Mists of Cariele

Chapter 36: The Long Road Ahead

As the protagonists prepared for their journey into the Five Peaks, they began to make preparations…first of which was dealing with a large throng of people outside the gates.

Investigating the individuals, it was determined that they were craftsmen and laborers hailing from the Imperial Capital. They were being lead by/employed by Magdalayna Grave, a representative of the Grave Trading Company.

Over dinner with Wickham, Ms Grave explained that they were sent on behalf of Meryn Grave – he heard that the Eventide was going to undergo a second expansion, and he was more than willing to offer assistance in building the expansion…in exchange for exclusive guild trade rights.

With the group of individuals in play, Wickham directed the protagonists to pour over the tomes acquired to determine where in the Lost Realm they could secure a base of Operations to coordinate their military efforts. With Tiegan pouring over tomes and Qadira assisting her, they gathered information on 3 potential sites: a hidden and abandoned druid grove, a derelict keep, and an abandoned village.

Orvo and Tiegan reviewed the druid grove, determining that while secluded and potential rich with magic, it may be hostile to non-druids, have limited space, and may have some magical creatures guarding it. Harlan reviewed the village, and asserted that it would be somewhat fortified at best, but the villages would be set up near natural resources like farmland or mines and could support a decent presence…which means it may be occupied by animals or goblins. Tristan and Qadira looked into the derelict keep, determining it would have been built on a strategic location, be heavily fortified, and built to withstand harsh conditions; however, it would most likely be occupied and would rely on a supply line to keep the occupants fed.

With the information at hand, they pitched a plan to Wickham – leading the assault planning with Pavon’s absence – and proposed to find the abandoned village to set up as a base of operations. Wickham agreed with the plan, and inquired upon what logistics they would require to staff the town, given their available options: a group of 200 laborers and craftsmen, a unit of infantry trained from the militia and led by Dez, a unit of knights supplied by Derek of Boeruine, and a unit of Elven Archers supplied by Springblossom. Knowing they could not bring everything, they proposed the civilian contingent and the unit of Infantry to secure and bolster the town, with the unit of Knights and Archers in reserve for front line combat, with another unit to secure Eventide.

With a plan in place, Qadira and Tiegan left to try and recruit Emmet while the others tried to find Sasha. Qadira and Tiegan failed to recruit Emmet, finding him unswayed by their arguments and somewhat belligerent as the negotiations continued. Harlan attempted to use Magdalayna to acquire horses, only to find out it would take either days to acquire them from outside Eventide or they would need to steal them from the knights.

Meeting back up and exchanging news, the protagonists plotted their next move before they departed on a scouting expedition.

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Chapter 35: Decisions and Dilemnas

As the days grew longer in Eventide, the protagonists spent a few days looking for Pavon – they were routinely getting told Pavon was unavailable or meeting with some functionary or another. As they waited, the protagonists separated to settle back in to the city.

Reacclimating to the stark differences between the Imperial Capital and the Eventide, the protagonists settled into familiar rhythmns while struggling with a decision of some importance: do they side with the Chamberlain and head to the Five Peaks to prevent the spread of monsters, or do they side with Pavon and head to the Lost Realm to bolster the line against incursions from the Gorgon.

Finally arranging a meeting with Pavon for the following day, the protagonists felt the sudden change in the air – Qadira most of all – as their eyes were drawn skyward: the mists that have cloaked the Mountainsedge Province of Cariele faded, with sunlight pouring in and animals cautiously moving into the area.

With the change in the air, the protagonists separated and discussed their dilemma with some of the prominent townsfolk. Harlan spoke with the blacksmiths, Vargen and Peter, discovering that Vargen had no desire to help his homeland due to personal tragedy and Peter all too willing to leap into the fray in the Five Peaks. Qadira spoke with Jewel and Wickham, finding Jewel all too eager to leave the area and Malec’s influence whilst Wickham strongly opposed the Five Peaks, viewing it as problems Boeurine and Avanil could resolve but lacked the conviction. Strogar and Tristan met with Derek and Pyrick, discovering that Derek viewed both courses of action as promising but at a cost and Pyrick in favor of the Five Peaks to protect the human faithful of Haelyn over the Elven Refugees and undead provincial lord. Orvo met with Wickham and Pyrick, arguing with Pyrick over the merits of the Five Peaks and his personal power base and agreeing – surprisingly – with Wickham whole heartedly.

In meeting with Pavon, the protagonists were resolved to head to the Five Peaks to assist the Chamberlain but utterly failed to sway Pavon from his course of action. With the possibility of funding a mercenary group to assist the Five Peaks via a heist on the guilds of Cariele, the protagonists went through a series of position reversals as they debated the situation with the fresh perspectives of the citizens of Eventide whose opinions they valued.

In the end, the protagonists made the decision to forego assisting the Five Peaks – and the Chamberlain’s monetary incentives – and resolved to head into the Lost Realm to assist the Eventide in establishing a beachhead. In the days leading up to the excursion, another wrench was thrown in the works: a large amount of individuals appeared outside the gates of the Eventide unannounced….

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Chapter 34: Let's Party

After witnessing the Church of Haelyn’s magical resurgence, the protagonists settled in for a few days of rest. Strogar lurked around the church, keeping on eye on its rebuilding, while Orvo, Tiegan, and Tristan stayed at the inn to honor their obligations. Qadira spent her time as a guest at Dravenwood Manor, perusing the library tomes regarding Anuire’s noble families, while Harlan spent his time at the Grave Mistake, neck deep in vice…and loving every minute of it.

Their respite came to an end, as they received invitations to attend a grand celebration hosted by the Church of Haelyn, open to all members of the Poor, Docks, and Merchant districts. Conspicuos to some, the nobles and other clergy were not invited.

