3 Growth 508
The hostile adventuring party has been dispatched and their belongings distributed amongst the party. Lenoria uses her ability to detect magic to determine that the vials are all magic and to sort the vials, like to like. They load the excess onto the new riding horse and the mule and start continuing on toward the temple.
After traveling for a bit through the woods, they find a place to make a camp and settle in for the night. Lenoria channels positive energy to heal the party before they go bed.
The night passes without incident.
4 Growth 508
After eating breakfast of the food taken from the hostile adventuring party, Lenoria casts read magic and reads the scrolls she found on the strange elf they fought the day before. She determines that two of the scrolls are scrolls of bull’s strength and that the third is a scroll of fog cloud. They are arcane scrolls, so she will have to use her skills to cast from the scrolls. The party then loads up and continues on toward the temple.
Late in the morning, the party emerges from the woods and into the foothills of the Et’tir Mountains. Lenoria and Rhain spot a plume of smoke rising from a valley up ahead—a valley in which the party had fought hobgoblins a few days ago. Rhain calls out from the rear, “There’s smoke ahead!”, alerting Alun and Kerra of the sight. They all halt and regroup, no longer traveling in single file now that they are out of the forest. After a brief discussion, they decide to proceed and approach the valley, and then to let Alun scout it out and determine what is going on.
After traveling a couple of hours, Alun calls a halt about a mile from plume. Lenoria gives him a “bit of luck” from her goddess and he sneaks away from the party. Rhain determines from the smoke that the fire is bigger than a campfire. He climbs a nearby hill, crawling when he gets to the top, to see what he can see. He can’t make out much more than it is billowing more smoke than a campfire would. The fire is definitely coming from the valley, not the hills surrounding it.
Alun eventually returns and reports seeing about twenty hobgoblins. They flew a banner and were burning bodies down in the valley. He didn’t get close enough to see who. Rhain reveals that hobgoblins are a very organized and militaristic race and must be on the march. Their numbers persuade the group to detour around the valley and avoid the hobgoblin band.
Other than that, the day goes by without incident. They settle in to make a camp for the night, keeping an extra eye in the direction of the hobgoblin band. The night also passes without incident.
5 Growth 508
Traveling through the day, the hills give way to a mountainous trail. As they make through way along the trail, Rhain and Lenoria both hear a sound of movement in rocks near Rhain. Lenoria calls a halt while Rhain turns to face the rocks. Jumping from those rocks is a goblin. It attempts to grapple Rhain and fails miserably. Rhain takes the opportunity to attack the goblin with his axe, but misses him. Rhain then attacks again, hitting it with his greataxe, and killing it.
“You okay back there?” Lenoria calls back.
“It was a goblin. Apparently a desperate one,” Rhain responds.
All the goblin has is a loincloth. Rhain kicks the corpse of the creature and then the party moves on.
That afternoon, the party arrives at the narrow pass that leads up to the temple. Once again, they see the three large statues of Shazira that dominate the courtyard and they make their way inside the temple sanctuary. After reviewing where they’ve been in the temple, they vote to go to the right-hand door at the temple altar. They proceed with Alun looking for traps along the way and Lenoria in the middle casting light. Rhain takes up position behind Alun, while Kerra takes rear guard.
The door is unlocked and opens into a plain, narrow hallway leading south. The hallway is long, running nearly the entire length of the sanctuary, and opens up into a square room. Across the room is another door. In this room is a wardrobe, its doors open and hanging off their hinges. Old religious vestments are hanging in tatters inside. Alun begins to check the room for secret panels while Lenoria checks the room for magic. Neither find anything of interest. They proceed to the next door, which is unlocked.
This door leads to a larger, rectangular room, with another door across the room. There are four bunks. At the foot of each are chests that have been opened. The mattresses of the bunks have been slashed. Once again, Alun searches for secret panels while Lenoria detects magic. Neither find anything of interest. They proceed to the next door, which is unlocked.
Alun opens the door and everyone sees the light of Lenoria’s pendant reflect on a multitude of eyes as Alun quickly shuts the door again and utters, “Spider!”
Lenoria readies her crossbow while Alun readies his bow. Kerra gets ready to attack the creature when it enters the room. Rhain positions himself to throw open the door and come behind it when it enters the room. Lenoria casts bless upon the party before the door is opened.
The door is thrown open and Alun fires his bow, hitting the giant spider in the doorway. Lenoria then fires her crossbow, missing the creature. The monster then closes the distance and attacks Kerra, but misses. Kerra attacks the creature but misses. Rhain then approaches from the rear, flanking the creature, and attacks. He hits the creature hard with the greataxe, causing it to curl up in death.
They go inside the room and find a small dining table with four chairs and a ransacked sideboard. There is a set of double doors across the way. Alun searches the room for secret panels while Lenoria seeks to detect magic. Neither are found. The doors across the way are unlocked.
