A Few Friends Wander Online...

Missing Pieces - Thieves' Guild
The dirty side of business

During the day and a half in town Gavin caught up on sleep, prayed to Iomedae for strength and perseverance in the face of chaos and evil, replenished supplies, and traded the unspent portion of his reward money for gems with Hector Lessley. Much easier to carry around six gems than hundreds of coins. He kept two dozen gold and a half dozen silvers for food and other small items.

Gavin was not an overly devout man. But he was raised on the edge of war with men constantly training and going off to die. He had a healthy sense of propriety and reverence for how the gods can act in a man’s life. Thus, the first evening back ( Day 21), he had taken a trip to the temple and found the main alter to the warrior goddess, Iomedae. Even this far from the crusades it was possible to find her knights and priests carrying out her will to bring justice to the lawless world. It was refreshing.

original.pngGavin had faced some challenges in the last month. He was only 25 years old. This was his first real adventures. Despite growing up in Lastwall and attending the Crusader War College this last month had pushed him further than ever before. He had nearly died, twice, made friends, been betrayed, killed men he could have called friends, and seen friends die. He had also discovered an item of such importance to the order he served that it could change his narrative in history, or just as likely, get him killed. With his sword propped tip down on the floor, rising sun symbol of Iomedae wrapped around the hiltless grip of the Katana and kneeled with hid on hilt these revelations washed over him. “For Victory, For the Heart”, he whispered in payer.

In those moments of prayer and reflection Gavin felt something like a tugging at his soul. He wouldn’t say the goddess was talking to him but it was the closest thing he could think to it. The words of Arjana came back to him from nearly two weeks earlier when they had fought before she escaped. “The town is corrupted by the thieves’ guild and the merchants are being extorted…Are you working for them?!?…These items were given to me to help build our reputation and undermine profits to the thieves guild.” What he had dismissed as the rantings of a brigand were coming back to him as a message about justice. Where was this coming from? He had pushed these questions to the back of his mind during their attempts to track Arjana in hopes that she would turn out to be working with the monsters. However, there had been no evidence of her working with the Leucrotta, Gnolls, nor Pugwampi. In fact, her going to ground did kind of make her seem more truthful. If she were connected to a robbery ring she would have moved the goods for profit instead of sitting on months of stolen goods.

Staying on his knees, head bowed to hilt of his Katana, Gavin prayed and let Iomedae pour her strength into him. He ticked off the information he knew from the affected merchants in town. There were six primary merchants. Four had reported theft and much of the ware had been recovered in the bandit keep. The four who had been affected wereAlbrecht the smith,Jakub Rainz the bowyer, Hector Lessley the gem merchant, and Oppius Quill of the general store. If he were to put this in the light of Arjana’s story, then these four were allowing their goods to be seized in order to undercut or circumvent the extortion they must pay for doing business. Gavin thought another minute. Two merchants were not included in the reports of theft and very few of their items had been recovered: Mike’s Leather Shop andFilib’s Potions. These two were either honest and unaffected or in on the corruption and happy to pay the cost of doing business.

Gavin pondered this over while asking for guidance from Iomedae. The prayer was a bit like a dream after the weeks of missed sleep and wounds of battle. Ideas swirled around in his head showing truth to some words and anger to others. What did it mean?

Gavin finished his prayers and stood. He retrieved the holy symbol, a bronze sun about four inches across, from its position on the hilt and tucked it back inside his shirt. He sheathed the katana with practiced precision.

The problem with corruption like this is how much is too much? He had studied the River Kingdoms on the voyage north from Absalom and discussed it at length with the mariners on board. He had also confirmed it with additional research and inquiry while in Daggermark for a week before heading here to Pitax. His research had taught him the six river freedoms (the sixth is “Have what you hold.” A saying that most interpret that possession is 9/10ths the rule. Or that, Thieving is only bad if you get caught. He had also heard the numerous stories about the thieves’ guild of Pitax (and most major cities) charging “taxes” for allowing trade to pass through and enter their gates/merchant houses. So where do you draw the line between thieving and cost of doing business?

