Kingmaker

Session 18 - Tipping the Scales

In which an inn opens, a child is rescued, and a spirit leads falsely.

Months pass, and in the early days of May, winter snows clear, and ice thaws around Candlemere lake.

Finch’s inn, the Sparrow’s Nest opens to much cheer as a ‘flagship’ effort in the entertainment industry of Redemption. A great big opening party announces its present as the tavern comes to dominate the main street as the largest building that isn’t the castle. The Mason and Brand, who have been chummy as of late, are on hand to provide extra guard (and to quaff, of course). Brand in particular has been popular with the local fisherman, and one of their signature members, Arven, has indeed help make sure the Sparrow’s Nest has fish on the menu. Sarthaal has been conducting strange experiments in the dungeon, but makes a token appearance. Finch, of course, is serving up a storm to customers and developing a healthy (or at least inebriated) customer base.

The next day, Arven awakens Brand as he is in need- his son Tanner is missing! Supposedly watching the chickens at home, that scamp wandered off and Arven cannot locate him. Usually the boy is back by morning, but as the hours went on, Arven became concerned that this was more than a simple walkabout by his boy, and sought help. Brand assembles the tired, hung-over, or busy-in-the-dungeon members of the team, and together they set off a bit groggily to track the boy southwards. Mason proves adept at this, and unerringly leads them along the riverbank, where they discover lizard tracks picking up the boy’s own tracks before leading off. A kidnapping? Or a murder?

They press on, and later that day come upon the outskirts of a lizardfolk village- blue swatches of paint on their chests in intricate patterns indicating their Azure tribal roots. Stealthily checking out the situation, Finch ascertains that the boy is indeed in there- wailing as he is being snapped at by beasts beneath his hanging cage. The party discusses the best course of action, and agrees that diplomacy is the best initial route, with a fallback of “grab the boy and run”, and the fallback plan C of “if all goes to hell, kill everything that moves that isn’t us or a child.”

Sarthaal approaches the front gates astride his mount, with Brand, Mason, and Arven hanging back (Arven being a liability in his angered, desperate state). Finch is actually tucked in his cloak as hidden backup. With the help of some linguistic magic, and one of the guard speaking smatterings of Taldane, they manage to open a dialogue and have a chance to meet the chieftain, Vesket, to trade.

The Chieftain is powerful and taciturn and unwilling to simply give up the boy, though given the discontent a wailing boy is causing his tribe, will agree that the matter can be consulted instead through the ancestral spirits, and bids Sarthaal to join him and his braves in the spirit hut. His mount is allowed entry, as well as the boy’s cage, who is dragged in near the central fire pit. A ceremony begins, with chanting and lizardfolk mud painting, which actually appears to draw some form of spectral entity- a floating ball of light with a lizard skull in the center. It pulses ominously in communication with Vesket, who declares that the ancestors demand tribute in the form of a non-lizardfolk innocent. Sarthaal, who can currently comprehend all normal languages, does not actually get the sense that any real communication has taken place here that Vesket would be privy to, although the spectral entity delights in the boy’s fear. Vesket’s second in command, Bahb, angrily argues that they ought let the boy go, and that this kind of cruelty is unbecoming of true lizardfolk.

Deciding not to listen too much longer, Sarthaal leaps suddenly into action, bidding his mount to bite the cage and carry it- Tanner is not too heavy for Moonlight’s neck to bear. As they flee out the front door, Sarthaal casts fireball back into the tent- a massive plume of fire immolating many of the braves within, and injuring the others. The wisp attacks on Sarthaal’s rear, avoiding the flame and striking back with electrical shocks.

Seeing the plume of flame rise from the water’s edge, Mason and Brand charge across to secure the front gate, receiving Sarthaal as he nears them, unconscious with shock, though Finch’s quick hands with a potion bottle get him conscious again before they beat feat- partly aided by a civil war that erupts as unpopular ruler Vesket and his loyalists defend against Bahb and the other lizardfolk’s sudden eruption into battle over the issues of child kidnapping (as will later be determined, more so over the act of cruelly making the boy suffer rather than simply killing him outright or otherwise doing something productive with him).

After a time, the fleeing party sees the spirit wisp streaking over head, popping in and out of view, as it heads down the river towards Candlemere, and the tower thereupon. Deciding grudgingly to head back, the group discovers the end of a lizardfolk war, with Bahb having defeated Vesket at the expense of his own safety, as he is currently bleeding to death from a trident wound. Mason heals the new chieftain, as well as any lizardfolk he can, which does wonders to improve race relations. The lizardfolk tend to the dead by preparing them for food (waste not, want not), and Sarthaal extends the following treaty- that the lizardfolk may keep their village as is, and be considered neutral in the eyes of Solace, but that any aggression or hunting of the populace of his barony will be met with an armed squad returning with them to wipe the lizardfolk out. Sarthaal is enacting his rarely used TWO strikes and you’re out proposition, and it is agreed upon by Bahb.

Their first goal met, they return to town where Arven is quite thankful, offering his wife’s (Erastil praise her soul) enchanted ring as a reward for saving his son, but Brand refuses it on principal. Their first deed done, they collapse exhausted and sleep up, feeling refreshed enough to ask Arven to help them in a more pertinent way- lending them the use of his boat so that they can get across to Candlemere island.

The island’s tower looms as they travel over the waves, with Brand and Mason doing most of the rowing, only to discover that the damn place is surrounded by a thicket of sickening nettles that makes them feel none too good. Night is falling, and they only have one place to go- the potentially haunted tower. Within, they find it mostly ruined, with a staircase leading up. A cursory examinatino reveals that this is not all- Finch detects a secret entrance build into a fireplace leading down- as it clicks open, the staircase down reveals itself, and the party treads down into the unknown. With torches lit, they eventually find the base, and strike out east into a tunnel, and south again. It isn’t long before a store room reveals a wight to them, and though they defeat the undead, they doubt it’ll be the last of their troubles. Something seems awfully familiar about the tapestries, though, as Sarthaal knows, but Finch is drawing a blank. The next room down provides illumination in the form of prominent statues lined up one after the other of heroic and devilish figures, making the meaning of the tapestries apparent to Finch- this was a Chelish tower, and these statues are in honour of diabolists! Going stock still, she gasps and falls back, unable to even slink into the shadows as she would normally, before a curious Brand is attacked by a statue coming alive!

Rewards:

4800xp (1200xp each)

400xp x 6 Lizardfolk
1600xp Saving Tanner!
800xp x 1 Wight

Arven’s fishing boat whenever you need it.
Non-aggression/expansion pact with Azure Claw tribe.

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