Strogar woke up early on the day of the celebration to assist the church, only to find Harlan standing outside helping the clergy prepare large vats of soup and food for the celebration, carrying on conversation with the priests in a jovial fashion. Tristan arrived shortly after, and was promptly drawn to the individuals parading about in full armor on horseback. When he found out that the church was sponsoring a jousting tournament and a grand melee for the commoners, he was positively giddy and followed them around like a dutiful squire. Tiegan and Orvo arrived shortly after 8 am, expecting to find the carnival being set up but instead finding it in full swing. Tiegan quickly overindulged in the provided ale, and spent most of the carnival in varying states of wakefulness. Orvo strapped pony kegs onto his back, and walked around as an ale dispenser.

As the day went on, Strogar became more and more unnerved at the spectacle – no nobles were present, everyone was unusually chipper and civil, and there were no events of brawls or thievery outside of church sanctioned combat sports. Briefly meeting up with the others, he shared his thoughts on the matter to his mostly-inebriated companions before Harlan and himself departed the carnival.

Orvo tested Strogar’s theory by entering the grand melee…and wasn’t struck a single time. During a conversation with Tristan that normally would become heated, they both found it impossible not to be happy. Tiegan, suspecting an ale was spiked and having thoughts of Mossfall Hold’s actions with feasts, attempted to detect any magical auras or poisons in the area, only to find herself struck with a blinding headache and waking up hours later on a bed of hay…with all her belongings intact. Qadira found herself having multiple conversations with differing clergy members on the nature of faith and politics, and lost track of time that was passing.

Leaving the carnival shortly before dusk, Harlan made his way back to the brothel with his escort. Upon arriving and demanding to speak with Meryn, he noticed the odd peculiar behavior continuing – attempting to threaten the brothel’s butler with a leg of roast pork, he instead found himself offering the man the leg of pork as a meal. Discovering that Meryn was at the carnival, he made his way back to the carnival, coming upon the incapacitated form of Strogar in a town square. Waking him up with a cup of ale to the face, Strogar informed him that some type of powerful magic was in place – the aura was so strong, he blacked out when he tried to detect it. Racing back to the carnival, they found themselves met with messengers bearing news: the Chamberlain was summoning them to a meeting in the cathedral.

At the meeting, they found a sobered crew of companions enjoying a quiet meal. Joining them, the Chamberlain arrived with more food and a peculiar proposition: in exchange for 3000 gold a piece, he was requesting that the protagonists abandon Pavon’s goal of securing the Lost Realm and instead head to the Five Peaks to act as his agents. Pressed as to the reason, he informed the protagonists that due to their actions, the Five Peaks was swarming with vile influences – with the Inquisition now permanently disbanded, Lycanthropy was spreading throughout the mountains; with the vampire menace in the Capital contained but not destroyed, a cabal of night stalkers were plaguing the realm; with the retreat of Tristan the Red and his cambion forces from the Battle of Mossfall Hold, they were recruiting a power base for a potent and evil mercenary contingent; with the Agent of the Gorgon left alive after the Battle for Eventide, the Gorgon’s influence in the Five Peaks was growing. In his estimation, the threat posed by the Five Peaks was greater than that of Elvenspite or Markazor’s Goblins.

After enjoying a meal and a final meeting with a few of the compatriots they made in their journeys in the Capital, they left for the Inn and prepared for their transit home to Eventide. Spitting up, Tristan and Harlan met with Duke – Harlan’s ex-guard cohort – and convinced him to leave his life of luxury in Meryn’s brothel behind to continue with them to their next adventure. Tiegen and Qadira met with Emmett, and with Strogar talking to Sascha managed to convince them that the city held no more sway for them and future adventures held greater promise. As they reassembled, Meryn and the Chamberlain magically transported them back to Eventide.

Walking back into Eventide, the protagonists split up to soak in the town after finding Pavon was going to be gone until the evening. Harlan made his way to Vargen, dropping off some bent blades and sharing a pony keg of ale as he marveled at everyone walking around armed and armored without hassle. Tristan made his way around town to find Illysera, only to discover she was dispatched with the other mercenaries on a patrol. When he returned to his room at the inn, he noticed not a thing was disturbed despite the lock’s ill-maintained status. Orvo promptly retired to his room, shedding his armor, locking his door, and bedded down for the first restful sleep he was able to find for days. Tiegan and Qadira both left for their rooms in the market and to talk with Jem and Jewel. Jewel brushed aside Qadira in her typical fashion, whilst Jem talked shop with Tiegan regarding the bolstered town’s economy due to working with Elvenspite’s forces. Strogar made his way to the church, finding solace in the old, slightly crumbling but ultimately sturdy building.

With the day growing shorter, they contemplated their next course of action…a decision that would have lasting repercussions for themselves, the relationships they have built, and their future allies: do they side with the Chamberlain and devote their energies to the Five Peaks and its’ problem trio of Bandits, Werewolves, and Vampires, or do they side with Pavon in his desire to reclaim the Lost Realm, protect the Elves under his protection, and prevent forces of the Gorgon from invading Cariele.

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Chapter 33: The Long Road Home

After spending the night in the cave, watching the storm rage, the protagonists divided up the loot from their excursions: 55 potions of healing, 2500 gold, and a chest they could not open.

With Tristan’s help, Qadira managed to open the magical satchel, finding 5 scrolls of differing spells in the offering. Over the course of the next 12 hours, the protagonists waited for the ship to return. Upon realizing it was at best delayed – and possibly destroyed – they made arrangements to depart the next day on magical mounts summoned by Qadira.

Along the way back, the protagonists detoured to a small fishing village that had a curious smoke plume arising from it. Finding it not a destroyed hamlet but a well-guarded fishing village, the protagonists spent the day in relative luxury, shocked and amazed at what they could afford at regular prices.

Asking around, they realized they were in an Avanil fishing village that was raided by pirates and sahuagin. The local Avanil militia responded to their aid – they were unable to prevent the horses and boats from being destroyed, but managed to kill the Sahuagin and hanged the pirates. Upon inspect, the protagonists realized that the pirates had a document authorizing the piracy with the seal of Boeruine. They wisely kept their knowledge of Boeruine a secret, as Prince Darien Avan was held in high regard by his people.

