Friday, August 28, 2015

Westmist Session #100 - Brigands and Nobles

As twilight descended, the still invisible Kern and Erijay scouted around the ruined keep. Apart from smoke rising from the interior, there was no obvious activity. No guards on the crumbling walls or towers, no pickets in the treeline.They did find the main gate,which was closed and presumably barred or locked. Rather than force their way in, the two decided to position themselves near the gate, and hopefully sneak in behind some returning brigands. It wasn't long before they indeed observed a small party of men emerge from the woods, pulling a cart loaded with firewood, some small game, and casks. When the reached the gate, they called out, and a few minutes latter a guard appeared in the tower above. After a short conversation in a foreign tongue between the guard and returning men, the gate started to open. As the foraging party entered, Kern and Erijay slipped in quietly behind them. They passed into the gatehouse and through another gate (each raised by a separate windlass). From there they headed down a narrow passage, open to the sky, that entered into the inner courtyard. Kern and Erijay did not follow, having observed a number of campfires and a significant number of brigands gathered there.
Now left alone in the narrow passage, they decided to check out the doors they'd passed on the way in. Using a combination of listening at doors and searching for minds using the medallion of thoughts plucked from Jax, they found that three of the four doors appeared to have no one behind them. On the opposite side of the fourth door a number of human minds were encountered, including several brigands and a noble or leader of some type. Sifting through their thoughts, Kern was able to get a rough layout of the keep, including the fact that the main living quarters were not in the keep itself. Not sure what to make of that, the two went to investigate the other three doors. Two lead into the defenses surrounding the gatehouse, while the third led into a small, bare room seemingly carved out of the side of the cliff. Erijay decided to search for secret doors, while Kern started the process of summoning with the censor of controlling air elementals, to have it ready to summon in case all hell broke loose.
Erijay found nothing along the walls, but deftly spied a suspicious flagstone on the floor. It was lifted out of the way to uncover a passageway 10' below, heading roughly north into the cliff. Kern, once more listening and brain prying, sensed canine minds in the passage below. Erijay cast sleep to take down the animals, and the two entered the passage. Stepping over the sleeping bodies of 3 wolves, they quickly came to a branching tunnel leading left, and a door straight ahead. The branch ended in a heavy leather curtain, while the door was locked with a massive metal padlock. Kern probed beyond the curtain with the medallion, detecting faint thoughts of men both awake and asleep. A quick look, however, revealed nothing but an empty room. Going back to the door, Erijay stood guard while Kern quietly picked the lock and opened the door. On the other side was a storeroom, filled with crates, barrels and a pair of small footlockers/lock boxes. Kern pried open one lockbox, finding it stuffed full of gems! As he went to check the second, however, Erijay passed a silent warning; men were approaching.  Erijay carefully shut the door and replaced the lock (but not locking it), hoping the brigands would pass on by, she being still invisible. As the brigands approached, however, the leader noticed the open lock and screamed a warning as he drew his sword. Erijay slipped the lock out of the hasp so Kern wouldn't be trapped, then dropped invisible to the floor. The leader swung wildly, but the spear-wielding brigand behind him struck the elf a hard blow. Kern, meanwhile, threw open the door , brandishing his somewhat worst-for-wear preserved medusa head, but to no avail. Erijay now crawled through the melee and behind Kern, to be in a better position to cast her spells from a protected location. A trio of magic missiles slammed into the katana swinging leader, and another spell hasted Kern and Erijay.  The elf next polymorphed herself into a giant python as Kern struck the patrol leader dead with a final swing of the great silver hammer of Lughrin. Erijay then struck at the remaining brigands, crushing and slaying two. The third, however, had already run off to get help, and the sounds of shouting and approaching reinforcements came from beyond the curtain in the passageway.
Kern, pausing only briefly to lift the shiny sword from the corpse on the floor, went back into the room and threw open the second foot locker. In it lay the books for which Toi !lo was waiting. Slamming the case shut, Kern threw it onto his shoulder and he and the snake-Erijay headed back from whence they came. Hasted, they were able to keep ahead of their pursuers and get back to the front gate. There they had to pause as Kern turned the windlass and snake-Erijay stood guard. He was just getting it open when a crowd of brigands burst into the passage. Erijay slithered into the gatehouse, switched back to elf form, and incinerated their pursuers with a  fireball. Throwing open the second gate, they fled into the night, dodging a volley of spears from the guard tower. 

The duo raced back to their horses, and galloped west along the Road of the High Sun, reaching the city of Kunth the next morning. There, they once more requested the presence of their minder "Perfect Spreading of Merit", who led them back to Toi !lo's library to trade the recovered books for more information on the Wastes of the Loathsome Gods. Toi !lo let it be known there was little left of civilization in the blasted wastes. A scattered of insular villagers and nomads, long tumbled ruins, and loathsome twisted beasts of chaos spawned by the pure evil of the place. He suggested the best place to search for the Fetters of the Gods would be in the ruins of the capital of the once dreaded D'war empire, which had risen and fallen in power along with the fortunes of the Loathsome Gods. At Kern's request, the slug man also researched some gem combinations for the gate which could get them to or close to the Wastes. Toi !lo came up with three that should lead to gates in the general area of the Wastes, but could not say for sure which would be closest to the ruined city. He also, once more at Kern's request (and in return for another gift), provided a gem combination to a gate in the Land of 1000 Wizards. Erijay, again in return for more gifts, was able to get information on the four artifacts listed in the book she had recovered so long ago. The "Golden Mask of Nythal" and "Skull of Chodak" could be found in the Land of 1000 Wizards, while the "Machine of Radioactive Light" and "Throne of the Ancient Ones" were both to be found in the Burned Lands.

Thanking the illustrious slug-man, Kern and Erijay took their leave. Kern, recalling the treasure they'd recovered from the Hanging Tree while crossing the Untamed Lands with the barbarians, showed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" the signet ring recovered with the Kunth woman's skeleton. Examining it, he told Kern the wearer had been a member of the "Pearl" clan, a powerful human noble family in the city. In fact, the patriarch of the family was one of the 11 nobles who ruled the city in the name of the slug-men. The ring in fact had belonged to the patriarch's daughter "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". The young woman had disappeared some years ago, supposedly kidnapped and carried off by a secret lover. Kern, sensing the chance to do the right thing to get a powerful ally in Kunth. asked "Perfect Spreading of Merit" to get them an audience with the family so he could return their daughter's remains and belongings. Their minder complied, and several days later Kern and Erijay found themselves at a palatial manor house in a rich part of the city. Led into a great hall, there they found, sitting at the head of a long table, was the clan patriarch, "Unchanging Noble One". Behind him stood a grim faced guard, and  to each side sat a woman. The lady to his right was obviously his  wife, while the relationship  of the other was uncertain. Kern explained who he was, how he had come into possession of his daughter's remains, and returned her bones, clothes and jewelry to the family. Glancing around, Kern was a little startled to see that of the four, it was the guard captain and the second woman who seemed most upset to learn the fate of  "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". He did not dwell on it long however, as the patriarch thanked him for finally bringing closure to the family. He presented Kern and Erijay with rich robes of fur, fish-scale and gems in thanks for their service, and then signaled the guard to take the them away. The guard led them though the manor to the front gardens, and to Kern and Erijay's surprise, there rushed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" out the door. The guard then very quickly spoke in broken, heavily accented Common, asking if the body of a man of Kunth was found with "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". When told there was not, he grunted and sent the duo on their way. Puzzled, the two headed back to the Forgein Quarter to wait for Bjorn to fully recover and begin their search for the Fetters of the Gods.

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