Party: Exandra, Rufus, Hilniflit, Finial, Callehalahath, Ambrose, Pear
Day 0: Taxes in town settled up – Guild kitty after taxes: 6,591 gp
Asheryn is busy rushing around the Guild preparing for the party's audience with the dragon queen, Nightserasa. The loot from the raid on Bargle was divvied up and distributed before the party leaves with Asheryn for the castle. Asheryn takes the party towards the noble's quarters. They pass through to the throne room, where they enter a secondary chamber. The room is draped in blue and brown. The room is guarded by the Queen's soldiers and a robed figure is waiting for them. Yannos arrives shortly after with the ork skull, which he passes to Asheryn.
Suddenly the guards leave the room and return moments later. A herald appears and announces Queen Nightserasa. A tall, elven-looking bronze woman in an ornate breastplate enters. Asheryn introduces the Guild members and expresses hope that the Queen is still pleased with her after her expulsion from Elven lands. The party glosses this. Asheryn then presents the skull to the Queen. The Queen expresses her appreciation and gives the skull back to Yano for further study.
The Queen then grants each member of the Guild a favor and gives them an opportunity to make a request of the Court. Hil, impatient and overly excited, decides to use this opening to tell the queen about the other ork skull they'd found under Shadowed Keep, but accidentally destroyed with a little bit of fire. Asheryn and the party are barely able to contain their groans. Hil ignores them and plows on, unrolling a long wishlist… then catches Asheryn's glare. Hill rolls up the list and requests the Queen make a suggestion that might please her highness. The Queen offers Hil a Cloak of Firey Vanishing. (When attacked by fire, it turns the wearer invisible and leaves a pile of ash where they were standing.) Hil is delighted and pleased with this gift.
Then Exandra steps forward and swears loyalty to the Queen, asking if she may train and spar with the Dragon Guard so she may better serve the Queen. The Queen agrees and grants her an honorary title equal to sergeant in the Guard and tells Exandra to report to Captain Belorin.
Next Calle, clearly besotted by the Queen, promises to do the Queen a favor in the future. The Queen is pleased and offers Calle a Stone of Alliance.
Finial, with a flourish of pride, speaks to the Queen in draconic and explains his desire to continue his study of the cycle of life. The Queen rewards him with a Ring of Surging Electricity (shocking grasp and exploding die mechanic for electrical spells).
Ambrose requests a parcel of land that he can run in the service of the Court. The Queen explains that there's no land to offer beyond the walls of Westmarch that the Queen can grant explicitly, but she grants him a Court Charter of Stonehaven Keep – the condition of which is unknown. If Ambrose can make it safe, the Queen will allow Westmarch citizens to settle there.
Rufus asks for his bow to be enchanted and the Queen says she will make it an Enchanted Huntsman Bow +1.
Pear desires something sneaky, like a pair of Cat Burglar Boots (to boost her climbing and acrobatics so she can fall out of things gracefully).
Once all the gifts had been granted, Hilniflit reads Weido's letter to Bargle. The Queen is a bit non-plussed. Politics beyond her walls are not her concern, but she asks that if the Guild is going to intervene, she asks that they do so in a manner that will do right by the people of Dulwich.
Ambrose then tells a really, really hilarious joke. You had to be there. It was really great. The herald then leads the party out to the Main Hall to wait for their gifts to be retrieved and arranged. A note is delivered to Ambrose with the Queen's seal. The note reads "Ha ha" and includes a Rune of Power in the envelope.
With the Queen's audience concluded, the party heads out to Shadowed Keep by warp stone. Outside the Keep, the party finds one of the rune-covered goblins they met in the forest and set here, guarding the entrance. The goblin shows no fear of the party despite the fact that the party killed a bunch of his clan. Hil approaches the goblin and asks how things are going between the two merged goblin tribes. The goblin seems to suggest everything is fine.
Ambrose tries to soften the goblin up by telling a really terrible joke. It was bad. I can't repeat it here. The party leaves the Shadowed Keep for Dulwich, formulating a plan on the way. That night, they make camp and discuss possibilities. Will they infiltrate the city covertly and spy or try a propaganda campaign? The plan is not settled before they sleep for the night.
The next morning, on their way to Dulwich, the party is stopped by shrieking coming from an abandoned house. The party approaches and finds a crumbling stone, 2-story building with a thatched roof. 3 horses are tied up out front. Exandra, Hil and Pear rush to the front entrance. Calle sneaks around one side of the building and Pear circles around to the other side. Calle, spying through a window, finds two humanoids with wings for ears shrieking in front of a headless corpse covered in a writhing slime. The humanoids are being cornered by two dark skinned creatures that are just humanoid heads with bat wings for ears and tentacles on their chins.
Calle smashes the window. Finial runs through the front door and shouts, "What's going on, here?!" The hairless humanoids shout for help. Calle shoots one the dark heads from the window. Hil steps in and casts burning hands, engulfing the dark heads in flame. Exandra rushes in behind and kills the first head. The other shrieks a blood curdling scream and Hil, Rufus and Pear suddenly find themselves frozen in place. The slime suddenly comes alive and attacks Exandra.