The next morning, they departed for the capital city. After 2 days of riding, they finally arrived. Upon arrival, Tristan was taken aback at Harlan’s casual mention of needing to visit the vampire. Harlan dismissed the concerns as a deal they struck while he was out doing whatever he was doing, and they headed to the brothel to meet Meryn Grave.

While meeting with Meryn, the protagonists found out that the chest belonged to House Dravenwood, and they would presumably have the key. As the party debated how to proceed, Meryn apprised them of the situation in the noble district: the Dosieres were losing control of the nobles, who were killing each other in the streets in support of Boeruine or Avanil. Meryn then struck a deal with Harlan to teleport them to Dravenwood manor in exchange for a reduction in pay, and the party was teleported to the noble district.

Once they arrived, an angry mob made their way to intercept them, only to turn around and flee when Meryn turned a very unamused glance in their direction. Bidding them a fond farewell, he informed them he would meet them at the Church of Haelyn and magically vanished. In Dravenwood Manor, Tristan spoke with Myla Dravenwood about the magically sealed chest, causing her to take a moment to fetch the key. Whilst she was gone, Harlan inquired with Tristan how he knew her, and it was explained while they were meeting Meryn, Tristan was meeting with Myla on another matter.

Upon unlocking the chest, the party found a stash of gems, the holy symbol of Haelyn, and a blade. Harlan attempted to extort a cut of the gems and take the blade, only to find his hand burned at the touch of it. Tristan told Harlan the gems belonged to Myla as part of a deal he made with her, and they begrudgingly left them behind and left.

As they all departed, Tristan met with Myla and the young lady rescued by Orvo named Shennan. Myla gifted the gems to Shennan, who accepted them on behalf of the Church of Haelyn, and allowed Tristan to take the blade if he dared to wield it. Moments later, Tristan joined the protagonists outside Dravenwood Manor, blade in scabbard.

Stealthing past the angry mobs, they made their way to the Church of Haelyn. Finding the exterior restored – if a bit crudely – they entered to find a throng of people inside the Church, and the structures inside magically repairing themselves. Spotting Meryn hovering in the middle of the church, Harlan followed his instructions and put the holy symbol in it’s spot on the restored altar – and stepped quite a ways back.

As Meryn cast a powerful spell, the Church flared with powerful magic as the potent consecration spells reactivated. As Meryn quickly left, the protagonists were left in a restored beacon of hope to the poor of the city, and wondering where they were going next…

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Chapter 32: A Lovely Day for a Swim
Season 2

After arriving back at the tavern, the protagonists went straight to bed with the exception of a relatively well-rested Orvo. Patrolling the tavern, Orvo noticed a change in the weather – a storm was brewing in the distance. As he was observing the weather, he noticed a sailor approaching the tavern with 4 other individuals rather quickly. When the sailor arrived, he informed Orvo that they needed to launch in the next hour, or they would not be able to leave port.

Quickly waking the rest of the protagonists, they quickly scrounged together all their available gear – Strogar traded armor with Emmet, and Tiegan brought her supplies. When leaving, the sailor informed them of some helpful information: extradimensional storage cannot be opened under water, throwing a blade under water is useless, fire items such as alchemical fire or magical fire would not work under water, and heavy armor hurts more than helps. With the final plans made, the individuals departed. Harlan, Strogar, and Orvo noticed as they were leaving that the 4 nondescript individuals that came with the sailor stayed behind…and suddenly appeared to look like the protagonists as they took up guard positions.

Arriving at the pier, they boarded the Grave Portent and began to set sail as the weather started getting cooler and the wind picked up. As they began to push off, they noticed Tristan approaching the pier, mounted on some type of blue steed and approaching with great speed. Obviously fleeing something, Tristan attempted to stop the horse as he approached the ship but failed to rein in the horse, plummeting overboard. Throwing him a rope, they brought him aboard as the ship launched from the port.

On board the ship, they met the ship’s captain – a tall, gaunt, and pale individual – and the 15 crew members on the ship. Harlan and the captain both had matching compasses that were enchanted to lead the way to the treasure, both acting in the same fashion. They made their way into the ship, and settled in for the journey. Noticing Tristan was carrying a crate on his back, Strogar and Harlan inquired as to where he went. He briefly informed them of his events – he went to find out information regarding the imprisoned individual named Trevor and the debtor’s prison, and ended up at Dravenwood Manor discussing the situation with Trevor’s sister, Myla. He was tasked with retrieving items that Trevor illegally sold to a shady merchant guild in Brosengae, and was to deliver these items to the pier.

The next day passed relatively uneventfully. Tiegan provided Lesser Restoration extracts to Strogar and Qadira, and gave Harlan an extract of Touch of the Sea to assist in swimming. Tristan met with the captain and opened up a crate that Myla provided to him, finding potions of Mage Armor, Air Bubble, and Alchemical sponges to assist in their underwater delve. Strogar grilled the captain on his history, coming away with the impression that the captain was a vampire. Qadira rested below, and Orvo noticed crates were opened…and skeletons were manning the rigging. Harlan ventured to the captain’s quarters to speak with him when the Captain stormed up to the steering wheel. Following him, Harlan noticed the steering wheel was activing on its own accord…and was made of bone. The captain brought his attention to an object moving in the distance – a ship was coming to intercept them, and it was armed for war.

With the approaching ship bearing down, the captain met with the protagonists and informed them that they will need to head out in the next 5 minutes – they were a quarter mile from land (to the East), and their best bet would be to bunker down there after their delve. The Grave Portent was going to cover their dive, and then lead the other ship away from the location. Prepping themselves and drinking their magical items, they dived overboard.

