Thread White - Jennith, Princess of the Ruby Sword, future ruler of the MoFoni Nomads discovered that the Shaman, Rivzir the Mighty, had turned her people against her, saying that the Thunder Spirits had cursed her. Worse, she learned that Riv was plotting to kill her and usurp both the tribe and the Ruby Sword. Gathering a string of horses, the Sword and a helpful tribesman (Blix Pitchblende), she made a, uhm, strategic withdrawal to the West. The two made their way ever westward through the tail-end of wintertime. Along the way they were menaced by a fierce and hungry flying Wyrm, but dispatched it in the work of a moment. For the most part they had little contact with dirt-folk (civilized) in the weeks of travel, until they came to a city built into near-verticle cliffs of a high mountain pass. After convincing the guards that they were not the vanguard of a barbarian invasion, they were passed through he city of Westgate, and down the pass to the fertile lowlands. Several weeks later, they passed through the heart of the Central Domains on the way to their goal: Tara, city of wealth (loot). City between two rivers. City of the white walls. After negotiating with the gate guards, they reluctantly stabled their horses and walked in. Sights and sounds of massed humanity pummeled them. Surprisingly, there was little stink for some many folk in one place. While gawking, they came upon a strange scene: a man in fine clothes with a very good voice spoke, and then revealed a statue. The Statue was of a large man, with a mustache, and a large duck on his shoulder. After a moment, a flock of ducks (live ones and of the normal size) came and began to roost on or about the statue, causing much astonishment and concur among the dirtfolk. Then there was free food and beer, so all was well, and they talked about the strange sight...
Thread Red - Isuelte Ahmundzen, Daughter of the Duke of EastMarch, and Baroness by right of FalconCrest in SouthMarch, traveled to Tara (the capital of the Kingdom) to take care of some administrative details at Court. While there, she was tasked by the King, as part of her personal service, to travel across the Elflands to the North coast. There, she would unofficially visit the Baron of SeaHome, Draki Stanor. There, she would find out why his taxes were late. The King also invited her to attend his unveiling of the long-delayed statue honoring one Phrogg the Incorrigible, Hero. She did so attend, and after a nice speech by the King, the Statue (a fair likeness considering the sculptor never saw him alive) was unveiled. And then the ducks came: Scaups, Mallards, Coots, even a confused night heron. And then the feast began and she thought she saw a familiar face..
Thread Green - Bhanes Jond -- player & minstrel and his partner in rhyme Chandra the Bard (AKA Doma Chandra doh Este) were in town deciding how to get to the Greater SeaHome North Coast Bardic Festival this year, when they came upon a feast in the street. Being musicians, they could not pass up free food without being thrown out of the Players Guild, so they joined the festivities. A tiny, though well-dressed, woman tried to explain why she thought Chandra was an old friend. After a moment, she turned and talked to two barbarians in the crowd...
Thread White - Strangely, a woman was not only able to explain what was going on (well, not really, but she had some ideas), but she also spoke the language and dialect of the White Sheep MoFoni as if she'd been born a few days ride from their usual range. She suggested a place to stay, and invited them to visit her at her house....
Thread Red - Interesting to find these barbs so far from home -- they might have tales to tell and they certainly need guidance. Meanwhile, best to set up a dinner with the Player and the Bard to find out more about them....
Thread Green - Odd that the Baroness would be traveling to SeaHome right now -- but it would be ever so much safer and more enjoyable to travel in company. Perhaps we can discuss it all over dinner...
Thread White- After finding the house were they were to stay, and getting a fine meal (mystery meat stew and bread), the MoFoni bedded down in these strange permanent tents. Perhaps unaccustomed to having a roof over his head, Blix slept lightly and heard footsteps in the hall outside Jennith's door. Two assassins were in the hall -- one just coming through the window and the other creeping into her door. Springing like the stealthy attack-badger he is, Blix wounded the first man, while the second snuck into the Princess' room, intent on no good, I'm sure. Finally awakening out of a deep slumber, Jennith held the man at bay for a moment. Meanwhile, in the hall, Blix was wounded in turn by the first man. After toying with the second assassin, Jennith struck off his head in a single clean blow, sending the surprised organ into the hall and down the stairs. After capturing the wounded assassin and giving him a stern talking to, Blix realized that he was bleeding to death. The Princess stopped his leaking with magic. Blix then had the remaining assassin depart with his brother's body (collecting the head on the way down stairs) with a promise to never do that again....