Ambrose tries to play a song that will free them, but it's kind of pedestrian and not very catchy, so it doesn't work. Calle's tiger, Sasha, jumps through the window and attacks the remaining flying creature. Finial zaps the slime with electricity and it vaporizes. Exandra then rushes the last head and kills it.
The two prisoners beg for their lives. They say they are iron merchants on their way to Dulwich and the corpse used to be their former guard. They were caught by the flying heads who hypnotized them and then bit them. This began to transform them into the hairless wing-eared creatures they are now. The party decides to escort them to Dulwich and admit them to the Irori Temple for healing. The two get progressively worse on their way to Dulwich. When they reach the temple, the priests do the best they can to help. The party warns that if they can't be saved, they should be "subdued".
The party then heads to the Dancing Bear Inn. On their way, they come across a member of the pottery guild being harassed by mercenaries hired to be city guards. Hil steps in to break things up and it isn't until Finial and Calle back her up that they back down.
Ambrose and Exandra decide to follow the mercenaries and strike up a conversation with them as they are disguised as city guards themselves. The mercenaries tell them that Weido's support is based on his gold and their allegiance only goes so far. Exandra then fabricates the story of a raid and asks if they are going on it. The mercenaries are surprised she knows about the raid. They ask who their captain is and Ambrose tells them it's "Gerald". The mercenaries haven't met Gerald yet, but they're really interested in going on this raid Exandra's talking about after Exandra and Ambrose convince the guards this raid is totally real. The guards agree to have the party meet their commander, Drancis, at the Dancing Bear later to learn more of this raid.
Arriving at the Dancing Bear, Rufus heads straight to the bar and convinces Nerlin, the owner, to offer discounted drinks. The bar is very busy, filled with Weido's rabble and supporters. Thruv and Isolde are in the bar, Isolde is totally hammered, but tells the group that Weido's road is almost to Longbridge.
The party speaks with Thurv, who tells them about Ossi, the head of the lumber guild. He might be interested in any plans to displace Weido. Ossi wants to reinstate the city's Council, but Ossi is laying low. The only person who knows where to find him is a local mime named Zado. The party can probably find Zado somewhere in the market.
Thurv asks Pear if a war is coming to Dulwich and Pear nods. The party gets some rooms and a few retire for the night. Exandra and Ambrose wait for Drancis to arrive. He asks them how they know about the raid. The raid is not done by the mercenaries or city guards, but by "things". He says the mercenaries want no part of these raids. He asks Exandra and Ambrose to follow him. Ambrose tries to keep Drancis at the Dancing Bear and offers to buy him a drink. Drancis says he's going to take them to another bar to the north. The bar's sign is a large skull in gold. It's crowded and busy.
Ambrose had messaged Hil to tell her where they were going. Hil and some of the others follow them to this new bar and wait outside. Drancis, Ambrose and Exandra order drinks and have a seat. Drancis wants to know why they want to go on one of these nightmare raids. They are carried out by dark and corrupted woodland creatures and fey. Ambrose and Exandra get Drancis to agree to take them into his command, but just as he's about to make the offer, a fight breaks out in the bar. They try to usher Drancis out of the bar, but Drancis is going to stay. They agree to meet later. Exandra and Ambrose meet the rest outside and they head back to the Dancing Bear to turn in for the night.
The next day, Nerlin tells them they can probably find Zado in the market. Ambrose works up a new disguise and they head to the market. They find Zado peforming as a mime in the market. The party observes his performance and then tips Zado in an effort to make contact by messaging him on the sly. Zado only replies with the telepathic response, "Zado". Zado moves down the street and the party follows him to his next performance.
Ambrose makes 12GP telling jokes in the market.
Zado eludes the party somehow in the crowded market, but Ambrose gets a message to meet someone in a back alley. As Zado reappears down the street, Ambrose finds a halfling waiting in the alley. The halfling wants to know what Ambrose wants with Ossi. He doesn't trust us because he saw Ambrose with Exandra (dressed as a city guard mercenary). Ambrose explains our cover and tells the halfling we're trying to stop Weido's plans with Longbridge.
(At this point in the story, it occurs to me that we have learned of some Drow (evil dark elves) that are playing some role in all this and seems to either be working for Weido or has Weido in its thrall.)
Ambrose asks about the Drow and the halfling claims to know nothing about it. At this point, Hil butts in and asks the halfling if Ossi is prepared to fill any power vacuum if the party takes out Weido. The halfling is unsure and will have to ask Ossi. He then heads off towards Eastgate Tavern. Calle, Exandra and Pear follow him.
They find the halfling sitting at the bar. Exandra walks up to the bartender and ask if he knows of anyone looking for a bodyguard. Calle notices a group that looks a little out of place and she sits down with them after they offer a seat. Meanwhile, Pear has snuck in through the back, posing as a waiter.
Calle asks the odd group if they know where Ossi might be found. The group is not really with Ossi – but they make pretty clear that they hate Weido. They refuse to say much else despite Calle's prying.
