Title: The Eye of Galgiran
Date: Mid Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: The team meets the Baron-and-the-Bishop of Rakore, who transports them all the way to Kashin by way of the fabled Eye of Galgiran.
Afternoon of the 12th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
The Meridian Explorations team talked with Captain Grel beneath the deck of the Tarnished Torc while the thunderstorm raged outside. The team had hoped to continue upstream to Rilan, where they would hire a crew to return for the Lady of Wolfsmark. Grel changed their minds, pointing out that without a ship, there was no salvage. The Lady of Wolfsmark was too large for the Tarnished Torc to tow, and Captain Grel had too few crew to man both ships.
After talking things out, the team decided to tow the Lady of Wolfsmark back to Avath. The Galanus River would help drift the ship towards Avath, while Burgereon and Justice towed and Corrin and Greff manned the rudder. None of the ME team knew how to sail a ship, but they knew how to work hard.
Neither Arkhan nor Corrin liked the time that would be lost in moving away from their destination, but the Lady of Wolfsmark and her cargo were important. If Meridian explorations sold the ship or the cargo or both, then it was a lot of money to their employer. The ship's cargo had been taken by pirates, however, and Arkhan and Corrin both hoped that the cargo could be returned to their original owners.
In the morning, Captain Grel and the Tarnished Torc tried to pull the Lady of Wolfsmark free of the mud, to no avail. They unloaded Justice and Burgereon and Demon from the hold, and the two lizards and a spider pulled the stuck ship free without trouble. Demon, it seemed, could supply an enormous amount of silk webbing which the silik could spin into ropes and even rough cloth with relative ease.
Captain Grel said that time was of the essence for the news from Teras. The day lost to the storm was not something he could control, but he could control getting good word to Rilan – and the baron-and-the-bishop. The baron-and-the-bishop had already tried to help the duke rest back control of his lands from Amreth the Gaunt once already, but news of werewolves working for Amreth, and that Amreth was perhaps himself a werewolf, would change everything. Captain Grel would also put in word with the Thane Reeve of Rilan, Bridara'arya. After that exchange, though, it was time to part ways. The Tarnished Torc sailed north, leaving the Lady of Wolfsmark and the ME team behind.
The next two days proved exhausting for the team. Though the animals did most of the pulling, Greff and Corrin kept the ship's rudder under control. There were occasional setbacks, as the ship would get stuck in mud, or grind against an unseen log, or the lines of the two lizards would get crossed as they had to go around trees growing close to the bank. They took double shifts during the night, to protect against night spiders. The pirates' bodies were loosed over the sides, stripped of their weapons, and the ship cleaned of all webbing that was not Demon's.
And they found a young goat in a tree. Rather than feed it directly to the lizards, they used it as a carrot, keeping it just ahead of the carnivorous beasts, goading them to keep pulling the heavy load with the current.
By the second day's evening, they were exhausted – both physically, and mentally. They were snippish with one another, and ready for a break. Rather than camp for the night aboard the ship, they chose to push on, as they had seen the smoke of Avath not far away.
The holy symbol of Yatindar provided light for all those in need of the light of justice, and proved nearly blinding to the two guards' night-adjusted eyes. Once the situation was cleared up, one of the guards went for the baroness and the docks master.
At the docks, the docks master and his crew used a longship to help tow the Lady of Wolfsmark the rest of the way in. They tied up the ship, while the team spoke with the Baroness Sherri Aucland. It took little time for her barrister to confirm the rights of salvage, and officially award the Lady of Wolfsmark to Meridian Explorations.
The ME team asked to hire a crew to take the ship to Chasadan, bypassing Teras in light of the recent werewolf events. Aeron and Arkhan checked the crew over, and the docks master agreed to part with them for half a week while they took the ship to Chasadan and back. The silver that went to pay for it all came from the chest full of silver the ME Team had found aboard the Lady of Wolfsmark – which they renamed to Meridia's Gift in honor of their Ducal Mage's familiar.
Arkhan elected to stay in the Eleven Shields tavern and inn, while Burgereon and Justice stayed guard on the renamed ship, with Demon and Corrin and Aeron. Greff spent the night with the baroness.
In the morning, the baroness was apparently wroth with Greff. Corrin mentioned that perhaps she had not had enough protein in her diet, while Arkhan wondered if it was that time of the month for a human female.
Despite the apparent ire of the baroness, the ME team prepared to leave town without trouble. The baroness had prepared documents and instructions for the crew, and still held Meridian Explorations in high regards. Greff hoped her ire with him would pass, and took it stoically. No one really asked why she was angry, and no one told, either.
Aeron found a small vial at the base of the gang plank. The vial smelled, of all things, like Greff's arm pit. The Captain of the Guard for Chasadan found it slightly sad that he knew what Greff's arm pit smelled like, having spent so much time in outright combat alongside the githzerai brawler. Aeron put the vial away, hoping to have the contents identified later.
The four mounted up, and left Avath about the same time as the Meridia's Gift slipped the docks to head down river. The team figured that they could make Rilan in a day's good travel, and with fresh supplies, they set out under a partly cloudy day.
