April 25 - May 28, 2016
Where's The Money?
Friday October 27
Vacating the VaultLavinia sits by in a state of shock while the Guardians gather up every last bit of treasure and documentation from her family’s vault. All told, it looks like there is well over 1000 coins, most of them gold but most are thinking that the real value lies between the covers of the ledgers and account books taken from the vault. Whoever cleaned out the vault, whoever this Vanthus person is, he must not have appreciated the value in what these documents held.
Wanting to know a little bit more about how the situation unfolded here before the party arrived and being no help in the packing up of loot, Fortis sets down to do some magic.
Lavinia refused to answer any questions about the vault or “Vanthus” and she quietly asks to be taken home. Seeing that she is truly in shock and in a truly fragile state, her wish is followed. After about 10 minutes, the vault resets itself and the Guardians carefully make their way back out. Silver remembers at the last minute to switch back into the form of a young Elf maiden. They climb to the surface and are shown through the castle and back toward the docks by a guard. Valinya is there, on the dock, waiting for them. She accompanies the group back to the Fox and Hound. On the way, she tells them about the vision she had the previous night when she performed her divination.
When the group is about halfway back to the inn, Lavinia shakes her head and instructs them to take her to her manor house, which they happily do. After a short time, the group arrives at the under construction manor house. She leads them into one of the mostly reconstructed main halls and bids everyone to have a seat. She produces a large bottle of wine and pulls out a tray with a handful of wine flutes. She pours one for herself then slumps heavily down into a large, comfy chair. She smiles weakly and nods her head toward the wine and glasses.
“Help yourself,” she mutters.
The tiny Ellyl bows. “Thank you for your kind hospitality. I'm certain we can, working together, find out what happened to the contents of your vault. There are doubtless many things in need of attention but now is not the time. If you cared overwhelm you beyond the solace of wine I may be able to help with a spell as well. In the meantime I think that vintage does appear tempting.
Silver sits and takes a glass of wine. “We need to figure out what to do next. Fortis’ idea about tracking the vault contents seems like a good one. We’d best go through those documents and see if we can find some clues there.” More directly to Lavinia, she adds “Maybe you could find some business opportunities something there. You’ll have your ship to work with soon, also. Might be worth finding out when that will be released.” Then to Valinya “Did that divination of yours come with a sense of direction? Something like which way we’d need to go to find this sea cave?”
Valinya shakes her head negatively. “No, I could only wish divinations were more precise. It was just the vision, though obviously it is at sea and presumably not too far away. I would be able to recognize the cove and cave were I to see them but … “ she shrugs. “It would be looking for the proverbial needle in haystack without something else to go on. Still, at least we have some idea of where our goal is located.” Glancing over to Lavinia she adds, “I do think, however, that our host is a key. She was in the vision and while it is unclear exactly the connection, hers becomes the sorrow of the world. Her tear by water was linked to an intense explosion, and as we know with these Shadow Pearls such an event would alter our world. I believe our next step in our quest lies with our gracious host.” Grabbing several hefty slices of cheese Valinya grasps an empty glass and quietly sings it full of crystal clear water, fresh and pure.
After a few moments of indecision between a straw and an appropriately sized drinking vessel Fortis creates an intricate crystal chalice in the spiraled shape of a miniature unicorn horn for himself and dips it into the proffered winglass to take a sip. “I’ve been experimenting with delicate glass forms recently and welcome something of a new, but non lethal, challenge. Thank You”
Seeker is quiet as he pours himself a glass of wine. The flute looks in peril in his huge paw. Okay, so we have the documents and gold from the vault. That needs to be evaluated. Fortis’ magic could be useful in determining the thief, although it sounds like Lavinia already has a strong suspect. It might pay to get her to elaborate…
Seeker clears his throat, a low rumble. “Lavinia, ma’am, you seem to have some thoughts on what we found in your family’s vault. Would you care to elaborate? Who is ‘Vanthus’?”
Valinya nods and gives Lavinia a sad, compassionate smile. “We’re sorry, Lavinia. You have suffered much but I truly believe many lives are at stake and you are somehow at the center of this puzzle. Anything you can tell us might help save multitudes. We understand it’s not great timing but we don’t know how long we have before the world suffers another drastic event.”
Lavinia nods at the gathered Guardians and sighs. “You are right, I cannot let my own personal feelings interfere with what needs to be done.” She sighs again and swallows the remaining half of her second glass of wine. “Vanthus is my brother. I believed him to be gone, though. After we returned to Essanos, after our parents died, he has been a different person. Dark and moody, prone to fits of temper. We began to argue a lot about what to do with the family estate. He wanted to sell everything off and leave the city, start new somewhere else but I knew that was not our parent’s wishes. Our arguments turned to fighting and one day, about a month ago, he struck me. He seemed just as shocked as I was and he left. I have not seen him since, though I have heard word of him. From what I know, he has been in the company of associates of doubtful character. He has been seen with a girl in the Azure District a few times. I tried not to think of it much and assumed that he would eventually see the error of his ways and come home.
He is family, we were close growing up but these last few years have just been hard on him.” She sinks lower in her chair and covers her face with her hands.
Draining his chalice before tossing it into the air to disappear Fortis turns his attention to a quick illusion spell, projecting an image of what he had seen when investigating the history of the vault. The full sized gossamer hangs in the air before the assembled crowd.
“Could this be your brother?” he asks, gesturing to the shadowy figure. “This person entered your vault about a month ago and, after some difficulty with the pillar, unlocked it.”
Valinya nods, “This was all I could see in my visions as well.”
Seeker leans forward, studying the image Fortis has provided. “Good thinking, Fortis.”
He turns to Lavinia. “If you think this might be Vanthus, ma’am, I have seen Fortis refine such images with guidance. Can you help him come up with something a little clearer? We could fan out across the city looking for him.” I’d like to check out the Plucked Parrot again for one thing. And after that, stop by the Harbormasters again.
“I cannot tell if that is my brother, it is too indistinct. But, come here, into the hallway. There is a portrait of him. My parents had it made while we were traveling and I hung it once we were back home to honor them. Vandy did not want it hung up, but I did. It was one of the first things we fought over, in fact.” Lavinia gets up and leads the way into an adjoining hallway then points to a framed portrait hanging between two columns.
