The Price of Peace

Session IV
The Minister of Finance
5/10/429, Sunday

The party, including Willow, finish up their business with Prof. Zalomon and decide to pay a visit to Clayton Anderson, the Minister of Finance and the last known holder of the weapon involved in the murder six years ago. They arrive at his home and an older woman, presumably his maid, answers the door. She informs them that Mr. Anderson is at the Emerald Cloud Restaurant, where he usually spends his Sunday mornings. As they turn to leave, they notice a large dog staring at them from behind the maid.

They depart toward the Emerald Cloud, and along the way, they see a crowd gathered around a man on a box at a street corner. The man is bemoaning mainland and the Goddesses who don’t seem to care about the colonies. The crowd is heckling the man, shouting “Heretic!” and “Dirty colonial!” A Guardian stands nearby, watching. Sir Frederik Kuhlricht approaches the Guardian, who is happy to see another man of the law. Frederik pushes to the front of the crowd and asks the man if he is in fact from the colonies. The man proudly replies that he is from the colony of Tipalia, then resumes his diatribe. The party begins to move on, and a teen near the front of the crowd hurls a rock at the man. The Guardian catches the rock and the crowd begins to disperse. He subdues the assailants, who are escorted away by some city watchmen. The Guardian then escorts the heretic away from the angry mob.

At the Emerald Cloud, a waiter greets them. The party inform him that they are not there to dine, but to meet with Mr. Anderson. The waiter tells them that the Minister is currently having a business discussion with a Guardian, and the party waits. Twenty minutes later, the waiter informs them that Anderson is free and takes them to him. They demand answers regarding the whereabouts of the dagger, and they don’t believe his story that he lost the dagger when he was mugged. He then says that he got the dagger originally for protection from loan sharks after a run of bad luck with gambling. The dagger was then lost when his office was robbed. After many inconsistencies in his story, Anderson appears rather nervous and agitated, and asks the party to leave. They do, and he leaves shortly as well. Willow follows him to his office.

The building is empty save for the echoing footsteps of Clayton Anderson. Willow tries to silently follow, but slips. Anderson shouts, “Who’s there?” and returns to the lobby, but fails to spot Willow hiding behind a potted plant. Convinced his nerves were making him hear things, he made his way to his office and Willow sneakily tails him. She sees him rummaging through papers on his desk, then hears a low rumbling sound, a pause, then another rumbling, then silence.

Willow doesn’t see anyone in the office, so she tries the door, which happened to be locked. She kicks the door, leaving only a dent in the wood, but she tries again, ripping the door from its hinges. She spots a place where the carpet had been flattened by a foot near a bookcase. Convinced that the bookcase is a secret door, she pulls every book of the shelves, tossing them haphazardly over her shoulder. She notices a page fall out of what appeared to be a budget ledger. She picks up the page and sees a list of names, dates, and monetary entries. She recognizes the names Janstina Millbough, a halfling fellow Hunter, and Professor Zalomon. The bookcase was now empty, but it failed to move. She decides to just trash the place, and knocks over a stone bust near the bookcase. Lo and behold, the bookcase slides into the wall, revealing a secret alcove with only a glowing circle in the middle. She decides to leave and rejoin the party.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party return to the Magic College and visit the Department of Divination. They find someone to help them, and he checks the record of the item. It appeared that the item had been scryed for a few times since, but it always came up blank. Zion recalls that an abjuration spell such as obscure object could hide an item from such divination attempts. They ask the man to try again, and they are told to return in an hour. Willow meets up with them in a waiting room and tells them of Anderson’s office and the glowing circle, as well as the paper. Dorien Arsisen wonders if some of these names are related to the loan sharks Anderson owed, but they figure it is likely that this was from a business ledger. They decide to go to the office and investigate while they wait.

A city guard is near the building, talking to a passing woman who reported noises from the office building. Sir Frederik tells the guard that he is on the job and the party goes to Anderson’s office. Zion identifies the circle as being one of teleportation, though it is activated by a command word. They search the desk and find a scrap of paper that reads, “The duck quacks at noon.” Frederik says this phrase while standing in the circle and finds himself teleported to an apparently underground laboratory. A large window in the room looks over a room with large glass cylinders filled with some fluid, and one of them held what seemed to be a baby winged horse. Three men in coats with Magic College patches view the cylinders, taking notes on clipboards, not noticing Frederik. The rest of the party follows, and they check a desk in the room; many of the forms and reports mention Professor Zalomon, and they surmise that this is his hidden laboratory. They also see a fallen poster that reads, “To get home: ‘The duck quacks at midnight.’”

