Date: early Trical, 1333 Avard
Roland got his warhorse, and Hiko and Chimes got the wagon and mules, and the three of them made way for the fort. They tossed names about for a bit, and decided they would name it the Black Feather Fort after the Black Feather Troupe.
Toox remained behind in Rilan to await ring mail barding she had ordered for her elk, Balteest. While awaiting the fitting and final details, she visited her 'family' at the Hidden Vow monastery. Her adopted father had been one of the monks at the Hidden Vow, and the other monks had raised her as family.
Half of them were desert elves, seven feet in height, dedicated to the Scavenger God Lul. The other half were a motley bunch of races, dedicated to the Merchant God Curiss, with a library of diaries and logs donated by the followers of Lul. Together, the two groups of monks study Mount Rilan, where the God of Death Galanus himself gave up his mantle and hid his Book of the Dead. The monks grudgingly fulfill the other tenants of their respective churches in the interim, gossiping like a bunch of old biddies about anything and everything happening in Rilan.
Toox heard rumors galore, from the Lord of Red Walls hiring unsavory brutes, to a treasure trove of ogran-stolen magic items from Lok Magius perhaps having been found as someone tried to sell pieces of it to the Silver Gauntlet. The demon-summoner Beth was seen in Rilan right before the Burn, the village of Emowyn was wiped out - all 35 people killed, and vermin of all kinds are looking for warmth as winter sets in while the winter wolves had begun descending from the mountains.
Oh, and the captain of the Drumkin had been planning to retire. She had been a follower of Lul for some time, and the monks had been looking forward to getting her collection of ships' logs and any outstanding diaries, as she had lead an interesting life. It was too bad, they lamented, that she had died that very morning, killed by a demon, along with all her crew.
Toox almost spit out her beer. Pumping the monks for more information, she found that just hours after they had left the Drumkin, the Guard and the crews of several nearby ships and people on the docks had all witnessed a bird-like demon decimate the crew of the Drumkin – Captain Dorotea, included.
Toox spent the rest of the afternoon with her 'brothers' and 'uncles', but in the back of her mind, worry was eating at her.
Roland went hunting, returning with two stags that had locked horns and could not disengage. Their shoulder blades were put to use as additional shovels, complementing the shovel from the troupe's wagon. Dirt on the bottom floor of the Black Feather Fort was deep enough to need a shovel, over a broom. Hiko used his spells to clean the rooms on the second floor of the fort, while Chimes enlisted the local wildlife with her mimicry and her enchantments. A herd of wild pigs happily rooted about the dirt for mice and insects and tubers, breaking up the soil and preparing it for movement out of the cells.
Keeping an eye on the weather, they noticed low-hanging gray clouds whipping in with the smell of frost on them. A blizzard was coming. They redoubled their efforts, focusing on making the kitchens a place to hunker down for the night.
Late that night, after midnight, Uncle Hasalax of Lul, a tall desert elf even for desert elves, and Brother Dan of Curiss, a short young man with dark hair and a thick dark beard, woke up Toox in her cell at the monastery. They bid her be silent, as they helped her prepare to leave. The Guard wanted her and her friends in the Black Feather Troupe. Witnesses had come forth, claiming that the troupe summoned the demon aboard the Drumkin.
Toox opted to leave for the fort, despite the blizzard. With two monks and Balteest to aid her, warm blankets and clothing, and a guiding lantern of curiously magenta light, they set out south for the fort.
After an hour-and-a-half's travel, they arrived at the fort. They woke up the rest of the troupe and let them know what had happened. With the blizzard setting in, there was little else to do but rest and wait.
Later the next morning, the blizzard had slowed to a continual snowfall that was building. Running and hiding was against their nature, and with Roland's urging, they decided to turn themselves in to the Guard and prove their innocence.
Arriving in town an hour or so later on their mounts, they turned themselves in to the Guard.
The leader of the Guard in Rilan was a heavily tattooed desert elf named Sir Bridar – a Reeve and Thane under the Baron Tadeus Complan. Sir Bridar accepted their surrender, and accepted that they may very well be innocent, for they were in the company of a known paladin of Xoriah who vouched for them.
