Category Tanara Silverleaf

Efficiency and Escape

We awake in a small, twenty foot by twenty foot cell, made of stone but with one wall of bars and with a barred door.  We are stripped of all our possessions and most of our clothes, and are chained to a large ring in the floor.  We wait for several days as we gradually recover from the effects of the gas, and the only person we see is a gnoll jailer who brings us food and water three times a day.  On the third day, we realise that Sergeant Boris is not going to rescue us and that we need to rescue ourselves. When the jailer next appears, Tanara tries to engage him in conversation in gnollish, a language she has picked up in her homewood.  He turns out to be a pretty hard-boiled character, and doesn’t seem interested in our offers of riches beyond his wildest dreams (although we are assuming that his dreams are not very wild).  We abandon the conversation and use the arranged next step, which is Bryan faking a leg injury and trying to trip up the jailer.  Bryan pulls a blinder and the jailer goes down like a sack of tatties.  The rest of us bundle him rapidly, and he quickly surrenders.

We relieve him of his mace, dagger and keys, and quickly release ourselves from our fetters, and chain him up.  Bryan starts to question him, via Tanara, while Pavel and Titus open the cell door and start exploring.  There turn out to be three cells in the corridor, as well as an alcove which seems to be the living quarters for the jailer, and two doors, one locked. The next cell contains a chained female human, who turns out to be a young cleric called Zoe.  The final cell contains a badly wounded elf, who only has time to whisper ‘Rahasia, save her….’ before he dies dramatically in Titus’ arms.  Titus and Pavel rapidly dismantle a chair and table in order to provide us with some clubs and grab a curtain pole to use as a quarterstaff, then return to the others.  Bryan has discovered various details: we are not in Specularum, but rather in the woods somewhere, in a manor house; we are prisoners of the Iron Ring, not the Veiled Society (or maybe the Veiled Society are part of the Iron Ring); there are 8 Hounds, 2 Reavers and a Head Reaver (we thing these are ranks in the Iron Ring) in the house, as well as the gnoll’s wife who is the cook; our equipment is behind the locked door, and the jailer has not got the key – the Head Reaver has instead. We tie up the jailer and shackle him in his locked cell.  We check out the locked door, and decide there is no way we can open it without alerting the rest of the house, so we open the other door.  We find a store-room, and a meat store beyond.  We equip ourselves with some small pouches of flour, to fling in opponents’ faces to blind them, and some flasks of oil to smear on stairs to see if we can get enemies to fall and break their necks.

We then creep up the stairs to the door at the top.  We open this, to find ourselves in a pantry.  From behind the door, there is the sound of a guttural female voice singing, and the noises and smells of cooking.  Bryan cracks open the door and we see the gnoll cook making some food with her back to us.  Bryan creeps into the room and hides under the table.  There is another door out of the kitchen, and an archway leading to another room, where we hear the sounds of many voices talking.  On the table were eight plates, and Bryan also sees a rack of knives.  He creeps back, and we have a rapid planning meeting.  We wait as the cook ladles up the plates, two at a time, and takes them into the next room.  Finally, as she takes the last pair, we creep into the room and grab the knives, then wait behind the partition wall.  As she comes back in, Pavel grabs her from behind, covering her mouth, and Tanara whispers in her ear in gnollish ‘Don’t make a sound or your husband will be killed’.  She nods her acquiescence and we quickly bundle her into the pantry and tie and gag her. Tanara takes up position behind the partition and casts her last remaining Sleep spell into the room beyond.  There are some thumps, and silence. We burst in, and see that there eight men there, all asleep.  A triumphant success, although it leaves Tanara with only her Levitation spell.  These are obviously the Hounds of the Iron Ring.  We have a brief discussion of what to go with them, but we have heard much of the depravity of the Iron Ring and decide that the only justice we can deliver is to slit their throats as they sleep, so we do.  We then steal their leather armour and their daggers. We take the cook down to the cells and lock her in the same cell as her husband.  For Pavel and Titus it feels strange to be saving the humanoids but slaughtering the humans.  For Tanara though, the humans are obviously evil, whereas the gnolls are just servants going about their normal business, and we have no right to kill them for that.

