should be to lead it outside, so they could get their money’s worth. Shanni felt that she would look a right twit, as she put it, if there wasn’t an ambush, promising that Juril would then feel it too. She mentioned he had told her that one of their group had informed the Cormaerils about the upcoming meeting; though reportedly angry at first, they then said to go ahead with it. This smacked to Shanni of House Cormaeril having made their own arrangements regarding the meeting, even if the Scarlet Company did not start anything. Both Dermot and Shanni feelingly expressed their willingness to take on any Cormaeril forces.

Darrow, after glancing at the bottom of his empty ale mug and chuckling ironically, made the observation that they had just spent twice as much gold on "insurance" as they were likely to get for doing the job of removing the Scarlet Company from the city. Shanni said the thought had occurred to her as well. The petite rogue then brought up the problem of communications at the meeting site, between those inside and outside the building. Aerikoth confirmed he did not have a spell that could assist in the matter. Shanni expressed some concern about there being innocents in the place, which Dermot pointed out was another good reason for drawing any fighting outside.

Darrow, practical as ever, summed up his understanding of the plan. Rahnee, Aerikoth and he would go inside and "chit chat" with the Scarlets, as he put it. Assuming the Cormaerils attacked them inside, they would head outside - where Dermot, Shanni and their insurance would deal with the problem. Shanni suggested they have Aerikoth get them out, maybe to his place nearby, then return to the scene. Darrow thought it sounded workable. After thinking a bit, Shanni also asked if they could try to take the Scarlets alive. Darrow agreed that should be assumed, since he didn’t expect the mercenary company would start anything themselves.
 

Carlo-One

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As the sun was sinking on Ches 20, there was still no sign of Rahnee and her companions were getting antsy. Shanni departed the Gatereach, saying she wanted to go to the meeting site in advance, to see things for herself. A little while later, Aerikoth, Darrow and Dermot also headed for the district outside the West Gate. Arriving outside the Empty Fish, they looked around for Shanni, seeing nothing. Darrow yelled for “the Beast” and Shanni stepped out of the shadow of a nearby house, pulling down the hood of her cloak.

The dwarf immediately informed her that it did not look like Rahnee would be able to make it, drawing an oath from Shanni. She thought it best that she remain hidden outside to watch the place, since her “friend” in the Scarlet Company would not be expecting her at the meeting. They agreed this would be best, with Dermot going inside in Rahnee’s place. Shanni asked about ways to signal them if she spotted extra “guests” coming. Darrow suggested she throw a rock through a window or something, which earned a thumbs-up from the petite rogue.

As the others started making for the tavern door, Shanni had a brief but very loud exchange with Dermot about her not feeling well and going home. She then ducked back into the shadows while Dermot, Darrow and Aerikoth entered the Empty Fish and seated themselves at an open table. Dermot earned Darrow’s appreciation by purchasing the first round of ales, although Aerikoth refused his. Meanwhile, Shanni found herself a concealed place to watch the road leading to the tavern, settled down and dug around to find a large-ish rock.

As the three adventurers inside the tavern were settling down and trying not to look too suspicious, their half-orc acquaintance Barzog wandered in and greeted them. Darrow and Dermot returned the greeting – the ranger showing his surprise more evidently – and queried what he was doing there. Barzog explained that Jandrico had given him a message: their “order” wouldn’t be ready until hour 19 at the earliest. The half-orc asked if that was all right. Dermot thought it would not be that long and Darrow indicated that would be fine. Aerikoth, silently and without expression, simply watched.

Barzog, his task done, took his leave, only pausing to stare back at a couple of tavern-goers who had been staring at him, and briefly check the bar prices. After he was gone, Dermot remarked on the half-orc’s conspicuousness and Aerikoth broke his silence to concur. Talk then turned to their Scarlet Company counterparts. In response to a question from Dermot, Darrow said that he thought they were a competent bunch, having previously taken up a contract to clear the road to Starmantle; Aerikoth mentioned there had been trolls and manticores in the region.

