Rejuvenated after the acquisition of two new faces to replace fallen comrades, the Party had been paid handsomely for both the capture of wanted criminal Ichrinthan Stroon and the return of valuable items to the wealthy heiress Sarenva Blord. A brief return trip to Cosolen for upgraded equipment purchased from the wizard’s guild broker Forberon had increased the effectiveness of the Party dramatically and the time had now come to re-board “His Majesty’s Audacious” and press onward to Itven.
Homeday, Nineteenth of Declarations, 1044 Y.K.
Expecting a relaxing day’s travel aboard the “Audacious”, the Party was surprised to hear the startled cry of Brendolm’s hireling Bard Cosdrelita above on the ship’s main deck. Being in the captain’s stateroom sharing a drink with Captain Alon, Gram was the closest, and thus first on the scene. A full half dozen thugs were at the bow of the ship, one with a dagger to Cosdrelita’s throat. They shouted angrily at the dwarf and other nearby crewmen.
Relmir Dilomas arrived next, his position in the ship’s galley placing him nearest behind Gram. He bid the ruffians remain calm while stepping forward slowly. The bandit holding Cosdrelita tightened his grip and pressed the dagger into her neck harder, ready to draw blood at an instant’s notice. The brave Fighter was forced to stay his efforts, as he could do nothing for the time being – at least not without costing the beautiful Bard her life.
Below decks, in a quiet place where he had been working on his poison craft in solitude, Stoat lay unconscious – the victim of several more enemies who were making their way through the lowermost decks of the vessel. As these thugs readied for the second stage of their plan, the remainder of the Party arrived to the ship’s main deck accompanied by Defon.
Hilg broke the standoff, holding his hands upward as if suing for peace. He issued the command word for his Gloves of Lightning and a bolt shot forth into the lead bandit. The moment’s distraction was enough for Cosdrelita to wrench free and dive to the ground. The Party seized the opportunity and launched their attack against the bandits. The front-line members of the Group charged forward, as Hilg stayed to the rear, guarded closely by Defon the rogue.
With the bulk of the Party fully engaging the enemy, the second phase of the villainous plot began. The enemies from below decks who had rendered Stoat unconscious burst forth from the hold and charged forward, trapping the advance Party members in the middle. One bandit rushed toward Hilg and Defon at the rear. A dagger attack came at the Half-Orc. Not from the onrushing thug… but from Defon! The Party’s memory wiped rogue ‘ally’ had turned traitor!
With the charges of his powerful gloves already spent for the day, Hilg quickly found himself in a bad spot, pincered between two vicious rogues alongside the outer wall of the captain’s stateroom. The cuts and gouges he received were brutal, nearly taking the life from him. In a last desperate attempt at survival, the Druid shoved past the rogues, and raced into the captain’s stateroom, their daggers ripping at the flesh of his back.
Severely wounded and holding the door from the inside, Hilg struggled against the two rogues who sought to burst into the stateroom and finish him off. The remainder of the Party was still in the thick of combat, unable to come to his assistance. A number of enemies had been slain, but the Group was still boxed in…the Druid was on his own. Calling upon his druidic magic, the Half-Orc took the shape of a tree, rooting into the floorboards and holding the door fast.
Back outside on the main deck, the rest of the Party fought against a veritable swarm of enemies. Whirling blades cost them dearly in the form of injuries, but the powerful healing magics of Maldus Randorian stemmed the tide, and the battle slowly began to turn against the villains. The towering warriors Relmir and Zeph took up defensive positions around the busy Cleric while Brendolm and Gram defended the delicate Cosdrelita from harm.
Unable to get into the stateroom, Defon and his accomplice pulled flint and tinder, setting fire to the door. If they couldn’t break it down, they would smoke the Druid out. Meanwhile, the battle on the main deck was now firmly in the hands of the Party, and the villainous rogues were falling quickly. The traitorous Defon found himself forced to abandon his place at the door and he raced to the ship’s stern – lightning new fires on the lines of the ship’s rigging.