With Harlan leading the way due to the extract Tiegan gave him, they began to swim down to the wrecked ship. Harlan managed to tie and drag Strogar with him most of the way down before Strogar became untied. Orvo and Tristan were lagging behind, with Qadira successfully swimming down a large distance before getting pushed away by the tides. Lagging behind, Tristan and Orvo noticed other individuals approaching – 3 sahuagin and 2 sharks!

Tristan and Orvo engaged 1 sahuagin and shark, with Tristan getting wounded but managing to dispatch the shark and sahuagin. As he did, Orvo realized something disconcerting: with so much blood in the water, any shark around would smell it. They both began to dive down to try to assist with the treasure. Strogar went up against a sahuagin and a shark, managing to almost kill the sahuagin before the shark bit him, rendering him unconscious but causing the sahuagin and shark to flee. Harlan swam directly to the wrecked hull, but noticed another sahuagin investigating a different part of the ship.

Orvo found Strogar unconscious and with a flickering air bubble. He managed to activate both of their air bubble sponges, and took Strogar with him to the shore. Qadira came to the hull, and noticed the sahuagin attempt to open an ornate chest, triggering a trap that jolted the sahuagin with enough force to immediately kill him. Harlan and eventually Tristan met up with Qadira and discussed the loot that they found – the ornate chest, a magical satchel, a chest of potions, a chest of gold, and free floating potions and gems in a submerged portion of the hull.

Harlan grabbed the 2 heavy chests and headed towards the shore, with Qadira and Tristan a few moments behind as they tried to gather as many gems and potions as they could before their air bubbles expired and more sahuagin and sharks were due to arrive.

As everyone made their way to shore, they found Tiegan setting up a camp in a cave not far from the shore, as they dragged their battered and weary bodies to relative safety as the storm raged around them.

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Chapter 31: Different Devils, Different Dealings
Season 2

As Harlan, Qadira, and Strogar made their way back to the Sea Hag Tavern, they found the place overloaded with individuals. Navigated the dense crowd of individuals, they made their way to their 4th floor accommodations to find Orvo and Tiegan having a discussion regarding a scroll of Lesser Restoration.

As Strogar used the spell on Orvo, Tiegan caught them up on a bit of her dealings but was exceptionally vague. With Tristan missing – Emmet said he left earlier in the day whilst Orvo was sleeping – Orvo put on his armor and went outside to fulful the parties’ obligation of guarding the tavern while Harlan, Strogar, and Qadira rested.

With Orvo patrolling outside, Tiegan took up a perch on the roof. The night was eerily quiet and especially dark, but the first part of the watch went relatively uneventful with the exception of noticing other taverns nearby where not nearly as busy as the Sea Hag. While Tiegan started bedding down, she woke up Harlan to take a shift. Informing him of the quiet and relative lack of busy in the nearby tavern, Harlan opined that it was due to their presence as heavily armed guards that the tavern’s owner, Otto, was benefitting greatly from.

As Harlan began trying to find Orvo via a very loud and audible method – shouting out the windows – Orvo ran across a silhouetted individual leaning up against one of the dark lampposts. With only the occasional flicker of a red dot to illuminate him, Orvo began to back away to the sound of Harlan’s voice. Once he arrived, Harlan threw him down a rope to climb up. As Orvo started to climb, he looked over to see the mysterious stranger leaning up against the tavern, silently watching him. As Orvo quickly climbed up the rope, he almost made it to the 3rd floor when his grip failed him and he began to plummet.

After a harrowing moment, Orvo quickly realized he was falling very, very slowly to the ground. As Harlan looked on quizzically, Qadira ventured a guess that the individual used a magic spell to slow Orvo’s descent but she was not entirely sure – the individual made no sounds when casting the spell.

When he landed, Orvo had a brief conversation with the individual. Without giving his name, the individual inquired if Orvo and his friends investigated the church of Haelyn recently. Upon Orvo’s confirmation that they were, the individual extended an offer: assistance in recovering the item missing from the Church’s altar. With reluctance, Orvo agreed to a meet the next day at 5 pm at a place called A Grave Mistake. Meeting back up with the group, information was relayed and sleep was had.

The next morning had a spirited debate over usage of limited party resources – Orvo wanted to use one of 2 lesser restoration vials to heal the critically injured woman he rescued, while Harlan wanted to use them on the immediate party rather than stray rescues. Later on, Strogar lead the group throughout the city of Anuire, looking for hidden individuals bearing certain insignias. After striking out on that event, they made their way to A Grave Mistake.

Arriving early, they found to their surprise a well-appointed if somewhat outdated brothel. Greeted by a butler, their reservations were confirmed and food was provided – the highest quality steaks, pork, ale, wine, and spirits they could think to ask for. After gorging themselves, they headed deeper into the brothel to meet their contact.

At 5 pm sharp, they were ushered into a well-appointed room filled with couches and chairs, with a regally dressed, lanky individual lazily slouched on the couch. Greeting them warmly and introducing himself as Meryn Grave – a name Tiegan recognized as the guild master of the guild Grave Caravans and Shipments – business propositions were discussed.

Meryn immediately laid his cards on the table: he was not a good man, and was a centuries old vampire. As the party asked him a variety of questions, Meryn did his best to honestly (in the party’s estimation) answer them: he had an agreement with the Chamberlain to reside peaceably as long as he didn’t stalk the populace or create more spawn and used his influence to keep out other undesirables, he compensated his blood dolls exceptionally well and abided by a written contract with them, wanted the church of Haelyn restored to pacify the commoners and keep the city from erupting into chaos, hated the interloping vampires as “invasive species”, and loathed the inquisition as more inhumane and deplorable than the monsters they hunted.

Meryn pitched a proposed solution to the party after answering their questions: in exchange for his help in locating the missing item from the Haelynite alter and reconsecrating the church, the lower catacombs that contained the base of operations from the Inquisition would be permanently sealed. Upon suggestion that they could go to the Chamberlain for help instead, Meryn agreed that the Dosiere diviner could help them, but would require a favor to be performed first as his modus operandi, and they probably wouldn’t like it. As Strogar raised objections towards sealing the Inquisition, the rest of the party sided with Meryn in his reasoning of the evil that righteous men can do, and accepted his offer of assistance after negotiation compensation packages, looting privileges, and magical help for Orvo’s charge, Shennan.