The wizard recalled that there were five members of the Scarlet Company: a fighter type named Juril; their halfling rogue, called Slipster he believed; a priest, named Firewine; a sorcerer, named Allasan or something similar; and a trained tracker and warrior of the woods named Elleban or something similar. Aerikoth deprecatingly indicated he was not sure if the names were accurate, admitting that he had not paid much attention to them. He mentioned that the sorcerer reputedly had some skill with fire, so if it came to violence, it would probably be best to eliminate him first. The wizard amended this by saying that they would be better served by departing the building if violence did occur, which Dermot agreed with. (In past encounters, the Scarlet Company has been nothing but friendly and appreciative of their counterparts in Helm's Shadows, whether in Reddansyr or Starmantle. Nonetheless, I suppose that given the current circumstances of their hiring by House Cormaeril, appropriate caution in the meeting arrangements is warranted. I do find it curious that it seems no one has tried to figure out, or even really speculated about, what exactly the Scarlets have been hired to do in Westgate. That would seem to have at least some bearing on the situation. --C)
 

Carlo-One

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The three adventurers’ speculations were ended with the entrance into the Empty Fish of two men in scarlet cloaks. Aerikoth indicated that he recognized them as they walked over to the table. Firewine, the Scarlet Company’s cleric, spoke first and introduced himself and his companion, the sorcerer Ayllan. Greetings and further introductions were made by Dermot and Darrow, as their guests explained that the other members of their company should be there shortly. Firewine offered to get the next round of drinks as more chairs were found.

While the cleric was occupied at the bar, Ayllan began making small talk with Darrow, recognizing him as being from Clan Ironhelm. As the dwarf acknowledged this, Dermot broke in with a blunt question, asking why the two Scarlet Company members were early. Ayllan seemed puzzled by this, acknowledging that others had yet to arrive, but pointing out that not all of Dermot’s companions were there either. The ranger tersely responded that one lady was away on business and the other was ill; Aerikoth added that other members of their company had left to pursue their own endeavors.

Firewine returned with their drinks and Darrow joked jovially about it just being a boys night out, winking conspiratorially. Ayllan, a glass of Westgate Ruby in hand, mentioned that he had become aware of the quality of Ironhelm work when spending some time in Teziir, but said he had not had the pleasure of visiting the clan itself. Dermot quipped in response that it was a great place to go for the beer and stay for the politics. Darrow somewhat apologetically admitted that his clan were not exactly welcoming hosts.

The Scarlet’s sorcerer mentioned that they had spent their time lately around Reddansyr and Starmantle, with Darrow’s fights in the latter city now somewhat legendary, which the dwarf was pleased to hear. Ayllan understood that his companion Slipster made some coin wagering on Darrow’s success. The reference prompted Firewine to ask when their hin was expected to arrive. Ayllan admitted that he did not keep track well of his comings and goings, which he commented was probably for the better. Dermot pressed further on the other members and was reassured by Firewine that they were expected shortly. He alluded to the understanding that the meeting would occur after sundown, noting he and Ayllan had watched the sunset on their way in.

As Firewine continued with some small talk, the cleric querying about the lack of a priest in Helm’s Shadows, another man in a scarlet cloak entered the Empty Fish, holding out an open palm to their table in greeting. Darrow invited him over for a seat and and ale, receiving a polite thanks in return; the newcomer said he preferred a mulled wine, as the night air was crisp. Walking over to the table after placing his order, he looked around for a chair, eventually finding one and sitting with his back to the door. Dermot raised his near-empty flagon in greeting, as the man introduced himself as Elebril.

The Scarlet’s ranger, looking at Dermot, said he trusted he would watch their backs for them, which Dermot acknowledged. Elebril then observed that two members of both companies were missing from the gathering. Darrow explained that one was under the weather and one away on personal business. Dermot asked if this was a problem and Elebril said in response that as long as their discussion was fruitful, he had no issue, expecting to say relatively little in any case.

Some lighthearted joking and conversation followed, until Dermot asked when they would start “business talking”. Firewine retorted that he believed Helm’s Shadows was the one who had called the meeting. The cleric indicated he had no problem waiting for the others, having no other business to discuss, and mentioning that he enjoyed meeting fellow comrades of the road, as he put it, and hearing about their adventures. However, they could talk business whenever they liked. Dermot took a deep breath in response and got to the point: his company was there on behalf of the Guild.
 