What is law in this lawless land?

Gavin needed to ask a few people about the “cost of doing business” so he could understand the intent behind Arjana’s perhaps mislead attempt to exert some control in this land.

Curse of House Muric
What we know now

Gavin sat around the table with the group the night before the group headed out to investigate The Curse of House Muric and recounted what we know.

My friends, let us talk of the information we gained so far pertaining to our present task.

Last night was an enlightening evening at the Prancing Pony. We had the rough outlines but were invited to dinner to learn some details. Caden Arien was in the Prancing Pony at the appointed dinner time. It was still early and the room was lightly populated with most of the workers still out in the fields. No trade caravans were in town last night. Caden had a table in the corner big enough for the six of us. Caden introduced himself as the agent acting on behalf of the family of, diseased, Lord Byron Bevel. Lord Bevel’s family was a large merchant family in Pitax and they were looking for resolution to the curse that claimed Lord Bevel, the groom on whose wedding day the curse fell. Caden reiterated the reward he was offering, 3,000gp for removal of the curse and 4,000gp for concrete proof of who caused it. Rusty did the majority of the talking and questioning for our party.

Many of the guests died at the wedding feast as well as the bride and groom (Lorrisa Muric and Byron Bevel). The bride’s father, Lord Muric did not survive the event. Another noble, Lord Beven died(?)/has not been seen since the event (information received at different times says both, not sure if this is intentional or mistake). Lord Beven left his estate and large vineyards north of the Muric estate to his daughter, Sheala Beven. She has a house in Fairhill where she usually prefers to live (Area P on the Fairhill map).

Nearly 100 people attended the lavish wedding. Stories recount that anyone who ate or drank became affected by the curse. The town guard was called to fight the demons and killed many of the affected townsfolk. Shefana Elsaban was one survivor of the guard who fought that day.

The Curse on House Muric has been on-going for roughly five years. Those afflicted by the curse slowly mutate into monsters and go mad. Apparently, those afflicted generally stay on the Muric estate. There are some whisperings of the curse beginning to spread into other areas, possibly threatening other parts of the town. The head cleric Jestine, offered assistance.

The cause of the curse is unknown. It is also not clear if it was targeted on Lord Beval or Lord Muric. Given the outcomes it was likely Muric, but Beval lost his heir as well.

Caden suggested we talk to a few of the other people before making plans to visit the estate.

  • Shefana Elsaban (guardswoman)
    - – - Has a high reputation in town despite not being a social person
    - – - Spoke to her. She was disapproving of our visit to the grounds. Said we would be affected by the curse and attacked by whatever creature survives on the grounds. She suggested not to take a frontal approach.
  • Anabla Creagach – Bromi spoke to her on day 1. Notes in The Curse of House Muric Plot:
    - – - No one has made it back from the Estate after the initial rescue attempts were made. Some have seen or been near the grounds and lived to come back. No one has entered a building and made it back though.
    - – - Almost nothing is known about the curse. It is confirmed as a curse because magic targeted to dispelling curses can halt the symptoms and prevent madness. Spells to remove disease have no effect.
    - – - Per the Druidic Council she is not permitted to enter the grounds and directly interfere. She has been observing for the last six months and thinks the area of the curse may be spreading
    - – - She is keenly interested in plant, soil, water and/or animal samples from inside the “curse zone” to further study and learn about the problem. She cannot pay for them but may be able to offer other help or benefits as you go further into the Estate.
  • Thrace Whiteoak
    - – - Arrived in town shortly after curse set in. Lots of money, very well dressed. Said he would like samples taken from the house to study in town. Offered to provide sample jars. Said he came here to study the curse but stays because it is a relatively safe town on a major trade road. He can make magical arms and armor as well as scrolls and wands.
  • Jawhara Masood – bard at prancing pony has been asking questions about the curse.
    - – - Talked to her between set while performing at the Prancing Pony. Doubted the truth about Thrace Whiteoak’s story for needing to ask for samples. He should be able to gather samples himself.
    - – - She said no new real information about the curse
    - – - Gave us lots of information about bad blood between Lord Beven and Lord Muric. Said Beven would have had reason to distrust Muric. He has benefited in the interim time but now their lands are in danger.
    - – - Said Sheala Beven’s house is guarded.
    - – - She said that an apprentice had sad Thrace was not good to work for.
The Longest Wait
The making of a map

