16 Transformation 509
The main body of the Crimson Cord and its entourage are marching from the Ysarian complex site toward Almathriel while Surm has teleported away to take care of some business. The evening of the 14th was a quite a dramatic affair, with a drag-out argument between Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar over their actions within the Ysar complex when Surm jumped through the gate. There are many hard feelings simmering to the top for the group and things came to a head. Morvar leaves during the night without so much as a word, taking his horse and riding southwest.
Surm utilizes his newly-developed teleport spell to take care of some loose ends and to confront his brother, seemingly for the final time. He tries to explain to him that even if he was right about what happened in the complex, his reactions afterwards were wrong and not indicative of a person who cares about family. Mõrvar is intractable, insisting that everyone was against him, had always been against him, and that Surm was taking their side—as per usual. Surm, obviously upset and a bit angry himself, leaves his brother to his own devices and teleports away.
Surm now returns to the remaining members of the Cord and discusses the implications of the split with them. They all agree that Mõrvar is clearly no longer a member of the Cord, which would mean no access to their business dealings and contacts under their auspices. Surm has taken steps to ensure that this is the case. They also all agree to move forward with Surm’s recruiting idea of the Crimson Cord Fellowship to further their fame and resources. Surm is to return to Almathriel where Tarben, Burask, and Mahgnus await—he has some business brewing there awaiting their return (a magic weapon for Burask, retraining, etc.). He then teleports to Almathriel, with a request from Savaric to have Mahgnus ask around for some known brewers in the area that he could call upon as contacts when he starts his own brewery in Kalimsport.
18 Transformation 509
As the bulk of the Cord travels through the forests toward the elven capital, they come across the scene of a battle. There are three dead bodies—from the looks of them, woodcutters. A fourth is lying unconscious from a traumatic head wound—a mighty slash has nearly split his head in two. It’s a miracle the man is alive.
According to the woodsman, a band comprised of a huge Northron and an entourage of about a dozen hooded clerics of some sort, came striding through the woods. The woodsmen hailed the strangers, but the Northron ignored them and struck them with his mighty axe, as if just clearing a path through a field of wheat. He and the cloaked ones moved on as if nothing had happened, but they left them all for dead.
The Northron wore an iron symbol around his neck of some tentacled beast.
This happened two days ago. The woodsman dies as he finishes his tale.
Savaric confirms some tracks—both booted and horse—moving toward the northeast. Rilka recognizes the symbol as one from the altar that contained the green gemstone back in the Aedonii ruins that tried to control Mõrvar.
That evening, Rilka informs Surm of the find via the Agent’s Clasp. Surm indicates that he will try to do some research on the symbol Rilka describes—he recalls it from the altar in the Aedonii ruins as well. The Cord are not going to follow—they only have food enough to get to Almathriel and they don’t know what they are going to encounter if they pursue the Northron.
Surm asks Lord Springvale for information on the symbol, but the elven nobleman demurs, saying that symbology is not his expertise. But, a member of his salon, Zordlon Rainbringer, is and he will write Surm a brief letter of recommendation to get him through the door to see him. Surm will do so in the morning, before attending his sorcerous training session.
19 Transformation 509
Early in the morning before attending his training session, Surm calls upon Zordlon Rainbringer. Zordlon is a venerable elf, with grey in his blond hair and creases in his otherwise flawless skin. He carries a silver-headed cane, though does to appear to rely upon it. He confirms that the symbol is consistent with Aedonii symbology and is probably religious in nature. He wants to consult a colleague about it, however, and asks Surm to return in three days to get more information. Surm agrees.
21 Almathriel 509
The bulk of the Crimson Cord arrives in Almathriel around noon. They check in to The Mithral Dagger and secure rooms for the next few days as they complete their business.
Mahgnus informs Savaric of two prominent “brewers” (elves don’t really brew—they are more into spirits and wines): Rilinior Silverleaf, a distiller of absinthe, and Amrunelara Starbright, a vintner.
22 Almathriel 509
That morning, before going to training, the three main members of the Cord visit with Zordlon Rainbringer regarding the symbol. He says that he doesn’t have much information for them—much of the ways of the “Elder Races” are a mystery to scholars today and knowledge was lost with the Rivening. But, he can confirm that the symbol is that of a being known as Akthalos—an “Elder God” of the Aedonii. It was reputed to represent chaos and evil and, somehow, was exiled at some point by the Aedonii.
