Grateful to be rid of the dreadful depths under Royal Hill the group again ascended to the Priest’s Camp with the third of the three Bael Turath History books in hand. They returned the book to Father Riverwade and he rewarded them handsomely with a sack of gold coins. He then bestowed a powerful blessing of Moradin upon the Halfling, Nobby. After passing through Stonewall Prison the group returned to the night air of Vandromar. They had obviously lost track of time while in the desecrated ruins.
While walking through the streets towards the nicest inn they could find, the adventurers were about to part ways when suddenly they heard a scream from one of the nearby alleys. Quinn let out a sigh of frustration wondering why it always had to happen to them. Weapons drawn they rushed into the alley. A small woman was kneeling down in the dark alley with her husband’s corpse lying in her lap. Several other bodies surrounded them. The bodies were wearing black and purple cloaks. Each of them had on a mask made out of some sort of animal jaw that covered most of their face. The masks had two fangs hanging from them. The adventurers quickly identified them as Shadow Callers. They had killed the man when he came out to investigate why they were passing through the alley. The peculiar thing was it looked like some sort of animal, that the woman only described as a ‘large beast’, had mauled the Shadow Callers. Trel fetched the guards and the group departed. Nobby stayed with his old gang, and Sokuyo sought out the Temple of the Sun.
Before Nobby met up with his gang, he sought out a contact he had in Vandromar by the name of Kofini Dul. Kofini was a middle-aged Githzerai man who owned an apothecary shop in the southern district of town. Through some haggling, and monetary persuasion, Nobby gathered valuable information about the assassination attempt on the King. Poison was to be administered, and Kofini knew it was one of three men in the castle. It was either one of the two Chefs, Barucci or Rigio, or one of the guards, Undicci Delefay.
A few days passed uneventfully until the group was summoned to be picked up in a carriage by the King’s Guard the next morning for a meeting with Belkas. Belkas was waiting outside the inn for them and got inside a large carriage that headed towards Royal Hill. Belkas was a stern but quiet man, who appeared fiercely loyal to the King. Nobby seemed a little arrogant and pushy right off the bat, and even questioned Belkas in his own domain. Belkas responded strongly saying the help of the group was not needed, but that he had heard a lot about their recent exploits, and was doing a favor for Prince Darcaryn.
The group quickly informed Belkas that there was a spy in the castle, which he refused to believe. Trel made mention of the Chef they had freed in a gruesome torture chamber and that they heard word from him that it was a Shadow Caller. They arrived at the barracks on Royal Hill and proceeded to Belkas’s quarters where the conversation was continued in a more private location. Belkas was convinced to believe there was a spy in the castle.
Discussing with Belkas the best option to find the spy in the castle a plan was devised. Sokuyo would be fitted in guards garb and set on a patrol near Undicci Delefay’s position. He would keep an eye on him through the night and if he left his post he would silently trail him to see where he went. Nobby the Rogue would wait in the alleys incase Barucci, the suspected chef, left through the kitchens. Near the middle of the night Sokuyo followed Undicci through the castle. He overheard Undicci speaking to Barucci in the kitchen saying, “Hurry, they will be expecting you.” Shortly after Barucci entered the alley in a cautious manner Nobby picked him up. He followed him to a broken down shack in the southern district. Once Barucci was inside, Nobby saw him delivering stolen food from the castle to Undicci’s sick brother and family. The lead was false, which left only Rigio the other chef as the culprit.
The invitation to stay at the castle proved a luxurious experience for the adventurers. There was plenty of food, and to Arken’s delight, plenty of ale. Two beautiful half-elven women, Elcie and Aniella, entered Quinn and Arken’s suite and were tidying up and making sure everything was comfortable for the sturdy adventurers. The girls were quite smitten with Arken and his powerful demeanor and stayed the whole length of the night for their first tryst. The giant cushioned bed certainly was large enough for … three. Arken woke pleased the next morning.
Early in the morning all of the adventurers were summoned for an early breakfast with the king. An hour later they were all led to and entered a large hall. A massive table lined with food and drink galore was on the back wall. Servants were still bringing more food, and some bards were in the corner playing music. Sitting in front of the large table was a much smaller table that could seat about six, and at it was the high king of Vandromar, King Toma Rostvani. Prince Darcaryn was standing near him and whispered in his ear gesturing towards the adventurers as they entered the hall.
The king stood and approached the men. He stood just over six feet tall with gray hair and a beard, wearing a jeweled crown on his head. He walked with a limp. He humbly introduced himself as the adventurers knelt and kissed his ring. Quinn muttered something about odd human traditions as the king helped Trel to his feet and told them all he never much cared for that tradition. During the mean the King proved to be a humble man, but very wise, and very aware of the happenings of the city. He sat at an equal level and side of the table as the adventurers. He asked each one of them in turn to introduce themselves including their surnames. It was an odd moment when most of the group did not have any surnames.