To seal the deal, Meryn took payment of 1600 gold worth of gems from Harlan and used his magic to fully cure Shennan. With the promise of the tavern being safe under Meryn’s temporary protection, they were to be at the docks at first light, giving them the rest of the night to prepare.

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Chapter 30: Conspiracies Afoot
Season 2

As the protagonists awoke the following morning in the Sea Hag Tavern, Harlan and Strogar made plans to visit the scene of the arriving troops whilst the rest of the group rested and prepared for the next day. As Harlan was putting his armor on, Strogar made his way downstairs to check on the barkeep. Finding a bag that the barkeep said was his, he took it back up to the room to investigate. Dumping it out, Harlan and Strogar came across an odd set of gear – scimitar, short sword, wooden armor, and some gems and gold coins. As they were greedily dividing up the loot before the rest woke up, there was a pounding on the door that caught their attention.

Opening the door, they found a dirty and wounded Orvo bringing in an even more dirty and ill human woman. As the group tended to their wounds, Orvo filled them in on his misadventures: after changing out some gems for coin and finding out people were getting desperate to leave, he was ambushed by Rand, poisoned, and left as bait for a roaming band of thugs. The thugs delivered him until some form of captivity – dirty, chained, and poorly fed. His ascertained he was being held captive in some form of old, ill-maintained dungeon – and that his captors seemed to be vampires. Explaining he was given instructions by Rand to rescue the woman, he sprung them both from their imprisonment and made their way to a series of safe locations before ending up at the Sea Hag Tavern. As Orvo went thru his gear, he mumbled about Rand taking all of his money, much to Strogar and Harlan’s amusement.

Leaving Orvo’s rescued woman, Shennan, with Emmet and Sascha to be tended by Qadira and Tristan, Harlan and Strogar went to obtain more breakfast. Down there, they came across a concerning site: a fully armored and armed knight discussing something with the barkeep. After a series of stars and stops, Harlan boldly strode up to the knight and introduced himself. After a bit of small talk, a breakfast order for 6 was ordered by Harlan. As it arrived, the knight dropped 9 pieces of platinum on the table to cover the bill. After thanking him, Harlan brought the food upstairs.

While Harlan was upstairs, Strogar struck up a conversation with the knight, who introduced himself as Gilad of Coeranys. The conservation took a temporary ill turn when Tristan arrived, with Gilad partially drawing his sword. After a brief bit of diplomacy, the conservation turned civil once more. Gilad informed them that he was part of a contingent of troops sent by the rulers of Coeranys, House Cariele. His commander, Lord Mortimer Dosiere, received a request from his relative, chamberlain Cailedhen Dosiere, for assistance with the Imperial Capital’s recent issues. The troops, while following orders to secure the Dosieres and the Tower District, attempted to intervene with what they expected was a pack of monsters – vampires or lycanthropes, by their count – but were unable to find them. The knights were going around the taverns of the city to inform the barkeeps of the potential issues as a courtesy, but were not having good luck.

Bidding them farewell, Gilad left to return to the Chamberlain’s tower. After he left, the barkeep Otto offered terms of employment to Tristan: in exchange for protecting the tavern at night, he would give them a 50% cost break on food and allow them to stay in the attic without charge. Accepting the terms, the party left to head to the Chamberlain’s tower to pick up Harlan’s ring and explore the city. Finding the tower heavily guarded, the knights stopped the carriage to inquire with their business. After sending a page, the party waited about 30 minutes before it was returned. While there, they noticed the heavily militarized presence around the tower, and the souring disposition of people.

On their way back to the Sea Hag Tavern, the protagonists’ day took a poor turn. Finding themselves mobbed by poor commoners, Harlan interrogated one of them that was begging for coin. Slipping him 300 gold, the party learned that a large portion of the mob were able bodied craftsmen that were unable to work with the cost of raw materials spiraling out of control and the influx of specialized craftsmen for the nobles. The craftsman also let them know that the commoners’ plight worsened with the destruction of the Haelynite Temple – rumors were that a surviving priest was running a roaming band of penetants, but were keeping very quiet for fear of their lives. With that knowledge, Strogar exited the carriage to attempt to blend in and gather more information from the crowd.

Shortly after, the horse started to become agitated with the throng of people around it. Noticing the disposition of the crowd beginning to turn angry as the carriage stopped but was not giving out any alms, Harlan attempted to steer the horse to another area of the city. However, the horse bolted down the streets, trampling commoners and any that were in its way. As Harlan tried to minimize the damage, Strogar noticed one of the individuals had their leg shattered by the carriage and was bleeding out. Making the decision to save the individual’s life, Strogar used healing magic in the open, saving the man’s life and leg. Looking around afterwards he noticed members of the crowd were wearing insignias of some sort. Thinking of agitating moles, he began to scan the crowd for threats, but was interrupted by a small child capturing his attention. Flashing a holy symbol of Haelyn, he led Strogar into a darkened alleyway. Ambushed by a group of individuals, he surrendered peacefully and was blindfolded as they took him to meet the street priest.

Finding himself in an abandoned warehouse-type structure, Strogar noticed over 40 members of the “congregation” present, most of them in poor health and malnourished. Meeting the priest, a bearded elderly man named Weathervane, he learned that the church of Haelyn was a bastion of hope for the commoners that was shattered 3 months ago by an assault on the church. With the physical structure suffering damage and the area desecrated, Strogar voiced suspicious that a secretive Haelynite group of inquisitors were involved. The priest did not know of any hard proof of such claims but did state he would not be surprised if that was true. Imploring Strogar to investigate the church and reconsecrate it if possible, Strogar was blindfolded and dropped off near the church with the instructions to find a messenger near the church if he needed to contact them again.

