Episode Eleven - City of Intrigue
Episode 11: City of Intrigue (Level 7)
Kristy Eagar (DM)
After a brief carriage-tour of the city, the Ambassadorial Party arrives in style at the Red Palace in Forteth, home of King Halden Thandemar. The young king is holding court, and the Duke-Regent introduces the Ambassadors in a grand display of pomp and ceremony. Vash, Tobias, Ichtaca, and Lyda are briefly introduced to the court as well, as the heroes of Chayrshellech, and friends of Ambassador Losoran, who safely escorted the Ambassadorial Party here. King Halden proceeds to deal with various petitioners, and as the heroes listen in, they get a good feel for some of the current issues in Forteth.
*The city guardsmen resent the growing power of the military police, who now dominate the streets. He states that his men have destroyed the last enclave of avan revolutionaries in the sewers, and requests a return to normal law enforcement.
*Duke-Regent Alben Bergeth stands to argue with the captain of the city guard about the presence of Avan rebels, but other dissidents and traitors amongst them. He is supported by the Etholchan Arch-Chancellor, and wins further power for his men.
*An outbreak of the Nemelethe two months ago has resulted in the sealing off of an entire neighborhood, called the quarantine district. Many are calling to have it burned down.
*Arch-Chancellor Baledessar Galen, an the etholchan church official over all of Trentsmund, and a member of the King’s inner cabinet, resents the presence of the Bithrodori caravan, forbidding Anotros Ciprano to preach in the streets. He also speaks to the presence of refugee spies throughout the city, Jharrics and Jharethil who must be rooted out and brought to justice.
*The minister of agriculture requests more slaves and livestock be brought in from Motta, in a new attempt to revitalize the agricultural lands around Forteth. Much of the farmland is tainted struggling to produce any food at all. The Arch-chancellor again intervenes in this discussion, saying this is unnecessary, as Lord Daemoth will continue provide for his people. The king, however, without contradicting the Chancellor, agrees to the import of more livestock and slaves.
When the king’s public audiences are over, Vash, Tobias, Ichtaca, and Lyda go out to explore the city for themselves. On the way out, they pass down a crowded hallway full of wide mirrors, and Tobias again sees Dythan Matthis, a ghostly presence following him, watching with interest. He blocks Dythan from his mind, ignoring his voice.
The city throngs with visitors in town for the upcoming ceremony to select and consecrate the new Chorrom. People line up for food outside of the ever-prevalant ethochan churches. The city relies almost entirely on the miracles of the Etholchan church to feed its citizens, and reliance on the church has given them more power than ever. Besides the ample harvests of small lush gardens behind each church, the food provided is a skinless potato and a beef-like meat, as well as some sort of reddish boiled greens. Tobias examines this provender, and determines that the food is of demonic origin. Military police with huge guard dogs patrol the streets. These dogs are huge, and have a strong demonic bloodline, capable of sniffing out Jhareth in human form. The walls of the city are heavily guarded, and military patrols search each person entering or leaving the city gates.
The heroes now seek out Doctor Marik Northwell, bringing him the research journals. The doctor is well-loved in town, a busy and intellectual man who retired from the etholchan priesthood to open a medical practice. Dr. Northwell tends to the rich and powerful in his private practice, but also runs a charity clinic next to his home, where the poor come for treatment. Though the doctor is busy, he agrees to help them decipher the journals if Lyda will assist in the free clinic to free up some of his time. She readily agrees, and remains with the Doctor for the day.
Tobias takes the others with him to visit his family’s shipyard and deliver his brother Morgren’s package the dockmaster there. The package contains employment papers for the permanent hire of a shipwright and inventor named Waylin Cordell. They find the shipyards burned down, and the dockmaster, a grim heathfolk engineer, informs them that the fire has destroyed all their ships, and men they think were from the mafia murdered their local workers and guards, and kidnapped Waylin Cordell. Evidence of arson makes it impossible for them to recoup their losses from insurance, and there is no financial recovery from this disaster. This branch of the Loacheth shipyards will be closed down, and the heathfolk employees will go home to Athelshoth. The party sifts through the wreckage and finds partial blueprints for Waylin’s project, a prototype airship.
