Date: Lan the 24th & 25th, 1334 Avard
The Guardian Paladin Roland hoped to use his temple links to find work for the Black Feather Troupe who wanted to be paid – and find trouble to stamp out and have the Black Feather Troupe paid to do it.
Shortly after enjoying dinner at the Black Feather Fort and resting from their engagement with a skeletal plesiosaur and an undead river troll, the troupe was eager to help Chimes find her new dream item. Chimes was a hoarder that had accumulated plenty of gems, but she would happily trade it all for a harp of valor – a bow / harp that she had discovered existed at the Mountain's Bass temple in Rilan. Purchasing such a harp would be an expensive proposition, and money was (as always) in short supply.
The troupe went to Rilan and managed to catch an interesting evening performance. The vicar of the Mountain's Bass temple was performing on stage at the Blue Tyven for the first time in several years. Chimes, ignorant of whom sang, got into a bardic duel with the ancient sylvan elf. The two riffed off one another in an epic battle that the vicar threw during the last stanzas. Chimes regretted some cutting words she had chosen during her performance, and for the first time in her career, wondered if she really was willing to do anything to gain fame.
The vicar knocked those thoughts aside, though, as everyone was reminded that Habrem also took care of the prostitutes – and Vicar Elishira, despite being an ancient elf, was a thoroughly licentious elf that would bed orcs, men, women – and a kenku, if she could have her way.
After the bardic battle, the team checked the job boards for anything interesting, and also asked the vicar if she knew of anything that might help the troupe as well as the world.
About six months' prior, one of the temple's singers – with a 'voice like an angel' – had been killed, her voice box torn out. The murder was linked with some odd activities involving arcanogen, a liquid mutagen tied to chaos magics. Anyone who came in contact with the arcanogen undertook strange mutations. Most died, but some developed extraordinary abilities. How the murder was linked to the arcanogen was anyone's guess, but the vicar had a letter from the Defender Marcus of Yatindar.
Defender Marcus had worked closely with the Guard in Kashin, and uncovered odd links between smugglers, the arcanogen, and the town of Lena. Marcus and his team had followed the voice box north from Rilan to the sunken hulk of the carrack Scorched Earth. The ship had carried arcanogen – and one of its sailors had been turned into a sort of sand elemental that had to be put down. From there, the trail led to a mountainous region northeast of Takanal, where the trail went cold. Marcus then returned to Kashin, but the trail had gone completely cold.
Vicar Elishira had heard nothing, since. Because the girl had been one of Elishira's own, the church was offering a substantial reward to have her real killer brought to justice. An innocent sailor had carried out the act, but Marcus and Elishira were firmly convinced that the sailor did not do the act of his own accord.
The troupe returned to the Blue Tyven, where Chimes was encouraged to make an encore performance. While Hiko booked passage on a ship called the Groom's Bane with Captain Caess, Chimes' performance was cut off. Where Chimes had been was only a smoking sigil of a summoning circle. In grief and in panic, Hiko desperately attempted to bring Chimes back – but only succeeded in activating the circle so that it took him, as well.
Roland and Toox immediately launched an investigation of all those present, finding a man that had been hired to activate the rune. The Blue Tyven had recently upgraded its stage at the behest of a patron who donated half the funds – and apparently built a summoning stone into the stage without their knowledge. The man that activated the stone knew only that he would be met, afterwards, to receive the rest of his pay.
Toox and Roland, hoping to meet the 'afterwards' man, discovered an assassin up on the roof of the Blue Tyven – and not one, but four. Toox was as startled to find four assassins as the assassins were to see her fly up to the roof. A brief battle ensued as two of the assassins fled – and the remaining two… surrendered, almost suddenly.
For the first time ever, Roland's holbraces had caught on fire. It was not a fire that hurt the paladin of Xoriah, but as Roland activated the flames in his longsword, so, too, had the holbraces caught on fire. The very visible sign of the Goddess of Flames caused the assassins to surrender, immediately.
Their leader, Talah, said that they were from Al Fahim – and fiercely loyal to the Inquisition. Talah offered his life to Roland for the next moon (month), but his soul belonged to the Church of Al Fahim. After his month to Roland, he and the remaining assassins would return to Al Fahim – but in the meantime, he and his would give their all to support the Guardian Paladin of Xoriah.
Towards that end, they told Roland all. They had been hired by a man known only as Black Lord to kidnap the kenku Chimes. Black Lord even had a plan, funding a reconstruction of the stage at the Blue Tyven as a trap for Chimes. Two summoning stones were sent to from Kur Maeth aboard a ship called the Gnome's Door, through Teras' customs, and on to Rilan. One of the summoning stones was embedded beneath the raised stage, and the other was placed aboard a small ship called the Seven Gargoyles. The Gargoyles had lain anchor offshore along the River Galanus, and would weigh anchor as soon as Chimes was aboard – supposedly heading for Lena and the Black Lord. To activate the summoning stones, a third piece of stone was needed, albeit it was a palm-sized river rock embedded with arcane runes.
Because Hiko also went through the summoning stones, the Seven Gargoyles did not set sail for Lena – or anywhere else. As soon as Hiko was aboard, he used his magics to turn Chimes into an enormous great ape. She accidentally punched a hole in the bottom of the ship, causing it to begin flooding. Although there was a werebear among the three men subduing kenku Chimes, none could stand against the mighty ape as she broke through the decking and climbed up the mast, Hiko holding onto her. The mast was snapped off like it was a toothpick, sending the sails and rigging into the river. As Chimes leapt away into the river, swimming for land as fast as she could, Hiko fireballed the deck of the ship.
The Seven Gargoyles sank in the Galanus River with most hands lost. The werebear was seen swimming for shore, and perhaps one or two others made it. The summoning stone lay at the bottom of the river.
Through the use of sending stones, Hiko contacted Toox and let her know that they were okay. Toox, in turn, let Hiko know that they had a ship to catch towards Takanal in the morning – the Groom's Bane. Hiko and Chimes moved through the night via various polymorphed shapes, arriving back in Rilan on the morning of the 25th of Lan.
DM's Notes: We had Publix-purchased sliders and seasoned fries for dinner. The team had trouble figuring out what they wanted to do. They're not quite ready to tackle the hidden continent, and they don't feel ready to hit the slave-mage Sualy's crafted as part of the kenku background, so… Dungeons. They want lots of dungeons. In the meantime, they've given me a Wish List of things and adventures they do want, and one of those items was from Sualy for 'Chimes to be kidnapped'. There's one item off the bucket list!
Caileb rolled a critical failure for his arcane check of the summoning circle at the Blue Tyven's stage. On a lark, I figured he could be kidnapped, too! Hiko's spells fireball and polymorph (allies) are game-changers! The kidnappers got a lot more than they bargained for.
None to date.