Nick Nichols

Clojure Developer and Dungeon Master

A Simple Job

With the winter wind at their backs, Krug ‘n’ Krew follow Arminius east towards a fishing village south of Cadca. Without horses and a carriage, the journey is much slower, and far less pleasant for those involved. Tlareg debates leaving the party, but Jack convinces him to stick around until they’ve cleared themselves. Most of the journey is uneventful, but on the third day of walking, they see a carriage coming up the road. Recognizing the ornate design, they immediately dive for cover and silently watch as they drive buy. Stealing a glance, Jack and Tlareg recognize Gertruda as she stares off into the distance.

Still fearing for their lives, they withhold this information and press onward. Within the week, they finally arrive to a quaint and picturesque village on the Barovian coast. With some of the costal breeze, the worst burdens of winter are lifted and everyone appears to be in a better mood. Krug begins scouting for the largest person he can find, assuming that is a distinct characteristic of those in charge. Surprisingly enough, this pays off. A supply boat has been chartered to Elenmar in the Buxswell Dutchie, and if they’ll help load the vessel, they can earn passage too.

After a few hours of honest labor, they hit the open seas and begin the long journey north. Over the next few weeks, Krug attempts to learn how to sail as Jack reads up on the state of the world. Thaelen, left liquor-less, is forced into a spiritually, emotionally, and physically draining state known as “drying out.” After a few days, the party, unsure what to do with their time, explores the ship and finds a prisoner being transported to the Harpers. Despite his advanced age, the shackled Drow, is surprisingly in-shape and his scars tell of a life’s worth of experiences. He introduces himself as the thief Juib. Jack asks him about his crimes, and after learning the man was arrested for stealing food for children, leaves a note in his book.

The remainder of the journey passes peacefully, and they eventually find themselves in the port city of Elenmar. As they disembark, they ask Arminius where they will be headed and what they’ll be guarding. He points towards a large citadel in the center of the town, “First, we must go and speak with the Harpers. They’re organizing the larger mission we’ll each be helping with. Have you heard of them in the past?”

“Not really,” Jack replies.

“They are good people, and help those in need. In this case, we’ll be helping the dignitaries and diplomats of nations across Eibellion pay final respects to the dragon Lysanderoth. After more than one thousand years, the protector of our realm will be ending his watch and passing on to the Halls of Order to join Bahamut.” The party contemplates this as they continue to the heart of town; however, not all is grim. A warm summer breeze and the fresh scents of flowers lifts their spirits. The protracted hours of darkness and blisteringly cold temperatures had worn Krug ‘n’ Krew down more than they had anticipated. While wandering the streets, they take in the sights of normal life: children chasing each other in the streets, craftspeople demonstrating their skills and wares, and the hustle and bustle of civilization.

Now in the center of town, the buildings have shifted from pleasant hillside cottages to dark stone buildings of worship and law. They press open the massive cathedral doors bearing gilded crests of harps. The mixed mission of the Harpers is apparent from the interior. Four shrines dedicated to their core deities adorn four of the six turrets, and the final two house swords, shields, and the common gear adventures would need. A large, heavy oak table overflowing with maps, reports, and requests is place in the center. Several knights watch their leader, a short woman with fiery red hair, walks through the most recent orders she has drawn up for the region.

Arminius briefly introduces the party as temporary help for the next few days, and then drags Thaelen to the stations of worship. Jack, Krug, and Tlareg snicker as their almost zombie-like wizard is yelled at. The captain, Marie Osterlen, begins to lay out the job our not-so-brave party has been tasked with.

“With such a historic occasion upon us, the Queen has called in as many soldiers as we can properly recruit. Thankfully, with so much international attention and talent in the area, we’re not expecting much excitement. We’re stretching ourselves along the many side roads leading to Whitestone, and the formal army will be watching the main paths. Your duty is simple. For the day before through the day after, keep watch and report anything suspicious to us as quickly as possible. There may be a few locals around, but be on guard for anyone suspicious or armed.”

Krug nods along, “What if we find someone? And they start giving us trouble? Can we, uh…,” while pointing to his halberd.

Jack agrees, “Yeah, we just want to be crystal clear with how in our rights we are to… defend ourselves.”