“What are you reading?” the king asked Trel in his elderly and fading voice. His eyes moved to the book chained to Trel’s belt. Trel smiled, handed the book to the king to peruse, “Oh, not much.”
The king smiled and was fascinated by the book. When the chain pulled on Trel’s belt, the king handed the book back saying, “Must be an important heirloom. We will have to get together sometime to discuss it.”Servants were now bringing food and drink to the guests. Several cooked meats, fresh vegetables, and rich wines were placed in great abundance before them. The wine was a special mixture that was created in vineyards just north of the city specifically for the king. He turned his attention to Quinn asking him his full name. “I do not go by a surname, King Rostvani, but my mother was Krisatra Arroway,” Quinn responded between bites, proud to be the son of a noble. The king’s eyes brightened, “Dear Krisatra? You must be proud. She is a magnificent woman, and I’ve known her for many years. She left here a very long time ago with her husband, your father, to study the magical effects of plant life in the Felwythian region. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her several times over the years when she would come here for correspondence or as a representative from Talthuathin. How is she doing, my dear boy?” Quinn was quiet for a moment or two, and then became a little choked up. Realizing he was exposing this portion of his past in front of his new friends he quietly said, “She has been dead for over twenty years.”
The king looked puzzled for a minute, and then spoke in a kind voice, “I am very sorry to hear that Quinn. But you must be somewhat mistaken on the timing, for she sat where you sit now just three years ago. Yes, she came to me in a somewhat clandestine meeting, and obviously troubled. I figured she would have returned to you by now. She was seeking the legendary Sanctum of the Bela’Thim and was hoping I could put her in touch with someone who could lead her there. I introduced her to the head of the Mage’s guild, and haven’t heard from her since.”
Quinn looked intensely shocked and interested. No longer giving any attention to his food he responded, “If this is the case, I must find her. Would you introduce me to the guild leader as well?”
“Most certainly. However, I’ve sent him to help some of my men to the northwest. We’ve been having troubles with the rising Orc and barbarian rebellion. They’ve given us trouble for decades now, but they are acting up lately, and I am trying to keep a full fledged war off our hands. But I mustn’t trouble you with a king’s worries. He should be back in about three weeks.”
Quinn remained quiet for the rest of the meal.
Sokuyo was the next one to introduce himself without a surname, and the king found this quite peculiar. Sokuyo revealed he had come from somewhere far to the northwest when his village of monks had been raided and destroyed, he being the only known survivor. It was implied that this may have had something to do with the barbarian rebellions.
King Rostvani smiled when it came Nobby’s turn. The king clearly knew of Nobby well, and that he was a native of Vandromar. He mentioned Kofini Dul to the Rogue, and implied that he knew much of Nobby’s ‘activities’ throughout the city. While he was not reprimanding him, Nobby was impressed with the thorough and personal knowledge the king possessed.
Arken Whitestone the IV was the first to introduce himself with a complete name. Arken, though not a follower of Erathis, was greatly respectful to the king. The king knew of the Whitestone’s and their influence in Garadun. He told Arken he wished he could someday visit Garadun, and Arken told him he would be more than happy to accompany him.
The meal proceeded in good fashion. During the meal they met Mai’Kaia, a beautiful female shifter that was somewhat of a daughter figure to the king. The king told the group to make themselves at home in Vandromar, and that perhaps he would be summoning them soon for help with a certain matter. The adventurers mentioned nothing to him of the assassination attempt. Just after they left breakfast Belkas stopped them and asked for their report from the night before. The guards, Belkas, and our heroes headed straight for Rigio’s room. He was nowhere to be found, and after inspecting the room the group found a small storage chest that had a vial of poison that had already been used. The castle was immediately scoured in search of Rigio. Sokuyo trailed him to the kitchens; Barucci informed him that Rigio had just left. Nobby went chasing after him through the streets. Through the busy and packed streets Nobby came lunging out of a darkened alleyway and knocked Rigio to the ground. But in the flurry of bodies, Rigio was able to get away and began sprinting through the crowds. Nobby called out for help and a man selling farm tools responded, turning and tripping Rigio with a large hoe. With the help of the man, Nobby escorted Rigio back to the castle.
Back at the castle Arken immediately began trying meats in the meat locker to see if they had been covered in poison. He quickly discovered the poison as it closed his airways and he passed out in the meat locker. Sokuyo arrived just in time and quickly fetched Belkas, an alchemist, and Ecceti Runegold. With Pelor’s light, and Arken’s sheer resistance to poison, he was able to pull through the poisoning that nearly took his life. Just after regaining consciousness Sokuyo shrieked, “You idiot!”
