The City of Cowls

Dirty Boots
Eleventh through fifteenth of Reaping, 474

Into the Delta. Hags and a strange mutant guarding the tower door.

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At Night
Tenth and Eleventh of Reaping, 474

Simultaneous raids on Elzbet’s Manor and Walic’s warehouse. The imposter revealed as the Faceless Lady.

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Mask
Ninth and tenth of Reaping, 474

Summary: Wrapped up loose ends, got fooled by an impostor.

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Broken, Beat & Scarred
Fourth through Ninth of Reaping, 474

Summary: Faya and Corbinian are no more.

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Up From the Grave
First through Fourth of Reaping, 474

SUMMARY: Dungeon crawl to clear the Catacombs.

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Public Display of Dismemberment
Twenty-eighth of Sunharrow through First of Reaping, 474

SUMMARY: Fight in the Arena and attack on the Warlock’s summoning.

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Ardera Sempre
Twenty-seventh through twenty-eighth of Sunharrow, 474

Finishing his day’s research, Alaric headed to the Kraken’s Maw for a well deserved drink. When he discovered the wreckage, he headed straight home, donned his wargear, and made for the Skull and Gibbet, where he made clear his willingness to kill whoever had been responsible.

In the meantime, everyone else had been busy, trying to attend to the day’s business while also preparing for the meet with Twilight’s Thieves. Mica made an appearance at the monastery, attending to her duties enough to earn the Abbot’s approval, while Maudrin set about his healing rounds, attracting the usual crowd. Fiona had disappeared; one of her urchins had come to her pleading for aid for his missing sister. She had no choice but to help him, or risk losing the goodwill she had worked so hard to earn. Anu sat downstairs, reading her scrolls cribbed from the Academy while keeping half an eye on the prisoner, and Dove went shopping, and had a long decadent bath.

Not trusting the honor of thieves, Alaric searched out Siggrid, to borrow some of his crew as backup in case the meet went sour. His old captain was optimistic about the Northmen’s prospects in this soft southern city, and made clear his intention to stay for the winter…which was still several months away.

As the time for the meet drew near, the Thundercranes set out from the Skull and Gibbet; Alaric and his five reavers came later, acting as a reserve and a rear guard. At the shanties, Maudrin and Anu spotted some watchers on the rooftops, but no signs of treachery. Before long, a half dozen toughs arrived, making a show of parlaying. It was all a distraction, though, as the true leader of the Thieves was already there…right behind Dove.

She introduced herself as Twilight, an Eladrin tarrying in the mortal world when most of her kin had already departed. She was wild and fey, and seemed perplexed by Dove’s insistence that she was responsible for the actions of her people. When she understood that it was money they sought, however, she enthusiastically handed over a bag of gems, along with the three dupes still drawing breath, and half the rights to the tobacconist’s shop.

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Arson
Twenty-seventh of Sunharrow, 474

As Alaric departed to conduct his researches, the rest of the group headed towards the Kraken’s Maw, talking as they walked. Dove asked for help distracting Falcon‘s new friend so she could get a few minutes to talk to him, and this gave Anu an idea. She jogged off to Adrik’s shop, to see if he knew anything about Falcon. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to get his name, or his description. Regardless, Adrik seemed surprised to see her. He realized she didn’t know that the Maw had been torched. What?

At about this time, everybody else was discovering the same thing. Hedra was there, screaming Jorlim‘s name, while Franz simultaneously tried casting spells to cool the smoldering embers while holding Hedra back from diving into the wreckage in search of Jorlim. As Mica comforted Hedra (while also preventing her from harming herself), Franz magically cooled the debris, and Fiona muscled a huge beam out of the way. Beneath, she found Jorlim, on death’s door. Even Maudrin’s healing magic was unable to completely restore him, though it kept him alive. Mica carried him to the monastery, with Hedra close at hand. Everybody else took stock of the situation.

There was a strange sigil painted on the building across the way. One of Fiona’s beggars had also seen the people who torched the place, and he gave her all of the information he could recall. It seemed that the arsonists had nailed the front door shut and doused the walls with lamp oil. A search turned up the charred remains of heavy iron nails, and melted crossbow bolts. Based on Anu and Fiona’s informants, and the strange sigil, it seemed apparent that Twilight’s Thieves had carried out the attack. Wait, who?