They venture down the hallway and enter a chamber with metal bridges, a twenty foot pit with an owlbear in it, a cage with a cable attaching it to the ceiling in the center, and a yawning man taking notes. They approach the man, who is startled to see them, asking their business there. Dorien tells him that they were sent to deliver something for Professor Zalomon, and ask if he has seen Minister Anderson today. The man directs them to leave anything on the desk in the room they were in, and that he had not seen Anderson at all that day. He mentions that Anderson visits periodically to see how the project is coming along, to make sure that the state funding is going to good use.

They return to the teleportation room, and Frederik guesses that maybe different times in the password correspond to different destinations. He tries “The duck quacks at dawn,” which does nothing. However, “The duck quacks at dusk” teleports him to another dark alcove, which turned out to be an armoire in Anderson’s home. He returns to the lab and the party takes the circle to the Magic College via the “midnight” password. They wind up in a janitors closet, and they make their way to the Department of Divination.

The scrying was completed, but it resulted in nothing. However, the man did some researching into the old case and learned that the murder apparently happened during a robbery and a jewelry box was taken. The box was later found in the possession of a thief, the man Belben Nightenhawk later killed. However, a diary was once stored in the box, but it was never found. The man tried to locate the diary as well, which turned out to be ashes in the river. The party returns to Anderson’s home.

The maid, Eliza, answers the door, and says she hadn’t seen Anderson return. They ask her to check the house anyway, and she heads upstairs. The dog watches them, and Frederik and Dorien beckon the dog closer with some jerky. The dog approaches cautiously. Frederik uses detect evil and the mastiff lights up brighter than anything he’s seen before. The dog seems to smile and wink, then wanders off toward the kitchen. Eliza returns and says that Anderson was in his study with orders not to be bothered. Frederik is initially surprised when Eliza detects as evil, but it flickers away; it seemed to have been an illusion. He tells Eliza that the dog is evil, and she says that she never liked the animal in the first place. She says that he has had the dog for as long as she has worked for him: four years, ever since he was elected Minister of Finance. Frederik tells her that she should go fetch a city guard. Now frightened, she runs off, and Willow follows.

Dorien, Frederik, and Zion find the dog in the kitchen, who was eating from a bowl while watching the door. The dog begins to bark and growl. Zion heads upstairs to find Anderson while Frederik attacks the dog. One smite evil later, the dog transforms into an imp retreats into a corner. Anderson stands at the top of the stairs and demands to know why they are in his house and draws a rapier. Frederik finishes the imp, who hisses something as he fades away back to the Hells. Dorien makes a mental note of the noises it made, wondering if the words were in some terrible language.

Anderson resists Zion’s spells, and the party entreats him to surrender. He asks if they were assassins sent by “Lady S,” which Frederik denies. He replies to Frederik with a feint followed by a sneak attack. Incidentally, Frederik’s detect evil hesitates then flickers into the affirmative. The fight continues, and a Guardian with two city watchmen enter the house. The Guardian seems puzzled for half a second then attacks Anderson, asking him politely to drop his sword. Anderson steps back, drinks a potion, and disappears. The party follow his footsteps into the adjacent room while the city guards block the main entrance. The Guardian heals Frederik, and Dorien tells the guards to watch the staircase.

They soon hear a scream from the foyer as a guard falls. They follow and quickly surround him, though many of their blows failed to land. The Guardian declares that he has had quite enough of this smite evils Anderson, but he stayed standing. Looking around nervously, Anderson realized he couldn’t escape, but he’d go down swinging. He turns to Dorien, feints, and stabs at his heart. The Guardian pushes Dorien away and takes the blow in his stead. Anderson soon declares that he has had quite enough of the Guardian and attacks him, wounding him further. Soon, however, Anderson falls unconscious from repeated attacks. They heal the downed guard and Dorien thanks the Guardian.

