Last week on the Thursday game...
Returning to Islington with the corpse of the guildman in tow, the party find lodgings at the Gilded Lily before eventually making their way to the Duke's Head, where Ronald - senior guildsman and the apparent point of contact for their mission - awaited them. After encountering a little trouble bringing the body into the city and the inn, they eventually hand the body off to guild and consider their next moves.
The party was now faced with a difficult decision: although they are now in possession of the deed to Northreach Keep, exactly how can they legitimatise their claim to the keep and its adjacent lands? As luck would have it, they learn that the Duke is holding a ball in the ducal palace next week, and Ronald is able to get the four of them invites to the ball should they wish it.
As it turned out, they did wish it, and everyone did their best to prepare for the ball. Borock dug around the library for information about the bugbear that accosted them en route to the city Islington; Robert, pretending to be a licensed mage of the city, gained access to the magical section of the library and looked up more about his patron; Mordai worked the streets and spread some spending money around to make himself known to the ducal servants; and Crow scouted the ducal palace out in an attempt to find alternative routes out of the palace.
Before long, it was the night of the ball. Dressed in their court finery, the party made their way into the courtyard where they passed themselves off as knights from the land of Lascal, a tiny county in the middle of nowhere. At the banquet, they were seated - as their false titles warranted - at the far end of the table, furthest away from the Duke. Desperate to get the Duke's attention, Robert caused a scene by yelling at Borock for attempting to leave his post; as the eyes of the crowd turned to him, he apologised for the outburst and smoothly moved the party to the head of the table, near the Duke.
Once there, Robert presented the Duke with a portrait of Duke's father that they had found in Northreach Keep, a ring that he had found off the late Baron Northreach's body, and the deed to the keep. Mordai then made a canny suggestion: if the Duke supported their claim to Northreach, the party would offer the Duke a full half of all taxes they collected instead of the usual 10%. The Duke agreed, but said that three rival claimants to the Keep had since presented themselves to him:
- The Baroness Andmar, who claims that her late husband was once promised Northreach for his military service;
- The Count Cydeb, who claims that his grandfather once owned the rights to Northreach; and
- The Marquis Ald, who claims that he and his army deserve the Keep because they are best-placed to defend Northreach from would-be northern invaders.
Immediately after the banquet had ended, the Marquis made a move, challenging Borock to a duel. Borock promptly accepted and, in a matter of moments, slew the Marquis' champion with a broken longsword blade. This earned him the undying hatred of the Marquis, but as per the terms of the duel, the Marquis withdrew his claim to Northreach.
By capitalising on the racism that ran deep in Islington - not to mention the judicious application of Thaumaturgy and some basic sleight of hand - Mordai managed to intimidate the Count Cydeb into believing that he was a demon reincarnate, sending him screaming from the ballroom. In their short conversation, Mordai also managed to learn that the Count was merely the face of some sinister organisation plotting to overthrow the current position of the Thieves Guild on Druss.
The Baroness Andmar was the most difficult of their opponents. A seasoned politician with a sharp tongue and a spine of iron, she refused to back down from her claim no matter how many threats Mordai and Robert threw at her. It was only after Mordai publicly accused her of killing her own husband, and starting the fire that conveniently burned all the documents that may have proven her own noble lineage, that the crowd finally turned on her and booed her out of court.
Having dealt with all three claimants, the Duke honoured his end of the promise and named Borock as the new Baron Northreach, allowing him to tax the lands around the keep in exchange for his ducal tithe, the right to call upon Northreach for a banner of fighting men in times of war (approximately 100 men-at-arms), and a sworn oath to protect the lands and citizens of Northreach.
During his audience with the Duke, Borock also asked if they could be allowed to visit the palace vault. This request was granted with surprising ease, and the party was escorted into the vault, whereupon they discovered the reason for that ease: a powerful enchantment lay over the vault that prevented them from taking anything out of it. Changing tack, Robert asked to borrow the puzzle box, claiming that a powerful fay was searching for it. The Duke agreed warily, but demanded that the box be returned to him whole and unharmed after the whole affair with the fay was settled.
Accompanied by one of the Duke's men, the party rode a day out from Islington and made camp. As was her way, Robert's patron Titania appeared to him in a dream and expressed her pleasure that he had not failed her. However, she now also had a new task for him: Robert was to find a way to open the puzzle box. Although no deadline was offered, Robert knew that if he took too long in fulfilling this new request, the fate that awaited him would surely not be pretty. However, as a small reward for his satisfactory service, she agreed to appear before the Duke and his man to explain that the puzzle box would not be returned to the ducal vaults for a while yet.
