This adventure began in the city of Gascar, after Gairevander and his team returned from their meeting with the druid of the Red Forest in the ruins they were investigating for the Carrolwood Project.
- 1 Trouble brewing
- 2 A new mission
- 3 The Faltremar sets sail
- 4 The treacherous coast
- 5 Cast of characters
- 6 Adventure timeline
The group's supervisor, Baxter, told them they should avoid the ruins until he had the chance speak with his superior, Eisner, about the status of their mission the following morning. In the meantime, he told them about a supply vessel from Rogariel captained by a Lastini named Atencio which was two days overdue, asking them again to seek information about the pirates to the north which might be involved.
The group headed to Morgan's Publick House for the evening, where Emi came up empty in her efforts to gather information. She and Dalva departed for Fracas, having decided it might be more enlightening. Meanwhile, Gaire went to talk to Morgan himself, and met Dehalia, an Elven warrior from the White Army. He learned that Dehalia had chased some pirates along the coast as far as the town of Queral. Siege joined the pair, and she further told them that the pirates' ship was much faster than a ship its size had any right to be, and about the colorful flag it flew. However, when Siege mentioned Carrolwood, she spat on the floor and ended the conversation abruptly. After reporting this to the rest of the party, they took note of the arrival of Khay Gativa and her friends, Dere Tsun and Dere Yan. Alvin visited their table with Gaire and learned that the pirates they encountered flew the same flag.
At Fracas, Emi and Dalva ordered drinks from Scamp, who immediately picked Dalva out as a neophyte. As they talked, they were approached by Reynaldo Piaccelli, an associate of Dudex, their co-worker with Carrolwood. After greasing his palm, they learned that the pirates had multiple ships, and that they were led by someone who was known locally as Redbeard. Rumor had it Redbeard was seeking something from the Lastini of Mentoncha to the north. Rey intimated that, if the pirates had begun infringing on the Gascar area, the local thieves' guild would be quite pleased if he were removed from the picture. He suggested they speak with Gavin, one of the few locals who carried out trade with the Lastini. While he didn't know if Gavin was in town, he mentioned that if he wasn't he was likely to be just across the border in Mentemar.
The next morning, the party went on various errands. Gaire checked in at The Armorer, where he was waiting for a suit of chain mail to be completed. Siege visited the army base to reserve a room to test out a torch holder he'd put together under battle conditions. Rin went to the temple of Losyera to make an offering and see if they had any information. Shale and Rakeor visited Bolio's Weaponry, where they sold a pair of short swords they'd found in the ruins. Alvin, Dalva and Emi went to the Harbormaster's Building to get information about Gavin.
The latter trio first spoke to Orrsunak, the harbormaster, who told them that he expected Gavin's ship, the Faltremar, to return to port the following day. He also gave them some additional information about Gavin and other captains who carried passengers to and from Mentoncha. When Dalva asked whether they could make their way by land, he directed the group to Marona, the proprietress of a ship repair business in the same building. She told them of the Calle de Tierrimar, a cart path that ran between the cities, but that it would be much slower than travel by ship. Alvin purchased a map of the region from Aras Bugloss, a mapmaker who also had a shop in the building, before the three returned for their meeting.
A new mission
At lunch, Baxter informed them that the Carrolwood Project was being temporarily suspended while negotiations were carried out with the druid. Since the demolition of the "bird building" was taking longer than expected, Eisner had decided that the party's services were needed elsewhere, specifically in continuing to gather information about the pirates. The next supply ship would leave Rogariel in two and a half weeks, so it was suggested that they do what they could before then. Gairevander, however, would still be needed in Gascar to aid in the negotiations, to help quell the rising resistance to the project among the citizens, and to smooth over relations with some of the local leaders. Gaire suggested that Dalva should replace him as the party's leader, to which everyone agreed. Baxter said that anyone who wanted to leave at this time would be allowed to do so, and he would expect their answers at dinner.
That afternoon, the party began preparations for their journey. Several party members went signed up for swimming instruction at the temple of Bassik, while Alvin went to the mages' guild to see if they might be able to hire a mage with skill in water elementalism. After speaking with Delino Simms, the highest-ranking guild member available, Alvin posted a notice on the board in the common room. Shale and Rakeor visited the temple of Morelen, where they spoke to a Dwarven priest named Grun about ways to avoid (or at least ameliorate) the problem of traveling by water.
Shaking things up
When the group returned, Dudex told them that he had identified one of the items they'd found in the ruins as a ring of resistance attuned to the school of alteration. At dinner, the group discussed their findings with Baxter, and Alvin mentioned the poster. Baxter showed concern at this and asked whether he'd mentioned Carrolwood. Alvin admitted that he had, and Baxter immediately excused himself. Recognizing his error, Alvin rushed back to the guild to remove the poster. While he was gone, Baxter returned and told the group that Eisner had recommended that Alvin be removed from the project. The group briefly hoped that nobody had seen the poster, but a young woman appeared at the door asking for Alvin. She introduced herself as Crystania, a Lastini novice water elementalist, and she seemed quite perceptive regarding the party's issues. Dalva asked her to return the following morning.
Alvin returned soon thereafter, and the party told him the situation. Feeling depressed, Alvin hunkered down in his room with the sleeping Dudex. The party sent Emi and Rin to check with the mages' guild to see if their contact, Cleo Cragganmore, had returned from visiting her family and, if so, bring her up to speed. Dalva went to Bolio's to purchase a spare sword, while Siege accompanied the two Dwarves to Morgan's, where they joined Gaire at a table with Khay, Yan and Tsun for a time. Upon returning to the guest house, they learned that Emi had decided to spend the night at Twin Pines Inn, a local inn, while Rin went back to her temple.
The next morning, Alvin tried to come up with ways to make money while the rest of the group was away. At first, he mentioned to Dudex that he might help with his divination duties, and offered to study the identify spell. This seemed to disturb Dudex, who immediately left to start his day's work. Emi and Rin returned with little new information, and they told Alvin that he would be allowed to offer his services at the guild. He didn't put too much stock in this, instead asking Genevieve, the head of the household staff, if he might find work in the kitchen. Upon hearing that he was the son of Winthrop Haler, private chef for Mayor Rockefeller of Rabk, she promised to give him due consideration.
At breakfast, Cleo told the party of someone who might be interested in their current mission: an Aquatic Elven transmuter who had arrived on the Elven ship Kiffah the previous day. Baxter arrived, and after learning that the group had decided to leave Alvin behind, asked them about their information gathering progress. Emi mentioned that negative rumors about Carrolwood were continuing to spread. Baxter also mentioned that he had been notified of a member of the White Army who had previously encountered the pirates, and he would arrange a meeting with him that afternoon. As the meeting continued, Crystania appeared, but Alvin and Dalva were able to convince her to leave. Afterwards, the party let slip that they had discovered magical items in the ruins, and Gaire suggested that the items will likely now be forfeit. However, after meeting with Baxter, Gaire told the party that only the potions that had been found in the market building were to be turned over to Carrolwood, and that he himself had been permanently removed from all duties involving exploration of the ruins.
As the party packed their belongings, Dalva was called aside by Baxter and told that, under the circumstances, they would need to bring the missing ship back in order to return to Carrolwood's good graces. Everyone adjourned to Twin Pines, where they arranged for six "sleeping spaces" with the proprietor, a half-Elf named Terestex. The group split up, with most heading to their swimming class while the two Dwarves went to the military compound to spar. There, they ran into Gaius Lentulus, a soldier whom they had previously met, and discovered that he was the one they were supposed to meet that afternoon. He told them that he was part of Dehalia's group that had gone to Queral, but that the mission came to an abrupt halt when one of his compatriots, a Halfling named Niccolo de'Medici, went missing, and the people who had hired them told them they were no longer needed.
After swimming class ended, Emi and Rin told Cleo that they wanted to meet with the mage the next day. On their way to the military base, Dalva and Siege noted that they were being watched by a young girl with golden eyes among the food stalls in the market area. After another meeting with Gaius, where he emphasized that they should begin their search for the pirates in Cardyl, they returned to Twin Pines, then went on to Neptune House their evening meal. On both occasions, Dalva spotted the same girl, so she asked Emi to watch her while she went to confirm with the Harbormaster that the Faltremar had come into port. Unfortunately, Emi was spotted before the girl wandered off to the south. After dinner, the party briefly met with Gaire at Morgan's before retiring to Twin Pines.
The next morning, Emi and Shale went to the docks to try and locate Gavin while the rest waited to meet with the wizard being sent over by Cleo. The wizard, named Maeish, arrived and met with the party. Rin expressed displeasure with her lack of the armor spell, intoning that the party needed a bard. On the other hand, Rakeor seemed impressed by her tales of punching sharks with her fist of stone. In the end, they told her to return to the guild and wait for word from them. Meanwhile, down at the docks, Emi and Shale met with Heth, the Faltremar's first mate. He told them that Gavin was sleeping off the previous night's revelry at Rilee's, and they should return in the afternoon. A mention of Gaius' name seemed to catch Heth's attention, and he seemed to think this would indeed pique Gavin's interest.
