Session 15

Merriment and Mobs

Floating gently away from the rocky island of Solitude, the Marauders found themselves in possession of the thief Cassie, paralysed and available for questioning. Their questions were not met with much cooperation up until the moment that Marina held Cassie head-first over the seething sea below them. Fully aware of the price of her reticence, the thief was far more forthcoming and told the group of some of the goings-on within the Thieves’ Guild of Stormhaven.
In particular, they learned of the intrigue that Black Sal had been embarking on against two of the other three underworld organisations that existed in the east. Sal, who had originally been connected to the Family of Port Ruin (a group that the Marauders had had an unfortunate encounter with already) had been slowly usurping territory from this Family and the North Bay Pirates, a group led by the infamously savage Captain Red, a figure known (vaguely) to Marina.
Cassie was abandoned in an isolated fishing village en route to Stormhaven, and the Marauders made a series of plans to safely navigate the bustling commercial city. Loose Sea was landed in the hills to the east of the city and Marina, Cedric, Bael’tor and Cecil entered into the town to secure lodgings for the group, as well as some disguises for Esviel and Bree, who were recognisable to the thieves in the city, and for Temperance, whose appearance might elicit aggression. The plan came together easily, and Cedric returned to the airship laden with bolts of cloth and cosmetics. Meanwhile, the other three went to try and meet with the heads of one of Stormhaven’s five merchant families to potentially get an ally to help them get to Black Sal. The Burntakers were suspected of ties to the Family of Port Ruin, and with a few subtle hints and the gift of a blue dragon claw, the party managed to learn a few key pieces of information, including the upcoming grand ball within a few days that might be a valuable opportunity.
The party reconvened at their tavern and shared the information that they had procured before heading back out into the city in search of a certain member of the guild known as Old Mortimer, known to Esviel and Bree and quite highly ranked in the organisation. However, upon entering the tavern where he was known to do business, Cecil spotted the members of his old performing troupe drinking at a table. They quickly spotted the hulking dwarf, but rather than the venomous reunion that he had expected they were highly pleased to see him again, having been concerned following his disappearance. His troupemaster was less pleased, his arm still being broken, but the magic of Bael’tor mended the injury and the Marauders settled in for a long night of drinking with the performers.
Midway through these festivities, however, Esviel was pulled away to a back room where she was met by the grandfatherly figure of Old Mortimer. Mortimer was glad to see the young half-elf, but he was particularly hesitant about her decision to return to Stormhaven. She managed to convince him of the necessity of her mission, and he agreed reluctantly to assist her in some small ways, but also warned her against killing Sal, as he was surprisingly popular within the guild due to his expansion of their activities throughout the East. Mortimer left Esviel with the promise of another meeting in two days and a suggestion that she stay out of sight as much as possible.
The half-elf left the continuing party in the tavern (although not before a brief and confusing conversation with her tiefling friend Temperance), returning to their rented room, but the rest of the Marauders enjoyed their night a little to excess, with Cedric and Streichneiss in particular vanishing from the group at one point or another and not seen until, with Cecil, Bael’tor, Bree, Temperance and Marina stumbling through the cobblestone streets, they were spotted racing a bunch of halflings mounted in pig-and-wheelbarrow chariots. The group all eventually found their ways to various beds, ready to make further plans on the morrow.
The next day saw the Marauders feeling somewhat poorly but ready to further explore this enormous city. Esviel and Bree stayed within the rooms to try and avoid interest, but Bree convinced Esviel that they might be able to contact Jessie Quick, another lieutenant within the Guild who might be amenable to taking out Sal. The rest of the group headed into the city to find out what events would be held during the upcoming festival. While they walked by the docks, Marina noted the rake of a familiar set of masts across the river. She pointed out the vessel to the group, identifying it as the Empress’ Fortune, the ship that had ferried them from Treciun to Port Ruin. Excited by the prospect of seeing Captain Tullius again, Marina set off across the water, clutching her magic ring close and attracting many wild stares from sailors. Cedric began to cast a spell that would allow him to do the same, and Bael’tor and Cecil decided to race around the bay as training for the wrestling that they hoped to compete in. Temperance, left alone on the dock, transformed into a giant toad and followed Marina across the water, but while the pirate girl walking on water instilled wonder and awe, the monstrous amphibian prompted shouts of terror from the masses on the boats.