The three friends go to Waylin’s apartment in the slums, and find it vacant, with evidence of a thourogh search followed by Looting. Despite this, Vash finds a hidden compartment with a set of full blueprints. The airship looks to be not completely mechanical, but also relies on some sort of magical power source in a complex engine room. The inventor himself will be needed to make sense of the airship. The party thinks he is being used for his mechanical talents, or he would have been killed liek the other shipbuilders, not kidnapped. Since he is very likely in no immediate danger of his life, they decide to rescue him once they have dealt with more pressing matters.
As they leave the slums, they pass close by the walled off Quarantine District. Supplies are being lowered over the wall by pulley. Tobias approaches a military police officer with his demonic guard dog, and learns that the only citizen who regularly visits the quarantine is the beloved Dr. Northwell, who spends hours there each morning before dawn, helping the unlucky people within.
The men picked up a message from Abasi at the Loacheth Shipyards, and they now head to meet him beneath a sleazy in the docks district. They pass by one of two stages in the city used for the Prisoner’s Carnival, a part of the local justice system run by specialized priests of the Etholchan faith. Prisoners turned over to these executioners, generally religious dissidents, Jharethil, and members of Jharric faiths, are tortured and killed for public amusement. They watch as vendors begin to gather early and set up before the carnival.
Suddenly, Vash feels a hand at his waist, and lightning quick; he snatches the wrist of a pickpocket, pushing the would-be thief up against a wall. He is faced with a filthy but gorgeous young woman dressed in tattered clothing. She already has Ichtaca and Tobias’s purses, and very nearly got away with Vash’s. Vash finds in her possession several cut purses and valuable items, indicating that she has been targeting etholchan priests. She seems terrified of being turned into the guards, and struggles ineffectually to escape, but Vash’s grip on her unyielding. Wanting to question her, but not wanting to cause a commotion in the street, the three men take her with them into the nearby inn, and bribe the brutish and coarse innkeeper for the use of his basement, and for his silence. Leering at the girl, he laughingly agrees, obviously mistaking their intentions.
In the privacy of the basement, the woman identifies herself as Carmenith, and begs them not to harm her. Tobias intimidates her with their manacles of true form, and Vash plays the kindly intercessor, and they quickly learn from her reactions and what she doesn’t say that she is not any sort of threat to them, but rather a desperate Jharethil refugee. Repenting their harsh treatment of her, they apologize, calm her down, and reassure them that their intentions are far from what they seem. They recommend that she come with them into the sewers, however. Guards with demon dogs are gathering above for the prisoner’s carnival, and she would surely be caught.
The party finds Abasi’s mark on a trap door leading into the sewers, and heads down into the malodorous depths to meet up with their friend. They find Abasi’s makeshift camp in a hidden alcove in the sewer network. Abasi tells them that the Avan order has a small enclave hidden elsewhere in the tunnels, and that he arrived here two days ago. Abasi has been busy. He has been helping desperate refugees to reach the Avan underground railroad, and, during these adventures, has been forced to kill several men. He has “acquired” the clothing of a priest, a hunter of the eitharmos, and of several military police in the process. Seeing his friends, Abasi enthusiastically convinces them to disguise themselves and join him in a raid on the prisoner’s carnival in the streets nearby. Surprisingly to them, Carmenith doesn’t take the proffered escape route through the sewers, but rather volunteers to join them.