“Could you tell me if your brother had any magical training? Or perhaps was friendly with someone who did? He has, if this is in fact him we are observing, taken care to shield himself against a scrying. That is not simple. He either has an item of significant power or the help of a cautious and puissant Mage.”
Lavinia ponders for a moment before heading back toward the great hall. “He was no mage. He never had the patience for it. And as for knowing other mages, none that I know of, but to be completely honest with you, I do not know any of his, ehm, friends, at all,” she says, looking a bit lost. “I just don’t understand how he got into the vault. As far as I have ever known, there were only two rings. My father had one, and you have recovered for me from the Blue Nixie, and my mother wore the other. It was on her hand when she died. This just does not make any sense.”
Stepping up to Lavinia, Valinya puts her arms around her in a comforting side hug. “We’re sorry these things are bringing up painful memories.” After a reassuring squeeze she steps back and looks pensive. “I hate to bring this up, but could he have used your mother’s ring? Somehow obtained it from her body? Regardless, if we assume he somehow has her ring and used it to open the vault that does up open up a possible door for us. It is likely that the two rings were linked somehow in their creation. I might be able to use a tracking spell on your father’s ring to locate your mother’s ring. Even if your brother doesn’t have it we might want to give that a try if you’re willing.”
Fortis taps his tiny chin in thought as he ponders the implications of the displayed precaution. “Why would he need to shroud himself? He is an heir and entitled to enter the vault I assume. It would take a great deal of effort to conceal himself like that, but to what end?” He hover-paces back and forth. “If he had a ring, does that mean he took it from your mother? And now that I think about it, what part did the ring play exactly in accessing the vault? Was it just a visual symbol? Something that could be created or faked with magics like the figure in the vault has already displayed?”
Lavinia looks down at her ring, “No, I do not know if it can be faked. The ring must be pressed into a special keyhole at the vault entrance. I assume there is some magic involved somehow.”
After listening silently to all of this Moonscar reminds his friends, “It may just be coincidence, but whoever was behind the illicit use of the Blue Nixie was likewise cloaked from all divinations. . .”
After listening for a while, Silver speaks up. “It may be unsettling to consider, but we have adversaries that aren’t adverse to using Demons. It could be something is helping or possessing him, and it doesn’t want to be found out. It seems like that sort of thing could cause all sorts of bad, up to and including sabotaging a ship. All sorts of reasons could be guessed at for why.” Silver looks around at her companions. “Setting that aside for a moment, what I’d like to know, is what are we doing next? I need to DO something!”
Seeker smiles. “Well, we can look short-term if you need. Miss Vanderboren has papers and other things from the vault. If she’d have our help, we could assist in assessing what value they might afford. Now that we’ve seen the painting, we could move out and start scouring the city looking for him. Some of us are better at paperwork than others. Some of us are good at hitting the streets. Are you interested in pursuing either of those options? Or did you have some other ideas?”
He muses for a moment. “I suppose if we wanted to get clever, Lavinia mentioned that Vanthus is seeing someone over in the Azure Quarter. Fortis has shown he is adept at magical disguises. What if Vanthus were to be wandering about that neighborhood? He might be approached by someone who could aid us in our search.” He turns to the diminutive mage. “What do you think, Fortis? I’d say we’re going fishing, but it’s better bait?”
With a grin Fortis nods “You sly fox… er wolf… whatever… That is a great idea. The question I have first though is which hook to bait. You? Arn? And what sort of clothing do you want our mimic to be wearing? The mysterious robes of the vault raider? The outfit from the portrait? Or perhaps something else altogether.”
Seeker shrugs. “If he’s up for it, Arn would work well. Silver and I are too big for your spell. Arn is tough and able to grab the girlfriend if she approaches him.” He looks at Arn. “How does that sound to you, Arn? Or would you like me to give it a try?”
After a decision is made Fortis offers to disguise the bait as Vanthus for a little outing to the Azure Quarter but apparently the group decides to enhance their probability of success but training their bait to act in a more alluring manner. “Don’t worry, when we are ready I can provide a good disguise… remember though that you must control your own voice.”
“As a side note, I was thinking of taking some time to do a number of things related to magical research. I wanted to see what learning scrolls the Witchwardens had for sale, as well as analyze the items we captured, the axe and knife and potions and so forth. And I had thought if I were patient enough might be able to trace the intruder through repeated uses of the history spell by starting at the exit to the vault and seeing which way the intruder leaves each time. It may be tedious, but without a scryable subject to hang the spell on I don’t think normal tracing would work. Wow, there is just so much to do.” Snapping his fingers Fortis summons Gaston back from the aether. “My dear fellow, please be so good as to walk over to the Witchwardens Tower, pay them my compliments and ask them for a list of scrolls they have for sale. Then please return here and deliver that list to me. After we finish our discussion I need to set about investigating the mysteries of those objects we found.”
Silver thinks for a minute during the discussion. “Well, if Lavinia doesn’t mind, I could look at the papers for something to do, but I’m not really familiar with that sort of thing. I’m kind of interested in the fishing expedition. If you hook a fish, you’ll need help eating it, right?” Upon seeing a few of the looks she gets from that, she adds “Yes, yes, I know you’re not actually talking about fish, and no, I’m not going to actually eat anybody. I mean if someone comes up and talks to our bait, what do we want to do? Also, consider what Vanthus might do if he spots the bait before his comrades do. And we may not spot him if he’s in disguise, right?”
After a moment, Silver adds “Oh, and I need to recharge my amulet. I used up the last of it keeping everyone alive in the vault…”
Fortis nods “Silver is right, the circumstances may not be appropriate for fishing tonight. Perhaps a day of rest and recuperation after our near demise would be wise. It may also give us time to learn more and become ‘better fishermen’ when we do decide to go”.
Seeker listens as Silver explores the fishing scenario. “Well, I was thinking that we would just grab the person who demonstrated they knew Vanthus and pull them into an alley, have them tell us what they knew. One problem with this plan is that some of the best people to act like Vanthus are not the same as the best people to survive getting jumped. Lavinia, maybe you could help us refine our Vanthus impersonation? If you think this is an avenue we should pursue at all, of course.”