Thread Red -The next morning, the barbarians showed up again, this time with a tale of wounds, assassins and knives in the night. Isuelte took them in, healed Blix, cleaned them up, and decided to take them on as bodyguards for her trip, disguised as martial caste retainers.
The next day (858 C.U. Mark 2nd Cashday), the players, the barbarians, and the Baroness all left town headed north on the King's Road, with several bodyguards from the Steel Brotherhood. They stopped for the night at a town halfway between Tara and Pinbava -- staying at a caravansery. The Players played several sets, to the delight of the crowd. Blix saw a strange women watching intently at the music and making strange motions with her fingers. He attempted to sneak up on her, but instead spilled a Stormlander's beer on himself. Isuelte employed her charms and her force of personality and averted a fight. As the party winds down for the night, Jennith slips out of the room she shares with Isuelte, and makes her way to the room of the strange women... Arriving late that night is Dane ("Sir") Bruno MacRoberts, vassal to Isuelte. About the same time, Pim returns to the room she shares with Isuelte.
Our adventurers this morning consist of: Jenneth, Princess of the Ruby Sword, heir-by-right to rulership of the White Sheep MoFoni (aka "Pim"); Sedntya ('Baroness') Isuelte Ahmundzen; Lily - her white miniature poodle; George, a strange retainer of the Baroness (fairly quiet, never blinks or fidgets); Dane Bruno MacRoberts vassal to Isuelte; Doma Chandra Doh Este, bard; Bhanes Johnd, player; Blix Pitchblende, scruffy barbarian of the White Sheep MoFoni, and five Steel Brotherhood mercenaries hired by Isuelte: Konrad (Michael Blum's character); Jessup; Teal, Swerp, Mac, and Varleen, their apprentice/varlet.
At breakfast, a young woods-elf of Pim's acquaintance, HerrHeejn (also staying at the caravansery) joins the group to travel north. While traveling, our Heroes pass a Section (about 20 troopies) of Pinbavajeen light infantry militia, looking to investigate a strange murder of an entrepreneurial caste peddler. Late afternoon, Iseulte's party arrives at the walled town of Pinbava (pop. approx. 19,000), where there is a great crush of people coming into town both for a spring market a well as something called "the Festival of the Big Giant Heads." In the crush inside the gate, Isuelte's right saddlebag is cut free. Isuelte sends Lily to follow the thief's scent to a doorway in an alley. Bruno follows, and as Isuelte kicks in the door, Bruno carefully makes his way inside what appears to be tavern. After a moment, the heroes conclude that the thief had actually climbed the side of the building near the door. Isuelte, Blix and Bruno attempt to scale the building -- all but Bruno succeed, so Isuelte sends her air elemental to fly Bruno up to the roof (3 stories). The saddlebag and many of the items that were in it are found on the roof, and while the party is able to follow the trail a bit (broken boxes and an alert churro vendor), they cannot actually find the thief.
Settling in at the best (only real) hotel in Pinbava, the Hero's discover that the festival commemorates a rare celestial event having something to do with the cycles of the moon and the sun, honoring the "celestial marriage" of Librura and Ardenalah. It also becomes clear that no one actually ha heard of the festival before, or exactly what it is about. The musicians settle in to capture some of the huge business being done in the market square by getting a gig at an outdoor cafe. Konrad catches up on his drinking and discovers both an easy mark for his luck at dice, as well as a strange local betting game involving knife throwing. Isuelt and Bruno find her make-up case at the stall of an extremely dim pawnbroker. After informing the pawnbroker of his error in receiving stolen goods, they offer a reward for the return of the rest of her stuff.
Finally, the moment arrives: something like a pair of large papier-mache heads on be-robed bodies enter the square from opposite corners. They circle each other and withdraw 3 times - then they touch in a "kiss." There is a giant flash, a "foom," and a cloud o' smoke. When the smoke clears, all that is left are a pair of boots, a robe, and a note, to the effect of "You people really need to take more interest in your religious studies -- Brotherhood of the Crow". Many heads were scratched. Pim used the Ruby Sword in divination to discover that "the person who did this wants to be priest." After investigating into the night, the Heroes discovered that the only local representative of the Librurans, the Prefect, had left the town shrine (from he looks of things -- in a hurry, but not under direct duress) two days before. When Isuelt returns to her room, she finds that someone had left her recently stolen comb with George, along with a message that “Little girls shouldn’t play with dangerous toys.”.