Iomedae knows time can drag on when you are on the eve of a grand adventure. The discussion earlier in the day had lead to the decision to go investigate the curse on the Muric house eighteen miles East of Fairhill. Provisions were purchased and preparations were made. The rations were purchased because nothing on the land could be eaten. Gavin bought a cold iron short sword that he strapped on to his hip diagonally behind his back for a reverse draw. This coupled with the Katana and Wakizashi, Morningstar, and short bow, made him look like a veritable porcupine of swords. Two expensive vials of cure disease and lesser cure light wounds he purchased from Filib’s Potions. He got a little discount for having returned so many stolen items to the proprietor, Filib. After checking the horses were brushed and fed for the next day’s expedition there wasn’t much to do. The hours had run on and on and on for what felt like four and a half months. In the time Gavin had finished working on a map of the region. He used rough maps he had seen in the temple and his own observations. He drew them out on the vellum with the most detail he could provide.

The map would grow in detail as they explored more of the countryside. The mountains were to the north with the Yalt river providing the life blood of the Fairhill farming community. Fairhill was an important trade route between the small western border town of Mormouth and the capital of Pitax. Mormouth was on the northern Sellen river flowing South from Numeria from Chessed on the Lake of Mists and Veils. Trade that comes over the top of the world from the Far East comes down the Sullen and Mormouth is Pitax’s only port on the Sellen. Of course most trade comes up the Pitax river from the Yalt that feeds into the Sellen far to the South. But that means trade must go through five more capital cities and three hundred miles before it comes back into Pitax and the kingdom would prefer to off load any trade they can at their first port city and incur less markup. That is why trade from Mormouth to Pitax by way of Fairhill and past the bandit keep had been so important. Arjana sure had strangled the trade for the last several months and people were happy to have it flowing again. While not all of these places had found their way onto Gavin’s Pitax map he had other maps of the Sellen river valley he had picked up in Daggermark that set it in perspective.

Gavin applied the final brush stroke of ink to the map and sat back to look at his product. Perhaps he would have something to file in his reports that might make it back to the Archives in Absalom afterall.
Time to sleep for tomorrow is another big adventure.


“What a strange trip it’s been so far,” Alton muttered to himself. Just a few short weeks ago he was shoveling ox droppings by day and playing flute by night. Now he was an adventurer. A (semi)full-fledged adventurer.

An adventurer that wasn’t kicked out by his new found acquaintances. “Do I belong?” he thought. After all, he didn’t contribute much to the combat. His arrows had the piercing strength of a flower and he was rendered completely blind by the complex mazes of caves. He had to crawl along the wall just to survive and escape.

What he lacked in combat skills he made up for in spells, performances, and unnecessary humor. He made a gnoll burst out in tears laughing. He translated the enemy commands to gain the upper hand in combat. He located a secret door the other party members were completely blind to.

“I do belong!”

Success felt great. He helped eliminate a menace. He got a taste of the riches that had eluded him for so long. Just when things seemed so well it got better.

A Letter.

“What’s this?” Alton questioned. He opened the envelope and read the first line and smiled as wide as a halfling could.

“After additional consideration, the Academy would love to accept you into its ranks…”

A messenger finds Felinor Linn
A message addressed to Felinor Linn upon returning from Arjana's Stronghold on the morning of the 21st day of Rova.

messenger.jpg “A message for you Brother Linn.”

Felinor passed the young runner 2 pennies, thanking her for the delivery. “May The Inheritor protect and guide you young lady.” Wearily he broke the seal and read the short missive.

I have unraveled the text you left in my care. Please see me at once.

Hearing Felinor’s sigh of resignation Gavin approached his friend. “Bad news?”

