This was the wrap up meeting of the loose ends for the 4th adventure. It was a nice change from the almost constant combat and churning perpetual motion we were suffering through for the last handful of sessions.
As it was, the group was interested in making sure that Iohanas was dead and attended the hanging. And then they became fixated and focused on Vanir himself. He had beaten them and he escaped. And was still out there. So they were going to make damned sure that taking him down and learning what they could about him was going to be moved up the list to the top 3 things to do on a going forward.
Write up follows:
We followed the guard escorts to the courthouse where a crowd of a few hundred citizens and serfs had gathered with pitchforks and grumblings in their hearts, calling for the early death of the captured members of the Lycos Suns. We were led through the crowd to the courthouse interior, where sixty-odd people were waiting in the main room.
We divested ourselves of weapons (as requested) and milled around the room. Besides some of the local lords or their representatives, there were some prominent members of some of the families who had their children taken. Lord Artis Daernhorse came and spoke with us for a bit, commenting on the nasty business and the needs of the town and how Magistrate Cottson is down below in the "inquisiting chamber" getting answers from the slavers.
We expressed an interest to go and see and followed the Lord down into the dungeon area. All 9 slavers were here in various medieval torture devices (thumbscrews, racks, flogging boards, boots, etc…) and 4 of the Magistrate's assistants were here plying their trade along with Cottson himself. The Magistrate was a corpulent man, pushing past 300 lbs and having a large jowly face and a penchant for stylish (if tent-like) clothes. He spoke at length (like everything else he did) about the questioning and that he was ready to render findings and verdict if the party would follow Lord Daernhorse back upstairs.
Karis asked if we could have some words with Iohanas and we were granted that – where the cavalier told Iohanas that he should recognize them and that they just came to gloat.
Once upstairs we waited until the Magistrate came and told us many of the things that we had already learned on our own. But there were some other tidbits, such as: Vanir, the boss of the slaver organization, has a home here in town which the Magistrate has his men investigating now. Any holdings or treasures of letters of credit under the name of Vanir or the Lycos Suns has been seized and frozen. The employ of the slaver organization by Djohrgahd of the Wolf has been in need of slaves of specific types for about 3 years. At first heroic types filled with freedom, but he has just changed it this time around to young and innocents under age 8. Doesn't know why – something to do with a ritual. Lycos Suns had 14 employees in Umbaria – but only one office – Ponyboro. All the full time employees are accounted for as either captured below or their bodies identified except for one – Vanir.
Also, it was indicated that according to Iohanas, the wolf head medallions are not just useable near the standing stones on the Wolverton Estate. Supposedly one or two other places have been warded as well. Iohanas didn't know of such places, just that Vanir had indicated that they exist somewhere.
The last of the Lycos Suns would be hung at the neck at 8:30 tomorrow morning where they would stay for a day and a night before being cut down and placed in a potter’s grave.
Judgment and sentencing passed, the party tried asked to see if they could get down and talk to Iohanas alone and they were rebuffed as it's a state matter now. Well…could they know where Vanir's personal residence is? Hmmm…Magistrate told them, but warned them that his men were already there and gathering information. Could they go back and investigate the Lycos Suns office again? No, the Sheriff's men are already performing that duty.
Lord Daernhorse told the party that it being 6:30 now and the group’s harrowing and exhausting night and morning, it would be best to have the dinner tomorrow night and they can leave the following day to go back to Orihalcus. Group milled about briefly and we decided it was time to go and check out Vanir's home.
There were lots of Cottson's people there and we were given a hard time to go in until it was explained it was okayed by the Magistrate. Hmmm, ok. But they couldn't be allowed to take anything out of the house as it is all state's evidence. Fine, fine, fine. Whatever.
Once inside, Puck quietly (he hoped) cast Detect Magic and we looked over the place. Living room, Foyer, dining room, kitchen. All empty, all plain. Regular furnishings and other normal looking bric a brac. Kitchen had a root cellar. Ok, we checked that out. Renewing the Detect Magic spell, we looked down there. Wine rack with 12 bottles, shelves with some dried vegetables. Every bottle on the wine rack glowed. Whoa, what the hell? Magic wine?