They discuss what just happened, and the Guardian seemed gravely concerned about the appearance of the imp. He leaves the investigation to the party and hurries off to report this to the Queen. They take Anderson to the closest garrison, where the city guards are surprised to see the Minister of Finance. They find a cell for him, confiscate his equipment, and find a set of keys. They dispatch a guard to inform Captain Kega of the events and another to the Magic College to fetch a diviner and Zalomon. They return to the house and search it. In Anderson’s study, they find a letter addressed “Lady S,” care of the Brass Dragon Tavern, which vaguely talks about “his aims not lining up with hers” and a “desire to end their contract.” They also find a note, seemingly a flow chart with numbers and letters and dates. They cross-reference this with the page Willow found, and find the names Thoendithas Songslayer and Kliff Goldbeard to be recipients of funding on the dates on the note. They also locate a safe behind a painting, which they open using the numbers on the note. Within, they find a small cache of money and art, a least revelation crystal, and a flaming dagger, which bears the arcane mark of the Magic College. They also search Anderson’s bedroom and find a lockbox containing a drawing of a female elf, signed “CA” and entitled “My Beloved.”

The party decides to rest for lunch before returning to the garrison to see Anderson, and the session ends.

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Session III
The Investigation of the Stones
5/9/429, Saturday

After a late night of celebrating in Kelva, the party departs, heading back to Alexia. Willow and Zion were nursing hangovers along most of the way. The cleric Hollynda remains in Kelva a bit longer to make sure the plague is over. Along the road, a halfling in a cart approaches, claiming to be “Cauchy’s Caravan of Wonderful Items,” and invites them to view his wares. Dorien Arsisen and Frederik Kuhlricht agree and end up trading a small bag of gems and a magical mace for a magical [+1] falchion and a pair of bracers of armor [+1]. Dorien also buys an old wooden flute for a small price. The halfling then offers them a ride to the capital. When they arrive, he joins a local market, saying he will be in town for a few weeks, hoping to score some customers during the Spring Festival.

They decide to pay a visit to the man who attacked them in the Blind Flame. He apologizes, not knowing what came over him—turns out he’s not even married. He reveals that he found the stone while walking in the park and held onto it, thinking of it as a good luck charm. The party visits the man in charge of this garrison: Captain Kega, a burly half-orc at a desk bent over a large stack of paperwork. Kega tells them about the investigation of the last man who had a similar stone. The man is currently being held in prison, awaiting trial. Kega recognizes them as the group who solved Chalice’s problems and commends their initiative in investigating the black stones.

Dorien and Frederik pay a visit to Professor Zalomon’s office at the Magic Guild, but he is out, apparently at his lab. They then proceed to visit the man in prison. He, like the other, regrets his actions, not quite understanding why he did them. He explains that he is a blacksmith, and a middle-aged looking blond man gave him the stone, requesting a weapon be forged from it. Four days later, he beat his son at the dinner table and was arrested.

Zion, recovered from his hangover, rejoins the party. They decide that they should go on patrol that night to look for more of these stones. Dorien visits Cauchy’s Caravan and rents a spectacles of detect evil, putting the gifted dagger up for collateral. Their first stop is the blacksmith’s shop, where everything seems in order; no signs of breaking in. They then head to the city park. Along the way, a young pickpocket succeeds in lifting Zion’s gold and spell component pouches. However, she is spotted as she tried to hide and attempts to flee. Dorien casts Tasha’s hideous laughter on the girl as she tried to climb on top of a building, and falls laughing into Frederik’s waiting arms. They reclaim the stolen goods and try to get information from her, but knows nothing of the stones or the man who gave one to the blacksmith. She notes that the Thieves’ Guild has a hideout in the park, but this hardly seem like their kind of operation. They let her go and she runs off.

Their next destination is the blacksmith’s house, where his wife answers the door. She mentions that a blond elf with a scar on his face had visited her a few days after her husband had been arrested, demanding the service of the blacksmith to be completed or to return the stone. When she tells him that he’s in prison, he leaves without another word. Frederik thanks her and heads to the local city watch garrison. He orders men to protect the blacksmith’s house in case the man returns. He also sees a line of wanted posters in the lobby, and identifies the man they are after as Belben Nightenhawk, a man exiled to the colony Ligot six years prior for murder, but spotted recently in the elven neighborhood of Alexia.

