The Compass Rose

Session 48 - Nov. 4/13
Beware of ambushing dinosaurs!

Murad and Rod head to Earl Keye‘s estate and they meet the captain of the guard who is already meeting with the Earl’s daughter. They exchange information and they find out the address of the Earl’s son, in the market district. After a quick change and rearming they head to the flat and toss it looking for clues.

They find a crumpled and ripped note in the corner, that says “you will not inherit”. They head back to the King’s Theatre and find the lead investigator. They give him the note and inform him about the poison. They are informed that Yoel, the Earl’s murderer, met with a man earlier in the day at the Elephant inn and tavern.

They go and meet up with Quintin and compare notes and Rod recalls that the Earl of Keye was a supporter of the Queen and that the Earl’s seat of power is located in Vale, which is along the border with Lettan and if it fell, would open the capital to attack.

Quintin obtains a truth potion from the laboratory, which he has Rod hold onto (to Rod’s displeasure) and they head to the Elephant.

Rod sneaks into the back of the tavern while Murad and Quintin enter the front door while getting many dirty looks. They start to engage the locals in some conversation to gain information and to find the man who supplied Yoel with the poison.

Rod walks into the back of the tavern and bribes a bar wench for information on Yoel and the man, she directs him to another serving wench who after some coins directs him to another man, who said he saw the man, and did see him climb out the window of an abandoned building.

They make there way to the building. After Rod pops opens an easy lock, they begin searching the building. They find a set of tracks leading upstairs then back down to the basement. Rod sneaks into the basement while Murad, as a dog, goes upstairs and Quintin searches the main floor. Murad finds a strong smell coming from a pile of straw, which turns out to be a bloody shoe, and lots of strange footprints, including a very large pair. Rod finds a dead dehydrated body, and a trap door which the tracks lead to.

Rod attempts to open the door, but triggers a magic trap and gets badly hurt. After some healing, they set off down a tunnel. After a half mile following the tracks, they come to a room with 3 other tunnels and a metal ladder going up. Murad discovers that the smell goes up the ladder.

Rod sneaks up and finds a stone wall and a garden (much to Rod’s dismay). Quintin recognizes that it is inside House Fenne’s offices. As they get up into the garden, they hear a sound and the trap door begins to slam shut. Suddenly they are charged are by what looks like a dinosaur.

Rod becomes invisible, as Quintin stops the door, and Murad casts a spell transforming the dinosaur into a toad. Murad grabs the toad as it disappears from his mouth leaving the party guessing. The party hears some chanting so Rod heads for the sound as Quintin bombs the area. Murad shape changes into a bat, as the dinosaur reappears and attacks Quintin, bringing him down but not before Quintin inflicts damage on it. Murad combats the caster and Rod attacks the dinosaur with his swords and throws a barrage of daggers at the caster. Rod is able to cut the dinosaur down as the caster tries to teleport away, but is stopped by Murad who then traps him in a wall of thorns. They do not get to question him as he activates the magic suicide ring. Murad rushes to help Quintin, who is still alive, as Rod stands guard.

Session 47 - Oct. 14/13
A Murder Most Fowl

In the early morning, Rod is awakened to Saladin banging on the door announcing his arrival. Saladin tells Rod that a sailor was mentioning that Maddy was back at the Maid of Iron. She was speaking to the bartender and, after some words, punched one of her sailors.

Murad, in cat form, awakens in the garden within the Queen’s Palace compound. Several birds are watching him awaiting him to leave their favouraite berry tree. Soon after, a door opens – a young woman and two small girls come out to the garden, followed by two palace guards and a plainly clothed, bespectacled man. The girls spot the “cat” and think it is their cat, “Patches”. The woman notices that it is not Patches and wonders how he could have gotten into the garden. The girls want to pet the cat, but the man says that they should all go inside. They reluctantly comply. The man approaches to study the cat. After the woman and the girls go inside, Murad tells him that they have nothing to fear from him, and turns back into his human form. The man asks him who he is, while he seems to be in communication with someone unseen. He tells Murad that the High Archmage, Gralius Kurn, has confirmed his identity and requests that he leave the palace grounds and not return.

While in the High Alchemists’ underground laboratory, Quintin receives a note from the merchant house of Fenne (the merchant house that Quintin led the island specimen-collecting expedition for), requesting his presence. At the appointed time, Quintin arrives at their Llantry offices. He is admitted and led to a beautiful indoor garden, with a glass ceiling. While waiting, he sees several exotic plants and animals. He notices a red betelnut tree that he believes he recognizes from the expedition. While Quintin is examining the various specimens, Lady Lobelia, the head of House Fenne, arrives to meet him.

She says that she personally requested his presence and thanks him for all that he has done on behalf of her house. She informs Quintin that Vossian Velsurian had signed a contract with House Fenne to retrieve exotic specimens from the Starbirth Sea. He had gone missing and she understood that Quintin might know what became of him. Quintin informs her that he was killed by some sort of slime beast that he encountered on his journey. She asks if Quintin recovered any writings or alchemical formulae. Quintin tries his best to deflect the questions but does let her know about Vossian’s Journal and some of the items that were found.
Lobelia asks to see the journal and the formulae as she has clients who would be interested in them. Quintin says that he must get authorization from the High Archmage first. After some thought, she agrees. Quintin is then led back outside.

Quintin returns to the Tower of Stars and informs the High Archmage of Lobelia Fenne’s request. Kurn agrees that the request is a little unusual, but says that he will consider it and contact her himself.

Rod spends most of the morning selling items from the DeloSiren estate. While Rod is off doing this, Maddy pays a visit to the estate to talk to Murad. Murad inquires about JE Ritter. She tells him that Ritter’s mind is broken and that he is a shell of a man. She is trying to find a place to take care of him and asks if Murad or Rod can help. She fears about restoring his mind may pose a threat to her and the party, so she has been reluctant to seek out healing for him. Murad agrees to consider it. He then asks Maddy if she would be willing to take The Walrus and crew out into the Starbirth Sea with them to search for a magical node. He explains that there is great potential for booty. She offers to sail The Walrus for them and asks for the ship in return once the mission is over. She adds that her other two ships’ crews in Llantry may also be willing to come along, but she will need to speak with them. Murad agrees to discuss it with the others.

Quintin decides to pay a visit to the temple of Fira to try and find Manuel. He is told that he cannot see Manuel at this time and that he iss under the protection of the Matriarch. Quintin is told to come back in a few days, at which time Manuel may be seeing visitors.

In the afternoon, Rod invites Quintin and Murad to the performance at the King’s Theatre tonight. Quintin eagerly agrees and decides to invite Vina, the daughter of the High Alchemist, Heyrod. Murad initially declines, but eventually agrees to come after some coaxing.