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Carlo-One

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Firewine asked which guild Dermot was speaking of and was told the Merc’s Guild, who was not happy about an off-the-books contract with a noble house around there (meaning the Cormaerils). This led the Scarlet’s cleric to further query which “books” he was talking about and assert his unfamiliarity with such a concept. Dermot looked to Darrow for help and the dwarf explained that the mercenaries guild controlled mercenary contracts inside the city of Westgate. Specifically, the guild was saying the Scarlet Company was not registered with them and had taken a contract with a certain noble house in the city. Dermot further explained that the way the guild saw it, the Scarlets were working on their turf without cutting them in. Darrow, wanting to be fair, admitted that they’d had bad run-ins with this noble house in the past, and it was true they had done a lot of work for a rival house. But, the dwarf continued, the house the Scarlets were supposed to have hooked up with was bad news.

Interrupting the serious tenor of the conversation, the Scarlet’s rogue Slipster arrived, asking if he had missed any fun. Darrow, just as he had the last time he saw the hin at the Gatereach, immediately moved his hand to his coinpurse. Slipster mentioned that his companion Juril had stayed out front, mumbling something about door duty, in case anyone wanted the big lug. The hin then announced he was getting a drink and grabbed a Suzale from the bartender. As Slipster walked over to their table, Darrow made a show of putting his coinpurse on the table in plain sight, with a somewhat wry grin at the others at the table, announcing that he didn’t want it growing legs. The hin looked around and announced that he would just stand at the table, given the lack of halfling-sized chairs.

With the Scarlet Company now all present and accounted for, Dermot summed things up by telling them the Merc's Guild was upset, they might be in some bad business, and the guild wanted them to leave the city for a bit. The ranger and his companions thought they would see if they could help sort this out. The Scarlet’s cleric Firewine informed Slipster about the fact there was a history of bad blood between Helm’s Shadows and House Cormaeril. Ayllan stated that he failed to see why historical issues had to disturb their current situation. Aerikoth immediately replied, speaking for the first time, pointing out that the issues they had were current and not historical, looking impassively at the Scarlet’s sorcerer. Dermot backed this up, saying that the politics were hot, meaning the situation the Cormaerils found themselves in. In a more conciliatory tone, the ranger then appealed to the Scarlet Company as fellow professionals, saying he knew leaving a contract was galling, but that it might be best all round to make peace with the local guild and look for something elsewhere.

Firewine then changed tack and queried if he had it right, that Helm’s Shadows were being employed by House Urdo against House Cormaeril. Aerikoth bluntly denied this and Dermot stated that they were just the voice of the guild, not having taken a contract from any noble house. Firewine persisted, however, and asked who ran the guild, implying that he knew about Losifan Urdo’s role in it. The Scarlet’s ranger, Elebril, meanwhile appeared to have taken Dermot’s words to heart, admitting that it was true they may have run afoul of the local mercenaries guild rules. Dermot, addressing Firewine’s implication, temporized by saying he was sure there was a noble or two somewhere in the guild, but emphasized that they all had to follow the guild rules. (Of course Losifan Urdo, as the head recruiter for the Mercenaries Guild, is taking advantage of his position in order to run off the Scarlet Company mercenaries hired by Urdo's enemies in House Cormaeril. Given the previous experience of the members of Helm's Shadows in having to register with the guild to gain work in Westgate, I have little doubt that such rules have validity, at least from the guild's perspective. I also have little doubt that such rules are selectively enforced, namely when it suits the guild leaders. --R)

There followed a good deal of back-and-forth about the validity of the rules, both among and between the two companies, although it was kept at a respectful level. Slipster, who was drinking heavily and rather dismissive of the politics involved, suddenly asked how the party knew the Scarlet Company was working for Cormaeril. Darrow, shrugging, explained that the guild had come to them with the job. The hin muttered something about Urdo spies in reply. After Darrow pointed out that they didn’t want to run afoul of each other if it could be avoided, the conversation seemed to reach a natural break, as first Firewine then Darrow decided to refresh their drinks.

Slipster resumed the discussion by telling Helm’s Shadows that they had nothing against them personally, nor business-wise, which Dermot reciprocated. The hin then asked, however, why they were doing the merc guild’s dirty work. Darrow explained that they had done jobs for them in the past, actually for as long as he had been a member of the group. So they had a good working relationship with the guild. Slipster more pointedly asked why them, specifically, asking about the guild’s angle. Dermot and Darrow could not answer to the hin’s satisfaction and the conversation went in circles for a little while, although they all ended up chuckling about it.

