Title: Yatindar's Eve
Date: Mid Dalan, 1333 Avard
Synopsis: On the even of the holiest day in the duchy, the company of Meridian Explorations gets wind of a plot to sew chaos throughout the city, and an assassination attempt on the Ducal Mage shakes the pillars of the city's clergy.
Morning of Dalan the 16th, 1332 Avard.
The animals raised him from a cub. He knew he was both predator and prey. He was human, and yet not raised by humanoids. He called himself Hearne, travelling the world, hunting the visions Nature had given him. His was the path of the hunter – and the path of the hunted.
His visions had led him to a city called 'Chasadan' by the locals, humans that seemed bleached of color with their pale hair and eyes and skin. Hearne was an outsider even among the people of his own birthing, whose hair and eyes and skin were dark as night. Whatever the locals called it, Hearne thought of it as 'yet another stinky city'. He smelled the sewers beneath the streets; smelled the masses and their toils; smelled the fresh nightsoil left by the man animals enthralled to the humans.
Hearne walked the streets as one of those enthralled animals, taking the shape of a large mutt. No one looked twice at a stray dog, wandering the streets, searching for something.
In Teras, the one known as Greff inhaled the salty air, and shuddered. He hated boats. He hated sailing. But, if he wanted to continue working for Meridian Explorations, then he knew he had best return to Chasadan. As he prepared to step aboard the outbound ship to Chasadan, he was joined surrepticiously by the bird-like entity known as Varis.
Greff had only ever seen one of the strange, black-feathered, upright-walking creatures, and felt a certain kinship with the kenku. Like the kenku, Greff was a one-of-a-kind in Teras. Greff's features were akin to an orc and an elf mating to give an undead beast. Greff's features were why he could brawl with the best, having learned to fight from an early age. Lately, the company of Meridian Explorations had taught him something new – to trust others to fight for him, and beside him.
Varis was a creature of few words, seeking only to join Greff on his voyage east, while casting wary eyes towards Teras. Greff knew the city was falling to a seedy crime lord, and figured that the kenku was in trouble. Without asking details, having fought beside Varis before, Greff simply accepted.
The day's sail was fast, and Greff spent the time miserably trying to keep his breakfast down. The moment they were ashore in Chasadan, he took little time to get his land legs back, wolfing down the first food he could find. He gave Varis directions to Roswyn's shoppe, and headed back to his loft to rest.
The city was awash in people, in preparation for the next day's festivities. Yatindar's Day was the highest holy day of the year for members of the Inquisition – and for the followres of Yatindar, who dominated Chasadan. The very ship Greff and Varis had sailed on, had unloaded casks and casks of drinks – including a tun of Firland wine, the likes of which Greff had never tasted, but looked forward to finding.
The city was also away in stray dogs, and one followed Greff home, perhaps having smelled his hastily wolfed down food or hoping for a scrap. The dog followed Greff right to his stairwell leading up to his loft, and waited. Greff went up the stairs, glanced at the dog, and then closed the door.
He was no sooner in his loft, than he heard the soft clicking of the dog's claws on the landing outside the door. Greff opened the door to growl at the dog for following him, when the dog slipped into the apartment, faster than the fast Greff could reach to grappled the stray.
In a corner of the room, the stray grew deer's antlers on a deer's head on a head, and grew into a dark-skinned man with dark eyes and long dreadlocks, and dark-colored leather and woven clothing. The man asked curiously, patiently, looking around, “Where are the others?”
Greff could only stammer and stutter, and then point at the door. His instincts told him to use his fists and pummel the man to broken bones and blood, but he was trying to learn resolve and reserve. “Out!”
The dark-skinned man with the deer's antlers on his head continued to ask where the others were, and Greff wound up calling the city guard. The guard, unfortunately, thought Greff was quite drunk, though the man with a deer's head full of antlers on top of his own head was a bit odd to them.
Greff, his reprieve broken, decided to head to Roswyn's Shoppe to seek out others for a good drunking after a good hit of Barb's Brew. Greff arrived at the shoppe somewhat later and found the antler-man there ahead of him – shifted into the form of a goat, in a tree, with Roswyn's goat Moxy.
The situation was even more confusing for Greff, as Roswyn was flustered, and hot on the trail of something. Her apprentice, Sorsha, had felt something ominous go by; something on a large oxen cart had given off an arcane aura of considerable power, and Roswyn was concerned. She had already sent Varis off to trail it, and when the kenku bird-man returned, he told of a warehouse on the north end of town, up against the berm-wall and the road north.