That evening, Rod takes the group to the performance in his carriage. Outside of the theatre, the party sees a crippled man preaching to the crowd about the end of days – there’s war, the forest is encroaching upon the city, and a falling star will destroy the world. Some guards break up the commotion and carry the man off. The group leaves the area and enter the theatre. It is a semi-circular building with a large stage at the open end. They are led to a balcony box and are brought refreshments. Rod notices that Duke Cahorn is seated in the balcony on the other side of the theatre. After several minutes, a man comes to ask Rod that the Duke wishes to see him. Rod follows him to the Duke’s box.

Rod and the Duke chit chat a little. The Duke then informs Rod that the High Council has voted in favour of Rod assuming his late brother’s position on the Low Council. Rod expresses his pleasure and gratitude for this.

The performance of “The Maid and the Fox” begins. A young maid, played by a man, tends to her flock of chickens and visits her prize pig. She leaves the stage. Soon after “The Fox” arrives and, with the help of the pig, proceeds to steal the chickens.

The party notices that one of the Lords in the balcony is getting up to leave – an unusual thing for such an event. He is escorted out by his contingent of guards. As this is happening, one of the actors, dressed as a chicken, jumps off the stage and runs toward the exit, waving his “wings”. Quintin observes that the other actors seem confused by this. The running chicken disappears into the entrance hall. The performance continues on nonetheless.

Suddenly, someone in the entrance hall yells out “Murderer!”. Shouting and screaming from the entrance hall follow. The play stops and the crowd is silent save for some low murmuring. Quintin and Murad rush to see what has happened. Rod goes to look after the Duke.

Murad and Quintin make their way to the staircase that leads down to the entrance hall. The find the Lord that had left his seat, lying on his back, unmoving, on the staircase. Further down the stairs, the lord’s guards stand over the hacked, dead body of the actor. Murad confirms that the lord is dead. He sees a stab wound in his abdomen that appears to be seeping an oily, greenish poison. Quintin finds a dagger near the assailant’s body and examines it. He notices the same greenish residue that Murad found in the lord’s wound.

Forlham, the playwrite, dressed as a magician, uncannily resembling the High Archmage, comes to see what has happened. Shortly after, Duke Cahorn, his guards, and Rod arrive. The Duke identifies the dead lord as Earl Keye of Vale and demands to know who the assassin is. Forlham reluctantly divulges that the attacker is Yoel, one of his long-time actors. He was “close friends” with another of the actors, Sasha Keye, the Earl’s son. The playwrite is sad to announce that Sasha was found dead in his room this morning. Earl Keye must have come to see his son perform, but decided to leave when he realized that his understudy was playing the part of “The Maid”. Forlham finds it strange that the Earl would come at all, since he and Sasha were estranged for some time over Sasha’s “lifestyle”. For some reason, Yoel must have thought that the Earl himself had arranged his son’s death and decided to take revenge on him. As they hear the story, Quintin and Murad wonder how this actor got such a powerful poison.

A woman from the balcony section manages to get into the entrance hall. From the top of the staircase, she sees the body of the Earl and screams: “There’s been a murder! It’s a Lettani spy!" She runs back to the balcony as Rod chases after her. He drags her to one of the guards. Too late – the audience panics and they to rush for the exits – a stampede! Quintin manages to rescue a woman that surely would have been trampled to death. Once the people have escaped and the group is confident that the city guard has everything under control, they leave. Duke Cahorn asks Rod to meet him at his estate early on the Morrow.

Quintin returns to the laboratory to study the poison. With the help of Vina and others, he discovers that the poison is an altered form of Green Prismatic Poison. It is the same poison found in the suicide rings used by the Children of Zepha.

Rod and Murad go to the main city guard house to find out what they can about the death of the Earl’s son.

Session 46 - October 7/13
Umm, where did you say you got that parrot?

After leaving the bookshop, the party boards Rod’s carriage and returns to the DeloSiren estate. Rod makes the final arrangements to escort Lady Tanis, his late brother’s wife, to her Parents’ estate. Murad, disguised as a chatty parrot, accompanies them. Lady Tanis’ young daughter is enamoured with him. Once there, Rod informs his newly-hired guards that they will get a very handsome reward upon completion of the contract.

Upon their return, Rod discusses the war situation with his butler, Kent, and that he wishes to liquidate some of the estate and holdings. Rod assures Kent that he will be taken care of, as will Rod’s niece.

This whole time, Quintin has been poring over the Journal of Jarith Rellor that they acquired at the bookshop. About two-thirds of the way into it, he finds some intriguing entries:

Hielyr 7, 11888 After only two days on this island, three of my men have become gravely ill with a sort of febrile disease. The ship’s physician cannot determine the cause. It is odd considering that they had been with me for more than a year and had not taken ill since that first month of the voyage…

Hielyr 11, 11888 The afflicted men grow sicker still. I fear that the others are going mad from some other affliction. The men claim that some of the large bats that inhabit the island have displayed some strange behaviour. They say that these animals have been seen watching them at night and appear to be communicating with each other. Madness! Only one more week here and I will have my maps completed…

The journal describes the island and the water around it as extremely rocky and that, after some searching, they found a small area on the western shore to land on. Jarith Rellor decided to leave the island after one of his crewmen died. Three more men died after they left.

Quintin determines that the island referred to in the journal is the same one that is today referred to as “Jarith’s Island”. Quintin and Murad debate whether they should investigate this island or to keep with the current plan to investigate the Starbirth Sea. Quintin decides to speak with the High Archmage, Gralius Kurn, about it.

Rod and Murad search the house, and find part of Rod’s brother’s gun collection – 1 masterwork pistol, 2 regular pistols, a musket, 36 bullets for the pistols, and a case of shot for the musket.

Quintin leaves for the Tower of Stars at the Academy of the Stars’ Children. The High Archmage’s assistant, Navin, intercepts him. He brings news that some of the items the party requested are available. He also informs Quintin that the two tokens that Rod and Murad left with their researchers have disappeared. Quintin assures him that the tokens have a habit of returning to the owner.

Up in the tower room, Quintin shows Gralius Kurn the passage in Rellor’s the journal. He mentions that another fellow had wanted this book and that he had asked the shopkeeper to have any other copies of it destroyed. Quintin speculates that the illness that afflicted Rellor’s crew may have been caused by fallen star metal. Quintin also feels that the firebats may be significant. The Archmage tells of another group in West Hanum that is already investigating the island. Two of them, including Cornelius Grey, are members of the Stars’ Children and are believed to be trustworthy. Quintin thanks Kurn and bids him farewell.

Word arrives at Rod’s estate that Quintin requests that they meet him at the Astronomers’ Guild. Rod arranges for Saladin and Yulando to bring the Portable Alchemy Cabinet to the house. Rod and Murad leave to meet up with Quintin.

