Date: Lan the 10th-16th, 1334 Avard
After clearing out the two young white dragons residing in their fort, the Black Feather Troupe set in for the winter. They reached out to the ambassador of the Dragon Nation Wuron Sfa and were forgiven for the deaths of the two young dragons, and allowed to keep or dispose of their remains – save for the skull of the one at the fort. The skull might be used as a clue to the parents of the two young dragons. The troupe was given a special scroll that would, upon completion and sealing, immediately send its letter to the ambassador – the dragon known as Vristilistalamar (or Vrist, for short).
The Black Feather Fort was cleaned out and cleaned up by the masons and carpenters Eingrim had hired. Each of the rooms for the giants had been thirty feet tall, and about 300 square feet – downright monastic for 15-20ft tall hill giants and ogres. The rooms were restructured, with most being turned into two rooms, each with a height of about 15ft – one on each floor restructured to three 10ft tall rooms (minus beams and flooring and other structures). Stairs were built into the wide hallways or into the rooms themselves, and the giants' stairs were re-stepped to make life easier for much shorter humanoids. By the time winter was over, the interior of the fort had been completely redone into something warm and comfortable.
New staff were hired by Eingrim and vetted by the troupe. They hired a hunter, a cook, a maid, and some general laborers that would also act as guards. The maid was a kobold, which no one objected to. The laborers were orcs, which made like interesting for the dwarf Jasper. She was placed in charge of the orcs, which assuaged her dwarven sensibilities.
While the troupe had been investigating werewolves and a warehouse, they had found an egg. The egg belonged to a gryphon. It hatched, and they named the gryphonling Cleo. The young gryphon grew rapidly over the winter, taking a liking to all of the troupe.
On Curiss' Day, Toox was given a Dead Stone to install in the fort. It would help to prevent sentient undead, spirits, poltergeists, and other souls from infiltrating the fort.
Roland made a pilgrimage to Kashin, meeting with the Chosen of Xoriah and visiting the fortress-like temple of Rahne there. When he returned, he worked with the giant-sized forge and anvils, melting and reworking the heavy metals until he had a functioning forge in the bowl of the fort. The carpenters put in a roof for him, and the mason's put in a cobblestone floor. While they worked around one another, Roland forged a new sword. His enchanted Leaf Blade was good, but it had been someone else's blade they had found they had found on the Drumkin]]. He needed something that more suited his fighting style – and so he made a new blade. Working with a bit of the Eternal Flame (a gift from the Chosen of Xoriah) and help from Hiko and Eingrim, Roland crafted a new flameblade for himself.
Other than helping Roland or minor tricks, Hiko studied magic. He spent his time in the newly constructed library, or studied in his room, continually relearning magic, shifting his studies from the School of Illusions to the School of Conjuration.
Minetta visited as time and weather allowed, riding a sleigh back and forth the three miles to Rilan. She helped Eingrim to build a decent alchemist's laboratory in the hidden basement, and helped him prepare for his 'punishment' from Lok Magius. Eingrim had been told that, since he had deigned to teach an expelled student such as Hiko, then he would teach students that Lok Magius thought were hopeless – such as wild mages. Towards that end, Eingrim approached magic with a renewed ferocity. His studies of necromancy had failed him. He had died, and been resurrected (at great cost), and then was being punished for his teachings. Eingrim spent the winter changing his approach to magics, potions, and machinery.
In the 2nd floor of the giants' keep known as Drbth, there had been a tapestry gone gray with the dust of the ages. Once cleaned, the tapestry revealed a map with a lost continent. The lost continent matched the Karatikan maps Hiko had, confirming that there might, indeed, be a lost continent. The troupe kept this to themselves, hoping to be the first to explore the new lands – but more information and preparations would be needed, and they had the rest of the winter to go.