“Certainly you are well within your rights to defend yourselves, but the Harpers aren’t in the business of starting fights. We’d rather prevent them, and, if we cannot achieve that, we end them. Our continent has known peace for some time, and some of Eibellion’s greatest warriors will be paying their respects.”

Jack gives the thumbs up, “Got it. Now, where do we need to be?”

“The path I’ve chosen for you sits just along the hills to the southeast. It’s about a two days walk, and you’re needed there by the end of the week. We have capacity for you all to rest here, and have enough supplies to outfit you for your time. When all is said and done, simply return back here and your service will be complete. If you need anything else, Sir Bertrand will be able to help you.”

Thaelen, freshly shown the wonders of religion, returns to the group, and they decide to head out into the town. Curious about the state of affairs in the new, strange land, they dive into the alleyways to glimpse real life. Most of the streets are cleaned and the people generally seem happy; however, they eventually find posters decrying the “New Gods.” Jack takes one of them, and folds it up into his book. As he does, a pair of drunk human men chide them. Ever eager to spread the good word about his patron deity, the thin man whips around and strikes up a conversation.

The pair rebuke him at first, but eventually wear down and provide some answers. During the calamity between the second and third ages, several deities born during the Everdawn met their end. At the same time, new gods and daemons rose to fill their ranks; however, worship did not immediately follow. Many are skeptical of entities such as Bahamut, Grokkush, Tiamat, and the Anathema. With no historic context, no proof of power, and no trust established, common folk are left wondering how and if their lives will improve. Groups like the Harpers were quick to include members of the new pantheon into their daily worship, but most aren’t convinced.

With thorough notes recorded, Jack thanks the men and reminds them that they ought to be nice. Satisfied with the information, the party returns to the Harpers for food and rest. Additionally, each of the party members manages to accomplish a few personal tasks. Thaelen takes the opportunity to bring his BAC back to healthy levels. Krug attempts to learn from Sir Bertrand. Jack requisitions some good, strong rope.

The next day, Krug ‘n’ Krew make their way to the narrow pass they’re meant to watch: a thin dirt road cut into the hillside. Seeing few avenues other than the present path, they decide to man alternating shifts to cover a bend in the road. Most of the time is uneventful and quiet. Jack and Tlareg stare off into the distance and watch the outlines of tents and seating get constructed on the rolling meadows before Whitestone’s gates. They’re temporarily disturbed by a man passing with a cart of vegetables, but after (literally) poking around with their blades, they give him the all clear to continue on. During the next shift, Krug paces in circles while Thaelen drinks himself to sleep.

As they begin switching the guard again, they take a look out over the hills and through the woods at Lysanderoth’s funeral. Even from their great distance, they see masses gathering to mourn the passing of their ancient protector. As their eyes focus, they see an eruption of orange light as several Fireballs erupt in the crowd. Seeing the threat, the adventurers leap to their feet and begin sprinting towards the capital. After running for nearly two miles, they run headlong into three suspicious individuals headed their way: two woodsmen and a strange, cloaked figure. The party orders them to halt, and fighting shortly erupts.

Krug and Jack charge forward towards the cloaked figure, who responds with a Shocking Grasp. Tlareg and Thaelen use their Create Bonfire and Magic Missile spells to the rangers at bay. After trading blows for a few more moments, the masked man uses Inflict Wounds to bring Krug to his knees as a few loose arrows cripple Thaelen. Conjuring the might of his benefactor, Jack unleashes a chilling Hellish Rebuke disintegrating the cloaked man as a hollow laugh rings in their ears. Suddenly terrified, his two subordinates begin fleeing but barely make any distance before getting cut down. Everyone takes a moment to compose themselves before looking for clues. Krug pokes through the cloaked man’s remains, and only finds a few torn patches of Shimmerweave, several silver dragon scales, and a slightly cracked pale white mask.

Recognizing the need of those in Whitestone, the party limps forward to find disorganized chaos. Harpers and clerics alike are tending to wounded, and guards are doing their best to guide fleeing civilians to safety. The group eventually find Marie organizing the relief, and Arminius tending to the recently passed. They admit they were blindsided by the attack, and know very little themselves. To their knowledge, a man wearing a mask like the one Krug found shattered a strange necklace before the blast. During the confusion, they lost track of that man and his associates, and are trying to get through the immediate chaos to begin investigating further.

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