After a brief pause at the house of the man who attacked them and seeing nothing amiss, they head toward the elven neighborhood. Many elves are still about, though the hour grows late. The party asks around about Belben and find a man who lost to him in a game of darts recently at the Pale Bow Diner & Inn.

At the Pale Bow, they ask the owner about Nightenhawk. The owner is resistant and hints strongly for a bribe, though Frederik and Dorien remind him that soliciting a bribe from a member of the City Watch might not be the best of ideas. He reluctantly tells them for free that he’s staying upstairs in room 102, and asks them to keep it quiet. Almost before Dorien can assure him that they will, Frederik is upstairs kicking the door down. After a few failed attempts, the door breaks and they see Belben leaving out the window onto the fire escape. Frederik charges after him trying to grab him, but Belben eludes him and escapes to the roof. He jumps fifteen feet across the street to another rooftop, and the chase is on…

Zion summons a celestial giant bee, who stings Belben but fails to poison him. Frederik leaps after Belben, but realizes half way across that he’s not going to make it. He shrugs off the fall and continues to chase him on the street. Dorien and Zion attempt to roof hop on their side of the street, making it a few five foot jumps. Frederik is yelling, commanding Belben to stop, attracting the attention of three local city guards to pursue the fugitive. Frederik climbs a fire escape to resume the rooftop chase, leaping to the next building, but the slanted roof proves too much and the guards can’t help laughing as he ungracefully tumbles back to the ground.

Zion and Dorien drop to the ground, with a touch more grace, and pursue him on ground. Belben seems to be running toward a fence, the boundary into the park. Frederik and the city guards climb a ladder back to the rooftops, where Frederik leaps across one building, then jumps to a tree between him and Belben, and with his momentum, strength, and sheer determination and force of will, the tree bends enough for Frederik to get the drop on Belben. Belben steps aside enough to avoid being tackled, but not enough to avoid the slash. Belben draws his short sword and retaliates, dealing a powerful blow. Frederik replies in kind, and Belben is unconscious before he hits the ground [at -8!]. Frederik renders first aid to stabilize him, then he and the guards bring him to the local garrison. Dorien returns to the Pale Bow to apologize for the door, and one of the guards promises that the city will pay for the damages.

Sir Fred has some alone time with the prisoner, who rants about the conditions in the colonies to a seemingly disinterested Fred. Belben reveals that he was exiled for killing a man he believed murdered his wife. He later discovered that he had the wrong man, and after six years of laboring the mines of Ligot, he made some friends who promised to get him back into Alexia to complete his revenge and get justice if they did him a little favor: spread some of these stones to insert a little chaos in the city. He does not tell Fred the names of his friends, but mentions that he was going to see Professor Zalomon, who he heard had information that could lead to the man who truly killed his wife.

The party visit Captain Kega, still up to his elbows in paperwork and coffee. He gives them leave to continue their investigation, and tells them to visit the quartermaster to collect the bounty on Belben’s head: 160 platinum pieces.

They return to the Blind Flame and retire for the night.

5/10/429, Sunday

Dorien leaves to return the spectacles to Cauchy, who gives the dagger back. Dorien inspects the dagger and sees no harm done to it. He returns to the Blind Flame. Zion is woken by a ringing in his mind; he receives a sending from the Magic Guild’s secretary that Zalomon has completed his analysis and is awaiting them in his office. They eat breakfast, and while Zalomon studies his spellbook, Dorien and Frederik argue over the methods of the previous night. While Dorien would have preferred the subtler approach of waiting for Belben at the bar, Frederik favored the direct method. Eventually, Zion informs them that Zalomon is waiting for them.

In Zalomon’s office, he excitedly tells them that the stones are Ignomium; a corrupted form of mithral resulting from touch of idiocy and permanency spells. While they can be manufactured, these seemed to have been formed “naturally,” or as naturally as such things can be made. The current theory posits that monsters living in the walls of the mines somehow poison the ore. Zalomon can also tell them that this rock came from the mines of Ligot, which surprises no one.

