As it turns out Kalana will be okay. Sylthana was able to remove the curse from her body and she now rests. She still lost her arm but Sylthana says she will send word for a lifemender of Nephtias to come to Gallione to regenerate it.
We left her to sleep with Gaspar standing watch over her although he looked ready to fall over himself I was avoiding dealing with him at all.
I could see Ryland looking curiously at me and back at my half packed tent but I just brushed it off with a “I changed my mind” statement and a shrug.
We made our way down to Dunbar, it was a sad sight, some of the houses were still smoldering from the fires the night before and the streets were a scene of devastation. We made our way to the encampment of the 10th company that was doing the cleanup. It was a bad sight. They had the bodies lined up and covered with sheets, many scavenged from the houses since it was very apparent they had run out. Already nearly 200 dead were arranged there. The company commander was extremely haggard and she did not look like she had slept much at all.
We were taken to the survivors, there were three of them but one, the innkeeper had disappeared in the night. The mayor was one and the chamberlain was the last. The mayor had been unaffected by what happened and blockaded himself into the town hall. The chamberlain though had been and she was unconscious and strapped down on the bed. Sylthana did try a remove curse on her but although it worked on Kalana it would not work on this poor girl.
The mayor didn’t have much to offer, but at Sylthana’s request he went down to begin identifying the dead. He was pretty much in shock so moving around and doing something would be good.
We decided to check out two of the areas that were of interest, Samwell’s shop and the Inn since we had seen furniture from there down in the chamber of horrors.
Myself, Ryland and Sylthana went over to check out samwell’s shop when we noticed that the lights were on. Quickly we gathered up the others and headed on in.
The sight in there was a surprise. The shelves were emptied out and bare. And sitting on the countertop at the end of the room was a pair of imps, one red and the other blue. They spoke to us and said they wished to parley. Being cautious we listend to what they had to say. Gash the red one did all the talking. The blue one gash told us is named Osho and he normally doesn’t talk. Their master wants the horn and was willing to give us the cure to the poison that had destroyed this village. Knowing how bad of an idea this was we refused them. They just shrugged and said we should leave now, they had been preparing to burn the house down when we arrived. Osho seemed to be pushing forward an alchemist fire vial though Gash kept stopping him as not yet.
They repeated that we should leave, now that the parlay was over they were not obligated to leave us unharmed. I verified that the parlay was completed before I unloaded my eldritch bolt on Osho, I was kinda hoping to kill them both before they could start the fire but my first one just grazed him. I finished him off but gash knocked the vial down. Then the doors slammed shut and locked from the outside. Grinning Gash said there was a third imp in the room as well before he disappeared. All the windows were boarded up and the place was locked down and now burning so we fled up the back stairs to the second floor. We grabbed a few loose books and papers but all the important stuff was long gone. A few windows up here weren’t secured and braum went flying out and we could all just hear the crunch as he landed on his shield. The others climbed out and dropped the story to the ground. All except that idiot ryland who kept insisting he wasn’t going until I was safely out. I was trying to grab anything important so I tried to get him to go but he wasn’t having it. One quick word and I teleported safely to the ground.
Then the building collapsed. Ryland managed to make it halfway out the flaming door in wildshape and we had to drag him the rest of the way. He’s out of it and gonna be resting in the field hospital with some burn ointment for a while I think.
While Ryland rested we went back to investigate the inn. The place had been solidly boarded up but I was able to break a window and get a visual to allow me to teleport inside. Aderyn followed suit and the two of us were able to move things around enough that the door could be opened. Strangely enough the innkeeper had been found here and was the only survivor from here but the things stacked against the windows and doors were far too heavy for any one person to move. I didn’t think of it but Braum pointed that out. Along with the fact this place was pretty well sealed up like somebody had warning that something was going to happen.
Couldn’t find a whole lot, Enrico was busy checking upstairs and most of the rooms were closed and locked except the one she had been in before climbing out the window. In the basement however we found the cook sprawled out with his head caved in. He had been running from something upstairs in the kitchen that had attacked him.
Biggest surprise however was in her office. While we were in there we could hear voices, we soon found the source was a covered up crystal behind the desk. We could hear them plainly, they were talking about hearing voices as well and we quickly realized they were members of the 8th company that was securing the castle. Speaking up we were able to establish a line of communication back to the castle. The company wizard soon joined them on their end and we ascertained that these were some form of divination crystal allowing for quick communication. Certainly proved the suspicions about the innkeeper being in on it, she was likely reporting directly to Johan while he was there.