Quintin has gone ahead to the Guild of Astronomers, housed in an old converted tower. He meets Yolen Gert, one of the Master Astronomers. Quintin asks if it is possible that star fragments may have fallen on the West Hanum Islands two-thousand years ago, just before the One Hundred Year Winter. Gert answers that it is possible – most of the falling star is known to have fallen in Lettan, but some of it may have broken off and landed in other locations.

Murad and Rod arrive. Master Gert takes the group to the top of the tower and shows them his “Stargazing Apparatus”. They use it to look at the moon at many times it’s normal size. Gert swivels the device to show them the new star in the sky, near the constellation of Zepha. It appears to be a little brighter than when they last looked at it. Finally, he takes the group back to the main floor, where he shows them the “Portable Stargazing Apparatus” that he has made for them to take on their journey to the Starbirth Sea.

Session 45 - September 23/13
Hey, I think this table is for me and my friends!

Rod leaves the library and travels to the High Cathedral of The Just. He inquires about Bertom of Cuford. A Knight of the Just says that he is under the protection of the High Patriarch and that he can leave a message with his assistant. The Knight agrees to pass this on to him. Rod enters the cathedral. He makes a donation to the church to get the attention of a priest. After a short conversation, the priest agrees to inquire about Bertom on Rod’s behalf.

Rod then has his driver take him to the market district where he sells his pistol and ammunition. He uses some of the proceeds to buy two spring loaded wrist sheathes. After finishing his shopping, Rod returns to his family’s estate. The new guards that he sent for have arrived and are stationed around the house.

After some time at the library studying his dinosaur texts, Murad returns to the docks to find The Walrus and Maddy. After some questioning from one of the sailors, who doesn’t recognize Murad as an old man, Cendrik, the first mate, is fetched. Cendrik updates Murad on the recent events and mentions that Maddy went ashore several days ago, after they arrived in Llantry. She hasn’t returned since, though she was reportedly seen by one of the crew at the Maid of Iron tavern nearby. He explains that Maddy sent most of their ships to Keyemba. The remaining three ships, including The Walrus sailed to Llantry to return JE Ritter. Cendrik believes that Ritter was “broken” by his interrogation in Princeton and that Maddy is trying to return him to his family members. Murad tells Cendrik about his party’s mission. He says that he would like to ask Maddy about taking the Walrus with them out into the Starbirth Sea. Cendrik is unsure until Murad mentions the possibility of finding valuable adamantium ore. Cendrik promises to keep the ship in dock until Murad can find Maddy.

Back at the DeloSiren estate, Rod searches the house. He finds a secret ledger and a small bag of gems (4000g worth). He also notices several transactions in this ledger that involve various illegal items purchased and sold through the merchant house of Fenne. When Murad arrives, Rod shows him the book. He makes no mention of the gems. Murad proceeds to show Rod the books he acquired and their dinosaur illustrations.

By this time, Quintin has been back working at the Laboratory of the High Alchemists for some time. He is interrupted by a messenger who gives the message that they have gotten word from Arthund in Princeton. Quintin is told to see Navin, Gralius Kurn’s assistant, for the complete message. Quintin immediately leaves to find Navin. Quintin is told that, indeed Arthund did make the note in Quintin’s copy of A Collection of Species. Arthund explained that he saw a copy of the Journal of Jarith Rellor several years ago. It contained an entry that refers to an island in the West Hanum Islands now known as Jarith’s Island. Arthund said that he saw the book in an esoteric bookstore in the the southwest merchant district of Llantry. Quintin then finds his apprentice, Desmond, to help him to track down the journal the following day.

Rod and Murad find Quintin returning from dinner with Desmond. The three of them collect Saladin and Yulando, Murad’s apprentice, at the Journeyman’s Rest Inn and head to the Maid of Iron to ask about Maddy. They arrive at the tavern, the last known location of Maddy. With Saladin’s help, they “find” a table. Rod disappears into the crowd. Murad spots some of the Walrus’ crew and asks about Maddy. One of them says that he saw her a couple of days ago, but wasn’t sure where she went. For a few Gold Swans, they agree to keep an eye out and to tell her to contact Murad via the Stars’ Children, should they see her.
Murad asks the bartender if he saw Maddy. After taking some coins, he says that the last time she was here, she asked for a woman by the name of Laz, JE Ritter’s sister. After he told her that Laz had left Llantry years ago, Maddy was disappointed and left the tavern.

Afterward they go searching for the DeloSiren warehouse to see what is stored in it. Along the way, a beggar asks Murad for alms. Murad gives him some goodberries instead of coins. The warehouse turns out to be a bust with nothing of value. They return to the Maid of Iron to find Saladin beating several sailors at darts. Murad asks him to join him and they head back to the Journeyman’s Rest.

The next morning, Quintin meets with Desmond and two of his friends to search for the bookstore that possesses the Journal of Jareth Rellor. Finds a small store in the southwestern merchant district with a sign overhead – “Books”. The owner, an old man, claims that he doesn’t have it, but Quintin can tell that he is lying. Quintin leaves to find Rod and Murad to help him acquire the book. The trio returns to the bookstore in Rod’s carriage. Rod drinks a potion of invisibility and sneaks into the store. Murad, as an old man, enters the store keeper. Murad is able to convince the keeper to reluctantly admit that he owns a copy of the book. The man fetches the book. The keeper explains that a man bought a copy of the book a year ago and paid him to destroy any other copies that he might come across. The bookstore owner was fearful that the man would find out that he still had a copy of the book. That is why he lied to Quintin about owning the journal. The owner tells Murad to take the book so that he doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. Murad pays for the book, thanks the man, and departs. Outside, Murad hands the journal to a very happy Quintin, waiting in the carriage.

Session 44 - Sept. 9/13
Hmm, what can I get for this silverware?

The night before Rod’s meeting with Duke Cahorn, Quintin and Ezekiel, new companions, make their way to the Laboratory of the High Alchemists. They are directed by the daughter of High Alchemist Heyrod to his office. After several minutes, Heyrod enters the room by another door and appears to not notice them for some time. After introductions, Quintin presents Heyrod with the fungal rock by which he seems extremely fascinated. Quintin also shows him Vossian Velsurian’s logbook. he is excited about his reference to the Attenutate formula which quenches the toxic effects of certain ores. Quintin shows him the same formula in his own formula book, which he copied from Vossian’s own. Heyrod is delighted and asks Quintin to contribute to their research into finding a formula that will permanently suppress all effects, including magical, of star ore. Quintin agrees.

Heyrod asks Quintin to follow him to the laboratory where the work is taking place. Ezekiel takes his leave and tells Quintin to meet him at the Western University Library in the morning at 10 bells. Quintin follows Heyrod underground to a large laboratory guarded by leaden doors that seems to be processing something, though Quintin does not ask what it is. They arrive at a small lab with two men working. Heyrod approaches one of them, Brodie, who is standing behind a leaden shield. Heyrod introduces him to Quintin. Brodie is the lead researcher on the project and is happy to learn of Vossian’s discovery and that Quintin will be assisting him. They work into the night.