Meeting back up with the rest of the group at the Sea Hag Tavern, he informed the protagonists of what he learned. With Orvo in poor shape and Tristan abnormally tired, Harlan and Qadira left with Strogar to investigate the church. Arriving at the church, they deduced it was damaged and imploded from the inside. As they investigated, they realized too late they were in a haunt – spectral hands of deceased priests were reaching out to them, causing them to be weakened and in pain. Expending a large amount of resources, they were able to temporarily deactivate the haunt. Scrambling to learn all they could before the haunt reactivated, they discovered a sealed secret entrance under the altar – a magical seal was laid over a symbol of the Inquisition – along with the alter being smashed as if by a giant. Harlan was able to find an ornate holy symbol of Haelyn amongst the wreckage. Taking the holy symbol, they left the church and fled back to the Sea Hag Tavern with a few hours of daylight left.

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Chapter 29: Answers Beget Questions
Season 2

As the protagonists mentally prepared to enter into the tower, they noticed another carriage arriving at the tower. As they looked on – with Tristan taking the opportunity to change back into his armor – Tiegan emerged from the carriage to an irate Harlan informing her she owes him 1000 gold.

As the protagonists brought themselves up to speed – Tiegan informing them of her stay at a posh hotel, spending a fair bit of coin to get spruced up, and the fellow from Mossfall Keep delivering her an invitation to dinner – they decided not to wait for Tristan and went inside without him as he changed in an alleyway.

Inside, a butler led them to the chamberlain. They found themselves walking through a very ornate and very old tower. The entire tower seemed to be permeated with magic – no servants were seen, but items were being dusted, plates being delivered, and doors being opened. Walking through the tower, they caught a glimpse of a site never seen by any of them: the throne room. The Iron Throne sat visible in an ornate room, utterly empty of any human presence, resembling an expensive piece of jewelry never sold in a shop. The once regal room was a testament to past glories and faded hopes.

As they approached the throne room, they were divered to an antechamber down the hall. Entering the Imperial Chamberlain’s private dining hall, they came across a long table capable of sitting over 100 individuals. At the far end, the young man from the jail, Colwyn Dosiere, sat next to an elderly man. Beckoned to sit, the protagonists sat near the individuals and proceeded to enjoy a fine dinner. The elderly man introduced himself as Caliedhen Dosiere, the Chamberlain of the Iron Throne, and thanked them for delivering the letter from his distant nephew, Pavon. The talk quickly turned to politics – how the nobility was acting, why the chamberlain was doing what he was, the impending escalation of tensions between Boeruine and Avanil and the fallout from an outright war, and most importantly a pragmatic view of a potential assault from the Gorgon as good for the empire proper. It became apparent that Colwyn and Caliedhen disagreed on quite a bit regarding politics and pragmatism as the conversation continued. As Colwyn departed, he informed the protagonists that the protection offered by the Dosiere family expired at dawn – their affiliation would end as their mission was complete, and they were free to leave or stay on their own accord and prerogative. As the meal began to wind down, Tristan appeared looking somewhat dishelved and concerned.

As he sat down, Tristan brought them up to speed: investigating a noise from deeper into the alley, he came across a dead body surrounded by a silence spell. The body could have died from multiple causes or for a variety of reasons – his throat was slashed, he had bite marks on him, his coin purse was missing, and his pants were missing – but Tristan was concerned it could be a harbinger of ill tidings and that there were no guards nearby and the butler was thoroughly unconcerned, which were promptly dismissed by Harlan. Strogar attempted to read his thoughts as he was trained to do by the Inquisition, but found that the magics of the tower were preventing him from doing so, which put him somewhat at ease regarding anyone spying on their conversations.

As the protagonists finished dinner, they inquired with the butler as to accommodations. The butler informed them that, as directly invited guests, they could sleep in the tower for the evening, but if they left the threshold of the tower they could not reenter. Deciding to stay but needing to inform the carriage driver, they made their way to the door to the keep to deliver a message. When they arrived, their plans went sideways.

Hearing sounds of conflict from the carriage, Strogar stepped over the threshold as Tristan and Harlan were arguing about money. He immediately saw something that caused him to spring into action: the carriage driver, Emmet, was standing over the prone commoner Tristan rescued, using a short spear to hold off a half dressed vagrant that did not look entirely healthy. The rest of the protagonists joined the fight, managing to barely drive off the creature whilst taking a bit of a beating, finding that the commoner girl was able to direct rays of positive energy at the creature and Qadira used her witch abilities to infuse it with positive energy but normal blades had no effect. As they tended to the group, Harlan and Emmet did not appear to be feeling well. Tristan – who did not appear to be as affected by the creature’s assaults as the rest – explained to them that the creature confirmed his suspicions: the individual was a newly risen vampire…and they come in nests.

Heading to the noble district to get access to the surviving temples, the protagonists found the district closed and well-guarded. Denied entry as their counterfeit insignia was identified, they made their way to the temple of Haelyn. Driving through the merchant district, they noticed all the shops tended to be shut down and the residents indoors expect for the taverns. Finding the temple of Haelyn damaged quite heavily – and from an internal explosion, if Harlan was to be believed – they made their way to a local inn on Emmet’s recommendation: the Sea Hag Tavern.

Renting the entirety of the 3rd floor rooms for 100 gold a night, the protagonists slept in shifts, keeping a watchful eye outside. On their respective shifts, Tristan could have sworn their room was being watched whilst Harlan noticed a large procession of heavily armed knights escorting a noble from the docks. During their shift change, they also noticed a dagger pinning 2 scrolls to their door. The dagger was identified as Rand’s by Tiegan, and the scrolls were identified to be a lesser restoration and a scroll of cure light wounds.

