The Westgate Campaign Chronicles - serial

Carlo-One

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Satisfied they had gotten all they could from Lomilith, Aerikoth and Njord departed to make their wizardly and priestly preparations for the upcoming midnight meeting. Darrow, Dermot and Rosten lingered a bit to speak with Thessar, but then instead of heading for a tavern as originally planned, they decided to check out the Shore cave where Lilly had been attacked. Inside they found a blood trail and eventually tracked it deeper into the sewers, where they were set upon by three vampire spawn. After defeating these foes, who apparently were associates of Xavier, and separately a small pack of ghouls, they decided to head back up to the surface and ended up at the Rotten Root in Mulsantir’s Gate. After a few rounds they headed out into the Westgate night to explore more of the tavern scene.

Middark rolled around, the time for an appointment in the Market that Aerikoth, Dermot and Darrow had promised to keep with a representative of the Lord of the Crypt. Rosten, his face and skin shining with alcohol-sweats, looked somewhat dubious at the prospect as he spit onto the ground and squinted into the night, standing on a discreet street corner with Darrow and Dermot. The halfling and his two companions recognized Aerikoth as he approached them out of the gloom, glowing staff in hand. The wizard then complemented the tavern crawlers on remembering the place and time of their planned meeting.

Dermot declared himself ready as he tucked a football-sized bundle in a sack under his arm, the ranger’s sentiment echoed by his dwarven companion. Rosten, visibly nervous, asked who would be doing the talking with the...creature? Simultaneously, Dermot answered that they all usually chipped in, while Darrow said he would try to keep his mouth shut. Rosten, not having much of a choice, said to lead on, as Aerikoth cautioned that they did not know exactly who they would be meeting with.

After reaching the middle of the Market district, Dermot looked around at the quiet stalls. Rosten remained uncomfortable, this time complaining about the number of “lubbers” about while muttering darkly to himself and tapping the hilt of his weapon. As they continued warily looking about, a cloaked figure passed by them, walking unsteadily along and humming a drinking tune. He weaved back and forth and greeted them, stumbling and dropping something at Dermot’s feet. The ranger saw the item and nodded, after which the cloaked figure hurriedly picked it back up and whispered several phrases before continuing to stumble along, away from the group.

Once the person (?) was out of sight, Dermot declared that they were done there and should go get a drink, asking them to follow him. Rosten fingered one of the charms hanging from his belt and grunted in response, the nervous-looking hin falling in behind his companions. In a low voice as they moved west through the streets to the Mulsantir’s Gate district, Dermot explained that they needed to head to the Purple Lady, which the ranger thought might be an inn, although was unsure. (Evidently the ranger is not well acquainted with the choice entertainment establishments available in Westgate. --R) Darrow in response began sniffing the night air, attempting to use his dwarven tavern sense, but only smelled perfumes nearby. However, this was in fact was a harbinger of their destination, as Rosten grunted and nodded towards the sign of the Purple Lady.
 

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Carlo-One

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Although it was in the wee hours of Tarsakh 4, the establishment had a low buzz of activity, with several patrons lounging about a large, richly-furnished room done predominantly in purple. Two stunning-looking ladies, garbed in dresses of flowing purple hue, made exclamations of surprised pleasure as they noticed the newcomers, despite Darrow’s evident look of disappointment at not finding a tavern. A large, pallid-looking man in expensive-looking clothing – also with a purple theme, although not as overwhelming as the others – informed the ladies that they were not the usual clients, merely hired help, and he would speak to them in the back. Before they adjourned, however, one of the ladies eyed Aerikoth and said she thought she remembered him, which the wizard acknowledged to the surprise of his companions.

