A World Asunder

Chapter 22- "Great, a talking knife"

Fetrian takes you to a storage room in the Morgue. Inside is a single metal box which looks extremely tough. The box is on a small stone table and chained down to both the table and the floor by adamantine chains. The box is about two feet long by 6 inches wide by 1 foot tall. A menacing metallic rattle is echoing loudly through the room as if a ricocheting shruiken is trying to break down the box.

Fetrian says: “If you want to examine the knife, I will open the box. Fair warning, though. It will be up to you to pin it down again, unless you want to examine it while it’s trying to kill you.”
The rattling inside the box gets louder.

(Knife has AC 29, 17 touch AC, Escape artist 9. DC 12 strength check to hold it down)
(Knife attack: +6 melee, 1d4
1 damage, 19-20/x2 crit)

(If Knife is pinned for 1 round)
An echoing, frenzied voice begins to emit from the knife: “Who are you that would assist our prey?”

“That name means nothing. Nothing! I must kill. I must kill NOW!”

Reilly says: “Great. A talking knife. Definitely among the weirdest shit I’ve seen with you guys.”

The knife continues to rattle and issue specific threats to your various organs.

Reilly says: “I don’t think the talking knife is in a helpful mood. Any idea why it decided to pursue a career in flying around and stabbing things? It looks like some serious magic.”

(Detect magic plus a DC 16 spellcraft check indicates that this is a partially-intelligent item. It can think for itself but it has one specific purpose that it will not deviate from, evidently to kill Cecily)

(Detect evil will inform player that the item is of inherently evil intent)

(if subdued) the knife clatters and thrashes as it is stuffed back in the adamantine box.

(if destroyed) The knife emits an earsplitting shriek and the blade cracks in half. The hilt shakes once, then lays still.

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Chapter 21- "Damn Shapeshifters"

The next part of your investigation takes you to the Morgue. Fetrian waves the undertaker aside and leads you to a small exam-room. In the center of the room is an exam slab with a humanoid figure draped in a white sheet. On the opposite side is a table with an array of belongings and weapons laid out"

Fetrian says: “Take all the time you need. The corpse has been magically preserved and the belongings laid out for inspection”

Fetrian removes the white sheet to reveal a gaunt humanoid figure with very pale skin and no hair. His irises are yellow and have catlike pupils. He is wearing a standard guard’s uniform, minus the armor.

His belongings, presented individually on the table, are as follows:
-A dagger with battle damage that was used in the attack.
-A pistol, empy and fired recently. Also used in the attack.
-A vial of Sassone leaf residue, a poison which causes external hemorrhage akin to battle wounds. Enough left for a single dose.
-A disguise kit.
-Guard’s armor, likely stolen from the guard that the assassin replaced.

(search checks):
DC 15: A tattoo is present on the palm of the assassin’s left hand. It depicts a skull with a knife sticking out of it’s mouth as would a tongue.
DC 18: You notice that the pommel of the dagger is loose and can be twisted. (see note 1)

(note 1)
(The pommel screws off with little effort. Inside is a rolled up note. The note reads: “Fellow Knifeshade, we have received a contract to end the life of Cecily McTeague. The payment is substantial and we’ve been guaranteed no interference or retribution from authorities in Fask or Kaptal. You are to pose as one of her bodyguards and kill her. Return to the Enclave upon success or return to the abyss upon failure. Nerull guide you.”)

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Chapter 20- "Damn that thing is ugly"

The chess-hall is nestled on the north side of the merchant’s guild courtyard. It’s a crowded area with many shops and tea-houses open for business. There is a rope fence around the chess wall with a “keep out” sign

On approach, Fetrian stops and asks you to stand back a moment. He whispers an incantation and waves his hand. A line on the ground that looked to be chalk disappears “Prismatic wall” he explains “modified to appear invisible, hence the rope fence. Don’t want anyone getting zapped, now do we?”

He leads you into the chess hall. It’s about 30′×25′ and two stories high. There is a balcony-style upper section as well with a sign at the base of the stairs saying “members only”. There are seven corpses total. Five bodyguards, one bystander and the Troll. All are magically preserved so they can be examined properly. The window is made of multiple panes held together with wood framing. It is smashed from the outside with a hole approximately 7’ tall and 6’ wide.

Fetrian says: “I was here when this happened, so if you have any questions about the event, please don’t hesitate to ask”

-“The troll entered by smashing the window down. Witnesses from the courtyard said it appeared out of no where. If we hadn’t heard their screaming, we wouldn’t have had time to get Cecily to safety.”

-“The troll was on a rampage. Like a rabid dog. Although it was an extremely precise rampage. It destroyed everything in it’s path, but it’s path led directly to the Mayor.”

