Title: Ducal Days
Date: Early Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: The company entertains the ducal court in Chasadan with hunts, fights, and magic shows. Afterwards, they set out for Teras on a mission.
Morning of the 6th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
As many of the people of Chasadan as possible gathered in the grounds before the temple of Yatindar. Duke Talon Bhramord and the entire ducal court were assembled, as well. The charges read were short and succinct. On the duke's signal, a paladin of Yatindar, Defender Bertrant, beheaded Kagen the Blackknife. The next charges were also short and to the point. The next two heads to fall to the executioner's axe were not human; the heads belonged to shapechangers. The shapechanging dopplegangers – one without an arm – changed into a variety of faces and people as they fearfully were forced to the headsman's block.
After the execution, Hearne led the ducal court on a minotaur lizard hunt out on the plains. The winner of the hunt was Sir Dash Howell of the Barony of Easterling, who took away a purse of a thousand silver. Winning the purse earned Sir Dash considerable respect among his peers. The knight later informed Hearne that, should the druid ever have need of his services, Sir Dash would pay him back in honor of the win.
That afternoon, Greff organized a pugilistic tournament among the nobility and the Guard. With over a hundred participants fighting for thousand silver purse, Greff managed to organize a phenomenal set of matches. Greff, an excellent judge of a man's fighting ability, was able to match comparable opponents at a glance. Except for a few blow outs, all of the fights were masterful matches with a surprise winner. The hedge knight Sir Amar Drengur of the Barony of Palatus won the tournament in a knock down, drag out fight that could have gone either way until the very last punch. Sir Amar, an impovershed knight more or less appointed to his position simply because his butchering skills made him a strong man in his village, admitted to Greff that the tournament would change his life. Sir Amar owed Greff a debt of gratitude.
That evening, Corrin and Roswyn put together a fantastic performance of magic, darkness, disappearing acts, and other crowd pleasers for the court, inside the Swaddled Blade's grand room. The duke took the opportunity to remind everyone of Roswyn's abilities, and that if they needed enchanted blades against the darkness or the undead, Roswyn was the best source available.
Following the magic performance, Arkhan spoke before the court. The duke, long aware of the Inquisition's perverse hatred of the dragons, used Arkhan's presence to remind the people of the Janis Plains that they were no longer Inquisitors. Arkhan spoke of Androgenae, one of the saints of the Church of Yatindar. Androgenae fought against overwhelming hordes of orcs in the Voord Hills, and Arkhan skillfully wove together a parallel between Androgenae himself and the dragons, fighting against the overwhelming hordes of the Inquisition. The memories of the dragons are long, Arkhan said – long enough for a father to remember a son. That was when Arkhan dropped a metaphorical bomb on the court: Androgenae was the son of the great dragon Kord. That a dragon's blood flowed through one of the greatest saints in the Church of Yatindar was met with roars of disbelief that were soon quieted. Although Arkhan wore the holy holbraces of a paladin, a dozen other paladins strode forward, and confirmed by the will of Yatindar, Whalin, Mikindim, and Lul, that Arkhan's words were truth. The dragons, Arkhan said, would prevail – just as Androgenae's legacy prevailed, in all the peoples of the Janis Plains.
Sorsha, with the audience unwitting, used her bardic gift to sway and manipulate the court. Baron Koord of Halgrimar, Lord of Palatus, was so moved by the dragonborn paladin's tale, that he strode forward and pledged his family dragon-slaying weapon to Arkhan. Delivery would take some time, as runners would have to send for the blade, but Baron Koord, before the entire court, promised to give the blade over.
Unfortunately, Baron Grier of Basarith, Lord of Easterling, contended that the dragon-slaying sword belonged to his family, as well. Easterling's outburst was met by Arkhan before the duke could move to intervene – both men would be honored by the God of Memories. Indeed, Arkhan had been given a bag full of treasures to replace the dragon-slaying weapons, if at all possible. From the bag, Arkhan chose items for both men that were significant and symbolic, as well as historical.
Both lords were appeased, and the court began to buzz, with many wondering if they, too, had dragon-slaying weapons in their families. Defender Arkhan pointedly did not look at the Colonel and the Cardinal, whom all knew possessed a spear that had slain dragons.
The next day was a holy day, with the duke himself leading the congregation of Yatindar in the morning. And, as was the custom of the Yatindarans, he held court in the afternoon. Most of the company took off that day, save Captain Aeron, who took the opportunity to visit the lone temple of Brigain in the west, there in Chasadan.
