as Khalo bids his farewells to the group, he took the Sword of Dexinth with him. Hammerdal was reluctant to part with it, but all agree its magic (or, non-magic) was hurting more than helping.
after a brief conversation with a dwarven shepherd (who inquired about the status of the curse of Arcaibh, and left confused), the party chose to follow Elias to Sussenia, as he sought answers about his past. he prayed for guidance from Mediena, who answered with “danger to Tyun from the acolytes of Wala.”
soon after entering Sussenian territory, the party came across a coastal trading port in a foreboding gray delta by the name of Skerrenbeld. it held most if not all the Pale Souls, who seemed to be waiting for…something. in the meantime, they served as the local garrison keeping order among the laborers and merchants who docked their ships (some which hailed from as far away as Terminus. one of few structures of note is The Rasher, a tavern and inn whose windows had been broken through in brawls so many times, they had been boarded up.
Hammerdal enters The Rasher, full of Pale Souls at about level 6. He buys them drinks and swaps war stories. Razhad attempts to gather info in the town, possibly about the Niks. Baronel shapeshifts and communicates with a falcon that is perched above The Rasher. this falcon works for Kai, a Pale Soul serving as quartermaster. he has a limp.
Kai exits The Rasher, and Elias confronts him. He knows who Elias is, and blames Elias for his current fate as quartermaster, that he hates. He recognizes the handkerchief that Elias wears. Due to Eldorin’s mind-reading magic, we know that he plans to report Elias’ presence to Tumbledown. Elias uses holy power to heal Kai’s leg. This act, however, is seen as threatening, and Pale Souls separate them. In the confusion, Razhad steals some of Elias’ papers. Kai retires to his shack near the docks.
The party convenes in The Rasher. We ask about Captain Lovisa. She runs the show, as far as the Pale Souls are concerned. She heads up the training with a man named Axel.
The party spends the night. All but Hammerdal and Eldorin camp outside. Hammerdal stays up late drinking and socializing (and might have puked once, but you didn’t see it), while Eldorin enjoys a quiet drink with fine food in a quiet room.
Rumors in town spoke of an entity that comes in the night…the Fogwalker…is it a ghost? a merchant? nobody knows for sure.
but that night…those that camp outside…maybe they’re dreaming…? but they seem to perceive a mist approaching…and clanking in the night. Was it the Fogwalker?
In the morning, the party decides to head north, to Nikto.
Nikto is a crowed, dirty city, roughly organized into (mostly) concentric rings of settlement. Several polluted canals flow through the city center. On the outskirts of the city, the prized horses of this country roam (semi) free. We take our horses to Elias’ family stable, run by a nice fellow named Camelo. The stable is empty; on hard times. But they happily accomodate us as a favor.
Entering the city is not as easy. The party saves against pickpockets. Razhad, Jethrael, and Hammerdal lose items. The party splits off. Hammerdal finds a buyer for his ant egg, Razhad buys paint to disguise his dragon. Hammerdal attempts to spectate bloodsport, but gets stabbed in the process. He goes back to the stable discouraged. Razhad, Jethrael, and Baronel search for a “shrunken head dealer,” thinking that a dealer in body parts might know where Elias’ hand ended up. Razhad finds a store. The merchant offers him tea, aggressively. Razhad refuses. The shop is full of body parts, including hands. The merchant offers tea again. Razhad drinks.
“She was asking about a hand. Your friend’s hand. Not fighting magic, but healing magic.” The shop keep describes the woman who has his hand. The hand was not like all of his other preserved hands…this hand did not decompose. Razhad is about to leave, and the shop keep says “farewell, Razhad!”
Razhad does an about face. He learns that the tea contains divination magic. He buys a teapot, tea, and canal water (dirty ,dirty canal water) so as to reproduce the divination magic.