“Hrmm? Oh, not at all, just tired I guess.” Handing the message to Gavin, “Fancy a trip to the monastery? It seems Mother Jestine has completed translating the texts we gave her prior to our sojourn to the forest keep.”

Gavin peered down at the missive, echoing Felinor’s sigh of resignation, “We’d better grab Bromi as well.”

Agreeing with Gavin, Felinor called out to the dwarf before he could venture much further toward his accommodations. “Bromi, we must visit Mother Jestine before you visit your bed I’m afraid.”

“Why is that?”

“She has completed translating the dead wizard’s texts.”

After a brief glance toward home, Bromi returned to the others. “Let’s get on with it then. I’d like to see the inside of my room before too long. What about the others?”

“They didn’t know Korzan, we’ll let them know what Mother Jestine says though.”

Fairhill_Monastery.jpgThe three friends exited the small monastery, their breath steaming in the early autumn air.
“That’s bad news.” Felinor stated matter-of-factly.

“A Lich? Bad news you say? That may be a bit of an understatement Brother Linn.” Gavin retorted.

“He’s not a Lich yet or at least that’s what she gathered from Korzan’s journals.”

Felinor looked down at the dwarf nodding, “You’re right but we need to address this posthaste, before an undead menace rises to threaten this town as it’s never been threatened.”

“A bit melodramatic don’t you think, Fel?” asked Gavin wryly.

“I’m not sure we can be too dramatic with regards to the Tower of Earlion, Gavin.”

“We can’t forget about Vortigern, Feliban’s apprentice, either. I’m sure he’s still out there and trying to get into the tower.” Bromi reminded his companions.

“I say we move toward Pitax and deal with this threat as Mother Jestine has asked. We’ve not received any more pressing cries for help.”

“Felinor,” said Gavin, “we should return to the Inn and run this by our other companions before we make any moves. Lilith is from the area and Alton has traveled far, I’m sure they have worthwhile insights.”

“You’re right, Vors. I’m letting my passion control me.”

With these final words, the three companions walked quietly back to the tavern and their compatriots.

Curious Correspondence From Caiden Arien
Recieved by Lilith the morning of the 22nd Day

Lilith receives a letter from Caiden Arien who is very aware of the party’s success in hunting and killing the Leucrotta and ridding Fairhill of its menace. His reason for reaching out to Lilith is to meet to discuss the Muric Mansion and persuade our party to further investigate the curse that plagues the area. Caiden often frequents the Prancing Pony. Lilith also knows he lives in town, so getting together should be relatively simple and he promised getting the party involved would mean working for the good of the town and… “good coin”. He is well known within the town as a Lord and is very fair and proper so Lilith has no doubt that he would reward the party accordingly.

Aside from this correspondence, Lilith also is very concerned with the amount of loot obtained from our recent battle. She has recently begun to suspect that Amlodd is a member of the powerful but secretive thieves guild that exerts influence in town of Fairhill. She is unsure of the relation between his “Thieves Guild” and the larger group in Pitax City Proper. It is very possible that Amlodd and his band of Thieves are working together in serving Arjana. It is very evident that the adventures our party has encountered is becoming very well known within the town which, could jeopardize the citizens of Fairhill. Lilith also believes Arjana is going to become increasingly aware of our presence, which might lead to her obtaining more reinforcements further challenging our attempts to track her.

Lilith discusses this information with the party of adventurers and recommends getting together with Caiden Arien to further investigate the curse.

Private Correspondence
A letter upon arriving in town.

GrandLodge_Banner.jpgPrivate correspondence for Gavin Vors.