He then told us that one of the crystals showed a view that looked like the mayors office. Worried he to was in on it we went to the town hall and inspected the place. Took a bit of searching but our fears were groundless, it was hidden behind a façade and calling out to it we were able to figure out it was only used for spying, the mage couldn’t hear us, just see us.
Given everything that had happened we decided we were going to make our base of operations the inn. The castle was crowded with the troops and now that we had secured Gallione for them we had no more reason for cover.
The 10th had been working for a day and a night so it was Braums idea that we should give them a chance to relax so we let the commander know and we opened the inn for business. It was quite the night, Enrico was doing drinking songs, Braum and Sylthana were pouring the drinks and Aderyn and myself made ourselves busy serving tables. Given all we had to do was keep bring full mugs it was pretty easy work and people’s spirits were quite lifted. Towards the end Sylthana even did some kinda of dancing combined with her spirit guardians so it was quite a show although I don’t know if I could really get into the spirit of the belkin style.
We closed up fairly late but it was all good and I think the troops were grateful for the distraction. It was very pleasant to just forget everything and be normal with my friends.
We eventually headed up to the keep the next day, much faster with our horses and Ryland rejoined us looking only a little worse for wear. Kalana was up and looking a lot better despite the loss of her arm. The asshole Gaspar was asleep in the chair nearby which was fine by me. Did not care to deal with him. We spoke with her a bit about what had happened. When everything had hit she managed to keep some sembalance of sanity and at the edge of the woods she banished herself to escape, that’s why she disappeared and the trail Ryland and Gaspar had followed went cold. This is why Sylthana was able to remove the poison from her, the banishment changed the poison so it became a curse and thus able to be removed with her magic. When she described what she saw though it was frightening, she saw Samwell but as she shifted out she saw his true form. Eight eyes, four arms, massive and no connection to the astral sea. We had no idea what this monstrosity is. We mentioned our encounter earlier with the imps and she I told her the two’s names were Gash and Osho her eyes went wide and she began searching one of her book bags. Eventually pulling out a fairly small book that was beyond ancient. She told us it was written by a prominent demonologist back around the turning of the third age. It was difficult the read and translate because of the codes and writing style used, as though trying to record and conceal the information at the same time. She found the page and turned it to me as the only one who could read infernal.
“Gash, Osho and Villan, harbringers of Makaval the Philosopher, second and wisest of the valiants”
Samwell was a Valiant, and powerful beyond belief. We were all stunned by this revalation. I had thought the valiants were legendary champions who saved the word. Guess I’ve been wrong about a lot of things recently.
She gave me the book since it was evident I might have more use for it but we had to make a copy of this thing, it was quite frankly a priceless work and we were heading into unknown territory. I managed to hit up Denam to get it safely back to Belghast castle and get Algus to make a duplicate for us. He was a bit annoyed with me but seemed to soften up when I explained the urgency of the request.
Aderyn decided to stay with Kalana and help her get setup, Sylthana had already arranged for a Lifemender of Nephitas to come to the castle to restore her lost arm.
On our way out Ryland wanted to perform a little ritual. Amonst his people they had a ceremony representing change, casting out and burning something the represented what they wanted to put behind them to move forward. In an area off of the main road he setup. Then when the fire was burning hot I watched him put his maul into the fire. He spoke that his whole life he had let his rage consume him, that he acted on instinct without cause or a goal. He had spoken with Gaspar and had decided he needed to change, to find a purpose. As he stood there watching the fire I felt sorry for him, lost. On an impulse I walked up beside him and handed him my staff. I told him “You have two sides, maybe it is time to connect with your druidic half” My staff was nothing special, just a wooden walking staff, but appropriate for a druid. He took it and seemed very thoughtful before smiling and telling me thank you.
He wanted to stay with his thoughts for a bit longer so we departed.
A few hours later we were on the edge of Dunbar, a mass grave had been prepared by the soldiers of the 10th and Sylthana was wearing her ceremonial robes as she began the rituals to see their souls off. Nephitas ceremonies are not very long but there were a great many fallen. Men, women, children. 268 had perished in the night of insanity. They lit the funeral pyres and the flames roared for hours. We all stayed and watched, it was all we could offer them. They cleaned up afterwards and we returned to the inn.