Tobias dons the garb of a priest, Ichtaca that of a military police officer, and Vash dresses as an eitharmos. Abasi and Carmenith volunteer to be their prisoners. They loosely cuff Carmenith in the manacles of true form, revealing her in her true glory, an even more beautiful creature with red-gold wings and glowing skin and hair. Then they climb through a grate into an underground tunnel used by the guards to transport prisoners from a holding facility near the docks to the two prisoner’s carnivals. They fall in behind a group of guards with several miserable Jharethil in chains, slaughter the guards, and quickly enlist the prisoners to their aid. Coming up onto the stage, they find themselves subjected to a priest’s sermon on the glories of Daemoth, and see five more captives already tied to various torture devices, one to a stake over a pile of oil soaked wood. The prisoners are pleading for their lives and the jeering crowd pelts the man tied to the stake with rotten fruit, eggs, rocks, and filth. The heroes bluff their way into place, with Abasi and Carmenith tied to blood-stained wooden tables, and Vash and Tobias poised to “torture” them. Ichtaca “intimidates” the Jharethil they brought up on stage, and waits for the signal.
Tobias lashes out with psionics, killing the priest in mid-sermon. As the man falls, Vash cries out an alarm, calling Tobias Magistrate Caral Viln, a traitorous wretch. Meanwhile, Vash frees Carmenith and Abasi, who begin freeing prisoners. Ichtaca shields them from the crowd, helping them back into the tunnels and covering their escape with his deadly axe. Tobias strikes at the two onstage guards and their vicious dogs with psionic might, disguised as divine power. He telekinetically frees the man tied to the stake, and throws down a guard and a snarling monster-dog onto the oil-soaked wood just as Vash kindles it with fey magic, setting fire to their opponents. Vash pulls out his black eitharmos greatsword and lays about him with deadly blows, felling another guard and a dog. Both Tobias and Vash are badly bitten, and take several serious sword wounds. Both continue the charade that Tobias is actually Magistrate Viln. The military police surprise them with their combative prowess, and more are pressing through the crowd, which has deteriorated into a riot. An incensed mob armed with makeshift weapons surges onto the stage, hampering the approach of more than a dozen more guards. As soon as Ichtaca has all of the prisoners into the tunnel, the others retreat. They make it into the sewers and escape.
Abasi leads them now a long, circuituous route through dank tunnels, and they find themselves in the ever-moving makeshift camp of a small group of Avan operatives. These are battle-hardened men and women, all that remains of a larger enclave that was overrun by the eitharmos months ago. Abbot Othemarrel, a heathfolk priest of Ava, thanks them for their actions, much impressed, but still a little wary of them. Another heathfolk, a bard, closes their wounds, healing them with arcane magic. (Divine magic being unstable, the Avan priests will not use their powers for fear they will kill their own patient.) The Avans are in possession of a large mirror which has been enchanted to be a portal to a guarded waystation. The rescued Jharethil will be safe. The camp will not tolerate anyone knowing their location, and have already begun packing up to move again. Abbot Othemarrel tells them that if they need to find them, they can contact a seller of fertility charms in the dockside market. Abasi, as a Ravari, will not stay with the others of his faith, and also plans to move his camp. He tells them to look for his marks in the sewer. Carmenith does not escape with the other Jhareth, but rather speaks quietly with the Avans, passing along some information the others don’t overhear. She then leaves the group without any farewell.
Vash, Tobias, and Ichtaca return to the clinic to collect Lyda, then go back to the red palace, for their promised dinner engagement with Ambassador Losoran. They arrive in time to see the spectacle of Magistrate Viln’s arrest by members of the eitharmos, including his former escort. As they leave, Tobias speaks into their minds in the role of Daemoth, telling one that Viln is his chosen Chorrom, and another that Viln is a traitor to his own god.
Prisoner’s Carnival Combat Encounter: 2,525 xp
5/5 Prisoners saved: 125 XP
Pickpocket roleplay encounter: 100 xp
Finding the Avan Underground: 50 xp
Missing Inventor -Searching for clues: 50 xp
Schmoozing the guard for information about the quarantine district: 50 xp
Total XP: 2,900. Divided by 2 PC’s, is 1,450 each. You were at 11,570, now you are at 13,020. Level 8!