The next day the party rides north. Just before lunch, they are overtaken and passed by six armored riders moving fast. In the afternoon, the party is attacked by a Snake of Legendary Size (SLS) appearing from under a bridge. Mac (and his horse) are snatched up whole. The party counterattacks while the beast tries to swallow Mac: Chandra shoots an arrow which buries itself in the beast up to the fletchings; Bruno shoots a magic arrow in as well; Isuelt sends her fire elemental after the beast; HerrHeejn dismounts and shoots several arrows from her longbow that Isuelt enchants into flaming arrows. More arrows from the mercenaries and others in the party, to little effect this time. The beast spits out Mac and his horse. Pim and Blix ride into the fray heading under the bridge. Meanwhile, Konrad spurs his horse into a charge, leaving a lance stuck in the SLS. Finally, the two barbarians arrive under the bridge. After a brief but nasty noise, the beast shudders and falls. The party tracks down Mac and his lower limbs: he's mostly broken and loosing blood, dying rapidly. Isuelt sets down a magic golden scarab which exhausts itself (nigh unto death) stabilizing Mac. Bruno causes his sword (which looks very beat up and cheap) to turn into a giant gutting hook the better to find out what was in the SLS: namely two bodies of "Hissers" -- reptile-men, and one unbroken Hisser sword. The party briefly considers going into SLS's den, and even cutting off some skin for future use: but decides instead to move on. That night is spent at an isolated farmhouse.
The next day's travel is, by comparison, unremarkable: late in the day the Heroes arrive at the town of Hara.
The party takes lodging at two inns and splits up; Mac is left in the care of a Libruran shrine for the rest and healing he desperately needs. Blix trolls the town looking for the rough area, he finds it down by the river. After some looking, he finds a chemi (alchemist/apothacry), and manages to get his request for a disabling blade venom across. Blix does not have more than a small fraction of the cash he needs, and is even further off from paying for training on how to mix the poison himself ... He asks Isuelte for funds, but she frowns on the use of such things.
Pim asks the help of HerrHjeen in scrying out the location of her brother Mip. The ritual goes bad in a fairly major way: both women are rendered unconscious for a good part of the evening ... Chandra has to break in to help them and escorts Pim back to her room.
Later that night, Pim, Blix and Isuelte have a long chat about maintaining secrecy, the dangers of roaming around in cities, and the precautions they should take --since Pim's uncle's agents may be anywhere. Blix protests that assassins are not the way of the MoFoni, but Isuelte points out that they are no longer among the People, and they must be wary.
The entertainers (at least Chandra) have/has a bad night
Sedantya Isuelt spends her time writing letters to various folks (such as Donal), repairing clothes, etc....
Konrad and Dane Bruno hang out in the main room asking after strange doings up north -- the main rumor spoke of a small entrepreneurial caste fellow (a peddler) who won a drinking contest.
The next morning, the Stainless Heroes are off on the road northwards. The King's Road angles away from the Heart River here, into softly rolling plains, covered with grasslands, brush and the occasional grove of trees. This area is lightly cultivated. Late in the day, Konrad and Bruno stop to talk to someone in a small cottage -- the fellow never leaves the protection of his stout wooden door. According to the shy woodsman, he only place to stay before true dark would be in the small walled steading back an hour or so. ("Oh, and the main reason we turned back was because it was raining heavily and no one wanted to spend the night in the rain.") Konrad and Blix ride fast ahead (well, really they are riding behind with respect to the general northward wending of the party) to make sure he steading is safe and to prepare suitable lodgings. for a personage of importance.
At the steading, the folk seem just a tad remote, but not inhospitable. After sharing a meal and some entertaining (a lackluster performance), people go off to sleep. Isuelt, Bruno, Chandra and Pim share space at the steadholder's house. The commonality bunk in the hayloft of a barn; the guards take turns standing watch. In the wee hours, Blix realizes that the earlier guard (Swerp) had waited too long to wake up his relief (Blix). After alerting Konrad and rousing the guard, they begin securing the compound. Bhanes yells for Swerp from the wall, and while the steading is being secured, spots a dimly glowing figure in the woods. Blix discovers that the postern was left open. Konrad sent guards to warn the steading. Meanwhile, Blix (supported by Konrad and Bhanes) scouts about. He finds Swerp's tracks and follows them into the shrubbery. Chandra, secure in her sniper's nest in the steading's watchtower, shoots an arrow in the general direction of the retreating figure.
