Chapter 8: Rest, Relaxation, Respite
Having a relatively uneventful journey across the bay, the party arrived at the docks of the city of Respite. Their modest ferry seemed out of place compared to the ships in the docks – at least 20 other ships of varying designs all sit in the docks just nearby. Interestingly, most of them seemed to be simply guarded, rather than fully crewed, which gave the party the impression that they were locally owned traveling vessels. Based on the fine craftsmanship, whoever the owners were must be wealthy. Stepping off the ferry, the first thing the party noticed were the guards standing around the docks. In addition to being fairly large in number, they seemed to be equipped in a manner more suited to an advanced military rather than a simple town guard. They wore heavy armor, wielded large shields and swords, and were keeping a keen eye on everyone going about their business. The locals seemed to generally ignore the guards in their statuesque vigil, however, as the party looked over the scene in front of them, one of the guards seemed to be staring directly at the group and began to walk over.
The guard approached and asked the group who they were and what they were doing in Respite. Thinking quickly, Greyson produced his Sergeant’s insignia and presented it to the guard, explaining that they were soldiers, civilian soldiers in the others’ cases, on a secret mission of great importance. Skeptical, but respectful of Greyson’s service, the guard asked for more information. Frazious was able to support Greyson, however, and convince the guard that he didn’t need the information as they were on pressing, secret business. Kerry then asked the Guard for directions for directions to the gilded rose, which the guard happily provided. Greyson then asked the guard if there was somewhere to purchase bagpipes which seemed to confuse the guard momentarily but he mentioned that he wasn’t sure and directed Greyson to the local market. The guard also mentioned that they can join the town guard and bring the fight to the goblins as he pointed out the location of the Respite Town Guard Headquarters. Keeping their quest to find Hank in mind, objective at the ready, they immediately head for… the market. Greyson needs some bagpipes.
Entering the market, the party went inside The Red Shield Tavern but the barmaid told them that pets weren’t allowed and Harambe would have to wait outside. However, while they were leaving she did mention that a stable was nearby. Kerry and the party headed for the local stables and met the stablemaster, Ancin, who seemed friendly enough. Kerry impressed Ancin with his introduction by doing a backflip and being caught by Frazious. After some discussion of Harambe’s needs as a pet and a bit of back and forth of the somewhat high price, Kerry stabled Harambe for the night and was assured he would be well taken care of. Leaving Harambe, the party headed back to The Red Shield.
The group all ordered drinks at the bar and greyson began chatting up the barmaid. She mentioned that the owner, Emerson Madison, had been gone some time and that she basically ran the place herself. She still goes by his rules, however, which was why she had to be regrettable strict with the ejection of Harambe. When Greyson asked about the gaming in the Red Shield, she mentioned that it’s a popular spot for gambling. After a brief chat and some drinks, Kerry and Frazious decided to take a shot at the tables. Kerry, taking full advantage of his unassuming appearance, addressed the gamblers in his usual friendly style and after steamrolling the first round and netting a few hundred gold, bought everyone drinks and decided to cut out early. Greyson asked a bouncer in the back if he was guarding a VIP room but he informed them that it was simply the owner’s office. However, he told Greyson of a VIP game that was in two nights for 200 gold.
The party then made their way further into the market and encountered an old, deaf, blind woman sitting on the porch if s general store. The woman didn’t have much to offer although she did yell at them. Inside, they met Waldu, proprietor of the shop and greyson found his treasure – a fine set of bagpipes available for purchase. After buying a few other supplies and chatting idly with Waldu, the party exited the shop and greyson proceeded to assault the old woman with his new instrument. She was not pleased. At this time, Rex managed to catch up with the group, a but out of breath but otherwise ready to smash.
Making their way further into the market, they came across some dirty looking kids who immediately began to swarm them and ask them questions. Immediately suspicious, rex, greyson, and Rughdar backed away from the kids while they continued around Kerry and Frazious. Greyson approached the children, however, and used his magic to mend their clothes. Appreciative, the kids thanks Greyson and one of them noted that they wouldn’t try and rob them, which caught him an elbow from one of the others.