Roswyn asked Greff and Varis to come along, and the antlered-man known as Hearne went along as well, his visions driving him – and Moxy's approval letting Roswyn rest assured that the dark-skinned Amaran man had a good soul. Or at least one tolerable to a billy goat.
They watched the warehouse, curious as to what was in it, when Roswyn came up with a wonderful distraction: run out into the street as though she were being chased by something, which she promptly did. Hearn said that he could work with that: he shape-changed into a panther, and faux chased her out into the street, and then shifted course and assaulted one of the guards, even finding his keys. Roswyn played like she was being chased, screaming at the top of her lungs, sending everyone away in fright as the panther hauled one of the guards away.
Greff, with a bit of assistance, soon had the rest of them into the warehouse. Inside, they found a summoning stone. The stone was at least a foot in thickness, and five feet by nine feet, with deeply-etched runes of some sort that hummed with power and smelled like a lightning strike.
Roswyn, being an artificer and privy to certain arcane documents, knew the summoning stone at once. Greff knew first-hand what one could do, having had to deal with the monstrous beholder that had enslaved scores of people in Teras just before winter. Roswyn discharged the stone, using Varis' enchanted boots to absorb the deadly summoning stone.
They left out the back of the warehouse, leaving the scene appearing unchanged, and used the wall-berm to flee the area.
Hearne, having slipped around a building and changed to back to his stray dog form, simply observed the scene unfolding. Close a score of men, plus the guards, came to check the situation. Most of the men wore leather armor, with the insignia of the Church of Yatindar on their armor. The men checked the warehouse, replaced the guard, and then dispersed.
Roswyn chief amongst them decided that what they knew was too important to waste, and so they went to the Ducal Mage. The mage and his brother were deep into a heavy drunking, Yatindar's Day being a bad day for those whom the Inquisition had hunted for many years. The men of the duchy were supposedly free of the Inquisition, but old hatreds died hard, and so, too, did old fears.
Hershel roused enough that he listened, and learned. He set out immediately for the Count's Keep, and instructed the group to return to the warehouse and observe, lest the slab of stone be moved elsewhere.
They returned to the area around the warehouse, taking back roads and avoiding the main thoroughfare, while the city guards warned citizens that there was a panther on the loose.
Varis clambered up a nearby building to the warehouse with ease, and Hearne caused a wealth of vines to grow up the backside of the same building. Roswyn, Greff, and Hearne climbed the vines with ease, vines that withered and faded just after they reached the top.
Roswyn kept asking Hearne, “How do you do that?!” each time he used the powers of Nature. Varis exclaimed, “That's so cool!” each time he used the powers of Nature.
They watched, and observed.
Some little time later, the score of men in leather armor returned, hooking up fresh horses to the oxen cart. While they were doing so, a formidable man and his entourage entered the warehouse. The man wore plate mail with ease, and had slung over his shoulders two longswords in the traditional stye of Yatindar's finest, with a set of blue-white robes over the plate. A set of twins in plate and shields and large swords accompanied him, as well as two crossbowmen in fine scale.
Roswyn recognized the man with the twin longswords as Father Albrem – the High Priest of Chasadan and the Inquisitor-Cleric of the Church of Yatindar. Albrem preached love of the mages, turning the other cheek to the strangeness of the Ducal Mage, and overcoming old hatreds and old fears. Albrem recharged the summoning stone from a glowing red-black shadowy thing in his robes.
The summoning stone was sent out with an escort, and Father Albrem and his entourage went another way.
Roswyn summoned forth the sound of a pack of dogs fighting in the darkness, distracting the escort and stalling the horses as they passed near the building she and the others were on. Roswyn leapt down to the stone, invisible in her magics, and drained the power from the summoning stone a second time.
The delay and the flash of light as the slab of stone drained with no target, brought Father Albrem and his men back. Two of the men in his entourage, twins by the look of them, drew their blades and advanced on the invisible Roswyn.
The situation was close, but she managed to elude them, frustrating them considerably.
They had overheard that the slab of stone was to go to the docks, but Father Albrem ordered the entourage to follow him 'to the tower'.
It dawned on Roswyn and the others that if Father Albrem really was a seeker or a traitor to the mages, then Hershel would be in danger.
They raced through the streets, only to arrive at the tower too late; Hershel's cleaning woman, Fria, let them know that Father Albrem was waiting inside.
Instead, they found Hershel and his escort for themselves, and explained the danger to him. Hershel debated a moment, and then had them escort him to the count. Count Torak also wore plate and the twin longswords of the favored of Yatindar – but Hershel trusted him, and that was almost enough. The company kept twitchy hands near weapons, just in case.