Isuelte and Pim go into the loft of the barn intending to have Lily take Swerp’s scent for tracking, but Lily fails to get a scent. Isuelte uses her Clairvoyance spell to find boots sticking out of the brush.
Konrad and Bhanes find Swerp in the bushes. He is unconscious, his armor in disarray. After a figure, it appears that he has no physical wounds, but is incoherent.
After much tracking, Blix determines that the creature that caused the fuss was small in stature (like a teenaged Verd, or perhaps an Elf), barefoot. It came from the north, stood about a bowshot from the walls of the steading, and was joined by Swerp who left by the postern. It lead Swerp into the woods where he was found. The creature took off westward and a bit northward, smashing through a dense stand of Frickenberry bushes in it's haste (and indicating that it is unnaturally strong for it's size).
Isuelt questions the steading's people, who said that this had never happened before. The party beds down for the night, uneasy.
per Iseulte: "As for the Sulhelka affair, we noticed some shuffling feet and such in the town, with the mayor (or whatever his title was) very reluctant to take action. Since the village was under a Landed Knight's jurisdiction, Isuelte chose to give the mayor a sealed letter addressed to the Knight, in which she addressed the goings on and left the resolution of the matter in his hands. She doubts that the letter will ever reach the knight..."
The next morning, Iseulte's party rides north again. In the late morning, a figure beckons Chandra away from the group and tells her his tale. It was one of the fellows from the steading -- he explained that despite what the folk had said the night before, he know that the creature, a Sulhelka, had visited before. While it had less draining affects than on poor Swerp, he had entertained it in the forest several times of late. It was possible that other of the steading's menfolk had as well. Chandra recalled a few lines of a song about "the seduction of the Sulhelka" which seemed to fit the pattern.
In the afternoon, the party hears the sounds of some large animal in the woods, which HerrHjeen identifies as a very large boar. While Blix lusts after some fresh pork chops, Bruno and Konrad reject this notion. Isuelte and Konrad talked Blix out of chasing down the boar ("No, Lily will not go hunting with you."), thinking instead of the nice baths and comfy beds awaiting them. Worried over the possibility of spending the night outside the party pushed on and made it to a caravansary one day’s ride from the city of Cyan a little after dark.....
The entertainers take a gig at a the caravansery, where they are scheduled to go on after a small touring group of Grand Opera performers. Bhanes spends his time creatively heckling the Opera folks, until they pull him into the act and start "juggling" him back and forth w/ their feet. Later, when Shaken & Stirred go on themselves, they are a huge hit...
The party engages in conversation with other travelers, including a female Scholar-Knight, and hear rumors about walking dead, Hai and bandits on the roads going north, and also about the Spring Fair in Cyan, which is only a day’s ride north. They do not hear anything about SeaHome or events near there.
Konrad and Bix had a nice long conversation regarding MoFoni Princesses ... Iseult talked with the lady knight staying at the caravansary also (the lady knight was a Scholar/Priest caste personage, and either a Priest or Lady of one of the religions), who gave some information about Cyan and the festival there, but didn't know much about SeaHome or its doings. Pim and HerrHeejn -- don’t know what they were doing.
Iseulte's party leaves early to get to Cyan in one day. Two riders scout ahead, and at mid-morning send a signal meaning 'air action front.' At about the same time, four big wyverns (Konrad calls them "assassin beasts") seem to be coming toward the party from the west. The party prepares for a fight and watches as the wyverns circle overhead and then head west, come back, circle again then finally fly off to the east. Isuelte senses that they are natural (non-magical) and not being obviously controlled, but sees possibly magical threads or tendrils hanging off of them.
The party stops for lunch to enjoy Bruno’s good cooking, and in the afternoon they overtake a slow moving caravan, chatting briefly with them before moving on.
In the afternoon, about four hours' ride away from Cyan's gates, something (later determined to be a Hai -- an orc-like critter) comes out of a culvert at the same time that Blix finds something in the bushes. A near miss by Isuelte's lightning bolt temporarily stuns the Hai, but nine others join him and surround the party. Bruno rides off to attack one and Isuelte follows only to be impaled by a spear in the abdomen. Bhames pulls a Legolas with his bow, while Chandra shoots well, only to inflict major damage on Hai feet. Konrad received a smashed thigh while trying to get near and protect Pim.
