The five shamans of Aedyr
begin encircling the tree and chanting in unison “Mallaithe Crann”, meaning (more or less) “The Cursed Tree”. As they continue to chant, the air around the tree stills and grows colder, and the tree begins to shrink and darken. More and more the tree recedes and shrinks, and as it shrinks the ropes and binds loosen and the bodies begin to fall off. As the tree shrinks, the bark darkens, congeals, and sloughs off in black gooey clumps. The tree eventually regresses and shrinks down to disappear beneath the swampy pile of black goo and bodies.
After it disappears, the shamans stop circling, turn toward the center, raise their hands, and incinerate the whole pile. The goo burns hot blue and white, and the bodies are incinerated. When all is done, one of the shamans step forward, digs through the center and removes a small tree sapling, normal for all but it’s black color. Shaking the dirt from its roots, the shaman swallows the sapling whole, and all five leave.
This last part perplexes the party seriously, and inquiring about it they learn the shamans are powerful naturalists, and believe in their responsibility to hold “evil” within them as vessels to keep it out of the world. Making them all feared, revered, and cursed. The party then sets out burying the corpses. With torinn summon 8 giant badgers and turning into one himself, and with the others helps, the party is able to bury all of the bodies within the long hour it takes. It’s a somber, macabre task. Sweat and skin is spent digging, all to bury over 30 corpses. All dead for nothing but resembling the party. The sobriety of that fact is not lost on them.
They take off next to finally see Duke Auburn.
This is the first time they’ve been to the Vaneer Estate. And it is… garrish. Wealth on unabashed display. Once allowed entrance (which happens immediately as it seemed they were somehow expected) they find the inside to be no more humble. And after being offered, like, cucumber sandwiches on golden platters, Duke Auburn arrives dressed… appropriately. Whoosh redresses himself to match and after some cordial introductions, Auburn asks to speak to Emon in private.
They move to Auburn’s library/study where a single girl in the corner is playing wine glasses with varying amounts of water, just for ambiance. Auburn insists they can speak openly here.
Emon makes the demand that their property be returned, and the interference of the Thieves’ Guild end. Auburn says that he deals with the Guild but does not control them. He used to be involved with them in some capacity, but has since separated himself from their direct operation. He was made aware of their intentions regarding House Themorinn, but does not have the influence to make demands. However, he might be able to convince them to end their “feud”. He promises to do what he can.
Next, Auburn lays out that he is aware of an issue to come up at the next Council meeting, that of Themorinn’s need to choose a House Lord as requirement towards “official” status. That being the case, between Toro, Torinn, Tharious, and Emon, Auburn would much rather have Emon at the head of a new house, someone he could deal with more… amicably. Right? Emon says he’ll talk with his companions about it.
Finally, Auburn says he has something else he wants to ask. He’ll trade information for a favor. Emon isn’t buying it, so presses to know the favor first. Auburn responds with “I’m a man who knows the worth of things, if I say you want this information, trust me… it’s worth it.” Emon resists anyway, and presses to know the favor first.
Auburn considers, and decides to tells him. First, he orders with just a snap of his fingers for his winge-glass playing attendant to leave. And he walks over to his fireplace and manipulates an odd iron sphere. A moment later a sort of “thick” green light encompasses them. It adds an almost imperceptible echo to their words, and slight after-image trail to their movements. “Better to avoid prying eyes.”
Auburn reveals his desire. He wants a sword stolen from the Prince of the Summer Court, Damh, son of Titania and Oberon. The sword is Orion, The Master Sword. It commands respect from all magic weapons in an unknowable way. No magical weapon can strike the wielder of Orion. They avert, or resist enough to make the attack completely ineffective. Auburn wants this weapon.
As Auburn finishes his proposal, Emon takes a moment to consider. And says no. They’re Lords, not henchmen. And in addition to that, Emon doesn’t do that sort of work anymore. Therefore the answer is no. He tells Auburn that he’s lived a life of brutality (savagery? danger? I can’t remember) that Auburn wouldn’t be accustomed to, and so Auburn shouldn’t press Emon on this. Auburn, however, only smiled. His skin grew blue. His body grew, muscles bulged. Hair grew white, nails grew to claws. Eyes took on a yellow glow. Who knows what this beast is that took Auburn’s place, but he reaches out and grasps Emon by the skull and….
Auburn lays out that he is aware of an issue to come up at the next Council meeting, that of Themorinn’s need to choose a House Lord as requirement towards “official” status. That being the case, between Toro, Torinn, Tharious, and Emon, Auburn would much rather have Emon at the head of a new house, someone he could deal with more… amicably. Right? Emon says he’ll talk with his companions about it.
Auburn nods, bows, and bids Emon farewell, and thanks him for his time. Emon returns the pleasantry and leaves, all memory of the latter part of that meeting gone entirely. No trace.