After unlocking the door to the back room, a storage area with no purple to be seen, the pallid man gestured them in and shut the door behind him. He then looked at the group expectantly, as Dermot began checking his pockets and frowning. Aerikoth looked about the room and then nodded at Dermot, stating that he detected nothing amiss. Dermot, looking rueful, asked the others if one of them had “the thing” - but as Aerikoth immediately pointed out in reply, the Lord of the Crypt’s token had been given to the ranger. With widening eyes, he spoke Shanni’s name and then grimaced, before saying that he had lost the token, prompting curses from Darrow. (It does seem quite likely that the petite rogue lifted the token from Dermot at the same time she left her private note for him, when they were last together in Reddansyr after departing the Lord of the Crypt's domain. A bold move, but one which did not prevent this dubious alliance from moving forward. I do wonder if there will be any further consequences, however. --C)

Their pallid host rolled his eyes and asked what “lost” meant, to which Aerikoth explained that one of their former companions had not agreed with aligning their efforts, as the wizard put it, and it would seem she attempted to sabotage them. The pallid man sighed dramatically, but said he accepted who they were, as he recognized their descriptions from what his Lord had described, save for the hin. Darrow noted that he was a new addition – a little salty, but otherwise all right. Unsmiling, Rosten shrugged and quipped “buy three, get one free.”

Despite his willingness to accept them as allies, the pallid man expressed dismay at the loss of the token, which he said was not just for recognition, but was the key to his Lord’s realm. Aerikoth noted that they had been informed of this. Talk then turned to their status as allies in dealing with the Night King and securing the artifacts in his possession, the Argraal of Orlak and the Flying Fangs, which would be removed from Westgate.

At this point, their host introduced himself as Sorenth Gorender, the proprietor of the Purple Lady, which boasted the best conversationalists in Westgate and whose attention might be had...for a price. He observed that the group did not exactly fit the profile of the establishment’s more genteel clients, so he thought it best to call them hired help. Chuckling, he also admitted that it was actually a Night Mask establishment, curling his lips over his fangs briefly. This news surprised Dermot, who suddenly became more wary, and earned a slight frown from Rosten.

Sorenth described how he had been one of the first Masks to become inducted into the ranks of the Night King some years ago, but that the new Night King – the current leader of the Masks – was not doing things in his or the city’s best interest. Sorenth actually enjoyed his unlife but believed a balance must be kept, he said. Fighting to keep his distaste off his face, Dermot told Sorenth to skip to the point, about how they could help him.

The vampire proprietor said he understood that they were to attend a meeting at noon in the Shore district, which both Rosten and Darrow confirmed, the hin by now looking quite confused at the situation. Sorenth, who naturally could not attend such a meeting, said that they would represent the Lord of the Crypt's interests - namely, to take possession of the two artifacts and deliver them to him. Aerikoth observed that he was well informed. This earned a brief grin from Sorenth, who then became fully serious as he noted the consequences of what would happen if the Night King’s allies discovered their plot.

Looking a little nervous, Sorenth told them a number of vampires had been killed over the previous tenday, which had thrown the Night King's plans off and made him furious. Rosten and Darrow immediately asked if that had occurred down in the sewers, the dwarf hiding a grin behind his beard. Sorenth acknowledged this was true, as well as some in the city, and asked if they knew about it. Dermot nonchalantly said they might have heard something and would look into it.
 
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Carlo-One

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Aerikoth observed, cautioning the others, that some of the minions of the Night King had become emboldened to take risks; however, there were those that would fight back better than those that dwelled in the Shore. Sorenth validated this, stating that the young, brash ones had been pushing their new-found powers beyond the pale. Their fate was considered merited, for their lack of discipline. Yet the Night King would not brook open resistance to his inevitable rule, as he saw it.

