The rats and wererats slain or drowned, the Sidereal Dragon continued up the Ruathan coast. The captain, however, had serious misgivings after the fight. Still, the gold he’d been given did much to calm things, and the party adequately filled in for the missing crew. Lune, however, was shunned by the crew, and he kept covered and to himself for the most part.
Two days later, now out of sight of land, the ship came upon a weird area of glowing mist, as if vibrant colors were evaporating from the sea’s surface. The captain turned to stay clear of the shimmering mist, but then it seemed to begin to follow the Dragon against the wind. When it became clear that avoiding it would be difficult, if not impossible, Jimmy decided to drink the black wine-like liquid they’d captured previously, hoping to see things no one else could see. After a few moments of disorientation, he could see right through the mists and determined they were nothing more than flickering lights, and he was aware that they were not particularly dangerous (how he knew that was unclear, but he was sure of it). Eventually the ship was enveloped in them, but aside from some brief panic among the crew, nothing seemed to particularly happen, and the simmering mists eventually dissipated. A short time later, Jimmy because intensely sleepy, and was out cold for the rest of the day and following night.
Finally, after five nights at sea, the ship at last came to Adurant, the largest city of the Arvelian Confederacy, though a city quite a bit smaller than Vodai, where they’d taken ship. They were soon pierside and went ashore, with the intent of getting clear of this city as soon as possible, in order to avoid anybody that might be looking for them and before the coin-enabled crew spread word of their misadventures. The party quickly learned that there was regular river traffic transiting up river to the south, the direction they had decided would be best on their approach to Holyton. However, it seemd that most traffic sailed in the morning on favorable winds; there was little or no traffic in that direction in the late afternoons and evenings. The party was divided on spending even a single night in the city.
In the meantime, they quickly learned a fair amount of information about the city and the Confederacy. The place was an intensely feudal culture, a patchwork of constantly warring petty lords loosely divided into a dozen or so larger entities, almost always at one another’s throats in a chaotic array of byzantine proportions. Most of the population were serfs, bound to the land and little better than cattle themselves (the party were being treated as “lesser freemen” — free to move about, but not particularly safe from the extensive nobility). The city they wished to visit (Holyton) was, as they’d hoped, a common pilgrim destination. However, by bad chance, it was currently under siege. It seemed that the Lord of Sendara, who controlled access to it (Holyton being technically a freecity and independent of all lords within its own walls) had recently been defeated on the field and had fled with some of his retainers into the city. There, they were resisting surrender to the warlord of Mordavia, who considered the city’s free status voided by his enemy’s flight inside the walls. The Sendaran army was in disarray to the north of the city, trying to reform and organize a relief expedition to save their lord. A third player, Ocarra, had joined Mordavia as an ally and was participating in the siege (Thalian mercenaries, from yet another territory, were also involved). The territory the party was currently in, Arvelia, was rumored to be considering attacking Sendara while it was down. Rumors also abounded (and contradicted one another) on the status of the Lord of Sendara – he was alternatively said to be dead, alive, resisting, surrendered, captured, or fled. It was obviously a chaotic mess, hard to make sense of unless one was a local with knowledge of the many overlapping parties and players. One personality seemed to be agreed upon by the locals — the Mordavian general, Lord Juss, was said to be particularly brutal but effective as a warlord, one of the great warriors of this land of chivalric warriors. also, Holyton was said to be protected by powerful magic — getting in would be impossible.
As the party explored the city and planned their next move, it became clear that they were being followed by a slowly growing group of glassy-eyed peasants. They were quiet and kept their distance, but their movements were disturbing. Finally, Jimmy slipped among them and simply asked what they were doing; one just pointed at Lune and continued to follow. At one point, one bolder one stepped forward and touched Lune’s robe, which seemed to please him greatly.
The party had now decided the place was too uncanny and they should leave, when a number of priests of Maladominus suddenly appeared. They had received word of the party’s coming, they said, and had orders to watch for them and provide any aid and shelter they could. There temple was not far and they wished to take the party there temporarily. The party acquiesced, albeit reluctantly. Perudo tried to use detect lie from a scroll to verify their intent, but the spell failed. Jimmy, however, managed to ask a few locals about the location of the Maladominian temple to make sure that was where they were being taken, and it was. One of the priests dispersed the peasant followers, and they were soon at the temple. It was fairly large, but not overly grand, and very quiet outside and in.