His eyes wander to the small chest and its enclosed papers hard-won from the family vault. “As for the Vanderboren Papers, I was thinking Lavinia of course, and then perhaps Valinya for her insight and Arn for his legal training.
Something Silver says jogs Seeker’s memory. “Oh, for getting your amulet charged - there’s what looks like a magic shop in the Merchant District market called Glittermane's Vault. Not more than a quarter-mile from here. They might be able to help you out with that. Maybe you and Fortis can wander over after he’s done his analyses?” He smiles, “And I for one think that your use of that amulet was well-spent. Thanks again.”
He looks around the room. “So it sounds like for the afternoon, as a suggestion, Fortis works on his analyses, Valinya and Arn and Lavinia peruse the papers, Silver and Fortis can go check out the magic shop, and Mister White and I can go check out the Plucked Parrot. How does that sound? Then rendezvous back at the Fox and Hound at oh-eighteen-hundred? Compare notes over the evening meal?”
Silver says “Sounds good to me. I might have run across that shop the other night. Should be interesting to visit again if it is. Fortis, do you need to do anything before we head out? Oh, how much is it likely going to cost to recharge this thing? I wonder if I have enough” Silver pulls off her backpack and starts rooting through it to see how many coins she has left.
The Ellyl thinks for a moment before replying. “Well, if we are going to someplace that deals in things we want to both buy and sell it may make more sense for us to perform the analyses necessary to get a good price for the things we no longer want so that we can maximize the trade we conduct there. It will take me at least an hour to analyze the axe and the knife, more if there are other layers of enchantment woven into one or both of them.”
Silver sighs. “Yes, that would make the most sense. I guess I’ll hang around here until you’re ready to go.” With that, she wanders out of the room and starts exploring the partially constructed manor and its grounds until Fortis is ready.
Arn sits back after finally having his 7th full glass of wine and another mouthful of bread and cheese. He was just taking it all in as his companions chatted away. Now it was time for him to speak up.
“Aye, I’ll go in disguise, better this time as a male than a lass. But I think it best if maybe I spend some time with the good Lady Lavinia, so that she can teach me some of his mannerisms, common phrases and such. I may be able to just pick up enough to fool someone for a minute or two, and really that is all we need until I can pull them aside for some interrogation or something of that nature.”
Arn takes another drought from his glass, wipes his mouth and beard on his sleeve and lets out a belch. “Mighty fine juice ye got here. So, what say ye lass? Teach me some basics on how to behave like yer brother and let’s find out what’s really going on.”
“Sounds like we all have some things to do. Remember, if you go out, buddy up! No sense taking chances, right?” He looks around the room to Moonscar. “Speaking if which, Brother, I have a few errands to run. Care to stretch your legs?”
As he leaves, he grabs the staff of the Coyle spellslinger. “Anyone have any need for this? Fortis? It’s not magic, so I thought I’d try using it as bait for a different fish.”
Moonscar nods and gets up, replying in Wolfen, “Plucked Parrot? Hopefully Sings will be nearby. She might even have a bit of news, though it will take me same time to be able to converse with her. By the way, does anybody else wonder about the stories of our hosts brother? First struck by lighting - a close friend of the family told that one I believe. Then killed by pirates she said last night, but now alive and just not getting along. . .” He shrugs as he prepares to leave, “Maybe just me.” Then adds in Eastern, “Oh sorry, um, Miss, hopefully we’ll return with a friend of mine. Sings To Moon is a long time traveling companion ever since her pack was killed up north - she’s why I’ve hung on to the handkerchiefs so she can learn both your scents. Anyway, if you’re both willing, she would probably be more comfortable on the grounds here than skulking around the docks and anyone trying to skulk around your home will not be expecting a young wolf bitch to be keeping an eye on the place. . .”
Fortis nods to Seeker. “I can’t think of another use for it at the moment. We might have to use it as a focus if we want to find that coyle and report him to the harbor master or the watch. Other than that I do not ascribe it any value.” I wonder what he intends to do with it? Well I’m sure it will all become clear in time.
Valinya looks forlornly at the now empty platter that held the snacks. “I might require a more substantial bit of sustenance before the evening meal. Most definitely I will. I am glad to research the papers but I could also be helpful in extracting information in a truthful manner … detecting lies, preventing them … you know. But if my thought about the ring trace works we really won’t need to go through the whole bait bit. Lavinia, would you be willing to let me try?”
Lavinia looks at Valinya, “Of course, that sounds like a great idea. But I don’t know how it would be possible for my brother to have my mothers ring. We were off the boat, she was still alive. Then the boat went down.” She shakes her head and forces a smile. “But anyway, we have this to o through and I suppose I need to help Arn act the part of Vanthus if he is to impersonate him.”
Turning to Lady Lavinia once again the dour dwarf chimes in. “Aye there my Lady, let’s work on this now so I can at least attempt to pull off this ruse. I need to know names of any of his associates he knows, including the woman in question. Also any catch phrases he commonly uses would be good to know as well”. Arn takes another draught of his wine glass. “Hopefully one of them is ‘more beer!’ “
Under her breath Valinya mutters loudly enough to be heard by all, “Like that would require any acting for him.”
Silver takes to wandering about, looking at the construction. How much work actually goes into this anyways? She heads outside and walks the grounds along the wall a couple of times, obviously bored to anyone who might spot her. Eventually, she wanders her way back to the inner garden area of the manor, and sits down by the small pond there, staring into the water.
Valinya holds Lavinia’s ring and moves about the room, singing a little song. She stops abruptly, looking down at the ring. “It didn’t work. I feel like I sung the spell right, but nothing happened. I would try again, but this type of magic may only be tried once per week.” She ponders the situation for a moment, “It is possible that the reason the spell failed is that the ring is too far away, lost somewhere on the bottom of the ocean and that Vanthus, if it is indeed him, used some other method to get into the vault.” She looks at Fortis, busy working his identification magic on the items nearby, “The other reason it failed would be that, as we have already suspected, whoever has it is using powerful magic to shield any scrying.”