Rosten, still looking nervous, wondered out loud about the planned meeting the next day, if the Masks knew of it and most of them were serving the Night King. Sorenth however believed that the meeting was secure, although refused to say more, stating he was but a minor tool of the Masks; rather, his true importance was as one of those aligned with the Lord of the Crypt. He wished to restore things to their rightful place, in which vampires could coexist with the residents of Westgate and the Night Masks return to their old ways. Dermot was unimpressed with these hoped-for goals, but grudgingly admitted that the devil they knew would be better. (While the "devil you know" is certainly not always better, in this situation anything would be preferable to open rule by the Night King over Westgate and having the non-vampiric races reduced to the status of cattle. --R)

Sorenth noted they had been conversing a long time, for supposed hired help on a task. He indicated that should anyone ask, they had been asked to help guard a "delivery" for the Purple Lady, although answering questions about Night Mask business was usually not advised. Dermot and Rosten got the message and Darrow was pleased to hear that he could even start a fight, if that was what he usually did during the course of business. With that, Sorenth unlocked the door and returned to the purple room and his usual clients.

With their vampire host gone, Rosten openly questioned the situation, wondering if there was a civil war within the Masks, or if Sorenth was one of the few acting against the Night King. The others quickly observed that it was not the place to discuss such matters, with Aerikoth adding that he would not recommend speaking to any of the women there, as everything they said would be related back to the Night Masks. The group then headed out of the establishment, Darrow cheerily returning a wave from one of the Purple Ladies and expressing his regret that she was too tall for him.

Despite getting turned around in the dark and having to backtrack from a dead-end alley, they arrived safely at the Gatereach guest house and immediately settled into the chairs in the back room. Rosten noted that the plan seemed to be to deliver ancient artifacts of evil to a vampire lord, which Dermot and Darrow somewhat contradicted, saying they preferred to focus on getting them out of the Night King’s hands. Aerikoth emotionlessly observed that their agreement was to take the artifacts and return them to the Lord of the Crypt for a reward and also to weaken their main enemy.

Dermot, still uncomfortable with the idea, asserted they should hear out what the others at the noon meeting would say, and see if the party could get them in on a plan where they stole the artifacts and left the new Night King vulnerable. The wizard further observed that by what Sorenth said, there would be a representative of the Masks at the meeting, and that there were factions within them not all in alignment with one another. After some further talk about various loose ends, Rosten excused himself to get a drink from Jandrico and offered to bring back supplies for the others.
 
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Carlo-One

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Late the next morning on Tarsakh 4, the dwarven priest Njord presented himself at the Gatereach guest house, knocking loudly at the door. Inside, Dermot yelled and shook Rosten awake, although quickly stepped back when the hungover hin rose up with a jerk of his body. The ranger then went over to let Njord in, the dwarf being followed by Goruna, the Gatereach’s serving woman, with a large tray of breakfast food and a pitcher of water. She quipped that they had the best sausage and eggs on the market, giving Dermot a gap-toothed smile on the way out.

Dermot and Rosten filled in Njord on the previous night’s encounter with the vampire Sorenth Gorender, as they attacked the food in front of them. A grumbling Darrow soon joined them from upstairs. As they were finishing their meal, Aerikoth appeared and greeted them, the wizard pleased to see them all there before the noon meeting at Thessar’s. Njord gave a short prayer to his patron god, the Finder-of-Trails, as the others watched respectfully, then hid his holy symbol under his clothes again, grinning. Darrow said a few words of his own to Haela, to help him smite what needed smiting, before they headed out the door. (The gods help those who help themselves, and the larger the hammer the better. --R)

On the walk over to the Shore district, they kept their eyes peeled for any trouble. Rosten stopped a moment to swig from his hip flask as Dermot looked around suspiciously, but they saw nothing untoward. After reaching Thessar’s house, Njord knocked on the door and a face appeared at the window; a few seconds later, they heard the door being unlocked.

The four adventurers stepped through and were greeted by the old warrior, who motioned them toward a semi-circle of chairs set around a slightly raised platform, with a single chair set underneath a wall-mounted shield. Dermot asked if they were the first to arrive, but then answered his own question, as the Ascetic One rose from a chair to greet them. Rosten declined an offer of water from Thessar as the group found seats.

