Epilogue: Arc #1
Last week on the Thursday game...
As the adventurers stared into the sunset, wondering what they should do next, they heard a shout from the cliff. A strange sight greeted them: a man was yelling at them from atop a cliff and, as he did so, furiously waved a red flag. This seemed to shock the villagers, and when the party questioned the precarious child as to what that signal meant, they learnt that it was the pre-established signal for "ships sighted heading straight for the village".
Robert climbed the cliff and, with the aid of the old man living there, saw the ships for himself. They confirmed his worst fears: in the distance, about five days away, was a fleet of about twenty ships, each sporting the distinctive cerulean-blue of the fey. Realising that they had little to no time to waste, Robert rushed down and, along with the rest of the party, rode for Northreach.
Once they were back home, Cariel (Cammie's Oath of the Ancients Dragonborn Paladin) and Mordai got to work directing the villagers in digging pit traps and clearing the area around the keep to make for wider killing grounds. In the meantime, Borock and Robert rode for the refugee camp to bring them back to shelter safely in the keep. Days of living rough out in the wild made the men and women in the camp more than eager to leave for a roof over their heads again.
Before they left the makeshift camp, Borock and Mordai noticed that the villagers were particularly fond of the shrine to Lethae that the party had established previously. Thinking that it might be a potent symbol of hope, the two of them, with the aid of Tenser's Floating Disc, moved the whole shrine - sword, rock, and all - back to Northreach Keep.
Two days later, the fishing village burned.
Backlit by a half moon, the Huntsman sounded a war horn, and his host attacked Northreach Keep. Although the fey foot soldiers proved to be capable warriors - the first volley of arrows slaughtered more than half of the keep's guards - the elite warriors were devastating. Clad in golden armour and armed with massive gold-tipped greatspears, they were not only deadly accurate when throwing their spears, but could also teleport to them after throwing them.
Thankfully, Cariel was prepared. Although Robert had killed her former fey master, her House was not yet broken, and there was still enough power left to turn Oberon's witchling warriors. Brandishing her shield emblazoned with the sigil of her former fey master's house, she strode forth and spoke dread words of command - words that she had learnt from her master, words that turned to ash and salt in her mouth even as she spoke them - to drive them from this place.
One of the warriors broke and ran, and with the party finally getting the upper hand, the tides of battle turned in their favour. However, the Huntsman still had a trick up his sleeve. Through some unknown means, he had managed to send his pet Azer - a dwarf whose very hair and beard was made of living fire - to wreck havoc amongst the villagers of the keep. However, his hold over the Azer was less than perfect, and the dwarf was able to technically obey the Huntsman's orders by only halfheartedly swinging his mace around whilst still dealing minimum damage to the villagers.
While Robert and Mordai tried to learn from the Azer how they could break the Huntsman's spell ("kill the bastard!"), the rest of the sidhe army began scaling the walls. Thankfully, Cariel was there waiting for them, and with a blast of her fire breath, the gold dragonborn sent most of them tumbling off the walls screaming. Soon, there was nobody left for the party to fight except for the Huntsman.
Compelled by Cariel's taunt, the Huntsman leapt onto the wall to engage the paladin in single combat, but the party was not in a mood to allow the two of them the honour of a mano a mano duel. Once the sidhe lordling was up on the battlements, they gave him everything they had.
It did not take long. Wounded by a critical Eldritch Blast flung by Robert, the Huntsman's elk steed reared in fear and terror... and threw his fey rider down the battlements and onto a rock. His inhuman scream pierced the night, and as he writhed upon the rock in agony, spine shattered, back broken, Borock slowly made his way down the battlements to finish the creature off and claim his trophy. With a single blow from his greatsword Oathbreaker, Borock took the head of the Huntsman and slew the sidhe responsible for taking his family from him.
The Huntsman's death triggered a cascade of events. As the fey talisman upon the Huntsman's chest shattered, the Azer and the remaining gold-clad warrior found themselves whisked away back into the feywild, and a portal - very much like the one they jumped into a week ago - began to tear open right in the middle of the courtyard. Realising that this was their last chance to save the kidnapped villagers, the party leaped through the portal once more.
This time, the portal not only stayed around after they had travelled through it, but it also brought them straight to the Huntsman's raiding camp, a small clearing right in the heart of Summer. As Mordai began picking the locks to the bronze cages that held the villagers, Robert explored the tents nearby, whereupon he found not only the Azer, but also one of Borock's clutchmates. A delicate silver chain bound the both of them to the wall, but there was no time to figure out the intricate mechanisms of both locks: a powerful fey creature had sensed their alien presence and was speedily making its way to the camp. There was only enough time to save one of them.