Captain Aeron donated a bit of the stone floor from the jails at the Swaddled Blade, where Saint Karl's blessing was bestowed upon him. Aeron still had random passers by ask him for blessings, and he was beginning to receive a reputation as a holy man, much to his consternation. Aeron considered himself more of a barrister and a member of the Guard, than a priest. In asking for his destiny from the priestess of Storm God, Aeron was knocked halfway across the temple, receiving only the word “No” as his prophecy. Had the Storm God refused, then no prophecy would have been foretold, but somehow, some way, the simple word 'no' was Aeron's destiny.
Confused, Aeron left the temple, explaining the situation to Arkhan. The strange prophecy was met with considerable consternation by every priest in the region.
Later that evening, William, under his brother's advice, organized the various groups of Meridian Explorations that would go forth and seek more information about the vaunted Valen, as well as pursue other areas of interest for the ducal mage – unofficially, of course.
Greff's task was to visit the Rakanus Clan of dwarves, and more specificially, the Wirebeards, and return to them the bloodstone of their clan. Along the way, Meridian Explorations would look into several ruins known to the region, obtain supplies and rare implements in Kashin, and look for the Dragon's Bones on Mount Breakhammer on the way back. Greff chose for the mission Corrin, Arkhan, and Aeron to escort him.
The next morning, when the various groups of ME were assembled, Hershel could not find the bloodstone. Corrin showed him how easy it was to get into his safe, and vowed to increase the security of the safe. In the meantime, the mission had changed but little; ME would return the tome of Orven Lightforger to the clan, as well as his story. Greff and the others were charged with finding out what the dwarves knew of Valen, as well.
Instead of leaving by land, the group chose to wait a day and take the next morning's tide, and go by sea to Teras, and then upriver to Kashin and the Rakanus dwarves. They found a ship called the Little Titan, whose laid back captain meshed well with them. The first mate of the Little Titan, however, was a former Inquisition torturer that had turned his knowledge to use of the whip and keeping sailors in line. While the first mate did not sit well with the group, he bothered them not at all.
They left out slowly in the hours before dawn, and made Teras by nightfall, mounts, fodder, and all.
In Teras, they unloaded and mounted up. Aeron rode a juvenile minotaur lizard easily the size of a large horse. Arkhan rode his trusty draestrier, of a size and appearance similar to the minotaur lizard. Corrin rode her silik spider, it's translucent exoskeleton covering a body also the size of a large horse.
Though an intimidating sight on the streets, the group was confronted by a group of gang toughs that were quickly dispersed. Greff came within a hairsbreadth of killing half the boys, and only Aeron and Arkhan's quick words kept fists and feet from smashing bones and liquifying internal organs.
Greff had spent much of his life in Teras, and he was saddened to see how far the city had fallen. Word on the street had it that Amreth 'the Gaunt' had somehow wrested control of Teras from Duke Therinol Navaillo. The elven duke had ceded most control of the city's guardians when Count Kaleus Stonegrudge went missing in early winter. Count Kaleus was the iron fist within Duke Therinol's velvet glove, keeping Teras running like a smoothly oiled machine.
The Baron-and-the-Bishop Dwarfendale of Mount Rilan had attempted to intervene in the affairs of the duke and free the city from Amreth the Gaunt – but the duke ordered Dwarfendale out and nearly brought about a civil war within the kingdom. The political situation has remained touchy, and many on the street believed that, somehow, Amreth had a diabolical hold over the duke – perhaps possessing him, somehow.
Greff and the rest wound their way through the evening streets of Teras, moving towards the Orchid's Dew tavern. Along the way, Greff leapt off of his horse and dove into an alley, returning moments later with a freshly killed dog to offer up to the orcs.
Greff and Arkhan went up into the Orchid's Dew, while Aeron and Corrin remained out on the street to watch for trouble and consider the situation. Inside, Greff was greeted as an old friend, and he quickly began to gather even more information about the goings on in Teras.
Evening of the 10th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was gumbo, lasagna, and wings – all leftovers of the house from the week, but good none-the-less. I had a session planned out for the group's overland journey, and at the last minute realized that they could have gone by sea. I put that out to the group, and they went for it as though I was baiting them, giving me evil looks the whole time. Hey! My encounter notes were for overland journeys, not by sea!
All characters have 30,000XP, and are 11th-level.
Arkhan is succeeding in his holy quest, all is right with the world… for now.
You remember what the two gifts were, to the lords of Easterling and Palatus? The gifts seem to have slipped my mind, but I'd still like to record them here.
Indeed I do, one was a medallion with an inscription (something to do with a saint or something), and the other was Arkhan's golden torque.