The next room is a kitchen. Old utensils, wooden spoons, etc. litter the floor. In the corner of the room is an old, decayed pallet—probably used by a scullery. On the wall near the pallet is a set of shackles. There is a larder attached to the kitchen with hooks for hanging meat. It still has the lingering smell of rot. Alun checks the area for anything unusual and Lenoria checks for magic but neither are found. There are no other doors than the ones they came in. They decide to return to the sanctuary and try the left door.
Once again, the door opens into a narrow corridor that follows the length of the sanctuary. It opens up into another square room with a wardrobe that’s been ransacked. There’s a door on the far end of room. Lenoria detects no magic and Alun finds nothing unusual. They move on to the next room.
Again, there is a matching room with four bunks with slashed mattresses and foot chests. Lenoria detects no magic and Alun finds nothing unusual. There is a door at the far end of the room. They move on to the next room.
Like the other side of the temple, they find a small dining room with a table with four seats and another ransacked sideboard. There is a door at the far end of the room. Alun finds nothing of interest and Lenoria finds nothing magical.
The final door leads into another kitchen that is as ransacked as the previous one. Nothing else of interest is found within it.
The party decides to do a more thorough search of the crypt area to see if there are any secret areas that were missed before.
They descend down the secret staircase to the crypt and begin searching the various dead ends. Alun finds a secret door. He does not find any traps upon it, so they proceed through it, with Alun leading the way. He opens the door and a PHISP is heard. He says “Ow!” and pulls a dart out of his hand. “I feel woozy. . .”
Lenoria gives him a “bit of luck” to help him with his resistance to whatever poison entered his system. They then go through the door, which leads into a narrow passage. Alun continues to look for traps as they go.
As they proceed through the passageway, the floor drops from beneath Alun and Rhain. Rhain manages to not get caught in the drop, stopping just in time. Alun drops and turns, catching the edge of the pit with his fingers. Looking down, they see that the pit is ten feet deep and has spikes at the bottom.
Alun pulls himself up and joins Rhain on the near-side of the pit. At Lenoria’s prompting, Alun attempts to reset and disarm the trap—but to no avail. The pit remains.
The party then decides to get one of the stone lids from the crypt and place it over the spikes in the pit. They then prepare to long jump across the pit. Rhain jumps across pit gracefully. Lenoria gives herself a “bit of luck” and leaps across competently. Kerra takes a running leap and makes it across. Alun then makes a Rhain-worthy leap across. They then continue down the passage.
The passage ends at an iron door. Alun checks it for traps and finds none. Then he goes to pick the lock. Everyone hears a click as the tumblers of the lock turn. Another click sounds and the floor drops beneath Alun and Rhain. Rhain falls into the pit, hurting himself on spikes. Alun manages squirrel around and hang off the edge of the pit by his fingertips.
Alun scrambles up to open the door as Lenoria channels positive energy to heal Rhain. Rhain jumps up and climbs out of the pit. Alun attempts to reset the trap on his side and the floor is restored. The others walk across it to the chamber on the other side.
The party finds themselves in a sizeable room with only a few items within it. There are two small chests, a three-feet high obsidian idol of Shazira (in her flame-haired woman aspect), a masterwork scimitar with flames etched on the blade sitting on a wooden pedestal, a suit of masterwork leather armor with a flame motif, and two scroll cases propped on the chests.
Lenoria detects magic in the room and detects it on the scroll cases. Lenoria gives Alun a “bit of luck” and Alun looks for traps in the room. He finds none. They then check out the chests. Alun finds no traps and finds that it is unlocked. He opens the chest and sees an assortment of gemstones and some silver and gold coins. He checks the second chest, which is also trap-free and unlocked, and finds a bloodstone and five obsidians and some silver and gold coins.
They count the coinage and discover that each chest has fifty silver and fifty gold. The first chest has five agates, three azurites, and two blue quartzes.
The party discusses the distribution of the goods and decide to offer to sell the temple goods to both the Shazirans and the Irthani. They will see what temple will give them the better offer. But first they have to get everything out of the temple.
They load the contents of the chests into backpacks and carry the rest. Making their way back to through the passage, they leap across the pit. Kerra misses and hits the stone lid hard, but climbs up the other side. Alun also misses and hits the stone lid, and attempts to clamber up the other side. He finally makes it. Lenoria channels energy and heals their wounds. They continue down the passage, make their way out of the crypts, and camp in vestment room off the left-hand passage from the sanctuary. Lenoria brings the mule and horse in from the outside and secures them in the sanctuary.
The night passes without incident.
6 Growth 508
Alun appears to have recovered from his illness.
The party loads up and heads out of the temple. Along the way, they discuss the fact that the dealers in Imth are only inclined to be “angrily indifferent” toward them and not give them a particularly good price. Rhain brings up the possibility of stashing their goods until they can get a good deal—and not be taxed as dealers. There is also the possibility of being accused of looting a temple.