As the dawn came, the protagonists were left with 4 days in the capital before they were scheduled to leave with far more problems than when they arrived: a massive war was brewing, the concept of letting the Eventide fall as a sacrifice to prevent the war was proffered, the temple of Haelyn was destroyed under mysterious circumstances, monsters including vampires were roaming the streets at night, the commoners were suffering mightily in the crossfire, and an individual that bears a striking resemblance to Tristan was in a debtor’s prison, accruing debts that he cannot pay.

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Chapter 28: Big City, Bigger Annoyances
Season 2

Shortly after arriving in the City of Anuire, Orvo, Tiegan, Esme, and Cirian split off from the party. As Harlan, Qadira, Strogar, and Tristan took stock of their surroundings, a few things became readily apparent: they were in a less-reputable section of the city known as the Piers, Tiegan and Orvo absconded with most of their funds, and there was a dead guard not 30 feet from them.

Investigating the body, they discovered the guard had a slashed throat, was missing a knife, and was apparently poisoned. As Harlan began looking around for loot, the protagonists heard the sound of the approaching town guard. In a panic, Strogar and Harlan threw the body of the dead guard quite a distance off the pier. However, when questioned by the guards, Strogar’s somewhat inept attempt at subterfuge backfired, and they were all taken into custody and all possessions confiscated.

While in jail, the protagonists bemoaned their situation with various levels of blame thrown about, but eventually settled in for the evening. Tristan received a visitor – an individual he recognized from Mossfall Keep – who proceeded to ask him questions regarding the reason for his visit (errands for Pavon), how they arrived (some unknown person teleported them), and if they murdered the guard (no). Satisfied with the answers, he gave Tristan an alibi to give to the guards to allay the guards suspicions. As he turned to leave – with a long hard look at Strogar, muttering “not today, devil” – he left the protagonists in peace. As he was leaving, Tristan managed to catch a look at his hands…and the bloody daggers they held.

As morning came and breakfast was served, Strogar used his magic to break his bonds. The party heard before the saw the response – 4 armed soldiers came down, flanking 2 wizards. One of the wizards cast a silence spell on Strogar’s cell, but upon satisfactorily inspecting the rest departed one again. As the hours passed, the protagonists received a visitor – that immediately raised Harlan’s hackles – that they hoped would help them out of their situation.

The strange visitor introduced himself as Colwyn Dosiere, and held aloft the letter from Pavon. After asking a series of random questions to confirm identity, Colwyn arranged for their release and left an invitation for dinner at 6 pm at his tower. After he left, a guard unlocked the cells and ushered the protagonists upstairs.

While they were inspecting their gear – finding some coinage missing – and rearming themselves, Harlan struck up a conversation with the desk guard. The guard, who introduced himself as Duke, spoke with Harlan about local customs – blunt weapons were confiscated, bladed weapons peace bonded unless you were a noble or a member of the constabulary, no spell casting unless you were a noble or member of either a local church or the wizard college, no harm to be delivered unto a noble – and slipped a little extra information to the protagonists after Harlan delivered a very lucrative pay off. With a gem in hand, Duke informed them that representatives of the 2 most powerful kingdoms of the former empire, Boeruine and Avanil, had descended on the town as part of a periodic attempt to garner allies for a claim to the vacant Iron Throne. With their arrival, the already questionable nobles were being particularily unruly as of late, picking fights and abusing the common folk. Prices had skyrocketed with the influx of foreign gold steering merchants more to the nobles and even less towards the common folk, resulting in squalid living conditions in the rest of the city. As a parting gift – as he was writing his resignation notice – Duke swapped Harlan’s bag of Gorgon’s Crown coins and forged the documents to appear that they belonged to another individual held in custody.

As they left the jail with some time to spare, they flagged down a local carriage boy – no more than 15, with clearly ill-fitting and dirty clothes but a serviceable horse and carriage – and had him take them about town. As they traveled, they observed more of the City of Anuire: soaring towers, impressive yet outdated and ill-maintained stonework, well dressed and armed nobles lording themselves over the peasantry, backhanded generosity towards the poor, and how easy life was in the city provided you had coin to spare…and how horrid it was if you didn’t.

Promising the carriage driver, Emmet, 32 gold for driving them around for the day, they first visited a reputable armor and weapons shop – Silvercrest Arms. As Strogar noticed the shop was filled with weapons yet had no guards, his gaze was fixed on the armored suits placed throughout the shop. Harlan and Qadira looked over the weapons and armor, finding them rather exquisitely crafted. As Harlan inquired on the prices, they were shocked at just how expensive everything was. As the proprietor explained the social standing that came with the gear, not just it’s ability to prevent and cause death, Harlan made the decision to leave, shaking his head at the stupidity of it all. As they were leaving, Strogar muttered something about the armored suits moving…

Boarding the carriage – and realizing they were short on time – Harlan sweetened the pot for Emmet to take them to a less reputable area for some slightly questionable merchandise. As they were heading to a “blacksmith”, Tristan noticed one of the passing nobles savagely club a young girl appearing to bed for alms. As he saw her crumple – and no one pay her any mind as they kept going about their business – he exited the carriage. As Harlan told him he was being an idiot, Tristan informed them that he would catch up to them. After a minute of hesitation, Strogar also exited the carriage.

Coming to the aid of the young girl – no more than 15 – Tristan was about to use healing magic when Strogar reminded him of the local laws. Using bandages and first aid techniques, they managed to staunch her bleeding and keep her stable. Deciding against leaving her behind, they carried her with them as they trekked throughout the city. After attempting to inquire about the local of the Boeruine faction’s armory or tavern in the city and getting led in circles, Tristan was approached by a wandering group of nobles. Complimenting him on his “catch”, and informing him of a place to go if she lived and was carrying a whelp to dispose of things, Tristan was barely able to hold in his disgust as Strogar led him to the Chamberlain’s Tower to meet with Colwyn Dosiere.

