Episode Two - Strange Days in Athelshoth
Episode 2: Strange Days in Athelshoth (Level 1)
The following morning, Vash, Tobias, and Ichtaca meet in Professor Jennish’s office, where Ambassador Losoran Anelathem, the eladrin ambassador, is also waiting for them. They are joined by Lyda Jennish, the professor’s daughter. The Lord Ambassador has need of local help, and Professor Jennish, his oldest friend, has offered the services of his favorite student, Tobias. After his impressive actions at the beach party attack, he feels that it is time the young human took his education out of the classroom and into the field. He was also much impressed by Vash and Ichtaca, and called them here as two more potential candidates for this particular job, with his daughter Lyda to round out the team.
Tobias is somewhat shocked to see Lyda. From the way the Professor always spoke of his daughter, he thought she was a young child. After Jennish lost his wife and son in a fire, he couldn’t bear to look at the girl, who strongly resembles his lost wife. He sent her to live with family in Onderrich. She has just completed her third year of study in medicine at Calmentha University there, and, in the healthfolk way, is ready to go out into the world for a few years of practical experience in her field. Jennish takes Tobias aside. He admits that he worries his daughter will get hurt, and has hoped that she and Tobias would travel and complete their field studies together. Tobias quickly agrees to protect her, though perhaps not entirely for reasons the Professor would approve of. Meanwhile, the psion notices three things about Lyda. One, she has obviously heard a lot about him from her father’s letters, and blushes and looks away whenever he looks at her. Secondly, she is stunning. Thirdly, he feels a strange aura of power around the lovely young woman, one that reminds him of the unrealized power he felt growing in him before the first time he used psionics. After a moment of study, he realizes that she must have unexplored psionic talent. She is the first person he has ever encountered with any hint of psionic power, and he is intrigued on several levels.
Vash manages to keep his temper despite Losoran’s open predjudice against his drow heritage, and Tobias clashes with the eladrin as well. Ichtaca quietly listens. Grudgingly accepting Jennish’s recommendations, the ambassador offers to hire them for some important work. After the first task is completed, he offers to pay for advanced training for each of them as a form of retainer for future jobs. Jennish, meanwhile, is extremely interested in any data they find that relates to the issues being discussed at the conference, and charges them to keep sharp for relevant information. He believes that without more hard data, the conference will only manage to define the questions that need to be asked.
Losoran had intended to hire them to track down some missing researchers who were due at the conference with data on The Némelethe, but a new development has given him a more important first job for the group. He heard last night from one of his guards that two elves and a human who attended the conference yesterday have now fallen ill. He worries that it is an outbreak of the Némelethe, and wants them to manage the situation, while finding out more. Before they leave his office, Professor Jenneth takes Tobias aside. He says he noticed something in the fight, something he should have noticed before. An aura of power, one he couldn’t put his finger on. He thinks it may be an inherent talent for arcane magic. Tobias, relieved that the true nature of his power is still hidden, assures him that is was nothing.
The party sets out into the city. It’s a challenging assignment. First, Tobias gathers undervalued professors from each of the universities, gets them organized into a research and response team, and convinces the Shemarya staff to create a quarantine infirmary in a side building on their campus. He uses psionics to plant thoughts in their heads of the catastrophic possibilities of a full outbreak. He tries to enlist the aid of city officials, but both the mayor and the captain of the guard refuse to consider this a real threat. Meanwhile, Vash and Ichtaca find the find the elves, along with a third victim. right away, in an inn near theirs. The people there are panicked, and have boarded shut the elves’s room. Seeing a drow walk in nearly sets them running into the streets in panic, and voices shout out that he is the cause of the infection. Vash deftly cows the in-keep and the patrons into submission, acting quickly to keep anyone from leaving. Then, he breaks down the door to the room, and removes the patients without setting off a riot in the streets. They avoid notice carefully, and stealthily transport the infected to the new infirmary. Tobias and Lyda then found the human, in a cheap common room at a brothel in the western docks. After several entertaining misunderstandings about their purpose there, they are finally able to remove the infected without inciting panic. The professors debate how best to treat the patients, and what experiments can ethically be done to learn more about the nature of the Némelethe. Vash intervenes in a heated ethical argument between two professors, and guides them to choose a compromise. Prisoners sentenced to death will be offered the choice to participate in the study, risking infection in return for a possible reprieve from the noose.