They were taken to an antechamber where they were provided wine and refreshments. Several priests began to filter in from a nearby corridor and loiter about as the party took their enjoyment. This was rather problematic, though, as the wine seemed old and sour and the food was quite poorly prepared (and only Jimmy and Perudo partook of any). The party was growing concerned with this situation when they overheard someone say “how much longer must we put up with this charade.” The party now moved to flee back through the temple chamber and out, but the false priests attacked. Several proved to be spellcasters, one almost slaying Perudo with magic missiles after he’d managed to hold person one of the enemy. Ulthar ran to an exterior wall and, pulling a patch from his robe, made a window to the outside appear for the party to escape through. Ulthar went first and then cast fog cloud to obscure the spellcasters (several of whom had spells disrupted by the party). However, though the party managed to get outside, the enemy dispelled the cloud and one hit Perudo with polymorph other, turning him into a frog. Scooping him up, Ulthar then cast mass invisibility and the party scattered.
Now in disarray, they all made their way to the river docks, looking for a boat. But, being in a crowded area, they could not easily regroup, and they soon saw the enemy in ones and twos running about looking for them. Ulthar now became visible and altered his appearance to that of their old captain, Yakos. Jimmy saw him after a moment but did not trust who it was. There was additional confusion on getting the party together (the details of which I forget), but eventually the party was reunited. They considered stealing a boat, but instead hired a man by one to row them upriver. They paid him a few gold and he took them immediately, the party largely invisible and thus not spotted by the various searchers. once clear of the city, for an additional 10 gold coins the boatman promised to row them as far as they wished to go; the party informed them they had “business with the elves to the south” to keep him quiet. They beached and cold camped along the river bank that night.
Next day, they rowed as far as the town of Ham. Here, they found a local that was able to restore Perudo to human form for a fee. The boatman was released (and told to not hurry back) while the party went off to buy horses. Camped nearby was a large force of light cavalry, apparently gathering for a potential raid across the border, but they were able to procure horses nonetheless (albeit at a high price). They now rode off quickly to the south, making the town of Tarkus after riding through the night. Though the city gates were closed (and every town and city they’d seen was walled), they were eventually able to procure passage south to Fogwynn, all the while dropping hints that they had business far to the south.
From Fogwynn, they struck out west across the plains, trying to avoid larger settlements and camping a night in the wilderness. But, west of Malin, they fell in with a patrol of soldiers from Mordavia, who accosted them and demanded their business. Perudo said they were mercenaries. The patrol leader asked if they were Thalians and the response was rather vague. Thus, the suspicious patrol demanded they be brought into their camp for questioning. They soon saw Holyton looming larger, and could see some smoke rising from place and the signs of the siege currently in progress. They crossed a river south of the city by a temporary pontoon bridge and were soon in the camp of Lord Juss, the general in command of Mordavia’s army and overall siege commander.
Juss was a huge man, with a great beard and a forceful personality to match his stature. He seemed a little leery of the party at first, stating that they clearly were not Thalians as he’d been told. He was fine with more mercenaries, however, and wanted to know their “types” — Perudo he dismissed as “another bead mumbler” of which he was well equipped, and said he could wash corpses. He was somewhat dismissive of Ulthar when he told him he could not throw fireballers (he seemed to really like wizards who could “flay a man alive with their gibberish”). Jimmy seemed like an adequate fighter and “scout.” And Lune he felt sure was a demonic baby eater, or at least “hoped” he was. He was fine with the party hanging about, so long as they worked; however, they were to be signed as volunteers, with no pay. He ended with a reminder that Holyton was a Holy city; plundering it was an affront to the gods. However, as he was not quite a god, it was no business of his. With that, he ordered them assigned places and they were turned over to a low-rank officer.
This one named himself Oddo of Spangenheim. He was detailed to show the party the camp and give them the general order of the place. He seemed interested in the fact that they were clearlya dventurers; his brother, he told them, was an adventurer. He’d gone north to find his fortune to far Tyrolia and some place called Valdikavkaz; no doubt he was already rich or, more likely, dead with his head on a spike. It was of no matter, and he would show them the layout of the camp and the state of the siege…
– Experience: rolled over