As they were starting on their way back, Emi again spotted the golden-eyed girl, so she and Shale put together a plan to catch her. The two headed north, and the Dwarf ducked into a nearby brewery. The girl continued to follow Emi, but Shale came up behind her. After being asked why she'd been watching them, the girl excitedly asked them to take her with them on their upcoming journey. The two were taken aback by her knowledge of their doings, and after some further questioning decided they should at least take the girl -- a Lastini named Ora -- back to Morgan's to meet the others. Shale "babysat" the girl while Emi gathered the others, and Ora was quickly noticed by Morgan. He pulled Shale aside and warned her that Ora's golden eyes likely marked her as Lastini nobility. Rin noted that since the girl knew about their coming voyage they would likely have to bring her along.
Once everyone else had joined them at Morgan's, Ora continued to be quite evasive about her situation and what her abilities might be, but after a while she agreed to provide a demonstration for Dalva. The two moved to a far corner of the balcony, where Ora began speaking to Dalva telepathically. After Dalva assured her that the other party members could be trusted, Ora revealed that she was a sensoria -- what her people called a psionicist. This prompted some discussion among the party, which ended in them tentatively agreeing to allow her to accompany them. Rin then offered to bring Ora to the temple of Liyyera. On the way, Ora told the priestess in confidence that she had left Mentoncha because if she had stayed, she would have had to become a priestess of Liyyera. Her older sister had run away from that responsibility, an hereditary one in her family. At the temple, Ora met Sayuri, the High Priestess, who treated her with unusual deference.
The rest of the party split up to perform various errands. Emi and Shale returned to the docks, where they were finally able to meet Gavin. After telling him their plan, he said he did not wish to tangle with Redbeard again, and would only bring them as far as Queral -- or, for double the price, to Cardyl. Emi and Shale brought the terms back to the group, and upon checking the map saw that the city closest to the Mentonchan border, Daro, was only a short distance from Queral, which Dalva found somewhat odd. Still, the party agreed to hire Gavin to take them as far as Queral, and arranged to meet with their prospective new members that night.
Later, Emi brought Dalva to the docks to meet Gavin, and he told them that they might have difficulty finding a ship for hire in Queral, so if they changed their mind about continuing to Cardyl they would need to tell him before putting into port there. They rejoined the others at Morgan's, where they filled Maeish in on their plan for tomorrow's demonstration. Dalva told Gaire that she planned to have Ora contact him with information, which unsettled him a bit despite his agreement.
Rin once again brought up the idea of hiring a bard, and Dalva asked if she had one in mind. At that moment, the evening's entertainment arrived in the person of Gilbert Sullivan, to whom Rin had spoken earlier in the day. As he began to tell the story of Caliph Kapoc, Rin mentioned that he had recently spent time in Teticha, which piqued Ora's interest, while Emi focused more on his physical attractiveness and Dalva predicted trouble should he join the group. After Gilbert finished his set with The Ballad of Nevyn, Rin and Emi accompanied him back to the temple of Losyera, intending to visit Fracas afterwards.
Preparing for departure
The next morning, the party updated Baxter on their status, including the official addition of Gilbert. He told them of Gascar's association with Daro, mentioning that trade with the city had recently begun due to the efforts of Wyndel, son of the city's ruling Sheik. Afterwards, everyone visited the marketplace for crepes, before splitting up again. Emi and Shale paying a visit to Orrsunak, who suggested they might have a better time trying to charter a ship from Queral to Cardimer than to Daro, as it was a larger port. When they subsequently asked Aras Bugloss about a map of the area, he had nothing usable by laymen, so he suggested trying to get one from the military base or Castle Telva. He also suggested visiting Magic Journeys, since Mason Segers' father had a collection of maps from his many travels. Ora paid another visit to the temple of Liyyera, then one to Marona, who was finishing up a meeting with Wyndel, whose boat she had recently repaired. Marona offered guidance on the Faltremar, and they agreed to talk again before the latter departed.
The group reunited to discuss going to Cardimer instead of Daro, and after lunch went to the military base for Maeish's demonstration of her abilities. After displaying several cantrips and her fist of stone, the party was sufficiently impressed to confirm her hiring. After some questioning of Gilbert about his skills, most of the party went into the marketplace to purchase supplies for the coming voyage. Afterwards, Emi, Dalva and Ora went to Magic Journeys, where Emi was able to take notes from a map depicting Shark's Fin Bay. Upon their return, Ora contacted Gaire, and the group had dinner at Neptune House.
After a brief visit to Morgan's, Shale turned one of her skins of Dwarven ale back into a potion of healing. While the rest of the group finished their preparations for departure, Emi, Rin and Dalva paid a visit to Fracas. There they met several members of the Faltremar's crew, led by Second Mate Hirondu. They confirmed with her that they would be stopping in Queral for at least a day, but that no decision had been made beyond that. Rin wandered off to draw of one of the patrons, and when the other two tried to get her to leave he became angry. However, another member of Gavin's crew, a minotaur named Borshikov, headed him off, and the three made haste out of the bar as a brawl broke out.
The Faltremar sets sail
The next morning, Ora learned from Marona that Queral's Condesa, Rosalín, was no longer its ruler, although Marona knew nothing more about the situation. After Maeish went out to do some fishing, Ora returned and discussed her disguise with Rin, Gilbert and Dalva. They settled on coloring her hair auburn and her eyes a purplish-blue. Ora attempted to create a concomitant backstory, involving her father being killed by an al-mi'raj, but Dalva nixed the idea, and the group set off for the Faltremar.
Once on board, Gilbert cast armor spells on Ora and Maeish while Shale cast sea legs on herself and Rakeor. Maeish brought her fish to the galley, where she discovered that Borshikov was the cook, and that he wasn't fond of using magic in his cooking. Once the group had chosen their cabins and the Faltremar had cast off, Heth told Dalva that Gavin wanted to meet with the group. Upon gathering in the captain's cabin, they told Gavin everything about their mission -- except that their employer was Carrolwood. Gavin reminded Dalva that she should confer with Heth about how they might aid in the ship's defense before dismissing the group.
Back in the cabin, Ora worried over Gavin's query about whether someone might be after them, thinking that he might know something about her mother and the circumstances of her departure from Mentoncha. She was especially upset about having to hide things from Gavin, whom she viewed as a mythic figure due to his involvement in Conchita's Journey of Enlightenment. Rin attempted to help the situation while also keeping Maeish, who wanted to ask Ora about something, at bay. Eventually, Emi returned, and the three decided to try and use Gilbert to suss out what Gavin might know.
Meanwhile, after being rebuffed in her efforts to talk to Ora, Maeish turned her focus to the ship's defenses. She and Dalva went to speak with Heth, with the mage offering to exchange information about sahuagin and other dangerous sea creatures. Heth said that he would arrange to have them meet with the other pertinent crew members later that afternoon. When Dalva returned, she joined Ora, Rin and Emi in their cabin, where Ora revealed her family situation. She expressed her concerns about Gavin and about Crystania, who had recognized her back in Gascar, and Dalva agreed to help them with their attempts to gather information. Rin gave Dalva a copy of the drawing of Carrolwood's vessel and agreed to produce three more to distribute to the crew.
The group went to the galley, where they learned that Gavin was considering putting into port in Mentemar that evening. Afterwards, Emi, Ora and Gilbert were feeling the effects of the rum that had been served with lunch while the others discussed whether they should go ashore in Mentemar. Maiesh pressed the issue of dangerous sea creatures, especially sea zombies, and the group discovered that none among them could turn undead. Gaius said he knew the shipboard priest, a Gascar local named Raz Tarragon, so he went with Maeish and the two Dwarves to discuss the matter with him. Raz told them he would be at the meeting of the ship's defense forces that afternoon.
As the conversation among Emi, Rin and Ora grew loud, Gilbert came to their door, and when Rin opened it he fell in. Rin retrieved some herbs to aid the infirm trio, and Ora had started rambling about her family, especially Cera, her sister, when Emi pointed out that Gilbert was in the room. Ora tried to walk her statements back, but Gilbert had heard them. However, nobody believed him due to his drunken state, and he was dragged back to his room. Shortly thereafter, the sea legs wore off, and Rakeor became seasick. When Dalva returned to the cabin, Emi advised Ora to tell Gaire to lay a false trail in case her mother or someone sent by her appeared in Gascar. The four then agreed to confide in Gilbert, and Dalva and Emi left for the defense meeting.