HerrHeejn rides off to stop Isuelte's horse, and after several tricky minutes of work, manages to remove the spear from Isuelte's body, get her off the horse, and find the hardworking Scarab of Mending (but cannot remember the activation charm until Bruno reminders her later). The entertainers do a good job of hitting the orcs with archery fire, sometimes to little effect (low rolls for damage and poor locations), but over-all a creditable job of missile-harassment.
Blix picks up road apples to throw at a Hai to blind him, but misses. In the end, one Hai tries to run away when the rest are dead or disabled, but he is quickly caught.
Herjheen and Bhames heal Isuelte and Konrad to the point where Scarab of Mending can help while Blix questions the injured Hai. He learns that the 'Big Boss' told them to attack and hinted at treasure, but unfortunately the big boss was killed in the fight so the party is unable to determine whether there where other forces behind the Hai's attack. Blix then cuts off the ears of the Hai to turn them in for reward money. Fortunately, most of them were dead at the time.
They loot and collect ears (20) for bounty (turned in for 250 silver): One gold armband, 350 dinari (copper), 322 crowns/soldaris (silver), 15 librurum (gold), a great sword, a bastard sword, a broadsword, 3 axes, a great maul, a spear. (The party keeps 1 axe and the spear, later sells the others for 400 soldaris )
Varleen and Jessup come back to an unexpectedly warm welcome after there scouting stint. People are beginning to talk about how, whenever a monster attacks, Varleen is always out scouting
Three hours later, Teall comes back from scouting saying that he has seen someone in the brush about 100 meters away. The party passes at the ready but nothing happens.
Ride on (painfully) to Cyan. Send two ahead to find lodging and succeeds with two rooms in the Inn of Three Happinesses. After some discussion about sleeping arrangements, a healer is sent for to check on Isuelte and Konrad. They are attended to for 100 soldaris.
Shaken & Stirred go to find trouble work on the west side, intending to gather scuttlebutt about SeaHome. They get a bit from a merchant who recently arrived from SeaHome. He tells them that the baron's family name is Stanor, orcs and goblins are more active than usual and the Heartwood elves have been harassing travelers. The baron's factor is acting strangely distracted, and paid the merchant with gold that mysteriously disappeared. There are no ships coming into port and only one ship, which flew the baron's colors, has left town.
Bruno cases the joint and tends to the horses. Blix asks for his advice on weapons and training, and they spar. Others head for the baths and then bed.
As the party has decided to wait for a day to rest in Cyan, Konrad and Bruno take Blix and Pim shopping for armor. Blix gets outfitted (iron brigantine hauberk, cuirboilli arms and legs, and iron open helm, costs 210 soldari) and a bill hook-ish poleaxe similar to a naginata.
Isuelte spends the day successfully summoning a defender spawn for armor at the Mages Guild. She gives her other spawn over to Pim (6HP in all locations). Bhames, upset: "How come the rest of us don't get to summon anything?" Blix: "I can easily summon an angry mob."
Bhames and Chandra go shopping for "weapons" and other stuff, primarily arrows that produce special effects. Spend 550 soldari of group money.
Later most of the party gathers in the common room of the inn. Chandra discloses the information gleaned from the merchant and HerrHjeen gives advice about traveling in the Heartwood. Tie a gold scarf as a standard, don't leave the road, leave the marvosa tree -- "Grandfather Tree" -- alone because it is sacred, don't pick anything anywhere in the woods. Dead wood is okay for firewood. There are some caravanseries in the woods to stay in. She suggests hiring an elf to get the party through the Heartwood.
Konrad, Bruno, and Blix (NCO club, Chapter Bravo -- well, OK, Bruno is an honorary member as he is now a Knight) go to the river to research hiring a guide. They go drinking (Bruno has tea) in a very shady area outside of town and meet with a possible guide (a woman named Kirin) -- if the party will delay leaving for another day. She’ll contact them at the Inn.
They are set upon on the way home. Blix gets whacked in the head by a crossbow bolt, and then all are attacked by 5 thugs. Blix knocks one off his feet, Bruno receives a critical hit from a throwing axe but the thugs are too stupid to realize that they are fighting pros. Bruno takes care to fight with a wooden sword to avoid all that nasty paperwork. The fight ends with one thug dead, three captured and turned over to the militia. One escaped but he is well-known to the militia.
