And it worked.
The group is now 4 days behind their quarry - in the wrong direction, and needs to race ahead of the clock and him if they are ever going to find him in time and bring him to justice.
Write up follows:
Workmonth the 6th, the group awoke and moved themselves around, shaking the dust off their rooms and opening windows. There was talk about spending 4 days or so working around town until the Appraisers showed up to value the elven chain and our other belongings and what we would have to do to ameliorate the situation between Fergus and Fist’al.
And speaking of Fergus, he still wasn’t down for breakfast yet. Flimflam wearily climbed to his feet and trudged up the stairs to knock on the paladin’s room. It was while he was just outside of it that he noticed Whosea had gotten quiet, the mastiff snarling at the closed portal, his hackles raised and ready. Unsure of opening the door, the gnome whispered to Marcus and Auri to give him a hand and they shoved the door aside.
Fergus Shelby O’Kain, Paladin of Poseidon, one of 5 in the entire kingdom. Was slain.
The paladin and our friend was on the ground, staring upwards with sightless eyes, a brutal hole in the middle of his muscular chest, blood soaking everything: mattress, blanket, pillow. The shutters were open and a warm breeze was playing on the cooling body. Nothing else in the room was missing.
We quickly convened and grabbed equipment while a few of us made an effort to find out what happened. We noted that Fist’al was not around and a couple of us went about, looking for our erstwhile elven companion – originally to get his help. But as his normal haunts and jaunts came up empty: Lirea, Pixie Down, Pelis, etc… we grew even more concerned as to where he was and WHAT might have happened. So we searched his room.
And noticed that every piece of his personal belongings were gone.
At this point our thoughts shifted from, “We need everyone together to help solve this”, to “holy crap –one of our own for the last 5 months killed a paladin in his room late last night while he was sleeping”.
We convened at Pelis the Rugmerchants and while there, explaining what happened to the guild leader, he connected us to a bounty hunter of some renown: Sanric. Heavily tattooed, having some skill and capability, he heard of our plight and was willing to help out – collecting murderers was his specialty. The bounty was placed at 500 dead, 1000 alive, as per Baron Taugis and we rented horse and then headed westward towards Orland, following some clues that Pelis had given us based upon information he had overheard Fist’al talk about.
We had learned that no gate guard remembered Fist’al (or anyone) leaving that late, but a single horse had been stolen from the Sperthik Homestead early in the morning. So we went there and felt comfortable that what happened was Fist’al escaped through a rope tossed over the wall in Tanner’s Way, made his way to the Sperthik Homestead, one of the most western homesteads and we know had no guard dogs or support people, stole their singular nag, and rode west.
It was 10:30 AM when we took off and we rode as hard as we could, daring to push the horses when able too. The miles were left behind. We came upon a merchant bringing hay to Orland, two kids on top helping to hold the hay in place. He reported that hours earlier he had come upon a lone rider heavily cowled riding the same way, but otherwise no one else. Must have been Fist’al.
The night dropped and we rested, watching as little as possible to make sure the animals were not too winded and on the 7th of Workmonth, by 7 Am we were off, riding through the Orlandian Woods northward towards our location. Knowing bandits were normally in the area we kept a keen eye out but saw no one. Sanric and Geld helped us keep the animals in good shape and guided the weaker riders where necessary in order to get the best speed from our steeds.
It was 3 PM when we came upon Southtower, the gateway/watch tower on the way to Orland proper. We announced ourselves, our business, and asked the rider if there was anyone who had just come into town. We were assured so and directed to the Inn where we could make our attention known and capture/question the suspected Fist’al.
We rode in and hitched up our horses, entering the inn with care. Maybe half a dozen people, one of them heavily cowled and in the corner near the steps. A few VERY bedraggled whores were plying wares that no one wanted. We talked to the innkeep, watching the cowled figure carefully and upon mentioning Fist’al’s name and murder and paladin and bounty the man in question got up, went up the steps quickly, grabbed one of the whores and shut the door behind him – just a moment ahead of Sanric followed by the rest of us. Auri, after watching which room the figure went in to, went OUTSIDE the inn, watching the windows to make sure the figure didn’t try to escape this way.
We were convincing the hooker to open the door, while the other one was trying to alternately convince us to leave her alone and to come along with her for a good time. While this was going on Auri noticed the male figure inside open the window and make to escape that way – but on seeing the Amazonian Half-Orcish fighter, he turned tail and returned to the interior with a sheepish smile.
We finally made the woman and man inside open the door and pushed our way in. The man was named Lashulak, and was a young member in Pelis’ employ in Shakun. He had been given a job by Fist’al in which he had “to lead a bunch of fools the wrong way to Orland, lose them, and then return home” while the elf rode the other direction, hoping to make it to Elven Keep ASAP.
Fuck. We were duped.
We got the entire plan and the renting of a good riding horse earlier that day (by Lashulak) that had been hidden in an abandoned Homestead. The separation of Fist’al and Lashulak, riding opposite directions, and the eventual sending of 25 crowns as a note to the young man as final payment for his efforts.
Auri, able to speak Cant, was able to identify that Lashulak kept calling himself 17, and canted enough herself to make Lashulak trust us as members of the thieves guild – or at least affiliated with it.
So we thanked the Marshal @ Orland, commandeered Lashulak’s steed that he had taken from the Sperthik family, and rode out of Orland on our way back to Shakun. We plowed through the Orlandian Woods without real issue until we came upon a singular elderly gentleman. Wearing long robes, sporting a jaunty wizard’s hat, and carrying a 7’ staff gnarled and festooned with crystals he wanted to buy our lone horse, saying his feet hurt from the walking. We were going to say no but he pulled out a pocket of coins (57 of them) and a blue citrine worth another 50 crowns.
So we sold the man, named Caleris – a sage and seer from Brewer’s Bridge, the Sperthik horse and wished him well, moving on in our ride towards Shakun through the dark late summer night.