We then creep out of the kitchen and find a hallway, with stairs going up, and doors on the far side.  We check the doors on the far side, and find a pair of barracks rooms.  In the lockers by each bed we find proper swords, so equip ourselves with these.  The only way is up now, so we ascend the stairs.  At the top we find a landing around the stairs – two doors on the near side and one on the far side.  Based on the layout of the house below, we assume the two nearer doors are for the Reavers, and the one door on the far side is for the Head Reaver.  We decide that we would rather face the Head Reaver straight away on his own, rather than fighting our way through two minions, and giving him time to buff himself, while we lose hit points. We creep around the landing, pausing nervously when Oin and Pavel step on a squeaky floorboard.  But there is no reaction so we continue on our way.

We listen at the far door but hear nothing, so open it.  Beyond is a well-furnished room, with a large desk with a map on the wall above it.  Sat at his desk, with his back to the door is a man, writing and chuckling to himself (obviously no student of Gurney Halleck).  He obviously hears us, as he waves to his right and says – ‘Ah, dinner.  Put it down over there will you.’  Bryan, Oin and Pavel advance into the room, as if going in that direction, and suddenly change direction and lunge for him.  The surprise is total, and before he can react we attack.  Bryan nicks him slightly, but both Pavel and Oin strike powerful blows, and he is killed instantly, and before he can make any noise.

We all enter the room and close the door. On the desk is a newsheet that seems to detail the activities of the Iron Ring, more evidence of how confident they are that they are beyond the reach of the Duke’s justice.  It mentions the death of Golthar, and has descriptions of Stephen, Jubal, Morkel, Vyarnen and Maglor as his killers.  It also tells of how they are expanding into the Republic of Darokin, and how the first slave caravan is even now departing for Selenica.  Also on the desk is a long letter that appears to have been taken off the elf, and detailing the terrible fate afflicting Rahasia.  The map above the desk shows that we are nowhere near Specularum, instead we are far in the north, in the mountains.  Also on the desk is a staff, which feels potent in the hands of Titus and Zoe.  On the dead man’s belt we find a key. We decide to return to the cellar and see if the key fits the door that wards us from our equipment.  We return around the landing, although Oin and Pavel once again step on the squeaky floorboard.  We are more confident now though that we will be though to just be the cook, so continue on our way.  The key opens the cellar door, so we take our equipment again, with much joy.

Rahasia's Letter

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We awake refreshed, and break our fast.

Tanara ventures forth in search of the Magician’s Guild in order to replenish the spells in her Ring of Spell Storing.  The Guild is located and they agree to cast the spells in return for many shinies.

On the way back, we are ambushed by a lone hooded assassin with a crossbow, who shoots ineffectually at us.  We pursue and he flees around a corner. We follow and it turns out that there are three more hooded hoodlums around the corner.  It’s an ambush.  Fortunately they are not very good at shooting and hardly hit us.  They flee again, and we follow them, more cautiously this time.  Tanara shoots a couple of arrows at them and misses completely.  We give up on the chase, as we fear an even larger ambush further along.

We return to the inn and have lunch.  As evening comes on, we level up (ping), except for Tanara.  We then venture out to the Blue Waters Tavern.  We enter and try to blend in with the locals, probably without much success.  In the corner though, we spot a red-haired man with a wound on his face.  Surely this is Akarios?  Behind him are two curtained doorways.  Once is in constant use, and we surmise leads to the privvies.  The other is hardly used.  After a while, the red-haired man gets up and leaves through the curtained doorway.  We wait a while to see if anyone else follows.  They don’t, so finally we leave through the doorway.  Beyond it is a small room, with two men playing dice, and a corridor beyond, leading to the street.  We pass the two men and proceed down the corridor, wondering where the red-haired man has gone.  We look into the alleyway, but can see no sign of him, nor any obvious doorway.  We are obviously behaving suspiciously as we are suddenly unable to hear each other.  Pavel is struck from behind with a sword by one of the two men who were playing dice.  We surmise that the other one must be a cleric who has cast Silence on us.  Tanara rushes into the alleyway – Pavel turns and strikes the man who struck him.  Oin charges the other man, and kills him.  Tanara casts Charm on the man with the sword, and he stops fighting, dazed.  Pavel restrains himself, and Tanara quickly asks him where the Veiled Society meet.  He eagerly shows us a secret doorway…