They then ask Zalomon what he knows of this Nightenhawk business and the murders of six years ago. He remembers that the wife seemed to have burn marks, so he checks the ledger of loaned magic items of that period. Sure enough, a “+1 flaming dagger” had been loaned out to one Clayton Anderson, but it had been reported missing days before the murder. Zion recognizes the name; Anderson is the current Minister of Finance! While Dorien wonders what possible use this “upstanding citizen” could have for a magical dagger, the gnomes share a laugh over Zion’s joke, “Because he wasn’t proficient with a flaming longsword!” More questions arise, such as “Why haven’t they located this item before?” However, Zalomon has no answers for them, but will look into it. With that, the session closes.

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Session II
Arrival at Alexia
5/6/429, Wednesday

Melissa and T’Lavios bid the party farewell and head toward the center of the city. It is early in the evening and businesses are beginning to close, so the party heads to the Brass Dragon Bar & Brewery. They drink and chat with the locals and the bartender, a jovial dwarf by the name Thomivorn. Thom tells them that things have been mostly quiet in the city, though the Spring Festival is set for next Friday. A wealthy man walks into the bar and orders a mug of the bar’s special, said to have the power of putting the drinker to sleep. A standing challenge is to finish five mugs in a single night without succumbing. The man falls asleep after one mug.

Zionysus, never the man to back down from a challenge, orders a mug of this ale. He finishes the first one easily, but falls asleep after he finishes the second mug. Meanwhile, Dorien sings to entertain the patrons.

A female halfling ranger approaches Willow, who recognizes the halfling as a fellow hunter, Janstina. Janstina tells Willow about the bounties she’s been hunting recently: a hydra and a chimera, both monsters of legend that have not been seen in centuries but were recently spotted in the Alexian Forest. Soon, Janstina sees some other old friends and takes off to catch up with them. Thom the barkeeper grumbles a bit about the Festival; he hates how businesses are forced to be closed while the Queen parades around the city. He seemed to have no real love for the monarchy. The party eventually retires for the night.

5/7/429, Thursday

When they wake up, they split up to take care of various business around the city and agree to meet at the Blind Flame Alehouse. Dorien hits the markets to acquaint himself with the city. Zion visits his office in the Magic Guild, housed in the Mage’s College of Alexia University. He notices that they have postings for odd jobs, such as returning lost items to the Guild.

Willow visits the Hunters Guild and notices the bounties Janstina mentioned, as well as a wanted poster for an elf who had been exiled to the colonies for murder but had returned to Alexia. As she turns to leave, she notices a human girl of 15 or so named Arianna entreating the guildmaster for his assistance. It seems that the mining village of Kelva has been struck by some plague. The dwarf guildmaster tells her that this isn’t really their thing and tells her to try the Temple of the Goddesses. Willow approaches her and hears her tale and thinks that her merry band might agree to help.

They all meet as agreed, and Willow has brought Arianna. She tells them that miners have been coming out ill and many have died to the fevers. To make matters worse, a band of kobolds were recently spotted taking up residence in the old abandoned part of the mine. The party agrees to do what they can to help. They stand up to head back to the Brass Dragon, and another man, seemingly intoxicated, stands up as well, announcing that Dorien is going to pay for stealing his wife. Dorien insists that he has him mistaken for someone else. The man behind the counter, next to the blind elf Wandalynn, approaches the man and asks him to leave and gets a kukri in the gut. As the man falls unconscious, patrons scream and scatter, and Wandalynn ducks.

The man then stabs Dorien, who is hurt but still standing. The man doesn’t seem to notice that he is bleeding when the party retaliates, and they soon draw the attention of the City Watch. The human paladin/sorcerer Sir Frederik [Bill] arrives on the scene and commands the lawbreaker to lay down his arms. The man ignores him, fixated on the one who “stole his wife.” Zion stuns and blinds him with a color spray and he quickly goes down. They tie him up and Fred calls for back up to haul him in.

Wandalynn checks on her assistant Jason to find him still breathing. She and Daphne move him upstairs to a bed while Dorien and Zion chat with Sir Frederik. Willow checks on Arianna, who was unharmed. They spot a small, charcoal-like stone under the table where the man was tied up; they quickly ascertain that it is evil and magical, specifically of the enchantment school, possibly responsible for the man’s loss of sanity. Using mage hand, Zion and Fred transport it to the Magic Guild, where they find Professor Zalomon, a Gnome Professor of Enchantment. Zion notes that Zalomon’s lab is not located on campus, which is not uncommon, but what is uncommon is the lack of location listed altogether. He can’t immediately identify the stone, but he promises to leave a message for Zion at his office in the Department of Abjuration when he’s studied it further. They then return to the Blind Flame.