The next morning, at the Cahorn estate, The Duke asks Rod if he has seen his youngest son, Vyncent, in West Hanum. Rod replies that he has and that he seems to be trying to cut a deal with the Lettani to buy his release. The Duke seems unmoved by this and a little perturbed that he must bargain for his release. He muses that should never have sent him there to check up on the Governor.

Duke Cahorn gives Rod the latest on the war.

By some act of treachery, the gates of Marakfell were opened and the city was taken by the Brindish and their mercenaries with minimal resistance. Some 500 Ealduran soldiers that were there to help hold the city have been captured or killed. The Brindish army, accompanied by troops from Fellenfeld and Leona and a mercenary army, is preparing to march up the road toward Llantry.

Wendgate is under siege. When word arrived of the fate of Marakfell, the Ealduran commanders pulled their men out of the city before the Sassimi army arrived. The city is lightly defended now and will surely fall in a short time.

The combined Coorish fleet, led by the Leonians, was reported to have set sail from Leona. They should arrive in the Bay of the Protector within a few short weeks. There is reason to believe that the Western Leonian fleet in West Hanum will be returning to Ashtar soon, if they have not already started back. Their combined fleet will outnumber theirs by nearly 2 to 1.

In the north, much of the Ealduran army returned south with the fleet to prepare for a Coorish attack. The remaining Ealduran units have retreated across the River Breev and are attempting to hold the town of Vale.

The Duke blames the Queen for starting this war unprepared for the Coorish entry. He tells Rod that there are important decisions to be made. He asks Rod if he has received word from his family in Marakfell. Rod says that he has not. The Duke explains that, with his brother’s death, there is a vacancy on the Low Council. He offers to nominate Rod as his brother’s replacement for the position. Rod gladly accepts and agrees to meet with the Duke to discuss the upcoming agenda before the next Low Council meeting, which is to take place in four days. Then, the Duke offers Rod five passes to a performance at the King’s Theatre, two days from now.

P. Rod meets up with Murad, who has returned to the Journeyman’s Rest Inn and Tavern. Rod tells of his agreement with the duke. They decide to speak in a less public place. They walk a few blocks, stopping at a small green space on a street corner. Murad decides to add some green to the city and casts a Plant Growth spell. This causes the plants to overgrow 100’ radius of city streets and buildings. This causes panic and confusion and at least one roof to cave in from the weight of the growing vines. In the centre of it, Murad expresses his desire to kill Duke Cahorn. He sees him as a detriment to his own people, not to mention others. Murad feels that eliminating him will do the world much good. Rod is unsure and prefers to reserve his opinion until after the Low Council meeting, in four days. When their discussion ends, Rod becomes invisible and leaves the overgrown area. He sees a pair of city guards hacking at the edge of the plants. From their talk, they believe this to be the work of the Stars’ Children. Rod whispers “Beware of the Children of Zepha” and runs off. Murad transforms into a gull and flies away. They make their way to the estate of Rod’s family in Llantry.

At the DeloSiren estate, Rod and his companion, Murad are greeted by the Butler, Kent, who seems to remember Rod. They share their grief over the passing of Rod’s brother, Jesterein. Kent informs Rod that, with his brother dead and the rest of his family possibly missing, he is head of the household now. Kent asks for direction on what is to be done with his brother’s wife and daughter who are currently staying at the house. Rod offers to go speak with his wife.

Rod finds his sister-in-law, Lady Tanis, most distraught. She seems to be frightened for herself and her daughter. She believes whoever killed her husband may think that she knows something and may want to kill her. She recalls a man from a merchant house visiting the house two days before her husband’s death. During their conversation, Jesterein became very upset and dismissed the man abruptly. She did not hear any of the conversation nor did she find out the merchant house that the man represented. After some reassurance from Rod and Murad, she agrees to take herself and her daughter to her father’s estate and stay there until he arrives in town.

Rod and Murad make their way, in Rod’s household carriage, to meet with Quintin and Ezekiel at the University Library as per Ezekiel’s earlier request. They both notice that their magical tokens, which they gave to Gralius Kurn for study, have mysteriously returned to them. They arrive at the Western University and make their way to the library. Ezekiel has already retrieved his research notes and books from storage and Quintin has recently arrived, himself. Ezekiel shows them what he has found so far on the history of the West Hanum Archipelago. Quintin and Ezekiel compare their copies of Olin’s work, A Collection of Species. After more than an hour, they notice one annotation in Quintin’s copy that does not appear in Ezekiel’s, yet it is not one of Quintin’s own notes. There is a passage on what Olin calls Jarith’s Island, one of the southern islands of the West Hanum chain. The note says “Jarith Rellor refers to this island in his journal.” Quintin decides that it must have been Arthund, in Princeton, that wrote the note. They spend close to four hours searching the library for a copy of Jarith Rellor’s journal. After coming up empty-handed, they decide to pass a message onto Gralius Kurn to ask Arthund for assistance. The group leaves the library, except Murad. He seems particularly fascinated by several books that he found on the subject of dinosaurs…

Session 43 - Aug. 19/13
Sniff, sniff. Does that water need a change?

The party makes the several week journey to the mainland on the commandeered Leonian vessel, the Seventh Star. Along the way, it is noticed that the weather is rougher then normal. They skim 3 thunder storms, and a hurricane, taking only minor damage (23 points). Murad busies himself with crafting magic items, while Quintin explores the alchemist’s lab, and Rod changes his appearance to look more like a mercenary.

When the party passes the Hanum chain of islands, they are approached by an Elduran ship, captained by a Captain Amer. Cam Rewyn, Murad, and Quintin row over and exchange words of the status of the war and are offered an escort to Llantry.

The channel connecting the Bay of the Protector to the Silent Sea is protected by battery forts. As they approach the city, the smells of tanneries and sewage accost them. They pass through a large bridge with many buildings built onto it. After pulling into the docks, the captain of the Seventh Star, Morso, seems nervous and asks what will become of him and his crew. Cam says that he will speak to the Queen’s men and ensure that they will be fairly treated.

A harbour clerk approaches and tries to tax the party, but an aged looking Murad talks him down stating they captured a Coorish vessel which is more than enough to cover any taxes. The clerk seems to accept this explanation.

The party intends to head in different directions and agrees to meet at the Journeyman’s Rest Inn and Tavern. Just before they depart, they notice a strange ship with no forecastle anchored a few hundred yards out to sea. They also see that The Walrus is docked not far away from them.