Continuing their shopping excursion, the group ran into some guards in front of a building. Frazious asked one of the guards what the building was and he pointed at the sign which marked the place “The Dragon’s Vault”. Headed inside, they met Erys the shopkeeper and mage and began perusing her inventory. Rughdar was immediately interested in the glowing swords behind the counter. Prepared to purchase one, Erys immediately pointed out that he had a Keen eye for quality good and that mages had worked hard to enchant those weapons. Somewhat suspicious if the sales pitch, Rughdar paused while Greyson identified the pricey swords… as nothing more than fairly mundane weapons with extremely weak light enchantments cast upon them. Catching that the group knew what they were doing Erys began to show them her premium goods: a staff of fire which she procured from an evil wizard by freezing him solid, a ring for avoiding traps which was originally commissioned by the city, a beautiful set of magic arrows intended for a deceased elven prince, and a sword hilt which she claimed would burst into a blade of light and had once belonged to Sir Willem the Bold, an ancient paladin. While Kerry and Rughdar discussed purchasing the arrows, the only reasonably affordable items available, Greyson and the others decided they would head back another time, perhaps with more gold in their possession. The others followed shortly after to encounter some guards outside of what they described as Guard House 17. Satisfied, the party decided to head towards The Gilded Rose Inn to try and locate Hank.
Making their way towards the Gilded Rose, they noticed that the guards in this part of town were in greater number and the people walking the streets were noticeably wealthier. They arrived at the inn, walked inside, and greeting the proprietor, Walter, at the bar. Walter introduced himself, talked up the inn, and then asked the party if they’d like any drinks or a room. After some brief chat and ordering their drinks, Greyson purchased a room for the night. The party then noticed that Mishka was waving them over from a nearby table.This caught them as strange since the last time they saw her, Bernard had planned to execute her. Mishka greeted them in a friendly manner and Kerry asked how she was here. Mishka told him and the rest of the party that Bernard was aware of her abilities as a spy and sent her along, under Samuel’s supervision, to pass information back to him or, if they accepted Bernard’s request, the party. The party asked what information she had and she was able to point out some locations on their map for them including: an alchemy shop, a local hangout for mercenaries the Lazy Moon Tavern, and the home of a local “information kook” as she put it called Professor Ethelegar. They asked her if she knew of the location of Hank but it sounded like she had never heard of such a person and went back to her ale.
After the party finished speaking with Mishka, the bard at the front of the inn introduced two other bards which appeared from a side room and took the main stage. The bards began to strum obviously magical instruments which conjured arcane versions of actual instruments to play songs inside of the inn. Wanting an opportunity to try out his new bagpipes, Greyson joined in on the music but had a difficult start which attracted some of the town guards. Fortunately, he was able to find the tune and keep up, although the guards still surrounded the stage. At the conclusion of the song, he greeted the bards who rudely ignored him and stormed back to their room, with the original bard taking up the stage again. Leaving Mishka, Rughdar approached a slender man wearing white gloves who greeted the party and introduced himself as Enryn, assistant to Lord Morgan. He made note of the party’s odd appearance, saying that they must be new in town. When asked about Lord Morgan, Enryn explained that he mostly acts as liaison to other entities within the city on behalf of Lord Morgan – if some directive needed sending, or some issue needed a response, he was there to act or otherwise gather information for Lord Morgan, who was generally extremely busy.
Leaving Enryn, Frazious and Kerry approached another man at the bar who mentioned that it sounded like they were looking for someone. Willing to trust the man, named Ingram, they told him that they were looking for a man named Hank, and that he was a friend of a friend. They weren’t able to give much more detail, however, and the man apologized and said he wouldn’t be able to help them. The man shook Kerry’s hand, wished them luck, and left. However, Kerry noticed a piece of parchment left in his hand with some kind of crude map with some lines and an X on the map but with no discernable frame of reference to go by. Passing around the map and each trying to decode it, Greyson was eventually able see that the lines on the map matched up with streets in the city. Using this information, it looked like the “X” on the map led to a location outside the city in the nearby forest. While hesitant to trust Ingram, they decided to head towards the location indicated by the map.