The labels were plain and innocuous, in fact, not very good wine. What we could tell is that the liquid inside was sort of bluish tint. Similar color to healing potions. Hmmm…The party was interested in taking it, but we would not be allowed to abscond 12 bottles of wine from Vanir's basement. We swapped one of the bottles that Zoltan had on him with one from Vanir's rack and left the rest for now.
Looking upstairs there were two rooms, both bedrooms. Smaller one was a kid’s room, a girl. From the clothes we saw and some of the effects – a girl between the ages of 6 and 10. Vanir has a kid? And he moved to kidnapping kids? What the hell is wrong with this guy? Vanir's bed chamber was lived in and a bit dusty dirty. The guards had been thorough in here and stuff was scattered. In the book shelves was a marking of dust outlines that would have frames 15-20 odd books. There were 8 on the floor in here. Where were the others? According to the guards – there were 4 taken out of here and given to the Magistrate. Hmm… Still a few missing? Could they see the books? No, no you can't.
Detect magic was showing that the room although had no active magics on it, was infused as if lots of spells had been cast in here over a period of time. Last look was the ceiling above and the trap door to the attic. Had some older trunks and bundles, all searched over as well. Detect was showing the same effect of magic up here – but more regular. Looking harder we found some old evidence of chalk circles up here. Best we could tell was summoning circles. But for what?
We left and decided to ask the neighbors about Vanir. First house had an older woman answer who said that Vanir left a day or two ago. Busy man, owns a business across town. Does he have a daughter? Yes, yes he does. Thividi. She normally goes to some boarding school somewhere else like Cymbarton or Principia. Ok, we left and went to the other nearby neighbor. A younger man in his mid 20s. Was VERY disresepctful. Didn't like Karis immediately and was disparaging to Vanir. Seems they had some sort of falling out as Vanir wouldn't hire him some years ago. Daughter? Yes, she goes to a school in Principia. Doesn't know about wife, she died years ago. Vanir was gone? Good – no more Vanir, his bratty daughter or their pain in the ass dog.
We thanked him (he didn't give a crap) and left. Karis went off to Sheriff Yolanda, Puck went to Twisted Forelock, and the rest of the group went back to the home to talk about what we learned and go through the treasures we've found. Shreiff Yolanda couldn't go to dinner tonight but would be happy to go to dine at Daernhorse Demesne tomorrow with Karis. Puck was thinking about burning down the Lycos Suns office anyway (it was being investigated and had about an 8 count of guards there) and mulled it over for a long time before coming back home and deciding against it.
While going through the coins, our newest henchmen..er..henchmen and henchorcs wanted a cut too. Kalarig and Bosvild (two slaver employed brigands with a change of heart under Puck's spell induced "be my friend" program), and Amal and Osgar, the last two orcs surviving from Detheron's summoning stone and fanatically loyal to our druidic friend. We have a large list of coins, cut stones, and tradegoods and skins and we wanted to be fair and still only account for what they were directly a part of.
It was decided that each of the four henchmen/followers would be given 10 crowns and single cut and polished piece of quartz (which Gwyn assured us was worth between 8 and 12 crowns). Everyone was happy with it and felt comfortable with the decision. The party would have to come up with something more formal on a going forward basis, but for now it sufficed.
In addition, the group divided the remaining coinage by 6, not 5 – expressing the desire to put away a portion of the treasures and earnings we acquire should we need to pay for some exorbitant expenditure or similar party total thing. Before we leave Ponyboro, we were going to deposit the coins in Lord Daernhorse’s custody and draw from him a letter of credit (we assume the moneylenders and usury would take a portion of it, but we are willing to have that high class problem).
Zoltan did the sneak across town with backpack, find way to Vanir's house, open back door without being seen, go into kitchen, down trap door, and swap the wine bottles one at a time with other cheap wine bottles he bought. After doing 8 of them, he felt he pushed his luck enough and left the same way he went in – like a ghost.
