The dwarves are freed and I am replacing my hatred for kobolds with a hatred for these Tiamat worshipping mercenary cowards. Especially the archers. On a more pressing note, we found a missive naming the regional subcommand headquarters at Stormmist Falls. Gauthak had heard of it; two weeks away in the foothills of the nearby mountains. The primary feature of the town is an 80 foot waterfall that bisects the town like a vertical river. It’s an ex-regional imperial city. Aes was giggly at the idea of going to a city. Honestly, I need to figure out where this dwarf is from. He hates caves, and loves his wine. Not ale. It’s nothing short of bizarre. Although it’s now dominated by these Tiamat whores, it was at one point a center of Peloric worship and devotion. The alliances of old still hold it seems.
We decided to stay the night and recover following the fight with the captain. We agreed to return in a few weeks to retrieve the new bow that Nightdew asked to have crafted. Aes put up a stink about staying in the guest quarters until we finally convinced him NOT to sleep outside by the wall. I was surprised Gauthak didn’t just knock him out and drag him inside. It would have been an entertaining fight.
That morning Nightdew and I were awoken by a terrible stench. Nightdew opened the door and we found ourselves face-to-face with the newly walking body of Shiana, one of the old captain’s lieutenants. All the soldiers – aside from the one I had bisected in rage – were resurrected/zombified by some crazed elf with a necromantic bent. I’m adding that to the things I really hate, elves in black.
The necromancer, clearly unhinged, seemed to have a particular affinity for calling us “the Illuiminated Ones”. We had no idea what he was talking about and started wailing on both him and the zombies. We decided to not kill him immediately to try and determine where he was from and why he wanted to kill us. As we tried to wake him up post-combat, I remembered some old cultish rumor about Illuminating something and that it may or may not be Pelor related. Nevertheless, still annoyed. We interrogated the hapless necromancer who let us know that it was a Vecna inspired prophecy that he was attempting to prevent. Unfortunately, all he could tell us was that his master, a self-styled Crippled Hand, sent him to kill us. We asked the dwarves to hold him until we got back from our sortie to Stormmist. As much as it slides me towards a darker life, I was more than happy to see him go screaming. Sometimes you have to punish to set people on the right path.
As we were leaving, we were instructed to see if we could procure some horses from The Hermit. His home in the forest was a marvel of craftsmanship, even more so once we realized that he did it singlehandedly. Truly a powerful arcanist. This wizard, called The Nameless, chose to provide us with some help by granting us four horses in exchange for us retrieving the best painting we could find of the Falls. We thanked him and set off for the city.
It took a little over a week, but we made it to the city after uneventful travel. Stormmist seemed to be run by the Order, but it didn’t have a feel of occupation. Gauthak noted that it looked like the mercenaries had been hired to protect the place. We also noticed a cleric of Pelor standing with the guards. The guards told us that goblins and orcs had been raiding the outlying towns. The cleric said that the Order was in good standing with the town as they had been hired to protect the Falls against the monsters in the area. I was personally surprised by this, but let it go at that. If the Order was helping these people, we had to let that happen.
We made it to the inn where Aes seemed to be more than happy to reside. The matron offered a number of art galleries where we could search for a painting of quality. Nightdew was more than happy to flirt again, thought I cannot fathom what he saw in this woman. I am beginning to wonder how old this changeling is, and if he has a mate. Most likely not given how he handles himself. I suppose he’d steal from her as well if she existed.
We decided to look at the work of one Tessan Bluefire and at the gallery in the Upper Districts. I went to see the “madwoman” Agrintha, to see what I could find in the way of magical items. Nightdew and Gauthak, after Nightdew chatted up the matron, went off to see the adventurer’s liaison and Aes went to the evening showing of the high end gallery.
(In the Cask and Barrel, Gauthak and Nightdew talked to the bartender, a half-Orc. He identified the liaison as a female officer in the company. They went with the officer, who identified herself as Lieutenant Usilka. She was more than happy to hire a group of adventurers to do some scouting. We were asked to take on some Orc Shamans. We would be paid 10 gold per person up front, but then we would be granted a bounty for each shaman totem brought back. Nightdew negotiated a higher bounty and accepted the job.)
(Aes changed into his eveningwear, and went off to the gallery showing but trying to make conversation with people in the street and determine the attitude of the populace with regards to the Order. The upper classes were generally negative towards the commander, Commander Ironscale, a Dragonborn. He attempted to get an invitation to a party held by one of the Sunlords where the Commander would be present. At the gallery, Aes started to realize that the culture in this town has been steadily decreasing. The curator, Tokori, was particularly pretentious. He requested a bribe to put Aes in touch with someone who could paint a picture of the falls.)
I went to see the madwoman. Her place was in a barren lot surrounded by other large buildings. Agrintha was a gnome with a serious anxiety problem. In all my remembered years I’ve never seen someone as tightly wound as this. I worried for a short time that she may have even tried to harm me. She’s an alchemist with a lot to sell. She seemed impressed with my psionic ability but unfortunately nothing that I was willing to purchase. I was also put off by the magical minefield she had designed to protect her home. Clearly she could use a friend of some sort, but I imagine she would only speak with another arcanist or magic user.
We all reformed at the Cask and Barrel as Nightdew was trying to steal from the local captain. Unlike the past few times he’s played this little game, it was a miserable failure. And then he tried to get out of it by sweet-talking the lieutenant. Honestly, he deserved the mental slaps I gave him for that. Aes pulled along to a private conversation and we were given the mission. Aes mentioned a plan to kill the Commander at some party coming up, but we decided to talk about it later. We chose to leave for the shamans before dawn to try and catch them as they awoke.
At dawn, we approached the ruins where we were told the shamans had made camp. We decided to scout the place and wait for some better light. We shall see what the dawn brings.