Dawn encroached upon ‘The Fork n’ Foxes’ tavern and crept off unnoticed by the slumbering travellers, who woke awhile later to hammering fists of the furious publican on their quarter’s door. The innkeeper was somewhat put-out by the wreckage and devastation left in his tavern by the nocturnal rampaging of the adventurers and came seeking compensation. His quotes of reimbursement seemed somewhat overblown by Vetch’s calculations but his negotiations were ignored til Umbar interjected with a measured threat. Swayed by the towering Nari, the man accepted the offered 5 pieces of gold and bid the party an unfond farewell.
Cale, Vetch and Umbar were feeling the filthrot coursing through them worse than ever. A’ari was keen to rest further that morning and suggested taking a room in the adjacent inn but Cale could be delayed no longer from his mission; Sigrid Thorgerson was to be returned to Renstake today. The wagon was hitched, all clambered aboard, and the wayfarers rejoined the North Road.
Sharing the road with miners, merchants and mercenaries, the group made quick time to Renstake’s sister-town of Clifftop and headed directly for the Gateway, a taxed tunnel descending into the city below. Once in the city proper, surrounded by unwelcoming Nachtkreed patrols and beggars, a path was forged along the Kobold Quarter and south into the affluent section of town, straight for the Thorgerson mansion. Umbar however separated from the group to immediately seek Caretaker Agven in the Church of the Holy Embrace and hopefully find a cure to the filthrot.
Meanwhile, the party found the surprisingly unkempt and spartan abode of Sigrid and her small family. A belligerent butler eventually yielded to the party and soon Uthcroft and his daughter were reunited. Uthcroft showed obvious surprise and relief and offered reward to the heroes, but with their promise of secrecy regarding Sigrid’s return. Cale was at this point coughing up blood, so dire had his infection become, and the group departed to join Umbar at the Church.
Umbar had quickly found himself in the esteemed company of Caretaker Agven and after delivering an impassioned psalm of Curatic scripture was escorted to the church’s hospice for treatment. This is where the others discovered him shortly after. Upon revealing Curator Helmsward’s scroll, Agven took an interest in the party’s potential and, after hearing their pleas for healing, offered an exchange of their services in return for his curative powers. He wanted Rune Gulbrand (the man they know as I’aeia) brought before him for exorcism.
The adventurers were unappreciative of the holy man’s transaction-based charity but, as they intended on seeking out I’aeia anyway, agreed to Agven’s terms on the condition that they be granted at least temporary reprieve from their illness. A night spent in the hospice saw to this and the next morning the group woke in the prime of health.
Aaaz chose to spend the night not in the hospice (himself remaining unafflicted by filthrot) but in the familiar surrounds of the Academy of Arcana; Renstake’s university of magic. Here he caught up with an old friend who he regaled with tales from afar in exchange for local gossip.
After regrouping the party set off into the morning to investigate the dockyards. Cale felt it necessary to instead return to his Lord, Andar Swift, and explain his absence as well as seek out local news from the keep. So the others made for a tavern which Rune Gulbrand was known for frequenting months prior named ‘Keelhauled’. The dingy, miserable, stinking tavern was silent, despite a hunched procession of permanently affixed drunkards supporting the main bar. Vetch went about integrating with the locals, with limited success. A’ari patrolled the outside from an adjacent alleyway and Umbar and Aaaz did their best to not look out-of-place in the seedy district.
The tavern was soon joined by a host of two dozen dockworkers as a clanging bell from the jetties signaled lunch. The rough-as-guts dockers took no time rousing conflict with the strangers… The Captain (Umbar’s golden cutlass) was spotted and called out as belonging to Captain Grimm, a true and noble mariner whose blade had no place in the filthy paws of a primitive. Umbar was surrounded by the thugs and a noxious air of violence smothered the room. Vetch preempted proceedings with a tankard-attack on the unaware spectator that was the barman; a fumbling swing that missed its mark. Though it was a poor gambit, war had been waged.
Surprisingly it had taken almost an entire day for the party to get into a barfight.
Vetch continued his failed flailings upon the barman while Umbar was quickly overrun. Aaaz, in the typically theatrical stylings of an 80s hair-metal god, cast his palms to the sky and invoked a peal of thunder that A’ari augmented with a cacophonous sound burst, terrifying the dockers and sending almost all scattering. The bar went very quiet save for the whimpering of the bully who initially confronted Umbar, now held fast by the Nari. As Umbar sat the man down and prepared to interrogate him the tavern was met with the approaching laughter of a woman; a swashbuckling lady applauding the adventurers’ prowess and delighting in the downfall of Jonas the bully. Vetch served the woman a drink and exchanged pleasantries, garnering the name ‘Eriam’, but further discussions were caught short by A’ari, signaling the arrival of a Nachtkreed patrol on the scene. The party hastily made for the window and to the alley beyond, though not before Eriam could call out. She wanted to meet the party again, saying she had information they might find useful…
Umbar had managed to get something out of Jonas before their escape. Captain Grimm worked for a man called Sejen Curl, a spice trader who owned The Sea Ghost. It wasn’t much to go on but the adventurers agreed to chase it up at the Academy’s library. This tied in neatly with Umbar’s ambition of publishing his latest semi-autobiographical piece in the local gazette, a paper published from the university.
In the Academy of Arcana the party went about searching the vast underground library for all manner of clues. Who was Sejen Curl? Who was Uthcroft? Did he have anything to do with Baron Wolhem? Who was next in line for the Barony? Aaaz summoned his best investigative skills and the others quickly realized why he might have flunked out of university.
As Umbar delighted in perusing the archives he couldn’t help but notice a familiar aroma in the air… the distinct scent of stale blood that conjured memories of I’aeia. The smell grew stronger at the approach of a young female mage, and Umbar grew suspicious. He questioned the girl and she backed away from the imposing Nari, but as she left the library aisle and disappeared around the corner she mentioned his name with a smile.
Umbar let out a call to arms and turned the corner only to find a wall of bookshelves where none had been. As Vetch, A’ari and Aaaz ran to the scene they found the same blockade of books. Aaaz summoned magic beyond his reckoning and brought down the illusion and the group gave chase to the fleeing girl.
Up a flight of stairs and A’ari scanned for evil as the magician scanned for magic. After a brief false-alarm they both honed-in on the figure of a girl and resumed the hunt. The group confronted the girl (now cloaked in magical invisibility) in the observatory; a gigantic glass-domed building peeking through the courtyard above and to the heavens. A’ari ran with Satyran speed at the girl and leapt on her, pinning her to the ground. Vetch deduced where the invisible figure was and scrambled to add his weight to the pile-on while Aaaz attempted to rope her down. As the might of Umbar imposed itself on the scene, the girl’s escape seemed futile.