With Borock stunned into stupidity, Robert decided to make an executive decision: Mordai would pick the lock to the Azer's manacles, while Borock would sever his clutchmate's hands and, in doing so, allow them to free him from the wall. It took two bloody swings with Oathbreaker, but Borock managed to do the job, and with his unconscious clutchmate on his back, they fled the camp... but not before Robert turned back to lock eyes with the creature hunting them. Despite being human in size and shape, the fey thing was crowned with flame and wreathed in shadow, and as Robert stared into eyes of flickering flame, he knew - as surely as he knew his right hand from his left - that he was staring at Oberon's Knight of Pentacles.
As the portal closed behind the party, the villagers celebrated the return of the party and the captured villagers. But Mordai had other, darker plans. While picking the lock to the villagers' cage, he recognised Hornan's wife - Hornan being the fisherman that he had sworn to upon his Thief's Mark - not just from the portrait that the fisherman had shown him, but also because she was one of the many villagers who had led the mob that lynched his family, all those many years ago.
As Hornan tearfully embraced his long-lost wife, he let them have their moment before stepping in and pulling the woman aside. To the confused fisherman he said, "Consider this moment my oath fulfilled. But how do you intend to settle the debt that she owes me? How do you intend to account for her killing my parents?!"
A silence fell upon the Great Hall as Mordai drew his blades and advanced upon the cowering woman. Robert and Borock tried to stop Mordai, to calm him down, but it was to no avail: Mordai's blood was up, and he would settle for nothing less than blood or a confession. Throughout all of this, Hornan's wife remained adamant: "I did not kill anyone! Why would I kill anyone? Hornan, tell them I didn't kill anyone!" However, when Cariel sternly Commanded her to "confess", her will dissolved before the force of the paladin's power, and her triumphant shout - "Yes, I did it!" - echoed in the sudden stillness of the Great Hall. At the Baron's orders, the woman was subsequently locked up in the dungeons by the keep's sole remaining guard, to await trial for her involvement in the unlawful murder of Mordai's parents.
The matter resolved, Robert then turned his attention to the Azer who called himself Tyd. Despite making a few disparaging comments about the state of the Keep, Tyd agreed to stay with the party on two conditions: that they provide him with a good forge, and that they provide him with all the materials he needs to perform his craft. Robert agreed, and the two shook on the matter to seal the deal.
Trinity was a young wood elf who found herself plagued by a single simple question: "what is my purpose in life?" Philosophical restlessness is not uncommon in wood elves, but in Trinity, her obsession with this unanswerable question - combined with an arrogance born of simply being better than many of her peers at anything she set her mind to - drove her to become an Horizon Walker, a ranger that roamed not just the wilds of the Prime Material plane, but those of the multiverse as well.
On one of her many trips into the Feywild, she heard something curious at Market: a sidhe lordling who called himself the Huntsman was riding to the Prime Material to not just raid and pillage, as the sidhe often did, but to war! This was unprecedented, for such an act would not only lead to the inevitable loss of many innocent lives, but would also threaten the Accords of Summer and Winter that all fey lived by.
Driven by equal parts curiosity and a feeling of nobleese oblige, Trinity decided to track down the Huntsman and, using her superior stealth skills, follow them back to the Prime Material. This she succeeded in doing all the way until the sidhe host stormed the walls of the Keep; at which point her nobler instincts got the better of her, and she could hold back no longer. Notching an arrow to her bow, she began picking off footsoldiers who, after they recovered from their shock, began firing right back.
However, no one person - no matter how skilled or lucky she might be - could stand against the full might of a fey army, and as arrows rained down upon her, one pierced her scalemail and lodged itself right in her heart.
As Krubivax reached out to claim her soul, the wind stopped Him. Hands of bronze and iron seized her soul as Cracix Impetous - the red-handed god of war and destruction - tore her from the Grave Lord's lightless domain and into his own. The thunder formed a question: did she want to live? Yes. Yes, she did. Would she serve Cracix Impetous as an arrow of vengeance, to be aimed and loosened at the Stormlord's foes? Will she show no mercy to her foes, and kill only in His name? Will she be a bolt of lightning, a spear of fire, a whirlwind of death and destruction? Yes. Yes, a thousand times yes.