At the meeting, Heth was joined by Mufrid, the ship's navigator; Raz; Grizelda, the ship's weaponsmaster; and Gensmoor, leader of the night watch. Dalva gave Heth the drawing of Carrolwood's ship as well as one of Redbeard's flag, which were passed around among those present. Mufrid mentioned that he recognized the flag, as his previous ship had been attacked by the pirates off the coast of Upanistan. After deciding that the party's best course would be to aid in protecting the ship's helm, the meeting broke up.
Meanwhile, Ora went to Gilbert's cabin to discuss helping her evade her mother's eye. After some tense moments, the two shared stories, with Gilbert telling Ora about his now-ended relationship with Corelda, a Lastini from Teticha. Gilbert agreed to find out what Gavin might know, both from the crew and from the people of Mentemar. Once everyone had returned to their cabins, Dalva confirmed with Hirondu that the group would prefer to put into port.
About an hour before sunset, the Faltremar arrived in Mentemar. Since she would not be able to go ashore, Ora gave Rin a lock of her hair to bring to the temple of Liyyera as an offering. Most of the party disembarked, with Siege accompanying Rin to the temple and the others headed to Haciela, an inn on the north side of Garra Bay. Siege found himself fascinated by the construction of Celore's Lighthouse, leaving Rin at her temple to visit it. He spoke to Carynia, an acolyte tending the shrine to Flujonda at its base, and eventually gained a meeting with Celore himself. Although the sage raved about this and that, he eventually settled down after bringing Siege to his observation room near the top of the lighthouse, where the two spoke for a while.
On the ship, Maeish and Ora conversed for a while before the former left to find some playing cards. On the way, she talked to Raz, who offered to pray for additional sea legs spells to avert further illness on the part of the Dwarves. The two then settled down to gaming, with Ora having to teach the Sea Elf the game of "Old Butler".
At Haciela, after some confusion over a poorly-written bill of fare, the group at the inn placed their order with the waiter, a middle-aged Lastini man named Joreze. After dinner, Gilbert mingled with the other patrons to see what information he could gather while Emi and Shale offered to help make the menu more intelligible. In talking to Suritha, the owner of Haciela, Emi sensed there were some unresolved issues involving the area's ruler, Duquesa Tiburona. As the party prepared to depart, Rin left to check on Gilbert, then returned to inform the group that he intended to stay until closing. The Dwarves, Gaius and Siege went downstairs to the tavern to keep an eye on the bard while the rest returned to the Faltremar. After several hours of watching Gilbert chat up the locals, they convinced him to depart.
On the way back, Siege decided to try again to talk to Celore to see if he had any information on the pirates, only to be turned away by Carynia due to the sage's foul mood. Once on board the ship, Gilbert joined Ora, Emi, Rin and Dalva and reported that Gavin had been avoiding the capital for political reasons -- he refused to fly the flag of House os'Sarani when asked, having decided it would be best to hire his own crew and not return to stay out of any internecine conflicts. However, Gilbert questioned the accuracy of the story, wondering whether the existing tensions between the royal family and the Duquesa might be contributing to the spread of such rumors.
Off to Queral
The next morning, Maeish paid a visit to Raz to find out if he had any water to spare to change into Dwarven ale. Raz said that, since the ship was in port, he would not be casting create water, so he had chosen to prepare sea legs instead. Maeish instead got some water from Borshikov and filled the Dwarves' skins. Emi got up and retrieved coffee from Grizelda for herself and her roommates, but was warned not to spread word that she had any. After breakfast, the group decided to find out more about the area before deciding if they should visit any of the cities they would be near this evening.
While Ora studied Emi's oddly-familiar Latin book, the rogue went with Dalva to talk to the crew. Heth mentioned that Teticha was home to a fishing fleet that might have had encounters with the pirates, but that they might have more luck in Mariscora, a city further along the coast. Afterwards, the warrior types went down into the hold to do some sparring, but the somewhat rough seas caused them to have some difficulty, and Shale ended up breaking her nose. One of the crew members, an older man named Xook, tried to join them, but by then they'd all but given up. Dalva brought Rin so she could tend to injuries, and Maeish dragged herself away from another conversation with Ora to see what had happened. The group were told to clean up the blood before coming to lunch.
The group gathered on the mess deck, where they began discussing their plans in detail. Following their difficulty in communicating with the Lastini in Mentemar, they realized that they would need to find someone to speak Cardillic before arriving in Cardyl. Dalva, Emi, Gilbert and Maeish proceeded to Emi's cabin while the Dwarves, Siege and Gaius returned to sparring and Rin went up on deck to talk to the crew. Maeish used her change cantrip to make the food more palatable for Ora as thanks for teaching her to play cards. Since the group preferred to avoid both the capital and Teticha, they discussed stopping in nearby Santano, where Ora's friend Rocio was employed as a servant of Yadosi Kintana, the queen's mother. After the group dispersed again, Rin cast personal reading on Gensmoor, finding out that his reputation had some kind of negative mark on it. Maeish spoke with Mufrid, who said that if the group went to Cardimer, they would need to be careful of Kapoc, the region's Caliph, whom he called a tyrant.
As the ship approached Pescara, the main city of southern Mentoncha, another ship, which was heavily armed, approached the Faltremar bearing the colors of Duquesa Tiburona. Ora immediately began to freak out, believing that they had been sent to seize her and bring her back home. As the group tried to calm the Lastini girl while flailing about trying to come up with a plan for the possibility that her fears were justified, a voice called out from the other ship ordering the Faltremar to prepare to be searched. Ora began to panic anew as the vessel, now identified as the M.M. Turpeda, pulled up alongside Gavin's ship. After calming down, she suggested that she could act sick and possibly drunk, so Emi splashed rum on her and she hunkered down in her bunk.
A dozen members of the Turpeda crew, led by their captain, boarded the Faltremar and began their search, claiming they were looking for stolen goods. The group and the crew discussed whether there might be some ulterior motive other than Ora's presence, such as attempting to harass or embarrass Gavin due to his connection to the royal family, or simply seeing if there was anything on board that could be seized for the Duquesa's benefit. Things began to look touch-and-go when two Lastini entered Ora's cabin, but before they could complete their search a cry rose up from the hold and the boarding party came back to the deck with Xook in their grasp, branding him a wanted criminal.
Once the smoke cleared, the party gathered in Dalva's cabin, where Hirondu let them know that they wouldn't make it beyond the capital that day due to the delay. Instead, the Faltremar would drop anchor halfway between Pescara and Mentoncha, although this would imperil its arrival in Queral by the end of the following day. Dalva asked to speak with Gavin, and she was told he would be free once they were anchored. Meanwhile, Ora contacted Gaire, who warned her that someone had inquired about her with the elder Lady Cragganmore, head of the mages' guild, although he did not yet have the details. Gaire said he would speak to Lady Cragganmore about the matter, as well as Captain Rose regarding the boarding of the Faltremar.
Between the Duquesa and the Deep Blue Sea
Ora filled Dalva, Emi and Rin in as the ship dropped anchor, and decided that she would tell Gavin her story after all. Maeish requested that they tell him that she would be willing to scuttle any other ship that approached the Faltremar, and they agreed, although Dalva suggested it might be better to tell Heth, so Rin set off to do so. Once Gavin heard their story, he questioned the idea of stopping anywhere in Mentoncha, but the three reassured him, and Ora agreed to read Gensmoor to make sure the information couldn't be gleaned from his mind by her people. Gavin warned them that if things got dicey, he wouldn't hesitate to put them off his ship at the nearest port. Dalva asked about Xook, and Gavin said that since he couldn't vouch for him, he had to allow Captain Frauga to take him to avoid trouble.
The party regrouped, and Rin said that Heth had put the kibosh on scuttling any ships that aren't in direct combat with the Faltremar. It was agreed that a tight lid needed to be kept on any information about Ora. At the evening meal, Heth asked Maeish about keeping watch in the water, and she said that after dinner she would swim out to one of the fishing vessels nearer the shore to try and gather information, then make a more thorough patrol later. Rin made another copy of the picture of the missing ship, which Maeish waterproofed before setting off.
As Maeish neared one of the boats, its occupants brought a lamp over, then one cast a fishing line at her, catching the webbing on her hand. After failing to communicate with them, she headed back to the boat, where Rin patched her up. As the others went below, Gilbert stayed on deck to watch a couple of sharks drawn by the blood in the water. He soon returned and told a humorous story to entertain the party. Later, Maeish returned to the water to do her patrol along with some fishing. A signal was worked out involving a light spell, but since all she saw were the sharks continuing to roam the area it went unused.
During the patrol, Ora, Emi, Rin and Gilbert worked out a scheme for Ora to surreptitiously check on Gensmoor. While Gilbert distracted the officer, Ora and Emi hid on the deck with the aid of Rin's sanctuary spell. After a couple of minor missteps, Ora was able to connect to Gensmoor, but found no direct evidence that he was concerned about her. Relieved, she became so focused on getting away that she stumbled and fell down the hatchway and onto Rin. The immediate ruckus was calmed by Dalva, and Shale was roused to perform some healing. Afterwards, the Dwarf decided to help patrol the decks to ease her restlessness. Maeish later returned to the deck and told Shale she would take her place and ask Siege to take a turn after that.