A solid knock sounded three times on the door and Thessar, after peering out the window, went over to admit the presence of Lady Sunrise Tylanna of the Seventh Rose. Thessar bowed as she entered, the high priestess of Lathander apologizing for her tardiness as she removed her hood and cloak. She explained that she had taken care not to be followed, as Thessar had asked. Greetings were exchanged and Njord introduced himself as a volamtar, servant of Marthammor Duin.

Thessar indicated that another would be joining them a bit later, but they could start the proceedings in the meantime. Impishly, Njord contradicted him, saying that there would be two coming, which may be a bit of a surprise. Thessar said that he didn’t like surprises in his own home and asked if the dwarf cared to explain. However, when Njord informed him that a member of the Masks was coming, apparently knowing about the meeting, that did not surprise the old warrior, who simply said that Njord was getting ahead of himself. Nonetheless, Thessar indicated they should figure things out amongst themselves before any representatives of the Masks showed up.
 

Carlo-One

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The old warrior moved to the central chair and took his place on it, scanning the room before beginning his speech. He said that he knew all of them, and they all knew him, as well as having met each other at one point or another. Thessar stated that he could vouch for each of them, to some extent, and although he was not a trusting sort, these were tough times. While he was speaking, Njord looked around the room, clearly expecting some someone to walk out of the shadows, as Aerikoth maintained an unblinking gaze on the old warrior, hands folded in the sleeves of his robes as was the wizard’s wont.

Thessar said they all knew what had been happening in the Shore and around the city, drawing a firm nod from Dermot. The vampires were coming out in force, taking more people. And they would not stop unless someone made them. Worst of it all was the fact the Night Mask leadership was the same as the vampire leadership. This revelation sparked a questioning outburst from Lady Tylanna, who still looked somewhat shocked after Thessar confirmed this. Njord interjected, saying that some of the Masks did not like that and were willing to try to purge the vampires. Thessar acknowledged this, but again said not to get ahead of themselves about the Masks, as they needed to talk about what they could do to make Westgate right, first – without anyone from the Masks in the room. He asked first what their goal should be.

Njord proffered the Night King as their target, as the main player, but Aerikoth did not agree. The wizard argued that the Night King was important, without doubt, but another would take his place, if left vacant. This would mean still having a predatory organization within the city that looked on all of them like cattle. Thessar said the wizard had the right of it, as it was more complicated than simply ridding themselves of the leader. He then asked if they were in agreement, then, that the vampires were the real threat, receiving acceptance from all of the others.

With that settled, the old warrior stood and declared that they could move on to the next part of the talk, where things got real. Rosten frowned slightly at this, his yellowed eyes following the warrior as he went to the entrance door and opened and closed it twice in rapid succession. Dermot blinked and his hand slid down to his sword as Thessar watched the door for a few moments before it opened and a dusky figure clad in deep purple strode in, asking Thessar if the others were ready for him.

Moving toward the semi-circle of chairs, the man bowed and greeted them, saying he was known as The Vulture. Dermot let out a short exclamation at this, leading Rosten to slide his hand to his cutlass, as Aerikoth stared at the newcomer with an unblinking and expressionless gaze. Lady Tylanna, shouting and clearly outraged, immediately accused the newcomer of being a murderer. Smoothly, he responded by saying that he was an enforcer of what needed to be done, bowing in turn to the lady. Njord, grinning, said they were both being rude and that a better explanation awaited. Thessar similarly pleaded for Lady Tylanna to hear him out, as she crossed her arms. Gritting her teeth, she said she would stay and listen. (We meet this formidable and deadly figure again. He was known earlier as a ruthless enforcer of the Night Masks' interests, but also seemed to have a sense of personal - honor? fairness? - in his treatment of the party. Yet with so much blood on his hands, can he be truly trustworthy? --C)
 

Carlo-One

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Apparently on edge from the arrival of The Vulture, Thessar got up and made sure his front door was locked, afterwards returning to his central chair. However, he then chose to remain standing, his hands resting in a loose grip on the back of the chair while he kept one eye on the door. Aerikoth stared at him for a few moments, with a contemplative expression, until The Vulture began speaking.