-“I was the one to finally kill it. I’d been carrying ever since the Doppleganger attack. I took a shot and I got extremely lucky. Severed the beast’s spine at the neck. It’s lungs and heart stopped working and it died. We’re still not sure how it ended up being so precise.”

(Roll search checks to examine the room)

DC 18 (17 if specific): It’s difficult to see due to all the wound marks and embedded glass in the troll, but there are two ritual scars on the sides of the Troll’s neck. They depict the profile of a skull with a skeletal hand touching the temple of that skull. (DC 18 knowledge (arcana) check indicates that these brands are part of a permanent willbinding ritual).

DC 16 (15 if specific): The guards were all killed with single strikes to the chest or head or in one case a snap of the neck. (DC 16 knowledge (nature) check indicates that Trolls normally kill by simply pummelling their victims repeatedly or with the occasional bite.)

(Troll) DC 20 (19 if specific to head): You notice that the troll’s pupils are repeatedly dilating and constricting, despite the troll being dead (DC 15 spellcraft: This indicates that the spell is still active, despite the troll being dead.) (DC 18 spellcraft: An active willbind in a dead creature allows the caster to observe surroundings with the creature’s senses.)

Knowledge (arcana) DC 20: (Active will-binds have a range of 1 mile, from caster to affected creature).

As you leave, you (Irythan) notices some extra weight in one of your pockets.

You take it out and find that it’s a note wrapped around some kind of medallion. The note reads: “We’ve been shadowing your investigation and we’re impressed. Our interests seem to be aligned for now. Continue your investigation then meet me at the lighthouse at dusk. It may turn out to be mutually benificial to share information. Please don’t show this to Fetrian or Cecily. Come by yourselves or there will be no meeting.”

The medallion is blackened silver and depicts a dagger piercing a crescent moon. A slightly gold-colored corona surrounds the left half.

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Chapter 19- "That's one hell of a gun"

The sniper’s perch is in a clock-tower several blocks away from the Mayor’s office. The tower is two stories high with narrow windows between the clock faces. There are two guards at the entrance. Fetrian waves them aside and says to you: “Those two are trusted and receive regular screenings to rule out magical effects and abilities. The scene upstairs should be untouched. I’ve had the items we recovered from the sniper brought up so you can examine them on site.”

known information
(the clocktower is not open to the public.)
(the lock on the door showed signs of tampering on close inspection.)
(after the shot missed, the sniper escaped by rappelling down the side of the tower and fleeing on foot)
(The sniper dropped his rifle during the pursuit)
(The sniper lost the pursuing guards by dropping a pepper-smoke grenade in an alley)
(The sniper was wearing a black cloak and the guards never witnessed his face, but based on height and build they appeared to be a half-elf or human male)

A spiral staircase leads to the room at the top of the tower. The room is 15′×15′ in a square. On each of the walls is an identical array of clockwork. Above you, you can see a winch that is wound up by the perpetual sea breeze and loosened gradually to shift the clock’s gears. On the corners of the room are a series of two-foot wide windows that can be opened from the inside. Fetrian points out one that has a direct line of sight to the mayor’s office and one that he says was used by the sniper to escape. Several sets of average sized humanoid bootprints pepper the sawdust. Size 8 or 9, identical tread. Presumably the sniper’s.

Fetrian says: “We also found a sleeping bag and some crumbs. It appears the sniper camped out overnight to carry out the attack. His rifle is in that case if you wish to look it over.”

Reilly asks if she can take a look.

She holds it and says “Faskian Pin-cannon. Extra barrel length and powder-packing. Special issue for Faskian Snipers. It fires a special pin-shaped projectile designed to pierce plate-mail over long distances. I ran into these more than once when I was investigating Faskian infiltration teams. Took one in the left shoulder, too. Had to learn to use a sword right-handed. Effective accuracy up to 500 feet, but it takes an entire minute to re-load because you have to twist the projectile into place like a screw. These notches on the side represent confirmed kills. 27 of them. This rifle was either stolen or was used by a veteran Fask Sniper. Cecily got lucky.”

Reilly hands you back the rifle and says. Give everything a look-over before we head out.

(search checks)
DC 15- You notice a symbol etched into the pin-cannon. It is a skull with a dagger sticking out of it’s mouth as a tongue would.

DC 13- You notice that the vibrations from the clock are much weaker on the sides adjacent to the window that was fired from.

Reilly says: “Write down what you need to and let’s get moving to the next site.”

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Chapter 18- "We should probably go meet this Mayor"

The room Fetrian got for you is modest, yet quite comfortable. It’s on the top floor of an Inn called “Anchorman’s rest” in the Harbor District. Milo decides to return to the camp and try to wrap his head around the state of the war with the Arkali. Reilly decides to stay with you to help with the investigation and sends word with Milo that Myran is to assume temporary command of what forces you have.