Seeing Defon depart from the plan, the accomplice lept into the fray against the Party, trying to aid his friends. Inside the stateroom, Hilg took advantage of the situation and resumed his normal form, healing himself and using his magic to douse the fire with a guiser of conjured water. He summoned a Pixie defender and opened the door, ready to fight once more.
The battle now fully in the Party’s favor, the last holdout of criminals was overcome. The Pixie’s attack once again robbed Defon of his memories and Brendolm scored the final blow against the bandit ringleader. Those criminals still alive surrendered and the fires to the rigging were quickly snuffed out. Now came time for explanation. Who were these men and what had they done to make Defon turn against the Party?
Speaking quickly, one of the thugs explained that they were of the Pox gang, run by the woman Gulda, and had recognized Defon when he came to Eastpeg seeking devious types to help him murder Hilg and get revenge against the Party. It turned out that Defon had felt slighted after nearly dying with the Group at Lnonven and then being given none of the spoils save for 2 gp. The “king’s ransom” paid to Zeph and Relmir after only one mission had pushed him over the edge.
Additionally, after spending much time wondering how he had come to be traveling alongside the Party with no memories, it had occurred to the rogue that Hilg was capable of summoning a creature that could rob men of their memories. He decided that this surely must have been what happened to him, and vowed revenge. The trip to Cosolen had given him time to seek out villainous men in Eastpeg, who just so happened to wind up being the Pox gang he had once belonged to.
With his memories of the plot erased, Defon stood before the Party and questioned them as to his origin and reason for being on the ship. Hilg gloated at the defeated rogue and branded him a traitor, declaring that his memories had been stolen as punishment for his treason. He went on to insist that if Defon wished his memories back, he would service the Druid for one year’s time as payment. The rogue was angry, but begrudgingly agreed to the deal.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Group checked in with Captain Alon who informed them that the damage caused by the fires had thankfully not been bad enough to stop the ship from continuing onward. The ship reached Cunvden late in the evening and the Party reclaimed rooms at the “Hopping Sailor”.
Godday, Twentieth of Declarations, 1044 Y.K.
Turning over the captured Pox to Captain Birorn, the Party prepared for the trip to Itven as Stoat and Brendolm informed him of the work detail they had put together to assist in repairs to the town. The captain thanked them for their efforts and warned them of the lack of roadway between Cunvden and Itven in the aftermath of the great tidal wave. He cautioned that their wagon might not make the journey then left to bring Chamberlain Lellen up to speed on the impending arrival.
The road toward Itven was as difficult as the Captain had warned, but the Party managed ten of the twenty miles in the first day. Numerous minor troubles cropped up, but the Group handled each in turn, finally making camp at nightfall. If all held well, they would arrive to the target of their investigation the following day and could begin.
Veshday, Twenty-first of Declarations, 1044 Y.K.
As the Party once again pushed and pulled their wagon through the road-less tracks toward Itven, Gram decided to scout ahead and see that the way was clear. Atop his faithful riding dog Kir, the Ranger pressed further and further ahead, unaware of a danger that lay nearby – a danger that soon made itself known. Reacting to Kir’s warnings, Gram was able to flee a hidden creature before it could strike and eventually made his way back to the Party.
Returning with the full strength of the Group, the creature was discovered as being a Displacer Beast, and was not alone. A second Beast appeared from the treeline and the Party was forced into combat. A clever blinding spell from Maldus gave the Investigators the upper hand, and the Beasts were soon defeated. The Party followed tracks back to the creatures’ lair and chased off one last Beast before deciding that they had been sidetracked long enough.
Having gone four hours out of their way, the Party was forced to travel for an additional six hours before finally reaching Itven in the earliest hours of the following morning. The gate guardians attempted to speak with them, but the Group would have none of it. So thoroughly exhausted were they that they immediately collapsed into their beds when ushered into “Two Shrews Inn and Tavern”. The following morning, the real investigation would begin.