Last week on the Thursday game...
When the Baron finally returned to the Keep, he found an anxious Nicodemus wringing his hands complaining that money had disappeared from the treasury (i.e. the bolthole that the party had decided to hide their gold in). Upon investigating the treasury, they discovered traces of magic, a missing chest and, perhaps most importantly, a small ragged hole that was somehow covered up by an illusion.
After giving orders for a beartrap to be placed where the hole is, the party followed the tracks three days west into a small cave where a small gang of furry bipedal creatures were holed up. After Trinity scouted the cave and realised that - thanks to the two darkvision-less dragonborn - a stealthy assault on the cave was out of the question, the party decided to ambush the creatures as they came out of the cave instead.
Time passed, and it was soon evening. With Trinity and Borock both up in a tree, Robert hiding behind a tree, and Cariel standing right in the open as bait, the party jumped the creatures as soon as they emerged from the cave laughing and chatting amongst themselves. It was then that Borock and the lead creature locked eyes and recognised each other: it was the bugbear chieftain that got away! Invigorated by this chance encounter of his nemesis, Borock flew into a rage that carried him throughout the battle.
However, the bugbear chieftain had other ideas. Pulling forth a glowing orb from his backpack, the chieftain hung back and simply chanted as he held the orb aloft. Although Trinity tried to shoot the orb out of his hands, the chieftain proved too agile for her, and with the rest of the party too absorbed by the rest of the battle, the scarred bugbear was able to safely complete the ritual. Reaching into the glowing depths of the orb, he pulled forth the very essence of fire and flung it at the ground, whereupon it coalesced into a vaguely humanoid shape: a fire elemental!
It was when Borock was on the verge of death when Oathbreaker finally awoke in the dragonborn barbarian's hands. Writhing with the promise of death, blood, and vengeance, the sword filled Borock with a rage that even he had never felt before. It was not merely enough to destroy the fire elemental that had wounded him: he must crush the life out of every spark, every flame, every bit of smouldering ash that made up this unnatural creature. How dare it wound him?! Never mind that he was currently on fire and slowly burning to death: what was his life compared to the need for vengeance that burnt inside him now?
It took a while - and a few close shaves with death for Borock and Cariel - but Robert eventually managed to shoot the orb out of the bugbear chieftain's hand with a well-placed Eldritch Blast. As the creature screamed in pain and horror, lava exploded from the shattered orb and began flowing down the creature's outstretched arm, cooking him alive whilst simultaneously encasing him in a rocky tomb. Before the lava could reach his head, Robert decapitated the creature with a Thorn Whip and presented the Baron with his new trophy: the head of the bugbear chieftain who had once gotten away, permanently frozen in mid-scream as he was being covered in lava.
Although the fire elemental disappeared as soon as the orb was destroyed, the fires that it had started remained. The party knew that they did not have much time left to them, and they split up to better search the cave. Within moments, Borock found the chest with 300gp that was taken from their keep and quickly dragged it to safety. Meanwhile, Cariel found a chest of disgusting bugbear spices that she happily carted out of the cave with her, while Robert took upon himself to bring a stinking heap of animal hides back to Northreach Keep with him.
Trinity was the only one who had struck it big, with her find of some rings and trinkets that came to about 50gp. However, one ring in particularly stood out: it was a golden ring that was delicately carved into the shape of an ouroboros, with two tiny rubies for its eyes. Trinity approached Robert for magical assistance, but after learning that it would cost him 100gp just to Identify it, she decided to keep the ring on her person by threading a chain through the ring and wear it around her neck.
In the mean time, Nicodemus was instructed by Robert to wash and dry the hides that the warlock had brought back, while the Baron ensured that the gold was restored to its rightful place in the treasury.
While the rest of the party head off to investigate the missing gold from the treasury, Mordai spends most of his time training his new recruits in the art of thievery. Moving them into a camp deep in the Northreach woods, he teaches them not just the basics of professional thieving, but also instils in them his personal code of honour: never steal from the poor, only from the rich who can afford it, and to always set aside 30% of one's income to help support the chapter.
For practical lessons, Mordai brings his new merry band to Islington, where he lets them loose to steal from the general population. As protective as a mother hen, he watches over each and every one of them whilst taking pains to disguise himself, lest anyone recognise him as one of the Baron Northreach's knights.
After a couple of days of doing this, the newly initiated thieves return to Northreach with Mordai... but not without robbing a few merchant and noble stagecoaches along the way first. They make a pretty penny doing this, but this causes a few angry noblemen to start hammering on the door of the Keep, complaining to the Baron about "the terrible state of your roads; absolutely terrible! If you can't even keep your roads safe, then how can you be expected to keep the population safe?!"
All in all, the new thieves managed to earn 300gp, of which Mordai takes 90gp.
Downtime Action #1
It is currently 28th of Mid Autumn.
Cariel and Trinity completes the training of the women. Perhaps it is because the women had great female role-models to look up to and learn from, perhaps it is because their husbands all died horrible deaths, or perhaps Cariel had just chosen well when she picked the new guards out from the volunteers; no matter the reason, the new guards aced every test that the two put before them.
Robert travels to the fishing village and hires the local priest of Lethae and Cracix - a doddering old dwarf by the name of Kazmouck - to consecrate the shrine to Lethae currently sitting in the keep's inner courtyard, next to Crow's silver sapling. Kazmouck is known to be a little eccentric, but he's well-loved by most of the community as "that crazy old priest": and so when the priest announced that he was travelling to the keep to perform the consecration, a large percentage of the village followed him. [-50gp]
Kazmouck's consecration of the shrine went off without a hitch - in fact, fortuitous omens (which may or may not have been created by Robert's Prestidigitation and Mordai's Thaumaturgy) accompanied the ritual - and the villagers left feeling like the gods were now watching over the whole of Northreach. This act has eased any local ill-will over Trinity's "archery competition", and has in fact generated some good will towards the barony.