As they travel through the mountains, they come across what appears to be the scene of a recent skirmish. There are a couple of hobgoblin bodies laying on the ground. There is a broken banner depicting a bone sawed off at the end. Rhain analyzes the scene, determining that two groups of hobgoblins met each other on the field of battle. There was a melee and one group fled into the surrounding rocks. The other group marched away, heading deeper into the mountains, due east.
The bodies they found have been stripped of weapons, armor, and loot. Alun recognizes the banner from the band he saw during their approach to the temple. They decide to get out of the mountains before the hobgoblins return.
Nightfall finds them out of the mountains and into the foothills. Camp is made and watches set up, as per usual.
The night passes quietly.
7 Growth 508
The party travels through the hills toward the forest.
Lenoria wants to try and conceal their goods for sale before they get to the city in order to smuggle them inside. Again, Rhain reiterates that he thinks they should stash the idol outside the city before negotiating with the temples as far as to whom they are going to sell it. Lenoria agrees.
That afternoon, they leave the foothills and enter the forest. The day is passes quickly and quietly, as does the night.
11 Growth 508
After several uneventful days of travel, the party arrives at the outskirts of the city of Imth. They look around in the area outside the city, a few hundred yards from the wall, for a hollow in which to hide their idol. Alun and Lenoria find a hiding place and stash the idol and the flame-motif armor.
Rhain suggests they go to the good temple first, Irthani, and then go to the temple of Shazira, and then see who offers them more. Lenoria has reservations about the temple of Irthani because they are in decline—they may not have much to offer. Rhain doesn’t care—he’s for seeing what they can offer and going from there. Everyone endeavors to remember their hiding spot, and then they go to head inside through the city gates.
Once they arrive at the gates, they are charged the traditional gate taxes and are ushered through with the throngs of people awaiting to get through the aperture. The guards are surly, but pass them through without charging them additional taxes.
The party heads for the temple of Irthani first. It is an ancient, slightly run-down building with the statue of the Eudaimon outside. They find a priestess inside, her head shaved, wearing blue robes trimmed in green. Lenoria approaches her and asks to speak to the Light of Ja’hana. The priestess is taken aback a bit and Lenoria presses and introduces herself as Lightbringer Lenoria and says she would like to speak with her on a spiritual matter.
The priestess says, “If you wait here, I will see if the Light will see you.”
Lenoria thanks her and the party waits in the sanctuary. After a time, the priestess returns and says that the Light will see them. The party is taken deeper into the temple, into a back chamber. Another shaven-headed older woman greets them. She has blue robes trimmed in gold. She motions to some low couches that are situated in the room and everyone sits.
“I am Lauron,” she says. Lenoria introduces herself and the rest of the party.
“You are the Lightbringer?” the priestess asks.
“Yes,” Lenoria says.
“It is unusual for one of the Sianaean faiths to visit one of the Tarsian faith on a spiritual matter,” Lauron says.
“Well, my friends are adventurers. We travel, track down rumors, find items, legends, things of an interesting nature to us. We had recently heard of a temple that had been abandoned, a temple that had been taken by your faith about a century ago. My understanding was that there were some items that were never found. Well, we may have found something of interest to you,” Lenoria says.
“This is increasingly sounding like something that is not a spiritual matter,” Lauron says.
“The spiritual matter is the fact that what we may have found is sacred to a particular faith,” Lenoria says, “and we know, at least at one time, people of your faith were particularly looking for these items. And to be frank…”
“Please,” Lauron says.
“We are foreigners in this town,” Lenoria asks Rhain to see the flame-motif scimitar, and he displays the weapon for Lauron to see. “I think the temple of Shazira would be interested in getting their hands on some of these. This is not a conversation for the public space.”
“So what are you proposing?” Lauron asks.
“We’re hoping to sell them,” Lenoria says.
“So, to parse what you’ve said, you’ve discovered a temple of Shazira…,” Lauron begins.
“We’ve discovered a temple of Shazira that was in the mountains. The temple of Irthani was up there, at least according to the legends that I heard, about a century ago, cleaned it out, never found the hidden chamber, was looking for an idol and perhaps other artifacts,” Lenoria says.
“And you have found this idol and the artifacts and you wish to sell them to us so that we may dispatch as we may wish,” Lauron says.
“We assumed that you would want them,” Lenoria says.
“You wanted them a hundred years ago,” Rhain says.
“We assumed you might pay well for them today,” Lenoria says.
“I see,” Lauron says. “A hundred years ago, we were a much richer temple.”
“I know about temples being in decline and those being in power,” Lenoria says. “I think the temple of Shazira would pay well for these as well. However, I don’t know how much we can trust them.”
“You can’t,” Lauron says. “So what artifacts have you recovered?”