During her patrol, Shale noted the growing number of sharks around the ship and asked one of the deckhands about it. He said it could be good or bad, as sharks are often found in the company of "sea devils". Emi, similarly restless, came up on deck to run, and Shale asked her if she knew about these creatures. The half-Elf said she'd heard tales about them from her friend Arnje, but couldn't remember anything specific. Once Maeish came up, she confirmed that it was another name for the sahuagin.
In the wee hours of the morning, Maeish spotted something climbing up the side of the ship, while Shale was awakened by the sound on the hull. The Sea Elf alerted the rest of the watch, and Borshikov also saw creatures climbing up the other side. When Mufrid cried out that they were sahuagin, Maeish screeched an alarm while one of the crew rang the ship's bell, and battle was joined. The party scrambled to prepare and get themselves on deck. Maeish blinded one of the creatures with her light spell as Gavin emerged from his cabin to join the fray. Borshikov killed two with his axe, while another crewman, Maldron, killed another with his crossbow while defending the poopdeck. After a brief, chaotic battle, the sea devils returned to the water. Two crew members were lost and several others injured, including Gensmoor, and Shale suffered a nasty wound to her leg.
After taking stock of the situation, Gavin asked the party if they might fill in the gaps in the night watch. There was one unconscious sahuagin left on the deck, and Gavin told Maldron to take care of securing it while the party discussed the option of questioning it. Healing spells were cast, and Maeish said that she didn't speak the language of the sahuagin. The Dwarves decided they should just kill it, but Rin objected. Eventually, the creature was tossed over the side, although the Elven priestess still seemed disturbed. After a brief conversation with Ora, Rin went into reverie, and the remainder of the night passed quietly.
The next morning, the party straggled to the mess deck, with several of them having to settle for whatever they could scrounge from Borshikov. Afterwards, Maeish belatedly filled them in on some of her spells and the nature of the sahuagin. Discussion turned to the coming visit to Santano, and the group debated how much to ask of or to tell Rocio as well as where they should meet. Most of the group departed as Ora attempted to contact Rocio, but the attempt was an utter failure, causing Ora great distress as she feared something might have happened to her friend.
As Rin helped Ora back to their room, Dalva went up on deck to ponder the party's next move. While the Dwarves and Siege sparred, Dalva discussed with Hirondu the possibility of sailing past Santano and instead docking in Mariscora tonight. The second mate told her that would suit them fine, as it would be easier to find replacements for the lost crew members. Dalva joined the sparring warriors, and after further discussion Dalva decided that they would indeed press on rather than stop in Santano.
At lunch, Maeish filled in those who hadn't been present on Ora's botched contact. Gilbert fretted that Rocio might be dead, which the others agreed would fit the circumstances. The fighters returned to sparring in the hold, where Gaius broke his collarbone in a fall. Dalva again fetched Rin, who advised her to talk to Ora about the change in plans. Dalva asked Gilbert for help, and he agreed to perform quietly during the discussion.
After the news was broken, Ora fretted about the possibility of Duquesa Delfina of Mariscora or the priests of Liyyera revealing her presence to her mother, or that her mother might even be in the city. Dalva suggested she contact Gairevander for a status update from Gascar, but that also failed, as did several other attempts to activate her psionic abilities. Ora became concerned that Liyyera might be blocking her powers, but she was hesitant to contact her patroness. Rin instead contacted Losyera, Liyyera's sister deity, and informed Ora that, according to the Great Aesthete, she needed to visit Liyyera's temple in Mariscora to learn the truth.
The Faltremar arrived in Mariscora shortly before sunset, and Gaius said that the crew preferred to stay at an inn called Imbornasa. However, when the group disembarked, they were accosted by two young Lastini women urging them to visit the Foreign Market, with the Dwarf Shop and Elf Shop being mentioned to Shale and Siege especially. After some confusion, an older woman named Nelsina arrived and explained that the market's purpose was to cater to outside visitors. She also suggested they should visit Cresilla rather than Imbornasa. Eventually, the group split up, with Nelsina leading those not accompanying Ora to the market.
Ora, concealed under a hood, and the others made their way to the temple, the aesthetics of which impressed even Rin. Upon seeing the crowds around the temple, Ora realized that it was the first day of Gilvantir, a holy day for the sister moons, and began to fret anew. She steeled herself, and Rin removed her magical disguise, but she didn't remove her hood, causing one of the attendants to question her. When she revealed herself, she was told that she was expected, and she was brought before the temple's high priestess, Lindana. After some tense moments, the priestess told her that she, or someone else, must take up her family's duty at the temple in the capital, and gave her the choice of returning herself, setting off to bring her sister Ceradad back from Kimelis, or having a geas placed upon her to find someone else. After discussing the matter with the others, Ora chose the third option, with the possibility that the person she might find was herself. Lindana announced the goddess' approval, with the stipulation that she visit her mother following the completion of her current quest.
The high priestess dismissed the others, who about exploring the temple while she performed a ritual with Ora to renew her dedication to Liyyera. Rin purchased a robe designed with the colors of the temple, while others perused the shops and made a few purchases of their own. When Ora emerged, one of the temple attendants, Edavaro, recognized her and began asking her questions about her family. Ora became quite nervous, but Gilbert was able to orchestrate a hasty retreat.
At the Foreign Market, the rest of the party was led to a cul-de-sac surrounded by shops, pubs, and the inn Cresilla. Everyone was struck by how empty the plaza was, noting that all the businesses seemed aimed at individual races. The group first visited the Dwarf Shop, but Shale could immediately tell that the equipment was of inferior quality. The clerk went so far as to ask her and Rakeor if they knew any Dwarves who might be willing to help run the shop, and the two agreed to ask around. Gaius then talked Nelsina into leading him to a weapons shop in the city while the others continued on their own. The remaining group split up, with Siege and Maeish heading for the Elf Shop while the Dwarves went to check out Cresilla.
Unlike the Dwarf Shop, the Elf Shop's wares appeared, for the most part, to be the genuine articles. The clerk -- a half-Elf, half-Lastini woman named Jasarine -- chatted with them while gathering the supplies they requested. She tried to pump them for information about the outside world, especially the Filitir Forest, her mother's homeland, but the two couldn't help, and they bade her farewell after also purchasing a bottle of Elven wine.
After some hesitation at passing through Cresilla's front door, which appeared to be magical, Shale and Rakeor entered. The Dwarves were aghast at the place's odd appearance and the greasy smell emanating from the eating area, and were considering walking back out when the other two returned. They were soon joined by an employee named Ahzwald who described the brief history of the establishment, saying that, along with the rest of the Foreign Market, it was designed with the aid of a traveler named Tanda, who also arranged a number of the contracts for the products being sold, such as Kookie Cola. He agreed to order two ales for the Dwarves, and the four brought their drinks out to the outside tables to further discuss their reservations about the place.
Gaius soon returned, and he and Maeish purchased some fried shrimp before settling at the outside tables to wait for the others. As the market's shops closed, a Gnome wandered out of the Gnome Shop and, after a visit to Cresilla, came out to one of the other tables and began eating. A curious Rakeor came over to talk to him, and he identified himself as Sygrin, hailing from the Crystal Mountains. He told them a bit more about the market before departing for another building at its far end. Ora's group soon arrived, and she and Rin immediately went to check out Cresilla. The others followed, and Ora also met with Ahzwald, who proudly told her of the involvement of the Duquesa and especially her husband, Rajardo.
Eventually, the group decided to get dinner at Cresilla before checking out the other inn, although some refused to eat the food there. Afterwards, Emi said she needed to run to burn off her energy, and Rin, Dalva, Ora and Siege accompanied her while the rest of the party checked out Imbornasa. As the runners made a circuit of the plaza, Siege spotted Sygrin exiting a building. They flagged him down and, after Ora mentioned they were looking for pirates, the Gnome indicated a desire to talk privately. They followed him to a storeroom in his shop, where he told them that he'd come to this town after the ship he was on, which was bound for Agropthos, was attacked and sunk off the coast of the Varrag Peninsula by one of Redbeard's ships. Sygrin mentioned that he knew someone with more information, and that the party should seek him out at an illegal crab-fighting event at an abandoned warehouse later that night. Ora and Rin returned to the temple while the others went to Imbornasa.
At that establishment, the group discovered that the proprietor, Eduina, could speak Kellanic. The Dwarves asked her about local news, hoping to learn something about the pirates, and while she'd heard stories they learned no new information. Eduina suggested that they might talk to Lagara, the local sea druid, if they wanted to know anything. The group proceeded to the tavern next door, Sopolla de Maraco, where they noticed Gavin and Heth at a table with several others. The went to the bar and gave their dinner order to a man named Shuno. Their food had just arrived when Dalva, Emi and Siege arrived, and the Dwarves took theirs with them as they, along with Gilbert, accompanied the others to the warehouse.