A letter was waiting for Gavin Vors at the tavern on day 21 when the adventurers returned to Fairhill. The sender was simply:

Dryblade House

Slaying the Beast
Leucrota Final Battle

Excerpt from Gavin Vors, Chronicler of the Pathfinder Society

I looked around the room following the heavy fighting and screams of battle. The hardy fighters of the group all had gashes and I was worse off than most. The mother leucrota was dead on the floor. If she was as intelligent as my research had led me to believe we did not see evidence of it. She never responded to my provocations and fought with the tenacity of a raged animal. Perhaps losing a child will do that to any being. The mother was bigger than the adolescent we dispatched the day previously. The gnolls and pugwampi were all dead. Felinor used his god-given talents to heal us. He was a bit shorter tempered. A quick to anger side I had not seen of him. I suspect it is the effects of the demonic healing I performed to save his life. I have noticed some symptoms in myself after using it. But with Felinor’s closer connection to the good of the world I think it is affecting him worse. It should pass within a few hours or days at most.

With the militants dispatched and wounds bound or healed my companions and I immediately began looking for treasure. We had seen numerous objects of potential value during our advance but had been focused on concealing our presence. This time, however, we dug into every nook and cranny looking for hidden treasure. We overturned bags in the front supply room. We searched the leucrota nest in the back of the cave. We even turned out the pockets of the fallen foes.

loot.jpgWe gathered all the items into one room near the cave entrance. As the pile grew we knew it was too much to carry out. We sent two of our party out with horses to get wagons back on the main road. Several hours later when they arrived the treasure was gathered. Some 230 pounds of copper pieces were sorted into eight sacks for transport. Another 50 pounds of silver were in two more bags. And 498 gold pieces were counted and sorted into 12 coin purses. These were immediately divided among the party at 82 pieces each. It was more money than I had ever seen in my whole life. Alton tried to make a bed of it while we were sorting. He thought he was some kind of small dragon and kept rolling over and throwing it onto the top of him trying to bury himself. I am quite sure his account will place us all in more glamorous and heroic of fashion.

There were thirty-seven gems of varying values but all worth a lot. I held the opal up to examine it and was awed by the beauty of such an expensive item. Just that one stone was likely worth more than I had earned in my whole life up to that moment. Alton and I agreed that it was worth nearly 600 gold pieces by itself. It was in a beautiful broach that must have belonged to a very wealthy family. Gavin looked for other identifiable jewelry that could be traced back to the missing people from Fairhill. If these valuables were taken from Fairhill it would be bad to try and sell them there. But if they had been raided off traders then they could sell them to Hector Lessley, the gem dealer in Fairhill, for some coin…Assuming these aren’t the items stolen from him.

We loaded all the coin and more (art, weapons, magic items) into the wagons and rode out to the keep to organize and load up additional items from the keep before returning to Fairhill. We needed a strategy for how to approach the town of Fairhill before we went back. I reviewed my notes on the townsfolk from our first two days in town. There are power plays and alliances that I don’t understand yet.

250px-RoseAndGlove-Book.jpgEarly the next morning we returned to explore the caves beneath the keep. They are a most intriguing exploration for me. Not in the form of the architecture but in the age and use. These caves most certainly pre-date the building of the keep. Was the little fort established here because of the caves? To protect what laid beneath it? Returning to the scene of my near death just a few days ago, what seems like a month now, we found a chest. I am hesitant to write in a letter the nature of the items within. Suffice it to say that they are old and interesting. I must study the origins more before confirming the validity but this could be the find I have been looking for out here. This may not just launch my career but define it.

The wagons are loaded and we are heading back to town confident in the knowledge we have dispatched the beast plaguing the countryside of Fairhill. With the hooves, tail, ears, and teeth of the viscous Leucrota we can show it is dead. We have the remaining parts of the villager to return for burial. We will claim the reward for slaying the beast and bring some solace to the people of Fairhill and make life a little more bearable. We have also disrupted the bandits in the hills. While not capturing the leader, Arjana, we certainly have a story about the keep and the objects found within. Perhaps next we can dispel the curse spreading in the country near House Muric.