He stated he had been with the Night Masks for some time and acknowledged having acquired a certain reputation, even if tales sometimes grew in the telling, an observation echoed by Njord. Lady Sunrise glared at The Vulture as he continued, observing that only a very few of his closest colleagues knew his face and that he had come to the gathering unmasked as a gesture of trust. His words grew more pointed, as he stated they faced a much more deadly and common foe; their otherwise petty squabbles in the city, as he put it, paled by comparison.

Njord again supported The Vulture’s point of view, but Lady Tylanna challenged him, asking if he were not part and parcel of the Masks and therefore benefitting from the new order. The Vulture replied that he had been with the Masks for longer than the 'new order' had existed and was not loyal to it. He explained that the organization had always been ruled by the fittest, to the benefit of its members. Now, however, unless one wished to become a vampire there was no way to advance. And, he continued, one could see what was happening to the city. Those intelligent enough to see this, and to have survived so far, were very few among the Masks. He concluded by stating that he wished to survive longer and so had sought out allies. (The Night Mask leader's logic is ruthless, much like himself. Having chosen not to follow the path of the vampire coven, he has few other good options. Common threats make strange bedfellows. --R)

Lady Tylanna observed that the Night Masks had been beaten before, but it took a mighty paladin of Lathander and his companions to defeat the last Night King, Orlak. The Vulture asserted, however, that with cunning and those present at the meeting, they could prevail. Dermot guessed that they could not fight this like a paladin, so would do it like a thief, a sentiment echoed by Njord. The Vulture said they had grasped the essence of his plan, which he then shared.

He related how there were several senior vampire "dukes" under Orlak II. If the allies were able to cause enough confusion and conflict among his "Court" as he called it, the vampires would be greatly weakened. Specifically, the Vulture proposed going after the symbols of Orlak II’s power, two artifacts said to have been passed down from the original Night King over a milennium ago. Njord piped up and said that was a chalice and something else, drawing some surprised interest in the dwarven priest from the Night Mask enforcer. The Vulture confirmed that they were a chalice and a two-bladed dagger: the Argraal of Orlak and the Flying Fangs.

The Vulture expressed his hope that the theft of the items would wreak havoc and cause suspicion among the vampire leadership. After Aerikoth questioned whether the “dukes” had been created by the Night King, however – The Vulture confirmed this – the wizard noted that they would be enslaved to him, with or without the artifacts. He believed that the artifacts should be taken nonetheless, but perhaps the internal bloodbath would not be as great as hoped for.

The Vulture acknowledged this, then continued with explaining his plan. The trick would be first to acquire the means of getting into the Night King’s sanctum and away, without being detected. The Vulture revealed that the top lieutenant of the Night King was the Darklady Dahlia Vhammos, a senior member of House Vhammos and a powerful priestess of Shar. Dermot commented that he knew who he would have put on the job, but she had disappeared; this earned a half-smile from the Vulture and a dismissive comment from Njord. The Vulture continued, saying that Dahlia Vhammos had been building a secret sect of Shar in the catacombs beneath her family's estate. As part of one of their rituals, they planned on creating a Cloak of the Dark Goddess, which was to aid their ability to assassinate their enemies. One who used this cloak could not be detected by any normal means, when in shadow.

In response to a question from Njord, The Vulture confirmed that Dahlia was one of the vampire dukes and that her elimination during a raid to get the cloak would be of great help to the cause. He also supported Njord’s idea of leaving some type of mark or note at the site of the raid, to distract attention. Aerikoth asked how many other members of the Night King’s Court existed and the Vulture indicated there were three others, besides the Darklady, who was counted as the Night King’s greatest ally.