Temperance was saved from having to answer a series of unfortunate questions by the bosun of the Fortune, who escorted Marina and the tiefling away from the curious glances of the people on the dock. They were joined after a brief interval by Cedric, Cecil and Bael’tor, and the group noted that the finely-crafted ship had seen battle in the recent past. Captain Tullius soon arrived, extremely surprised and pleased to see the group, and they spent some time learning of the current state of Treciun. While still repelling the advances of the Lowlander army, Treciun was in dire need of supplies, and so Tullius had come to Stormhaven to negotiate the purchase of crops from one of the merchant families. Cedric saw a way that he could aid Tullis, but was caught between his desire to help his friend and his hatred of the Marchlander occupiers of his ancestral room. Marina took Cedric aside and gave him a brief dressing-down, after which the druid suggested to Tullius that he would be able to double the yield of farmland in a large area. Tullius was ecstatic at this prospect, which would prevent the merchant princes of Stormhaven from taking advantage of Treciun’s desperation, and he immediately gave orders that the Fortune should cast off for some nearby islands where the magic of Cedric would help to stave off hunger in Treciun for a significant time.
With Cedric off spending the day with Tullius, Cecil and Bael’tor started racing around the city again, before going to a series of shops to purchase cloth for costumes that they planned to wear in the wrestling matches of the festivities. Returning to Esviel, they implored the thief to help them construct bird-masks and wings in bright yellow and red and, not super keen on the idea but with nothing better to do, Esviel helped them sew a pair of luchador-esque costumes.
In the meanwhile, Marina was trying desparately hard to stop Temperance from using her toad form to swim back across the river, having seen just how poorly it was received by the other users of the bay, but Temperance slipped under her grasp and transformed again, aiming to return to the tavern where they had rested. Again, the appearance of the large toad caused a great stir on the boats, and the frantically waving figure of Marina skipping over the swells did little to calm them. As the two women reached the other shore, a veritable mob waited on the dock armed with pitchforks and boathooks to fend off the beast. Marina attempted to calm them down, but as she did Temperance changed her form back into that of a tiefling to prove to them that she was no monster. However, the sight of her long tail and curving antlers enraged the mob far more than the large toad had done, and they began casting nets to entrap the demonic shapshifter. Marina made to draw her rapiers but was quickly bludgeoned unconscious as an accomplice and Temperance, terrified by the anger of the crowd, transformed into a stag and began to swim up the river, passing beneath a stone bridge and outpacing the shouts and curses.
Swimming in a panic, Temperance found herself nearby to where they had hidden Loose Sea and morphed back into her normal form, hysterically crying in terror and in grief over the (to her mind) probable death of her friend. Her overwhelming emotions were halted by the caw of a strange bird, and she looked over her hands clasped close to her face to see a raven, half bone and clearly undead, hopping on the riverbank beside her. A closer inspection showed that the bird was trying to get the tiefling to notice the piece of paper tied around its neck, which turned out to be an invitation and a map: You Are Invited to a DINNER, at your earliest convenience. The bird, its message delivered, flew off towards the west and Temperance, shaken out of her hysteria by the odd encounter, fashioned herself a crude disguise and headed back into town to find her other friends.
She arrived at the tavern as Cecil, Bael’tor and Esviel had just finished the costumes and Bree had returned from getting a message to Jessie Quick. Temperance babbled out that Marina had died, stirring the group to immediate action as they raced towards the dock in pursuit of clearer answers. As they did so, they came across a group of people clustered around a set of stocks with the red hair of Marina hanging from the wooden frame. Charging at the crowd, the group swiftly sent them fleeing into the alleyways of the city, with the groggy but unharmed pirate quickly rushed back to their rooms at the tavern.
The events clearly laid out for everyone (save for Cedric, who was still out on the seas with Tullius), a crestfallen Marina noted that this was not the ideal way that she would have liked her eighteenth birthday to have gone. The group all felt pretty shitty about this (none of them had known), and the shame-faced Temperance offered Marina the invitation as a sort-of-kinda birthday present. This prompted a bunch of questions from the group, dragging the whole story out of the confused tiefling, and Cecil noted that he had seen a similar bird in the depths of the Forgeheart after their fight with the orcish shaman. This odd overture from another necromancer worried the group, until Marina noted that the writing on the note was quite similar to that of the report they had seen in Solitude, the one that appeared to have been written by the apprentice of Brelnan. This was not the only surprise that the invitation offered, as the map drawn on its reverse appeared to be of the swamps to the south of Treciun, where they had encountered undead months in the past and where an ancient black dragon had been driven from its lair.



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