That afternoon, Vash, Tobias, and Lyda go to the temple district to seek someone capable of healing Vash’s damaged eye. First they go to the Jharric temple, where they converse with Father Alden Jans, a priest of Loragg. He wants to help, but explains that the material cost alone would be prohibitively expensive, and the magic could be deadly. Their healers are struggling with often deadly backfires and mishaps when they channel divine energy. Most often, the channeling of divine power has unexpected tolls on the caster, the wounds opening on the healer’s body even as they close on the patient. Other times, they harm the patient they are trying to heal. He shows them a crippled avan priestess, scarred horribly by her attempt to heal an injured child. Father Jans gently refuses the group’s request, as he could kill Vash in the attempt. For the most part, he is trying to limit his scions to more mundane healing, relying more and more on medical knowledge and herbal medicine.
As the priests of Ruethas are busy with today’s conference, the trio next try the Etholchan temple. A huge, ornately ornamented cathedral looms across the square from the Jharric temple. They meet Magistrate Caral Viln, who rises from his meditations to offer them a disturbing trade. His sacred powers, he assures them, are unaffected by the strange instabilities in divine magic. He offers to restore Vash’s eyes, if they will “deal with” an annoying Avan priest, in the port town of Hiln. The man has been meddling in his financial affairs in the seaside village. This backwards country would consider that murder, and he wants to avoid legal complications. Disturbed and disgusted, the group leaves.
Later in the evening, when the Ruethan priests return to their temple, the group meets with Arbiter Malesan Ayrathun, an amiable heathfolk man. He and his underlings are overwhelmed with the conference and related work, but, as a servant of the god of memory, he is interested in the Némelethe, and wants to help them be able to find out more. He asks them to collect one priest from each major religious sect in the city, both to tend to the outbreak, and to observe how each one’s divine magic is functioning in a scientific environment. Vash and Tobias easily convince the Jharric priests to participate. Father Jans (a priest of Loragg), a priest of Jarus, and an elderly Avan priestess all agree to attend. Next the party seeks out the silphenite caravan from Motta that is set up in the southeastern markets. They come during an evening revival of sorts. The caravan is set up like a stage, and two Silphenite priests are whipping heathfolk converts. Anotros Bartoli Ciprano preaches to the crowd, pulling up eager young heathfolk from the throng to be “purified.” The best way to get the Anotros’s attention seems to be participation, so Vash catches Ciprano’s eye, and the Anotros pulls him up unto the stage with glee. Ciprano calls out to the crowd to watch as a fabled drow bleeds for the sins of his past lives. He strips Vash to the waist and lashes him with a thorned flail until the drow is bloody and reeling. Then, seeing that the drow has two friends with him, Ciprano invites them back behind the caravan, where several human slaves tend a cooking fire. He offers them refreshment, and attempts to convert them. Unlike the other two silphenites present, the pleasure he gains from the administration of pain is not merely religious euphoria. He casts lecherous eyes on Lyda, infuriating Tobias with several lewd remarks. Tobias threatens him telepathically, and Ciprano’s eyes fire with new interest. “I know what you are,” He sneers at Tobias, to Vash and Lyda’s confusion. Ciprano agrees to attend, but his eyes follow Lyda as they leave in a way that makes the two men worry for her safety. They escort her to the palace, where she is staying in her “uncle” Losoran’s ambassadorial suite.
The group still needs an Etholchan priest, and they arrive at the cathedral just as the evening mass is near completion. Magistrate Viln presides over the sacred rite, and young heathfolk fill pews. Vash and Tobias wait in the back of the chapel as worshipers line up to drink the blood of a freshly sacrificed goat from a silver chalice. They speak with an acolyte, who assures them that only Magistrate Viln is qualified to meet their request, but the young man is certain that his leader won’t cooperate. The two men sneak into Viln’s personal chambers and surprise him there. Outraged, he refuses, but then Tobias speaks into his mind with a thunderous voice, and convinces the priest that Lord Daemoth himself wills him to attend. An expression of profound ecstasy on his face, Viln suddenly changes his mind.
They meet briefly with the eladrin ambassador to fill him in on events. Losoran is outraged at where they have taken his charge, but reluctantly admits that he can’t keep her locked away. He couldn’t bring more than two guards with him from Telgard, so he gives Tobias money to hire guards for the young woman for when she is not with him or the group.