Fortis, busy with his spellcasting, focuses on the Coyle’s knife first, hoping to get it identified quickly so Moonscar can take it with him. Seeker and Moonscar hang around impatiently, watching Lavinia, Arn and Valinya begin sorting through all the paperwork taken out of the vault. After thirty minutes, Fortis calls Moonscar over and tells him that the knife is enchanted with magic to make it more sturdy, like that of a metal blade. Fortis did not find any more enchantments on it. Fortis heads back to spell casting to identify the other items and Moonscar and Seeker head out.
The next few hours go by and Valinya, Arn and Lavinia have made some headway into the paperwork. It appears that much of it documents favors and IOUs that are due to the Vanderboren family. Lavinia’s parents spent much time helping other people out with the understanding that it would be repaid later. Lavinia is happy that she should be able to convey this into some business associations and working capital, along with the money recovered from the vault.
During this time, Arn is learning as much about Vanthus as he can. Unfortunately, Lavinia does not know names or locations that would be important to him now. She feels that his behavior and mannerisms while around her and her parents might be different than he displays when out skulking around with his unsavory associates, but she does her best. Arn is sure that he can pull it off as long he was not under serious scrutiny.
Fortis finally finishes up with the identification of the magical items. The axe, a well made weapon in its own right, was enchanted with the Graceful Weapon spell, making it easier to use in combat, negating the need to re-ready the weapon after each successive strike or parry. Nothing exceptional but nice to have on a heavy axe. There were no other magical properties found on the axe. The potions are Paut, a liquid that replenishes magical energy. Very useful for spell casters.
Shrugging of his spell-induced reverie Fortis presents an alternative perspective. “I am not much accustomed to dealings with large amounts of coinage but would such a considerable sum not attract some kind of notice in transit or transaction? If it did in fact require several large chests to contain one man is unlikely to have been able to abscond with it without help. Perhaps we could track his assistants. Similarly, I doubt he purloined it merely to spite you. He must have had some intended use in mind. What could such a sum purchase and who might be selling such a thing? Do any of you have ideas about either of those two thoughts?”
Arn contemplate what the Ellyl suggests, and adds, “Aye there lad, but there could be more to the story than that. Not only would he need hands to help move the coinage, but perhaps that was the plan all along. Maybe he got himself in a bad way with someone and owed them a lot of money, or someone threatened to harm him or his family and would look at some kind of ransom had he not paid up? I’m hoping that when I wander around in disguise, I can maybe glean some information on that.”
Working on the CoverArn continues to work with Lady Lavinia late into the evening. It’s not very often that the grizzled dwarven warrior has to rely on more subtle skill sets than regular investigation skills or skill at arms. Though he enjoys combat and the sounds of battle, the dwarf troubleshooter also enjoys a good challenge and likes investigating and trying to figure out problems and mysteries.
After another couple of hours of working with Lavinia, Arn is convinced that he should be able to pull off what is needed for a brief conversation. He bids the lady a good night and makes his way back to his chambers for a good night of rest. He knows that Fortis’s magics are good enough to fool most by the eye, now it is up to him to do the rest. He falls asleep quickly as his eyes are tired from both straining himself mentally as well as from the amount of wine he has taken in for the evening.
Magic ShoppingAs Arn and Lavinia are putting the final touches on the Vanthus act, Silver, Fortis and Valinya decide to head over to Glittermane’s Vault to see if they can get a good price on the axe and check to see what they might have available for sale. Silver hefts the axe, awkwardly propping it over her shoulder and the three head out, following the directions Seeker had explained to them. Fortis is a little worried that Gaston still has not arrived, but he is magically aware that the created servant is still active, so it has not befallen anything too dangerous. Probably just slow going trying to find his way around town.
The trio arrive at Glittermans’s Vault, a squat, round stone building near the Merchant District Market. The three have to fight a lot of traffic as the Market is beginning to close down for the evening, but eventually they make it. Fortis and Valinya both notice the prominently displayed symbol of the Witchwardens above the door to the magical shop. The door magically swings open at their approach. Looking inside, the three can see a large, much larger than could possibly fit inside the confines of the round tower, palatial expanse. Tropical trees line the edges of the room in between carved and gilded columns.
“Well, one appreciates the manners displayed by the magical door,” Valinya says with a pleased smile as the door opens for her. “Oh,” she sing-songs as she beholds the expansive interior. “I don’t know what spell was used to make this so spacious but I like it … we have some real potential here. I could see doing this with my own place someday … provided there’s an opportunity to settled down.” She waxes wistful for a moment before shaking it off and refocusing. “Let’s see what goodies we have here then. If nothing else I love getting new ideas.” She looks around for someone to assist them and to escape the magicless area..
Fortis and Silver follow Valinya into Glittermane’s Vault and are quickly in for a surprise. They pass through what appears to be an illusion wall and into a small, stone 10x10 room. A stout door can be seen on the other side of the room, ahead and closed. The only other door in the room is the entry door, which still remains wide open behind them. Fortis immediately dives to the stone floor, crashing into a small heap while Silver undergoes the transformation back into her Dragon form. The enchanted axe drops to the floor beside her. All three spell casters immediately realize that this is a no mana zone in the entryway to what appeared to be a magic shop.
A whimsical, high pitched voice calls out, “Never fear, patrons. The no mana zone is small, only covering the entry chamber. I am Glittermane, how may I help you? Ohh, a Dragon. How interesting! And what are you, little one, a fairy of some sort, I’d wager. A Sprite? A Brownie? No, you must be an Ellyllon. I have never had the honor to make the acquaintance of one of your kind before. So again, how may Glittermane be of assistance to you today, friends?” Though the voice is clearly heard, no speaker can be seen. The voice seems to be coming from the direction of the closed door, possibly through a vent or speaking tube of some sort.
Silver is quite surprised, but only momentarily. To her friends, she mutters “This is why I would prefer to stay away from such places if I could.” She calls ahead “Stay your defenses, we come only as customers. I’m finding this to be a rather hostile entrance, by the way. I can’t stay here long, either let us in or I’ll have to find somewhere else to shop.” Silver moves to stand close to the open doorway leading out, ready to make a hasty exit if the door begins to close. Great, she thinks to herself. If I exit here, I’ll be visible to the folks on the street, with nowhere to change without being seen. Won’t that be fun.
