Monthly Archives January 2014

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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While you were away…

Bryan, Oin and Tanara are in Kelvin. Their friends departed with a horse herder called Stefan several weeks ago and various pieces of news have filtered back to them through the ‘jungle telegraph’.

It seems that on their way to Stefan’s homestead Sukiskyn the boat they were travelling on was attacked by strange bandits – they all had shackle scars on their wrists and some had shackle tattoos. The local gossips whisper of a much feared slaving gang known as the Iron Ring. Rumour says that they operate out of the Black Eagle Barony but they’ve never been encountered this far into Karameikos.

Several of the homesteads in the area, including Sukiskyn, have been attacked and destroyed by goblin hordes. Very few homesteaders survived and no one is able to tell you if your friends survived the attack on Sukiskyn. You are desperate for news…

One morning you receive word from one of the town guard that your presence is requested by Captain Grygor. It seems he has some work for you…

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