Caving with Swords
Traps, Gnolls, and Leucrotta

The caves were not only dark, which complicated things more than he had expected from his readings, but they were also trapped. This was a perfect adventure! This was exactly what Gavin had dreamed about since he could dream. Navigating narrow cave tunnels was part of the job. He shouldered past Rusty to engage the Gnolls in the first big room. Why had Rusty stopped? PIT TRAP! FOUND IT! He cried from the bottom of the ten-foot trap. Thank Iomedae they hadn’t implanted spears at the bottom or he really would be in trouble. As it was the fall and his sprained left elbow were only an inconvenience. The floating ioun stone cast its light on the rough carved rock walls. Bits of false floor clung to his clothing and hair. It was just like getting knocked off a horse at full charge…thanks Crusader War College for teaching me what that feels like. This was actually easier.

Gavin brushed himself off and grabbed on to the rope that was thrown down to him. Rusty cautioned him, “Watch out for pit traps. There is one right over there at the entrance to the passage.” The combat progressed and soon the last gnolls were dead in the passages thanks to Lilith and Felinor. Rusty moved cautiously discharging one more pit trap without injury. The next room had two narrow cave passages leaving. One climbed up gently to a tiny room where Rusty explored and reported back that there was a door into a larger room. But the way was a squeeze and very exposed. The other passage was dark and eventually opened into the same room. However we found two more pit traps the hard way and had a fight for our life of five gnolls. Rusty nearly died but Felinor, by the Grace of Iomedae, was able to revive him.

I examined the room and we found three butchered and gruesome remains on three tables. One was clearly the partially eaten remains of a cow, one a sheep, and one a partially eaten person. I believe I recognized them from Fairhill but cannot place them nor remember their name. This surely must be related to the disappearances of the livestock from what we believe to Leucrotta raiding farms. Hardigan, the temple scholar in Fairhill, had told him many stories about the chimera beasts who worshipped Lamashtu, the demon mother goddess. Perhaps they were on to something here. Goblins working with Gnolls and in the same room with the remains of reported victims of the Leucrotta. Maybe this was more the quest of the Bump in the Night posting than of the bandits.

Gavin remembered the reward posting from over a week ago. 250gp for confirmation of what is killing the livestock and another 750gp for its elimination. Well, this was definitely the den of whatever beasts were doing the killing. Could it be just the gnolls? Not likely. Something more feral was using this cave as a home.

With Lillith outside regaining her energy the group lacked a skilled tracker. The brushed stone floor of the cave left little opportunity to leave tracks. The stench of the decomposing carcasses overwhelmed the room in the cave so no discernible smell gave away what could be waiting around the next turn in the passage ahead. Again, Gavin cursed wishing he had a wayfinder to accurately determine direction so his maps would be more accurate. In his mind’s eye he tried to draw the turns of the cave. Three lefts and a right should put them heading west through the room. Or had he lost track?

Felinor called for him to move up. They were going on. “I’m all out of spells,” Felinor remarked. “I used the last of my healing on Rusty. If we keep going we are at increased risk of not walking out of here.”

“At least Alton the Bright can sing songs about us,” Gavin replied. They may even avenge us if we die. The party went on, more cautiously than before. Rusty and Bromi moving ahead of the lights and scouting out the area. The beast was at the back, another right turn and down a long cave passage that split and rejoined. The back room was its den. The large creature, a leucrota for sure, loomed up and attacked. We surrounded it and valiantly fought to bring the beast down. Our blades bit true with the blessing of Iomadae upon us and we all survived. The beast was still young. Nearly full grown but not full strength. It had also been previously injured. We could not tell the origin or extent of the previous injuries but perhaps Lilith could tell us more.
Realizing this was not the mother beast we retreated to the tiny room that overlooked the big room which had narrow walls and no large beast would be able to enter. We planned to rest up, heal, and regain spells before tracking down the mother beast and ending this trail of destruction.

That night we ate cold rations and burned no fire. Voices were hushed and only one ioun stone cast its magical light. Gavin sat watch the whole night, having cast his spell that enabled him to eschew sleep and keep his senses alert while still starting the next day refreshed. Just a bit of what the elves have naturally, he thought for not the first time. This had been one of the first real spells he learned as a student in Lastwall. Apprentice studies, combat training, and guard duty took their toll on young men. This spell was the leg up that many magus and war priests used to make it through the school.

