1. Mission Accomplished
The raven spy spitefully confesses he is an agent of the Unkindness, an organization of crooked corvids. You may recall it was the Unkindness that assisted the wizard Trimphid as he took Tumn to Tupelu in the Forest of Arsel. In exchange for entering undetected into the elven city, Trimphid freed Green Maggs, an ancient ally of the ravens, from her rock-prison. Unfortunately, the Unsworn showed up and unceremoniously defeated Green Maggs before she could regain her full strength. Whatever plans the ravens had with the forest-monster’s revival were thwarted.
Turns out the Unkindness are mercenary, willing to work for anyone as long as the pay is good. You learn that Sibril’s dragon usurper has become the flock’s newest patron, and that the Big Wyrm has deep (scaly) pockets. The raven admits the Unkindness were instrumental in the plot to steal the skullstone (hereafter called the Bloodstone Jewel) for the Dragon in exchange for heaps and heaps of shiny golden trinkets. But you have messed everything up …again! Ravens never forget a face, he tells you. So you can now count the Unkindness as your fine feathered foes. They are, you know, not known for their kindness, and they will have their raven revenge… You best watch out!
Quoth the raven: “Na-na, na-na, boo-boo!”
Despite these threats, you decide to let both the raven and Naro go free. Naro’s visibly relieved as mercy for the raven’s life provides her family, currently held hostage back in Sibril, a better chance at surviving. You briefly consider wearing the Ring of Enslavement to force Azitain, now a freed and fleeing man, to return so you can acquire the Bloodboat Jewel he carries. Your moral judgement wins out, however, and you decide not to enslave his mind again. Instead you track him on foot hoping to catch up to him. Brega’s Blessings are with you, and Azitain hasn’t gotten too far. As Dov closes the gap with the professor, he deftly spots the raven sneakily keeping watch over his former victim and is able to successfully shoo him away.
You give back the ring to a grateful Azitain so that he doesn’t have to worry about someone re-enslaving him before the curse is lifted. He and Pedocles tell you they are heading back to Raismont’s Academy of the Arcane. You decide to let the professor keep the Bloodstone Jewel since he’s a powerful wizard with the resources to study and protect it. You let him know you are friends with Ruthorian and that he can send word to him if he discovers more about the Jewel.
You also go your separate ways from Naro and the Bregan cleric Gylaw, who depart together towards the city of Slikston, where they plan to tell Ereleuva’s noble family the sad news of their daughter’s demise and reveal the shocking role Sibril played in it.
You travel by yourselves back to Chelton. Based on something Nim has been seeing in her visions, the party decides on a name for themselves going forward: The Unsworn.
Back at the rendezvous point in the frontier town, you meet up with Quandary, Furik’s black skeleton servant, and he teleports you back to the Mound. You report to the halfling transmuter most of the truth of your experience at the tomb, though you deceive her into thinking the raven and Azitain simply absconded with the Bloodstone Jewel and that there was nothing you could do. She is annoyed you let Naro go free, since the wizard student is obviously complicit in the plot and might have important information to share about the Unkindness and the Dragon. Still, you have met the obligations of the mission, so she sends you as promised to where you can find Daisy’s brother Tumn. Her magic mirror reveals the sight of an immense human metropolis built upon a hilltop. It’s none other than Farglad, capital of the kingdom of Paradon. In addition to getting an audience with Tumn, Furik also offers the Seven Sovereigns’ aid in helping Dovienya prove his innocence in the murder charge that forced him to flee the city.
2. Under the Fang of Farglad
Teleported by the mirror, you find yourself in fine lodgings in a posh part of the capital in an establishment called the Sapphire Fang. You are shown to your opulent rooms by the major domo Osbert and settle in for the night. Osbert informs you that you’ll have visitors the following afternoon.
The next morning, Daisy and Nim take advantage of the free time to head to the markets and sell the party’s loot plus make additional purchases. Nim looks for a “starknife”, a weapons she has seen in her dreams, but she discovers it is unknown in this part of the world; no one’s even heard of one. Meanwhile, Dov stays sequestered in his rooms all morning since he is a wanted fugitive. Bored, he finds Nim’s journal and reads it, learning about many of her disturbing visions.
You all meet back at the Fang in the afternoon, and your first visitor is a human woman who introduces herself as Averon. She’s clearly an affluent wizard, a member of the city’s powerful elite.
Averon greets you all, welcoming Daisy especially, as she is the Shepherd Prince’s sister. Although cordial, she expresses some annoyance with Furik for having made this bargain with you, blaming it on her colleague’s “old self coming through”, whatever that means. Averon is resigned, however, to uphold their end of the deal and assist Dov with his investigation to clear his name .