The count insisted on confronting Father Albrem, as his escort and Hershel's escort were all men that favored the priest. They moved together to the Ducal Mage's tower, and entered.
Count Torak explained the charges against Father Albrem with no preamble, and asked, “What say you, on this Yatindar's Eve?” Father Albrem sputtered in anger at the accusations, but the count ignored him, asking again, “What say you, on this Yatindar's Eve?”
In the court of the Count of Chasadan, 'What say you to the charges' was always followed with a 'yay' or a 'nay'. When Count Torak asked Father Albrem a third time, and did not get a response, even the guards knew of the priest's aposty. Battle ensued, as Father Albrem attempted to slay Hershel Kavriss – Brother William held hostage by one of the inquisitor-cleric's crossbowmen.
Varis and Greff were faster than the guards, inside the tower in an instant, laying down a hail of arrows and fists. But Hearne was more thoughtful, calling forth through the very flagstones themselves thorned vines that cut and scraped and twisted and entangled.
Roswyn's magic and the halberds of the guards fell full upon the inquisitor-cleric and his men, as well. Greff hit one of the twin paladins so hard that the man hurled through the thorned vines with such force that he knocked Father Albrem and two others over. Varis and one of the crossbowmen got into a heated battle, the two focusing on nothing else but one another – and in the end, Varis won.
Hershel raced in and rescued his brother, even as Hearne shifted into the form of a giant beetle, and let loose a swarm of locusts from his mouth that frightened the living daylights out of the nearest guards.
And then it was over.
Father Albrem was dead, and so were his entourage.
Count Torak ensured that everyone else was all right, even healing a crossbow bolt wound in Hershel's shoulder, with the power of Yatindar.
The count was for telling the people that Father Albrem had died gloriously in battle, attacking a great evil. The people of Chasadan knew and loved Father Albrem, and the count did not think they could handle the truth. But Hershel would have none of it. He was tired of the fear and the hatred. He had nearly been assassinated, yet again, by one of the very men that had preached love for too long. Hershel wanted the people to hear the truth – and his company of Meridian Explorations agreed.
The count acquiesed. At the next day's services for Yatindar, he would tell the people the truth. Hearne said that it would be a reminder to be ever vigilant, and the count and Roswyn agreed.
The count and the guards tided up the bodies, carefully arranging them and handling them with respect, before bearing them away.
In the aftermath of that horrendous battle, there was blood and filth and chaos everywhere. And Fria, whom had been cleaning up from the battles the night before, had had enough. She quit. She went stomping off into the night, with Hearne calling after her, “Be careful of panthers!”
Arcanist Hershel quietly called forth a number of spells, and had the place cleaned up within moments.
A very proud company eagerly accepted double pay if only they would show up the next morn. There might be more trouble on Yatindar's Day, after all.
Near midnight of Dalan the 16th, 1332 Avard.
Ross was out of town, visiting Puerto Rico with his girlfriend. Though the lack of a tank was noted several times, Dave and Bill worked very well together. Dave brought little markers to keep tabs of who was taking ongoing damage and who was half-held in the mass of thorns. Though the party had been wary of going toe-to-toe with Father Albrem on their own, they did quite well, even discounting the eight members of the guard, Hershel, and Torak. The party's been needing a controller without realizing, and Dave did an amazing job with what he had.
All characters have 11,000 experience points, putting them at 7th-level.
I was very proud of how Caileb played Varis! :) Dave's character made us laugh - a lot!!! Can't wait to keep playing!
This was one of my favorite sessions so far with Joe. I think it is because I am beginning to flush my character Greff out. I feel now like Greff is becoming a character in Joe's world. I know, he is a character, but I feel like when I walk in to play as my Monk, I'm stepping into an ever growing world. What is making him so easy and natural to play now is being specific with his likes and dislikes. Alot of DnD players (me included) make a character and just play whatever is gona be easiest. But it makes DnD so enjoyable when a player adds a different aspect to the story. Everyone can play a good character who always saves the day and gets the kings blessings. But it shows how good a player is when they throw in a character flaw that could potentially make things harder for the group. I think that's why i have stuck with Greff through these one-shots that have turned into a great campain. The more time you spend with you character, the more time you have to see who your character is. You end up thinking how your Paladin or Warlock when you sit down at that table. That is why I love DnD.
We're enjoying Greff growing and developing as a character, as well. I'm glad Greff is willing to go to sea to get from Point A to Point B! It's a challenge to come up with new places and new drinks and new friends and new enemies. But the challenge is so very rewarding when Greff comes alive. I think the funniest moment for Greff in this session was the flustered, “I so want to punch you!” in dealing with the dog-turned-man in his loft!