As they begin to leave, they notice a man in flowing white robes awaiting them at the end of the dock. He introduces himself as Delthorne and summons Murad, Quintin, and Rod to the Tower of Stars to stand before Gralius Kurn, High Archmage of the Stars’ Children. The apprentice Desmond will be going with them. Manuel is told that he is expected at the Cathedral of The Benevolent instead, and that he is not required to come with the others. A priestess stands nearby to escort Manuel. Bertom of Cuford has left to meet his fate at the High Cathedral of The Just in the centre of town. Cam, his two guards, Saladin and Yulando go ahead to the Journeyman’s Rest. Tomes Finchey thanks the party once more and scurries off, his large trunk in tow.

As they walk, Quintin asks Delthrone if other members of the Stars’ Children have noticed strange happenings with the use of Ama. He confirms that others have noticed that, sometimes, magical spells seem to consume more Ama than is usual. He is not sure why.

At the Campus of the Academy, they see the Tower of Stars, which soars above them at thirteen stories. Once inside they see a large silver star painted on the floor, and magical images of the 13 constellations floating around the ceiling. Another member, Navin meets them and guides them upstairs. Rod dislikes having to walk up the stairs. At the top, a silver door creates images of each of their faces. It seems to be scanning them.

In the room, the party sees more floating images of constellations, this time of ones not seen in this part of the world. A man, presumably Gralius Kurn, the High Archmage, sits at a desk, writing. He greets them and introduces them to the man standing beside him as Ezekiel. Quintin hands over the letter from Jylium and the fungal rock from the Ulgar. He then goes into excruciating detail about their adventures as Rod nods off. It is noted that Gralius Kurn seems occasionally distracted during the conversation and he admits that he is “in communication” with others.

Kurn explains that it was around the time of the Hundred Year Winter that magic was discovered on Ardia. It was a falling star that caused that cataclysm. It also provided their world with the source of arcane magic. The earliest users of magic knew that it was important to secure control of this source.

He speaks of the purpose of the Stars’ Children. In his mind, their purpose is to be the stewards of the power of magic. They may use it to benefit the people, but above all, they must protect the population from it, as they can’t possibly understand it. It is a source of great power, but it must be used carefully. It is dangerous if not used with caution. Also, this power is finite.

The High Archmage explains that Ama is in short supply. Even those that use arcane magic without Ama, deplete its reserves. For some reason, as yet undetermined, the levels are depleting faster than they can account for. This was happening even before they detected the falling star more than one year ago and has recently accelerated. Higher magics, like changing form and teleportation seem to deplete it the most. There are some within the Stars’ Children that believe that the falling star is necessary to replenish their depleted stores of Ama. Kurn believes that the star is uncontrollable and the destruction that it would cause is not worth the power that it might grant. He does not wish another 100 Year Winter or longer cataclysm on the world. He believes that there is a way to destroy it before it strikes Ardia. Once this is done, they can determine what is depleting the Ama.

Gralius Kurn speaks of the existence of four magical nodes. There is one in northern Lettan, which was discovered hundreds of years ago, but its purpose was unknown until recently. Poring over the ancient texts revealed that this node and three others were built between 100 and 200 years after the discovery of magic. Beside the one in Lettan, there are nodes in the southern reaches of the eastern lands and on Kayemba in an uninhabited area close to the Elven lands (they find out that the strange ship in the harbour is Elven). The fourth node is believed to be somewhere within the northwestern part of the Starbirth Sea. They believe that the nodes were made to prevent another disaster like the one that caused the Hundred Year Winter. If they could be found and used, they might be able to prevent the coming catastrophe. The nodes in the eastern lands and on Kayemba are in the process of being secured.

Kurn tells them that they are assembling a team to take control of the node in Lettan. Originally, the Stars’ Children attempted to negotiate with Archduke Audon to get access to the node. Unfortunately, the node is within the area of the star ore deposits that are the source of Ama as well as the precious mineral adamantium. This is very valuable to the Archduke. Originally, he had agreed to some generous terms in exchange for granting access. However, shortly after, he changed his mind and demanded impossible terms (like demanding that magic be used to fortify his relatively weak military). Debate dragged on within the Stars’ Children on whether to take the node by force. Ultimately, they decided that force was the only course of action. Magical force was considered, but that would have consumed much Ama and the exact location of the node could not be scried – it was being hidden somehow. Attempts to teleport directly were foiled. The involvement of the Children of Zepha was highly suspected.

They decided to present this information to the Queen of Ealdur. After some thought, she gave the order to attack the Lettanni. The thinking was that the Lettanni military was inferior and Audon would soon be forced to come to terms on granting access to the node. But things did not go quite as planned… Ultimately, they have settled on a plan that is less desirable. The current plan is risky – they will have to teleport outside of the area of the node and hike to it. It is believed that it will be heavily guarded.

Despite the challenges that they face with securing the node in Lettan, Kurn needs the group to find the node in the Starbirth Sea. They are to secure it and attempt to activate it. Once all four nodes are activated, the Stars’ Children will attempt to control them from a central location – here in the tower.

Gralius Kurn muses that the war may seem superfluous to all of this. He says that the research of the Stars’ Children and that of the Astronomers’ Guild is critical to being able to use the nodes correctly. If that were to be disrupted by the war, it could be disastrous for the planet. And, of course, they must not lose control of the Tower of Stars. Therefore, it is necessary that they carry out their mission quickly. If they prevent the star from falling, it will mean the eventual end of the Stars’ Children. Let it be their final gift to the people.

Kurn asks if they wish to join this expedition. All agree. They will be granted any reasonable requests for equipment, even magical. They are to see his assistant, Navin, who will tend to their requests. Kurn asks for the two tokens that the group possesses – he wishes to have them studied. They agree to this. He tells Quintin to share the information he has on the history of the West Hanum Islands with Ezekiel, who has been conducting his own research at the Western University. But first, he wishes Quintin to show the High Alchemists his fungal rock. Kurn also asks the party to pay a visit to the Astronomers’ Guild in the next day or so – they are holding something for them. Before they leave, Kurn gives Quintin a small silver stone that can be used to contact him in emergencies.

Quintin and Ezekiel head off to the Laboratory of the High Alchemists. Murad and Rod go to the Journeyman’s Rest Inn. They agree with Cam to wait until the morning to visit the Duke of Cahorn. They enjoy a drink or two together before retiring for the night.

In the morning Cam, Rod, and Murad go to the Duke’s estate where they are told to wait. They overhear the Duke come in and notice his rudeness. He is with another man who addresses him as “father”. The second man takes his leave. The Duke makes the party wait even longer while he ascends to his sitting room. Rod takes it upon himself to “change the water” in a vase filled with fresh-cut flowers. After a while, they are led to the Duke’s room. The Duke neglects to offer refreshments to his guests. He is rather rude to Murad. Cam explains the situation with Governor Darrow and gives the Duke his letter. He agrees to pay most of the balance of the fees owed to the group. Rod does his best to be snarky until Cam introduces him. At that point, the Duke informs Rod of the death of his oldest brother.

Session 42 - Aug. 5/13
By the gods, Carl! Did you just muck out the stables?