The muted conversation moved on to the next courses of action. “What do we do after we kill the mother?”
– Move back to the keep?
– Return to town and claim the reward, 1,000gp goes a long way!
– Track Arjana?

This was the fourth day away from town since meeting the new companions. It was probably time to move back to town, reassure the folk that the beasts were dead. Claim the reward and then think about the next. Returning the trade goods to town should be next. Perhaps they could negotiate a handsome compensation for escorting the safe return of the goods. Or perhaps they would just lead to the death of more caravan drivers. So maybe they should put the end to the bandits in the hills before trying to secure the goods. There were a lot of options, not to mention the Cursed estate, the vampires, the wizards tower quests too.

Gavin mulled over the options as his body rested but his mind remained alert. He proposed returning to town, claiming reward and re-equipping. Then going back to the keep to clear out the cave beneath. That was an interesting cave that predated the foundations of the keep. There could be something to report in his journals in there. After that hopefully Lilith would have been able to pick up Arjana’s trail, now nearly a week old, and close out that problem. After the trade lines to Mormouth and Pitax were open the party’s reputation would mean more and perhaps people would start to give them answers to some of the larger riddles.

Post death exposition and preparation

Gavin woke in a queen sided bed with a real mattress. The room was made of stone walls and exposed timbered roof. Two candles cast dim light from a night stand to his right. The bedroom, which it had clearly once been, was now stacked high with crates and chests in haphazard way. The old decorations still hug on the walls. Two aging tapestries displayed scenes of hunting in two seasons. The foxes and boar ran ahead of countless dogs and horse mounted men in hunting attire with bows and spears. This While rustic in a hunting theme, the furniture in the room was well constructed before age and neglect had taken its toll. This was the room where Arjana made her final stand before escaping.

What happened? How did he get here? The last thing he remembered was being constricted by the barrel beast. Had it been a true mimic? He had only heard of things that could camouflage themselves so completely. It had looked just like any other barrel. But when it came alive and lashed out at him he knew something had gone terribly wrong. How fascinating that this beast had taken up residence beneath the keep. How long had it lived there? The magic that reanimated them had been there for many year.

Gavin winced as a pain shot through his head. Felinor was there in a second. Had he cried out in pain?

“My friend, you live!” the knight cleric remarked carrying an enchanted torch floating above his head. The light was bright compared to the candle light. Gavin and Felinor had been together the longest of the party. The dark-skinned man of Shoanti blood had been raised in a monastery to Iomedae. He had grown up in a militaristic community with law and goodness held in high esteem. Felinor and Gavin had shipped out of Absolam on the same ship and followed the path together. It had been a welcome friendship considering Gavin’s own upbringing in the militaristic society of the Crusader War College in Lastwall. “Your body is mostly healed but taking that much damage in one day can leave a mark that only time and devotion to Iomedae can heal. You are a tough one, my friend. Manny a lesser man would have died from those wounds. You are lucky the others got you back here quickly.”

“Well, I am feeling much better already. I did not die, thanks to your god given abilities.” Gavin worked to sit up and succeeded. Could it be that only three full days had passed since the battle with Arjana? So much had happned. The frantic race back to town in hopes of catching Amlodd and recovering the goods. The equipment and cart had been burned. They did reach town before Amlodd and found four new adventurers to reinforce the efforts. War had claimed the life of Delph. The return trip, fighting the pugwampis; it had all been so much, so quickly. They still needed to go back and find the goblins in the caves. Drat that rope bridge and their inability to push the attack. Next time they would be much more prepared. This morning’s encounter with the skeletons had taught Gavin the importance of having reliable light sources. And Felinor had one perfect source slowly circling around his head. Gavin struck out to make a grab for the circling ioun stone shedding light in the room but Felinor withdrew with fighter reflexes borne of practice.

“You are too slow, my wizened one. Stick to your tomes and writing and leave the fighting to us knights.” Felinor gave his traveling companion a big smile. “Besides, there is one for you too. We found a small chest of them neatly packaged for transport. This whole keep is full of supplies that Arjana’s brigands have been stealing from the traders for months. These are the missing goods from Fairhill. Weapons, armor, minor magic items, herbs, and more. While you were out dyeing in a cave the rest of us were looking for useful things.”