Wandalynn has closed the bar to clean up, and patrons who are renting rooms have moved into the lounge. She informs the party that Daphne has been hired as a temporary replacement for Jason until he recovers. She chats with Dorien, who mentions their mutual friend Xavnon at Senvois. She invites him to “audition” for a job as a regular entertainer some night soon.

When Zion and Fred return, they inform the rest of the party of the situation. Wandalynn remembers her friend Captain Kega investigating a similar event three weeks ago; an otherwise nonviolent man comes home and beats his kid. The City Watch arrest him and no lasting (physical) damage is done, and the next day, the man was fully aware of what he had done but didn’t understand why he had done it.

After cleaning up the bar, they spend a night at the Blind Flame, free of charge. Wandalynn mentions to Dorien that the Temple of the Goddesses offers free healing to anyone.

5/8/429, Friday

Dorien takes Wandalynn’s advice and visits the Temple in the morning. They happily treat his wounds, and Dorien asks if they have the means to combat illnesses and disease, telling them of the situation in Kelva. The elder says that he will send a cleric with them to assist the village. Dorien returns to the Blind Flame, and after a meal, a young elf cleric enters, introducing herself as Hollynda. Wandalynn recognizes the voice and they catch up on old times while the party prepares to depart.

The trip is a short one, though the brief rainstorm threatened to slow them down. When they arrive in Kelva, Arianna takes them to her home, where her father and brother are sick and bedridden. Holly cures the family. They give more information about a cave into the mountain from whence they suspected the evil to be originating. They sent several scouts, but none have returned. The father mentions that humans have not used that cave for ten years, since they cleared out the orc tribe that inhabited it. They decide to start with this cave.

In the cave entrance, they find signs of a recent battle. They follow the trail of blood down the corridor into a chamber with two wooden carts. Sticking out from beneath one of the carts was the lower half of a human body. Sir Frederik hastily moves the cart, not noticing the string attached to the ceiling until the thunderstone went off, rendering all but Willow deaf. They head out of the cave until their hearing returned, then went back into the cave for take two.

They turn down one of the hallways and open a door into a mess hall. It was empty, though it appeared to have been recently vacated; half-empty bowls of a foul smelling stew were found on the tables. The door to the room off of the mess hall was locked; the party decides to explore the other direction first, perhaps to find a key.

The passage sloped down into a large cavern with plenty of stalagmites. An opening in the wall had cables for lifting miners dangling off of the ledge. Dorien spots a reptilian tail behind a rock in the area above. They then hear the sounds of a marching army approaching noisily behind them, but they see through the illusion easily. A volley of crossbow bolts then fly from the ledge, none of them hitting anyone. The party fires back, and Dorien casts sleep to disable a few, and when the kobold leader falls, the rest quickly retreat. The party interrogates the sleeping kobolds to find that some kind of demon has been stealing the bodies of both the humans and kobolds when they fall to the plague. The kobolds were itching to leave, but their leader felt that there were more riches to be looted here. The party also finds the secret door that the kobolds used to escape. They seal the door with a large rock and continue on.

They soon come across a chamber with a pile of human and kobold corpses. Sir Frederik sees that some of them are rather undead. He decapitates one while it was on the ground, and four more rose. They were quickly dispatched, though Dorien got scratched and contracted the plague. Looting the corpses yielded a few valuable gems.

Continuing on, they see a hulking mass carving symbols into a pillar of rock in the middle of a pool of murky water. Fred charges the figure, surprising the orc cleric with a slash wound. He turns to cast hold person, but Fred resists. The party continues to beat up on the orc, and he bellows some curses regarding the humans and reaches out to touch Fred with a hand that sparked darkness. Fred attacked before the orc could touch him and he falls. Fred decapitates him, and Dorien suddenly feels a bit better.

Zion translates the glyphs he had been carving; apparently, he was giving an account of the slaughter of the orcs at the hands of the invading humans ten years prior, and his god Gruumsh has seen fit to allow him his revenge by smiting the infidels with a terrible pestilence. They return to the kobolds’ hideout and convince them to leave and never return. They then loot this room and the one that was previously locked.