The journey to the warehouse made some of the group nervous, as once they left the harbor area the streets were unlit. However, they arrived without incident, and Emi spotted their contact on the other side of the makeshift arena. They were surprised to encounter Gensmoor among the spectators, and he explained how the betting worked. As the fights went on, Emi made her way across the room and began talking with their contact. Just as a foreign giant crab began to get the upper claw on local favorite Big Earl, the group heard a popping sound, and one of the lanterns suspended above the arena fell, breaking on the floor and starting a conflagration. Everyone scrambled to get out of the warehouse, with Dalva and Gilbert trying to keep things organized.
Before long, the fire was magically extinguished, and the party members spread out to find Emi. Shale heard shouting voices from inside the warehouse, but upon investigation Gilbert only heard a few fleeting words. The group learned that Emi had left in the company of the contact, so they returned to Imbornasa. On the way, Dalva received a contact from Ora telling her that she and Rin had decided to stay at the temple, and that she would be contacting Emi in an hour. After picking up their keys, the Dwarves and Siege went to the Sopolla to find Gaius in a state of inebriation. They dragged him back to the inn and settled in for the night.
As Emi tried to find her way back to the inn, she found herself lost in the city, and after another contact from Ora decided to join them at the temple. Since Ora had used all her psionic energy, Rin had a messenger sent to Imbornasa, and the three spent the night in relative luxury. The next morning, they received a visitor in the form of Rajardo, who had heard of Ora's presence and extended his hospitality, inviting the three to breakfast. Upon learning that the rest of Ora's companions had stayed at Imbornasa, he expressed a desire to meet with them, leading the girls out to a carriage to take them there. On the way, he slipped Emi a pouch as compensation for the previous night's problems, leading Emi to wonder how he knew about the issue.
After cleaning up and general recovery, the group at Imbornasa assembled in the lobby to discuss their next meal. After reviewing a map of the town, they settled on a place called The Proud Pelican just as Rajardo's carriages pulled up in front of the inn. After introductions, he told the group that he would treat them to their intended breakfast, and they set off up the road. At the Pelican, the group was brought to a private room in the back, and chatted over their meal. Afterwards, Rajardo asked for the group's help in improving the Foreign Market, offering to pay them well in exchange for either their own services or anyone they refer to him. They agreed to consider the offer before returning to the Faltremar.
Queral at last
Once the ship set sail, Emi filled the group in on what she learned the previous night: that Queral was raided about three months ago, that prisoners were taken, and that she should be able to find better witnesses in town. Also, Gilbert noted that he believed that one of the voices he heard at the warehouse was Rajardo's, raising the group's suspicions further. Rin's personal reading of him drew many conflicting conclusions, suggesting that he had his hands in many enterprises. Combined with his surprising knowledge about the group, this led Siege to suggest that the group should be cautious, especially around the newcomers who joined the crew this morning.
A few hours later, the Faltremar anchored a short distance off Queral. Looking ashore, the party noted a dilapidated building on the northern edge of town with a handwritten sign reading "Freedom", and Emi indicated that this was where her contact had told her to go. Gensmoor said the building used to be an inn a few years back and wondered if there might be somewhere else to lodge. The dubious party climbed into the longboats, which were rowed toward a spot south of the village. As they neared the shore, an odd-looking man in tattered wizard robes greeted them. He introduced himself as Gar and offered to take them to Freedom. Although they questioned whether they should trust him, they agreed.
The night at Freedom
As they approached, they spotted another odd-looking person tending the front porch of the building who turned out to be the building's githzerai overseer, Eka. She invited the party in to dinner and to hear the story of how the inn came to be in its current condition. As they waited for the meal to be prepared, Dalva was set on edge by the fact that the front desk was being manned by a kobold. Gar assured her that Zikzik was part of the staff, which did little to allay her feelings. After surveying the interior and talking to one of the guests, a Halfling named Voglio, the group was called into the dining room.
After a rocky start, the party heard Eka's somewhat rambling story of how she came here seeking her brother, but discovered this place, whose owner had been killed in the recent pirate raid. Since no one else had claimed it, she did, and was now working on rebuilding it as an inn. Emi recognized the chef, Bashimel, from the description she'd gotten back in Mariscora, and arranged to speak to him later. As the party learned that they would be paying for their room and board with chores around the inn, Ora was contacted mentally by Siqui, a Lastini girl working as a maid. From her, she learned that Condesa Rosalín had gone missing, and that Siqui wasn't fond of Perida, the woman slated to replace her if she didn't return. She also learned of Eka's penchant for "reading" people psionically.
After discussing her concerns about Eka with Dalva, Ora decided to tell Eka up front about her abilities, and reaffirmed her desire to seek out information on the Condesa. She also told the githzerai many things about Lastini society and other cultural information about the various races of Ardrana. In exchange, Eka agreed to help her learn the psionic science of telekinesis.
Elsewhere, Emi was assigned to help Bashimel, who told her he believed the pirates' lair to be between Cardimer and Daro, and that he suspected the Caliph himself might be involved. Maeish came in with a large number of fish, and the three discussed the details of the raid on Queral. Meanwhile, the Dwarves moved some of the remaining rubble around to the back of the inn where Dalva and Gaius were clearing out the garden, and they set them up as a small sitting area.
As the night wore on, Voglio came out through the garden on his way home, and he warned the group that the building was haunted. Rakeor suggested setting up watches, and Gaius went inside to tell the others. Gilbert, who had been attempting to teach Zikzik the Lastini language, decided to start making loud noises to chase away the spirits, stopping only when Eka came out to tell him that one of the other guests, known only as The Captain, had complained. Meanwhile, Rin came out to the garden and took note of an armadillo which seemed out of place. Taking this as another sign of something being wrong, she fruitlessly tried to convince Dalva that the group should leave.
After things had finally began to settle down, Maeish, who had been keeping watch inside, heard a whistling noise that she identified as incoming cannon fire. She let out a warning screech to alert the rest of the party, but she was almost immediately attacked by Zikzik. While she played dead, Gilbert readied an arrow and got into a standoff with the kobold. At the same time, two men ran in through the front door and grabbed hold of a woman who had appeared in the lobby. They fought over a scroll case the woman was holding as Dalva, Emi and Rin rushed in from the gardens. Dalva told Gilbert to shoot Zikzik, but his shot went wild. Dalva shot at him as well, nicking him as he jumped down off the front desk and escaped down the hallway. Just then, one of the men seized the scroll case and ordered the other to run the woman through. As he did, all three people disappeared, and the sounds of cannon fire also vanished.
As Rin healed Maeish, Gar told the group that this scene is replayed every night. Eka told everyone that it was the work of a phantom, and that the woman in the vision was Peleara, the former owner of this establishment. Rin then piped up and said that she recognized one of the men attacking her as Everitt, the glass merchant from Gascar. Dalva mentioned that she didn't think the party should stay here, especially given the attack on Maeish, and Eka agreed. As Dalva unsuccessfully attempted to track Zikzik, most of the group decamped to a nearby boardinghouse at Gar's suggestion. The housefather, an elderly man named Boreo, was all too happy to let a minor noblewoman stay for free if she would put in a good word for the village when she returned to the capital.
After the group moved into their rooms, Emi brought up the armadillo, who she said had been watching them. Speculation ensued regarding its nature, with the possibility of it being Gar's familiar being raised. Dalva and Emi returned to Freedom to bring back those who had stayed behind, and they decided to attempt to capture the creature. Maeish was able to get her net on it, and she and Dalva brought it outside so that Rin could speak with it. Afterwards, the priestess told the party that it claimed to be a harbinger of the "Dust Witch", and that it was obviously much more intelligent than a typical animal. This convinced Emi that it was a familiar, and she asked Rin what she learned about Gar from her personal reading, Rin cryptically said "he's from here, but not from here", leading to even wilder speculations, including a possible connection to the giff and Duke Mirdael. The group made an attempt to secure the creature more firmly, but it was able to escape underground, and the party returned to the boardinghouse, hoping to get at least a couple hours rest.
A Halfling spanner in the works
The next morning, a still-cautious Emi suggested that the party should make another effort to explore Freedom in an attempt to gain information. Dalva and Gilbert went to the building, and Dalva encountered a woman examining the ground. When she couldn't communicate with her, Dalva called Gilbert out. Through some sleep-deprivation-fueled discussion, the bard concluded that she was the Dust Witch and ran screaming back to the boardinghouse. He relayed this to Emi, and she followed Dalva with Gaius and the Dwarves following. Once they arrived, the woman spoke to them in Dwarven, claiming to be searching for snacks, although she refused to tell anyone her name. Eventually, Gaius and the Dwarves left while Dalva and Emi stayed behind. Emi attempted to engage The Captain, but learned nothing of import.