All they knew about the Thieves was that they operated out of the Ratrun and had interests in the Bazaar and Crescent Ward, and were reputed to be an elite crew. Not much to go on…but Franz had a solution. He had many rare dweomers in his grimoire, and one of them might allow him to speak with the animating spirit of the nail used to hammer the door shut. But he would need time to prepare the spell. Anu accompanied him to his house to recover his grimoire, while everybody else headed for the Skull and Gibbet to eat and process the awful events of the morning.

At the S&G, over lunch, Franz seemed surprised to learn that Nyx had gifted everybody with magical items…but a quick Detect Magic later, he laughed and made some cryptic comments to the effect that he now understood that Nyx needn’t worry about the Thundercranes anymore. After dining, Franz studied his book, while the Thundercranes planned and discussed. Dove was in a funk, and Mica was not thrilled about Franz’s boots on the table. Then Franz was finished studying, and things got really weird.

Franz was able to telepathically communicate with the nail. It gave up several names: Vogel, Evert, Thilo, as well as the scent of pipe tobacco and fish. It also confirmed hearing the phrase Twilight’s Thieves. Finally, it told Franz that the arsonists had walked no more than 5 minutes to reach the Maw. Armed with this data, Franz suggested a Locate Object spell., to find the hammer that had driven the nail. It was a long shot, but the only shot they had.

The spell led them to a tobacconist’s shop on Axe Street, that appeared unguarded. While Anu broke in the back way, everyone else walked in the front door. Maudrin was on crowd control, turning away potential customers, while Dove took point. The tobacconist proved uncooperative, and tried to run, but Anu stopped him, and Dove enchanted him to tell her what she wanted to know.

He was, in fact, Thilo, and he was an agent of the Gallows Corner slavers who had infiltrated Twilight’s Thieves. He had convinced the thieves to attack the Maw by persuading them that the Thundercranes were a dangerous upstart guild that was murdering its rivals. He did this for revenge, for the lives of his comrades. There was a lookout on the roof; Anu and Maudrin dealt with him, terminally. That left, he claimed, 7 more in the basement, and he even gave them the secret knock. But he didn’t tell them where to use it.

In the basement were many barrels of tobacco. Calling for the Thieves to come out and parlay, Dove was surprised when the front of the last barrel swung out from the wall with a click. A wiry man popped partially out, and seemed surprised and angered by Thilo’s deception. But it was all a ruse; when asked by Dove, Thilo confirmed that this was in fact Evert, another slaver agent, and that yet another waited behind the secret door. Evert quickly retreated, and began rallying the Thieves for a fight, but Dove’s Thaumaturgy-enhanced voice cast that into doubt, and the sound of a short, sharp struggle could be heard. While Fiona stuffed Thilo into a tobacco barrel, Mica kicked through the door.

Fiona led the way into the dim passage beyond. It led to a room, in which two fresh corpses lay, one stabbed in the kidney, the other eviscerated and gashed across the throat. A single closed door led from the room; when Anu opened it from afar, an ambush was struck by the slavers!

Evert charged at Fiona, while the halfling, Alton, shot her with a poisoned bolt! Battle was joined. Dove’s magic held Evert in place, and Maudrin’s Moonbeam seared both of the slavers, while the other three Twilight’s Thieves charged into the slavers from behind. Fiona beheaded Evert with great panache, and the fight seemed won. Still, the depraved halfling was determined to kill at least one enemy before Hell took him, and he focused his wrath on Mica, who was poisoned, stabbed in the gut, and slashed badly across the thigh, dropping from shock and blood loss. Anu heroically shielded her from Alton’s death blow, and Maudrin pulled her to safety, healing her most grievous wounds. Maudrin’s spell finally burned the life from the halfling, and the battle was over.

The three Thieves were worried, but agreed to deliver a message requesting a meeting to their mysterious guildmaster. The Thundercranes stuffed Thilo back into his barrel, carried him back to the S&G, and dumped him in one of the very cells where his compatriots had once kept their human chattel. It had been a long day already, and it wasn’t even dinnertime. Questions hung over the gathering. Would Jorlim survive? Were there more slaver agents out there? And who was the mysterious leader of Twilight’s Thieves?

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Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Twenty-sixth through twenty-seventh of Sunharrow, 474

Their hankering for breakfast sated, our heroes began discussing the situation at the Skull and Gibbet. While Alaric whent to break the news of Gorstag’s demotion to the man, the others started hashing out who would actually end up running the place. Jorlim actually suggested Hedra…much as he’d hate to lose her, he knew she could do the job, and it would be good for her to have her own place. That bit of business completed, talk turned to what to do next.