Meanwhile, Harlan and Qadira were taken to a blacksmith shop in the Poors – a section of the city populated by homeless, wanderers, and all around “undesirables”. Upon gifting a small bribe with a message of “seeing the special stock horse shoes”, the blacksmith showed them to a cellar where he kept black market, counterfeit goods – with Emmet asking for new horseshoes if they found a pair. Finding a set of chainmail with a forged maker’s mark, and bartering his broken suit and some coin, Harlan was able to adequately protect himself again. As he was leaving, Harlan did buy Emmet a new set of horse shoes at quite a marked up price.

With the next stop, Emmet took them to a local clothing shop. Putting on the horse shoes while they shopped, Harlan purchased a nobles outfit for himself, a royal outfit for Qadira, 2 sets of clerical vestments, and a courtier’s outfit for Tristan. At Qadira’s suggestion, they also bought nice clothes fit for a servant for Emmet, instructing him to clean up himself and his carriage for their trek into the Tower District.

Arriving at the Chamberlain’s Tower, Harlan and Qadira met back up with Tristan and Strogar. With some exasperation, Harlan instructed Tristan to put the girl in the carriage. Feeding her a healing potion and some goodberries, they left her resting in the carriage under some blankets, giving Emmet strict instructions to not harm her. Putting his hair in a pony tail while Tristan took off his armor and stowed it in a haversack – barely managing to fit it in there with the other weapons – and put on his courtier’s outfit, the group took a few minutes to catch their prospective breath before going in to meet potentially the most powerful snake in the nest of vipers that was the City of Anuire.

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Chapter 27: Time for an Adventure
Season 2

The next month passed relatively uneventful for the protagonists.  As they gravitated towards certain mentors, skills were honed, new skills learned, and truths – both pleasant and unpleasant – were revealed.

Harlan spent his time in the Eventide, sharpening his skills and hanging around town.  In between drinking at the tavern, patrolling town, and learning to wield his new Bastard Sword, Harlan made several observations.  The leader of the Five Peaks mercenary band that was slaughtered at Mossfall, Dez, was forming a new mercenary company.  Calling themselves the Warborn Company, Dez and her 3 remaining soldiers recruited Alyn and Alyk, Amelia, and Peter to join their cause.  He also noticed Amelia was training Illysera in personal combat.  When brought up to Pavon, Harlan was intrigued to find out the mercenary group forming in his midst was not only something known about, but was being encouraged.

Qadira spent most of her time in the Elven Grove – which she heard was called the Springblossom – with Jewel, learning how to hone her witch powers and use them in new ways.  Jewel  taught her hidden tricks in hiding the source of her powers, and transferring the mystical essence of her patron from Qadira's fox to her ring, with the ring glowing in power as the fox began to fade.  Armed with new ways of accessing her power, Qadira made her way back to Eventide.  As she prepared to leave, she discovered that Springblossom had developed a hierarchy of its own, led by the High Arcanist Weylann, the druid Galen, and a ranger named Ysmin.

Tiegan, meanwhile, was left mostly on her own with Jem.  Training deep in the woods – both to minimize damage and to escape the pending nuptials – Jem showed Tiegan new method of creating her alchemical bombs to explode in the directions she chose, and how to infuse mundane weapons with alchemical properties.  As she settled back into town, she observed the mass overforestation and hunting that was wrought on the countryside – using her skills as a merchant, she determined the value of the land was depleted and would take awhile to recoup.

Orvo spent his time with the leader of the human druids, Terq, leaning into the human druids' mission of intergrating druidic teachings in urban environments.  He also let his fighter training deteriorate, and spent his time with Vargen learning how to blend martial training with druidic methods.  

Strogar and Tristan spent their time in Stonecrest Tower.  Under the command of Derek, they were tutored in being an effective tandem fighting unit by two individuals formerly under Inrokini's command: the fallen paladin Esme – a dhampir rescued from Mossfall – and the inquisitor Cirian.  Learning tandem fighting and the art of communicating without verbalizing anything, Strogar honed his disparate training paths – the furious focus of a barbarian, the divine connection of a cleric, and the utilitarian approach of a ranger – into the arts of carrying out an inquisition.  Tristan, meanwhile, learned how to embrace his fallen state, focusing his abilities in new directions less tied to rigidly dogmatic faith and utilizing his father's legacy.

As the protagonists regrouped, they prepared for a double wedding – Jem and Pavon, and Novra and Pyrick.  With a pavilion set up outside the warding, lavish food and wine proffered by Elvenspite, and a litany of guests magically transported into Eventide from all over Anuire…Eventide had it's first celebration in months.  With a few tense moments, everyone managed to have at least an non-violent time, with the townsfolk jubilant in celebration.  Harlan, Tiegen, and Tristan got well and truly wasted, Strogar lurked about Elvenspite with an eye towards betrayal, and Orvo skipped the celebration entirely to avoid Elvenspite.  

The next morning, as everyone was in recovery, the aftermath of the party was fully understood: a new and imposing tower, constructed seemingly overnight in the day they were absent from the Eventide, was erected adjacent to the East Gate ,which Strogar immediately pinned on the bard strumming her lyre for over 12 hours straight.  Realizing they were not hallucinating due to alcohol, the protagonists received summons from Pavon to meet with him near middday in the tower.

Meeting with Pavon – and taking in the sites of the tower – the protagonists were informed they would be leaving Eventide shortly on a journey to the Imperial Capital, the City of Anuire.  With a few hours to themselves, the protagonists rested, patrolled Eventide, and prepared for a journey.

Arriving at the appointed time, they met with Cirian and Esme.  Joining hands, they experienced moments of distortion and vertigo.  As their heads stopped spinning, they looked around and found themselves near the docks of the City of Anuire.  Tristan, having been a traveler of the shattered empire during his days of killing for the cause, recognized the city for what it was…and realized the city was his birthplace for the first time.

With a writ from Pavon handed to Strogar and a bag of coin given to Tiegan, Cirian and Esme gave the protagonists 1 week to accomplish whatever they wanted to do, before they were heading back to Eventide.

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