While Ora contacted Gaire to fill him in on the situation and Maeish returned to Freedom to try and recover the fish she caught the previous night, a female Halfling approached the party standing on the beach. She introduced herself as Venturia de'Medici, noblewoman of the Medici Islands, and seemed to know Gaius. The latter was obviously uncomfortable at her presence, but confirmed that the two knew each other. Venturia told the party that she was searching for Niccolo, who was her brother, but Gaius told her that he hadn't seen him since they parted ways several months ago. She then offered her services to the party as a cook.
Back at Freedom, Bashimel told Maeish that Eka had told him not to give the party any food, but he would be willing to give them the stew from her fish. Emi moved on to talk to Gar and the woman they'd met earlier. The daytime desk clerk, Stivdhieg, said that she had been hanging around for a couple of days, but that nobody had been able to communicate with her. Maeish joined them, and the woman showed interest in the Sea Elf's hair. Emi then translated a conversation between the two, and in exchange for a lock of the hair and a sponge she revealed that she was called Illiger.
Back on the beach, Venturia expressed in no uncertain terms that she wanted breakfast, and that she wanted the party to join her. Despite casting some cantrips to tempt them, they refused, and Ora began leading several party members toward the Condesa's villa. Venturia then said something to Gaius and ran up the beach toward Freedom. Gaius pursued her, but when he caught up she began crying out that she was being molested. As the rest of the party looked on, three women emerged from among the houses. One of them drew a longbow and fired at Gaius, who immediately fell to the ground. Venturia dropped to her knees beside him and yelled out that he was dead.
The party reacted with a mixture of shock and anger, and Dalva emerged to try and calm things down. The leader of the women introduced herself as Mila, leader of the village's defenses. She explained that molestation of a young girl was a capital offense, and that she had used an arrow of slaying on Gaius to prevent him from continuing his assault. After Ora explained the situation, protesting that she was nobility and that Gaius was one of her servants, Mila called on one of her subordinates, Lara, to request the acting Condesa's presence. Upon her arrival, Perida commanded that Venturia be imprisoned for making the false accusation and invited the group to her villa for breakfast.
After conferring, the party followed the acting Condesa, with Shale helping Lara carry Gaius' body. Having witnessed the incident, Illiger tagged along behind the group, but Dalva asked the Dwarves not to let her come into the villa, so they stayed outside along with Maeish. Inside, Gilbert noted that the villa showed signs of the heraldry of Duquesa Tiburona, which put the party on alert. Perida suggested that Ora take custody of Venturia, but Ora demurred, requesting an opportunity for herself and Rin to consult their goddesses. After some discussion about the missing Condesa, the issue of the recent pirate attack was raised, and Perida suggested that the group should consult The Captain, who was actually Peleara's father. A moment later, she mentally contacted Ora, telling her that the guards had found a device related to the White Army on Gaius. She warned Ora not to trust the White Alliance, as they had been failing to defend their northern borders, leading to incursions by humanoids, some of which had been attacking travelers along the Calle de Tierrimar. She also suggested that the incident between Gaius and Venturia might not be as it appeared either.
Breakfast ended, and Perida invited everyone back for lunch. The party regrouped outside the villa, and Ora told them that at least part of what Perida said about Rosalín was untrue, leading the party to further doubt the acting Condesa's motives. After Ora tried unsuccessfully to contact Gaire, Maeish went back to the Faltremar to tell Gavin their plans. Emi, Gilbert and Rin went to Freedom to talk to The Captain, but he was unwilling to discuss things, saying only that the item taken was some kind of scroll. Ora then took Siqui aside and asked her what she knew. She mentioned that Peleara's mother was also killed in the raid, and knew only that the scroll was something very valuable. The party resolved to speak with the Condesa's brother, a blacksmith named Derillo, at their first opportunity.
The group returned to the villa for lunch, and Perida offered Ora compensation for Gaius' death. They then accompanied a guard to the facility where Venturia was being held while Rin searched the villa for a portrait of Rosalín. The Halfling made her case for being released, but most party members remained skeptical. A returning Rin told them that Perida said that since the party has access to a ship, they could either take Venturia with them or leave her here, where she would be executed. Ora suggested having a geas placed on Venturia, but Rin noted that this was arcane magic, and that the similar divine quest spell required a goal. The high cost of both this and raising Gaius was also brought up, although Gilbert mentioned the time when his own companions paid by performing a task instead. The party tabled discussion until Ora could contact Gaire, then turned to the issue of the road ahead. Since the party would need someone who spoke the language, and Gilbert believed Illiger had done so, he went with Emi and Rakeor to talk to her while Maeish went to report to Gavin and the rest went to find Derillo.
At Freedom, Emi confirmed that Illiger could speak Cardillic, and the woman agreed to join them as long as they kept her "entertained". Meanwhile, at Derillo's smithy, Ora filled him in on much of the party's experiences. Rather than dispute that Rosalín had left on her own, Derillo confirmed it, saying that she had gone with several others to recover the stolen scroll. Although he did not know the precise nature of the scroll, he knew that it was an artifact important to the village, and was quite pleased to hear that the party would be pursuing the pirates who stole it.
While Ora returned to the boardinghouse with Rin and Siege to rest, everyone else went back to Freedom. Emi and Dalva got information from Bashimel about Daro while the others went to find Illiger. When they couldn't, they asked the inn staff, and Eka referred to her as "the armadillo woman". When confronted, Illiger admitted to being a shapeshifter, but asked everyone to keep it a secret, then demonstrated her spellcasting ability to satisfy the party.
Once Ora had rested enough to attempt to contact Gaire again, she found herself unable to do so because Gaire was somehow incapacitated. As the group discussed alternatives, Lara burst into the boardinghouse, telling Ora that both Venturia and Gaius' body had disappeared, and that the acting Condesa was on her way to arrest the entire party. The group scrambled onto a ship belonging to Lara's family, and Lara gave them six magical arrows to defend themselves. While Maeish swam ahead to warn the crew of the Faltremar, Lara's boat launched just as Perida and the rest of the guards arrived at the beach. Expecting an attack, the party prepared missile weapons, but Perida held her forces back. Dalva speculated that it might be more to her advantage to let them go, solidifying the village's distrust of outsiders.
Once the party was aboard, Gavin called out that they would be heading to Daro at full speed as a ruse, instead intending to sail for an hour before dropping anchor again. The party filled him in on what had happened, and he tensed at the mention of House de'Medici, whom he said had a reputation for shady dealings. The group confirmed their destination of Daro, and Gavin agreed to wait five days there for them before departing on his normal route.
The next morning, Rin cast a personal reading on Rosalín, but was unable to determine whether she was still alive. Hirondu told the party that they might reach Daro as early as this evening, and that the captain was considering hiring Lara on as a crew member. Maeish made peace with Borshikov by metamorphosing a barrel of water into his favorite beverage. After Dalva noted that one of Lara's arrows appeared different from the others, Gilbert agreed to identify them the next morning. Ora finally succeeded in contacting Gaire, and he told her that upon learning about Everitt, Baxter decided to confront him immediately. The two took several guardsmen to his stall, but Everitt threw ground glass at them and fled. Meanwhile, Raz gave the Dwarves some information about Daro from when he had visited several years ago, including the fact that there was a Red Dragon Inn in the city.
The group discussed their plan for Daro, agreeing to stay at the RDI, and Lara said she would stay with them to see if she could be useful. Afterwards, Gilbert followed Illiger to the Dwarves' cabin in order to cast armor on her, and was surprised at her lack of clothing after her transformation. He then went up on deck with Maeish, who learned the location of the RDI from Mufrid. The navigator also mentioned a friend of his, Babasai, who had a supply business in Daro. Meanwhile, Borshikov saw Illiger, whom the party had decided to keep secret, causing some consternation. He also spoke with her in Cardillic, and told the party that several members of the crew also spoke the language. As the group went to lunch, Rin convinced Borshikov not to mention Illiger's presence to the captain.
After lunch, Mufrid returned the map to Maeish, having deemed it adequate and marking some of the landmarks on it. Maeish brought the information to Gilbert, who thought one of the landmarks, the Island of the Skull, sounded familiar to him. Maeish then brought it to Rin and Emi, who made additional pertinent markings. Shortly thereafter, the Faltremar arrived in Daro.
The treacherous coast
As the crew secured the ship, Gilbert filled the party in on what he'd learned, including information about the city's bazaar and the RDI. The group disembarked, getting their first look at the city, and were joined by Borshikov on their way to the inn. They arrived to find the bar being tended by a Dwarf named Pandon, and they arranged for dinner and rooms for a full week.