They take the back alleys home
to avoid the attention they’ve been garnering. Sometime into the walk, however, they hear the familiar sounds of a fight, a scuffle. They deliberate on whether it’s their problem or not, and decide to check it out. Peeking around the corner they see a handful of Rosalia’s men surrounding an indiscernible figure on the ground. Whoosh takes this moment to exhibit what he’s capable of. Two of the men he incapacitates in a single shot each, but the third he misses. Or appears to. The arrow flies at a whistle around to strike the tallest of them in the head, knocking him out cold with a walloping arrow.
The remaining two run off and the party lets them. They march up to the incapacitated two, crippled and crawling away. One cowers and is unable to answer basic questions, another mocks up some courage and manages to actually hold up a shaky sword to Emon. I’m blanking now on what happened next, but it ended with the Rosalia guard dropping his sword and trying to crawl away again. Some further intimidation stops their movement.
The party’s attentions turn toward the unconscious man on the street. They notice now he’s beat to near death, and decked out in House Auburn guard regalia. They heal him and help him up. He stands, bleary at first, but swiftly regains himself. And the first thing he does start kicking the unconscious Rosalia guard a bit in the head. Then he introduces himself as Brobin.
The party moves into interrogation trying, back and forth, to determine the truth from these rivals. It proves tedious to work out the details, as each only wants to reveal as much as makes their actions justified. But apparently pre-existing tensions erupted at a nearby tavern, The Leaky Bucket, a common hangout for some of the guards of both houses. A fight broke out between the two and ended sourly, particularly for the Auburn men. They retaliated and ended up putting someone named Kathil in the hospital. And the attack on Brobin was in response to that.
Hearing these squabbles baffled the party, so they ask, “How dare you behave this way when the city needs you now more than ever to protect them and stand together?”
To which Brobin incredulously responds for all three guards, “Protect? Protect!? Have you seen what’s out there? An army of undead! There’s nothing to protect, this city is doomed. So many have left already, I’m earning double what I used to. I’m staying only just long enough to make enough for my family to leave and we’re out of here.”
It seems, the party realizes, the city is worse off than they thought.
Finally reaching their house, Tharious receives a guest.
Amasiah Archibald, the Pope-Equivalent of the Acropolis and Pelor faith, comes personally with his guard to speak to Tharious. A plain couple of requests. One, they’ve heard of Tharious’ giant flaming candle ball, and given the emotional/mental state of the city, and given that the Summer festival of Solar Crest is only a few weeks away, the church would be honored to hoist Tharious’ creation above the Acropolis itself, not only as a monument to Pelor, but a symbol of hope to the people of the city. No greater purpose. Tharious agrees. Next, Archibald informs Tharious that nothing could be more important to the Pelorian faith than having a second Faithful house in the city to further the message and word of Pelor. Nothing could possible be more important, the celestial purpose meaning more than the terrestrial. And Tharious represents that hope amongst the four “lords” of House Themorinn. Therefore, when they decide who will be lord, Archibald tells Tharious that it must be him.
And so after Archibald and his company departs, the party holds a meeting.
The purpose was simple. Share the information they’ve received and make a decision about Lordship.
They share finally that Shiek Zahran, Duke Auburn, and Amasiah Archibald have all approached different members to suggest a different house lord. What they do about that will be up to them.
Next, the state of the city. It is plainly far worse off than they previously believed. It is here the party realizes that whatever their opinion of the party, they plainly need the party’s abilities more than the party needs the money and property.
More discussion is had about the nature of what this will look like. Emon also begins to discuss his proposal for turning the house into an Adventurer’s Guild. The house they inherited had The House of Sulphur, a major exporter and manufacturer of alchemical supplies, and it held the docks. But Emon’s idea would supplant the local Harlequin Blade, and be a pressure to local houses to “behave” or else their populace would lose the otherwise free access to House Themorinn’s benefits.
Whoosh expresses disbelief that the legendary “RAVEN” has turned into a tax-debating, lord-meeting, house-managing… noble. He brings up the information he has collected on a safe house of The Diamond Hand and Raziel specifically, only to be floored to learn Emon already killed Raziel. Though still, is he even still seeking revenge on the assassin’s who stole his family and life? Emon basically says, “Relax, I promise I’m still that guy. I’ve just grown up to do this, too. The guild’s days are still numbered.”
They’re about to continue the conversation, when they’re interrupted by a suddenly vertical purple line appearing middair. It bows out in the middle and grows large enough for a person to fit through. A particular person, in fact. An illithid person. One who looks a lot paler than last they saw him, with decaying skin, his robes tattered and spattered with the weird purple blood of the illithid.
It is Vorceredolus. Their… “Friend” is definitely the wrong word. But someone who has helped them sort of before. Though also killed Jeremy, and had dealings with Grimjaw.
His raspy, sharp voice enters your mind as a desperate expression marks his unnatural face.
“We need to talk….”
jeremy and the codex terra gnosis
“Thane” is decided as the name of the “lord” of House Themorinn.
I don’t know why but somehow we decided that the man who makes tiny umbrellas for drinks has already abandoned Lere and is living in Atbluff. I have no idea how that came up.
Shra is gone when they get back, having left for his homeland to continue his own research.