Jasper - Begins work on phase two of his life plan, gain notoriety for himself to enhance the dust jacket of his book(s). He does so by schilling for a Pirate Captain.
K'rrul - Continues his efforts at fitting in to the party. Unfortunately, he remains unsuccessful to date.
Arashi - Begins the quest that Jasper finishes, though his inner Swordmage would much rather just cut to the chase and kill the opposition.
Phedre - Ultimately it is her goal to return to Verithrond in time to save a pretty dragonmarked man from assassination. So really, this is *all her fault*.
Paulic - Continues his tradition of just shooting the hell out of anything that gets in his way. Along the way he attracts a follower who has similar goals in life.
After the dust settled from our epic(ish) battle with the Eladrin assassination squad, we decided to split up and gather some information. Que the montage.
Phedre cast Speak with Dead, and Arashi brainstormed on some questions to ask the Eladrin leader. We convinced the lone surviving assassin to join us. His name is Irus, and he is our new Paulic. So we had two Paulics now. Both taciturn, arrow shooting, elfin murderers.
The rest of us went to the rooms of the Spiked Star. We considered taking their group name (The Spiked Star!), but I think consensus was that it was too retarded. Instead we took a bunch of their stuff. In addition to some magic stuff we found on their bodies, we also recovered some maps and a journal. Oh, and a trunk full of *spellbooks*. This has the potential to be the most valuable thing we collected, but we won't know until Jasper or Phedre has time to catalogue them.
Speak with Dead was productive. We learned that the person that hired the assassins is none other than Anton. Big shocker there. Unfortunately, we were not able to find out why he did so. This was kind of a small time adventuring party, but apparently they were well known enough that when a different party of Eladrin (The Cunning Claws. Why couldn't we have killed *them* and taken their name?) noticed Irus traveling with us, they suspected something.
This kind of marks our descent into madness. At that point, our careful plans about pretending to be dead, or seeking revenge, or any other interesting thing fell apart. We decided to stay in our adversaries' rooms. An official from the hotel approached us as we climbed the stairs, and though we were able to bribe him, we were still required to sign in. Since we guessed that the sign in was compared to the official log kept by the Guard at the gate, we couldn't just BS it (Dr and Mrs Smith, of Bree, with retainers) and we sent our least cunning member to the front desk to sign us in.
That's right. Paulic (of clan Paulic, of the Paulic reaches in Paulic county, Paulic) and Irus went to the lobby to see what was going on. While he was down there, Paulic signed us in, with our real names. He also gave Irus a little direction on what to say to Elaceiria, the leader of The Cunning Claws. It was awkward to listen to. Like Paulic, he was used to using his bow to solve his problems, and it was clear that she wasn't quite comfortable with things.
That night, as we prepared to lie down and be killed in our sleep, a city guard knocked on Arashi's door and gave him a letter. As he was in a room alone, and did not elect to share with us what it said, we didn't know anything was up until early the next morning. As he left to go to a meeting (indicated by the secret note), Paulic caught up with him, and they went to negotiate our future with a Pirate captain.
When they returned, the told us of the *new* plan. This pirate captain liked us. She wanted to take us home. She was willing to do so, for free, if we did a favor for her. A pirate election was coming up, and her candidate, Koulton Brightwind, was running against Anton Fatass. She wanted us to talk to some of the other Pirate captains about their votes, and hopefully sway them to vote for Koulton.
Despite being the party that negotiated this deal, Arashi was against it. He proposed an easy solution, if Anton was dead, he could not be elected. The party agreed, with one exception. Jasper wanted to try a more elegant solution. He wanted to destroy Anton's life, by destroying the source of his power. His ultimate goal was to take away his wealth.
So, Anton and K'rrul started talking. We chatted up sailors in seedy dockside taverns, dock workers in seedier dockside whorehouses, and eventually got ourselves audiences with a few of the influential Pirate Captains. Jasper spoke plainly and honestly about our experiences with Anton, and about his evaluation of the Quartermaster's performance. He used information gleaned from some Captains to sway the votes of the more difficult to persuade ones. Finally, he resorted to outright lies to sway the final contact of the day, convincing her that Anton was poised to eliminate the Piracy aspect of the organization in accordance to a contract he made with Dwarves.