Elias and Eldorin go to the local temple of Mediena, where Elias first received shelter. He wants to reconnect with the priest who sheltered him, Saroth. They find him in the temple. He receives them with grace, and they re-supply their reagents for spells. They inquire about the Wala fanatics. Saroth says they are not in Nikto, but they can find more information from the priestess at the Wala temple in Nikto, Maisie.
they visit the Wala temple, which has a beautiful pane of glass in the ceiling, an oculus. Maisie, a woman with long silver hair and rough robes, greets them. She is unaware of the actions of the Wala inquisitors in the south. She caresses Eldorin’s staff, aware of its magic.
Everyone meets back at the stables for the night. Baronel notices her Odinstone has begun vibrating in her pocket. She asks Eldorin about it…he knows only that it is magical. Razhad tells Elias that his hand is out there, somewhere. The woman he describes reminds Elias of one of his cohort, Kreia…who was obsessed with Keres, the god of death. He is assaulted by a vision, an incomplete vision…he takes psychic damage, and his stump throbs.
Elias says he thinks he needs to go home soon.
a Detect Magic spell on the teapot Razhad bought from the shop keep shows a latent, low, dull divination ability. no magic on the dirty, dirty canal water (but Razhad’s not convinced).
The next morning, Baronel’s Odinstone is now hovering above her head, centered above her forehead (chakra), and it follows her movement. It starts to orbit her head. While concerned, she puts in back in her pocket.
Jethrael tries the tea. After Razhad looks at the leaves, they seem to spell, (impossibly) in Thieve’s Cant, “Hurch gang. Killer.” Jethrael….knows somehow…this is a message about who killed his father. Eldorin leaves the stable to get more water from the well. He narrowly misses a crossbolt to the head. Unable to identify any immediate danger, but recognizing their safety in Nikto was not guaranteed, the party leaves for Fief Paardhuis.
On the way: Tea Party! Eldorin tries the tea, twice, to no effect. Baronel and Hammerdal also experience nothing. Trying to read his own fortune, Razhad makes out a single word in the tea leaves: “feather.”
Elias tries the tea, and the leaves spell “Ryon.” He is assaulted with another vision from his past. He remembers being in the marshes with his horse Honor, coming upon Ryon the goatherder, severely injured. Elias ran to him, compelled to heal. His horse cries, and he turns to see Kreia slitting Honor’s throat. She comes at him with a cleaver, takes his left hand, kills Ryon, and drops his handkerchief in front of Elias.
the party enters Elias’ family home. The grasses are overgrown, the fences are knocked down. this is an area that was recently abandoned. The lone house in this country is an oasis of cut grass, and in the gardens is Elias’ mother, Mara. She is…less than pleased to see him. The Pale Souls conscripted Elias’ brother Corrin in his place. They trashed the family farm when his mother couldn’t tell them where Elias was (about a month and a half ago).
“How can I help, mother?”
“You have shamed and disappointed me. How could you possibly help me? Our house is brought low, Elias. Father is working…where, God knows. Your sister Isabella, too. …sorry about your hand.”
The party helps Fief Paardhuis as it can. Hammerdal and Baronel cut the grass and mend the fences, Baronel enriches the land and encourages the plants to grow. Elias conjures 45lbs of food. Mara drinks Razhad’s tea, and the leaves spell: “Kreia.” Elias, spending 25 gold from the party, asks Mediena: “is Kreia in Salusa or in Sterrenbeld?” the answer: “she is in neither of the places that you look, and she’s not what you think she is.”
The next morning, Mara is gifted a root by Baronel, 12 gold from Elias, a valuable ancient coin from Eldorin, 2 gold from Jethrael.
The group heads back to Sterrenbeld…to kidnap Kai! He is the link.
After traveling, Elias goes to Kai’s shack. He is understandably more helpful to Elias, who healed his leg injury. “She’s definitely going to come looking for you,” he says. “She’s crazy…she’s Keres’ way of…something, I don’t know.” Kai knows she is in Tumbledown, but doesn’t know where Corrin is…the Pale Souls didn’t take him.
Elias and the party discuss what message to send Kreia in Tumbledown…should they tell her they’re coming for her? Or to have her come seek him out in Sterrenbeld?
Hammerdal is happy to be back in The Rasher, performing feats of strength for wagers of gold.
all characters have inspiration