“This scimitar. A set of armor that matches it. An obsidian statue of Shazira,” Lenoria says.
Lauron says, “You put me in an interesting predicament.”
“How so?” Lenoria asks.
“I wish to take these items off you hands. I do not wish to see them go to the temple of Shazira…” She begins.
“Then let’s make a deal,” Rhain says.
“But I’m not sure, in all honesty, I can give you a fair price for them. You put me in the position of buying objects that we will turn around and destroy,” Lauron says.
“Perhaps you have something of equivalent trade?” Lenoria asks.
“You don’t have the idol with you?” Lauron asks.
“No,” Lenoria says.
“So I do not know its worth,” Lauron says.
“It’s obsidian,” Rhain says.
“We can describe it,” Lenoria says. “Are you solely interested in the statue, in the idol?”
“Mostly interested in that, yes,” Lauron says.
Rhain puts away the scimitar.
“I can offer you either a hundred platinum or a very special bag,” Lauron says.
“What’s special about this bag?” Lenoria asks.
“It can hold more than an ordinary bag,” Lauron says.
“So that is your best offer?” Rhain asks.
“That is my best offer,” Lauron says.
“We will need time to discuss,” Lenoria says.
“I see,” Lauron says. “I would caution you against doing business with the temple of Shazira. They are aligned with the powers of darkness. They are corrupt.”
The party makes their way out of the temple of Irthani and gather outside.
“Does anybody have an opinion? I don’t think that’s enough,” Rhain says. “First of all, the bag doesn’t help us; we can’t split that.”
“But it sounds really interesting,” Lenoria says.
“But we can’t split it up,” Rhain insists.
“I know, but that’s what makes it sad because it sounds really interesting,” Lenoria says.
Alun says “If we can get more, let’s get more.”
“I’m with Alun, we should go to the other temple,” Rhain says.
“I’d rather get something than have something taken from me,” Lenoria says.
“Well they can’t take it from us because we didn’t bring it with us,” Rhain says. “They’re going to have to deal with us if they want it. Right now, all they can take is a scimitar. Does Kerra have any input?”
“Well, we didn’t give our word to this other priest,” Kerra says. “But I don’t like what he said about this other temple being corrupt.”
“Of course he said that, he’s playing for the opposite team,” Rhain says.
“I want to ask a more neutral third party as far as what she said,” Lenoria says. “If this temple is know for hauling people out in the middle of the night…”
“What neutral third party are you going to ask? Who do you know?” Rhain asks, incredulous.
“Our innkeeper. She’s a foreigner. She’s been assimilated for a little while. She’s also an innkeeper so she’s heard a bit of gossip.”
“Alright then,” Rhain says. “To the inn!”
The party heads to the Naked Shepherd Inn to speak to the innkeep, Phamea, and to secure rooms for the night. The party also sells off their horse and mule and the accoutrements that came with them. Fortunately, Lenoria’s diplomacy brings the surly salesmen from a hostile demeanor to a merely indifferent one. Lenoria and Rhain secure baths and then head down to the common room. Alun and Kerra meet them down there.
Lenoria approaches Phamea at the bar and slides a silver coin toward her. “I’d like to ask you some questions about the political lay of the land, but some that may need to be asked in a private setting. Is there a back room we can talk in?”
Phamea says, “Okay, come with me.”
She takes Lenoria and Rhain to her back office. “We are trying to debate on whether we want to do business with the temple of Shazira. Someone else that we don’t know very well cautioned us against it. I’m more curious on how they do business with people. We’re foreigners here. We have no legal standing.”
Phamea says, “You don’t want to cross them.”
“Well, they are the ones in power. I know they are not known for being a very charitable group,” Lenoria says. “I mean, do they have a bad reputation? Do they kidnap people? Do they tend to take rather than to bargain? How heavy-handed are they with their actions here? You’ve heard rumors here at the very least.”
“They can be very heavy-handed on Contemplation Days,” Phamea says. “They’ve been known to drag people out of their homes and drag them to the temple.”
“Is this a thing where a lot of people end up missing or what?” Lenoria asks.
“They’re made examples of,” Phamea says.
“For doing what?” Lenoria asks.
“Blasphemy,” Phamea says.
“What is considered blasphemy here, exactly?” Lenoria asks.
“The rejection of the self. The rejection of order,” Phamea says.
“The rejection of the self? What does that mean?” Rhain asks.
“I’m not really sure,” Phamea says. “But I think rejection of one’s urges.”
“As in their advocating rejection of one’s urges or encouraging one’s urges?” Lenoria asks.
“Encouraging,” Phamea says.
“They’re really against anything that’s not orderly, then,” Lenoria says.
“That seems kind of contradictory,” Rhain says.
“All of it is up to the interpretation of the priests,” Phamea says.
“They want you to indulge your urges, but in an orderly fashion,” Rhain says.
“Or just do what they say,” Lenoria says.