In the end, Jasper was able to tell our contact that should the people vote as they indicated, Koulton would carry the day. In return, she offered us passage to the mainland at the end of the week. Six days hence.
With almost a week to kill before our ride outta town, the party had a pow wow to decide what to do. Our most attractive option, and our eventual choice, was to travel back to the Eladrin city and loot the holdings of the Spiked Star. Irus, their sole surviving member, didn't seem to take any offense at this, so we left immediately. Since we had a couple of extra days, we also wanted to spend some time in the dark and scary valley, and investigate the wagon crash that we discovered.
After making camp that night, we started off early the next morning and soon reached the crash. After extensive searching returned very little new information, Jasper performed a ritual to hopefully shed some light on what had happened. His ritual allowed him to see what was loaded on the wagon (various fine Eladrin goods from the Fortress of Fading), how it crashed (an ambush by several large canine headed humanoids and their wolves), and what they did with the wagon after it crashed (unloaded the contents onto sleds and pulled it into the woods in the valley).
Paulic was able to pick out a path once Jasper gave him a heading, and we started off into the forest. Paulic was out in front scouting with K'rrul a few feet behind him when he stopped suddenly. One hundred or so feet away one of the wolf-headed ogres stood with two wolves, apparently unaware of our approach. We snuck into position, and Arashi got his attention by using an arc of lightning to create a thunderclap in a clearing. The ogre charged:
- 5 on 3 meant that unless this ogre was a solo or vastly higher in level, we had this fight in the bag before it started.
- He wasn't a solo or higher in level by enough to matter.
- Three strikers (K'rrul, Paulic, and Irus) focused fire on him and he was bloodied in the first round.
- Round two saw him down for the count, and his wolf companions soon followed.
Disturbingly, when we examined him we noticed that the wolf head was actually a mask or a kind of headdress. When removed, we saw no way for him to see out, and it was obvious to us that this ogre was blind. Creepy.
Paulic continues pathfinding, and we followed the trail to a cave near a river. The stench of ogre permeated the cave, so we were pretty certain our quarry was there. Paulic and K'rrul snuck inside. After a bend, the light from the entrance disappeared, and we were left groping blindly along. The noise from an underground river masked our approach somewhat, but it also blocked our passage. We couldn't tell how large or fast moving it was in the dark, and were unwilling to compromise our stealth. K'rrul waded in. About ten feet into his swim, just as he was unable to easily walk, he was attacked:
- Dire Stirges lived in this cave. K'rrul and Paulic were a good 100 feet into it, alone and in the dark, with the party lounging at the opening waiting for us to return.
- K'rrul popped a sunrod and illuminated the cave. A handful (6 or 7?) or stirges were clustered over the river. Paulic yelled for the party and began Twin Striking and backpedalling.
- Through a series of obfuscating techniques, K'rrul managed to escape and prevent his blood from being totally drained.
- The party rushed in the following round and a natural kink in the cave provided a good point to hold them off. The battle surged around that point for a bit, with Paulic getting a good bit of attention from the Sturges, but our ability to teleport kept them from draining us dry.
And with that, I'm almost caught up. I have yesterday's game to detail, and that should be a bit of fun (big, climactic combat!). These two sessions were filled with talking, discussion, and exploration of Jesse's carefully built Pirate town. Early on, Jasper was labeled as a shill (Sarah Palin, to be specific) for Koulton, and a lot of jokes were had at his expense. His goal was revenge (in 5-10 years, if interest rates hold), and his motives were. . .annoying. In the end, it appears that we got what we wanted, but this is D&D. You never know if things will turn out as planned or bartered, and you should never count on it. We also managed to get some cathartic wholesale slaughter out of our systems, and should get rewarded my large amounts of lewt. We will see. . .