The road north along the river was practically empty. They had seen no one on their trip south, nor did they see anyone on their trip north, until they had passed the tributary where the Lady of Wolfsmark had been stuck. A lone rider who called himself William was very cautious of them skirted past, civily, wary of trouble from such a strange group. When tousled with questions, he asked if the group were members of Firestorm.
Greff growled. Firestorm was the name of Gideon Enterprises' mercenary arm – a competitor in Greff's mind for Meridian Explorations. Greff sat astride his horse backwards, watching the stranger move further south, giving him the evil eye until the stranger was out of sight.
River traffic, too, had been light. Teras' predicament was causing an upset in the entire Rakoran economy, even if no one in authority had realize it, yet.
Not long after their encounter with the stranger, the team saw a river sloop sailing south with a crew of dwarves aboard. The pennant aboard was that of a gauntlet closed in a fist, with rings of gold upon the gauntlet as though it wore rings, as well.
Aeron hailed the sloop, and the sloop answered, dropping a slowing anchor and dropping her sails to parlais with a Guard from Chasadan mounted atop a minotaur lizard. Aeron was told by a teammate that the pennant was the baron-and-the-bishop, who ruled from Rilan. Aeron called out to the ship, asking if the baron or the bishop were aboard. A rather short dwarf with a white beard answered that he was both the baron, and the bishop, of Rilan, Mount Rilan, Lok Giran, Lok Magius, and all the lands surrounding.
Aeron said quietly that he hadn't realize the baron and the bishop were the same person, let alone a dwarf.
Justice was swum out to the ship so that Aeron could parlay with the baron-and-the-bishop in person, occasionally having to ask quick questions of his team ashore. Aeron asked if the white-bearded dwarf knew of the werewolves in Teras, and that was the very reason for the ship to sail for Teras. The baron-and-the-bishop was pleased to be offered the scroll given the team by the twins of Barinthar. The ritual upon the scroll would aid them in removing the curse of lycanthropy affecting the city.
Aeron hoped to join the task force of dwarves being sent south – for there seemed below the decks a hidden army of dwarves or some cargo equally as dangerous – but the baron-and-the-bishop would have none of it when he heard that they were returning Orven Lightforger's tome and going to visit Father Bryan Stongegrudge.
Such was the baron-and-the-bishop's concern about the tome and their visit to the senior spiritual leader of all the dwarves, and of all Rakore, that prayers were made to Galgiran – the Soul Forger, Maker of the Dwarves. The baron-and-the-bishop called forth, at prayers to Galgiran, a small mote of blue light. The blue light expanded into a black ring with blue around the edges – a portal to the bank, which the baron-and-the-bishop strode through with two of his aids.
The baron-and-the-bishop and his aids were caught off guard, held in their tracks by the sight of a silik. The baron-and-the-bishop asked who Corrin was, and she replied in the dwarven tongue, which only she and Aeron knew among the team. The baron-and-the-bishop caught his mighty hammer afire and blessed the team in Galgiran's name, asking the Soul Forger to watch over the four of them in their journey. He also gave Aeron a ring of purest silver without a tarnish upon it, indicating that the ring would help speed their way through the bureaucracy of Mount Lavanor.
One of the aids opened another Eye of Galgiran, and the baron-and-the-bishop told them that the eye would take them straight to Kashin. The four of them strode through, and found themselves instantly in Kashin. The eye closed behind them as quickly as it had opened.
The mountains – and Mount Lavanor, they supposed – lay to the north. Kashin, somewhat larger than Chasadan, was a city of stone made at the base of the mountains in rolling, forested country. Across the river lay farm lands that went out as far as the eye could see.
The team knew not where to go immediately, and Aeron had an urchin bring Greff a tankard of ale, knowing the brawler's tastes for foreign places. He also put out coin to find out where they were, and who knew what. Unfortunately, even after dealing with uppity guards, they found no easy answers, perhaps because of their unfamiliarity with the region.
The tankard of ale the urchin brought for Greff was tolerable, though thick, and so Greff sought out the nearest tavern while the team tried to get its bearings. Corrin went along, while Arkhan sought out some tobacco, and Aeron went to try to find a temple to Galgiran.
The tavern was known as the Flying Elephant, complete with a real chained elephant out front. The tavern catered to the city's Amaran immigrants, with their dark hair and eyes, and dark skin, as well. No one wore anything above the waist except for necklaces or piercings of bone and wood, and the barmaid was adept at bobbing her assets for lighter-skinned folk.
Unfortunately for Greff, the fare went from tolerable to awful. The five ales he tried went from bad to worse, and Greff nearly left the tankard on the counter. However, the all-wood tankard and its lid would be a souvenir of sorts, and perhaps some lonely Amaran would read Greff's yet-to-be-published book and recognize a bit of home.
Arkhan, having procured several pounds of tobacco from a street vendor not too far away, rejoined the three of them and they headed north, not really sure where Aeron was.