The Scarlet’s cleric Firewine tactfully intervened, observing that they seemed to have some conflicting orders as companies. He nevertheless hoped that their discussion could be fruitful, leading to a just resolution of the situation. Darrow thought that was part of the reason they were picked for the job by the guild and agreed with the priest. Ayllan, the Scarlet’s sorcerer, sighed at the prospect of further drawn-out discussions, saying it could be a long night.
 

Carlo-One

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Rahnee shortly afterwards entered the tavern, pushing her hood back and casually looking around. Darrow glanced at the door, smiled and waved a greeting. As Rahnee walked up to their table, Slipster managed an approximation of a bow and offered to fetch a chair for her, an offer which she sweetly accepted. The halfling, apparently not having expected her to take him up on it, muttered to himself as he lugged a chair as large as himself over. Rahnee thanked him and greeted everyone as she sat, apologizing for her lateness.

After wiping his sweaty brow, Slipster got straight to the point, saying that her companions had been dancing around the problem, that apparently their bosses did not like his company’s bosses. Dermot rolled his eyes at the halfling’s description, but nonetheless nodded in agreement. Slipster’s eyes went to the door then back to Rahnee, who picked up on his meaning; she mentioned that the Scarlet’s fighter Juril was still standing outside when she entered the Empty Fish. The halfling explained that he had insisted on pulling door duty on a cold night.

Rahnee unsuccessfully tried to prompt Aerikoth to speak, then decided to take the reins of the conversation. She artfully described her company’s surprise at their company being hired by their current employer – meaning House Cormaeril – alluding to the Cormaerils’ history and her previous impression that the Scarlet Company was more inclined to the side of rightness. The Scarlet’s cleric Firewine interjected that they had so far seen nothing evil about their employers. He admitted that some of the things they had done in Westgate had been irregular, as he put it, but not terribly malicious. The Scarlet’s ranger Elebril chimed in, saying that their employers did not seem to be terribly concerned about the welfare of others.

Rahnee then bluntly offered up the information that there was a price on the Scarlet Company’s head – a fairly substantial one – to make sure that they left town, dead or alive. Firewine was aghast at this, while Slipster wondered how much was being offered and Elebril was sobered by the thought. Rahnee leaned back casually in her chair, watching their reactions, before making the point that House Cormaeril was not well-liked, so there would be many who would take some joy in spiking the House, as she put it. Darrow and Dermot took the opportunity to reinforce her points.

Firewine quickly protested that they had not known of their employer's reputation before coming to Westgate. The Scarlet’s cleric explained that one of their representatives had found the company in Starmantle and made a business proposition. Rahnee with a friendly chuckle remarked that all too often in their line of work, they found out too late what the real story might be – especially in Westgate, added Darrow.
 

Carlo-One

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Further discussion was interrupted by Rahnee, lacking a drink of her own, deciding to lean over and grab Darrow's mug to take a sip from it. The dwarf’s eyes bulged as he protested, but then he relented and said he would get another round. As he got up, he slid his ale over to his companion, saying all she had to do was ask. Slipster warned of dwarf hairs in there, but Rahnee continued sipping anyway, after a suspicious glance into the mug. Aerikoth declined another drink, so Rahnee said she would take another as well. Dermot, perhaps feeling the effects, said he only wanted half an ale.

Darrow returned, precariously balancing four ale mugs, but managed to hand them out without mishap. Dermot, continuing with the theme of House Cormaeril’s history, described them as a pack of Cormyrian exiles with a gang of assassins at their back, which Rahnee confirmed was the Fire Knives. Dermot also referred to them beating up nobles after dark to strongarm electoral votes. As Slipster received the last ale, he said he would bring it outside to Juril, then walked out the tavern door.

Outside, the halfling found the Scarlet’s fighter looking rather cold and talking to Shanni. The halfling told his large companion with a wink that he’d brought him something, offering up the ale, but not one for his girlfriend. This gave some pause to Juril, who was surprised and perhaps did not take it as a joke. Shanni, however, smoothly told Slipster that she had just been getting a bit of air, not having been feeling too good and thinking it would help. Slipster invited them in, saying he didn’t think anyone would bother them. While Juril pressed the ale mug to his lips, hiding his face, Shanni asserted she didn’t think a stuffy tavern would make her feel any better. The halfling in response said he would leave the two lovebirds alone for the moment, inviting them again into the warmth when they were done.