Gasping at the Ellyl’s nosedive, Valinya quickly reaches down to scoop him up and tried to walk him quickly to a more magical environment but found none in the small space. “No significant harm, I do hope. Very interesting, though. Fortis, are you OK?” She gently blows on him to see if it helps rouse him.
Fortis recovers himself and quickly stands himself up in the Elf’s palm. “Thank you for you ministrations Valinya. If ever I can assist you in a similar manner please do not hesitate to let me know.” Launching himself from her outstretched hand and flying towards the presumed location of the proprietor beyond the secured door he greets Glittermane “Good Eventide to you. We were curious about your wares, specifically your interest in sale, purchase or barter. We have acquired an item which may be more useful to someone else than to us, but would like to understand the context in which your trade or consignments are conducted. Would you happen to have time remaining this fine evening to engage voicediscussion on that topic? If so, I beseech you to invite us in out of this abominable condition that this corridor imposes. If not, then I am afraid we cannot remain.”
As Fortis loquaciously entertains Glittermane Valinya begins to look around, keeping an ear to the conversation as she looks for other deceiving illusions or surprises in the closed space. She was pretty sure the door was very securely locked but also that Glittermane was somehow scrying them … perhaps a wizard’s eye and ear somewhere?
“But of course, but of course,” the voice calls out. “You shall be invited inside momentarily. You understand of course, that due to the nature of the business and the fact that I do not know you from Rurga, that I must take precautions. It truly does keep costs down. These are dark times and one never knows who they may be dealing with. Now if each of you are willing to take an Oath for me, then you will be permitted access to the Vault. Nothing to hindering, just the standard stuff really. No harm or ill will it actions against me or the Vault. That type of thing. You are all mages, am I correct? You know the mystical Oath that I speak of?”
The voice pauses for a moment then continues, “If you agree with this, please step forward and place your head against the closed door. It will only take me a moment to cast the spell on each of you. If you do not wish to be placed under mystical bindings such as these, I completely understand and of course would not hold it against you. The door to the street remains open and you may leave at any time.”
Fortis moves towards the door and flattens himself against it. “I promise not to initiate violence, fraud or theft against anyone on these premises for the entire duration of my visit tonight.”
Almost at the same time as Fortis Valinya also moves forward, not wanting to wait out of concern for the well being of her friends. She quickly says, “I will not act to cause harm or ill will against Glittermane or the Vault for this visit.”
Silver looks to the other two as they make their Oaths, then sighs. “I suppose this is a reasonable means to generate trust of a sort.” She thinks a bit longer but finally comes over to the door and places the top of her head against the door, then states “I will not cause harm or have ill will against Glittermane or the Vault for the duration of this visit, as long as no harm or ill will is directed at myself or my companions.” She pulls her head away from the door, and shifts about, looking anxious to be out of the no-mana area.
As each speaks their Oath in turn they feel a magical compulsion wash over them. The knowledge of a magical binding is now firmly implanted in each mage’s head. “Very well, very well,” the voice calls out as the previously closed door swings open. A short, grey haired Gnome in a garish ensemble beckons the group inside. “Come in, come in. Please. I hope you have not been offended by my welcoming precautions, I have found that one can never be too careful.” The Gnome’s beard and hair sparkle with shiny spots of light, almost looking like tiny stars swimming in his wild, grey hair. He smiles and bows. “I am Glittermane, welcome to my Vault.”
Clinging to the door as it swings inward out of the no mana zone Fortis breathes a heavy sigh of relief. “I understand your caution, though it is quite discomfiting. Thank you for agreeing to speak with us this evening. I hope we can engage in productive commerce. Do you have a preference for where to begin? Would you like to inspect our merchandise, or present your own?” As he regains his equanimity after once again finding himself in such a horrid place Fortis marvels at an apparent impossibility… How did he cast an Oath spell into a no mana zone? That is a trick I’m going to have to learn.
As soon as the door begins to open, Silver rushes it a bit, practically pushing it the rest of the way open, and coming close to scraping Fortis off the door as she passes. “Places such as that are awful! I hope this Vault is worth it.” Once inside, she steps aside for Valinya to enter, and scans the room to see what’s there.
Intentionally letting her more magically-based companions go first, Valinya takes her time stepping inside. With a pleased smile on her face she examines the Gnome wizard before looking around the room.
The room is a plainly furnished room. Two plush couches, 4 wooden chairs and a table with a large wooden box on its top. There are 5 doors leading out of this rectangular room, one to either of the far left and right ends and 3 on the opposite walls. Each of the doors looks sturdy and secure. “How we proceed is up to you. I could show you all of my ‘magical trappings,’ candles, incense and the like, but true mages like yourself need none of that, of course. I am happy to show you my wares as well, but if you are here to sell, then by all means, show me what you have,” the Gnome exclaims.
Silver looks around and realizes that the axe is still laying on the floor in the unmagical foyer. If a Dragon could shrug, Silver does it. Valinya quickly retrieves the magical axe and places it on the table when the Gnome motions for her to do so. He produces a set of thick golden, jewel encrusted goggles and places them on his face. He touches several of the colored gems with quick, nimble fingers and begins looking over the weapon. “Ahh, a fine weapon. Enchanted to be easier and quicker to use. A handy enchantment for a weapon such as this, though not very exciting, ehh? So you are in the market to sell? I am not a weapons dealer as such, but I will give you 1200$ in coin or 1500$ in trade for it.”
The Ellylon taps his finger against his chin considering the offer. “Well, we have an interesting opening proposition and one we should consider carefully. If you don’t mind indulging us sir, would you please show us the items you have to trade? We should certainly consider all our options before making such an important decision. Our needs are somewhat eclectic and often unpredictable so, as you might imagine, there are some items whose utility to us is not necessarily what would be expected.”
“Eclectic, I see, I see. Well, ok, what is your price range? I have several interesting items in the range of 5000$ to 10,000$ of varying eclectic-ness, or I have some more useful items. Some scrolls and a handful of spell stones for sale as well. I have a small stock of Paut potions as well, though none of your particular size, Maester, though they would still work for you,” the Gnome explains. He goes over a list of items, though does not produce the items to examine without further interest. He also explains that he will identify magic items and charge arcane items as well.