Thessar, who continued glancing at the door, warned The Vulture that his time grew short, as he would eventually be missed. The Night Mask enforcer acknowledged this and then explained that the ceremony to create the cloak was scheduled to take place that night, at midnight. If the adventurers agreed to assist, then he...or someone...would return to Thessar’s, to provide a guide through the sewers, from which the Vhammos crypt could be accessed. The Vulture noted that this left little time for preparation, but Darrow said that it was overrated.

There was general agreement with The Vulture’s plan and Lady Tylanna said that she would send someone to assist. Njord was enthusiastic about the idea of sending word to the Gondians and Tymorians to assist, but The Vulture cautioned that the Night Masks had agents in each temple, for that reason advising the dwarven priest not to involve any others. Thessar, looking increasingly agitated, told the Vulture that he needed to be going. The Night Mask enforcer acknowledged this and recommended that the adventurers return to the house two hours before midnight, at which time he would ensure that the necessary information reached Thessar.

The Ascetic One – who had said little, but maintained his calm demeanor – and Lady Tylanna departed soon after The Vulture, leaving the party with Thessar. They agreed that it would be best to see to whatever business they could before returning later that night. Njord and Dermot – the ranger having been nominated to keep the dwarven priest out of trouble – departed to see what they could do with the leadership of some of the other Westgate temples, while Aerikoth, Darrow and Rosten separated to make their own preparations.
 
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Carlo-One

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Early evening of Tarsakh 4, Aerikoth returned to the Gatereach guest house and found Darrow, Dermot and Njord there, along with a newcomer, who introduced herself as Lloria, from the Silver Marches. Darrow explained that the warrior cleric, who wielded a halberd almost as tall as herself, had been sent by the Lady Sunrise Tylanna to assist in their planned night raid on the Vhammos crypt. The wizard noted that the high priestess of Lathander had mentioned she would send help.

The group agreed they should look to outfit themselves properly, with Lloria just having arrived, so they ventured to Shalush’s shop in the Market district. Lloria found a sword that suited her, while Njord lamented not having enough gold for the hammer he wanted. As they finished up in the store and headed out, Aerikoth inquired of Lloria why she had come to Westgate. The warrior cleric replied that she wasn’t exactly suited for temple work and was looking for a place where she needn’t worry about courtly duties, as she put it. She commented that Tethyr and Cormyr were a bit too finicky, but Westgate seemed like a place where people might not mind her ways so much.

Aerikoth separated from the others before they returned to the Gatereach guest house. There, they reunited with Rosten, who stumbled through the door with a liquor flask in his hand, eyeing the large newcomer woman with suspicion. The others explained that Lloria had been sent to assist with their nighttime endeavor, which more or less satisfied the yellow-eyed hin. Darrow suggested some coffee be brewed up, which Dermot and Rosten agreed with, accompanying the dwarf to the Gatereach Inn.

Later that evening, around hour 22, Aerikoth returned to the Gatereach guest house and found Rosten alone in the common room, pensively smoking a pipe and drinking. They decided to make their way to Thessar’s, as the others knew that was the appointed time to receive more information about their intended destination for the raid. The old warrior answered their knock and admitted them to his house, remarking that it appeared it would be a stormy night.

With their companions nowhere to be seen, Aerikoth and Rosten discussed for a brief time the strategy for the Vhammos raid. Thessar then mentioned that he still had Lilly, the girl who was saved from the vampires, stashed upstairs. With some reluctance, the two adventurers agreed to see her home to her parents, who lived in the South Gate district, then return. (It is hard to think of two less suited to babysitting than an emotionless wizard and a hung-over piratical hin, but on some occasions one does what one must. --R)
 

Carlo-One

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The Raid

As Aerikoth and Rosten were on their way back to Thessar’s house, they ran into Dermot and Lloria on the street. The four agreed to proceed to their destination without waiting for their two dwarven companions, who had decided to not venture out into the rainy night and instead prepare for the coming battle. Thessar welcomed them back and was pleased to hear from Aerikoth that Lilly’s father, the cloth merchant Xander, mentioned he might come to express his gratitude for taking care of his daughter. Neither Rosten nor Aerikoth thought they had seen anything unusual while escorting Lilly back, which relieved Thessar.