Interlude: What was Crow doing?
During the ball, she wild-shaped into a lizard and tried to follow the ducal guards into the vaults. However, the palace rafters were a strange and confusing place, and she quickly got lost. When the party made their way into the vaults, she spotted them and followed them back out into the palace proper.
Downtime Action #1
Borock tours his demesne. Word begins to spread throughout the land that there is a new Baron in Northreach, and within a week the keep receives an influx of people eager to serve under the new Baron as servants, stablehands, guards and so on. Of particular note is a young man named Nicodemus, who claims that his family used to serve the former Baron as stewards. He looks nervous and inexperienced, but if his claim is true, he will likely have learned much about the trade from his father. Borock can either hire Nicodemus or send for a steward from Islington, but the keep must have a steward.
As he attempts to learn more about the fay, Robert hears of a society of bards that call themselves the Wilders. Identifiable by their distinctive cloak broaches - made from a silver twig bent into the shape of a keyhole - the Wilders are said to be the premier mortal authority on all things fey. Unfortunately, like all bards, the Wilders are wont to travel as their hearts and songs take them, and there is no real way to get a hold of them. Posting a generous reward at the local bard's college might however be a good way to lure one of them to Northreach Keep.
Mordai spends 10gp in an attempt to build the beginnings of a network of informants amongst the drunks and disenfranchised of the fishing village. This proves to be successful: too successful, in fact. He is quickly inundated with all manner of reports about the most mundane and petty things, to the point where simply walking through the village square is enough to draw a small crowd of would-be "informants" to him, each willing to sell him anything he wants to hear in the hopes of a fresh handout.
Crow spends a few days out in the Northreach wilderness, looking for an acorn suitable for the cultivation of an oak tree in the keep's inner courtyard. On the third night, she eventually comes across an ancient lightning-struck oak in the middle of a forest clearing. Only a single acorn, silvery in the moonlight, was left on the tree; almost as if the dying oak had used what little remained of its strength to produce one final acorn.
Downtime Action #2
Borock, aided by Robert, holds an auction in Northreach Keep to sell the artwork they found in the keep's bolthole (see episode 1). News of "the Dragonborn Baron" has since spread throughout the land, and almost all the nobles on Druss - minus Baroness Andmar, Count Cydeb, and the Marquis Ald, all of whom the party had slighted during the duke's ball - sent a representative to the auction. By the end of the day, the auction managed to raise a grand total of 319gp.
Robert has put out the word out that Northreach Keep welcomes bards, and that one of the "feytouched" currently resides in the Keep. Bards began calling at the keep in increasing numbers, all eager to meet the feytouched mage, but none of them had anything useful to share with Robert... none, that is, until the day a cloaked man bearing the Wilders' distinctive silver keyhole broach knocked upon the Keep's doors.
Mordai heads to the village square and gives a rousing speech about how it is everybody's duty to keep the roads safe from bandits and highwaymen. In exchange for half of any gold they find, a small group of tough-looking farmers and fishermen agree to follow his command. The north of Druss, however, proved to be reasonably safe, and Mordai managed to only find a single sad-looking bandit camp made up of five thugs.
The villagers proved reasonably capable of handling themselves and, aside from a few minor scraps and bruises, only one man was seriously hurt (took an arrow through his right arm). The bandits were taken alive and summarily lynched by the villagers at the nearest crossroads. After giving the villagers their cut, Mordai was left with a meagre 53gp, which he adds to the treasury. However, the roads are now safer than ever, and trade continues to flourish as more merchants begin heading north.
Crow spends her days nurturing the last acorn from the lightning-struck oak with care, love, and Druidcraft. Aided by her magical attentions, the acorn has since taken root and grown into a small sapling within the span of a few weeks. Curiously, the leaves on the young tree are all a uniform shade of dull silver. Crow is not entirely sure what this portends, but she is reasonably sure that the tree is in some way touched by magic.
|Taxes - Fishing Village||1500gp|
|Taxes - Farmsteads||1500gp|
|Unskilled hirelings x20||200gp|
|Skilled hirelings x10||1000gp|
|Keep restoration (3 months)||500gp|
The keep is currently losing 400gp per month due to the restoration work that is being done. Once the keep is fully restored after three months of work, it will begin bringing in a net total of 100gp per month.
The first month has passed, and the treasury currently has 334gp.