Silver listens quietly as Fortis and Glittermane discuss business, and finally chimes in when he discusses the charging of arcane items. “I have an item that needs charging. Assuming your prices are nominal, I would like to get that done. Also, I must admit I’m curious about this flameproof cloak you mentioned, although as you might imagine, I’m not truly interested in purchasing it. It might be helpful for one of our other companions though”
having placed the axe Valinya is less concerned about the transaction though she does keep an eye on Glittermane and feigns rapt attention though her mind wander. She’d never really been one to depend on items for magic anyway, though you never know when something truly intriguing might come along.
Glittermane cocks his head toward Silver, “Yes, the Flameproof Cloak of Ages is an interesting and complex item. Its main function, as might be guessed by its name, is that it protects the wearer completely from heat or flame, assuming that they are fully wrapped in it. Here, let me get it for you,” he walks to the table in the middle of the room and beckons Silver over. He steps up and a stepstool magically appears beneath his feet. He opens the top of the wooden box and pulls out a heavy looking, multicolored garment. He turns and holds it out. It appears to be a heavy cloak made up of sewn together scales and hides of different creatures. “Made from the scales of several Dragons, skin from some Flame Worms of Taut and even a few Naga hides thrown in for good measure. In order to activate the protective enchantments, one must have the hood up and then just pull the two edges together, like so.” He whips the cloak out and dons it with a flourish, popping the hood up. The Cloak hangs down below his feet, even past the step stool he is standing on. He grabs the two edges and pushes them toward each other. The hood closes around his face as he does so. “With the cloak closed like this,” his muffled voice coming from inside the cloak, “no fire or heat can harm you.” He opens the cloak back up, his face a bit flushed. “I will warn you, it does get a bit stuffy in there if you keep it closed for too long, especially if you spend the entire time flapping your gums, ha ha.” He hands the cloak over to Valinya so everyone can examine it closer. “If you would like a demonstration, I could have my assistant show you. While I am confident of the protections it provides, if I show you using one of my magically created assistants, you will instantly be able to tell if any damage gets through if the assistant is still there, as you probably know, magical creations of the sort disappear at the slightest hint of harm.”
A wide grin threatens to split Fortis’ face in two. “That is much more the type of thing I had in mind. I suppose scrolls are good for learning new spells, and they have their place in a few emergency circumstances, but I generally prefer durable items above those confined to a single use. Do you happen to have any other bagatelles in your inventory with protective or enhancing properties such as were displayed by your cloak? One of the things probably most useful to us will be a portable pentagram but many other advantages could be very useful as well. Invisibility, Water Breathing, Flight, Immunities to cold, poison, fire of course, or items inhibiting the actions of evil doers, or even demons, would be important to us. Might you happen to have something like that?” The Ellyl pauses for a moment and takes additional stock of the situation. “As an additional option for consideration, I’m wondering if, should it be appropriate to the circumstances, there is an interest and a reasonably secure way to contract for an arrangement wherein we leave the axe with you to sell and we maintain an agreed upon total credit for later use. Do you Glittermane, or you my dear companions, see any advantage to attempting to construct a contract along those lines?”
While Silver seemed animated and interested at the start of Glittermane’s description and demonstration, by the time he finished, Silver seemed somewhat quiet and subdued. Several. What, one wasn’t enough? She waits quietly until there’s a pause in Fortis’ nattering, and kindly reminds Glittermane that she would like her amulet recharged. While he is preparing for this, she asks “Is there a less circumspect exit than the way in which we entered? Exiting as I am now would cause a disturbance that I would rather avoid.” She looks to Fortis, while he’s pondering the shop’s wares “Fortis, perhaps you would be able to exit first and provide an illusionary smoke screen or something to allow me a chance to change after we get out of that vile entranceway.
The Gnome addresses Silver, “Yes, of course I can make arrangements for you to leave without passing through my vestibule again. Did you still wish to recharge your amulet? If so I can begin that process for you.” He then turns to Fortis, “Ahh yes, permanent and reusable magic items are more desirable of course, which is why I don't have many. Most folk hold on to powerful items like that and when I do come across such wonders I'm inclined to keep them for myself more often than not. If they do end up for sale they are snatched up rather quickly by my regular customers, mainly other members of the Witchwardens. I see you are not members of the guild but two of you are members of the most prestigious Brotherhood of Mages in Llorn.” He pauses and bows respectfully. “But back to magical items, I am sad to say that there is just better business in dealing with consumable items such as Spell Stones, scrolls and potions, though even portions are not much of a money maker with all the alchemists around. And as for selling your axe on consignment,my apologies but that is not how I conduct business. I am happy to buy it from you, no questions asked for the price I quoted earlier.” He looks to Silver again, “my dear Dragon, is it time to enchant your amulet or show you the way out? And I will check in back for anything else I might have around that would interest you.”
The Ellyl nods in agreement. “I do understand, but wanted to make certain all options were explored before a decision was made. As for me, I don’t see any reason not to make the sale for coin, but I did not secure the axe without help so would be interested in the opinions of my compatriots on the matter.” I wonder what the final price will be once we are done haggling. “Though, now that I stop to consider it, I would have expected the value of an enchanted weapon in a dangerous city on the brink of war and in a time of great international upheaval and strife to carry more of a premium. Are you certain that is the best you can offer for the weapon?”
“Ok, ok. You are right. This axe will be easy enough to sell. I'll give you 1500$ in coin or 2000$ in purchase. Is that more to your liking?” the Gnome smiles with his hands spread wide.
Silver indicates that she would like her amulet charged.
The Gnome smiles at Silver and bids her to follow him. “I will return momentarily after I get young Silver here settled in.” He leads Silver through the doorway at the far right end of the room and into a small, comfortable room. “You may be more comfortable in your two legged form”, he suggests. He instructs Silver to place the amulet on a short stone table with complex arcane carvings and numerous inlaid jewels. “You must keep one hand here on the table for the entire time.” He indicates a spot on the table then speaks several arcane words, waves his hand over the amulet and claps his hands. “The process will take an hour. I will return. Place your hand on the table when you are ready to begin and keep it there until the ritual is complete.”
Silver inspects the table for a moment, looking at the various carvings with some interest. Seeing that Glittermane is still waiting, she re-casts her Scryguard spell, then after a moment she growls and casts it again. Once finished with that she concentrates and changes back to her elven form. She places her hand on the table where indicated and begins to wait.