Back inside, Slipster sat down and informed the others around the table that Juril was outside talking to his girlfriend and should be in shortly. This earned an eyebrow raise from Dermot, as conversation continued about House Cormaeril’s past. Rahnee, challenged to offer an example of something despicable done by Cormaeril, described how one of their nobles was responsible for the murders of “street ladies” and how she had disguised herself as one to trap them, nearly being killed in the process. Addressing the Scarlet’s cleric Firewine, she also offered to have a truthsaying spell cast upon her, to verify her story. In response, he said that they had offered his company much to think upon, then called for another glass of wine. (As the chronicles tell it, the incident Rahnee describes involving a minor Cormaeril noble named Istvan was perhaps not so clear-cut. Dressed as a streetwalker, she lured him behind a building outside West Gate. There, her companions Brok-Tul and Jokull, posing as Fire Knives, beat and threatened the noble, in order to confirm the assassins' link with House Cormaeril. Given the sorts of things Cormaeril and the Fire Knives actually did, however, I cannot fully condemn even such an apparently underhanded and violent action. --C)
 

Carlo-One

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As Firewine was receiving his drink at the bar, the Scarlet’s fighter Juril came through the door and greeted his companion. The cleric inquired how it was going and the fighter replied that he had been speaking with Shanni for a bit. She said she was feeling a great deal worse than she thought originally and asked to be escorted home. Firmly, Juril said he would do this, in order to protect her. This earned an eyebrow raise from Firewine, who assented. As the fighter departed with an uneasy stride, Darrow, Dermot and Aerikoth exchanged wary looks and Rahnee shrugged slightly in response.

Dermot resumed the conversation, telling the Scarlet Company that if there was no more to talk about until additional thought was given to the situation, maybe they could meet again the next day. Firewine, sipping some more Westgate Ruby, said perhaps that would be best, but perhaps they could come to some sort of resolution now. The cleric was particularly troubled by the price put on on their head by the Mercenaries Guild, a point which Dermot honed in on. Darrow further advised that the Scarlets make inquiries about their current employer. Both the dwarf and Rahnee emphasized that the two companies had not done anything to each other previously, encouraging the other company to move on to a different city and drop the Cormaeril contract. Dermot said he didn’t know if they could get the price on the Scarlet's heads lifted, but they could sure throw their weight behind it.

A stone then came crashing through a small window, causing Rahnee to immediately leap to her feet and Dermot to utter a worried exclamation. Firewine asked if there was a problem, to which Darrow replied that it was a sign that the meeting was over and trouble was brewing. Firewine in response finished his drink as Dermot said it was nice meeting them, but that was the signal for if someone with malice aforethought decided to show up. The Scarlet’s cleric, perhaps influenced by the amount of wine he had imbibed, suggested that those of his company should remain and talk, as they had much to discuss. Rahnee indicated she and her companions would return at sundown the following day. Darrow, after checking his coinpurse, got up to leave along with Aerikoth and Dermot. The ranger nodded towards the back door, leading them and Rahnee outside.

As the four stepped into the moonlit night, Shanni snuck up behind the back of a shadowy figure flanking the rear entrance and slashed his throat. She then quickly explained to the others that a group of assassins had snuck up, after the Scarlet Company had gone inside. Darrow asked where Jandrico’s insurance was and Dermot replied that time had run out.

The party was then targeted by crossbow bolts coming out of the night and the adventurers scattered to engage their foes. After dealing with two assassins in the back of the tavern, Shanni called out that more were coming from around front, prompting Darrow to yell out a challenge and charge around the corner of the building. After a flurry of blows and bolts from all sides, including some originating from beyond the tavern grounds, the company remained standing. A total of five assassins lay dead, their bodies sprawled around the grounds of the Empty Fish.

Still breathing heavily from his exertions during the short but sharp fight, Darrow complimented Shanni on the signal. The petite rogue said she had hoped her companions would catch onto the situation from what Juril said to them in the tavern. The dwarf replied he hadn’t been sure what she was playing at, in that regard, but that the stone through the window was subtle enough.

Juril at this point ran over and asked what had happened, saying he had heard fighting out back and was just about to come help Shanni. Rahnee explained that Shanni – who had stepped back into the shadows when she heard someone approaching – had been attacked by thieves; this prompted an expression of concern from Juril. Shanni appeared and told the Scarlet’s fighter that he had best get his friends out of the tavern. As Dermot encouraged them all to leave the scene, Darrow suggested they check the bodies for clues and then head back to the Gatereach. Juril said he would let his companions know of the ambush and charged off. Darrow and Shanni then carefully looted the bodies as Dermot tried to get them moving, eventually succeeding.