Entering the door, we find a small chamber with hoods and cloaks.  He garb ourselves, and find another secret door on the far side.  We  proceed down some stairs and find a fork in the narrow passage.  There seems to be a dim light coming from the left fork, so we take that.  The tunnel gets smaller and we feel fronds or roots on the walls and ceiling.  As the fronds get denser, we try to turn round, but they grab us and try to entangle us.  We slash violently at them, and finally extract ourselves.  We return to the fork and try the other tunnel.  It ends in a blank wall, and we find another secret door.  This opens onto the balcony of a large chamber.  We enter and hide behind the balustrade in the shadows.  Twenty hooded men are gathered watching a man garbed in black and red robes on a dais at the far end.  He rants at them in a booming voice about how they are strong and their time has come:

“And now is our time! The city will lie helpless before us! The people will side with us.  Our enemies can be crushed. The Duke will feel our power, will hear only our voice. Those who oppose us are weak, those who betray us are traitors. We know what to do with traitors.”

Shouts of agreement fill the air.  “Then take him, take the traitor!” he shouts, and points to one of the robed men. “He will suffer for disobeying our orders. The woman should not have been killed!”

We assume he is referring to Lucia.  The hooded man is grabbed and his hood removed.  He is not the red-haired man.  They rapidly stab him to death.

Then the leader booms again.  “There were two traitors!  That man is also a traitor.  Take him as well!”.  A second man is grabbed, and this time it is the red-haired man that we saw in the tavern.

The two men lie dead on the floor, and in the chaos, we realise that the leader has disappeared.  The remaining eighteen men also file out of various exits, none of which we had previously noted.  Some head for our balcony, so we hide down the branch of the passageway with the entangling vines.

We re-enter the chamber and check the dead bodies.  Then we search for a secret exit behind the dais.  We find one and pass through.  Beyond we find a corridor and a door, from behind which we can hear clanking chains.  We also find another secret door, and open it.  Beyond is a luxuriously appointed study.  A middle-aged man and a younger man are arguing over the body of an older man – the young man is accusing the middle-aged one of having murdered their father.  The middle-aged man sees us and attacks, dealing Oin a mightly blow with his sword.  Pavel moves up to attack him rather than the young man, which enrages Oin, but as he does the younger man steps behind the desk and fiddles with something.  Oin screams at Pavel in rage as a cloud of smoke billows out of the front of the desk and we fall to the ground, unconscious.

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Well, that was unexpected…

Tanara continues to talk to Orel, and he starts to blurt out some details that he probably shouldn’t.  There is a meeting of the Veiled Society tomorrow night – he won’t say where, but he normally uses the entrance in the Blue Water Mead Hall, which is not far from the water front.  The password for tomorrow night’s meeting is Eclipse.  At this point he starts to look confused and Tanara is worried that revealing the information is causing the charm to break down.  Orel turns to leave.  With a single smooth motion Tanara pulls her dagger from its sheath and stabs him in the back, running up through his kidneys into his heart.  With a gurgle, his body collapses to the floor.  Tanara wipes her blade as Pavel frisks the body and removes his money pouch.  Then we drop the body into the tunnel and leave the hovel.  We locate ourselves, and return to the Rattlebone Inn.

Meanwhile Bryan has given up on waiting for us outside the first hovel and returns to the Inn as well.  In the square he meets an exciting Titus who has been having a whale of a time slaughtering rioters and making friends with the Duke’s Guard.  They both also head back to the Rattlebone.

Oin the Courageous makes it to the Hightower and reports to Sergeant Boris.  The Sergeant doesn’t seem keen to leap to deal with the problem, but eventually wanders up to the square with Oin, where the Duke’s Guard are just clearing up the last remnants of the riot.  Oin returns to the Rattlebone.