You sleep well wake up in the morning with a few hours to kill before your meeting with the Mayor. Reilly has removed her armor and put on a button-down white shirt and a simple vest over a small chain-shirt which is hidden when she finishes doing the buttons. She carries a short-sword and concealing a double-barrel pistol rather than her usual weapons. “I’d rather go light for this one. I’ve found investigations easier when I’m not wearing a massive suit of armor. I’d recommend concealing your firearms. They’re still illegal in Kaptal if you’re not in the military.”

A bell tolls noon and the shops begin to close. Reilly says: “We should probably go meet this Mayor now.”

The Mayor’s office is located a 10-minute walk from the Inn you were put up at. It’s in a two-story stone building on the second floor, according to Fetrian’s directions. Fetrian himself is waiting for you at the door.
“Thank you for coming.” He says “I’m afraid you’ll have to leave your weapons in the atrium. Simply a precaution to reduce the potential routes of attack.”

(if players refuse)
“Listen” Fetrian says “I understand your reluctance. There is simply no way to know for sure that you are who you appear to be. Just the other week we had a doppleganger pose as one of the Mayor’s bodyguards. A mere two days ago, my own dagger flew out of it’s sheath and wounded her. Turns out someone had put a hex on it. If you will not leave your weapons here, there will be no meeting and you’ll have to find another steam-ship.”

(if players consent)
“I appreciate your cooperation and I understand your reluctance. There is simply no way to know for sure that you are who you appear to be. Just the other week we had a doppleganger pose as one of the Mayor’s bodyguards. A mere two days ago, my own dagger flew out of it’s sheath and wounded her. Turns out someone had put a hex on it. Thank you again for understanding”

(dc 17 diplomacy)
“I suppose we truly are so desperate. Fine, keep your weapons. But you will be under guard the entire time by men with shoot to kill orders. There is simply no way to know for sure that you are who you appear to be. Just the other week we had a doppleganger pose as one of the Mayor’s bodyguards. A mere two days ago, my own dagger flew out of it’s sheath and wounded her. Turns out someone had put a hex on it. Watch yourselves”

Fetrian leads you inside and down a spiral staircase. At the bottom is a reinforced steel door with a lock unlike any you’ve seen. Fetrian places his thumb on a steel pin and draws blood. The door opens and inside is what looks like a reception desk and a door on the other side of the room.

Fetrian is sitting at the reception desk and says “Good day, Madame Mayor.” You turn to see the person posing as Fetrian turn shape to appear as a woman with greying brown hair in a tight bun. She wears a loose white tunic and a pair of grey breeches with working shoes. “I apologize for the deception” she says “Mayor Cecily McTeague, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

(player response)

“Please, call me Cecily, and let’s talk in my office. Would you like some tea?”

Cecily picks up a kettle which begins boiling as soon as it is poured into the teacups. She places the tray on a coffee table, gestures to a pair of quarter-circle sofas and says Please, sit down. Pelor’s mercy, it took me months to convince Fetrian to let me do this myself. If I can’t run a city and still make my own tea, then what good am I? Now, why don’t I start from the beginning. If I miss anything important feel free to ask."

“Okay, without going through my life’s story: I grew up in the slums. Like most children there, my parents had debt. In the same way wealthy children inherit wealth, poor children in Kaptal inherit debt. My mother raised me by herself and when she died, her debt became mine at age 15. I got lucky around age 17 when I discovered a talent for magic. I used it to gain considerable wealth and eventually I won the election for Mayor. I used what power I had as mayor to improve life for those in the slums. We just recently finished construction on an underground sewer system so people wouldn’t have to walk in their own shit. But that meant I had to divert funds from a new horse-racing track and cut the budget for debt collection. Most of the people that angered simply tried to buy me off. More than a few filed official complaints with the Kaptalis board of Merchant-Lords. I suspect only one of them is trying to kill me. With me so far?”

“So far, there have been four attempts on my life. The first was a sniper using a Faskian flintlock. He managed to get away without being identified, but we have his weapon. He shot at me while I was in my office from a rooftop across the street. If my chair had been more comfortable, I wouldn’t have been shifting my weight and I’d be talking to you out of a new hole in my head. Since then, this has been my office and I’ve been travelling with a deflecting shield.”

“The second was a Doppleganger posing as one of my bodyguards. Pulled a pistol on me point blank. Since the shield blocked projectiles, I survived the initial shot and Fetrian managed to tackle him before he could draw his knife, which turned out to be poisoned. He was killed in the ensuing fight, but again, we got his weapons. After that, my guards were all subjected to tests before each escort.”