Shaken & Stirred don't do well.
Isuelte finds a bath, curls up with half a bottle of ambrech (scotch) and writes an angry letter to the king. Pim dreams about where she might find her brother.
The morning finds Bruno, Blix and Conrad recovering from their street fight and Isuelte recovering from her bender. Bruno informs the group that they will be staying another day to wait for their guide, Kirin.
Chandra and Bhames go shopping (Bhames buys a longsword, and Chandra a dagger). They make the rounds at the spring fair, listening for rumors -- and pick up on a general sense of disquiet in the North. The elves are more hostile and are buying and selling less merchandise. Merchants are not doing well except for the swordsmith, who is doing better than usual. In fact, he just sold 20 broadswords to one individual, an outlander or northerner by his accent.
Blix hangs out with Conrad for the day. Conrad intends to follow and protect the Lady and the Princess, and while they wait for Isuelte and Pim to come out of the room, the mercenary and the barbarian spar.
At about 11 AM, Isuelte wakes enough to lay out her plan for the day. Pim and Isuelte leave the room, and Bruno applies his first aid skills to concoct a hangover cure, thankfully ignoring Conrad's offerings of the "Horse's Neck" remedy (2 oz Brandy, 5 oz Ginger Ale, 2 dashes Bitters, 1 Lemon spiral, ice. Stir well. 23 proof). Pim and Isuelte head off to a private room in the public bathhouse, with Blix, Conrad and Bruno waiting outside (Geez! Like we're gonna get attacked in a bathhouse…? Don't answer that.).
Pim is introduced to the luxuries of the bath while she and Isuelte talk about Mip in preparation for scrying for her brother's whereabouts. Pim says that they are twins, separated at about five years of age. No one told her at the time why or where Mip was being taken -- he just disappeared -- but she suspects that her evil uncle had something to do with it. Mip appeared in a vision not too long ago, wearing a long flowing curly red beard (rare amongst the MoFoni), dressed in the ragged remnants of fine clothes not typical of the MoFoni. He looked haggard, and looked far older than his 25 years. In the vision he told her find him, so they could together get rid of their evil uncle. She knows it was a true sending because when she awoke, his ivory and gold comb was in her lap.
The group then proceeds to the Mages Guild, where Isuelte hedges her meager scrying skill. Bruno waits outside, and Conrad and Blix take off to explore the, ummm, pleasures available in the Spring Fair.
Isuelte lights a fire within the wards and begins chanting. After a few minutes she and Pim see a vignette in the flames:
It's the camp of her people, but different from how Pim remembers it. There is a great noise in the background, a crash and yelling, cries of alarm. People run, pursued by members of the rival tribe Gibarri. The raiders set fire to yurts and begin killing people. A few rush out to defend the home yurt (Pim recognizes it as her home, but it is newer and less shabby). A spear fells the first attacker, another raider wrestles with a guard and a woman comes out carrying the Ruby Sword. She is wearing a backpack with two babies in it. She runs and dodges the Gibarri, beheads an attacker with the Sword. It is obvious that she is the target of their attacks. She tries to run but reaches the lip of a canyon where she stands trapped. Archers shoot at her and she is hit by two arrows. She falters a bit and raises the Sword, swings it three times over her and cuts arrows out of the air then sheathes the sword, somehow missing either child. There is a screeching noise and arrows fly in and hit her. Her last motion is to throw the harness with babies and the Sword into the canyon. One baby falls out, and there is another screech. A giant eagle swoops and carries off the harness with the remaining baby and the sword. The woman says, "Good fortune," collapses and dies. Gibarri raiders rush to the edge of the canyon, pointing at something, then go down into the canyon as the vision fades.
As they discuss the vision, Pim recalls that there was an eagle emblazoned on the rags of her brother's clothes in the vision.
A half hour after entering the Tower, Pim and Isuelte rejoin Bruno and walk to a merchant house so that Isuelte can open up a line of credit. They ask Baroness Iseulte questions, perform some magic and verify her identity, and Bruno lets his spawn loose to become Impressive Shining Knightly Armor (to impress the merchant). They walk out feeling momentarily richer, until Isuelte blows the wad on a Book of Chantry costing 19,000 soldarus.