Borock sits by his wounded clutchmate, Eldraz, who has been drifting in and out of consciousness over the past two weeks. As he slowly recovers, the two of them reconnect, and Borock learns that although Eldraz was but one of the many of their clutch that the Huntsman had captured that fateful day, he was the only one that remained in the sidhe lordling's possession: the rest had since been sold off to the other fay and sidhe scattered across the feywild. Finding them again would be truly a momentous task, one that may take a lifetime.
Although Eldraz is grateful to be alive, he bemoans the loss of his hands: "For years, the only thing that kept me sane in that accursed place was fighting in the arena. Now, I can't so much as lift a hoe or a scythe, let alone a sword. What good am I to anyone?"
Downtime Action #2
It is currently 7th of Late Autumn.
Cariel decides to bring the bugbear's head and the heap of hides with her to the local tanner, a scarred old man that lives by himself on a small farm about two days' ride from the keep. The tanner promises to deliver both the mounted trophy and the hides once they are done. [-15gp]
Trinity explores the nearby woods, reaching out with her extraplanar senses to try and find all the portals within a day's ride from the keep. To her own surprise, she finds no less than three: a portal of air eddies located at the bottom of Suicide's Cliff that leads to the Inner Plane of Air; a portal constructed from dead wood and vines, located deep within Hunter's Glade, that leads to a Road within the Feywild during full and new moons; and a portal constructed by two trees growing into each other, located on the fringes of Lake Lethae, that leads to the Free Marches of the Feywild when one walks through the arch whilst holding a rock with a hole through its middle.
Robert tends to Crow's tree and, as one of the few people in the keep that actually speaks Dwarvish, spends most of his time chatting with Tyd. The subject of Borock's sword eventually comes up, and Tyd says that although he is fairly sure that a simple Remove Curse spell (cast by a cleric, paladin, warlock or wizard) will allow the Baron to rid himself of the weapon, if he wishes to wield Oathbringer without the berserker spirit within taking hold of him, the greatsword must be properly Awakened.
When pressed on what that means, Tyd simply gives Robert a sly smile and says that he will "only explain more once you've lived up to your end of the bargain and built me my forge! By the gods above and below, how you surface-dwellers can stand to be idle for so long is beyond me: my mind is whirling with plans and schematics that my hands are itching to work on, but without furnace and anvil, I am more useless than steel in the hands of an idiot". The last is a clever pun in Dwarvish that does not survive translation into Common.
Mordai commissions the erection of a monument - carved from driftwood, it depicts a fisherman with net and spear braving the seas beneath the protective, outstretched wings of a dragon - in honour of those who died during the Battle of the Fey. Accompanied by Borock, at the unveiling of the monument Mordai declares that those who gave their lives for the defence of Northreach will never be forgotten, and that no matter what evil may threaten the land, the Baron will stand by his people and his land.
Ever practical, however, Mordai has also equipped the monument with a secret compartment that future Guildsmen can utilise as a dead drop. So far, only Mordai and the carpenter knows about the dead-drop, and the rogue has paid the carpenter a small fortune - to the tune of 10gp - to ensure that the monument's secret remains a secret. [-60gp]
It is currently 14th of Late Autumn.
The party has 37gp, the treasury 450gp, and Mordai's chapter 90gp. Notable items in the Keep include:
- The Huntsman's Earring: a small teardrop ruby that, when worn and attuned to, grants the wearer darkvision and the stag's head glamour when the activation word dwirn'tav (Elvish for "dream hunt") is spoken. The glamour can be penetrated by anything with true sight. Neither effect can be activated without the other.
- Fey Arms x2: a set of golden breastplates and greatspears, all beautifully etched with hunting scenes and Seelie Court iconography. If sold for the metal alone, each set is worth at least 200gp; as art, however, it should fetch at least 350gp each.
- The Ouroboros Ring: a golden ring that was delicately carved into the shape of an ouroboros, with two tiny rubies for its eyes. The workmanship is so intricate that each individual scale can be seen and felt. In the middle of the night, the ring seems to softly hiss and slither of its own volition.
- Bugbear Chieftain's Head: frozen in a perpetual silent scream. It has been expertly preserved by the local tanner and is now mounted on a fine piece of rough lumber, ready to be hung either in the Great Hall (where it will intimidate or disgust visitors) or in the Baron's personal quarters (where it will warm the cockles of his heart every time he looks at it).
Notable guests of the Keep include:
- Nicodemus, chief steward of the keep
- Eldraz, Borock's clutchmate who's missing both his hands
- Tyd, the Azer smith without a forge (costs 500gp and 1 week)
With the ducal army helping with the village's repairs, the Baron decides to continue taxing the fishing village the full amount, bringing the keep's net expenses for this month to -350gp. Egoveus will move in at the start of Early Winter (and expects to be paid by the end of that month), while Ankers will expect to be paid by the end of Late Autumn.
The population's morale dipped slightly after Trinity's "archery competition" and Mordai's blatant attempts at being a highwayman. However, thanks to the consecration of the shrine and the construction of the monument, the general morale of both the fishing village and the farmsteads is currently neutral, with most people being grateful to have their village back.
|Taxes - Fishing Village||1500gp|
|Taxes - Farmsteads||1500gp|
|Unskilled hirelings x20||200gp|
|Skilled hirelings x10||900gp|
|Keep restoration (1 month)||500gp|
|Stipiend - Wizard Egoveus||200gp|
|Patronage - Ankers & Co.||150gp|