Siege decided to keep an eye out for fellow Elves, and as the party finished their meal he saw one come in to join two others -- a red-haired woman and a hooded figure -- who were at a fireside table. He, Ora and Rin went over to introduce themselves. The Elf introduced himself as Srel, the woman as Fiona, and the hooded figure as Tox. Fiona spoke to them in Kellanic, telling them that they'd only been in town a short while, and that they were waiting for an associate of theirs, a priestess of Helandra. When Siege asked about a magic shop, she mentioned one in the marketplace run by Master Vadene, but that they would likely need a guide to find it.
After dinner, Emi, Rin, Illiger, Dalva and Lara went out to explore the city, and while walking through the bazaar they encountered a group of four men wearing yellow turbans. The men stopped them and asked their business, then, noting that they were all female warned them about venturing out at night in the harbor area without escort. At this point, Dalva and Lara realized that their language barrier was a hindrance and returned to the inn. The others continued, but as they made their way among the buildings Illiger spotted several figures hiding in an alleyway. Emi attempted to sneak past them, but stepped on a stray cat, causing her to panic and dash through the alley, with Rin and Illiger following as best they could. After catching their breath near a water vendor, they also returned to the inn.
Upon asking her about the turbaned men, the barmaid, Fibi, said that they were members of the Justice League, a sect dedicated to Varice that sometimes patrolled the area. Eventually, everyone departed for their rooms, although not before Illiger tried to communicate with a pair of aarakocra, and Lara's arrows were delivered to Gilbert for identification.
The next morning at breakfast, Ora spotted a woman wearing Helandra's symbol. She attempted to contact Fiona, but could not, and so contacted Srel instead. The Elf angrily confirmed that it was the person they'd anticipated. Ora approached the woman, who at first threatened her before laughing it off. She introduced herself as Thalanna, and the two spoke briefly. Meanwhile, the group arranged to meet in one of the RDI's private rooms to discuss their plans without hindrance. After conferring and making inquiries with Pandon, they split up into three teams, one each bound for the magic shop, the temple of Sedric, and Bludjer, a local Dwarven blacksmith. To that end, they hired a guide -- a boy named Jimar -- to aid them in finding Master Vadene's shop while the others made their own way. The two Dwarves and Siege got a bit turned, but they found the smithy, where Siege purchased a shield of Dwarven make while the Dwarves left their armor for maintenance.
Dalva, Emi, Illiger and Maeish arrived at the magic shop, where Maeish met Master Vadene, a Halfling abjurer. She asked about magical communication aid, offering some of the party's items in trade. Vadene agreed to consider the offer, pending his evaluation of the party's items. Further discussion was cut off when Fiona arrived to pick up a scroll she'd commissioned. She told the group that she and her companions would be leaving in the morning and invited them to join her for dinner. After stopping at a sweet shop, Maeish and Dalva returned to the RDI while Emi and Illiger went to check on the third team.
Ora, Rin and Lara went to the north side of town, where they found a virtual city of tents. Ora found herself the target of unwanted looks, and they cut between the rows of tents until reaching the temple, which was a huge tent near the middle of the tent city. There, they met a Lastini priest named Manuar, who told them about the services available. Meanwhile, Rin conversed with Al-Uqdah, the temple's Desert Elven cartographer, from whom she purchased a map of the city marked in Kellanic and commissioned a map of the nearby coastline. They proceeded to Babasai's shop, the Desert Supply Company, where they purchased equipment for Lara. On the way back to the inn, they encountered three masked bandits. While Ora distracted their leader, Rin cast channel stench on them, allowing them to escape.
As the group began arriving, Gilbert came down with the news that the one odd arrow was an arrow of seeking. Once everyone was present, the group traded information before deciding to split up again, with Shale, Siege, Ora and Lara returning to Bludjer's forge and the rest headed to the waterfront.
Bludjer agreed to try and sell the group's magical sword, but was uninterested in the arrows, suggesting they take it to a second-hand weapons dealer in the bazaar. Lara bought new armor, but had to have it refitted. Ora asked if she could visit the shrine to Liyyera, and the group went back to the entrance to once more hire a guide.
The other group made a circuit of the bazaar, eventually finding the water vendor they'd met previously, a man named Dyf Culligan, who gave them some information about the city's law enforcement. When Dalva asked if he'd heard stories about pirates, he mentioned that they should visit the Blue Heron, a tavern by the docks, where they might talk to a bard named Diosa who sometimes plays there. After getting distracted by a vendor of frozen treats, the group went to the docks to discover that the Faltremar was in the repair building. While the party talked to Heth, Gilbert, Illiger and Rakeor visited the nearby Blue Heron. When Illiger ordered fermented goat's milk, one of the locals began to harass her. Rakeor got involved, the local lunged at them with a knife, and a brawl quickly erupted. Maeish knocked several brawlers out with a color spray spell and Rakeor killed one of the patrons before Emi and Rin noted the approach of several Justice Leaguers. Shale arrived just then and alerted the party, and they returned to the RDI.
While the party settled in, Maeish attempted to read the runes on the magical arrows to no avail. After a while Thalanna entered, and when Ora approached her she said the rest of her company would be arriving soon. After a tense discussion regarding drow and duergar, Fiona and Srel arrived, and several of the party members joined them. Fiona introduced a new addition to their group, Derryk of Oak, and after a circuitous discussion, with neither revealing much, Fiona and her group retired for the evening.
During the subsequent conversation, Ora told the group that Diosa was a Lastini bard who often played in the capital. After learning that she wasn't in the local guild, Gilbert decided to try and charm some information out of Thalanna. Later, Srel came down and sat with the group. Upon learning that the party was seeking a missing artifact, he suggested that they should talk further. Eventually, both groups assembled in one of the RDI's meeting rooms to exchange information. Thalanna deduced that the party was seeking Redbeard, and Fiona said that the pirate is believed to be one of several parties procuring magical items for the person or persons her own party was seeking. Another, who was the catalyst for Fiona's involvement, was a man named Antos. Those assembled pondered whether Mentonchan politics might be involved, and agreed to keep in touch via Ora's ability.
The next morning, Fiona and company departed before dawn, but after a brief conversation with Ora. The sensoria spoke with Lara and offered to let her family know of her situation. Gilbert returned from paying a visit to the Faltremar's crew, during which he learned about the possible punishment awaiting Rakeor for killing the man in the bar -- namely, death. This perturbed the Dwarf enough that he agreed to change his appearance. Mufrid, whom Maeish had invited, joined the group for breakfast, then went with Maeish, Rin and Siege to the Desert Supply Company, where they purchased additional supplies and picked up the map at Sedric's temple.
While the others gave Rakeor his makeover, Ora, Lara and Emi left to visit Liyyera's shrine. On the way, Ora attempted to contact Siqui so she could tell Lara's family about her situation, but was unable to do so and instead contacted Siqui's mother. She told Ora that the village was up in arms over Lara's disappearance. She advised Ora that neither she nor Lara should return to Queral for now, and they agreed. After paying their respects to the goddess, the three returned to the RDI, where they met the rest of the group.
In the RDI's meeting room, the party discussed having Maeish do some reconnaissance along the coast. For reference, the newly-acquired map was checked against the one they had, and Emi noted that the Island of the Skull was not present. Ora was asked to contact Diosa, who told her she was in Matrieva. The bard suggested the party should contact a wizard named Malaba at the local mages' guild.
Afterwards, Ora, Shale and Siege went with Lara to pick up her armor, and Emi and Gilbert went to meet her guild contact while the rest of the group paid Master Vadene a visit. At the magic shop, the party learned that the brooch they submitted had the ability to control sea creatures. They decided to keep it, and trade in the ring of resistance for two badges that would allow Illiger and Lara to communicate with the rest of the party. Emi and Gilbert learned that the Island of the Skull was once populated by people who controlled undead, but they had been driven off by the pirates.
Another round of errands ensued while Ora recuperated from overextending her powers. The Dwarves returned to the forge to complete the sale of the magic sword. Emi and Gilbert inquired with the Faltremar's crew about borrowing a boat, only to be rebuffed. Illiger prowled the docks in armadillo form to gather information, but after stumbling upon some suspicious activity she was used as a soccer ball by a roughneck before deciding to torment some of the locals. Dalva and Siege accompanied Maeish to the mages' guild, where they sent a message to Malaba.
Later that evening, the Malaba appeared in the RDI and sat with the group. Everyone but Ora and Lara gathered in the RDI meeting room and asked portly mage about the pirates, but he had little new information. He did, however, know that the undead masters had not been on the Island of the Skull, but another nearby island. After making arrangements to meet the party's mages at the guild the next morning, Malaba departed.
The next morning, Dalva came downstairs to find Cleo Cragganmore in the common room, she having been chosen to check up on them after they hadn't contacted Gairevander for several days. She gave Dalva a miniature boat for use in the islands, then joined the group for breakfast, saying that if there was no further word, she would return in two days. After Cleo's departure, the group again split up, with the Dwarves accompanying Emi and Rin to the bazaar and the Lastini going along with Dalva and Siege to find a boat while the mages and Gilbert went to meet with Malaba.