“The third attempt was about as subtle as a troll in a chess-hall. Actually, it was exactly that subtle. I was meeting a contact in a chess hall about a possible lead on the person behind these attacks and a troll burst through the front bay-window. It killed five of my bodyguards before Fetrian got off a lucky shot and severed it’s spine at the neck. Some of those guards were my friends, so of course they had to make it personal. Since then, I’ve been travelling posing as Fetrian and the Chess-hall has been closed down for the investigation.”

“The final attempt we’re still trying to piece together. This was only two days ago. Fetrian came into my office to update me on the state of the Arkali assault and to inform me that refugees were on their way from various places the Arkali attacked. His knife flew straight out of it’s sheath and took out my left Brachial artery. If I hadn’t dove out of the way, it would have hit my heart. The knife was also poisoned with black lotus extract, but my luck saved me again. I had taken a potion for Nausea earlier in the day and one of the side effects of the potion is counter-acting black lotus. Fetrian was able to pin the knife against the wall and help stop the bleeding. I got it healed, but my arm’s still stiff due to the after-effects of the poison. The knife is locked in an adamantine case. Last I checked it was still trying to escape.”

“I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about the attacks and naturally, you can examine anything related for yourself. I only ask that you bring Fetrian along. He’s worried sick and helping with the investigation will calm his nerves. He can also get you access to most of the city.”

Cecily stacks the tray and cleans everything with a wave of her hand. She opens the door and says “Fetrian will see you out. I’ll stay here and arrange for your ship to be ready once this crisis is over. If you like, I can also have an old friend make a flag for you. Come see me with a design when you have some information to share. I appreciate this. You’ll have a friend in Gildenport as long as I’m breathing.”

Fetrian asks where you would like to start your investigation.

(if asked, Reilly will recommend checking the Sniper’s perch)

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Chapter 17- "Fucking each-other bonkers"

Your cohort elects to set up camp on the outskirts of Gildenport to avoid causing too much of a stir with the local guard. Reilly and Milo offer to come with. Milo is insistant because he grew up in Kaptal and knows his contact best. Reilly offers her experience in urban combat and investigation. The others wish to stay behind and assist with preparations for shipping out. Reilly and Milo set off to prepare and agree to meet you at the gates in a half hour.

By the time you prepare and reach the gate, Reilly and Milo are waiting for you. Milo has combed back his hair and put on a broad brimmed hat. He has on a canvas and leather jacket and a long pair of tough trousers. His clothing is all dyed dark grey and black.

Reilly has shaved the sides of her head and cut the top short, It’s draped over one side of her head and she has a red hood up. She has changed into what looks like a modified faskian breastplate with the Weslyth tree and stars. A short, red cloak hangs over her shoulders. It looks to be one of Enfys’ designs. The raised fist of the Martyred maiden hangs from her belt.

“Well, then” Says Milo “If you’re done gawking at my glorious hat, we should stroll on in.”

The Class disparity in Kaptalis society is apparent at a glance. When you first walk in, you see slums and people huddled in the streets around hastily built fires. Some of the buildings look like they’ve been repaired recently and you can see storm drains leading to underground sewers.

Milo remarks “This area is destitute, but it was way worse when I was here last. I wonder what changed. Anyway, we should go meet my contact. She works at a brothel called ‘The Red Sapphire’ in the mercantile quarter. She goes by Lilac.”

Milo leads you down the boulevard to the outskirts of the mercantile district. The scenery changes quickly from grimy slums to large worker’s bunk-towers and factories and then to colossal mansions that look practically gilded. The Red Sapphire is nestled in the heart of an affluent residential district. It’s about the same size as the nearby mansions, with curtains over all the windows, though the sillhouettes are quite expressive. You can smell lavender incense wafting from the building. Milo opens the door and approaches the schedule keeper. “We’re here to see Lilac,” he says.

The keeper looks up from her ledger and replies “We don’t do groups here. You’ll have to make seperate appointments.”

One of the women gets up from the couch and says: “It’s okay, Molly. I worked something out already and Milo has worked out the payment.”

The woman is a half-elf who looks to be about 19. She has long black hair and green eyes. She’s wearing a black corset and a short red skirt that flares at the hem. She beckons you to follow her to a room adjacent to the upstairs balcony.

She closes the door behind her, whispers an incantation and says “Okay. Now that I’ve had a chance to cast that, everyone outside will hear just enough to think we’re all fucking each-other bonkers. Should give us some privacy to talk. Now, Milo tells me you’re in the market for a steam-ship.”