They return to the village, where everyone is miraculously cured. There is a celebration at the tavern, and they again eat and sleep for free.

The next morning, the village blacksmith gives them a magical rapier in appreciation of their efforts, and the party levels up.

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Session I Log
The Beginning

In the small trading town of Senvois, locals and travelers alike gathered to drink away their worries in the Laughing Lion Tavern. There is much laughing and drinking and singing and playing of cards and darts. Dorien, a local human Bard [Rob], stands up and sings an inspiring song and is met with praise and tips. Zion, a gnome Abjurer [Loki] of the Magic Guild, decides to join a local in a game of darts, beating him soundly. The quiet elf Rogue Daphne[Aidan], sits alone at the bar, watching the game.

Marty, Zion’s beaten opponent, storms off, minus twenty gold pieces. Xavnon, the half-orc bartender, praises Dorien’s song and mentions a job opportunity at the Blind Flame Alehouse in the capital city of Alexia, a short three days travel away. Dorien takes the offer under consideration and joins Zion at the dart board.

Marty returns with two burly companions. His friends sit down and Marty approaches Zion, desiring a rematch. Marty scrapes by with a win over the slightly tipsy gnome, and asks to raise the stakes: 50 gold. Dorian counteroffers with a team game, raising the stakes to 100 gold per team. Marty accepts and calls a friend over, while Dorian sides with his acquaintance Zion. Marty and his friend lose horribly and look quite angry, but Dorian soothes their tempers with an ale.

Everyone seems to be heading to bed, so Zion and Dorien retire to their rooms while Daphne sleeps in the bar.

The next morning, Dorien makes friends with Daphne the wanderer. He convinces her to travel with him to Alexia, and Zion desires to return home as well. Thus they depart toward Alexia with a stop in Chalice, a village along the way.

The first day on the road, they encounter a family rushing away from Chalice on a cart. The cart slows as the party approaches and the father warns, “Stay away from Chalice!” The party wonders why, so he stops the cart and explains that “terrible noises” have been coming at night and terrifying the populace. He fears that whatever monster is making the noise is going to eat his child. No children have been eaten yet, but he’s not willing to take that chance. The party promises that their stay in Chalice will be quick and bid them farewell.

Their journey requires two days’ travel to Chalice, so they spend one night camping on the road. All is quiet until the final watch by Dorian. He hears a small group trying to sneak up on them and spots four small figures near the tree line. He shouts, “Who’s there?” Three of the figures turn to the one in the center, obviously their leader. Meanwhile, Daphne and Zion wake up to the commotion. The leader hesitates for a second, then Zion hears in Goblin, “Charge!”

The three underling goblins charge the party while the leader fires at them with a bow. Zion makes quick work of two of them with a dazzling color spray, and Daphne puts two arrows in the leader’s gut. The leader turns and runs, leaving the one remaining underling to fend for himself. He doesn’t last long.

Soon, a half-elf Ranger [Malcolm] approaches the party with an unconscious goblin. The party coups de grace the two underlings and tie up the leader. When he awakes, he squirms to escape but can’t get free. Zion asks, “Are you the leader?” to which the goblin replies, “Nope, the leader’s that one,” and gestures with a nod. They continue to interrogate him and discover that there’s a small clan of goblins living in the Alexian Forest, and they were just a small scouting/looting party. They slay the goblin and continue their journey.

A little before noon, they arrive at Chalice, a farming and trading community. They make their way to the Lonely Giant Inn to wash off the stench of goblin. They stay for lunch and overhear a few conversations about the night sounds: it appears to be coming from a well, though they never see anything during the day. The party splits up to find more information.

Dorien wanders into market and the first thing he sees is a large stone fountain and statue with a plaque that reads “CHALICE, the birthplace of the Great One.” He recognizes the statue as being of Sheridyn, the founder of the Guardians, the Hero of the Last War, and the ancestor of all monarchs of Paixia since. He soon finds a blacksmith with no customers and chats him up for some information. He learns that the noise sounds very much like a baby cow, and the noises started about five days ago. The blacksmith doesn’t seem particularly concerned, but notes that some others are beginning to panic.