Bruno, Pim and Isuelte make a courtesy call to Sedantya Rissha Apf Tolleef Doh Estee, the local Baroness who fortuitously was in town hiring. She is in her mid-thirties and has bright emerald eyes and white hair with a red streak in it. Isuelte explains that she is on a King's Errand and has just sent him a letter describing the state of His Majesty's Roads. Bruno tells of the Hai attack and the possibility that they were under someone's command. She promises to look into the Hai situation. Isuelte adds a description of the wyverns, expressing the concern that the creatures were somehow magically controlled or coordinated, then warns her that she might want to prepare a reply for the king's probable inquiry. Isuelte also tells her to be on the lookout for pranks by the Brotherhood of the Crow.
The Sedantya explains that the North is restive and she is currently short of woods runners and foresters due to incidents to the west, such as the large band of walking dead. Most of the dead are dispatched, but her men haven't yet returned from searching for stragglers. It is difficult to hire enough people in these times with all the dangers afoot, not to mention paying them well enough. She says that the elves are afraid of a contagion and so are only treating with those they trust, to wit, other Heartwood elves.
Bruno, Pim and Isuelte return to the Inn of the Three Happinesses where they meet up with Conrad and Blix. They set up a sparring session. Kirin shows up, and Isuelte questions her about her experience and abilities. Kirin warns that the group must follow her lead if it wants to be safe, and she looks directly at Pim as she says this, speaking vvvveeerrryyy ssslllooowwwlllyy and lllooouuudddlllyyy for Pim’s benefit. She says that there is something afoot in the kingdom, especially in the North, and the Heartwood Elves are reacting to anyone they cannot trust, which would be all strangers.
Shaken & Stirred don't do well performing their schtick, but Chandra meets an acquaintance from Tu'ava (another musician) and gathers some good information about the Brotherhood of the Crow: they are from the coast a little south in the Sorcerors Mountains, and are a sub sect of the trickster god, Saynday. It is difficult to track this group because Saynday's temples are hidden. Performing good tricks earns the prankster points, and moves him up in the ranks. Chandra thanks her friend by teaching him the "Ballad of the Big Heads."
Two men join group: Zane the merchant, who is leading a string of ponies, and Hank, the big guy, who wears serviceable peasant clothing. Zane hopes to establish an overland trade route for medicinals and sea products to cut out the big houses in Tara that trade by ship. Hank is strong silent type --disclosing little.
The group sets off across the plains, crosses the river and comes upon a big oak tree with a body, probably a plainsman, hanging in it. A placard attached to the body says "Brigand." Kirin believes that a caravan's guards strung him up as an example.
After a while the party comes upon a group of six people ("Adventurers," says Bruno) coming from the lake. They raise a lance with a blue square pennon on it, and call themselves "Team Azure." They are a mixed bag racially, with fairly good armor and weapons. Isuelte tells them, not very subtly, that the Baroness in Cyan is hiring, and that they should consider employment with her rather than doing brigandry and risk hanging from the tree like the last poor fool.
As the group rides away, a red shiny thing attacks them, leaving one person with a broken bow. Bruno fires off two shots, narrowly missing it. It flies off and Team Azure rides on.
A short while later Ruby appears looking flustered and quite upset at Bruno. She delivers the king's response to Isuelte's letter. The king explains that he will look into redeploying patrols from the marches, and will dispatch an ambassador to see what "bug got up the elves' robes." He expresses concern about the rumors from SeaHome and asks for more information.
Our mighty heroes travel on to the town of Bedwell and end up scattered in the town's three inns. The party discusses their suspicions about the newest members, Kirin, Hank and Zane, and figures out ways to see if they are honest travelers. The current idea is to have Shaken & Stirred perform while Isuelte casts a Detect Trap spell from the back of the room. This would illuminate anyone who was looking to trap or ambush the party and cast in a loud room from behind, would be difficult to discern the spell's source.
The group also begins to discuss plans for entering SeaHome, especially considering the king's concerns. The current idea is to send the bards in first and then the barbarians and Conrad, who can ferry information back to Bruno and Isuelte as to how to approach the Baron. The theory is that Bruno and Isuelte are too high profile to be anything other than what they are, especially since the Baron will be able to sense spawn that are used on his lands. If and when they join the others, a good cover story might be that the king's errand is seeing how the troubles in the Heartwood are affecting the Barony.
See the Haerth Wiki for further entries.