“In that case, I’m glad I can help. While you were on your way, another opportunity presented itself. Another client of mine, an aide to the local mayor, has asked me to keep an eye out for capable adventurers to solve a problem. Meet him in the square just south of this establishment. He’s been good to us here and the least I can do is point you in his direction. Oh, and be sure to come back after you’ve established a garrison. I’ll have another proposition for you. Now pretend to be out of breath when you leave the room. See you again soon”

The door to the room closes behind you and Reilly says “I think we should hear this aide out. It sounds serious if someone as smart as Lilac thinks the mayor will accept help from a known subversive group.”

The square Lilac told you about is surrounded by shops selling all manner of items both magical and mundane. The aide hasn’t shown up yet, so shipping may provide an opportunity to kill time.

As you look over a suit of armor that is WAY out of your budget, a man taps you on the shoulder and says: “Are you the adventurers Lilac told me about?”

“Excellent. My name is Fetrian, aide to Mayor McTeague. Please walk with me.” Reilly notices your looks and says “no relation”.

Fetrian continues: “Are you familiar with Mayor McTeague’s policies?”

“Well, without getting into specifics, Mayor McTeague has been making enemies by attempting to improve quality of life in the slums at the expense of projects such as the proposed horse-racing track. While this has made her extremely popular with the Masses, we believe that someone in the upper classes has plotted an attempt on her life. If you agree to help us, we will grant you a ship from the patrol fleet once the assassin is thwarted.”

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Chapter 16- "I'm done with this getting attacked bullshit"

Electing to cut your losses, you hike down the path toward Gildenport to complete Niles’ mission and secure safe passage. Before you leave, Enfys hands you a note with the description of the path.

You are to pass the site of the attack on Harxen’s squad, cross a stone bridge over a deep ravine and pass through a tunnel. From there, the path is a dirt road through thin woodlands until Kaptal, where it thins out into plains and farmland.

A brief ride takes you to the site of the attack.

When you reach the site of the attack, you find Cochran’s body still there. There are two large fang marks in his shoulder and you can see varicose veins extending from the wounds. One of his arms is gone and the shoulder it was attached to appears to be hyperextended.

Search checks

Dc12: You find one small spot of blood on the ground 10 feet away from Cochran. Next to it you see bits of chainmail and a broken arrow shaft.

Dc15: A small blood trail leads from the spot near Cochran down the road where you came from and ends 30 feet later. A small bandage wrapping is found at the end.

Dc16: You notice a broken branch on the northern side of the road and an assortment of small boot-prints.

Dc14: Behind the blood spatter, you notice a winding indent in the road. It looks like someone had dragged a body along it in a zig-zag pattern with considerable speed. (+2 bonus to track)

Continuing on for another 2 hours’ ride, you come to the bridge. It’s about 15 feet wide and 40 feet across. It is marked by both Fask and Kaptalis colors. There is a large construct blocking the path. It is constructed of clockwork with what looks to be a leather skin binding it together. It has aluminum plates and wooden planks stapled into the leather as armor. It is draped in a tabard with Kaptalis colors. The construct carries a steel shield and a spear.

As you approach, the construct jams the shaft of it’s spear into the bridge and says in an echoing voice “Identify yourself and submit to inspection on the authority of the Kaptalis empire.”

Combat with Kaptalis Light Sentinal

The construct begins to billow smoke from the slash-marks and holes in the leather casing while the gears and springs inside snap and grind. A shriek is heard from inside the construct and a whispy figure emerges briefly before dissipating in a blink.

With the bridge clear, you move forward down the road until you come to a tunnel. It appears to have fallen into decay and there are spider-webs lining the entryway. A sign is mounted next to it which says “Seek alternate route. Dangerous creature inside.”

Your sunrod Illuminates the passage in front of you as you walk into the tunnel. Inside you can see humanoid figures suspended from the ceiling and encased in spiderwebs. Some are on the floor or already half eaten. There is also a pile of desiccated corpses in a corner. All told, whatever inhabits this tunnel has taken at least 20 unfortunate travellers.

spot checks opposed to +10 hide

(on failure) You note that most of the corpses have a single stab-wound and that the dessicated ones have humanoid bite marks on the brachial artery.

Dc16 knowledge (dungeoneering): Based on your studies and experience, you can surmise that this is the lair of a Drider. A large creature with a spider’s thorax and abdomen which transitions into an elf-like torso and arms. You recall that driders are ambush predators with a poison that causes weakness and minor spellcasting ability.

After another step, you hear a sound coming from the ceiling not unlike a string snapping. A large creature which is an elf from the waist up, but with a spider’s body instead of legs pounces from the ceiling onto Brill

(reflex save opposed to melee attack roll, failure results in being knocked prone and taking 2d6+2 damage)

surprise round begins

(on success) You look up to see a large creature which is an elf from the waist up, but with a spider’s body instead of legs. It looks ready to pounce.

begin combat as normal, no surprise round

The creature squeals in pain and attempts to limp away. It is primed for a killing blow.