There would be no merriment this evening, the 10th guard was rejoining their companions at the castle. We were not of the guard and were free to do as we wished, and right now we wished to have a drink. Ryland rejoined us and as the evening wore on Sylthana got VERY intoxicated, come to think of it I had never seen her get completely plastered like that. She decided it would be funny to pick up Enrico and then throw him at Ryland to play catch. That did not end well at all as I discovered exactly how agile and dexterous a drunken half-orc was (answer: not very). Enrico ended up swatted out of the air and into a table and walked away pissed off at both of them holding a bloody nose.
During the course of the evening Sylthana came out and told me that part of the reason she stuck around was she saw in me her daughter that she wasn’t there for because of her duties. I told her the feeling was mutual. I had lost my adoptive mother when I was 6 and I had never had a mother figure to look up to growing up. Oddly enough I reliazed given she had been the midwife for Almoria she too was a follower of Nephitas. I had a small charm she had given me, an older symbol embossed on thin tin that was used as a symbol of the lifebringers. I told Sylthana that her daughter was lucky to have had her as a mother, that she was evidently loved and looked up to her to want to follow into the faith, she obviously understood her sacrifices. I told Sylthana I loved her as well, she had been there for me when I stood in a very dark place. I still feel guilty about the lies and deceptions. I want to tell her but I don’t want to lose her respect either.
I awoke to the most god awful racket I have ever heard, my head hurt and when I opened the door I find Enrico doing some bawdy song about Timur and bar wenches doing it with seagulls or something, a giant illusion of a country flag is floating there and sylthana is looking at Enrico like he is dumb, he keeps blaring away so I kinda sorta accidently intentionally used a new spell I had figured out and banished him. He disappeared, everything went quiet, Sylthana looked at me with a raised eyebrow and I just said, he’ll be fine and went back to bed. Gods how come she looks just fine while I have a headache the size of Lodis.
Soon after I got a knock on the door and opening it I find the hallway empty but a small statue of a raven made of obsidian is sitting right there. I recognize this, this is the statue Denam gave to Ryland earlier, a messanger bird that can go to any member of the vanguard no matter where they are. Odd he would leave it here. I could hear them calling for me to come downstairs so I headed on down. I got down there and somebody had already started cooking thankfully.
The others were all assembled excepting Ryland. He entered then and spoke to us all.
He was leaving.
Quite the shock, he spoke that he needed to do this, that it was time for him to find his path like we had (Not sure where he got the idea we had any clue what we were doing) He felt that he wasn’t ready for this journey yet, that he needed to get better. The call had gone out from the willow oak, war was coming and they were preparing. During this I saw Misha slip in and sit down unobtrusively by the door. I hugged Ryland and told him I would miss him, that he had a good heart to him and for him to be safe. He returned the sentiment and asked if he could keep the staff. I laughed at the oaf and told him that it was a gift to help him on his path and of course he can keep it.
He said his goodbyes and the last I saw of him he stepped out the door following Misha to rejoin his family.
1437 part 2
Braum and Enrico headed up to the keep to fetch Aderyn who was helping out Kalana to speak with the guard commanders and get some more word and intel on our next steps. They returned with the informaiton. We would now be moving as a group of adventurers like normal across the border making our way towards Servilla, the base of operations for the Corpse, a mercenary company that seems to be having difficulties with the pendragons and who may be a way to get intel for accessing greywater keep, home of the pendragon family.
Braum also mentioned that Gaspar was looking for me. Last thing I wanted was to get chewed out by that old asshole and I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. We decided to head out in the morning. Today was a day for rest and preparation. I managed to fill my waterskins with wine and hid a really nice bottle into my pack for latter, yummy.
It was that evening we heard the distinctive heavy stomping of Gaspar
Not wanting to deal with him I turned myself invisible. He came in and everybody was quick to defend me. I finally gave in and dropped my invisibility to hear him out and let him get it over with. He wanted to speak in private which Sylthana didn’t care for but I told her it would be fine.
He then apologized to me.
I was dumbfounded by that, not what I expected from him at all. He told me he had been out of line, in his panic over Kalana he had treated me poorly and without respect. I started to apologize for my own behaviour but he just stopped me and said the fault was his. He did not want to create a rift between us in the Vanguard. I understood, Kalana had spoken that Gaspar took the vanguard very seriously and his demeanor was because he did not want to see any fall in its name. I accepted his apology, shook his hand and we returned to the others. When Sylthana asked what had happened I just told her that everything was actually okay between us now.