Different symbols and lines on the table begin to glow and Silver can feel energy flowing between her and the table. Glittermane nods to Silver and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
The Gnome returns to the main room where Fortis and Valinya are waiting. “I looked around in back and the only thing I could find in your price range was this Wand of Glue. It’s not a master level wand, journeyman only, and it holds 10 charges, again, not a permanent item, but those are, as I said, hard to come by, especially at reasonable prices. I can part with it for 3000$ and will happily recharge it when you expend it’s magic for a mere 600$. Like arcane foci, it will take an hour, though you wouldn’t need to be present for this type of enchantment. What do you say?”
Fortis smiles at the wand. “Now that is a very intriguing offer. Could I ask a few particulars about the enchantment? For instance, can the wand be used to effect an increased area by expending a greater charge or is it rigidly fixed requiring multiple castings?”
He ponders the question for a moment, “It should work like a regular spell cast I believe. Each charge should increase the radius as a normal spell. If cast at no range, the enchantment will work with no problem, though casting at a distance may prove to be more difficult.”
Fortis faces over to Valinya and raises one miniscule eyebrow. I wonder if Valinya can use this in her airy form. That would be a trick worth seeing.
The Gnome starts to look a bit impatient, “Your friend Silver will be done with her ritual shortly, and I must be moving along to other endeavours soon myself. Have you made a decision on any purchases? I see you like the Glue Stick, a useful tool, I’d say. Then there were the other objects as well, the Spell Stones and whatnot.”
Valinya eyes the Glue Stick and seems a bit torn but in the end she sadly shakes her head. “It’s very intriguing but no thank you. I haven’t relied much on magical items and at the cost - which I’m sure is quite fair - I just can’t justify the purchase.”
After a while, Silver finishes with the recharging of her amulet. She pays the mage the agreed upon price and the group prepares to leave. “Were you wishing for an alternative way of departure, my draconic friend?” Glittermane asks. She nods affirmative and he agrees to teleport her out. Valinya and Fortis both agree to use the public entrance though neither of them like it. Glittermane tells Silver he can teleport her back inside any time she comes back.
Fortis, Valinya and Silver make their way back to Lavinia’s manor. Silver remembers the Alchemist she found by chance the previous evening and mentions it. The trio decide to stop by there to check out what they have to offer as well. The old woman is happy to see Silver again and tries hard to sell her a concoction that she swears will remove the dark rings from under her eyes. After she realizes that her patrons are actual mages and in search of real alchemical wonders, she shows them her selection of available potions.
With knowledge of the available potions available, the three spellcasters head back to the Manor. They arrive just before Gaston and their companions return as well. Gaston shares the list of available scrolls from the Witchwardens with Fortis and everyone shares in the adventures of what they found during their separate excursions. Fortis listens keenly to the talk of the blue-furred Coyle, Aggrath Bluehide.
Regrouping“So we gave him the staff and the blade and he went on his way. I’m pretty sure he won’t bother us again.” Seeker looks thoughtful. “If we don’t catch Vanthus with our little charade tonight, we could always try to find Vark through the Sea Harpies, whoever they are.” He shakes his head, then looks at Arn and Lavinia. “Arn, you up to the part? Are there any other preparations we need to undertake to get this show on the road?”
The mercurial Ellyl shrugs, his enmity to the discolored Coyle apparently dissipated. “Oh well, it’s probably better that we got that information from him than that I killed him anyway. I’m still going to count that as me besting him though since he fled.” After dismissing thoughts of continuing vengeance against his vanquished enemy Fortis turns his attention to other matters as he pulls out the $1500 from the sale of the axe and places the large stack of coins on the table between the group. “We have some spoils to distribute and some capability discussions to make decisions on as well. While at Gliitermane’s shop we were offered the opportunity to purchase a wand that would affix enemies to the floor. It was expensive and didn’t fill our needs exactly so we demurred, but we also have the option to purchase spell scrolls to learn additional capabilities. There is one Valinya or I could use to purify water, another that can create it. One would let us temporarily inflict distractions on our opponents and another that would cause them to drop their weapon. There is even one that makes the subject totally immune to metal weapons. Many other capabilities might be gained as well but they are expensive.” He explains the list of available scrolls to his companions. “Are those of interest to any of you? Do we want to parse out the money individually? Do we want to invest in enhanced capability collectively or individually?” He glances around at his companions. “The scrolls normally can be used only once, but if Valinya or I use them to learn the spell outright we could cast it repeatedly. None of these decisions need to be made now, but I think it is something we should consider, especially since we all nearly perished recently for want of easy and repeated access to a simple air purification spell.”
The gathered companions discuss money matters, possible magic item purchase and the plan for the evening. According to Lavinia, Arn has a pretty good handle on acting as Vanthus, though his voice is nowhere near that of the Human youth. Arn tries his best at faking a smoother, less coarse speech pattern but it just isn’t cutting it.
“Maybe Vanthus has a cold or something,” Lavinia comments and laughs. “Hopefully you won’t run into anyone that knows Vanthus too closely, otherwise, the act probably won’t work anyway, since I don’t know enough about his recent life to coach you on that anyway. The idea is just to draw out some folks that might know him, right? Then ask them some questions?”
Lavinia goes on to say that she is quite exhausted by the events of the day and wishes to retire back to the Davendows residence to get some rest. The Vanderboren manor, while it is ok to meet briefly to discuss plans, it is not fit to house anyone for an extended period of time. Lavinia says she plans to get in contact with the builders first thing in the morning to hopefully get work started on the rebuilding again. She bids the Guardians goodnight and heads back toward the Davendowns. Moonscar smiles as he sees the dark shadow of Sings to Moon slink off behind Lavinia, trailing her.
Seeker nods to the group, “I’ll be right back, folks. Just want to make sure she gets home safe.” He hustles off into the evening to escort Lavinia home.
The druid tells them, “Well, if you don’t mind my possibly disturbing the neighbors for a little while I can make him far more believable in general, at least as for what he says. If someone calls him out on anything they think is off, they’ll be far more likely to accept his excuse. I need to perform the sing as close to when he will need to use the charm for maximum effect and length of time.”