With it’s last breath, it scrapes with one of it’s spider’s legs at a chest hanging from the ceiling by a web.

Inside the chest are an assortment of gold and platinum artifacts, apparently even deadly monsters like money. (dc 12 appraise reveals that it is worth 10,000gp)

You gather up all your belongings and divide the treasure up, then exit the tunnel to a thin forest. From there, the path is clear and by the time you can see the lights of Gildenport, the rest of your cohort has caught up with you.

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Chapter 16- "I hate snakes"

When you reach the site of the attack, you find Cochran’s body still there. There are two large fang marks in his shoulder and you can see varicose veins extending from the wounds. One of his arms is gone and the shoulder it was attached to appears to be hyperextended.

Search checks

Dc12: You find one small spot of blood on the ground 10 feet away from Cochran. Next to it you see bits of chainmail and a broken arrow shaft.

Dc15: A small blood trail leads from the spot near Cochran down the road where you came from and ends 30 feet later. A small bandage wrapping is found at the end.

Dc16: You notice a broken branch on the northern side of the road and an assortment of small boot-prints.

Dc14: Behind the blood spatter, you notice a winding indent in the road. It looks like someone had dragged a body along it in a zig-zag pattern with considerable speed. (+2 bonus to track)

Track Dc 18

The trail leads you to an overgrown stone structure that digs into the hillside. Two serpent sculptures flank the entrance, a large stone door with no visible handle.

(“Knock” spell will open the door automatically. Dc 14 search check will reveal that a fang on one of the serpent statues is on a hinge)

The stone door rolls to the side revealing a pitch dark room of unknown size (sunrods will fully illuminate).

Once illuminated, you can see that the room is 40 feet wide by 60 feet long. There are bloodstains on the stone floor of varying ages, some appear to be months or years old. There is a row of benches on either side of the room. There is set of wooden double doors on the opposite side of the room with a small padlock.

(spot check, opposed to +3 hide)

(If spot check passed) You notice a pair of feet in riding boots crouching behind the benches on the left.

(If spot check passed) You also notice the tip of a high-bound jet-black ponytail poking out from behind the benches on the right.

(If spot check failed) A humanoid figure with glistening skin and snake-like features emerges from behind the benches and attacks you with a longbow.

Combat, 2 serpentkin cultists

(If enfys is with players) Enfys puts away her sword and says: “Well, that was unnecessary. I’m ready to be done with this place. Let’s get Niles and piss off”

The door swings open revealing some sort of ritual chamber. Large symbols are drawn on the walls in blood and chalk while candles flicker in a circle. Niles is in the center, chained to an alter and barely conscious. They’re bleeding slowly but steadily from the wrists and they have signs of torture on their chest.

A reptilian creature emerges from the shadows. It has black scales dulled down with white ash and a scaly crest on it’s head is died red with blood. It’s shape is that of a snake with a pair of muscular humanoid arms. Above the shoulders of these arms is a snake’s head on a thick neck. It is positioned upright at about the height of an orc, but it could conceivably stand much taller It speaks with a raspy voice and an accent you don’t recognize: “Your attempts at interruption are meaningless. The ash lord’s forces will soon overtake what remains. Those foolish enough to resist their own salvation will perish in the flames of his conquest.”

the creature pulls out a long spear and a shield and says: “Come then, face me and I will spill your blood in the name of the ash lord.”

Combat with Yuan-Ti

The abomination collapses into a bleeding heap, riddled with injuries.

Niles begins to stir: “Can someone come over here and help me out please.”

Niles rubs the chafe-marks on their wrists and says: “Ugh. I hate snakes. Oh, sorry.” Niles salutes and says “Scout-recruit Robyn Niles, pleased to meet you, though I wish there had been ale involved rather than imminent death and Cultists.”

(If enfys is there)
Enfys looks over the corpse of the abomination and says: “We’ve seen their like before, although the serpentkin have not been seen in their number. They’re scourge Worshippers calling themselves the Ashen Order. They believe the Scourge is a Culling of sorts that will wipe away those they consider unworthy. Usually, the stick to Heptusian slums and slaving routes. This is the first we’ve seen them so far north.”

Niles says: “Let’s check the room, there might be something we can use.”

(If Enfys is not there)
Niles grabs a plackard off the wall. It’s painted with the image of a drop of blood wreathed in fire. “The others will want to see this. I think it’s one of their symbols. We should search the room for anything valuable”

A brief search reveals a chest at the foot of the altar that Niles was chained to. The chest contains a variety of precious gems (dc 12 appraise reveals that the gems are worth 10,000gp total).

After a brief rest, Niles says they are able to walk. It is dusk by the time you get to the camp.