Moving on to the business at hand, the old warrior informed the four adventurers that a package from the Vulture had been delivered by a messenger while they were gone, with a map and some tools. The map showed the Vhammos crypt entrance in the sewers, but the door was locked, so they would either have to use the lockpick tools to try and unlock it, or get through some other way. Lloria took her gauntlets off and began to make a sketch of the proffered sewer map, transcribing what she could onto the back of her city map.

Bending over the map, Thessar pointed out that the crypt entrance was in the central part of the eastern sewers, which looked like it could be accessed from either the East Gate or the River Gate districts. As Dermot frowned, Rosten commented that when he and the ranger and the dwarf went down in the sewers last, they weren't exactly empty, the hin observing that it would be dangerous from the moment they went down. Lloria asked what was there and was told there were vampires, along with creatures in the water. Lloria cursed and wondered out loud why there weren’t night watches to make sure that sort of thing didn’t happen. Rosten grinned in response, although his smile did not reach his eyes, asking if she had never been to a port city before.

Thessar continued the orientation, informing them that Castle Vhammos sat in the River Gate, while the Vhammos docks were in the East Gate. He mentioned that he had sent the elven wizard Lomilith ahead to the East Gate, to scout out that sewer entrance. Lomilith planned to go to the Old Beard tavern after that, to wait for the party. Chuckling, Thessar said that the elf had not wanted to go back to the River Gate, which is where he nearly got killed at the Black Boot. Rosten was incredulous at first, commenting that Lomilith was about as effective as a paper sword, but acknowledged “any port in a storm” after Thessar, still grinning, asked if he saw anyone else around to help.

The old warrior said he understood that the Sharran ritual to make the cloak must start at midnight, but it was unclear how long it would last - could be minutes, could be hours. Dermot summarized his understanding of the plan: they get in, cause some trouble, steal the cloak, kill the vampire lady they heard would be there, and try and make it look like one of the other vampires in the city did it. Aerikoth in his usual dry voice stated that this was not completely accurate, the wizard having surmised a better faction to implicate.

Thessar said that reminded him about the note which he had just finished before they arrived, done at Aerikoth and Rosten’s behest. The wizard took the note and explained that it would be more believable and effective to blame the Harpers, and since their representative Jamal was not within the city, she should not fear any reprisal. Dermot and Lloria had some objections to the idea, but after some discussion among the party and Thessar’s observation that they needed to blame someone else for the deed to divert the vampires’ attention, they reluctantly went along with it.
 
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Carlo-One

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With time running short, Thessar stood up from his chair and informed the others he would be at Lilda’s Festhall, showing himself until past midnight, so the vampires wouldn’t think he was responsible for raiding the secret Shar temple. Aerikoth raised the point that obtaining the magic cloak from the Sharrans would be the first priority, killing the high priestess Dhalia Vhammos the second. Thessar agreed that the cloak would be absolutely necessary to steal the Night King’s artifacts, but the old warrior recommended they not leave her living (or unliving), in any case. (Were a member of our Order along on the expedition, for example the departed Brother Veran, there would not have been a need to raise the question. --C)

Thessar saluted them for what they were about to do and Dermot mirrored the gesture. As the party readied to depart, Aerikoth told Thessar they would not speak for a time, but if they succeeded perhaps they would see him in a tenday or so. Thessar asked where they would be headed afterwards, although observed that perhaps it would be best not to know. The others professed not to have specific plans, so it was left at that. Rosten grunted and said they should head to the Old Beard tavern, where the elf wizard Lomilith was supposed to meet them. The hin also admitted that he could use a drink.