At the Rattlebone, we settle down for some dinner.  All the gossip in the inn is of the riot, but since the inn is basically pro-Toronescu, Titus doesn’t need to go into hiding just yet.  However there is a message waiting for us from Theosios.  We are apparently to go to the Jade Sea (a ship) tonight to pick up a package that must be delivered to Senator Epistolo.  It is expected that the delivery of the package will meet with interference.  We finish dinner and tool up.  We head to the docks, and establish that the Jade Sea is moored on the north side, near the naval docks.  This is Vorloi rather than Radu territory, so we are somewhat relieved.  We find the Jade Sea and are rudely abused by the watch, but he fetches the package, which turns out to be a nobleman called Symeon Toronesu.  He seems a bit aristocratic in mental faculties as well as manner – this could prove a trying evening.  However before we can depart, a dozen ruffians with swords and cudgels appear.  Expecting the inevitable attack, we are poised to defend him, when the leader bows and pledges their service to Symeon in the name of Prince Demetrios of the Beggars.  Symeon seems to accept this, so we follow his lead.  Bryan suggests that Symeon could dress as one of the beggars, and he accepts this as a ‘fearful jape’ (there is obviously quite a lot of inbreeding in his recent family tree).

We set out with the beggars and the disguised Symeon – another beggar is wearing Symeon’s clothes.  As we enter the city gate, we hear a whistle, and assume that we have been spotted.  We rapidly duck up Vintner’s Lane to try and avoid any ambush, but it seems they were expecting us to do just that, because we are ambushed at the top of Vintner’s Lane by three groups of hooded ruffians.  We split up to take on each group.  Tanara levitates in order to use he bow most effectively, especially since the group attacking from the rear has seven men and only Pavel and two beggars to stop them.  Pavel is heroic, slicing an attacking in two with his first blow but one of the ruffians is similarly effective, smashing in the skull of one of the beggars with a single blow of his mace.  Tanara assumes that he is a major threat and uses one of the Fire Arrow spells in he ring to blast him with two Fire Arrows.  They hit and he staggers, but he is still on his feet.  Next turn she hits him with two more, using the last Fire Arrow spell in her ring, and he drops dead.  Many of the other ruffians are also dead, and the last few break and run.  Pavel quickly snatches the mace and ornate gauntlets from the dead leader, and we also grab several masks, then leave quickly before the watch arrive.  Several of the beggars are also dead, but we are forced to leave them.

We suffer no more interference before we reach Senator Epistolo’s house.  We deliver a grateful Symeon and are rewarded with a pouch of money each.  We bid farewell, and commiserate Stanis, the leader of the beggars on the loss of his men before we return to the inn for some late night vittals.  Finally we check our loot for the day.  The mace is given to Titus and the gauntlets of might to Bryan.  Orel’s pouch contained 200 royals, and the pouches given to each of us by Symeon contain 500 royals each.  A good haul for the night indeed, as we turn in.

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Advancing rapidly, in the wrong direction?

Bottles of fine red Thyatian wine: 1 (bad).  Pipeweed: 0 (v. good).

There is a brief discussion on the merits of outflanking manoeuvres before Captain Wighamescu orders us up the ladder.  We climb up and into a tatty bedsit.  Looking out of the grimy window, we see that we are in the garden of a larger house.  We examine the contents of the room briefly.  On the desk is a bottle containing the remnants of some wine – similar to what we found in Fortunato Vorloi’s house. The seal on the neck of the bottle identifies it as Trouscan, which is an unusual and moderately expensive wine.  In the desk drawer we find a hood, with some red hairs still attached.

We discuss whether we should sneak back out, or stake out the hovel to see if someone returns, or whether the occupants of the house are part of the plot.  Captain Wighamescu is however a fan of frontal attacks, and marches up the garden path and knocks on the back door.  We follow, meekly.  A maid answers and we cross-examine her.  The house belongs to a wealthy local master-butcher called Turano.  The hovel at the end of the garden has been let to a journeyman blacksmith called Skevlos for the last few weeks, but he left several days ago.  It has been unoccupied since.  Oin’s spidey-sense tells him that the tunnels would have taken longer than a couple of days to dig (and Goodwife Thanato has been hearing things for several weeks, so that implies they have been digging for several days as well), so we suspect Skevlos is implicated in all of this. Apparently he was working for Oleg, who is the blacksmith that I bought my dagger off this morning.

We decide to go and talk to Oleg.  The rozzers depart, in search of more high calorie sustenance.  We stop at the inn for some quick vittals, and have a chat to Igor.  Previous conversations have led us to think that he is pro-Toronescu and afraid of the Radu.