“Would you do business with them, if you had something to sell?” Rhain asks.
“Directly with them? I try to avoid them. I try to avoid their notice,” Phamea says. “I just don’t want any trouble. They tend to bring…trouble.”
“If we wanted to sell something discreetly, where would we go?” Rhain asks.
“I don’t really know, that’s not really my line,” Phamea says. “I’m sorry.”
“Thank you,” Lenoria says.
The four squeeze into Alun’s room and Lenoria and Rhain relate what they learned. “I don’t want to get anywhere near that church, that’s for sure,” Lenoria says.
“Why?” Rhain says.
“They reject anything that isn’t orderly? If they know my religion, which is tattooed on my face, they aren’t going to like me at all,” Lenoria says.
“You don’t have to make the deal,” Rhain says.
“I don’t want to be there,” Lenoria says.
“Alright, you don’t have to be there,” Rhain says. “I still say that’s our best bet for more money.”
“I don’t know,” Lenoria says.
“You don’t think they’ll give more money?” Rhain asks.
“I worry they’re just going to take it,” Lenoria says.
“They don’t have it,” Rhain says.
“But they’ll have us and we know where it is. Heavy-handed people who drive people out of their homes. That bothers me. I want to be able to get on a ship and get out of here. But I wonder if we can take it with, if we can get flat out collector’s item value for it somewhere else.”
“We don’t have any idea how much that is,” Rhain says. “It has great than just collector’s item value to the temple of Shazira. It seems like something that they would really, really want bad.”
“I do not doubt that,” Lenoria says.
“Well, I say we go and make an offer and see what they will give us. That’s my vote. Approach Shazira for more money,” Rhain says.
“I don’t want to approach them. I’d rather take it elsewhere,” Lenoria says.
“I thought your religion was all about risk-taking,” Rhain says.
“No, it’s all about trickery,” Lenoria says.
“Let’s trick them into taking it!” Rhain says.
Alun says “I definitely don’t want to join these guys, but I’m for getting some more platinum. Yeah, I’m for giving it a shot.”
Kerra says, “I think it’s too risky.”
“What?” Rhain says. “Vote with your brother! What about the family bond? Blood is thicker than water!”
“Sometimes Alun doesn’t have a brain in his head,” Kerra says.
“So what is her vote then? Go back and take a bag and we can all sit in circle and stare at it?” Rhain says.
“We can find a different buyer,” Kerra says.
“I don’t see how we can do that in this town,” Rhain says.
“Or we go elsewhere,” Lenoria says.
“It’s an idol of the god of this nation. If we go to another nation, nobody’s going to give a crap. Here it means something,” Rhain says.
“Or we take the other option,” Kerra says.
“We are getting cheated here!” Rhain says in disgust. “That’s what this temple does. They cheated Alun with their fake cure. They charged him money and then sent him home to heal.”
“What they charged us for was stopping the poison, not healing him,” Lenoria points out.
“Well then they overcharged,” Rhain says.
“I don’t know. It’s not something I can do, so I don’t have a set rate for it. Once I can do it, I’ll let you know. I guess I’ll charge a hundred and fifty gold,” Lenoria says.
“But that other temple is not even interested in the armor and the sword,” Rhain says. “Shazira would be. The vote is split. How will we determine what we’ll do?”
“I don’t know. Let’s figure out what we have right now,” Lenoria says.
“Well, let’s not sell off the gear and the gemstones here because the best we hope for is indifference. Let’s only worry about the stuff that’s specific to this area,” Rhain says, and Lenoria agrees.
“Why don’t Alun and I go to the temple of Shazira and feel them out? That way you do don’t have to go?” Rhain says to Lenoria and Kerra.
“Why don’t you tell them that there will be no counter-offer allowed. If they tell you 50 platinum, I don’t think you can tell them someone else will give you 100. I don’t think it’s going to work that way,” Lenoria says.
“Whatever. I’m going to bed,” Rhain says, exasperated.
“Me too,” Lenoria says.
Everyone heads to their room and beds down for the night.
12 Growth 508
Rhain comes down to the common room to eat breakfast and sees Kerra come down from her and Alun’s room. She looks around the common room, doesn’t see what she’s looking for, and then heads back upstairs. Rhain continues to pout and eat his eggs.
Meanwhile, Lenoria casts read magic and determines that the scrolls they found in the temple were cure light wounds and the other is bane. She heads downstairs and joins Rhain.
Kerra comes back downstairs and reports to the others that Alun is gone.
“Alun’s gone?” Lenoria asks.
“Well, he’s wasn’t in the room. He’s not down here,” Kerra says.
Rhain didn’t see him leave. Lenoria and Rhain ask if there was signs of a struggle or if his stuff is gone. She says there was no sign of a struggle and that his backpack is still there, but his weapons are gone. So he took his weapons with him. Lenoria starts asking around to see if anyone in the common room has seen him. Phamea says that she saw him leave earlier this morning. He didn’t say anything, he just left.