On the walk back to the area outside Mulsantir’s Gate, Shanni mentioned that if nothing had happened, she would have come inside the tavern in around another ten minutes, not having seen any danger until then. Darrow agreed with her that the Scarlet Company likely was not in on the ambush. The dwarf was not completely sure, however, and Dermot qualified this by saying not all of them were, at least. Shanni stuck up for Juril, saying she was pretty sure he totally was not, in her words. The rogue also mentioned her appreciation for Jandrico’s friends, as the fight might’ve been worse if not for their presence – which her companions had barely noticed in the heat of battle.
 
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Carlo-One

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Shanni went on to describe some of what she had seen from her vantage point outside the Empty Fish. She drew the conclusion that the Scarlet Company had been very wary of them; the rogue had observed their sorcerer sending in his familiar first, then coming to take a look see with one of his buddies, as she put it. This did not bother Rahnee, who said it was good to know that they had not turned stupid since they had last met. Shanni continued her narrative, mentioning that a third company member had arrived, then finally Juril and Slipster last. Juril stopped outside to watch, like she had asked him to.

Dermot wondered out loud if they had done enough to change the Scarlet Company’s minds. Rahnee perceptively stated that if they did not attend the next meeting on the morrow, then she would say so. Darrow said he thought that if five dead assassins weren’t enough to sway them, nothing would, Rahnee nodding in agreement.

The company put further discussion on hold until they reached the safer environs of the Gatereach Inn. Shanni mentioned Juril had told her the Scarlets would have to pay back the contract fee if they departed, but they did not have enough to do so. Both she and Darrow brought up the idea of providing them with some funds, Darrow suggesting splitting the reward with them. Dermot found the situation awkward, observing that either way, the Scarlet Company would have rich nobles with knives out for their necks.

The ranger was less keen on doling out any more of the party’s gold, given what their “insurance” had already cost them, but he did suggest they might hire them for something. Rahnee shared that she had bought several wagons of goods to go to “Veranbrok” and Shanni added that Darrow’s brewing gear would need to be delivered there, as well. Rahnee then asked how much the Scarlet Company needed to pay off their contract. Shanni told her that Juril had said 1,500 gold, which caused Darrow’s eyes to bulge and Dermot to grimace in response. The petite rogue mentioned that she had picked up a couple of the assassins’ magic daggers, which could sell for a bit. Aerikoth questioned why the needed to pay at all, as the contract was obviously agreed upon under false pretenses, and from the Mercenaries Guild’s point of view was null and void from the beginning. (The legal logic is impeccable, of course. In practical terms, it would be a dicey prospect for a small adventuring company to inform a noble house with a large assassins guild that they are abandoning a contract and keeping the money. The smart move would therefore be to keep the money and leave town immediately. As Rahnee and her companions have observed, the Scarlet Company has previously demonstrated its lack of stupidity. --R)

Rahnee at this point turned the conversation to why the Fire Knives had sent assassins. Shanni queried how she knew they were Fire Knives; Rahnee responded that she had seen the insignia before, up close. All agreed that prior to continuing the fight against the Fire Knives and House Cormaeril, they wanted the Scarlets out of the way before any further trouble occurred. Shanni excused herself, saying she wanted to do a quick prowl before bed and might try to see if the Scarlets got away. Rahnee thought this a good idea but warned her to be careful, bantering a bit with her about Juril as well before the petite rogue put the hood of her cloak up and went out again into the night.
 

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Cormaeril Castle​

The next morning on Ches 21, members of the company trickled into the Gatereach’s bar room and greeted Jandrico Swift, who was glad to see them well after the previous night’s events. Aerikoth was the last to arrive, as usual not having slept at the inn with the others. As he walked in, the others were in the midst of breakfast, Darrow enthusiastically tucking into a large quantity of sausages and griddle cakes. The mage helped himself to a modest portion of food as the conversation turned to the prospect of going after House Cormaeril, with Shanni suggesting they concentrate on proving the House’s relationship with the Fire Knives, rather than on directly destroying them, which could get them in hot water with the Westgate authorities.