Moving on to Oleg, we have a chat with him about Skevlos.  He was a large chap apparently, and didn’t have red hair, so that means that there must have been someone else involved who wore the hood, and killed Lucia.  He left a couple of days ago apparently, heading to the south west.  Oleg is concerned that he doesn’t end up in the Black Eagle Barony – we suspect that if he is involved in murder that might be just where he is heading.  He was a good blacksmith apparently – had a knack for the work – but was too footloose to settle down.  Apparently he helped make my dagger – which may come in handy one day.  There must be some sort of complex necromantic ritual you can use to enchant a dagger that has killed its maker.

Oleg seems to have taken a liking to us and offers to sell us some ‘quick-release’ weapon bindings to replace those added by the city guards.  We take him up on his offer, although we are intrigued to see how you can ‘bind’ a mace to make it safe – we assume Titus is wandering around with a 4 foot diameter ball of bubble wrap on the end of a stick.

Restored, and feeling freer in our actions, we proceed to check out the wine-merchants of the city.  We have been told that Aristo is the most likely to stock Trouscan wine.  We ask at the Water Gate where we can find Aristo, and are directed along the Harbour Wall to Vintner’s Lane. We find Aristo’s shop, and Aristo inside.  He is a large and sweaty man, also without red hair. We engage him in conversation and ask him about Trouscan wine.  Apparently it comes from Thyatia, and is quite rare, although not really that expensive, just artisanal, which I think means made by peasants.  Not really a wine for your serious nobility, who drink the really exclusive Thyatian wines, more something for the pretentious arrivistes, being a cut above the cheap plonk from Irendi.  He has some bottles in stock, and offers to fetch one for us.  We accept and Bryan follows him into the stock room to engage him in conversation on the various forms of alcohol that he has enjoyed – a subject he can talk for the Five Shires on.  While they are out, I have a quick look at the ledger on the desk.  Five people have recently bought Trouscan wine.

Aristo returns and we buy and open the bottle to sample it.  It is very drinkable.  We ask to buy a case of it, as it is only 2 royals a bottle, and we are rolling in cash at the moment.  Heck, we have so much I even started deducting expenditure on my character sheet.  Our efforts to stimulate the local economy are thwarted however as he only has a single bottle left, so we just buy that.  Chatting to him, we tell him that it was recommended to us by a friend called Skevlos.  The name doesn’t ring a bell, so I describe him as a large man with red hair.  Oin starts to mutter something about him having dark hair, but I kick him under the counter.  Aristo still doesn’t remember him, and tells us that the only red-haired customer he has who buys Trouscan wine is Akarios the Shipwright (whose name had also appeared on the list in the ledger).

We thank him and leave, with Akarios high up our list of suspects.  We wander out onto the quayside, pausing to bring Sergeant Boris up to speed on our latest findings.  Along the quayside, we are unable to find anyone who will admit to having every heard of Akarios, and we suspect that they are holding out on us as outsiders.  We even try a dockside tavern, which goes ominously silent as we enter.  We glean no information as to Akarios there either, but here a lot of gossip about the murder of Lucia Vorloi, and how the Toronescu are responsible.

Giving up on the dockside, we return to the gate and head for home, or at least the Rattlebone Inn.  On the way, as we cross the market square, we hear an oarator stirring up the crowd with a fiercely anti-Toronescu speech.  The crowd are getting very restive and aggressive and we decide that it is time to leave.  Before we can though, 30 of the Duke’s men ride into the various exits from the square and form a cordon.  Their captain rides up and orders the crowd to disperse, but is hit with a well-aimed cobblestone.  The crowd surges forward, attacking the Duke’s men.  We decline to join in, throwing the module into confusion.  Oin breaks and runs for the harbour, narrowly dodging the sabre of a cavalry man.  Titus unwraps his mace and joins the Duke’s men, hoping to show his prowess and impress them enough to help him join the Order of the Griffon.  Tanara pushes through the crowd towards the orator, who looks to be escaping, his seditious work done.  Tanara swiftly casts Charm on him, and he turns, smiling at her (the module whimpers at this point and gives up the ghost – charming the orator is not an eventuality it had considered).  She asks him to help her escape, and he leads her and Pavel out of the square, followed by Bryan.  They dodge the Duke’s men, although the orator gets a cut in his shoulder.  He leads them down a narrow alley to a small hovel, which he says is a safe refuge.  There, they catch their breath, and he introduces himself as Orel.  He boasts of how he was chosen for this role by the Veiled Society for his oratorical skills.  The mention of the Veiled Society interests Tanara, but not the others, who have cheated by looking at the cover of the module.  He admits that he doesn’t know many other members, as they are all veiled (or rather hooded), but has heard of Akarios the Shipwright.  He says that Akarios and his accomplice, Zachariah Boestes have possibly gone too far with the murder of Lucia, as it has really stirred things up.  He then shows Tanara and Pavel a tunnel under a hatch, and urges them to escape with him along it – they emerge in a similar looking hovel around 300 feet away.  Bryan has followed them discretely to the first hovel, but decides not to follow them down the tunnel and returns to the Rattlebone Inn.  We have now achieved our stretch objective of splitting a 5 person party 4 ways.