Io and Pascal head back to the chapter house to meet up with the others, then head to see Captain Umes. At the Emerald Parrot, they notice that guards are shoving some of locals. Fatima helps the old man as Io glares at one of the guards. Cornelius subtly casts a spell to make the offending guard smell like a privy.

Io, Tanya, Cornelius, and Jalec go into the Emerald Parrot to await Fatima and Father Abel, who are going to see Captain Umes. Io starts gathering information as Cornelius behaves as a crazy old drunk and Tanya gambles.

Fatima and Pascal go to see Captain Umes, after going through several checkpoints they arrive to Captain Umes. Fatima introduces themselves to the Captain, she presents the letter and writs, to wish he insults Fatima and calls her a slut, to which she bristles and uses magic to intimidate him, then Pascal plays “good cop” to get information about what has been tried already.

They tell the captain that they have the name of one of the masons doing work on the castle and he is summoned. Pascal and Fatima question the mason, and learn a little about the keep, but once they leave the mason informs Pascal that his men have seen foul birds flying around the keep at night.

They then head back to the Parrot to meet the others, and explains what went down and what to do next. Jalec wants to get it done. It is decided that Fatima and Io will approach the front door and try to talk while the rest approach the sea wall by use of invisibility, and silence, and await word from the others.

Fatima and Io approach the gate and try to convince them to allow them access. With some negotiation they are allowed entrance. They are required to fly over the broken bridge, and are allowed to talk with the officer about the dangers of harboring the Children of Zepha and that they need to talk to the Governor. With more discussion, the officer agrees to take them to the Governor. After some traveling, they arrive at the governors chambers. They find him standing in front of a large mirror. Fatima tells him about the Children of Zepha and how they are preforming magic. He claims not to know, to which Io believes. Fatima says she wants to test his honesty, and begins to cast a spell.

Darrow steps into the mirror, with Io hot on his heals. Fatima messages the rest of the party who teleports into the room. A guard asks “everything ok in there?” to which Tanya responds, “ah yes everything is fine here” as the rest of the party follows.

Io appears in a strange jungle garden, with a hut. Inside the hut, a man in a white robe awaits them; he asks if they know who he is. Cornelius guesses that he is a member of the Children of Zepha, He calls himself Arbo. Io’s tension rises – she is about to attack Arbo. The rest of the party sees what is going to happen. Pascal moves to stop Io’s but too late. Io strikes Arbo with her falchion but he is unharmed. Cornelius finds this all very amusing as Tanya hammers Arbo with arrows, which do seem to wound him. Arbo casts Mass Hold Person on the party, trying to freeze them. Pascal, Tanya, and Jalec are affected. Then, Arbo transforms into another man – Taipa.

He says that the purpose of his ruse was to make sure that the party will not aid the Children of Zepha. And explains that he has been helping the Ealdurans against the Lettanni to “keep them occupied”. He says that he is working with Bilya. They are trying to stop the new star from hitting the planet. The children of Zepha are trying to bring this event about. Bilya has gone ahead to “Jarith’s Island”, a volcanic island to the south that has never been settled. It is believed to be a current or former base for the Children of Zepha. Taipa offers to pay the party 30,000 gold worth of gems to investigate the island. The party agrees to investigate this island.

Taipa takes the group to another part of Calmuth Island, in the jungle. He hands the party a bag of gems and grafts a tropical healing laurel onto Cornelius. He then teleports the party to the southern shore of Calmuth island, where a fully stocked double-hulled canoe awaits.

Session 41 - July 22/13
Watch that old man, he's crazy...
The New Party

Eighteen days after returning to Baste, the party members are socializing at the Green Frog Tavern. An officer, sent by the Marquis Farileau, arrives. He informs them that the Marquis has summoned them to his keep in regard to a potential “job”. Tanya, Io, Fatima, Cornelius, and Jalec agree and come along.

Meanwhile, the priest, Father Pascal Abel, awaits his summons at the Church of the Benevolent (Fira). He has been briefed by the Church Matriarch, Garon. The Children of Zepha, an organization within the Stars’ Children, have been known to be co-operating with members of the Church of Zaur. She has reason to believe that the CoZ are operating in Princeton. The Marquis will be sending a party to Princeton to help him take the keep. She wishes for Pascal to accompany them. He has agreed. A soldier arrives at the Church asking after him – Pascal goes with him to Farileau Keep.

The main party arrives at the Marquis’ Audience Chamber, followed soon after by Pascal. They exchange pleasantries until the Marquis arrives. Farileau makes his entrance with a rather smug look. He informs them that Princeton has been taken and rather easily at that. The only sticking point is that the Duke’s Keep is untaken. The Ealduran Governor, Darrow, refuses to surrender. The Marquis wishes the party to remove Darrow, alive, and hand him over to Captain Umes, current army commander and governor of Princeton. Once this is done, he believes that the Ealdurans will quickly surrender.

The Marquis offers a total of 20000 Gold Emperors if the successfully remove Governor Darrow, alive. If they need added incentive, he beleives that the Children of Zepha may be aiding the Ealdurans. A storm suddenly appeared just before the attack on Princeton and prevented the Leonian fleet from bombarding the keep. The Leonians decided that they could no longer wait and they returned to Ashtar. Also, the keep curtain wall has been repeatedly fired upon by their cannon, yet it is hardly damaged. Farileau suggests that the party investigate this and are welcome to interrogate any agents that they may find. After a brief discussion, the party agrees to the mission. They are given a description of Darrow and are told to report to the Iron Lady at 3 bells.

The party uses the few hours before their departure to gather information about the town of Princeton and the Duke’s Keep. Father Abel obtains a map of Princeton and a contact of a master mason in that town that might know something of the construction of the keep. Io visits a tavern near the docks and finds out that Princeton was moderately damaged during the battle and that the Gul slaughtered many Ealdurans, both soldiers and citizens.

At three bells, the party meets at the Iron Lady. Captain Lajore greets them, especially Fatima. Over the course of the voyage, Fatima learns form Lajore that the mayor of Princeton had agreed to betray the Ealdurans and open the gates for the Lettanni soldiers. However, he never gave the order and seems to have disappeared. She also learns that the Knights of the Just withdrew to defend their Church and didn’t prevent the slaughter of town citizens by the Gul (except for the ones that had taken refuge inside the Church).

After just more than five days of travel, the ship arrives in Princeton harbour. There are signs of battle about. Many of the warehouses at the wharf are destroyed and the town seems to have suffered some fire damage. The Iron Lady pulls up to the main dock. Nearby is a very large Burjan ship. They confirm with Captain Lajore that it is a slave ship, likely taking Ealdurans and Kayemban mercenaries captured during the battle. Cornelius takes offence to Lajore’s casual discussion of the matter. As the party comes ashore, Cornelius sends a letter back to captain that is trapped with Explosive Runes.