Calle then decides to stir hearts and minds with some Dulwich patriotism and that's when the halfling tells the group that if they want to meet Ossi, they're going to have to leave at once. Everyone decides to head back to the Dancing Bear to wait for Ossi.
Back at the Dancing Bear, Pear and Rufus ask Nerlin about the rumored Drow and Weido. Nerlin doesn't have much to say, but he acknowledges that Weido is bad news. Unfortunately, as a business owner, he needs to keep his head down.
With so many dead ends, Hil, Finial, Exandra and Pear decide to go see Sanni. Sanni once again asks about the map to Khundrukar and the party once again plays dumb. After some haggling, Sanni agrees to tell them about the Drow – but only if the party pays 500GP and gives her some intelligence on Bargle. Hil almost lets slip that Bargle's dead, but instead tells Sanni that Bargle's funding might be drying up, soon. Sanni finds this detail satisfying and tells the party that it is not multiple Drow, but just a single one. This Drow might be influencing Weido in some way, but Sanni's pretty sure the Longbridge gambit is probably Weido's idea. After the party shows her Weido's note, she discloses that Weido just got done delivering a bunch of captured Fey creatures to Bargle last night. (!) This is confusing because the party was pretty sure they killed Bargle… who is collecting Fey still and even more curious, who is reimbursing Weido for them? Is Bargle still alive? The party never really recovered his body… maybe he survived?
Disoriented and confused, the party heads back to the Dancing Bear. Later, Drancis turns up asking about "Gerald's" raid. Ambrose continues his bluff and makes some excuse. Drancis then invites Ambrose and Exandra to "clearing duty" on the road to Longbridge tomorrow morning. Ambrose asks Drancis about the Drow. Drancis doesn't seem to know anything, but suggests he talk to Tula, the captain of the city guard that protects Weido. She might know something.
Then Ossi's halfling enters the Dancing Bear and orders a drink and downs it swiftly and then leaves. Nerlin signals Rufus over and tells him on the sly to meet Ossi at the lumber yard later that night. The party gathers themselves up and they all head out to the lumberyard.
When they arrive, they are approached by a woman who leads them back to a small stone building in the back of the still busy lumberyard. As they wait inside the building, the halfling arrives and says that Ossi should be along soon.
When Ossi arrives, he's quick to the point and asks what it is the party wants from him. The party offers to dispose of Weido if Ossi can fill the vacuum by reinstating the Council. Ossi makes clear that he doesn't have any kind of army and that he can't help with any revolution plans. The party says not to worry, they can get around Weido's army. Ossi tells them they don't understand – taking out Weido doesn't mean his army will just stand down.
The party then tells Ossi that they have it on good authority that Weido's secret funding might dry up soon and if there's no pay, then the army will dissolve. Ossi agrees… if this is true. But he also says that Tula is extremely loyal to Weido. She won't just go away. She will make life miserable with the few guards she'll have left. The party agrees they might have to make sure she's taken care of as well. Without Weido or Tula, the army will probably scatter if nobody will pay them.
Calle asks Ossi if he knows anything about the Drow rumors. Ossi hasn't heard anything about it. He suggests the party talk to Zado in the market. Zado's there all day and hears all kinds of things… and only tells any of it to those he decides are worthy of the telling. Ossi's pretty sure Zado can be trusted and most likely has Dulwich's interests at heart.
When the party asks if he knows anything about the raids, he says that he is aware of them and knows they're going on – but not much else. He can, however, help us crack the Keep. He says that while the above ground portions of the Keep are totally solid and well-defended, the underground dungeons are much less so. He suggests that if we look into it, we can probably find a way to breach the Keep through them. The party thanks Ossi and they head back to the Dancing Bear to plot an assassination.
Back at the Bear, Exandra talks to Thurv about the Keep's weaknesses. Does Thurv know anyone that might help us get in? Thurv suggests talking to the old timers that were around when it was built. Exandra does just that the next morning. She finds out from some of the builders that there was definitely some shoddy work done in the dungeons. They're just dug straight out of the ground and not really walled in with a foundation of any sort. The ground around them is pretty soft. They say the western side of the hill is probably the easiest to access.
With this news, the party heads to the market. It's very busy and there's a big commotion at the end of the market by the Keep. It turns out that Weido has put three people in the stockades for being tax cheats. Tula and 12 guards are standing watch over them as the crowd observes.
While this is going on, some of the party spot someone in what is pretty clearly somone in Bargle's robes! The person turns and runs off. Sasha chases after the person and follows them all the way out Eastgate. Calle calls off the chase.
Meanwhile, Exandra is approached by a Zado operative. He pulls her aside and tells her and the others that the easiest way in or out of the dungeon is to dig oneself out. He jokes that if we could get someone arrested for tax evasion, it wouldn't be difficult to get put down there…
The party spends some time scouting the Keep's hill and discussing the possibility of getting someone arrested that can dig out to the rest of the party. That's when Calle brings up that she can soften Earth and Stone magically… hmm…
THAT'S IT FOR THE ADVENTURE. TO BE CONTINUED!
(And thank you very much, Kevin, for all your hard work. It's been a blast. We look forward to doing this on teh interwebs, soon!)