After seeing Surm off to his training session, Savaric takes Ghost goes hunting in the woods outside of the city. After a few hours, he manages to down an “elven” antelope with spiralled, straight horns and particularly tender meat. As he butchers the kill, he prays to Isranthr for guidance and to pledge his faith to the Hunter. He gives a portion of the kill to the fire for his new patron and takes the rest back to Almathriel to share with his friends.
That evening they have a meal with Lord Springvale at his estate. As usual, he is a wonderful host, engaging to his guests, and hangs on their every word—though Rilka notices that Surm isn’t saying anything and Springvale distinctly refuses to make eye contact with Surm. After regaling their host with tales of their adventures and their future investment plans in Kalimsport, Springvale says that is time for him to fulfill his end of the bargain.
“While I, unfortunately, do not possess the knowledge you seek, I can direct to the one who most probably does. The secret of Ysarian steel can be gained from a being known as Mercerius. He is an ancient being of great power who lived in the time before the Rivening and actually saw the death of the Ysar and Aedonii and, according to one’s beliefs, witnessed the birth of the Elves and Humankind.”
“Mercerius resides in his stronghold in the mountains on the far side of the Rift. The way will be perilous and Mercerius is not known for his hospitality. But, should be able to treat with him, he will have the information you desire.”
Springvale goes on to explain that the best route to reach the stronghold is through Valeton, the largest settlement in Melnys Vale. He will provide them with a rudimentary map to the site where he believes the stronghold lies. No one knows what manner of creature Mercerius is, which Springvale finds fascinating. He also indicates that part of the being’s “inhospitable nature” is his wont to put his visitors through a trial in order to receive the information they seek.
After dinner, Springvale assures them that they all can call upon him again whenever they like. As the Cord are walking down the street away from the estate, Rilka chastises Surm. “What did you do to him?” She brings up how awkward things were and thinks he should go back and apologize, which Surm does as the others return to the Mithral Dagger.
Surm does not return that night.
23 Transformation 509
Savaric, concerned that Surm is not at the Mithral Dagger and ready to go to his training session, peppers him with questions from the Agent’s Clasp. Surm only responds that he’s fine and that he’ll be going to his retraining. Savaric goes to meet him there, and manages to catch Surm during his lunch break.
Other than that, the day is spent mostly provisioning and shopping for magic items and the like in the city’s Silver Ring. In fact, Savaric will be leaving Ilona to be upgraded while he travels. While she is delighted to be upgraded and be more useful, she doesn’t like being separated from Savaric.
24 Transformation 509
Rilka and Surm teleport to Kalimsport to retrieve funds from the bank for their various purchases in Almathriel. That evening, Savaric and Burask pick up the latter’s newly-enchanted greataxe. The Cord then all go to have dinner with Lord Springvale again. This evening’s dinner is far less awkward.
25 Transformation 509
The Crimson Cord and their entourage finally set out from Almathriel toward Valeton to the southeast. The early autumn day is warm, though the nights are starting to get a bit chill, especially with the winds coming off of two parallel mountain ranges. They anticipate arriving in Valeton in six days.
27 Transformation 509
Travel through the old growth forest of the elven lands has been relatively easy and even serene. Until today. Savaric spots a giant mantis lurking behind a copse of trees. He easily dispatches it with two expert shots from his bow. The Cord moves on.
30 Transformation 509
Late in the afternoon, the party arrives in the quaint town of Valeton. It is clearly designed for the Vale Folk (halflings). The buildings are small, but cozy. Hearth fire smoke floats upward from chimneys. Vale folk can be seen leaving shops and heading to homes or public houses.
As the large troupe rides into the town, they are mostly met with looks of curiosity from the townsfolk. At the center of the town is a large structure bearing a wooden disk carved with the likeness of a pair of cupped hands. This is symbol of Rosaela, the Provider, and primary goddess of the Vale Folk. This temple is likely used as a storehouse for supplies for the town, a source of the provider.
Here they are met by a female halfling, probably in her mid-twenties with a wavy red-brown hair and freckles. She has a club on her belt and wears a green sash with orange chevrons on it. She introduces herself as Keela Stoutfoot and she is the constable of Valeton. She asks them a few questions as to what brings them to Valeton and gives them some recommendations regarding inns (“The Dancing Hare has a cottage pie—excellent! And you must try their stout…”). She leaves them with a warning not to get into any trouble while in town.
The troup follows the constable’s directions to the Dancing Hare where they meet Farlo, the innkeep. A very informal fellow, but friendly, Farlo gets them set up with what rooms he has (though the majority of their ‘army’ will have to bunk in the common room).