They make their way toward the local chapter house of the Stars’ Children. Pascal learns that his mason contact has gone missing, but obtains another name instead. He plans to follow up on it later. At the chapter house, they meet a pair of Lettanni soldiers who demand writs form Captain Umes before being allowed to enter. Fatima convinces them that this is not necessary. While this is happening, an explosion is heard coming from the docks. Pascal and Io run back toward the sound.

Upon returning to the Iron Lady, they see a commotion. They learn that Captain Lajore has been hurt by an exploding letter. While Father Abel tends to his wounds, Io determines that it was Exploding Runes that wounded him. They ponder who might have done this…

Fatima and Cornelius are admitted to the Chapter House as Tanya awaits outside. Fatima persuades the Master’s assistant to take them to see Master Jylium. Jylium is busy writing when they arrive. He asks their business. Fatima tells him that she seeks her father who has been sent out this way by his master, for some unknown reason. She asks Jylium if he has seen or heard of him in these parts. Jylium replies in the negative. She explains their mission for Marquis Farileau and tells of his suspicion that the Children of Zepha may be helping the Ealdurans. She also expresses her belief that the Marquis suspects the Stars’ Children themselves of the same. Jylium cannot disagree. He tells Fatima to report their findings to him when their mission is complete. They agree and the two companions leave the Chapter House.

Session 40 - June 10/13
Last Junior Rok out of Princeton

The large ship sighted ahead has moved to intercept their tiny boat. The group allows it to close, making certain that the second ship that they spotted does not follow. The approaching ship is Leonian, identified by her silver star-and-crown flag. Murad (in giant squid form), Quintin, and Rod submerge, moving to intercept her.

The Leonian sailors capture Cam Rewyn and the others left in the folding boat and bring them aboard their ship. Cam explains that they are heading back to Princeton, and that they should be allowed to proceed – if they prevent the group from doing that, they will live to regret it. The ship’s captain and crew have a short-lived chuckle at this. Then, suddenly, Rod, as “The Great Lord DeloSiren” with his flaming sword, and Murad, as his pet Giant Squid, rise up behind the ship and scare the hell out of them. The captain is intimidated into handing over his ship.

Rod secures the captain, the crew is disarmed, and Quintin and Manuel search the ship. Cam instructs the captain to steer the ship to Princeton. Murad swims ahead to a pair of Ealduran ships. After some initial shock at seeing a large squid climb aboard their ship, the crew is assured by Murad, now in his true form, that he is a friend. He warns them of the approaching captured ship and asks that they be allowed to pass.

After several hours, their captured vessel approaches Princeton. They sail past a line of ships anchored just outside the harbour – they appear to be unmanned. The ship pulls up to the military docks, which are mostly devoid of ships. Many of the ships from the main docks are gone as well. At the base of the Duke’s Keep, on the hill above them, men are building earthen ramparts to fortify her walls.

After securing the crew below decks, the party makes its way to the keep. They pass through Princeton on the way. They notice a crowded town with a tinge of fear and desperation in the air. The gallows on the edge of the Duke’s hill has three occupants – two male, one female, all dead. As they approach the gate to the Duke’s compound, they no longer see the throng of petitioners. Instead, patches of dried blood dot the ground. In addition to the governor’s men, two Knights of the Just guard the gate. Cam leads them to Governor Darrow in the keep’s stateroom. In a chair, poring over his maps, the governor looks even more tired and worn then before.

Murad tells of their journey and of the pending cataclysm. Darrow replies that the information should be taken to Llantry. He also explains the military situation.

On the islands
  • Tulmaria quickly fell to the Leonians 2 days past – only a token garrison was present to defend it
  • The Leonian fleet is in position to attack the strong points in the Ealduran line – to the south, to the north (at Plith), and to the east (at the reef passage)
  • Lettanni and Gul troops stand ready to attack Plith and destroy the battery there
  • Gul warriors are reportedly seen east of the King’s Range (as close as 4 miles from Princeton)
  • Segrove is evacuated save for a token force
On the mainland
  • The siege of Prue has been abandoned
  • The Ealduran fleet in Green Bay is on its way back to the Bay of the Protector to defend Llantry
  • The League has officially declared war against Ealdur
  • It has been confirmed that a Coorish fleet, mostly Leonian, with some Caldian and Esciarvan ships, is amassing in Leona’s harbor
  • Soon after the declaration of war, both Marakfell and Wendgate, having large populations of Ealdurans, seceded from the League
  • Marakfell is reportedly under siege by a Brindish army
  • Wendgate has opened her gates to the Queen’s army – an army of Sassimi is marching overland toward the city

Lord Governor Darrow requests that the party accompany Cam back to Llantry, to deliver a letter to the Duke of Cahorn. Darrow assures them that they will receive full payment for their mission to the Ulgar after they arrive. The party agrees and they are dismissed.

Rod suggests that they use the captured Leonian vessel and crew to sail to the mainland. Murad and Manuel return to the dock to convince the captain that he should help.

Rod goes to his house, to find Alurha and her cousins. She has been unable to make it to the Murad’s jungle sanctuary as Aeric has been very busy with the militia. Rod assures her that he will make sure that she gets there.

Quintin goes to the chapter house of the Stars’ Children to make a report. Just before meeting with Master Jylium, he requests that Arthund, the researcher, join the discussion. Quintin speaks of the falling star and suggests that the Children of Zepha may be controlling it somehow. He shows Jylium and Arthund the stone with the strange fungus. Jylium commands Quintin to personally deliver a report to Archmage Gralius Kurn, at the Tower of Stars at the Academy in Llantry. Quintin agrees. He is granted potions and/or alchemical formulae of his choice. Quintin thanks the Master and then joins Arthund to further research the stone. Arthund reveals that the wardrobe that the party found on Vosssian’s ship is actually an extra-dimensional alchemical laboratory. Excited, Quintin asks if he can take it with him. Arthund agrees to speak with Master Jylium about it.

Rod pays a visit to Mayor Finchey and arranges to have Aeric taken under the party’s command. Rod makes a deal with Finchey to transport him to the mainland, for a “fee“ and supplies for the trip.

Back at Rod’s house, Murad, Manuel and Rod write up a list of supplies needed for the voyage. Rod then fetches Aeric from the tower construction site at the north gate. Murad transforms into a juvenile roc and flies Aeric, Alurha, and her cousins to the new, hidden Labreyan village. While there, Murad meets with Ita and Sota. He tells of the impending cataclysm and warns them to be watchful of the signs – like a rapidly brightening star. They agree to move the people inland if it comes to that. They explain that Yulando wishes to join Murad on his journey to the mainland. Sota also mentions their friend Saladin and that he seems to be eager to leave.