Trinity woke with a gasp as she threw off the villagers that were nursing her back to health. The Baron had saved her, they said, and she had spent the last two days in a deep slumber that was near indistinguishable from death. She knew better: it was not the Baron that had saved her, but Cracix Impetous Himself that did. But this did not mean that the Baron did not play a role or deserve thanks. When her legs are more stable, she will visit the Baron and thank him in person for his role in her miraculous return to life.
The treasury currently has 897gp, while the party currently has 85gp. The party is also in possession of two suits of gold-trimmed breastplates - each masterfully etched with classical hunting scenes from early Elven mythology - and three greatspears that were obviously designed to be paired with the armour. At a rough estimate, each set will fetch at least 200gp for the metal alone.
With the fishing village in ruins, you may choose to either continue taxing them (for a deficit of -350gp), allow them to keep their taxes to rebuild their village (for a deficit of -1850gp), or anything else in between. Regardless, the Duke will not be denied his full tithe.
Tyd has settled into the Keep, and is asking for 500gp to begin work on his forge.
|Taxes - Fishing Village||1500gp|
|Taxes - Farmsteads||1500gp|
|Unskilled hirelings x20||200gp|
|Skilled hirelings x10||900gp|
|Keep restoration (2 months)||500gp|
|Stipiend - Wizard Egoveus||200gp|
Downtime Action #1
Before downtime, it was the 9th of Mid Autumn.
Robert spends a week helping speed up reconstruction work on the Keep through the judicious use of Tenser's Floating Disc. This saved the crew enough labour that they decided to give the party 100gp off for this month's work: a saving which Robert immediately turned around and withdrew from the treasury, that they may buy a pearl necessary to Identify the ruby earring that the Huntsman dropped.
Borock rode to Islington to present the Duke with a set of the fay arms that they recovered off the bodies of the invaders. The Duke was exceedingly pleased with the gift, and in return has graciously acceded to the Baron's request for manpower to help rebuild the village. The village will return to full economic strength by the end of this month (two weeks), and until then will be fortified by a platoon of the ducal army.
To replace the keep guards that died in the attack, Cariel decided to recruit from the recently widowed women. In exchange for cheaper wages, the keep would offer them room and board. A good number of women accepted the offer, leading to a net discount of 100gp per month.
Trinity, after giving her oath of allegiance to the Baron who had so valiantly rescued her from the field of battle, decided to hold an archery contest. Capitalising on the fact that she's a stranger to the community, she managed to coral a handful of villagers and farmsteaders into joining the competition that she - of course - won hands down. This act caused a small amount of ill-will to foster amongst the population towards the Barony, but also earned the party 100gp.
Mordai takes the opportunity to talk to Hornan, who rejects his wife and their marriage: "the woman I thought I married would not hurt a fly. I know the law, sir. A life for a life, or gold enough to cover the blood debt. I have no gold, and even if I did I would not pay the wergeld for the liar sitting in your gaol. No. My wife died when the raiders attacked our village. The Baron can do what he will with her corpse."
Marked for death and forsworn by everyone she's known, Hornan's wife had all but given up on life... until Mordai approached her. He gave her a choice: she can either die like she is meant to, or she can join him as the first full member of the Thieves Guild chapter in Northreach. It was a simple choice, and as Mordai and the woman dug a shallow grave outside the Keep to stage her own death, she whispered her true name - a name from her past, a name from a previous life - into the grave that she filled with the little belongings that she had.
Downtime Action #2
Cariel and Trinity spend a week training the women of the keep in close-quarters combat and archery respectively. They take to the battlefield surprisingly well, and their training sessions have started to attract a small crowd of other women and children who contend themselves with watching from a respectful distance.
Mordai sends Hornan's wife to Islington with a letter of introduction to the Guild, whereupon she is tested and initiated. She is given strict instructions to never return to the village, but to light a bonfire in the forest - in a location visible from his room - should the Guild need to get in touch with him. In the mean time, Mordai begins recruiting for the Northreach chapter of the Guild from the disenfranchised of the fishing village.
Robert travels to the fishing village, where he comes across Ankers, the Wilder bard that knocked the guard out and escaped from the keep. The two of them strike a deal: in exchange for an allowance of 150gp each month (and a sworn promise to bring Ankers along with Robert the next time he meets Titania), Ankers and two other bards will travel throughout the Isle of Druss dressed in the Baron's colours and perform for the general population. They will also directly report any news they gather to Robert once per month, and perform general propaganda and rumour-mongering as necessary.