Rigio was tried and sentenced to death and hung at the gallows a week later in front of the eyes of Vandromar. Just before his hanging, Nobby interrogated Rigio in his cell and obtained valuable information about the locations and names of several more Shadow Caller cells within the city.
The next month proved valuable for the heroes. They went their separate ways for a time, building their renown amongst the city-dwellers. Arken recovered much quicker than expected. With his new found strength, and a bit of pride, he entered Vandromar’s Tournament of Champions. He came out victorious after several days of grueling events. Around the city several now refer to him as the Champion of Might. He spent the remainder of his time helping the priest’s cleanse the remainder of the Bael Turath ruins beneath Royal Hill. He converted several people to the light of Pelor and became well respected among all religious groups for his knowledge and dedication to his deity. At one point a street vendor convinced him to buy holy symbols for all the local orphanages and he lost 50 gold.
Trel spent most of his time among the libraries of Vandromar studying much about the Book of Trelonis. There was surprisingly not much to find but he did find a few valuable things. During his stay he also studied and realized a weakness in the city’s defenses. After bringing this to the attention of the town’s architects, he was paid for his contribution. Unfortunately though, he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Through a series of unfortunate events Estan Cilazy had Trel arrested for espionage and treason, all on false evidences. He was going to be tried in a week’s time and sentenced to hang to death.
Quinn spent most of his time at the Mages guild waiting for their leader to return. He gained the respect of the arcane community in Vandromar. During his time there he met a man who had a map of the surrounding area including The Crooked Spine, the nearby rivers and terrain, and the supposed location of the Sanctum of the Bela’Thim. He then spent time training with Belkas and the King’s Guard in attempt to get back in their good graces. He made good friends with Belkas and earned the respect of all of the nobles of Vandromar. He now has a good trusted relationship with them all.
Sokuyo headed straight for the southern district and spent much of his month down there. He would follow criminals and learn of their criminal activity. He would then steal money, food, and valuables from the criminals and give it to the poor people in the southern district of town. The lower class of Vandromar quickly began to revere this ‘Divine Monk’ and his generosity.
During his time in the shadows Sokuyo discovered an underground fighting ring that met at nights. He fought well most of the time, but during one fight against one of the King’s Guard, he lost miserably. He is now branded as a weakling among the guards of the king. However, none of them know of his true and honest capabilities.
Nobby met up with his old gang in Vandromar. Though it had not been long that they were separated, he was happy to be in their company again. He used his new found information about the Shadow Callers to his advantage. He snuck into several of the hidden locations of the cult, and he and his gang slew many of them by way of the poison that he had obtained. His efforts proved to the Shadow Callers that they were not alone in Vandromar. Sadly, during one of the raids two of Nobby’s close friends from his gang were killed by a Shadow Caller assassin.
Several weeks later each of the heroes was visited by a herald from the king. He had paid for room and board for them at Vandromar’s finest inn, Carlisle ’s place. They met there and retired for the evening. Arken summoned his two favorite half-elves from the castle, Elcie and Aniella. In the middle of the night, Arken, Nobby, and Sokuyo woke in their separate rooms to the eerie sound of fighting in the corridors. The quiet clang of blades, shuffling of feet, and a low growl seeped through their doorways. They opened the door and joined the fray. Several Shadow Caller assassins and a mage were behind held off by some type of snow leopard. The leopard stopped one of the assassins running into Quinn’s room to kill him, the sound of it waking him up. One of the assassins made it into Nobby’s room and slashed open his throat, nearly killing him. (And probably will in the future. I’ll only let the dice decide and I have a feeling we may lose several characters this campaign. So everyone be prepared.) Everyone rose and retrieved their weapons and fought the assassins to the death in just over a minute. All of them ended up severely bloodied because no one had time to put their armor on.
The girls were sent to the castle immediately to tell Belkas what had happened. The snow leopard transformed into the beautiful Mai’Kaia. She was a shifter druid/ranger that had been tailing them for some time. She was a ‘blood daughter’ of the king and offered them a charter to form a formalized adventuring group. The king had commissioned her. She saw their skills and found them impressive. She intervened when the assassination party arrived to kill the heroes. They cleaned up their wounds as Mai’Kaia departed. Carlisle was horrified at the scene and moved the group to a different room to clean their wounds and wait through the rest of the night until morning.
XP For Each: 375 XP
Solving Assassination Plot in Castle: 450 XP
(Narrowing Search, trailing Undicci and Barruci, tasting poisoned food, working with Belkas, etc.)
Great Roleplay with King Rostvani: 200 XP
One-Month Reputation Skill Challenge: 300 XP
Battle at Carlisle ’s Place: 925 XP
Total XP: 1875 XP
-Moradin’s Blessing of Iron (Level 3)