“Ok, so let's start back at the beginning.”
Nikolaj sat down at a large oak table with the rest of the Raven’s Companions. Tankards of ale, bottles of wine and plates of food fill their view as he tries to take in exactly what occurred in his absence while he was establishing The Third Crown as the party's new base of operations.
Following the restoration of the Tree of Life, the rest of the party returned to Alfheim Town to restock the skyship and take their leave of the region, only to learn their crew had scattered. After questioning an incredibly inebriated First Mate Jorel, the Companions found themselves at the seedy No Good Deed Inn in search of the rest of the crew. Eaeros took the opportunity to give a performance the likes of which the establishment had never seen.
Perhaps it was the resplendent performance that gave their location away, but it allowed Daruous, Dwarven messenger of King Doriath, to track them down and deliver an urgent missive: A request to locate a Glantrian noble and safely escort her to the King.
After a week's long search (and subsequent loss of Jorel and crew once again to the No Good Deed Inn), the party found Countess Helene de Veronique and her iron carriage stranded in a wood en route to Alfheim. The tattooed noble expressed gratitude for having such a well-renowned band of adventurers come to her aid, but such praise would be short lived.
“And how many of these bandits arrived?” Filandriel asked with curiosity as she swirled a glass of wine, taking note of the tactical positioning described at this point in the story. The would be rescuers found themselves beset by a bandits seemingly looking to rob this noble and her traveling party. The situation seemed most dire until Helene’s hidden protector, the lizardman Gresh, evened the odds with a potent fog cloud, obscuring the battlefield as the Countess made it to the safety of the carriage. As arrows were fired, blades clashed and ponies struck, Caelnach rode in, catching up to the party after receiving a similar missive, to help end the threat. Unbeknownst to the majority of the combatants, a new assailant entered the fray, looking to disable one of the remaining bandits. After being discovered and outmatched by the tandem offense of Caelnach and Gresh, the masked warrior disappeared from sight. As the remaining bandits were put down, shot down (and for one poor soul, transformed into a fish, locked in a tankard of booze, then buried alive), the lizardman ranger and the fighting barbarian were able to discover the truth behind the failed waylaying.
“By Order of the Honorable Sultan Ismail, a bounty of 3800 gold pieces for the heads of the Raven's Companions?” Nikolaj scoffed as he read the bounty.
“Yeah, one would think you all would garner a higher price.” Filandriel snarled as she took a sip of her wine.
“And additional 1000 gold pieces if you are to bring…” Niko nodded with Fil as she read alongside him, memories flashing of the barbarian taking down a number of men and firing one at the sultan’s estate. “Yeah, I can see why the sultan would want to do it himself."
The insult to the sultan back in Ylaruam months prior was meant to be avenged by the bounty. Still, the Raven’s Companions would have to ensure Helene’s safety before attempting to resolve this issue.
The iron (and horseless) carriage that would be their transport housed an impressively vast and obviously magical living quarters stocked with food, wines, ales and spirits as befitting a woman of Helene’s status.
As the party completed their task and the Glantrian Countess met with King Doriath, Eaeros and Arwan each hatched a plan to win the noble’s affections.
The mystical charms of the Dwarven Bard took hold, but inadvertently led to an unfortunate misunderstanding between the Helene and Eaeros as they received a new mission: To escort Helene to a particular location to deliver a gift from the King. In an effort to make amends, she decided to treat treat everyone to drinks at a well known tavern…
“The No Good Deed Inn again?” Filandriel said with slight disbelief. “This is starting sound rather contrived.”
“I'll be the first to admit that this all sounds pretty convenient, but it's how things played out.” Arwan took a sip of his ale before continuing.
The party's return to the seedy establishment was met with thunderous applause as word of Eaeros’ previous performance made him a legend in the tavern and the crowd eager for a repeat performance.
The revelry was short-lived as the encore was interrupted by a bard clad in black brandishing a guitar. The man in black played a powerful chord that rendered many in the tavern unconscious, Helene included. At this point, the Raven’s Companions learned that word of the Sultan’s bounty reached further than they anticipated. The battle would have been fierce, with collateral damage a near certainty, if not for the clever use of Silence by Eaeros, forcing the bard and his men to vacate the tavern, effectively making the fight a one-sided affair. With the confrontation settled, the party took their leave, enjoying the comforts of Glantrian nobility, with food, drink and, in Arwan’s case, a new chance at romance due to Eaeros' cunning dice play.