At dawn the next morning, Quintin visits the Church of the Just. After learning that Bertom of Cuford has been confined to his quarters, Quintin pays a visit to Patriarch Castance. He explains the story of how Elrew decided, on his own, to stay confined with the Ulgar. Castance is unmoved. He informs Quintin that, because the Governor’s forces did not keep their end of the agreement by returning Elrew to him, he must withdraw his knights from their posts at the Keep. Quintin does not believe that to be fair. He asks that Bertom be allowed to serve him as penance for his misdeeds. The patriarch, intrigued, says he must ponder this.

Early that morning, Rod and Manuel are busy prepping the ship for launch. Quintin finishes up at the Chapter House. He takes the magical wardrobe and Desmond, the apprentice, with him to the ship. Murad says his farewell to the Labreyans and flies, with Yulando and Saladin, to the ship. Cam Rewyn and Tomes Finchey arrive separately and take up residence on the ship. Finally, a man in ragged clothing and a simple sword arrives. After some initial confusion, Quintin recognizes him – it is Bertom. He explains that this is part of his penance and that he must go to the High Patriarch once they arrive in Llantry. The Leonian captain, Morso, recommends that they take a southern route to run the blockade. The party agrees and they set sail. Murad changes into the form of a bird and circles ahead.

As they put out to sea, the party looks back on Princeton.

The sea ahead, your pathway back to the capital city of Llantry, is clear, yet you sense that you have escaped just in time. The roar of the naval battle nearby fades to a din. You take this opportunity to look back on the place that has come to be a sort of home to you. Princeton is rather pretty for a colonial town – her wooden harbor and palisade wall frame the collections of tiny houses that make up her neighbourhoods. On the small hill, stands the sturdily built Church of the Just. Above it all, to the south and west, looms the Keep – the Duke of Cahorn’s monument to the power that the lords of Ealdur wield over this part of the world. It stands defiant against the gathering storm. And, for a moment, there is silence.

As you ponder this, you hear the faint crackle of thunder in the distance. Clouds, the colour of smoke, are moving fast across the island and above you, toward the seemingly unsuspecting town. A flash of lightning is spotted, followed soon after by a thunderous boom. A sky that was clear just moments ago, is now near black. You feel the first drops of water and hold your breath. A fearful thought crosses your mind – this is not like to be the last storm…

Session 39 - May 29/13
That knife aint much good to a dead man...

The Labreyan priest, Aitu, arrives at Rolston’s. He tells the party that he has heard that they had found an ancient Labreyan temple. He asks if this is true and, if so, what did they find there. Murad goes into detail about the temple and the battle with the vampires. he mentions that they recovered a certain sword that is dangerous to Labreyans. Aitu asks what else they found and requests that the items be given to his people. Rod hands over almost everything they found, (excluding the Token of Zaur, the slippers, and the ring of minor fire resistance). Aitu casts Detect Magic to discern their properties. He takes the ceremonial armour, the gold necklace, Unholy staff, and the Bane Sword. He seems to believe that they are holding something, but agrees to give them curative potions in exchange for the artifacts that they handed over to him.

After Aitu leaves, Rolston inquires about why Murad did not hand over the Token of Zaur. Murad explains that they are unsure of its powers and di not wish to separate it from the other token, Token of Valeria, as the former seems to be granting the latter increased power. Murad then speaks with Kuhita. Murad learns that Kuhita wishes to stay amongst his people here.

A little later, a messenger arrives and they are led back to the city centre. The Ulgar chieftains, elders, and a rather large crowd await them. The chieftain Fembe informs them that both Manambu and Koro have been stripped of the rank of chieftain and will no longer lead. He also says that it has been decided that the party will be allowed to leave on condition that they give their word that they will not speak of the underground city. All in the party agree. They take a blood oath to that by clasping Fembe’s forearm, which is sheathed in a sharktooth gauntlet. Fembe tells them that they have agreed to send 50 volunteer warriors to the surface to help defeat the Gul.

Fembe says that the council has decided to free the priest, Elrew, and his knight, Bertom, to stand before their own laws, provided no one challenges the decision. After a brief silence, one Ulgar, Imbongu, comes forth to challenge. Manuel volunteers to fight to the death on the behalf of the Elrew and Bertom.

They are led to a circular courtyard. They are each allowed a single weapon. Soemone in the crowd hands Imbongu a strange dark green-coloured glass dagger. A priest scans the combatants and tells Manuel has to removes his magical items, including his Monk’s Robes. Quinton hands Manuel a flask as his one “weapon” – it is an anti-toxin alchemy.

The battle commences. Manuel waits for Imbongu to approach then jumps up and does a flying tackle, knocking Inbongu to the ground. Manuel pins his opponent and begins to land blows to his head. Imbongu manages to escape Manuel’s grasp twice, briefly, but is immediately grappled by him again. Manuel’s final blow caves in Imbongu’s face, to the astonishment of the crowd. Fembe pronounces Manuel the victor and he is awarded Inbongu’s dagger.

Back at Rolston’s home, Elrew and Bertom are returned to the group in somewhat rough shape. Murad aks Cam to obtain oaths from them to not divulge the whereabouts of the Ulgar or the cavern. Elrew commands Bertom to take the oath and return without him and asks to be taken back to his cell. Quintin berates Elrew for taking the “coward’s way out”, as he puts it. Murad does not agree, and gains some small respect for the man. Rolston takes Elrew back to the Ulgar.

Rolston returns with Zia, who gives Murad a magical dolphin-shaped ring and thanks the party for the gift that they gave her when they met and for all that they have done here.

Before the party leaves, Rolston reminds them of his request that they take their findings to the Stars’ Children in Llantry. He then makes a final request. He asks that they watch out for his apprentice, a woman by the name of Fatima Lysini. She may be looking for him in the West Hanum islands. If they happen to find her, he asks that they tell her about the impending disaster from the sky, that she should find a safe place for herself, and that he is safe. He hands Murad a silver necklace with a faded Coorish Star hanging from it. He asks that they give it to her – she will understand its meeting.

The party, including Cam, his guards, and Bertom return to the island’s surface. Ungu, who will be leading the 50-odd Ulgar warriors, says they will be sailing to Calmuth Island to attack the flanks of the Gul. The party thanks them and bids them farewell.

The party unfurls their folding boat and starts back to Princeton. On the journey, Cam is sullen. He tells the tale of his friendship with Governor Darrow and the silver hammer that was given to Koro as a gift. It was awarded to the Governor many years ago for exceptional valour during a border skirmish with the Lettanni. Cam smiles at this, but is clearly saddened. Bertom remains mostly silent on the trip.

Murad, in kraken form, has been pushing the ship to speed her up. After two days sailing, they approach the southern edge of Calmuth island. Manuel and Rod spot two ships ahead, about three to four miles away. The party shifts the boat to the smaller form, and drops the sail to lowers it’s profile. Manuel steers the boat to the port side to avoid the unidentified ships, but it is soon apparent that they have been spotted…


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