Dorien catches up with Zion to pass this information along, and Zion goes to the library to search the village records. He finds very little of interest; very few goblin attacks in the past year, no other reports of monsters, and perhaps most notably, no reports of missing cows recently. Zion tries to think of what could sound like a cow but not be a cow, and remembers a legend of the minotaur.

Meanwhile, Daphne investigates the wells. Some people walk about getting water from other wells, but never the suspected one. She checks the water in the well, but everything appears normal.

The sun is getting low in the sky, so they meet up back at the Lonely Giant. They meet the local Guardian, Victor, who seems more concerned with keeping the citizens calm than actually fixing the situation. They find a bar patron who tells them that they’re not the only new visitors in town; a group of four Hunters arrived about a week ago and are staying in the Stalwart Mug. They decide to check on the well again, and visit the Hunters in the morning.

As they leave the inn, they hear what seems to be a whiny mooing sound. Along the way, they meet the female half-elf Ranger Willow[Amy], who is also investigating the sound. They proceed to the well and examine the bucket to find a small crying half-man half-bull looking creature. An arrow narrowly misses Dorien and the party turns to see four people. The leader calls, “Hold! What are you doing there?” Dorian asks them what they know about this, and the leader says that they put the baby there to lure the mother out in the open in order to claim the bounty that the Hunters’ Guild placed on her. Dorien quickly realizes that this man is an idiot when he asks, “If you took the child from its home, why didn’t you set the trap in its lair?” Before he can respond, momma minotaur roars and rushes toward them. The leader demands, “Are you going to help us or not?” The party reluctantly agrees, but Dorian takes charge and orders the hunters to take the baby and slowly walk outside of the village with a knife at its throat. He does so and the minotaur follows cautiously, while the party takes up the rear.

Once outside of town, the minotaur demands in broken Common, “Give me my child!” The party, wishing to see this end without bloodshed, tell the minotaur that the child will be returned if she promises to stay away from civilized towns and that the hunters will never bother her again. They object, saying, “What about our bounty?” The minotaur snorts, and they put the baby down and slowly back off. The mother picks up the baby and runs toward the woods, cursing humans under her breath. Dorien then turns to the hunters and demands that they leave here and never return. They hesitate, and Zion uses ghost sound to create the sound of many swords being unsheathed behind them. They bolt.

The party returns to the Lonely Giant, where everyone seems happy that the noises have stopped. They explain what happened to Victor, who is extraordinarily pleased to see that the situation was resolved without any bloodshed. He tells them about the Guardians of Peace and entreats them to consider joining. He tells them to look for Captain Kega of the Alexia City Guard if they’re looking for work around the city. With that, they retire to bed.

The next morning, the blacksmith meets them to present a gift from the village: a shiny ceremonial dagger, which Zion estimates is worth about 700 gold. They continue on their way to Alexia, chatting with their new companion, Willow.

They reach a bridge over a river and by a waterfall. Below by the river banks Willow sees an old elf and a young human woman sword-fighting, clearly for practice or sport. They pause to watch, and shout a greeting. The woman invites them down to join or just chat, and they accept. They find the trail down and introduce themselves. The woman calls herself Melissa and says the elf’s name is T’Lavios, who watches intently. Willow spars with Melissa a bit until Willow yields, clearly outclassed. Melissa is impressed regardless, and T’Lavios heals them both of their nonlethal damage. They mention that they are from Alexia and should be returning, and offer to keep the party company. The trip to Alexia is a pleasant one, and they chat about the local taverns. Melissa tells them of her favorites, namely the Bronze Dragon, the Scarlet Nymph, and the Blind Flame. She gives a little story of each, including how the proprietor of the Blind Flame, Wandalynn, was once a Cleric of Sola (the Red Goddess of the trio) and an adventurer with her husband and a dwarf wizard, until a trap sprung in a dragon’s lair killed her husband and left her blind. The dwarf used all of his resources to try to save the husband, but when he failed, he disappeared, ashamed. Neither he nor the body have been seen since.

As the tragic tale ends, they see a large wooden boat with wings and propellers sail overhead toward Alexia. They approach the city gates and are quickly ushered in by the guards when they see Melissa and T’Lavios. They warn against the use of weapons or magic in the city; in case of trouble, just call the City Guard. As they enter the city, the curtain closes on this inaugural session.

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