As you walk into war tent, Myran glares at you and says: “While you were off playing rescue, A Kaptalis secret guard team showed up on a capture mission. We took injuries and they took five of our people, including Declan. This is why I said we need to keep moving. We just traded five comrades for one.”

Enfys retorts: “Yes, but they’re still alive. Niles would be dead right now if we hadn’t done that. Besides, I saw the cartwheel tracks on the way over. They were heading down the road to Gildenport. Which means we can go after them.”

Niles informs you that the original planned route to Gildenport is too dangerous to take civilians on and offers to guide you on a game trail through the woods that will circumvent a guarded bridge and what they refer to as “the sketchiest cave in Irythan”

Niles’ route is difficult, but not dangerous. By sundown, you can see the lights of Gildenport on the horizon.

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Chapter 15- "We don't leave people behind"

Reilly mounts up and says: “I’ve given these people directions on where to meet us at camp. A large group like this will attract attention if we all leave together, so the new volunteers will trickle out bit by bit. I want to get a briefing on Gorch’thul when we get to camp. I’ve diverted a few guards, but we can’t leave without being spotted, I recommend full gallop so we’re gone and over the Fask border before they can muster a pursuit force.”

Milo volunteers to stay behind.

Your horses wail and begin to sprint through the city streets. As you pass through the gate, a few guards shout and shoot arrows at you, to no avail. Declan makes a rude hand gesture and says something about the guard’s mother that you can’t quite make out over the shouting and hoofbeats. Myran and Enfys snicker.

You reach camp around mid-day. Milo follows an hour later with the first group of volunteers. Reilly encourages you to take a nap and offers to take the first watch.

You wake up feeling rejuvinated and look around to see the 200-some volunteers setting up tents and starting campfires.

Reilly hands you each a leg of roast rabbit and says: “I’ve done that roster you asked for.” She hands you a sheet of parchment and continues “We have 190 volunteers total. 20 of them are combat-trained. 40 are construction workers, 5 have medical training, 10 are hunters who were in town to trade, 25 are farmers, 20 are crafters and the last 80 are general laborers with varying basic skills. About 5 of those hunters are qualified in guerrilla combat. I took the liberty of appointing a stable-master and sending the hunters out on scouting and food gathering missions. The combat specialists are working on establishing a training routine for new recruits, but it will be a few months before we can make soldiers of anyone. Harxen also stopped by. He’s out with a pair of hunters right now, but he should be back shortly.”

You realize it’s now morning and that you’ve been asleep since noon yesterday. Reilly tells you that there’s a meeting starting in a half hour in the war-tent.

You walk through the tent flap and see a setup almost identical to the back-room of the hawk’s talon. Reilly is talking with Myran about the status of the slave rebellion in Heptus. Enfys is collecting her winnings from the bet she made with Milo on the night of the attack. Declan is still half asleep, slumped over the war-table with a cup of hot tea in his hand. Everyone finishes up their conversations as you enter and they look over the war-table.

Myran says “Ah, looks like we’re all here. I take it you slept well?” Milo elbows Declan in the ribs to wake him up. Myran continues: “We have some updated information on Gorch’thul”.

Milo speaks up “I reached out to my contact there, a kitchen-worker in the more well-guarded section. He’s gone dark. No reply to any of my messages. When I got nothing from him, I sent a hawk to a contact in the docks at Gildenport, in Kaptal. Usually, he’ll know when a prison ship leaves for Gorch’thul. He says no ship has come from or left for Gorch’thul in nearly a month. This is extremely irregular. Ships normally come twice a week to re-supply and swap staff. I checked with dockworkers in Fask as well as other Kaptalis ports. Nothing. If they’ve stopped completely, it means the situation has changed. It could mean the Arkali have reached it or it could mean they’ve locked it down to avoid that. It could mean something else entirely. Either way, we won’t know until we’re close enough to get a look.”

Enfys chimes in: “And there’s no way to do that without a Kaptalis ship. Any ideas? Preferably ones that won’t get us killed, but I’m not picky. The waters around Gorch’thul are intense. Kaptalis and only Kaptalis ships are equipped with steam drives to keep them afloat in that stormy area. The problem is they’re unlocked by number combination and impossible to pick.”

Milo grins: “Way ahead of you, Arrowhawk. I know of a cargo-runner captain who spends his nights at a brothel in Gildenport. He’s been rude to a couple of the women who work there and said women have offered to help us arrange for him to fall off his carriage on the way home. We can work out details when we get to the city. Harxen should be back soon, he was securing a path to Gildenport."

As if on cue, Harxen walks into the tent, wounded and bleeding from his right side, just under the ribcage. “I’ll make it,” He says “Arrow went clean through, missed my liver. We were on our way back from the cleanest scout I’ve ever been on when we came under attack. Dammit! I should have seen it coming, it was the perfect place for an ambush.”