So we now think that we know who dunnit, we just don’t know why.  We suspect that the Radu might be behind this – the waterfront is their domain, and Lucia’s last writing is suggestive of this as well.  But we need more evidence before we can accuse them in the Duke’s court – if it comes to that.  And who are this Veiled Society, and who do they report to?  What is their objective.  And are they linked to the Iron Ring that Stephen has been fighting, or are there two secret societies in Karameikos?  If so, why aren’t we in either of them?

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Hook, what hook?

Dead humanoids: 0 (still good).  Dead friendlies: 1 (bad, but not our fault). Gold royals: 0 (v.v. bad).

We finally make our way to the Rattlebone Inn, which appears to be very highly recommended by everyone that we have met so far.  It seems clean and pleasant so we casually drop the name of Captain Gregor to see if we can get mates rates on the room. Igor, the innkeeper, is delighted that we are friends of his cousin Gregor and offers us a room for 1 royal a night, including dinner and breakfast.  There is no way that Tanara is sharing a room with Oin’s apparently ever-increasing smoking habit or Bryan’s wandering hands, so we decide on two rooms instead.  Pavel looks hopeful, but Tanara is still playing hard to get.  We freshen up rapidly, and descend to the common room for a meal and some refreshment.  Bryan discovers some good local ale and is under the table a pint later.  We spot Sergeant Boris with some of his colleagues and buy them a round of drinks as well – always good to keep on the good side of the law.  Then Titus appears, looking crestfallen.  Apparently the Order of the Griffon are looking for warriors with more experience.  We buy him a drink as well to commiserate, and suggest that he should join us to get more experience.  Pavel looks worried, but Tanara rapidly explains that it is experience in smiting the unrighteous that she was thinking of, so he calms down again.

At this point we are approached, somewhat unsteadily, by a chap who introduces himself as Theosius.  He suggests that he might have some work for types such as us, and offers to pay for our drinks, board and lodging if we will do something for him.  Since we have bought drinks for most of the inn so far, we rapidly accept his offer, not even bothering to check exactly what he wants.  Soon after that he drinks himself into a complete stupor, so we leave off trying to question him and turn to Igor instead, who confirms that he is a local and a regular, and works as a high-class wood carver.  We are still unsure what a high-class wood carver needs with an elf, a dwarf and a halfling (except possibly as the intro for a bad joke), but gainful employment is gainful employment, especially in this market.  We continue to imbibe, but turn in for the night relatively early, dragging Bryan with us to stop him making drunken amorous advances on the cat.

Next morning we are up bright and early for a tasty breakfast of ale and cheese.  Tanara is about to nip down the road to buy a dagger (having realised that all her weapons are a little conspicuous in a city like Specularum), when a distraught woman bursts into the inn, complaining that her cellar is haunted by strange voices and scratching.  We help Igor calm her down with a swift tot of his brandy and she tells us the whole story, which is pretty much exactly the same as the synopsis.  Goodwife Thanato (for that is her name) lives just around the corner, so we offer to go and sort out whatever ails her cellar.  It turns out that we will do pretty much anything for money, not that she has offered to pay us.  We will do pretty much anything just for kicks it seems.  Pavel looks hopeful again.

Tanara nips out to buy her dagger and we then follow Goodwife Thanato back to her house.  She shows us the entrance to her cellar and we climb down.  It seems a normal cellar, but we hear scratching from the other room.  Pavel, Tanara and Bryan investigate and find a pantry, with a small hole on the far side, about four feet high.  Titus and Oin now hear noises from the corner of their cellar, so we go back and investigate, and find another tunnel.  We are obviously dealing with some sort of giant rodent infestation.  We advance into the tunnel, in increasing order of height.  The narrow tunnel winds and turns.  A side tunnel reveals an extremely unpleasant cesspit.  We continue past it, following the noise through several junctions, until we reach a wooden hatch.