At the guild, the mages traded scrolls, but neither Maeish nor Illiger was able to learn their first choices. Eventually, Maeish was able to acquire comprehend languages, and Illiger had her blade enchanted. The boat group went to the boardinghouse where the crew of the Faltremar was staying to try and recruit their aid in procuring a boat. They were referred to Aldria, who was from Daro herself. After expressing concern over the price needed to charter a boat to the rocky area to the north -- which she called the Bones of the Sea -- she negotiated a deal with a rental service run by Benneslam for one of the next two days. The group bound for the bazaar sold the arrows to the weapons dealer, at whose stall they ran into Voglio. He returned to the RDI with them, giving them more information about Daro as well as House de'Medici, highlighting their connection to The Turtle back in Gascar. After hearing the group's story, Voglio decided he would avoid Queral and instead make his next trade trip to Santano, with Ora asking him to try and contact Rocio.
When the mages' group was overdue, Ora contacted Gilbert and told him to go straight to the docks, where everyone gathered to allow Maeish to head into the bay. She tested the brooch on some sharks, then returned to shore with a net full of fish. In between describing her experience with the pin, Maeish was confronted by the party for having spent all of their gold on an unnecessary spell. She planned to try and locate the pirates' lair the following day, and Illiger volunteered to go with her in armadillo form. After determining that they would be unable to meet Gavin's deadline, the party arranged to meet with him to see if he would extend it.
The Bones of the Sea
The next morning, Maeish, Illiger, the Dwarves, Ora and Lara went to the docks. After some trouble with a band of thugs trying to steal the armadillo, Maeish went out into the bay with Illiger. Maeish located a marlin, which she hoped would be able to pull them to the Bones, but she was unable to hold onto it. After swimming the rest of the way, she located the spot where the island should be, but it seemed to be invisible above the surface. While the Sea Elf was examining it, arrows began to fall around her. She tried to flee, but was struck several times, rendering her unconscious, and forcing Illiger to vacate the backpack and be carried by the current to a nearby rock.
Shortly thereafter, Ora made contact with Illiger and learned of the situation. The party at first decided to attempt to rescue them, but thought better of it and returned to the RDI. Meanwhile, Illiger was picked up and dropped by a seabird, after which she was found by a man in a canoe. After she spun a tale about being kidnapped by the Sea Elf, she was blindfolded and pulled through the water by the canoe.
Back at the inn, Ora again contacted Illiger, who updated her on her situation. When Gavin returned, he told the group that he couldn't delay leaving more than a few additional hours, and advised them on other ships they might be able to use to leave the city. The group again divided to try and find some way of learning Illiger's exact location. Bassik's temple was of no help, but Malaba agreed to meet them later that evening. Emi also arranged to be at the Blue Heron to meet with any aid from the local thieves' guild.
After returning to the RDI, the group asked Ora to contact Illiger once more with Rin listening in. This time, Illiger told them that she'd met with one of the pirates -- none other than Venturia's brother Niccolo de'Medici. Rin immediately returned to inform the others, and they discussed the matter before meeting with Malaba. The scholar posited the likelihood that the pirates' lair might be hidden by hallucinatory terrain, and possible options to overcome it were discussed.
After Malaba departed, Emi and the Dwarves went to the Blue Heron. While Emi met with a couple of informants, three members of the Justice League entered and confronted Rakeor about the recent brawl. After convincing them to wait outside, Rakeor went upstairs with Shale and Emi in an attempt to escape. While the Dwarves balked at jumping out a window they were followed up, leading to a brief skirmish on the stairs. After a strategically-placed spittle by Shale and assistance from Borshikov and one of Emi's acquaintances, the three fled.
Emi returned to the RDI, where she filled in those present on the events at the Heron before going upstairs so Rin could disguise her. Siege, nervous about the entire group being under suspicion, did the same. When the Dwarves didn't return right away, Gilbert went back to the Heron in his own disguise to discover their fate. The group noted that Tox had returned, and Ora spoke with him briefly. Eventually, the Dwarves returned, and were consternated at the presence of a Sundered Dwarf at Tox's table. When Gilbert didn't return for a while, Ora contacted him, and he informed her that the Justice League had questioned him.
Siege, Emi and Rin went over to the Heron to gather the bard. Gilbert had learned some information about Wyndel, including that he was supposed to be in port earlier, but had been delayed and was now expected in around midday the next day. While they discussed him, one of Tox's companions, a man named Yves, inquired about Wyndel's ship, aboard which he was hoping to book passage. After his departure, Rin identified the holy symbol he was wearing as belonging to Nevis.
Preparing for a raid
The next morning, the party found Cleo waiting for them in the main room. They adjourned to the meeting room to fill her in, and she provided some information about Wyndel. Lady Cragganmore was most concerned about Illiger's capture, and after the meeting she joined Ora and Emi to contact her. Illiger told them that she'd met Redbeard along with some other high-ranking pirates, and that she suspected they'd been tracking the party's movements. After breaking contact, Cleo identified one of those Illiger met as Everitt, and wondered whether Gaius might have been a mole for the enemy. She then departed, promising to return with a lightning bolt scroll and to see what might be done about recovering Maeish's body.
After some discussion of attack strategies, Gilbert went to Master Vadene's shop to price magical assistance while Dalva and Siege went to the waterfront. There, they discovered that Wyndel's ship, the Tijara al'Amar, had arrived, and they met Diosa herself as she disembarked from it. Diosa said she was looking for Ora, but the others evaded her query. Dalva arranged a private meeting with Wyndel, and he agreed to inquire with his father, the Emir, about helping take care of the pirates.
Meanwhile, Emi and the Dwarves decided to try and recruit an "army" to help. After a timely call to Perasin, they ran into Yves. After some discussion, and hints at the involvement of undead, they convinced him to talk to his fellows about joining them in their quest, and agreed to do them a favor in return if they did. They returned to the RDI, where Gilbert said he'd also met a couple of possible recruits.
On their way out to continue preparations, the party spotted both Diosa and Yves in the common area. Gilbert stayed behind to talk to Diosa, and eventually brought her up to meet Ora. After learning of Gaius' death and the party's pursuit of Redbeard, Diosa volunteered to try and recruit some help for the raid. The Dwarves and Siege went to the city's arena to spar and allow the Elf to practice the longbow in order to make use of the magical arrows. While there, they met a fighter named Othwin, whom they convinced to join their cause. The rest of the group revisited the mapmaker at Sedric's temple, who told them that the Island of the Skull had been reported as gone three months ago by a local surveyor, Doph tal'Sifta. They then met with Gilbert at the mages' guild, where Malaba suggests getting dust of appearance from Master Vadene.
That evening, the party was joined by some of their recruits: Yves and his two companions, a priestess of Nevis named Lucretia and Sean, the Sundered Dwarf they met the previous evening; and Gilbert's pair, a Gnome warrior named Tummy and a Thri-Kreen Earth elementalist named Spot. Everyone entered the RDI meeting room, where they learned of the Nevis contingent's purpose -- that there was a group posing as a cult of Nevis which had been causing trouble. They had come to Daro to meet with Tox, a proxy of Nevis. Shale and Rakeor agreed to help if they all survived their confrontation with the pirates.
After the meeting ended, the group stayed in the common room, where they received a note from Wyndel. The note read that he had heard some concerning things, and that he wanted to meet first thing in the morning. Gilbert left to listen to Diosa's performance at the Blue Heron, and when he returned he told Siege that she seemed to be particularly avoiding him afterwards. The Elf expressed his lingering concerns about someone watching their every move, but neither of them came up with any ideas.
A short time later, Diosa appeared at Ora's door. After ensuring there was nobody who couldn't be trusted, she entered along with a woman wearing a hood, who revealed herself to be Condesa Rosalín of Queral. After Rin left, Rosalín told Ora that after pursuing the pirates, she arrived here, only for her guards to be confronted and killed by the Justice League, and she had been hiding out ever since. Ora and Lara tried to convince her to return, but the Condesa refused, as she was could not without the scroll. However, with Ora's presence, there was again hope that it could be returned. Ora, Lara, and Rin agreed not to tell anyone what they knew until that came to pass.
The next morning, once everyone was awake, Cleo made her reappearance...
Cast of characters
Below is a list of characters who were involved at one point or another in this adventure:
- Dalva - run by Lou McLeary
- Emi - run by Shelley Proulx
- Gaius Lentulus - NPC
- Gilbert Sullivan - NPC
- Illiger - run by Penelope Romero
- Lara - NPC
- Maeish - run by Phil Vlasak
- Ora - run by Penelope Romero
- Rakeor - run by Shelley Proulx
- Rin - NPC
- Shale - run by Lou McLeary
- Siege - run by Phil Vlasak
- Venturia de'Medici - run by Eric Smith
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