They were treated well, although the troupe were stripped of their weapons, armor, and many items. The Guard, not knowing books, allowed Hiko to keep his spellbook on Roland's word. The troupe was then taken beneath the Vedis building to the cells, and locked in cells separate from one another. Roland was allowed to watch them, but his weapon had to stay upstairs with the Guard.
Chimes being claustrophic, Roland stayed near her and soothed her, and had insisted on her getting the largest cell available. Toox meditated, and Hiko studied his spells.
Lunch arrived, and it was a big cauldron of soup. Bowls of soft-burned wood were doled out, along with soft-burned spoons. Roland added smoked venison from his stores to the cauldron, raising morale for many of the prisoners. Most of them were drunken sailors awaiting parole to their captains, but some were villains that, Roland hoped, would not see the light of day until they were truly redeemed.
Just as the Guards carrying the cauldron left, Hiko saw one of them use an amulet – to summon a demon.
The vrock was a vulture-like demon that barely fit into the corridor of the jail cells. It was a horrendous monster with long claws like steak-knives and a beak that could snap a man's arm off. It immediately ripped Hiko's door off the hinges.
Hiko, having hidden his wand, used it to focus his arcane powers – and teleported a ways down the hall. Extending the arcane to Chimes, she duplicated his efforts as only her kind could do, and then she, too, was teleported out of her cell.
Roland brought his shield to bear, but could only hold the line near Toox's cell – his weapons being upstairs and out of reach.
The vrock squeezed through the corridor to Toox's cell, ripped it off of its hinges, and then attacked Roland. Their battle was brief, before it tossed Roland aside, and then moved forward to rip the cell door off of Chimes' empty cell.
They realized that the demon was not there to kill the troupe – it was there to frame them. Roland, not being a part of the troupe, was fair game, though. It hurled Chimes' iron-barred door all the way down the hall at Roland, slamming him against the stone and leaving him there beneath its weight.
Toox hurried forward to assist him, as the demon screamed in a voice loud enough to be heard for miles, nearly rupturing their ear drums. It then insisted that it was there to 'free the Black Feather Troupe'.
By then, half a dozen members of the Guard had managed to make it down the stairs. The demon waited until they were down in the jails, before disappearing in a puff of brimstone and hellfire.
Roland, free of the door thanks to Toox, used a truth prayer on them all. Those affected by the prayer knew that they were compelled to tell the truth, and knew who was and was not telling the truth. Roland spoke quickly, as did Hiko, and the Guard understood the situation. Four of the six fled back upstairs to deal with the other vrock demon that was outside the Vedis. The remaining two Guard, however, insisted that the troupe remain in their cells.
It was not long after that the Baron Tadeus Complan sent for the troupe. He spoke briefly with them, and with Sir Bridar present. Truth and caution prevailed. The baron crafted a writ for the Black Feather Troupe, exonerating them on the word of the Banner Paladin of Xoriah, Roland. Thinking through the situation, he also went ahead and granted the land around the Black Feather Fort to Eingrim, and gave Roland both the deed and the writ. The deed came with a peerage that was less of rank than Eingrim's arcane rank, but satisfied the feudal requirements of law.
On their way out of the Vedis, the Guard spied Chimes. As a black-feathered kenku, everyone assumed that the Black Feather Troupe was named for her, and she was easy to identify. Roland ensured the Guard read the writ, while a page boy delivered a message to Toox. The message informed the troupe that Eingrim was being held prisoner; if they wanted him back, the troupe would go to the tavern known as the Broken Bow and wait there for further instructions.
Not eager to get into a fight so soon after facing a vrock demon, they opted to move through the gently falling snow towards the Silver Guantlet, a store run by mages for anyone interested in magical items – for a price.
Hiko (disguised, because of his past dealings with the mages) and Chimes worked a deal with the mage, that they would bring in winter wolf carcasses in exchange for certain items.
Roland sold his enchanted morning star, pocketing the money and hoping it might be enough to ransom Eingrim.
DM's Notes: We had to stop a few times as I tended to barbeque during game play, so this session wound up taking a bit longer than it would have, ordinarily. This means we never got to the actual villain in today's game. After some discussions, we allowed for Michael to spend the night, and we would finish the session up the next day – it being a Memorial Day weekend!
None to date.