What hit you? “I don’t know what the seventh hell it was. One moment we were walking and the next I had an arrow-hole in my side. It must have been poisoned because by the time I nocked and arrow, I had gone blind. I heard some kind of dragging sound from behind me and then I took a blunt object to the head and got knocked out. When I came to, Cochran was dead and Niles was gone. I could have tracked them, but I’m in no shape to fight, so I came back as soon as I could.”

Harxen writes down some directions on a sheet of paper before limping to the infimary tent with Reilly supporting him. The note says “About three miles east along the path. I left the body as I found it so you could hopefully learn something from it. Track these fuckers down. I want Niles back in one piece if at all possible. They’re still young and they’ve got huge potential.”

Myran finishes reading the note and says: “Ordinarily, I’d be loading my crossbow and checking my staff for a rescue mission, but we have other things to consider. There are in excess of two-hundred people here with us and if a Fask patrol happens by the 20 soldiers we have will be piss poor protection. I don’t want to risk everyone else here, especially if there’s a chance Niles may be dead already.”

Enfys chimes in “I’m not wild on the notion of leaving people unprotected in hostile territory, but the chances of Fask sending a patrol this way when they’re busy dealing with the Arkali invasion are quite slim. The most they’d send on patrol is a squad and that’s something Reilly could handle on her own.”

Myran retorts “You don’t know that for sure, Enfys!”

“Dammit Myran, we don’t leave people behind!”

The argument devolves from there. Clearly they aren’t going to agree for a while. Milo and Declan put their hands up in a “We’re staying out of this” gesture. It seems the decision rests with you.

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Chapter 14 - "From the Ashes"

With the city re-claimed, those who stayed behind in the second terrace come down to assist in search and rescue. A few remaining Arkali are scattered through the city, but the guard makes short work of them. Enfys says “We should go back to the Hawk’s Talon. Milo will want to know if we’re alright.”

When you arrive, you note that the door has been smashed open and smoke is billowing from the inside. Enfys goes wide-eyed, readies her bow to fire and kickes the door down.

Inside, you see Milo and Declan sitting on the counter smoking a pipe and sharing a keg. About 10 Arkali soldiers are lying on the floor in various states of dismemberment.

Declan blows a smoke ring and says “Well it’s about fucking time you showed up. We’re almost out of ale”

Milo looks behind you and says “Hey! How about a pint for the valiant lass who led the attack?”

Reilly replies: “No thanks, Milo. I’m here on business. I need to have a word with all of you.”

Reilly hands you a scroll of paper. It says in Weslyth: “Sergeant Reilly McTeague. You are hereby ordered by the lord-general of the city guard to arrest Veillos Amakiir and all known associates for the crime of murder of a city guard officer and complicity in a murder and seize all property including the organization’s front known as the ’Hawk’s Talon’”

Reilly breaks the guard emblem off her shield and says “That’s not an order I intend to follow. My career as guard-sergeant ends here with my last act being the salvation of the city.” She smiles a dry smirk “I suppose there are worse ways to end a career. I wish to join the Paragons of Orthalyn. I would be honored if you would have me.”

Reilly slings her shield over her back and says “Good. Now, listen. If I don’t have you in chains in 20 minutes, the lord general will send a party to investigate and then we both go down. There are a small group of guards loyal to me who can get us out of the city, but we have to leave now. They’ll meet us at dragon’s fall square, can I assume you remember the place?”

“Good. I’ll meet you there. I need to go make a bullshit report to stall the pursuit. I took the liberty of having some friends carve up the corpse and load it onto your horses. Oh, right. I also got you horses. Look, I’ll meet you at the square. If I’m not there in an hour, assume I’ve been captured.”

People you pass by wave and shake your hands and offer you small tokens as you walk by. By the time you get to the square, you are loaded up on food, drink and warm clothing.

Myran is waiting for you, there are around 200 people at the square waiting with backpacks and duffel bags. Enfys says: “Pelor’s mercy, Reilly said it was a small group”.

Reilly emerges from the crowd and says with a grin “I said it was a small group of guards. I didn’t say anything about volunteer citizens.”

And so the travellers from the south rose from the ashes of war as heroes. With a small host of volunteers, they would go on to become a force for freedom across the six nations of Irythan. Having established a reputation as inspiring figures willing to stand up to the powerful and overcome impossible odds, the Paragons of Orthalyn set about the work of building their forces and seeking out lost knowledge in the hope of pushing back the invading Arkali forces and reclaiming the world from the Scourge. Their actions will come to bring hope to people crushed under the weight of empires and strife and restore life to a world torn asunder

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