“Let me up. I am well enough to move about,” he said to Felinor’s protests. It was mostly for show. The good cleric had been trained in the healing arts in the monastery and knew how to treat a patient. However, he also knew how men of action (as Gavin liked to consider himself) reacted to a healers advice.

“There is a basin of water there for you to wash up. Your clothes are remarkably clean for having nearly died. I’ll be downstairs.” Felinor said. He reached up and caught the ioun stone slowly circling four inches above his head and handed it to Gavin.

Taking time to wash with the cloth and water was more of a luxury than he’d had in a few days. The sweat of the hastened journey back to Fairhill still stuck in his hair. Sometimes these luxuries were not worth the time wasted tracking down a lead. But it seemed he had a minute. After dressing and tucking his two small blades neatly away he went downstairs to see what everyone had learned.

The discussion was clear. The party was ready to go after the goblins. Lillith knew how to get around the bridge by crossing the ravine up stream. It would probably add an hour to the travel but saved the danger of crossing on ropes. They would leave at first light the next day. That meant a few hours to rummage through the items in the keep to see what would be useful for ferreting out goblins in caves. Hopefully they would find Amlodd the betrayer or track down Arjana’s conspirators. All signs pointed to Arjana working with her human brigands. But she ran somewhere. And the trail of Amlodd disappeared with the pugwampis. The pugwampis could be working/controlled by Gnolls who often worked with Leucrotta that had plagued their party for days in the surrounding hills.

This was a dangerous land and how great it would be when they could return to Fairhill and announce the security of the hills from bandits and Leucrotta. It would be even better if they could find Arjana alive and determine the truth of the relationship and motivations. Gavin liked the truth. The Pathfinder Society demanded the truth. This could be the start to entering his name into the chronicles. These backwood kingdoms were rife with lawlessness and magical artifacts. This area on the north-eastern edge of the inner sea was a crossroads of travel for thousands of years. Here he was closer to the eastern trade routes than anywhere else. One day Gavin would make it to the eastern lands and discover the origins of the traditions which he studied. But that was for later. Now he needed to find appropriate weapons and “herbs” to aid him in the upcoming battle to find Amlodd and Arjana.

After searching through crates of packed weapons, armor, minor magic items, potions, and herbs, Gavin equipped himself with new adventuring gear to replace what was on the cart when Amlodd ran off. He also took a burned out dull grey ioun stone of continual flame. This ioun torch that Felinor had found proved to be a perfect light source. Hands free he could still engage in battle. The last item he found was mixed in with random swords wrapped in blankets for transport. It was a wakizashi. The short sword used by samurai and assassins throughout the east. It was the perfect mate (even if it didn’t match) to his katana.

Gavin had practiced with many weapons in his schooling at the Crusader War College. Most of them were heavy long swords, bulky short swords, lances, and other cavalier weapons made for knights. While he had grasped the fundamentals of these techniques he had always appreciated the uniqueness and exotic beauty with which the foreigners and practitioners of the eastern schools fought during the yearly contests. While in Absolam he had purchased the katana in hopes of mastering the style on the road. Initially wielding it two handed like a bastard sword he enjoyed meeting Tsen who gave him free lessons for several days. In just the short time Gavin had learned some of the basic eastern styles for using distraction to open up the opponent’s vulnerabilities. After that Gavin had been much more confident and most recently has had more opportunity to use the blade in practice. The wakizashi now completed the set called an o daisho. He strapped them on together and worked to find the proper placement.

Gavin sat at the dining table with the floating light and chronicled the events of the previous two days. 0This would be the official report to Venture-Captain Istivil Bosk In Daggermark. The aging man had asked for updates on this ever-changing region where generations built on the backs of previous generations with no regard to the history there.

Later, casting his keep watch spell he positioned himself on the wall of the keep outside with his o daisho laid across his lap. He would study his spells in the morning and be ready to ride out at first light.


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