Peering through the hatch, Bryan can see two figures digging a hole in the floor of another cellar.  One of the cloaked and hooded figures suggests that the hole is deep enough – the other insists it must be deeper, because no one must find what they are burying.  Finally the hole is deep enough and they place a large bundle in there and fill it in again.  At this point Tanara quietly casts a sleep spell on the two diggers, but they are completely unaffected, which is worrying.  Given that this implies that they are either very powerful, or not living, we opt to continue watching them.  The finish filling the hole, and leave the cellar, closing the trapdoor.  We enter the cellar, pushing aside the crate that covered the tunnel, and uncover the bundle.  Slitting it open, we find the recently deceased body of a beautiful young woman with blonde hair.  A quick examination reveals that she has been strangled, and that from her hands she is obviously well-off.  We decide to retire with the body, so that someone can’t come and take it away, and alert the authorities.  As we do so, we spot some red hairs caught under her fingernails, possibly scratched from her killer, and blood on her hands and nightdress, despite her not having been wounded.

We carry the body back, having filled the hole back in again, and place it in Goodwife Thanato’s cellar.  Tanara and Pavel remain to guard the body, while Titus goes to fetch Sergeant Boris, and Bryan and Oin go to try and work out which building might be above the cellar.  Sergeant Boris remembers Titus and believes him, which is lucky.  They return to the scene, stopping briefly to pick up another Captain of the Watch called Wihgamescu.  Meanwhile Oin, catching a quick fag break, and Bryan have identified the building they think is above the cellar.  Talking to Igor at the Battlebone Inn, he says that it is the house of a sea-merchant, Fortunato Vorloi, although he is away at the moment and only his daughter, Lucia is at home (with the servants of course).  She is beautiful and blonde, so we might have identified our victim.  Igor also says that Stefanos Toronescu has been courting her, but she has rudely rejected his advances.

Oin and Bryan return to the cellar, to find Boris and Wihgamescu already there, with some local deep-fried dough rings and a couple of cups of a rather bitter hot drink which we are told is very popular in  Ylarum.  They confirm that the body is indeed Lucia Vorloi and tell us to show them where we found it.  We leave a couple of watchmen with the body and return to the other cellar.  It is untouched, so we climb the ladder and enter the house above.  On the ladder we find drops of pitch – maybe one of the two men was a sailor?   We are in the kitchen of the house.  In the hall we find evidence of a fight, including a bloodied dagger, so someone was badly cut-up.  There is blood on the floor, and on the edge of one pool, someone has tried to write something.  It looks like (R|P)A(D|O).  Tanara leaps at the possibility that it might say Radu, as they might have an interest in starting a vendetta between the Vorloi and the Toronescu.  On the other hand it might just say Rache.  Bryan also finds some drops of a brown liquid that he identifies as good quality wine, but we find no bottle or glasses.  In the kitchen we find some bloodstained rope that we identify as the murder weapon, and a Toronescu signet ring.  Tanara is convinced that the signet ring is a plant to frame the Toronescu for the murder – it is very difficult to tear off a signet ring, and the two men burying the body were in no hurry – they would have removed such an incriminating item as they had time, and you can’t not notice losing a signet ring.  That said, if you want to frame someone for a murder, why go to such lengths to hide the body?  No one else is present in the house – where are all the servants?

Returning to the cellar, Boris insists that we explore the rest of the tunnels.  They are a confusing mess, but the only other feature is another cellar, that the digging seems to have started from, as there are wheelbarrows, supplies of timber for propping and tools.  It looks like the assassins started at this cellar and tunnelled into the cellar of the Vorloi house, which is how they gained access.  It doesn’t explain why they didn’t leave by this route as well – we are fairly sure that they didn’t, as we were in the cellar for quite a while.  Maybe they spent a long time arranging the murder scene though, and then retired through the tunnels as we were in the Goodwife’s cellar.  A lot of the tunnels seem to be dead ends when they realised they were going in the wrong direction, and they seem to have tunnelled into her cellar by mistake – their digging noises explains what she heard.