During a trip into Rilan, Chimes visited the the Temple of Habrem known as the Mountain's Bass. There, she learned of a blessed bow that doubled as a harp of sorts. The bow called to Chimes, and she determined to earn the bow or find one of her own. Towards that end, she began to practice with the bow. The mages made for her an enchanted bow. Chimes restrung it with one of the rune-enchanted strings they had found, and then armed herself with the bracers of archery. She practiced through the winter, and she practiced until her feathered fingers bled.
The Baron Tadeus Complan, Lord of Rilan, visited them just before spring. The baron wanted to check on his fief, and the Black Feather Fort was just one of his many stops. The baron let them know that the Lord of Red Walls himself had been sent to Hallis Island, and his family expelled to Kashin. The title of Lord of Red Walls went to one of the baron's other thanes. The baron was still thankful to the troupe for finding and routing the werewolves in his town.
The baron's visit turned the bowl of the fort into a quagmire, and Eingrim vowed to have the whole thing paved – when he could afford it. After selling the dragon parts to Lok Magius and taking care of expenses and setting some aside, the troupe had a bit of money to spend. They visited the Silver Gauntlet in Rilan, trading their gold and obliviax inks for magical items that suited them. Between the Silver Gauntlet and all the many, many repairs to the fort, they were once again running short on monies.
On the 10th of Lan, ten days into the 1,334th year since Avard Karatika had taken the Green and Gold Crown, the troupe set out once again. Eingrim had a two-fold task for the troupe. He had penned a letter of writ for Roland to deliver to the Royal Naval docks in Teras. The writ authorized the Guardian of Xoriah to obtain a copy of one of the military's maps of the area where the lost continent might be.
The troupe was instructed to stop at recently found ruins on the way back. The ruins had already been cleaned out by the locals, but Eingrim wanted Hiko and Roland to take a closer look, as their knowledge of the arcane and the divine would likely be far greater than the locals'.
They boarded the Little Titan on the morning of 10th of Lan. The rest of the troupe had not realized that Hiko was a sailor, but his expertise shown in helping the crew navigate the dangerous ice currents as the river thawed. They over-nighted next to a large fallen tree, and then bad weather delayed them to Avath until the night of the 13th. They stayed at the Eleven Shields Inn that night, before setting off again. They met another ship on the 14th, and tied up beside them to await the evening. The other ship was known as the Lone Squire.
The Lone Squire crew and the Little Titan crew got along well, exchanging stories and talking until late at night. The bosun of the Lone Squire drew their attention, though, in the way he watched Chimes.
The troupe did not stay in their cabins, that night, but instead stayed in the stable. They cleared out enough space for Chimes' tiny hut spell, and squeezed in to sleep for the night. They took shifts, Cleo nuzzling different ones while they waited.
The ink in Hiko's spellbook glowed just faintly enough for his elven eyes to see at night, but not so brightly that any human more than a handful of feet away could detect. Hiko saw the bosun sneaking through the hold, using a bullseye lantern to look about. The bosun of the Lone Squire could not see into the tiny hut, but Hiko could see him quite clearly – see him consider trying to get into the opaque dome with no obvious entrance. The squire left as quietly as he had entered. That was when Hiko woke the others.
Toox was made invisible, and then crept onto the Lone Squire. Hiko's familiar, Missus Melbourne, had taken on the appearance of an owl, and she glided silently up into the rigging of the Lone Squire, serving as overwatch while the others waited below decks in the Little Titan.
The invisible monk snuck down into the Lone Squire, finding a big man pretending to be asleep near the forward holds. The big man was obviously guarding something. From somewhere in the cargo hold of the ship, Toox heard a child's voice say, “I want to go home!” over the sound of ice and river and creaking boards that were normal to the ships.
Roland, once appraised of the situation, called to his goddess for the ability to see evil. On the Lone Squire, he found it. He memorized its locations, and then boarded the other vessel. The two sailors on duty – one from the Lone Squire and one from the Little Titan, both objected, citing piracy and threatening to go get the captain. The sailor of the Lone Squire was knocked out – and the sailor of the Little Titan told to go get his captain.
