Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 2), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 1)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4), with henchman Otock (Dwarf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 4), familiar Pretty Bird, and henchman "No 7" (Halfling 1)
Torak (Cleric 4)
Although still not convinced they'd looted everything possible from the cloud tower, the party decided to head back to the Anchorage to pick up the crate from Bellephrone. That way they could do some business in Xin before heading upriver to deliver the package to the "The White Lady". Although they almost didn't make it back, as an early winter storm blew in from the north and battered and smashed their rigging and masts, leaving the "Purple Haze" to limp into the Anchorage for some hasty repairs by Captain Lynessa and the crew. They weren't going to stay long, however, and final repairs would have to wait until they reached Xin. While the crew worked away, the party headed over the hill to pick up the box from the witch. It was huge, made of dark wood and sealed with wax and and magical glyphs. And weighed a ton, which made carrying to back a struggle for the henchman. They also decided to check in with Nalco, who's rowboat was still the only vessel at anchor in the harbour. As they approached, however, one of the boy-mages apprentices stepped out on deck and warned them away, saying his master was not accepting visitors at the moment. When the party persisted, the apprentice waved Nalco's two flesh golems on deck to make his point clear: go away
The party took the hint, thus returning to the "Purple Haze". After waiting another day for repairs to be done and the storm to blow over, Captain Lynessa turned the ship towards the mainland and three uneventful days later they were approaching the Tower of the Maphelgian Infernos at the approaches to the city. They were somewhat surprised to find a huge chain stretched across the river, and a pair of boats filled with soldiers riding in mid stream. Hailing the "Purple Haze", the officer in charge asked permission to come aboard for a customs inspection. There was some worried muttering between party members about the box, but in the end they decided not to make a fuss and let the inspectors aboard. Chaff questioned the officer in charge as they went about their business, wondering why the chain and inspection. Was the war with Cha'nrk still on? The officer replied that the war had ended, and this was all a way to help Xin pay for the cost of said war. And speaking of the box, the officers had some pointed questions about it's contents. The party decided truth would probably work best in this case, and admitted they had no idea what was in it, but was undoubtedly something of great magic given the source and the destination. At that story, the officer sent for a scrysman, who climbed aboard and cast a few spells on the cargo. In the end, the inspectors agreed to let them through with the box on the stipulation that it stayed aboard ship and closed the whole time they were in port. After claiming their 200gp customs fee, the officers left, the chain was lowered, and the "Purple Haze" proceeded upriver to the Vithian Gates and the Fogbound Quays.
Once docked, the crew was given half their pay and let loose upon the taverns and inns of the docks, while Captain Lynessa started gathering supplies to repair the ship once the crew recovered from hangover and the pox. Meanwhile, the party scattered across Xin to address a range of business they had individually and collectively in the decadent city:
- First stop was raft shopping, something big enough to carry the box and most of the party.
Elven Throwing Star
- Abdul el Abdul, dragging Otock with him, tagged along with the sailors and went on a massive bender of wine, woman and lotus. When he finally recovered, he felt more able than ever to tackle the rigors of the adventuring road. And also wondered why he had 'Otock' tattooed across his back;
- The party followed Torak to The Collegium district to find the biggest temple of the Drowned God, to hit them up for healing potions. The high priest shooed out the party, but did provide potions to Torak for a rock bottom donation of 300gp each. Torak also mumblingly inquired about help with his afflictions; the swollen tongue and misplaced hand. The high priest made some remarks about the Bloated One not concerned about one's fate during life and the cleric should focus on the fate off all the in depths of death. However, he did offer a glimmer of hope. The priest told a tale to Torak of a blasphemous and heretical sect of the Downed God known as the Cult of the Sea Demon. Long and hard fought were the struggles between the mainstream temple and the heretics, but in the end the established priests of Brall won. The victory, however, was incomplete. For somehow the cult was able to move their temple out of this dimension and into the place of dream and illusion. Today, the plaza where it once stood lay empty, except on nights when the stars and moon were aligned, when it would reappear out of the evening mists. The high priest tasked Torak with recovering from that temple the Conch of the Sea Demon, an important and powerful artifact of the Drowned God. If the cleric did so, the Drowned God would surely cure him. Torak, accepted without hesitation or consultation, and and made note of the night the temple would appear;
- While in the Collegium, Kwinsea searched out the Lyceum of Mellifluous Magisters, to inquire about instruction in new aquamancer spells. The masters were quite willing. However, Kwinsea changed her mind when she learned that in partial payment she would have to join the Lyceum in the rituals of Ysridyl, appeasing the goddess by sacrificing a youth at the height of the winter storm season, throwing him or her off the cliffs and into the sea;
- Chaff meanwhile went looking for scholars to whom he could sell the contents of the library from the cloud tower. There was vigorous bidding, and in the end he was able to get 3000gp for the books and globe. He did speak to one scholar specializing in magical musical instruments, and learned the organ in the cloud tower was probably powered by forces from the elemental plane of water;
- Chaff also headed for the Flesh Pits to acquire new vivimancer spells. He ran into his old friend,
Tolk the Brute
- Last stop were the fighting arenas, oddly enough jammed in check by jowl with the institutes and temples of the Collegium. Corvus decided to enter the wrestling matches, taking on a great hairy beast by the name of Tolk the Brute. It was close, but the amateur Corvus took out the champion Tolk in three rounds, and party walked away with a massive purse thanks to the 6:1 odds against the brawny henchman. They also walked away with a lot of bad feelings on the part of Tolk the Brute and the book-makers who had to pay out ...
Thankfully, Captain Lynessa and the crew had the "Purple Haze" ready to sail as soon as business in Xin was complete. Turning inland this time, the ship slowly made it's way up the slow flowing Loragano River and into the hinterlands of Langushur. Three days in, they reached the tributary up which their package had to go, so the party transferred to the raft and ship's boat for the rest of the journey. Poling their way through bayou and swamp, past towering swamp cyperss and overhanging vines, they made pretty good progress up the winding river. At least until they came around one hairpin bend to find a vast mudbank, shrouded in smoke, jutting out into the river. Through the haze, they could see men milling about. Closer inspection showed they were a company of musketeers and pikemen under the purple and black flag of Xin, facing off against a ruined fort on the river bank, over which hung the red and bronze banner of Cha'nrk. As the raft and boat slowly approached, an officer hailed them and ordered them, in the name of the Faceless Inquisitor, to come ashore. Weighing to odds of surviving a barrage of musket fire vs their fate if they went ashore, the party decided to land.
On shore they were met by the officer, Captain Soland and his second, Sergent Lunt. The party learned the musketeers had chased a party of Cha'nrk raiders up the river and cornered them in this old tumbled fort. However, both parties had lost their boats and were now stranded. Captain Soland was still determined to complete his mission and wipe out the raiders, although without boats the only way to attack was frontally across a narrow spit. The sight of bodies scattered between the mudbank and the fort showed that battle plan wasn't working too well. Captain Soland insisted that the party turn over their craft to him and assist in the assault, after which the musketeers would use the boats to return to Xin. The party protested, saying they had important business upriver, but even the news that the war was ended ("I've had no new orders") was not enough to sway the Captain. Although Sergent Lunt showed more interest in the rumor of ceased hostilities (Corvus later questioned the NCO and learned he wasn't interested in dying in a pointless assault if the war was over). In the end, the party agree to help with the attack on the Cha'nrk fort, but they would then continue up the river on their mission. On the way back, they would pick up the Captain and a few of his men to bring them back to Xin, where they could arrange for a boat to come out and recover the rest of the men.
1100 (Abdul el Abdul)