The Old Party
When last we saw our heroes, they appear on a beach a mile or two from Baste. Rod unfolds their boat and the party begins their return journey to Princeton. Murad, in bird form, scouts ahead.
The first day out, Murad spots a Gul ship, but it does not see the party. The further south they party goes, the more Gul ships are seen. A few Coorish vessels are seen to the east. The party rows during the day, and uses the sail at night, when the chance of being seen is lower. As they pass the island of Athlell, they notice a faint plume of smoke rising from the centre of the island.
The party passes the eastern shore of New Cahorn, approaching Calmuth Island from the northeast. They see the northeastern stretch of Calmuth has been blockaded by Lettani and Coorish ships. The party decides to run the blockade. Although one or more of the enemy sailors seems to have spotted them, no action is taken. As they pass inside the blockade, the group notices that the Coorish and Lettani ships are being held at bay by the reef and a fleet of Ealduran ships, just north of Plith.
Murad flies to Plith to inform the garrison of the state of the Lettani fleet. They take Murad under temporary custody until he satisfies their commander, Captain Dent, with his story. Murad tells him about the Battle of Baste and the danger of a Gul attack overland. The captain decides to let Murad return to Princeton, but asks that he make a request of the Governor that he send more men north to bolster their garrison. Murad agrees. Murad then takes to the battlements, and flies off with a flourish. The men are amazed.
Murad catches up with the rest of the party as they near Princeton. The harbour is brimming over with ships of all types – small merchant vessels, fishing boats, skiffs, and rowboats. They catch a glimpse of the Walrus, anchored in the harbour. The party makes landfall north of the town and walks up to the eastern gate. They are stopped at the gate by city militia. Although their special officer badges were confiscated in Baste, Murad easily convinces the two militiamen that it is in their interest not to delay them.
They enter the town – Quintin splits off and heads for the Stars’ Children Chapter House and the rest of the party heads first to the Mayor’s office. They convince a guard to pass on their request to see Mayor Finchey, then they stop at Rod’s estate. Upon reaching Rod’s house, they find a large group of Labreyans living there. Alurha explains that they are mostly family and asks Rod if they may stay there a little longer, as they have nowhere else to go. Rod agrees, but is clearly uncomfortable with the situation. Murad proffers a solution – he will speak with Governor Darrow on the matter of some land that was promised him…
Quintin knocks on the door of the Chapter House and asks to see Master Jylium on an urgent matter. He requests the master’s presence at the meeting with the Lord Governor. Jylium agrees. En route, Quintin recounts the tale of what happened in Baste, during and after the battle. Jylium is intrigued. He asks Quintin pointedly how Arthund came to know the story of Sybil Athen before, he, himself did. Quintin admits that he advised Orland, Master of the Chapter House in Baste, that Jylium is something of an unknown and that he is not sure yet if he can be trusted. He told Orland to contact Arthund, as a trusted member. Jylium is, at first, angry at this, but soon calms and concedes that Quintin was wise to be cautious.
At the gate to the Duke’s compound, a throng of people is blocking the way. Manuel, impatient, in a loud voice, says “Move outta the way or I will beat you in the head until you are unconscious, then I will piss on you”. His words, and the guards’ pole arms, seem to do the job – the crowd parts for them to pass. Quintin and Jylium have caught up by this point. Jylium convinces the guards to let them pass undelayed.
Inside the Duke’s Keep, in the state room, Governor Darrow appears tired and worn. Murad casts Restoration on him, which helps him feel better. Murad then recounts the group’s experience at the Battle of Baste and what they learned about the Children of Zepha. Murad also asks for leave to move his people across the bridge to the west, to the land that had been promised him. Darrow agrees but warns that he will be unable to defend or assist them.
Governor Darrow explains the military situation. It is dire – a naval blockade is in effect, as the group has already seen. Their fleet has been reduced to some 30 ships and it is uncertain how long Maddy’s privateers will continue to aid them. The Kingfisher returned from Kayemba some days ago with 50-odd mercenaries. Darrow concedes that he may not be able to pay them for much longer. Murad offers to cover their pay for the next month. The Governor eagerly accepts.
When asked about the situation on the mainland, Governor Darrow admits that details are scarce due to the blockade, but says that there is word of a fleet amassing in Leona that is rumoured to be preparing for an attack on Llantry itself.
Somehow, the Gul have been kept out of the valley and eastern shore of Calmuth island, but the Governor fears that that won’t last for long. He expects a major attack on Princeton within the next 10 days or so. There is no hope of reinforcements from the mainland.
With a heavy heart, the Governor asks the group to accompany a diplomatic mission to the Ulgar. He admits that it is an act of desperation, but feels that their only hope is to convince the Ulgar to join them in their fight against the combined forces of the Lettanni, Gul, and Coorish. The diplomatic mission will be led by Cam Rewyn. If they accept, they must leave no later than the morrow. Without hesitation, the entire group, except Quintin, agrees to do it.
Quintin, instead, requests a private meeting with Jylium. They leave the meeting to speak alone in another room. Quintin asks Jylium for his advice on whether to go on the mission. Jylium strongly suggests that he go on the mission. There are reports that the Children of Zepha have tried to make contact with the Ulgar. This mission may be an opportunity to learn more about their activities. Quintin agrees. Jylium also strongly suggests that Quintin accept the Governor’s rank of “special officer”. That way, his loyalty to not only the Governor, but the population of Princeton, will not be questioned. Quintin reluctantly accepts. As they leave, Jylium tells Quintin to meet him that evening at the Chapter House – there is one last thing that he wishes to discuss with him before he goes on the mission.
Back in the state room, Governor Darrow tells the party that Patriarch Castance, of the Church of Galus, has agreed to make his nearly three-dozen Knights of Just available for the defence of Princeton. In exchange, the Governor has agreed to accept one of Castance’s priests, Elrew, to join the mission to the Ulgar. Murad bursts out in laughter at this. The patriarch has assured Governor Darrow that no proselytizing will take place and that Elrew will merely be on a “cultural fact-finding” mission. The group accepts this condition with some amusement.
Slightly relieved, Governor Darrow dismisses the group. As they depart the Duke’s compound, Murad tells the group that he needs to make some arrangements for the relocation of his people and that he will catch up with them a little later…