Dermot, looking grim, said she should tell Aerikoth about the Watch. Shanni revealed that the Watch had sent a summons to the Gatereach, which led to Rahnee leaving earlier that morning to go see the Watch Commander. Aerikoth remarked that this was not the first time they had received such a summons. Regarding the matter of House Cormaeril, the wizard made it clear that he did not share the others’ hesitancy in taking them on directly, given their history with the company and the other noble houses of Westgate.

Interrupting what was becoming an increasingly heated debate between Shanni and Aerikoth, the Scarlet’s rogue Slipster waltzed into the room, saying he thought he would find them there. Dermot did a quick double-take in response as the halfling removed his hood, apparently having traveled incognito. Slipster said he just wanted to let them know that his company was heading out of town. They planned to take the road to Starmantle, to see what it looked like after they had reopened it, and check in on a few villages along the way.

Darrow, after saying he was glad nothing had happened to the Scarlets the previous night, also thought this was a smart move. Shanni expressed regret that the two companies had had to cross paths in this way and Dermot asked if there was anything they could do. The halfling declined, saying they could just come look up the Scarlet Company someday in Starmantle if they had any work for them. As an apparent afterthought, Slipster mentioned that “somebody’s boyfriend” had wanted to come and say goodbye, but they had all decided it wouldn't be a good idea. Both the halfling and Darrow chuckled at this, which actually elicited a sympathetic expression of thanks from Shanni to Juril. Slipster then put his hood back up and departed. (I am glad to see that the matter with the Scarlet Company was resolved without violence - at least between the two adventuring groups, that is to say. My predecessor as senior initiate "R" previously hinted at such an outcome. The Scarlets' actions, involving the deliberate breaking of a contract and fleeing the city, would not normally be something I would consider in their place. Yet, given the circumstances, this indeed seems to have been the best path forward for them, and not unjustified. A good example of how one must think and sometimes act outside of the formal strictures of agreements. --C)

The debate over what to do with House Cormaeril resumed. Shanni and Dermot were for raiding Castle Cormaeril to find proof of the House’s links to the Fire Knives, without necessarily leaving everyone there dead. Dermot pointed out there was the quiet way in through the sewers they had found, which might offer a more thiefly approach. Even Darrow was skeptical that going into the castle and using violence to completely eliminate the Cormaerils would then garner a favorable reaction from the other Westgate houses. Shanni made the ironic point that the dwarf was actually supporting a less violent approach than Aerikoth, which should tell the wizard something. The wizard, however, would not be deterred from his stated goal: to eliminate the members of the Cormaeril family that took an active hand in the assassins guild. Clarifying his stance, he stated there was little need to kill every hireling or servant if they chose to leave the castle instead. (Implying that they all would be massacred without hesitation, if they remained? --R)

Still wanting some official cover for their future actions, Shanni, Dermot and Darrow said they planned to go see Losifan Urdo at the Mercenaries Guild. Aerikoth refused to accompany them, saying he had some things to check on and did not understand their desire to talk further with various individuals about the issue. He added, however, they should be sure to inform Losifan of the success of getting the Scarlet Company to depart. Dermot and Shanni both attempted to get Aerikoth to go along with the group, saying they all should be on the same page in what they heard from Urdo. However, the mage remained adamant in his desire to hear nothing further on the matter, as his opinion would not be swayed.
 

Carlo-One

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Darrow, Dermot and Shanni said a brief goodbye to Aerikoth and then headed for the Mercenaries Guild in the East Gate district. The clerk at the entry desk said they could go up to see Losifan Urdo shortly, but first needed to update the list for “Helm’s Shadows” to list any new company members and everyone’s place of origin; she explained there had been an unfortunate mix-up with a mercenary from Waterdeep that had led to the new rule. The three filled in their own information and Rahnee’s, being aware she was from Waterdeep, but none of them knew where Aerikoth was from. His entry was therefore left blank, which was noted by the clerk. (Yet another indication of how little is known by the rest of the company about the wizard. --R)

Upstairs in Losifan’s office, the adventurers gave a summary brief of their success, which the Mercenaries Guild officer was naturally pleased to hear about. He told them that if the Scarlet Company had not been seen in the city by the end of the month of Ches, thereby proving they had actually departed, then the contract fee could be collected. Losifan also strongly hinted that while the Mercenaries Guild could not officially do anything about House Cormaeril and the Fire Knives, he suspected that if an aggrieved guild member company chose to go after them, neither the Guild nor the Croamarkh of Westgate – meaning Lord Scirkas Urdo – would be displeased.