We are now in the cellar, waiting to open the trapdoor and see what lies above. Hopefully some answers, rather than more questions.

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Playing second fiddle

Dead humanoids: 0 (good).  Dead friendlies: 0 (v.v. good).  Gold royals: 95 (bad).

We (the non-human part of the party) are drinking the last of our house clearance money in a bar in Kelven when a message arrives asking us to attend upon Captain Grygor.  We go and meet him and he asks us to take a message to Captain Thrommel in Specularum to tell him that the Iron Ring have been causing aggro around Kelven.  He feels this is the best way that we can help our long lost friends (not that anyone probably regards Stephen as a friend).

We immediately wrong foot the whole adventure by using the obvious method of travel to Specularum – floating down the river.  We were apparently supposed to use the road.  We find a boat that is going downstream and haggle for passage, getting it for 5gp provided we agree to defend the boat from any bandits.  We also meet a couple of likely lads on the boat – Pavel, a wandering fighter, and Titus, a young priest of Helim who is going to Specularum to join the Order of the Griffin.

The day passes uneventfully and we reach Voska at nightfall, which is where we are supposed to spend the night.  There is a caravan there led by Ahiktos, who has met Stephen and his cronies after Sukiskyn, so can confirm that they survived a goblin attack there.  Apparently they also attacked some big honcho in a tower and stitched him right up, so now the Iron Ring are after them.  Apparently a bloke and a tall black haired woman are the Iron Ring’s representatives on earth in the matter of pursuing Stephen.  I am not sure who I am rooting for in this.

The rest of the evening passes uneventfully although Pavel tried to put the moves on Tanara.  Not that Tanara isn’t interested, but she’s not that sort of girl.  Well, actually she is, but only when she wants to be.

The next morning we awake in our own beds, and set off again.  The river becomes the Highreach, or Volaga. The calm ripples lull us into sleepiness until by mid afternoon we see the river-forts that mark the entrance to Specularum harbour.  The harbour of Specularum is one of the 9 wonders of the modern world, and we gaze in awe at the great gates that can close off the river entrance to Mirror Bay at the heart of the city.  On the far side of the harbour a great tower rises – the Hightower – our destination.

We have been told by Captain Grygor to head for the Rattlebone Inn, which is owned by his brother or cousin or something.  But first we head for the Hightower.  We reach the Hightower and are stopped by a pair of guards.  We do a quick ‘who said that’ routine with Bryan as party spokesman, but manage to persuade them that we have a message for Captain Thrommel from Captain Grygor.  They lead us into the tower and to Captain Thrommel’s room.  We hand over the message and converse with Captain Thrommel.  We are thanked and then escorted out by Sergeant Boris, who hands us a small pouch of money (100 gp) and also recommends the Rattlebone Inn.  Our destiny obviously lies at the Rattlebone Inn.

To get their we have to pass through the city gate (the wrong city gate apparently, but we took the easy road, i.e. the river).  Entry into the city is a monumental 8 gp, which must surely be leading to serious problems with restraint of trade.  Its amazing any food gets into the place at all.  We also have to have our weapons ceremonially bound up with filthy rags for some reason and get the harsher end of the local penal code read out to us.  A warm welcome indeed to Specularum.  It appears to be festival day in Specularum – some local trumped up deity I think.  Apparently its an ancient priest called Lucor whose statue they lob in the harbour each year.  Some local noble bint is chosen to lead the procession – this year it is Lady Magda of the Toronescu (maybe we will be able to pick up a copy of OK and find out who she is later).  The place is crowded with peasants and is filthy as only a human dwelling place can be.  I imagine the next step will be to have our pockets picked.  Nope – an argument has started – its Romeo and Juliet all over again.  Seems that a dance fight between the Toronescu and Radu is about to break out.  Two guys in green livery break up the argument – they are Vorloi men.  A nice woman fills us in on the local politics.  The Vorloi are a Thyatian family that are a big merchant family that come from a town called Vorloi to the south-east.  The Toronescu are an old Traladaran family in the city, but are said to be fading since the old man, Christof, died a few years ago.  They are the power behind the merchant guild, but Christof’s brother Boris and his son Alexander are quarrelling over control of the family.  The Radu on the other hand, are the other power on the waterfront – they are the longshoremen.

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