Aeron, for his part, found the Libranum – the largest library in all Rakore, the biggest temple to the Merchant God Lul, and the primary treasury and mint for the nation-state. Aeron's robes and holy symbol opened several doors for him, and he met a man named William whom could analyze the contents of the vial for a small fee. While the vial was being analyzed, Aeron took the time to peruse much of the library, which waved its customary fees for a brother of the faith and a member of the Guard of Chasadan.
Greff, Corrin, and Arkhan were called to by an elf maid outside a building overgrown with ivy. The building was made of stone, but arranged in a circular manner with joists sticking out of the top of the tower looking akin to branches. The ivy covering the whole of the tower made it look a bit like a fat tree. The building was a tavern, called the Silent Spring.
With the mounts outside, the three moved in out of the bright sun and into a cool, shadowed room in which sunlight filtered through ivy-covered windows. A silent spring bubbled up from along one wall and ran down the middle of the bar all down its length, to a small pond of fish and koi. Sylvan elves and desert elves were the majority of the patrons, with some looking down on the team from the ring of small tables around the second story.
The barkeep was an elderly elf who waved them to the bar. The first round of wine was on the house, in exchange for their stories – and if their stories were good enough, the rest would be significantly discounted.
The wine was potent, with a high alcohol content, but tasted wonderful – not too sweet, not too dry, and wet enough to quench a thirst with hints of fruit juices within. Each wine Greff tried was better than the last, and the barkeep gave them quite a deal. Tales of Meridian Explorations had already spread to Kashin; the team's reputation was a good one, even when some thought them the assassins of the former High Priest of the Janis Plains.
In exchange for their stories, and Greff's in particular, the elderly elf gave a story of his own. The elf said that some three hundred years before, he had seen others like Greff. A dozen githzerai had wandered into the Banoc forests, where he had been a youth. The elf said that the chief of the githzerai was named Halal, but much of the rest of the story was lost to him. He did remember that the githzerai had been traveling, lost, with no real destination – that they had seemed strangers to the Banoc forests in which they had been found roaming. The githzerai had been shown hospitality, for they had honor, but they had also been shown to the border of the Banoc forests. What happened to them after that, the elven barkeep had no recollection.
At the Libranum, William told Aeron of what he had found. The vial had contained a powerful arcane potion that would make the imbiber invisible to all the senses for a short while.
Troubled, Aeron left the Libranum and retraced his route. Questions of merchants and passersby led him to the Silent Spring, where he rejoined the team and let them know of his findings.
The four finished up in the Silent Spring, and began to head north again. The road up from Kashin followed many switch backs, and was well-maintained, with many travelers even at night. Within a few hours, well before sunset, the team saw the massive double doors to the 'old mines' that the Rakanus dwarves had mined out. The massive double doors had admitted the citizens of Kashin during the war, but with the war nearly two years in the past, the doors were once again sealed up.
Ox carts with stone and metal and people went down, while wagons with food and river-shipped goods went up. Despite the long distance, the business was worth it. The occasional stone and metal from the clan was minimal, for the primary task of the Rakanus clan was organizing the faiths of Rakore and ensuring that the spiritual needs of Rakore were being properly met – as well as stamping out what undead remained in the land.
Not long after nightfall, the team made the top, where a vast plateau funneled to a large, carved cave into the mountain. Dwarves with lanterns made their way about the carts and wagons, while drivers and mounts slept or fed on the plateau.
The view was spectacular. They could dimly see the tip of massive Mount Rilan, some 175 miles away. Rolling forests spread out into the hazy dark distance, lit from Maroth all in red.
A youngling dwarf with a list approached. In the light of rising Maroth, the dark-adapted eyes of the dwarf saw everything easily. The dwarf asked their business, and when the team explained that they were there to see Father Bryan Stonegrudge, ArchBishop of Rakore, the youngling snorted, before advising them to be very, very patient.
Aeron pulled forth the silver ring, and told the youngling that it had been given to him by the baron-and-the-bishop. The youngling paused, and began to intone a simple prayer to Galgiran, “Soul Forger, give me the strength given metals upon the anvil, be the hammer to make my soul strong…” The prayer petered out as the ring glowed with an orange-red light, looking for all the world as though it were forge-hot – and yet it was cool to the touch on Aeron's finger.
The youngling was no priest, but no priest was needed to recognize an artifact attuned to Galgiran.
Evening of the 15th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Whew! Took a bit to write, but well worth it. I just hope I didn't leave anything out. I couldn't remember which Will was William, though; hopefully someone'll straighten that out for certain. Of course, tonight did not go as planned for me. I had all kinds of things in line for the trip to Kashin, either by land or by sea. The spotting of the baron-and-the-bishop's ship was an off-the-cuff idea that snowballed into use of the Eye of Galgiran. In retrospect, though, I feel that was a good thing; it helped put some fantasy back into the campaign, as I occasionally beat my players over the head with reality and mundane stuff. :) Now, if only I could get Dave and Sommer to actually post something on their characters, even a background or what they're wearing or… something!
All characters have 34,000XP, and are 12th-level.
Hmmm… A representative for the faith of Xynos meeting with the spiritual leader of all Rakore… could be interesting.