The adventurers departed Thessar’s house and headed for the East Gate on a rainy Westgate evening. Rosten asked, if they survived the night, whether the plan was to head for the Ironhelm clan hold afterwards. Dermot said he had no better idea, other than to play it by ear and see what would be on the road. The piratical hin in response observed that he hadn’t been out of a port city properly in near ten years, so it would be strange trekking with them. He wagered that the ranger would be right at home, wading through cow naughty word and hiding from bears, which got an affirmative answer from Dermot.

As they moved through the streets, Dermot recalled that one day he, Shanni and Darrow had decided to peek around the sewers on the east side of the city. The ranger did not recall where they ended up, but did remember them running into big skeleton bats. Aerikoth dryly commented that he was not disappointed he was absent from the encounter. Dermot continued, saying he wouldn’t be surprised if that was close to where they were going now. Rosten shivered slightly at Dermot’s description, noting there were all sorts of horrors down there. This prompted Aerikoth to recall the party’s previous encounter in the sewers with the Shore Patrol, a former gang turned into powerful undead - perhaps by the dark priestess they were going to encounter, said the wizard.
 

Carlo-One

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The four adventurers entered the Old Beard in a serious mood, with Rosten wringing out the rainwater from his bandana in the entrance. A sea captain was just taking his leave of Jonson the bartender, who wished him a safe journey on the morrow. After they watched him depart, Lloria and Rosten giving him particular scrutiny, the hin went over to the bar for a round of drinks, while the others walked over to where the elf Lomilith was sitting. He uttered an obviously forced laugh and tried to welcome them heartily, but the morose elf’s comportment would fool no one. He did perk up slightly when Dermot said he would be done for the evening soon and Rosten brought over the drinks.

Lloria pulled out her copy of the sewer map and set it down on a table, tapping it with a finger and telling Lomilith to show them the way. The elf rapidly downed his ale, drinking with a shaky hand and looking around, before lowering his voice and informing them the sewer entrance was right outside the tavern. He recounted how he went down it, followed some twists and turns, then came up to a north-facing door, behind which he heard movement of multiple things. Lomilith said he didn’t know exactly what they were up to, but it was clear to that door. Lloria tapped her finger on the map again and asked the elf to point it out, which he did.

This appeared to draw the attention of two mercenaries at a nearby table, who looked over at the map, one shrugging to the other. Dermot gave a vague nod at the nearest merc as Lloria marked the route and rolled the map back up to stow it away. Lomilith gulped down another drink from the round Rosten had bought and, after confirming he was done with the group, halfheartedly wished them good luck and walked out without looking back, but shaking a bit.

The two mercenaries wandered over to the bar and asked Jonson something, clearly paying attention to the adventurers. Rosten downed another ale himself and hissed to his comrades that he didn’t like those swabs talking about them meeting Lomilith, although the hin agreed with Dermot that they couldn’t go butchering them in a tavern. At this point the two mercenaries decided to come over and introduce themselves as Thorsan and Yendil, since they were wondering if the adventurers had a job and could use another pair of swords. This drew a number of looks among the companions, before Dermot answered that it was barely paying enough as it were. The two mercs admitted that they were not in good graces with the Mercenaries Guild, not being part of an official company, so were looking for whatever work they could get. Thorsan said that for 200 gold to spare, they were available.

Dermot ignored an inquiry about the adventurers’ names, but gave a story of how their friend Thessar on the Shore might have use for some hands, giving 200 gold to Thorsan despite Aerikoth expressing the fact he did not see a need for them. The merc’s eyes gleamed at the coin and he assured the ranger that the two of them would be sure to head there, after they finished their next round. Yendil piped up and said they had better settle their tab, now that they could, which earned him an elbow from his companion. Thorsan went over to the bar and plunked some coins down for another round, as Rosten muttered their two names to himself. The hin observed that they now knew their faces and Thessar’s names, but reckoned that could be solved soon enough though, and time was a-wasting for them to get on with their business. (I have to say it was no surprise to me that Thorsan and Yendil do not appear again in these chronicles. --R)
 

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