After Action Report by the DM, Welleran.
Safely aboard the Star of Immer, the party rested, recovered, and took the time to use spells to identify many of the magical items they recovered (including the Aspergillum of the Blood of Kings). There escape from the Sea Empire of Afilain had seemed clean, but the next morning they awoke to discover consternation among the crew. Jimmy investigated and learned that they were being pursued by an imperial galley, which was rowing hard (and under sail), and quickly overtaking them. He went below to report to the rest of the party, which soon heard a horn call and then felt the ship turn hard. Returning, Jimmy learned that the captain had ordered the ship to heave to as there was little chance of being able to outrun the warship. Thinking fast, the party then offered the captain and his crew 10,000 silver if they would keep their mouths shut about the party, with half paid up front. At the sight of the fortune, he quickly agreed, and Ulthar cast invisibility on the party. The captain then suggested they climb up the rigging so as to be out of the way. Soon after, the galley came near and dispatched a launch with an officer and group of imperial soldiers. They were indeed looking for the party, but the captain and his crew feigned ignorance and were extremely cooperative in allowing the ship to be thoroughly searched — the rigging, being clearly free of anything except a lone lookout, was not physically searched. At last satisfied that the party was not aboard, the boarding party returned to the warship and returned to the north.
The next three days of the voyage were uneventful, except on one day when the party and crew hear strange, loud horns blaring from the sky. It was eerie and disconcerting, but only lasted a half hour or so before fading. What this portended was unclear. (side note: what they sounded like, more or less:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1IIUcNI0cw). Perudo also cast Auguryregarding the iron bottle they’d found, to determine if opening it were wise or dangerous — it was the latter, so they chose not to do so, and instead would open it at some opportune moment, hoping it contained a dragon or some other monster.
Finally, the ship arrived in Vodai, the chief port and capital of the Kingdom of Ruatha, and one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities any of the party had yet seen. The captain was only too happy to direct the party to a number of local inns (the party chose the Orc’s head, apparently a common name for taverns in Ruatha). Lune suggested the party get a new ship quickly; although they’d asked the crew to keep quiet, sailors flush with a ridiculous amount of coin were certain to draw attention to themselves, and the party. By good fortune, the party was able to learn that two ships were leaving for Arvelian Confederacy very soon, one bound for Adurant in 2 days and one for Harlond in 3 days. Though the latter was closer to their destination, the party opted for the former in order to get clear of their former ship and its (likely) talkative crew.
The rest of the arrival day, and the one that followed, the party used to conduct a great deal of business. First and foremost, they located a temple willing to resurrect both Xarxen and Aial Askabad. The former, upon being restored, was most pleased with his return and promised to keep word of the party to himself (he also had some discussions with Ulthar). (MATT: As for Aial, I did not roll his resurrection survival in case it failed; also, let me know if he plans on continuing with the party or returning home). For Xarxen, crowns for convoy were put into his purse and they let him depart, back to the Sea Empire. The party then split up (with Lune always under escort, and hidden by a heavy hood) and conducted their own personal business of shopping, acquiring a few potions and other needful items. The party also heard a good deal of talk about Ruatha potentially making alliance with the Sea Empire (most locals seemed to oppose the idea, but not vociferously); how the kingdom was ruled by a regent, as the heir was a minor; and how the kingdom was booming ever since its victory in a great war on its southern marches a decade or so past. The local attitude seemed to be boisterous in spirits, but with a sense of “now what.”
One odd incident occurred during this time, though, after the party had reunited. They were accosted in the street by a weird fortune teller or street magician, who asked to tell their fortunes for a coin. The part acquiesced and the weird, capering man began to babble a bit about how they would “pass through fire and darkness, alone” and that “not even the gods could aid them.” All his talk was of “troubled times, very troubled times indeed.” But his final pronouncement was a little close to home for the party, when he said “your troubles are but a part of the larger trouble, naught but the finger of a larger hand.” With that, he vanished into the crowd and was not seen again.
The night before sailing, Jimmy decided he would hit the town and carouse. Meanwhile, Perudo decided he would explore the religious sites in the city (the first time I’ve got to use my Religious Carousing rules). meanwhile, Ulthar sequestered himself to begin working on some spells he’d acquired while Lune kept a low profile in their tavern. However, while sitting alone, he was approached by an odd-looking man with no hair whatsoever who came right up and sat before him. the sinister and disconcerting-looking person got right to his point, saying that Lune could not hide from “us,” as “they are everywhere, in every shadow and dark place.” He claimed that Lune and his fellows could profit by this by joining them, or giving up that which they carried in exchange for great riches and power. Lune gave him no answer (?), and the person then departed without incident, though he seemed almost invisible to the crowd in the inn.
The next morning, the party awoke to the realization that Jimmy had not returned. Fearful, Perudo cast locate object and, by very good fortune, found that Jimmy was merely passed out in the alley behind the inn, not yet recovered from his revels the night before. But, the party was now running late and rushed so as not to miss their ship. The Sidereal Dragon had not left yet, though the captain was clearly agitated, and ordered them to get underway almost immediately. The party assumed he was annoyed with them but, after awhile when the captain was less busy getting his ship to sea, they learned he was more angry that several of his crew had not shown up at all. Fortunately, he said, a group of sailors came by asking for work and were hired on the spot for this voyage.
This last piece of information got the party’s attention, and the Perudo used a scroll of detect lie to check out the new crew — indeed, they had come aboard specifically to get the party. And, as the boat was sailing down the coast and towards the Adurant, the new sailors, Wererats in human form, attacked with hidden shortswords. The party used a scroll of protection from lycanthropes to keep them at bay, but this had the unfortunate effect of causing them to instead begin attacking the crew. meanwhile, hordes of normal and giant rats began to pour from the hold and attack the party. Ulthar quickly assumed bear form with alter self, and began to quickly crush large numbers of rats, while the others pressed first the giant rats, and then the Wererats. One crewmember was severely wounded and knocked overboard (he was lost), while several others were wounded, including the captain. But, the small number of Wererats were soon overwhelmed by the party. The last one jumped overboard with curses on the party, and was followed by all the remaining rats in a stream.
The captain now wished to turn back, being short a half dozen crew. The party, however, offered him an additional 50 gold coins above their passage fee to continue on. Given this were(rat)guild, the captain said he’d never heard of such a thing happening and would never look at rats in the hold the same way again. He agreed to continue, provided the party helped out around the decks. The crew was less sanguine about continuing, until Perudo came among them and healed all those wounded in the fight. This mollified them somewhat, and the Sidereal Dragoncontinued on its journey to Adurant and the Arvelian Confederacy.
– Experience: 220 XP each (200 for Ulthar)