Arriving at the location, they came upon a camp and were greeted by an imposing man wielding a massive axe and with a serious expression. He informed the party that Ingram had said they would be coming and warned them not to start any trouble, although he made it clear he would be perfectly pleased if they did. Moving into the camp, they spotted several more men like the one who greeted them, soldiers or mercenaries of some kind, as well as several mages. At the center of the camp was a long table, at the head of which sat a serious-looking man. To his right, a white haired woman, and to his left: Rainald. Rainald seemed pleased to see them and asked if they had found what they were looking for on the island. He then noted that Kerry and Frazious seemed to have made a few friends and said that this was good. According to Rainald, Hank was dead as he’s been missing for over a month and was their best agent. After getting approval from the man at the head of the table, Rainald asked the party to continue Hank’s work. As Rainald was about to speak, the white-haired woman interrupted and said that they would be incapable. The man at the head silenced the woman, Valsea as he said, and introduced himself as Argsoth, leader of the camp they were in which was comprised of Tiamat, the Dragon Queen. Argsoth and Rainald went on to explain:
Argsoth: Long ago, the temple on this island was run by clerics of the dragon queen. However, their leader sought power beyond his means and brazenly challenged her majesty. The power he wielded was profane in the extreme – creating twisted perversions of pure violence and chaos. In her wisdom, the dragon queen sent many of her followers to cleanse the temple of its heretics. The temple was thereafter sealed. However, soon after, the dragon queen and her forces in the world were defeated and there are only small remnants of us left. We have since monitored the island with shadow agents to ensure that none make use of this dark power but it seems some upstart, this Lord Blackstone, has found a way in and begun the work that was previously ruined. Our agents, individuals such as Bernard and Rainald here, have been searching for a way to get in. This is only the first art of the problem, however. Another cleansing is necessary and, as you can see, we currently lack the forces necessary to simply storm the temple. What we would require of you would be to continue Hank’s investigation, find a way into the temple, and then enter and eliminate those overseeing the work there. Hank had let us believe he had some solid leads but suddenly went silent six weeks ago. The last update he provided was that there was something strange happening at the nearby mine.
Rainald: We are prepared to offer you 8000 gold each for providing a way into the temple, an additional 12000 gold for at least eliminating this Lord Blackstone. There is a sense of urgency to this request – we believe that whatever terrible project he is working on is nearing fruition. This is likely the reason he has begun gathering so many people.
Argsoth: He must be stopped. Save the villagers if you like but Blackstone must be eliminated with haste.
Rainald: Well, will you help us? I understand why you might be hesitant to work with us but it truly is a noble cause.
The party was naturally conflicted about accepting a mission from followers of Tiamat.
Rughdar seemed open to accept, arguing that they were going to do this anyway while Greyson was extremely hesitant to cooperate with the forces of evil. Frazious seemed to be contemplating the issue while Kerry addressed Argsoth, holding up his medallion of Tiamat as he noticed that all of the other members of the camp had similar mediallions. Argsoth noticed Kerry’s and asked if he was also a follower of Tiamat but Kerry was honest and stated that it had been in his possession for some time but asked if Argsoth had any magical relics that might aid them. Unfortunately, Argsoth was dismissive of the notion and implied they should find them on their own. Ultimately, the party decided that they would accept Argsoth’s request, which seemed to please him. Valsea then suggested that she aid the party as they seemed incapable but Argsoth immediately shut this down and warned her that being sighted with the party could endanger the entire mission which caused her to immediately stormed off. Argsoth then awkwardly offered for the party to stay at their camp but since Greyson had already paid for a night, they went on their way back to the Gilded Rose. Moving through the forest, however, Valsea approached them and again offered her services, granted the party listen to her as she did not trust them. Kerry asked what she was capable of and she explained that she was granted restorative powers by Tiamat, herself. The party seemed favorable to this and said that they would meet her at the mine. She suggested that they swing by the camp when they were ready and she would come up with an excuse to leave Argsoth. Returning to town, the party then decided they would check out the Lazy Moon Tavern before heading to the mine.