“Now a gentleman should never kiss and tell, but…” Eaeros led on, hoping Arwan would chime in.
“It was nice, but it was a… it wasn't the same. The spark wasn't there, you know?” Arwan spoke, the tinge of mourning ever so briefly coating his words before Eaeros picked up the story.
The carriage’s journey came to an end in the midst of an empty field, with Helene assuring everyone that they had arrived at their destination. An elderly gnome appeared to the Countess and allowed entry into what was an impressive (and impressively hidden) estate, the Villa De Veronique. The grand views and splendor quickly faded as they were led to Helene’s elder brother, Martin, who's demeanor while receiving the King’s gift, stood in stark contrast to the fine clothing draping his athletic form. Much to his consternation, he allowed the party entry into the lavish gala that was in progress when they arrived unannounced.
The party, save Gresh, did their best to blend into the soiree. Eaeros to retreated into a powder room as Caelnach and Arwan spotted a familiar face.
“And you're saying that's when you saw me?” Filandriel chimed in. “What made you think I was there?”
“It was a very convincing disguise with the leather outfit, your fiery red hair…” Eaeros, spoke, looking to begin a flowery description before being interrupted.
“Brunette. I'm a brunette.” Fil’s words were dripping with condescension as everyone took a glance to see her long brown hair put into a bun, with Niko took an audible gulp from his ale to break the awkward silence.
After retreating to a balcony away from the surprisingly bigoted attendants, the learned of “Filandriel’s” client at the gala, the only other non-human (that wasn't a member of Martin's wait staff), the violet-haired wizard, Sophia. Pleasantries were exchanged, but any more inquiry into her being at the event was interrupted as Eaeros finally made his dramatic entrance. He had convinced the Count De Veronique to let him perform with the well-known halfling Half-Pint Players.
“Wait, you got to share the stage with the Half-Pint Players?” Fil spoke up, an unusual amount of interest in her voice. “I wanted them to perform at the wedding, but their agent said it was too short notice.” "Is that intended to be a pun," Sophia asked to laughter all around.
“Well, once I explained to that guy in charge what I had planned, he was all but too eager to have me perform with them," Eaeros replied, beaming with assurance and satisfaction.
The gala was in full swing, the extravagance hiding a sinister threat. Gresh and Arwan both noticed the wait staff begin to be replaced, and Eaeros discerned that “Filandriel” wad not who she appeared to be before taking the stage. The lizardman was the first to take action attacking one of the assailants as Caelnach, using a table, revealed Fil as an imposter and took down a number of opponents. The masked warrior the party previously encountered in the woods at the site of the broken down wagon appeared to face Eaeros. Chaos ensued as the bard continued to perform despite the attacks, and as Sophia displayed her prowess, clouding the minds of several of the would-be assassins in a wave of confusion - leading to several patrons being assaulted by happenstance. The men looking to claim the bounty were obviously skilled (with one unlucky patron being mauled by Gresh due to an attack being redirected), but were unprepared for the variety of offense from the party, with Arwan’s blade striking true, Caelnach easily dispatching two, the faux Fil quickly losing the will to fight, a powerful Cone of Cold from Eaeros dealing death to the warriors (and a number of innocent party-goers, with Arwan and Caelnach getting caught in the crossfire) and Sophia backing up Gresh’s fury, her mystic bolts of magic missiles hobbling one of the attackers. The masked man, sensing that all was lost, attempted to take Sophia hostage, only to have his life snuffed out by the bard on stage.
As the dust settled, questions still remained. Who were these attackers that took the bounty? How were they able to find the party so easily each time? How did they know to impersonate a member of the Raven’s Companions? While they may have gone unanswered, the attempts on their life would not go unavenged, as Caelach took his leave from the party, armed with information from the surrendering imposter, intending to put down Sultan Ismail. Gresh decided that with his task now done, to return to his swamp and simpler lifestyle, but not before making it known that he received a vision of ill tidings, with the Raven’s Companions at the epicenter.
The rain poured heavily outside as the story concluded, Sophia handed a second tankard by Fil as Nikolaj sat back in his seat.
“I can't say I'm sorry to have missed all that. But compared to all the crazy stuff we usually deal with, this all seemed like a breeze. At least things can't get crazier once we get back to the task as hand, right?” Niko gave everyone a warm smile before clearing his throat, discussions on the next move to soon begin…
45th Session: 3300XP
46th Session: 3200XP
47th Session: 3480XP
Total XP: 114,980XP