Lenoria asks is that’s normal and Kerra says, “No. He’s up to something.”
“What do you mean, ‘up to something’?” Rhain asks.
“He’s probably got an idea in his head,” Kerra says. “Idiot.”
“You don’t even know the idea. It might be a good idea before you call him an idiot,” Rhain says.
“I have a feeling we need to start looking at boat passage,” Lenoria says.
“I’m sure he’ll come back here. He left his stuff,” Rhain says.
“Kerra, are you alright with waiting for him while we try to arrange a boat?” Lenoria asks.
“That’s fine,” she says.
“I assume you’re ready to leave this place,” Rhain says.
“Yes,” Kerra says.
Rhain and Lenoria leave to head to the docks. They ask about for ships heading back to Crownport. Lenoria hears of a ship called The Green Lady, captained by Landon Masrath, heading for Crownport. Exploring the docks, they find a fine ship with a green figurehead in the shape of a comely woman. Workers are loading her up with cargo. Lenoria inquires about passage and is directed to the captain. She and Rhain are brought aboard and brought to a red haired and red bearded man, Captain Masrath. Negotiations are made and a price is settled upon (much to Rhain’s dismay). The ship is bound to leave in the morning.
The two promise to come back once they get word from their compatriots.
When the two get back to the inn, they see Kerra sitting by herself; Alun is not back yet. They catch Kerra up on what they found out about booking passage and decide that they need to find Alun.
A young man enters the inn wearing black robes with black clothes beneath them. His head is shaved in the manner of a priest. The man comes into the common room and announces in Tradespeak that he is looking for Kerra Lanyon. Kerra raises her hand and the young man comes up and hand hands her a scroll and then bows. He waits.
Kerra reads the scroll. Then her eyes narrow and she mutters, “Idiot,” to herself. She hands Lenoria the scroll. It is written in Tradespeak. Lenoria sits close by to Rhain and holds it between the two of them to read it. It reads: “We have Alun Lanyon. We expect the idol in return. You have until dawn. The Flame of the Goddess.”
Lenoria curses under her breath in Sianaean. Rhain and Lenoria then look to the priest and he says, “Do you have a return message?”
“I do, but he’s not my brother,” Rhain says. “Are we just supposed to bring it to the temple? It’s pretty vague on the particulars.”
“If you have the item, I’d be happy to relay it,” the priest says.
“So, where are we supposed to take it?” Rhain says.
“I can give you directions to the temple,” the priest says.
“Unless you have Alun with you. Do you have Alun with you?” Rhain asks.
“Then I’m not giving you shit,” Rhain says. “You can pass that message along.”
Kerra looks like she’s steaming.
“There’s no return message at this time,” Lenoria says.
“Very well,” and the priest turns and walks away.
“We should probably jump him in an alley and kill him,” Rhain says.
“Why?” Lenoria asks.
“Because. I don’t like him. I don’t like the look on his face.”
Lenoria crumbles up the sheet of paper. “So there’s our answer for wanting to do business with this temple in future. Let’s not.”
“We know where the temple is. I say we go case the joint,” Rhain says.
“To what end?” Lenoria says.
“Finding a breaking point. Breaking in and getting him out,” Rhain says.
“Strangely enough, the only one of us remotely good at breaking into places, and we saw how good he could do that, was Alun,” Lenoria points out. “Unless you have talents I’m unaware of.”
“I break stuff good,” Rhain says.
“I don’t think going against an entire temple of priests…” Lenoria says.
“But we don’t know how big it is. It could be a small temple. Maybe there’s twelve or less.”
“I don’t think that’s the case,” Lenoria says. “I don’t think you think that’s the case, either.”
“I don’t want to give them the idol because they’ve done pissed me off,” Rhain says. “I’d rather go sell it to that other guy for a bag than give it to them, now. That’s not how you do business.”
“Two people warned us…” Lenoria begins to say.
“Nobody warned us,” Rhain says, “That’s bullcrap.”
“Two people warned us, and Alun didn’t pay attention,” Lenoria says.
“I didn’t hear anybody warn us,” Rhain says.
“That’s selective listening.”
“There’s that one guy, but he’s an opposing religion, of course he’s going to say ‘I wouldn’t do business with them’,” Rhain says.
“And the innkeep here,” Lenoria says. “She says she wouldn’t.”
“She also said she didn’t know where to sell stuff discreetly, that it wasn’t her business. She wasn’t in the business of doing business with anybody.”
“She gave plenty of warning,” Lenoria says.
“We can’t just leave him there,” Kerra says.
“I didn’t say leave him there,” Rhain says. “I think we ought to bust him out.”
“I think Alun’s share is coming out of his ransom money,” Lenoria says.
“That’s pretty harsh,” Rhain says.