On the way back to the Gatereach, Darrow, Dermot and Shanni stopped at Shalush Myrkeer’s shop in the Market district, selling some of the items they had looted from their encounter with the assassins and making a few purchases as well. Once safely back at the inn, they were just starting to have lunch in the bar room when they heard someone in the main room inquiring for Lady Roaringhorn’s companions. Presently a middle-aged man with an erect posture in a City Watch uniform strode up and introduced himself as Commander Meynn, confirming that they were in fact associates of Rahnee. Shanni painted a grin on her face and curtsied, as Darrow and Dermot greeted the Watch officer and the two silent Watch guards who had accompanied him.

Meynn informed them that earlier that morning, Rahnee had come to the Watch headquarters in the Tower in Market district in order to discuss the recent occurrence at the Empty Fish tavern. He indicated that she had satisfied his inquiries, but there would be some delay before she could be released, as the presiding magistrate was temporarily unwell. Meynn, with a bit of embarrassment, further explained that it was the kind of unwellness that normally cleared up in several hours, he believed. Until then, Rahnee would remain as an official guest, although he expected her to return to them by that evening. Meynn said she had asked him to convey this information to them at the Gatereach, given her current circumstances.

The Watch officer then turned to leave, but then suddenly paused and turned back, causing Shanni to hurriedly brighten her grin that had started to immediately fade. Meynn said that, since they were new to Westgate, perhaps he should mention one peculiarity of the city’s law: the remit of the City Watch did not extend to noble dwellings outside of the city walls. He then counseled them to be careful, if they found themselves in such a dwelling. For if there were an incident, he stated, the Croamarkh in theory could order an intervention, yet he did not recall this ever happening. Shanni protested there was no need to worry, as they were not going knocking on any nobles' doors any time soon. Meynn smiled slightly in response, as he took his leave.

After some discussion among Darrow, Dermot and Shanni regarding the implications of the Watch Commander’s visit, the three informed Jandrico Swift that they might be leaving town for a bit, departing before nightfall. When the innkeeper asked where they would be headed, Shanni temporized, saying probably in the direction of Tallwell, then see where the road took them. Jandrico simply nodded in response, saying that should Aerikoth or Rahnee inquire about it, he would inform them.
 

Carlo-One

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After waiting until nightfall on Ches 21 and having neither Rahnee nor Aerikoth appear, Shanni, Dermot and Darrow – most especially Shanni – were getting antsy. The petite rogue snapped a bit at Jandrico Swift as he politely inquired of them if there had been any word, while they occupied stools at the bar. Dermot, at least, took advantage of the situation by ordering three drinks appropriate for gulping. Darrow paid for his own beer and the ranger got himself a slug of spirits; Shanni declined, believing it would not be good for her mood.

Jandrico, tactful as ever, moved to the inn’s common room, leaving the three alone. As they debated what to do in the absence of their two companions, a City Watchman entered the bar room, brushing some rain from his outer garment. He inquired if they were “Helm’s Shadows”, a fact which Dermot confirmed, although seemingly halfheartedly.

The watchman, who was apparently glad to get in out of the storm, but somewhat taken aback by Shanni’s grumpiness, stammered out that Watch Commander Meynn had sent him to give the company an update. He explained that the magistrate in charge of Lady Roaringhorn's situation had not recovered yet and was perhaps even a little worse. Shanni muttered that the magistrate should stop drinking, then he’d get over the hangover, which earned a chuckle from Darrow and a raised eyebrow from Dermot. The last part of Meynn’s message, however, warned them to be on their guard and invited them to come to the Tower in the morning.

Dermot said that they acknowledged the message. The ranger, taking sympathy on the beleaguered watchman, then offered him a healthy swig from his flask, as Jandrico had apparently left the building and was not available to provide any drinks. The watchman in gratitude offered his name – Jomo – and said to ask for him at the Tower if they needed anything. Shanni merely humphed in reaction as Jomo departed.

A few minutes later, a wet-looking Jandrico took up his usual position behind the bar. He asked what news was there from the Watch, mentioning that he had passed the watchman going and coming. Dermot shared that the magistrate was “ill” again, which did not seem to surprise the innkeeper. Jandrico informed them that he had made some inquiries about Rahnee’s situation and hoped to receive some information on the morrow. This did nothing for Shanni’s impatience, but her two companions philosophically decided to drink and speculate more, before turning in upstairs.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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