We rested and awoke the next day feeling better. Flora and Inks were helpful and the party went to the hanging where we watched the last organized people of the Lycos Suns dance the final dance and then we wandered around. Some of the shops were closed so we went to Vermyzier's Tradegoods and did some shopping there, reoutfitting Gwyn after his lightning scarred explosive attack.
Some other purchases and wandering around and good stuff went on. The orcs with us were refused service and the group was unhappy about it. We then went to see the lone weaver in town where Zoltan got a REALLY nice outfit and Gwyn was clad in homespun. Chuckle. Zoltan then went to see a gemsmither who worked off the Silverbough Demesne and requisitioned a silver headband with the green spinel set within. It would be ready in a week and the party knows we're coming back at least for tournament – so all is good.
Eventually it was dinner time and we had a first class stately dinner with Lord Artis Daernhorse and his son and son's wife, Lord Ulric and Gretchen Wolverton, Lord Ulsyr and Fadia Gunnarson, Deathspeaker Yondal, Magistate Cottson, a few other notables in town – but ALSO, a person that we saved a while ago from Kuluk's torturous clutches: Thistle Aesirson – the lamed elven cleric to Thor.
There was much catching up and for the sake of brevity and to speed things along, we highlighted certain parts of the dinner. Jealousy from the other lords of Sir Walter Slaine that he has an adventuring party at his beck and call. It is a rare thing and the party is only a boon to Orihalcus and the other lords were envious of it.
There was one other thing that Iohanas had remarked upon before his death and it was that he was to travel westerly to meet up with some druids with the wagons and kid slaves he had. Was Vanir going to be there? What druids? There was some mention of a Tehpaguar and the Circle of Thorns in Vanir's notes that we took from the Lycos Suns office – maybe that was it? We would need to follow that up one day soon.
Thistle had completed his vision quest and visited the mountain pool high in the crags of the Dusty Mountains with the lightning split tree there. He took the branch as he had dreamed himself to do so and took some of the blessed water – which he gifted to the party in a thick glass bottle saying it was from the fulfilled vision quest of his god and was considered to be most holy.
Lastly, the Deathspeaker privately told the party that the gravediggers had been working all day putting the many dead to rest that the party hacked up in the Wolverton Estate as well as near Deep Lake – and there were some items that Yondal was able to tell were touched with the Art and he was going to give the party first crack at purchasing them. All proceeds go to the Church of Hel and the families of those slain or wronged. Group was at first pissed – I mean, they killed those guys, they should get the bucks and goods! It was reminded to them that they were entitled to nothing and if they didn't want the opportunity to even know of what was found, that would be fine and the Deathspeaker didn't have to say word one to them in the first place. The group backed off and recanted their hasty comments and were happy for the chance.
Finally, Puck REALLY wanted to see the books that Magistrate had taken and chanced a Charm on the fat man but it bounced away and he felt that he pushed his luck and let it go. The party were all given medallions with our names engraved on one side, and on the other was a split crest of Daernhorse and Ponyboro, with the words "Respected Citizen" on it.
We know we are leaving the next morning and we called it a night here. This effectively wrapped up the entirety of the adventure, "For Honor and Family". We had some conversation afterwards and I had some talking today with some of the players and wanted to comment that this adventure ended differently for us than anything we had done before.
We lost. The big guy, main fight, whatever you want to call it or what Vanir was – beat us. Admittedly we still saved Hani and the other children for which that is/was a good thing but we lost the big victory and won the small victory. And that is the crux of it.
Don't beat yourselves up, as you did great and ended up fulfilling your goals and did it heroically. And as I have heard from three players so far – now they have something new and serious to focus their hatred/anger on: Vanir. Djohrgahd is still out there but he is faceless and even though we know some of his history now, we have not traded blows with him yet. But Vanir? His name has been on our minds since Thadar first mentioned it to us when we dragged his simpering ass out of the K'Tharkian encampment and HE is the controlling personage of the Lycos Suns.