“Well, I don’t want to leave him there,” Lenoria says.
“I don’t think we ought to leave him there, but I don’t know about his ransom money coming out of his share, that’s all,” Rhain says.
“I’m just not pleased,” Lenoria says. “I was hoping for an uncomplicated exit from this city.” She looks at Kerra and says, “I don’t think we’re leaving your brother here.”
“What are we going to do?” Kerra says.
“I say we go case the joint. Figure out what we can do. Sneak in. Sneak out,” Rhain says.
“I’m not particularly sneaky,” Kerra says.
“Take out guards along the way,” Rhain continues. “Loot their treasury. Make them regret ever kidnapping Alun. And then bust the idol up and leave it in powdery obsidian in the sanctuary floor. A big F-U.”
“That sounds like the type of plan you tell over drinks. I just don’t think it’s going to work,” Lenoria says.
“Well, what is your suggestion?” Rhain asks.
“We have two options. We either bust in or we give them the idol,” Lenoria says.
“Okay, what is your suggestion? Your suggestion is we have two options?” Rhain asks.
“Let’s go look at the temple and see what’s there,” Lenoria says.
The three leave the inn and follow the directions to go to the temple of Shazira. The temple is in an affluent neighborhood. It is a square structure, large, but not huge. At the four corners are looming statues of Kakodaimoni. Columns mark the entrance of the building, which is built primarily of obsidian and basalt. Black robed figures come in and out of the structure. The three stand outside of temple for awhile watching and determine that about a dozen priests come in and out of the temple, along with other people. They also observe a fairly heavy city watch presence in the neighborhood.
“We should go in and look around the inside,” Rhain says. “Other people are walking in and out besides priests.”
“I can’t go in. I stick out,” Lenoria says.
“Well, Kerra?” Rhain asks.
“Let’s go inside,” Kerra says.
“Alright, let’s go in,” Rhain says. And he and Kerra go inside.
They are inside a large sanctuary area with many columns filled with carvings, similar to carvings on the columns in the temple they had come from in the mountains. Priests are milling about with the public, answering questions and ministering to crowd. At the end of the room is an altar and statue of Shazira in her aspect of the warrior woman with the scimitars and flaming hair. Beyond that is a single door.
Kerra and Rhain are approached by one of the priests. He says in Tradespeak, “Welcome to the temple of Shazira. I was told to look for you.”
“You were told to look for me?” Rhain asks.
“For the two of you. There was a third?” the priest says.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We were heading over to that altar.”
“Do you have the object?” he asks.
Rhain looks at Kerra, who says. “Not yet.”
“That is a shame,” the priest says.
“We’re here to make you actually have Alun and that he’s alive,” Rhain says. “We demand to see him before any transactions take place.”
“That may be possible. Wait here,” the priest says and goes to the door behind the altar.
“Kerra, quick, do you want to follow that priest and jump him?” Rhain asks.
“We don’t know where he’s going,” Kerra says.
“That’s why we’ve got to move quick! What do you want to do?”
“Alright, let’s go.”
The two head for the door the priest went through. They open and can left, right, or straight—but can see the priest straight ahead, rounding a corner. They follow. They see him stop by another door in a hallway and rap on it.
“Kerra, are you ready to rush him?” Rhain asks.
“Alright,” Kerra says.
“When that door opens, I say we bolt,” Rhain says.
The door opens and Kerra and Rhain spring forward to attack. Rhain rushes through the door, knocking over the priest who they were following. He finds himself in an office facing another priest in black robes trimmed in red. Kerra follows.
Kerra moves in to attack the priest, hitting him with her longsword, yelling, “Where’s my brother, you bastard!” The priest raises his hands to cast a spell and Kerra and Rhain take the opportunity to attack. Both of them hit him with their weapons and the spell fizzles in his hands, Rhain hits him with his axe again and the priest is still standing. Kerra swings with her sword and misses. The priest in the red trim then grips his holy symbol and a wave of negative energy fills the room, wracking everyone in pain. Rhain enacts his barbarian rage and attacks the priest with his axe. The priest falls.
“Kerra, shut the door!” Rhain says.
Kerra moves the man out of the doorway and shuts the door. That priest starts to stir and Rhain drops a knee to his back and puts a dagger to his throat. “Don’t make a sound.” The man is compliant.
“Kerra,” Rhain says, “Check the other guy. Is he dead or alive?”
Kerra does so. “He’s alive.”
“He’s alive?” Rhain turns to the priest they followed in. “Who’s he?” indicating the fallen priest.
“The Flame of the Goddess.”
“Well, he’s alive right now. Whether or not he stays that way depends on whether or not you help us,” Rhain says. “We want her brother. Where is he?”
“He’s down in the dungeon.”
“Can you get him?” Rhain asks.
“Without raising any suspicion?” Rhain asks.