The next day, the priests participate in a lively debate at Abríanach’s morning conference. Then they adjourn to the makeshift infirmary, where the numbers of sick have grown to 19 total, 3 elves, and 16 humans. Strangely, no heathfolk are yet ill. As the professors watch with interest and take notes, each priest tries to heal the disease of an afflicted patient. None of the priests can heal the strange illness, but each has a different effect. The priest of Jharus, with huge effort, heals only a few scrapes on his patient. Father Jans accidentally kills his patient, and is horrified. The Avan priestess tries to heal a child, praying fervently that any harm will come on her if it backfires. Her body erupts in a spray of blood as wounds open all over her body, and she bleeds out and dies before anyone can help her. Arbiter Ayrathun easily heals wounds on his patient with no adverse effects, but cannot heal the Némelethe. Anotros Ciprano shocks the group by savagely lashing his unconscious patient, but after a debate and a promise from him that this is a needed part of the healing process, he is allowed to continue . He heals the wounds he inflicted easily, but again, has no effect on the illness. Finally, Magistrate Viln steps forward to demonstrate the power and glory of Daemoth. Dark fire ripples over his hands and forearms, and he bends over the patient, but then stops. Euphorically, he declares that though the power of his god far exceeds that of the heretics present, it is not the will of Daemoth that this man be healed. Father Jans argues with him, and Viln furiously assaults him, choking him with necrotic energy. Vash breaks them up, and Viln is arrested, taken away by the university guards. Tobias, watching all these events carefully, tries to sort through the implications of each use of divine power.
Afterwards, Tobias and Vash meet up with Professor Jennish, Lyda, and Ichtaca at another party, this one held on Abríanach’s grounds, by the observatory. The party erupts into excitement as those present witness what seems to be the literal fall of three stars. Vash, looking through the telescope at the time, marks their trajectory. The largest smashes into a residential district in the northeast of Athelshoth, and Vash, Tobias, and Lyda race to find it. They find the district in a state of riotous panic. The meteor struck a large apartment building, fires have broken out all around it, looters are running amok, town guards are struggling to put out fires, and panicked citizens are frantically trying to save loved ones and property. The heroes wade into the fray. Working together, they save lives, create fire blocks by demolishing key buildings, organize civilians into fire brigades, and assist the guards with looters. Lyda stops to tend to the wounded, and is caught in the middle of a fight between looters and guards on a narrow street surrounded by blazing buildings, but Tobias steps in and manages the situation. He and Lyda rush into a burning building and save a child. Meanwhile, Vash strides into the wreckage of a demolished building and retrieves the meteor. It’s about the size of his torso, but strangely light. The surface is cratered and half melted, but has the appearance of smoky grey quartz, run through with veins of silvery metal. Glittering silver powder lies around the impact site, which Vash scrapes into a bag. The drow then rushes to aid his friends. When he sees the meteor, Tobias senses a strong aura of psionic energy from it, but doesn’t have time to investigate further. Confident that they have saved whom they can, and that the fires are now under control, the trio returns to Abríanach University.
Outbreak Skill Challenge: 500 xp
Divine Dilemma Skill Challenge: 250 xp
Starfall Skill Challenge: 500 xp
Looters Combat Encounter: 250 xp
Extensive Role-Play with Lyda: 100 xp
Role-Play with Professor Athelsheth Jennish and Ambassador Losoran Anelathem: 100 xp
Role-Play with Father Alden Jans, Magistrate Caral Viln, Anotros Bartoli Ciprano, and Arbiter Malesan Ayrathun: 200 xp
Role-Play with other key NPC’s: 100 xp
5 out of 6 civilians saved in looters encounter: 125 xp
Tobias using Psionics to plant thoughts: 50 xp
Avoiding combat with Caral Viln: 100 xp
Staying in-character: 100 xp
Total: 2375 xp, divided by 2, is 1188 xp each. Cumulative xp is now 2538. Welcome to level 2!
Vash, Tobias, and Ichtaca were each paid 25 gp worth of local currency by Ambassador Losoran Anelathem.
Losoran has arranged for each PC to receive training during the month of the conference. (You each get one bonus feat, which can be any multiclass feat, defense feat, or skill training that may reasonably be available in this area.) For saving their child from a burning building, the grateful parents gave Tobias a silver amulet depicting a thorned rose. (+1 amulet of life.)