The Paladin of Xoriah moved quickly, storming down into the Lone Squire with Hiko and Chimes and Toox following. He opened the cabin door to the greatest source of evil, and slew the bosun where he slept, hacking his torso in half, the head attached to one arm. Blood poured in buckets at the slaughter, and other sailors, roused by the commotion, responded.
Those so infused with evil that Roland could see them in the darkness were cut down, but all the rest were merely knocked out. The battle was brief, with one of Hiko's spells locking half of the evil ones in their cabins until the troupe was ready to deal with them.
Roland felt his holbrace itching. He knew his act of murder was a violation of his oath of redemption. He knew that the anger blazing through him was vengeance, and the six children enslaved in the forward hold made his emotions burn. He turned his fiery sword at the last moment, striking instead with the pommel, choosing not to kill anyone else. Three of the slavers were alive to account for their sins.
Hiko quickly checked the bosun's cabin, finding a purse full of 100gp ducats – and a ledger, written in a simple numeric cypher. Knowing that there were six children as slaves, and knowing when the Lone Squire had left Teras from the conversations the prior evening, Hiko was able to deduce that the bosun had delivered hundreds of slaves.
The captain of the Lone Squire had been completely ignorant. He and the rest of the crew thought that the bosun was merely transporting orphans to various cities. The children, however, told a different tale. They told of being kidnapped in the middle of the night, of being snatched off of the streets, of being stolen from wagons on the roads.
Roland offered redemption to the three living sailors. They would testify to their actions in Teras. He ordered the three slavers transferred to the Little Titan.
Both crews were shaken, but Hiko's translation of the ledger, the children's obvious cries for home, and the body language of the three remaining slavers assuaged them.
The next evening, the Little Titan made it into Teras. They apparently had reservations at a cheap inn near the river, called the Black Rock. Rather than stay there, they opted for the nicer Hospice of Strength. They had noticed that Eingrim was getting chintzy with the money, given the abilities of the crew of the Little Titan, among other things.
Their return ship was the Golden Lance, which would take them to the 'new' ruins, and then on to Rilan. The crew of the Golden Lance seemed drunk. Their expectations lowered a notch.
The letter of write from a Thaumaturgist of Lok Magius, carried by a Guardian Paladin of Xoriah, easily secured them a copy of the nautical charts for the areas nearest the hidden continent. The nautical charts indicated shoals and reefs – as though there were a sunken hidden continent.
They also dropped in to a place known by the locals as 'The Magic Store', but officially called the Arcane Shield. It sold quaint magical items, and was run by a middle-aged human called Madelyne, whom Hiko had known since she was a teen. She and Hiko caught up on things for a bit, and she gave him a slight discount on some potions. Madelyne had seen the Black Feather Troupe perform in Teras, before, and was pleased to meet Roland, the newest member of the troupe.
DM's Notes: It's obvious that some of my players enjoy the minutae of running fiefdoms, while others long only for adventure. We flashed ahead about four months in game time, to give the players a chance to 'build' their home, and give the characters a chance to prep, plan, and recover.
Michael has a hard tasking. He has to stay true to his paladin's oath, while at the same time, doing what he thinks needs to be done. He started the campaign with one holbrace, and earned another for sending an ogremai into another plane. But he lost the second holbrace for not accepting the surrender of a frightened young dragon that was only just beginning to understand what it had done wrong. He earned the second holbrace back by freeing a group of slaves. Michael hesitated, though. His paladin's path is Oath of Redemption. He almost killed a slaver, but chose not to, thinking it might cost him his remaining holbrace. It would not have. I might have suggested he take the Oath of Vengeance, which might fit the character better, but it would not have cost him his holbrace. Being a paladin can be very rewarding, but it can also be very challenging.
None to date.