The man thinks for a moment. “I don’t know.”
“Alright. This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to take her with you. You’re going to go down there. You’re going to tell them that we brought the idol and that the Flame has ordered his release and she’s going to be right there with you. If you try anything funny, or anything bad happens, she’s going to yell out, and the first thing I’m going to do is chop this guy’s head off. And then I’m going to come down that hall looking for you. But there’s no way he makes it out alive.”
Rhain asks him where the dungeon is and he says “down below.”
“Duh, down below, but how do I get there?”
He gives specific directions down the hallways for the dungeons.
“If you give me bad directions to the dungeons or you don’t lead her to them, she’ll call out and I chop off his head.”
Meanwhile, Lenoria has noticed a flurry of activity going on outside of the temple. She goes and hires a coach and brings it around to the outside of the temple and has it waiting.
Rhain and Kerra open the door and Rhain reminds the priest that if anything goes wrong, the Flame dies. The priest says he understands. The priest and Kerra head down the hallway and Rhain shuts the door and listens for any commotion. Then he searches the room for anything flammable. He does find a bottle of liquor. He shoves the body under the desk and douses the tapestries and desk in liquor. He then positions himself to listen for trouble.
Lenoria, outside the temple, sees two city watchmen being lead into the temple.
As Rhain impatiently waits, he hears a knock at the door of the office. He goes over to the desk and answers with a loud, “Hmmm”. Through the door, he hears Kerra’s voice “Rhain! It’s me!” He opens the door and sees Alun, the priest, and Kerra. Rhain then hears a set of footsteps coming down the hall. He quickly ushers everyone inside the office and puts a dagger to the throat of the priest. Then a knock comes at the door.
“This is the city watch come to speak to the Flame.”
Rhain prompts the priest with a jab of the dagger. “Yes?”
“There were reports of a disturbance down this hall.”
“No. No, there was no disturbance.”
“Then the Flame is fine?”
“The Flame is fine.”
The guardsman says, “Very well. Carry on,” and walks away. Rhain listens to make sure he actually walks away and hears footsteps moving away.
“Do they know what the Flame looks like?” Rhain asks.
“Some of the guards men do, some don’t.” the priest says.
Rhain strips the hooded robes of office from the Flame and throws them to the priest. “Put these on; you’re walking us out of here.”
“I can’t put these on. It would be a blasphemy!” the priest says.
“Is it a blasphemy to let your Flame die? I don’t know, these are spiritual questions I don’t know the answers to. You should put those robes on,” Rhain says. “It’s almost over, friend. It’s almost over.”
Reluctantly, the priest puts the robes on.
“You don’t speak to anyone. Anyone approaches you, you just grunt and wave them away. Got it?” Rhain says.
“Very well,” the priest says.
“Don’t you yell an alarm. Don’t you do it. I’ll knife you and then I’ll come back here and knife him,” Rhain says, and gives the priest a crazy-eyed look.
Alun and Kerra go first, “The Flame” goes next, and Rhain follows last. They are approached several times by other priests, but these priests are waved off by “The Flame.” Finally, the small group makes it to the front door. Once outside, the group is approached by a closed carriage. The door opens and Lenoria is inside. Alun, Kerra, and Rhain load up inside, leaving “The Flame” outside.
“Be careful when you start shouting alarms, my friend. You might want to change clothes first, blasphemer,” Rhain says, before the carriage takes off.
The priest takes off running back inside the temple.
The carriage starts running toward the Naked Shepherd so the group can pick up their gear. Lenoria promises the driver a good tip based on how quickly they can make their destination. Rhain says that they need to get their gear and get on the ship and go and Lenoria brings up that they may need to pay extra to get the ship to leave today. Rhain says that all the more reason to go sell the statue for 100 platinum and then glares at Alun when he realizes that they may not have time to sell the statue now.
Glaring at Alun, they now notice that he has been roughed up substantially. Kerra looks at him and says, “Idiot.”
At the Naked Shepherd, the group gathers up their stuff while Lenoria gets pen and paper from Phamea to write a message to the Light of Ja’Hana at the temple of Irthani. Essentially, she gives directions for the location of the idol and indicates that the temple owes them 100 platinum for the artifact, and that the party will collect at some point. She makes arrangements to have the message delivered. Phamea is also to tell any priests of Shazira that come by that the party has left the city. They then load up in their carriage and high-tail it for the docks. Along the way, Lenoria administers priestly healing to Alun, Kerra, and Rhain.
Once they get to the docks, they alight from the carriage and Lenoria tips the drivers handily. The party boards The Green Lady and Lenoria goes to the address the captain and attempt to talk the captain into leaving a day early. “As we’re loaded up and you’ve paid up front, and I can hardly blame you for wanting to get out of Tarsas, and I can’t say no to a lady, I suppose we can weigh anchor.” The captain begins issuing orders and the ship starts making ready to set sail.