Around then, a messenger ran breathlessly into the Maw, looking for Maudrin, who had hired him to bring a letter to the Headmistress of the White Lotus Academy. He had run most of the way back from the Academy with a reply…a strange, smooth stone. Clutching it, Maudrin heard a voice in his head, asking him to go to the statue of King Angrohans I at the Bazaar. Gathering up their gear, the party did as they were asked.

There, an odd-lookinh gnome waited for them, who introduced herself as Nyx Es’Daan, Headmistress of the Academy. It soon became apparent that she was not really there, but rather projecting her image from some distant place. It also became apparent that she knew Dove, a fact that broke Anu‘s heart a bit. Nyx asked the group if they could bring the stone to her so that it could be destroyed; Fiona was more than a little skeptical of the purity of her motives, but everybody else was convinced by Anu and Maudrin’s arguments, and they set out for the Academy on phantom steeds.

Dove’s tales of absolute terror at Nyx’s hands were enough to give everyone pause, and Fiona grew to positively loath the gnome wizard by the time they arrived at the Academy. She had words with Nyx almost as soon as they arrived, and at one point Anu started to cast a sleeping spell on Fiona to keep things from getting violent…a spell that the Headmistress dismissed with a gesture, reminding her that “Sleep doesn’t work on Elves.” The tensions eventually disipated, as it became apparent that everyone was on the same side, and they didn’t need to like each other to work together. She proved her intentions by dispelling the evil presence in Odo’s ruby.

Over lunch, the conversation continued. The Headmistress briefly mistook Mica for a dwarf, and she seemed to approve of Alaric‘s attitude toward cleaning up the city. Talk turned to the Famine, and Nyx first became truly angry when Fiona suggested she was doing nothing to fight it. Having proved otherwise, she hashed out a working agreement with the party, offering them her support in exchange for their undertaking occasional missions in the city. When Fiona asked for magical items, Nyx agreed to give them each a gift…if they would submit to a spell of suggestion to prove their loyalty. All agreed, though Maudrin did not want his background discussed in public. Having satisfied herself that the party were not associated with the enemies of the Sunlands (though Anu’s evasiveness troubled her), Nyx had a chest of treasures brought in, one for each of them. She explained that she had tried to select things that each could use.

Maudrin took an ancient Rod, once part of the regalia of the Tuarathan emperors, that would accentuate his magical abilities. To Anu went a fine pair of eyeglasses that would allow her to enchant the minds of whoever she chose. Fiona chose a pair of supple Fey boots that would allow her to run and spring like a hunting cat, while Dove took an Elf-crafted mahogany wand of Magic Missiles. Mica selected a grren cloak, light but strong, that would protect her from her enemies, and finally, to Alaric went an odd, jagged javelin, enchanted to become a bolt of lightning, that had once belonged to a Fjorverr war leader.

With some time to kill, Anu was granted permission to tour the Libary, where she promptly ditched her minders and soon found herself in the Restricted Stacks. Selecting a random book, she broke the chains and seals and sat on the floor to read (and take notes.) Hours later, an instructor found her and removed her to the courtyard. Nyx was not amused, but not too surprised, either.

After dinner, everybody retired, and the next morning they returned on fresh phantom steeds to the City. Nyx had given them a scroll to cure Carlo’s lycanthropy, which Alaric did, and then they all headed back toward the Kraken’s Maw. Hopefully, they’d get there just in time for lunch.

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Interlude 3 - Avenues & Alleyways
Eleventh - Twenty-sixth of Sunharrow, 474

Life in the city goes on as it always does, but perhaps just a wee bit safer. There are rumors of bogey men lurking in the alleys around the docks, of course, but who knows what phantoms the mind of a drunken sailor will conjure up?

Dove spent her time in polite company, charming and swindling the finer things in life out of the upper crust. She even managed to celebrate a holiday from back home, surprising everybody with fine gifts. Maudrin, meanwhile, was busy with research and structural improvements at the Skull and Gibbet. Anu spent a lot of time at the old Garaphos ruins, while Fiona spent her time alternating between wild revelry and building the reputation of the Thundercranes on the street. For Mica and Alaric, it was business as usual.

Despite the triumphs of early Sunharrow, nagging questions remain, and for some, there are more questions than answers. So, as the sun rises on the 26th of Sunharrow, it just so happens that everybody had a hankering for one of Jorlim’s famous breakfasts. To the Kraken’s Maw!

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