She explains that the Sovereigns know Dov had nothing to do with the death of the paladin Balek Broadwall. She also makes it clear they are guiltless as well, arguing that there would be zero advantage in assassinating any of the Pure. As near as any of you can tell, she’s speaking the truth.
The paladin’s murder is indeed a mystery, and Averon admits there are actually many other mysterious happenings in Farglad right now. Some unknown agency is working against the Sovereigns’ interests. Perhaps the Unsworn, out of gratitude to their gracious hosts, could keep an eye out and report back on anything they discover?
The Mysterious Happenings:
- Powerful magic items are getting stolen under everyone’s noses all across Farglad with no pattern to the victims. Averon herself had acquired a dagger marked with the Shepherd Prince’s sigil that she intended as a gift for him. It vanished from inside her house, its removal triggering none of her protective spells.
- Multiple theories are getting bandied about as to the cause of the stolen goods, most wild and improbable; some fueled by sightings of shrouded strangers that seem to walk through walls. Curiously, there are more and more encounters with ghosts being reported, though none of the testimonies feature the ghosts trying to pinch people’s stuff.
- Many not in the know assume the blame lies with the city’s thriving thieves’ guild, which calls itself the Eye-in-the-Hole, but Averon assures you they’re not responsible. The Sovereigns, she coolly explains, effectively control the Eye, and the thieves are livid to have the anonymous competition and the higher level of scrutiny from the authorities the thefts have produced.
- According to Averon, the most likely suspect is the Chaos Cult of Caolaub (pronounced “cow-lob”). They’ve long been boogeymen in the city, but word is they are making a return, actively recruiting with a powerful new leader at their head.
Averon says Dov should be able to move about the city and investigate as long as he doesn’t draw too much attention to himself. The murdered paladin’s lover, a fellow paladin named Righteous Titus (nicknamed “Righty Tighty”) is still ruthlessly pursuing Dov, but Furik’s seen fit to send him on a wild goose chase on the far side of the kingdom. A disguise for Dov would not be a bad idea, however.
Averon explains the Sovereigns also own the Swains, the order of popular bards who sing exclusively about the Pure. They often employ special informants (called “muses”) recruited from the Eye-in-the-Hole to spy on the paladins and report back, ostensibly to provide inspiration for the Swain bards’ ballads, but mostly just to keep tabs on the Pure for the Sovereigns.
To help start your investigation, Averon has arranged a meeting for you to speak with the muse who was watching Balek before he was murdered. His name is Hettor Jeck, and he will speak with you at the public fountain at the Statue of Ursius the next day during the lunch hour.
Offhandedly, Averon also mentions that the Sibrillian ambassador is in city, and the Sovereigns are, of course, keeping a very close eye on him. Truth is he is a bit of a recluse and doesn’t leave his house much.
Averon then brings in the next visitor and takes her leave. It is none other than Daisy’s brother, Tumn!
The youthful halfling comes in bearing numerous flagons of beer, which he offers hoping you’ll join him in celebrating the reunion with his sister, whom he had presumed was dead. Though sad about his village’s destruction, he is happy to report on his new “Important Destiny”. Tumn has accepted his prophetic role as the Shepherd Prince and looks forward to his eventual showdown with the evil halfling-hating dragon and the opportunity to restore glory to his people’s homeland. Feeling optimistic, he tells you he is soon to be trained in warrior-ing by an actual Axlan called “The Rectoress,” and that you should call him by the new alias he’s been provided: “Trample Underfoot”. Tumn’s not the smartest sheep in the flock, and general consensus among you is that he seems way in over his head, to put it mildly.
The reunion is not a resounding success. Daisy, despondent, turns to drink.
That night, Nim dreams of a starknife turning into a star in the night sky, and the name “Lutha”. She gets the sense somehow that starknives originate from a star, and that the star is called Lutha. She has no idea what this means.
3. The Paladin’s Puzzle
With Daisy still nursing her pain with intoxicants, Nim and Dov go to meet with Hettor Jeck at the appointed time. Along the way, Nim notices the multiple “light–towers” found throughout the city. Dov explains these are shrines to the Calydo (LG goddess of light, justice, and goodness, patron / creator of humans) and that they help keep the streets alight at night. The towers are also depicted on Farglad’s heraldry. This triggers for Nim a memory of a particular vision she’s had, but she keeps the connection to herself for now.