Fortis peers at Arn assessing the best way to shroud him in gossamers to impersonate the wayward brother. “Are you ready for this?” The dwarf barely has time to answer the question before he is surrounded by a nigh perfect replica of Vanthus, which settles onto his skin in an amazingly natural way. “Try your voice again Arn, it may have corrected… er rather modified the timbre in such a way as to make the simulation a bit more believable.”
Van-Arn-thus does a little turn and looks himself over, then smiles at Fortis’s magical handiwork. He moves about the area and to everyone else’s eyes, it looks like a red-haired Human youth with a haughty smirk on his face. Before heading out to the Azure District, the group thinks about the other plundered gear from the Blue Nixie battle and what to do with it. It could probably be sold off for a few spare coins easy enough, possibly even while Van-Arn-thus was working his scam.
There some research in my future - don’t need a divination to see that - but I believe firmly that a well-fed mind is a sharp one.
After about 10 minutes, Seeker returns to the manor. He confirms that Lady Lavinia was safely back at the Davendow’s and that Sings to Moon was prowling around nearby as well. The sky is darkening and most shops and salvage buyers would be closed, though the night life of Essanos is just beginning to liven up. With a few last words, the party prepares to head out.
The big Wolfen looks at the rest of the team. “Okay, Arn’s got his plan. How are we going to back him up?” He turns to Valinya and Silver. “I assumed you guys could be flying once it gets dark - watch him from the sky.” He points with his muzzle at a nearby building. “Brother, perhaps you could take the middle road over the rooftops. I’ll have to hang back a bit, but could get close quickly if things start to go south. Arn? This is your show. How will we know if you want help?”
Silver responds to Seeker at her mention “I don’t think I can be sneaky enough from above, even at night. I was spotted when I was rushing to get Lavinia during the Blue Nixie incident. I suppose I could hang back too? Not sure what the best option is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not me flapping about up above.”
Seeker nods, “Okay, then stick close to me. We’ll try and stay in the shadows on the ground.”
Do not worry, I can watch Arn from above. And if need be I can communicate with you telepathically as well.
Arn turns to his friends before heading out. “First of all, I would suggest looking into that scroll or potion that avoids metal weapons. That could come in handy for a rescue attempt or trying to circumvent a trap, or something of that nature. We should also look into a resupply of healing potions if available somewhere. That wand or device that sticks people to the floor? We should buy that…..than we wouldn’t have bad guys escaping us so easily and we could interrogate them. We really should look back into that. Again, I could see other uses for it too. As for tonight, i’m as ready as I’m gonna be. I want to get moving and into some action, this has been difficult for me to sit around without doing something stupid or eventful. If I feel I am in danger or trouble, I will call out the word ‘Purple’. If you hear that, than you know there is danger, and come in and help out. If for some reason I can not speak, I will gesture with my arm and hold it up and swirl it around in a circle 3 times.”
One more pull on his belt, a tug of his gauntlet “Lefty” on his right hand, and Arn steps out the door to explore the city.
Moonscar gets up and begins to follow the dwarf, adding, “That sticky stick, and anything that involves terrain really, I can make good use of. It would help me take the concept of “controlling the terrain” to a much greater level of execution.” He then removes a small cluster of magpie feathers he’s been wearing since landfall. “I don’t know what I was thinking a few minutes ago, but I don’t actually need to make a special one of these just for you, unlike the other charms we’re all carrying. Uncle Ironfist, the Liar’s Feathers will make the things you say more believable and should give you a bit of an edge if anyone is suspicious - whether of you or the person you’re impersonating.” He holds the little charm near Arn’s hat and eyes it critically for a moment then shakes his head saying, “Cousin Magpie I lack your artistry and don’t wish to mar it; Canine ideas regarding sartorial accessories are obviously rather different than Primate’s. Would you please place this for best accent, or will it be hidden by your magic once worn?”
Van-Arn-thus Goes FishingArn turns to look at the kankoran. “Thanks there…..nephew? Moonscar.” Arn takes the token from the druid and places it on his shoulder. “The magic may conceal it, but should allow it to work as well. Thank ye for the assistance”
Arn then turns to the group, “unless there is anything else, I think it fine time for me get moving on to the districts that Vanthus operates in. Where exactly was that again?”
The group follows Van-Arn-thus out and heads toward the Azure District. Due to the layout of the city, the Azure District is quite close to this area of the Merchant District, but divided by one wide canal. A walk to the end of the street and a quick boat ride would deposit them on the western edge of the Azure District. The other route, though, requires walking a bit farther, through the Sunrise District, over different bridges, about ⅓ of a mile, which still isn’t too far.
Before time to set Arn loose, Valinya assumes her body of air, keeping a healthy distance above Arn and looks around, thinking to make the best use of cover as she shadows him like his own little cloud.
Seeker looks left and right as they leave the Vanderboren Manor. “Well, we could take a boat over to the Azure District, but if the point is to get Arn seen, I think we should take the long way through the Sunrise District first. It’s not too far. Sound good?”
“Agreed….” mumbles the disguised dwarf. “I normally would prefer a more direct route, but I think that taking the scenic route has more potential to draw attention.” Arn than steps forth and takes the path indicated by the purple line above, making his way to the Azure district, disguised as Vanthus, Lady Lavinia’s estranged brother, and hopes to find some answers or more clues.
The little courser pulls out his visitor’s map of the city and traces the planned route with his finger to confirm it with the others and commit it to memory. He does a quick gear check to ensure that his grapple and rope along with his various other little toys are ready to deploy then turns his back to Seeker saying, “Buddy check - staff and bow secure for a crazy trail? Oh, and still got the thorny daisy seeds I gave you yesterday?” Once confirmed he glances about to check Valinya’s overwatch position, and says softly, “Cousin Magpie, since Sis has overwatch on Uncle would you kite above me? I won’t always be able to see what’s happening while running parallel so your eyes on high would be a tremendous help.” With that he sets off at an easy lope to clear the first bridge, taking point until reaching cover on the far side of the canal.
Cast of Characters:
+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a teenage Wolfen Warlord
+Ben Zittere plays Fortis, an Ellyl trickster and Mage
+Mike Biancone plays Arn, a surly Dwarven Warrior
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid