11 Illumination 509 (Osandar)
The members of the Crimson Cord and their troupe gather their belongings and set out from the Cracked Cask, leaving Osandar and heading to the distant city of Asdari.
Over the course of the journey, Mõrvar begins spending much of his time with the guards. He seems to be asking them a lot about their opinions on racial prejudice, the justification of action against it, and the like. This singular activity causes some concern in his brother, who pulls him aside and asks him about it.
Mõrvar is apparently feeling out the guards for their feelings on a movement that he is intending to start. It is called the Brotherhood of the Outcast, and Mõrvar has an entire plan of forming this organization in order to strike back against those that would maltreat people based on their race or bloodline. Surm asks if Mõrvar thinks its a good idea to be recruiting among the guards, as they are under the leadership of Alasir according to their agreement. It could be seen as undermining. Mõrvar does not seem to be very concerned about that. He’s also concerned that Mõrvar seems to be forming a second group with which to be associated. Mõrvar attempts to assure him that it is more of a movement than a group, but Surm is unconvinced.
Rilka is also unconvinced of Mõrvar’s plan. Some of it involves doing “whatever it takes” to combat prejudice but Mõrvar refuses the answer the question as to whether his new movement sanctions illegal violence. He says that it depends, that it is not required but may be according to the situation and who is in charge. This answer is very unsatisfying to the rest of the group. Surm brings up the legal issues that Mõrvar could be opening himself up for and Rilka says, “If you let others dictate your anger you will never get over it.” She reiterates that you cannot make people be better people, you can only rely on faith and by living by example. Mõrvar attempts to appeal to their emotions, saying that he has been better off for having his “family,” but what about others that have not had his more positive experiences? They need a movement like his. The others remain unconvinced that he can control what other people think. Savaric largely abstains from the argument.
Later in the journey, the core members of the Cord are approached by Alasir. He says that he has noted, and participated, in the conversations Mõrvar has been generating among the troops. While having the conversations is fine—the guards are amenable to the conversations and that’s not a problem—he wonders if these conversations are leading to a change in the type of service he and his troupe are going to be providing. Up until now, they had been primarily guards and minor support. Alasir wants to know if the Cord intends on pursuing a moralistic crusade. This would be something new and he just wants to be prepared for the change in direction. Surm assures him that the Crimson Cord will NOT be pursuing a moralistic crusade. Alasir is mollified and moves on.
20 Illumination 509 (Kuskar Border)
The Cord comes to a ford in the Arahani River that marks the northern border of the nation of Kuskar. A squad of Kuskar troops, led by a man with a thick, twirlable mustache, He asks them about their business in Kuskar and Surm assures him that they are merely passing through. The squad leader speculates as to whether or not they are mercenaries in league with the Yulanians and Surm convinces him other wise. Satisfied, the squad escorts the troupe across the ford and into the small country. They also note that there a lot more troops at the border than there have been in the past. They move away from the soldiers and deeper into the countryside, moving ever southward toward Achera.
21 Illumination 509 (Jorani Mountains)
The troupe has now reached the southern border of Kuskar at the Jorani Mountains. There they meet the road that leads south into Achera that eventually leads to Asdari.
Once again, they are met by a squad of Kuskar soldiers at the border—but the situation is not nearly as charged as with the border to Yulania. Surm asks one of the soldiers about this and the man seems eager to talk. Apparently, the rumor is that Kuskar will soon go to war against Yulania. There have been border skirmishes for years, but it has been a long time since a full-on invasion was launched by the Voivode.
Once they move on from the border, Surm shares this information with the rest of the party. Mõrvar speculates as to how they can profit from a war between the two countries.
27 Illumination 509 (Zyend)
At sundown, the troupe reaches the gates of the city of Zyend. The Cord opts to set up an encampment outside of the city as opposed to trying to find lodging within.
29 Illumination 509 (Asdari)
This morning, the troupe arrives at the gates of the Acheran capital, Asdari. After paying their gate taxes (including negotiating the entry of Ghost as a piece of livestock), The troupe then makes their way through the metropolis to the what is referred to as “The Illuminated Quarter” to find Darice’s family.
Surm does some asking about and determines directions to the Hasani family home (to which Darice belongs). These directions lead them to a nice neighborhood and a modest, but well-maintained home. They decide that he, Mõrvar, and Mahgnus will go inside the house to meet with the family—the family may not welcome the sight of half-orcs, considering the circumstances.
There is a small gate leading up to the house itself. Surm pulls the bell string and rings the bell. An elderly woman dressed in clean, Acheran clothing comes tottering out and asking who they are. Surm indicates that they are the Crimson Cord come to see about Darice.
“Come in! Come in!” the woman says and leads them into the home. She seems friendly and glad to see them. She takes them into a sitting room and offers them water. She then leaves to fetch the family.
They are joined by a stern-faced Southron man, an older pretty woman who is probably his wife, and by Darice herself.
Darice is heavy with child, but nonetheless seems happy to see her saviors once again. She embraces them warmly. The man, her father Hasan, is more standoffish. Her mother, Kiran, smiles, but seems shy.
Speaking with the family, they discover that the local healers believe that Darice will give birth anytime between now and next two weeks. She has had some hard days, physically, but she is assured that this is typical of such a birth.
Surm secures an accommodation recommendation from Hasan, who suggests the Wand of Fire as a good place to stay. They agree to keep in communication about Darice and that, when the time comes, the Cord will come and fulfill their agreement. Hasan is visibly relieved.
Surm, Mõrvar, and Mahgnus rejoin the others and the troupe heads for the Wand of Fire.
The troupe makes their way through the narrow city streets to the city center. There, nestled beside a well-tended boulevard between the Palace of the Kargan and the Temple of Azumazran is a four-story tower with a sign out front declaring this to be “The Wand of Fire” in Acheran. The sign itself bears a large wand that is lit with arcane fire.
Surm dismisses the guards, telling that they are on leave until they are called back into duty after the birth of Darice’s child. They decide to find a place that is not quite so “spendy.” They find another, more modest, inn nearby called the Topaz Dagger. Alasir can send a runner if more communication is needed during their stay. Mahgnus pays the troops and they are sent on their way. Mahgnus opts to continue staying with the Cord at the Wand of Fire. He will go inform the wet-nurse that he had arranged for on his previous trek to Asdari that she should be on stand-by and then return to the inn.
Entering the Wand of Fire, the Cord finds themselves in an opulent courtyard with a fountain, mosaic tiles in the floors and walls weaving intricate patterns of color, and the entry of a very flamboyant host. The host wears deep purple robes and is nice jewelry on his fingers and neck. He welcomes them to the Wand of Fire and inquires as to their needs. The Cord asserts that they need rooms, a bath, laundry service, and a meal. As far as the number of rooms, Surm asks if the inn has any suites. “Of course!” the flamboyant man says, “in fact, I will take you to the Prince’s Suite!” and immediately has two servants help Mahgnus with the gear while he leads the Cord upstairs.
The suite is gorgeous. There is a parlor with a smaller version of the fountain they saw downstairs stationed in the center of the room. The Host shows them the four rooms available in the suite—two large bedrooms, opulently decorated and smelling of sweet jasmine, and two other smaller rooms with expensive rugs decorating the floors. The Host continues to inquire as to their needs and assures them that they will be met. A portable bed will be brought in for Mahgnus.
No mention of price is ever made.
Rilka inquires as to “spa services” and the Host assures her that those can be arranged as well. Would she like a male or female attendant? She opts for a female. Surm, Savaric, and Mõrvar also arrange for “full relaxation services” with female attendants. The Host makes no apologies for asking—“I make no assumptions. i make no judgments.” The baths are located in the basement level of the tower, they are informed. They are also provided with luxurious robes to use while their laundry is being taken care of.
While the others indulge in the relaxation treatments and baths, Mõrvar heads out into the city to find a trainer to enhance his combat prowess. He finds a female former guard of the Watch called Jamila Turari to perform the training—they will begin the next day.
He also goes to the Topaz Dagger to talk to Alasir. He puts forward the idea of the troops wearing uniform tabards while in service to the Cord. Alasir considers this and agrees that it would be helpful to the Cord for the troops to be visibly connected to the group.
Mõrvar finally makes his way back to the Wand of Fire and indulges in the various services ordered by the member of the group. He joins them for dinner in the “Entertainment Hall” but does not eat anything.
While he was out, Surm begins to make connections with some of the wealthy merchants that are availing themselves of the bath. He makes a distinct connection with a merchant in “objects arcane” by the name of Kalil.
At dinner, the gathered Cord and Mahgnus discuss their activities in the city as they wait for Darice to give birth. Mõrvar has some shopping he’d like to do, but he’ll be training, so Surm agrees to take care of that for him. Savaric indulges in exotic liquors at dinner such as elven absinthe and Kuskar barrel-aged brandy.
Mõrvar brings up the uniform question, bringing up his conversation with Alasir earlier in the day. This begins an extremely long argument between the members of the Cord that descends into the need for parliamentary procedure to come to any sort of consensus. Surm descends into defensive indifference while Rilka and Savaric seem disinclined to engage in the conversation, even when asked point-blank for an opinion. Savaric, in fact, actively abstains from their voting. Surm notices that despite his closed expression and professional demeanor, Mahgnus is looking on this conversation quietly appalled this his superiors seem to be so heatedly stymied by what should be a relatively simple decision.
Eventually, it is decided that the Cord will wear red sashes while the troops wear customized tabards. The subsequent question regarding the purchase of a customized flag for the troupe remains open. Savaric and Mahgnus volunteer to make the arrangements for the uniforms.
After dinner and drinks, the Cord return to their opulent Prince’s Suite and go to bed.
4 Ardor 509 (Asdari)
Over the next five days, the party conducts various bits of business in the city and in the inn.
Mõrvar attends training during the day and returns to the inn at night. Surm continues to make connections in the bath house after going shopping for some scrolls and components for his brother. His new friend, Kalil, informs him that he would like to hire Surm to broker some investment opportunities to Surm’s friends in Kalimsport. Kalil wishes to begin an operation in that city and would like to acquire more capital to do so. For each investor Surm is able to secure, he will be paid 100 gold pieces. Surm agrees and the two work out the details of the transactions involved. Rilka inquires as to the possibility of upgrading her magical tattoo, but discovers that the cost may be prohibitive. Savaric gets a job breaking horses on an estate just outside the city.
On this day, Surm decides to use their crystal ball to scry Angelet, the mother of the other half-orc orphan, in Kalimsport. They see Angelet, still clearly pregnant, secured to the headboard of her bed, bandages on her wrists. She looks emotionally dead and unresponsive. An older woman, dressed in a noble’s clothes, feeds her gruel. Angelet eats—but is clearly not all there.
They decide to send a pigeon post to Kalimsport from the Cord letting Angelet’s family know that they are in Asdari for an unknown amount of time but once they have the other child, they will arrive in Kalimsport post haste.
9 Ardor 509
The troupe is resting at the Wand of Fire when a courier comes with a simple message: “it is time.”
They all head to the Hasani home, with Mahgnus making a side trip to gather the wet-nurse. Once they regroup, only Surm, the nurse, and Mahgnus go inside the house. The birth has just occurred—they can hear the crying of a babe carry from down the hall. They go to the room and see that Darice is unconscious and the baby is being attended to by a priest of Azumazran. They are assured that Darice will recover, but it was a hard birth.
The wet-nurse and the priest exchange notes about the care of the baby while Surm speaks with Hasan. The two agree that it would be best to go ahead and take the babe now while Darice is unconscious. Hasan also mentions that it is Darice’s wish that the babe, a boy, keep the name she has given him: Cord.
The baby Cord is gathered up and Surm, Mahgnus, and the nurse head back to meet the others outside. Savaric insists that someone go back and tell the family about the intent to go to Yrda specifically, so that if they do decide to find the child some day, they are able to. This is done.
They return to the Wand of Fire to gather their things and settle their final bill: which comes to a substantial amount—nearly 450 gold pieces. They pay the Host (who never offered his name and was never asked) and make their way to the Topaz Dagger to gather up the troops. The troops are a little bleary-eyed after their extended leave, but make haste to depart. The entourage then leaves the city of Asdari to begin their trek to Kalimsport.
24 Ardor 509 (Kalimsport)
Along the way to Kalimsport, Surm continues to scry Angelet. Apparently, at some point between their last scrying and the birth of Cord, Angelet had given birth. He sees her no longer bound to her bed, but still there, looking dead-eyed, while the older, noble-dressed woman holds a baby. Another, younger woman, is in the room with them.
Over the days of the journey, Surm continues to scry (using the baby as a point of reference). He observes as the older woman—whom they remember as Angelet’s mother, Marin, cooing and singing to the baby. The babe is a girl, who they later discover has been named “Jewel.”
They arrive in the city of Kalimsport that morning without incident and make their way to the wealthy quarter of the city where Angelet’s family lives. Mahgnus breaks away to find the second wet-nurse he had secured. He will meet them at Angelet’s.
Surm, Mahgnus, and Mõrvar head inside and meet with Angelet’s mother, Marin. She feels that she is caught in a “devil’s bargain”—for she loves Jewel and would like to keep her, but knows that Jewel would have hard life in the social circles in which her family functions. Further, keeping Jewel would push Angelet further over the edge. She is caught between her love for her granddaughter and wanting to protect her daughter. She decides that it is best if Jewel goes with the Crimson Cord. They take the babe after telling Marin that Jewel can be found in the village of Yrda in Jossia should she want to connect with her again.
They rejoin the rest of the Cord, carrying Jewel. Mahgnus introduces the new wet-nurse, Fionna, to the party. She’s a talkative woman, very happy to be caring for a baby again—almost the opposite of the taciturn Pratha whom they picked up in Asdari.
At this point, the Cord splits up. Rilka and Savaric head out of the city toward Yrda with the troops and Mahgnus. Surm and Mõrvar stay behind in Kalimsport to take care of other business. They will rejoin via a Teleport spell in 22 days—about the amount of time it will take for the troops to arrive by cart in Yrda. Alasir leaves Tarben behind with Surm and Mõrvar to act as a guard.
The Cord say their farewells, pay the troops, and then the larger troupe makes their way out of the city, traveling north, toward Jossia.