At the fountain, the informant Hettor Jeck recalls the last few weeks of Balek Broadwall’s life. The paladin was panicked about something. Maybe something was stolen from him, something really important, as Balek tore his place apart looking for it. He was acting crazy and paranoid. At one point, the paladin ventured out of the city on some brief holy quest, disappeared for a week or two – none of the other Pure knew where – then came back, less crazy, but grim and resolved. It was only a couple of days later that some petty thief named Racwulf led the paladin out of his quarters. Balek’s body wasthen found dead inside his room a few hours later – but how? Jeck never saw him go back in. The muse was going to report Racwulf for doing deals outside the guild and investigate whether he was tied to the murder, but Rac turned up dead within a couple of days himself, so that ended any further digging.
Jeck can sneak you into the room Balek was staying in so you can look around, and you agree to meet him that night.
Later that evening, Nim knocks on Daisy’s door and confides in her that she has issues with her own brother. They bond over this shared connection, and Daisy agrees to sober up and accompany everyone to the paladin’s quarters.
Once there, Jeck picks the lock, leads you inside, then ducks away into the darkness of the city. You search Balek’s room and discover various gold coins secreted throughout the space, all with different symbols carved into them (sun, moon, hand, eye, flower, etc.). Dov spots a coin-shaped slot hidden on the side of a chest as well as the words of a riddle carved nearby. It’s deduced that the answer to the riddle indicates which coin to enter into the slot.
What we see every day when She opens her eye,
the King only sees but rarely,
Calydo on High never sees one at all,
Though She treats us all justly and fairly
Dov solves the riddle – the answer is an “an equal” – and inserts the coin with an equal sign on it. A secret compartment in the chest opens up revealing a tattered notebook filled with the paladin’s scrawls.
Dov scoops it up right before you hear Hettor Jeck’s urgent voice from the exit whispering a warning that someone is approaching with purpose from outside.
Once out on the street, you can indeed perceive a person is getting nearer. Daisy and Nim decide to walk nonchalantly back to the Fang, while Dov uses stealth to stop and watch.
From the shadows, Dov sees the pursuer is a half-orc. His eye-patch and general demeanor identify him as a member of the Nightwatchers, aka “The Order of the Wounded Eye”, a secretive investigative force of the Calydoan Temple that focuses on monitoring dangerous waywards (chaos worshippers), particularly Caolaubists. Still unseen, Dov decides to follow behind him stealthily.
The pursuer catches up to Nim and Daisy, introduces himself as Nightwatcher Ikomar, and inquires as their business on the streets that night. The two play dumb, pretending to be lost tourists on their way to the Sapphire Fang. The investigator doesn’t seem to be buying their stories and offers/demands to accompany them to the restaurant.
Dov jumps out of the darkness to intervene on his friends’ behalf, but within seconds, it’s clear Ikomar recognizes Dov as the convicted murderer of the paladin. Luckily, he isn’t interested just now in adhering to the Law and getting him re-locked up.
“I know you didn’t do it,” the Nightwatcher says to Dov. “But I don’t care. I’m giving you a warning. My investigation is underway and I don’t want you mucking it up. Once things settle, I’ll make sure your name is cleared, but now is not the time. I don’t want to see you or your friends’ faces again.”
Dov quickly agrees to the terms and ushers his friends away.
Back at your rooms at the Fang, Dov pores over the contents of the paladin’s notebook.
He learns the following:
- The paladin Balek originally had in his possession a secret heretical document – the Xanhyrkanic Codex – which casts doubt on Calydo’s Suffusion (the goddess’s act of uplifting humans from a bestial proto-race). He needed to safeguard the Codex as the document’s supposed revelations would weaken and damage the Temple, particularly in the hands of Calydo’s enemies. The notebook reveals Balek nearly went mad when the Xanhyrkanic Codex was stolen out from right under his nose.
- The panicking apoplectic paladin became obsessed with trying to find out who the thieves were and get the Codex back. He began meticulously tracking the Chaos Cultists’ movements, as they were the obvious culprits. He mentioned their new leader’s name: “Moumalid”.
- Tucked into the notebook are two items: 1) Evidence Balek paid for divination from an oracle (time frame corresponds to when Balek left for a couple weeks and returned with renewed focus); 2) An invitation on strange parchment to some kind of auction written in Infernal.
- As the notes from his investigation go on, the paladin’s writing became less legible and more like nonsensical rantings. He started referring to places called the “Fair City” and the “City Unfair”. And he scrawled things like: “the birds walk in shadow…” and “the white jester dances but for which king?”
Recognizing the bird-shadow and white jester imagery from Nim’s visions, Dov relays his discoveries from the notebook to both her and Daisy, confessing that he read the oracle’s journal when she wasn’t there. Nim forgives Dov for the transgression, and the Unsworn affirm their friendship, committing to unity as they forge ahead in Farglad in pursuit of justice for one of their own.
To Be Continued…